Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Panster & Planster NaNoWriMo Challenger

November 17, 2022
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I am a panster for the majority of my writing, and am unapologetic because of it. There is always so much time once the story has been set free on the page, for editing and revision.

However, as my current NaNoWriMo project is the third book in The Delphic Murders – Killer’s Match, and is the culmination of the series, I find myself re-reading the other two manuscripts to ensure ‘loose ends’ are tied up, descriptions of vital elements are the same and cross referencing is correct. In other words, this means I am in the realm of a planster too.

The idea for this crime trilogy came fully formed several years ago. Of course, when the idea stuck I did not fully understand the complexity of such a writing project. It has been a steep learning curve, with research into writing a three book plot arc and the individual plotting of each book, it’s characters and locations. The books are set in Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton respectively – The Elusive Trail, The Tainted Search and Killers Match.

At the time of writing my November total is 27, 811 so half way there with a small lead. I will be utilizing a couple of vacation days to press forward with the manuscript to ensure I make the goal before the 30th November.

Let me know how your challenge is going, which genre your are writing, and the title.

Happy writing.

Author Interview – Verna McKinnon

November 10, 2022
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It is my pleasure to welcome back a fellow author to my blog. Verna has been here before, but today we celebrate her newest novel, The Bastard Sorceress.

Since your last interview, how has your writing life changed?
I’ve learned to go with the flow. I’ve survived and found new publishers for my fantasy novels when my
previous publishers stopped publishing. It’s happened to me more than once too! But I’ve been lucky to
find new publishers willing to take me on. It’s a tough business, and small presses suffer the most.
Other than that, I’m still a mad writer who drinks pots of tea and keeps a package of emergency cookies
on hand when I create my tales. I’m focused in details of story, world, and characters. I put together
book bibles for each novel that are very detailed about every aspect of story, world, and people in in. I
still have plans on becoming the next princess of heroic fantasy. Just give me time.


What have you learned about your craft of writing?
I learned I have a knack for three things-creating good dialogue, great characters, and giving my
characters good names. It’s a gift I’m grateful for.


Would you ever write in another genre?
I love fantasy, but would love to dive into science fiction, especially some space opera.


What inspired you to write about Sabine Fable in your latest novel?
A new character I’ve never done before. I love my heroines, and they always lead my tales. With Sabine
Fable, I wanted to explore a character who suffered a rough home life and poverty, but was determined
to rise above what society dictated. I added real human elements in this tale of magic, and created flesh
and blood characters with more depth.


What characteristics does she have that make her a force to be reckoned with?

A tough upbringing can make a tough character. Her heart is good, but she is fierce and protective of
those she loves. She does not trust easily. She champions the underdog because she is one of them. Her
family once had magic, but mage fever took that away. She was a bastard, and judged for her low birth.
Magic is currency in her world, and mages rule. Even humble charm caste has respect. She had none.
Sabine is hungry for more than magic. She wants justice and to be treated with respect. She wants
people to see her. And yet she would never betray a friend or family member for what she desires.


Which author would you most like to meet and why?

There are so many! Many of my favorites have passed (Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, Robert E. Howard,
Patricia McKillip). Neil Gaiman is one of many on my list. I did have the joy of meeting Tanya Huff (so
awesome), Kevin J., Anderson, and the great Larry Niven at conventions. I would love to meet Jennifer
Roberson someday. At least she is my Facebook friend. As are you, Mandy.


With several series of books, are you planning more?
Yes, but with publishers rising and falling around me over the years, I plan to be more careful. Even if I
plan a series, I will do each novel as a stand-alone. I am working on the second novel to Bardess of
Rhulon, called War Poet. But I am writing my novels from that perspective.

Has a movie or TV show inspired any of your stories?
Some of the actors in favorite shows or movies I may be inspired by. Some of my characters are drawn
from well-known actors.


What aspect of writing do you like the most?

The power to create my own worlds and stories. Yes, I am a goddess who rules her worlds.

Where can readers find your books?
Amazon has all my novels, available in both print and Kindle. My books are also on Barnes& Noble
online. And my new publisher (for Bardess of Rhulon & The Bastard Sorceress) TANSTAAFL Press.

Bio:

Verna McKinnon is a fantasy author of adventurous heroines. She is the author of the novels, The Bastard Sorceress, The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice, though she has some science fiction in the works. Check in with her at her website. You can also read some of her previously published short stories at her website http:// vernamckinnon.com. Stay in touch by subscribing to email list at http://vernamckinnon.com/newsletter.html for her quarterly newsletter for news & updates. Follow Verna on Instagram @ vernamckinnon.author & Facebook for the latest on her writing life as a fantasy author, animal lover, and how she stays sane despite the odds. Chocolate helps.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Interview J.E. McKnight

September 22, 2022
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You have written many novels, and most are time travel or sci-fi – what drew you to this specific type of genre?

The easiest answer to this is to say that I was inspired by my love for Back to the Future that I saw at the drive-in theater with my parents in 1985. It is my all-time favourite movie and gave me my love of time travel, which also extended to science fiction in general.

Do your story ideas come easily, or do they develop over time?

Some of them come easy while others take quite a bit of time. Initial ideas come pretty easy. I’ll hear somebody say something or I’ll be listening to a song and that sparks an idea. My ideas come from many different places. It seems I always have ideas coming. I have a list for NaNoWriMo up until 2028.

What is your writing process?

I usually just sit down and write. I’ll come up with an idea and I may take a few notes, but I don’t do a lot of plotting. I prefer to just write and figure things out in editing.

Do you have future projects pending?

I have two projects in editing right now and another one ready for editing, but I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing with that one. I also have the previous year’s NaNoWriMo project that needs to be completed. I unfortunately did not meet my goal.

You are attending a book fair event on 24th September, can you tell us about it?

Yes. Words in the Park is held in Sherwood Park in the Strathcona Community Center’s Agora Room from 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first live event for Words in the Park that we’ve had for 2 years. There are going to be around 30 artisans, and authors in attendance. There is going to be lots to do for all ages.

Tell us a little about your most recent published books?

Virtual Age

What inspired your novel Virtual Age?

I’ve always liked the idea of virtual reality. I can’t think of any one thing that inspired the idea. As for the title, I came up with that at work. I work as a commercial pipe insulator and I remember being on a job and I had to wait for material as it hadn’t been delivered yet. As I was waiting, I took notes on the different ages from history – dark ages, iron age, computer age, etc. – and I ended up using that list in the book.

Do you think this format could become real?

I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope it doesn’t come to the point where it becomes a necessity for survival as the world dies but, as far as the technology is concerned, we are becoming more and more advanced as the years go on. Today VR is impressively advanced; maybe one day we’ll get to step into these computer worlds rather than just have images coming at you.

Would there be dangers to being immersed in such a ‘world’?

I could only imagine the dangers that would be involved with immersing your mind into a computer. I included some of the dangers, in my novel, I figured would be relevant in this scenario.

Does your narrative have a message for your readers?

 In most of my books I include the message of acceptance and trust – accepting people for who they are and trusting people until they give you a real reason not to. Don’t judge someone before you get to know them.

Last Stop

When did this story idea come to you?

I’ve had this idea for years. I don’t know exactly when I came up with it. All I know is I heard the Journey song Don’t Stop Believing. There’s a line in the song about a couple meeting on a midnight train. I loved that idea and it spawned from there.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts. I have not had any experiences with ghosts and am kind of skeptical. I think if something has happened or were to happen, I would try to explain it away logically. Though, I hope there is something out there.

Why did you base the novel in Edmonton’s LRT system?

I based the novel in Edmonton because I love where I live and, because I live here, it’s easier to write what you know. I chose the LRT system because it perfectly met with my initial inspiration of the couple meeting on a midnight train.

Hello Baby, Nice to Meet You!

Why did you write this story?

I have always wanted to write a children’s book. I have had other ideas in my head in the past but then, when my sister announced she was pregnant, I had an idea to write a book for her child. The title of the story was going to be for a very different story. In that one it was going to be about a father trying to get to the hospital in time to see his wife have his baby. I chose to change the idea as I thought a book about animals would appeal more to kids.

Did you base the characters and location on personal experience?

It’s not about anyone or any place in particular. I did grow up on a farm but, by the time I came around, my parents had gotten rid of most of the animals. We did have cats, a rabbit at one point, and a bunch of laying chickens. I wanted to expand a little bit on what I knew, and chose the animals for the book that would be different enough from each other to be interesting. I could have done more, but I needed to draw a line somewhere.

What advantages does this story have for parents as well as children?

For parents it’s easy to read and there really aren’t a lot of pages, so if their child has a short attention span it’s great for that. For kids I included bits of trivia for them to learn from. Also, the kids will enjoy the brightly coloured illustrations of the fun animals and their young.

Who was the illustrator?

I illustrated it. This is the second full-coloured illustrated kids book I illustrated, but this is the first one I had both written and illustrated.

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Can We Avoid the Shiny & New Writing Idea?

August 11, 2022
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With the first draft of the second book in my crime fiction trilogy off to beta readers, I can rest easy for a minute. Of course, the plan is to begin the third and final book during National Novel Writing Month but… as we all know something shiny and new can always draw us away from the ‘should do’s’ and entice us in other directions.

In common with many writers, I have a stack of manuscripts in various stages of completion. A western romance, a suspense novel, and a YA romance. These manuscripts have been dwelling in digital folders for some time, and I keep reminding myself that they should be revised and edited and then set out into the world. Alas, a new shiny project always seems to take precedence and steers me away.

However, the one shining brightly at the moment is none of these. Rather, it is a prequel to my Rython saga. It will tell the story of how the vengeful witch, Malgraf became such a malignant force. I have mental images of locations, the young Malgraf and her childhood experiences manifesting into story and it is so enticing. I am even thinking which colour I should use for the book cover! As you can see I have a gorgeous blue and green for the other editions, but need a darker feel for the story of the witch, for obvious reasons. A cover always tells its own story and sets the mood for the reader.

So, how do we avoid a new idea? Well, there are several predisposing conditions.

  1. A publishing deadline.
  2. Reader expectation.
  3. To continue the flow of a series.
  4. Keeping the characters front and center to ensure continuity.

These can help drag you away from a new and shiny idea – but not always. It all comes down to your self control and if you are under a contract. For me, I will explore my new story, jotting down scenes etc. and possibly use part of NaNoWriMo to write it. It will be a novella, in line with the other two editions, so will leave me ‘space’ in November to start the final book in the trilogy. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

How do you avoid a new story idea? Or do you succumb to the excitement?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Alleviating Health Problems in Writers

August 4, 2022
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Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

They say that sitting is now the new smoking and as writers – we sit! It may be in front of a screen or jotting down scenes in a notebook, but the majority of our writing time is ‘bum on seat’. As with any job, there are health pitfalls, but the most common for writers are:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders. Poor posture, and lack of exercise and movement. Get moving!
  • Eye/Vision Disorders. Too much screen time, a back light engages your brain but also burns your retinas. Look away regularly or switch off.
  • Headaches. Excessive screen time, or reading find print. Ensure you have regular eye tests.
  • Obesity. Lack of movement and too much snacking. Limit sugary and salty snacks and exercise.
  • Repetitive Stiffness Injuries. Attributed to mouse holding cramps and also typing/writing for long periods. Wrist, arm and shoulder exercises can help.
  • Stress and Depression. Working to a deadline, revisions and editing – the list is long. Set realistic goals and create step by step targets.
  • Hearing Damage. This may not be for everyone, but having music or back ground noise at too high a level can harm your hearing. Invest in good headphones for noise cancellation or music and keep the volume at a comfortable level.
  • Lower Body/Foot Swelling. Sitting for too long can result in swelling and numbness, especially if your chair position leaves your legs dangling, or footwear is not supportive. Ensure your chair is positioned for your height so your feet are firmly on the floor and wear supportive footwear.
  • Blood sugar. Remember your brain needs ‘food’ as well as rest. Don’t get to the ‘hangry’ status. Set a timer for meals and drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital.

Be conscious of what your body is telling you.

The healthier you are the better your writing will become – a health body is a healthy mind after all.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Do you have any health tips to share?

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