Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – VS Holmes – Creative Edge

July 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


VS Holmes

  1. What attracted you to write series?

Both my series actually started as stand-alones! Most of my projects begin as single novels and then I realize the story either has much more to be told (in the case of Nel Bently) or it needs a lot more room (Blood of Titans). I love slow-burn, complex stories, both when reading and writing, so I think I naturally gravitate toward characters and tales that won’t let me go easily.

  1. You have two genres – sci-fi and fantasy. re both equally important to you? If so why.

My writing process and the pacing between the two genres vary wildly and I’m usually working on one tale in each genre at any given point. I don’t really have a favourite, though I think writing fantasy might come easier, as that’s where I started professionally writing. Science fiction, for me, is about hope and road-maps to those futures (even if they’re a bit dark too) and I need that to balance out the drama and scope of my fantasy worlds. Writing any genre, though, is about finding the truth of that particular story.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

For Nel, a lot of the inspiration understandably comes from my day job as an archaeologist, though Nel started on academic sites and I do contract work. So many of the unique places I end up and the wonderful and bizarre people I meet inspire my settings and characters. I’m also a huge “what if” person and enjoy lots of solitude and instrumental music to rattle around in my mental card catalogue.

 

  1. How long does it take you to write your first draft of an idea?

Since my process differs from genre to genre, it really depends on the project! With sci-fi it’s about four months and fantasy eight–the first half I spend dawdling and the second racing my deadline and speed writing. When not on deadline, though, I like to languish in my worlds. I’ll spend over a year fiddling with ideas outside of my main project. Once those ideas are promoted I usually have about 20% of what will be the final book (and many, many typos!).

  1. How much plotting do you do for each series?

A huge amount. I tend to be a very organized writer, in part to make order of my disorganized internal world. When I’m doing in depth revisions on a novel, I have the outline of the next book or series overview open and I’ll jot down key things that need to be paid off, or little cameos I want to include. Many main series events or character arcs are laid out by the time I’ve finished the first book in a series, even if I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there yet. That said, I re-outline at the mid point in my drafting and again at the end, so while I have to have it organized, the content itself is subject to change!

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to write?

While traveling! I enjoy writing on planes and trains and ferries! Movement helps me think, and a lot of my plot knots are worked out on my long commutes to project areas (don’t worry, I use voice-to-text to keep track while driving!) But honestly, nothing really beats my own desk in the early morning. It’s such a sanctuary for me.

  1. If you were one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?

This is tough–mostly because I know what they’ll have to endure! But I think I’d choose to be Firas (Blood of Titans: Restored), the fun-loving bartender from the slums and love interest for the nation’s mercurial, not-quite-human king. I love his bar and sense of community, not to mention his dancing skills are fantastic! I also adore Azimir, but honestly, I’d just like to have him as a best friend. Everyone needs an Azimir in their life.

 

  1. You are an advocate for disabled and queer representation in your work. May we ask what prefaced that decision?

Short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to write characters, who are like myself–I’m gender queer, pansexual, and disabled. Growing up, especially as a teen, it was really hard to find books with characters, who loved and felt the way I do. Queer representation is something that is necessary for our communities and so much of it is tragic or stereotypes, or written for the straight, cis gaze. I wanted to actually write our stories from within. Then, five years ago I discovered that my “aches and pains” were actually a degenerative autoimmune condition that attacks my connective tissue. My way of navigating the world has changed drastically since then, but nothing sparks the imagination like being limited. I aim to write worlds and characters to show all we can do, rather than fall back on harmful tropes. Fiction, especially SFF, is a perfect medium for exploring how we want our world to look and how to make it more accessible and accepting.

blood 

  1. Tell us about your new releases.

My newest release is Blood and Mercy, the final book in Blood of Titans: Restored. It follows two main characters: Rih, a Deaf former soldier plotting rebellion and Keplan a queer, teenaged god. Both face a political marriage and the aftermath of a divine war. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.

My next sci-fi release is this October, Covid-willing, and will be the fourth Nel Bently book, Heretics. Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.

 

  1. How can readers contact you?

You can check out my website, www.vsholmes.com, and grab a free sci-fi or fantasy short to see if you like my work, read my FAQ, and send me an email. Plus, if you become an Explorer you’ll get exclusive updates, free books, and more. Of course, I’m also on various social media.

  1. What social media sites are you on?

I’m most active and candid on Twitter and Instagram @VS_Holmes (if you don’t mind the occasional picture of bugs and bones.) I’m also on Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

  1. Do you have a message for your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my worlds and characters as much as I enjoy creating them, and I hope you’ve found someone in my work who speaks to you, or a tiny dream and the strength to hold fast.

Bio:

V.S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.

When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.

LINKS:

Site: http://www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvsholmes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

 

 

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Creating A Writing Session

July 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

We all want the time and space to write more. Life gets in the way a lot of the time, but if you make some ‘writing’ time within our normal life, it can be done.

person writing on notebook

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Firstly, it seems obvious but set a goal for your writing session. Do you know what your objective is? Are you brainstorming, creating a character description, outlining a plot, starting a new project or completing one?

Secondly, prepare for what you will be writing, do your homework for locations, period etc. Brainstorm ideas before you start, make notes. Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

TIP: Don’t be too ridge, let the story flow – it doesn’t always go to plan! But that’s the joy of writing.

 Thirdly, gauge how committed you are to this piece of writing? Are you excited to start or is it feeling like a chore? If the latter, try something new or another project.

TIP: Use word or picture prompts to ignite your Muse to get you started and in a writing mood.

Also make sure you are in a good writing spot. Have you minimized distractions? Do you need quiet or music, a cafe or library setting. Or is your home space best for you or will there be too many interruptions?

Decide on how long you will write for. Don’t make the session too long or it will dampen your enthusiasm. Ensure you have breaks for refreshments, to stretch or even go for a walk.

Once you have these elements in place check your clock and set the timer. Don’t look at it constantly – just write. Lose yourself in the narrative. Enjoy the process. Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. Let your imagination expand.

TIP: Don’t edit or revise – just write.

I like to sit in my living room with my laptop on a little table – in the warmer months, I can look out at the lawn and watch the birds & bunnies and in the cold months, I enjoy the fireplace. When we go on road trips, I usually sit at the desk or on the bed with my little table.

 Where is your ‘go to’ writing spot?

What are you working on currently?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Weather Affects Our Writing

July 9, 2020
mandyevebarnett


July has been a wet month so far here in Alberta. Walking my little rescue pup, has left us often soaked, but when we do manage to escape a thunder storm and finally catch a break in the clouds, we enjoy the sunshine to the fullest. Sammie is an enjoyable addition to my life – my step count have gone through the roof! Another good point in our writing life – bum off seat for exercise.

BBQ SAMMIE

The weather can affect our writing too. Sunny days draw us out into the warmth away from our usual writing spot. A patio or deck, balcony or beach or mountain retreat become our new inspiring spot. Cold weather has the opposite effect – cozy in front of a fire, huddled in blankets and fluffy socks. Whatever the weather, our writing changes ever so subtly. We may not even realize it.

Do you write more in the colder months or does creating outside in the sunshine increase your word count?

beach3

Do your character’s situations reflect how you feel? Frustrated not to be outside in the warmth? Or happy not to have to trek through snow drifts?

Are your characters experiencing your weather or climate? Does it change how you write the scene? Or does it inspire you to accelerate their situation to extremes of weather?

With the effects of COVID19 across the world, we have either found writing to be an escape or a block on it. Maybe, we cannot find the inspiration for a narrative but our journal writing has increased. A record of our experience for future reference.

sofa

Have you written a scene a certain way because of the weather you were experiencing at that time?  There are ways weather can be used in a narrative. It can give a mood or be symbolic, or even complicate the character’s situation.

I have currently returned to a manuscript, where the main protagonist escapes into the wild and the current storms helped set the mood. I could feel the intense foreboding, the expectation, the fear of the next thunderclap.

What weather inspired writing have you experienced in 2020 so far?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – How Do You Choose Your Next Writing Project?

July 2, 2020
mandyevebarnett


With the final editing revisions sent to my publisher, I am thinking about my next story. As with many authors there is a never ending project pile. So how do you to choose the next one?

binding books bound colorful

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are several scenarios:

1. You have submitted one part of a series – your choice is reasonable clear – write the next book in the series. This can depend on when the manuscript has to be finished obviously but readers want the next one pretty quickly.

2. You are committed to writing a story for an anthology. Ensure you make the deadline.

3. A new idea has ‘popped’ into your head – it is always tempting to write the newest and brightest. However, can it wait? Maybe ask is it reflecting a current topic? Would it be best to get it published sooner rather than later?

4. You have several unfinished manuscripts pending. (This is my current quandary.) How do you choose?

The above options do give us guidance but if you are not committed to a deadline then what options are open to you?

a) Write the titles out and pick one out of a hat.

b) Ask your readers on social media to choose by voting.

c) Gauge the current ‘popular’ genre and write accordingly.

I have opted for b) and received a flurry of votes on Facebook and twitter, which was a pleasant surprise indeed.

suspense

The choices were – A western romance or a suspense novel. The suspense won! So I will delve into The Giving Thief for this year and into next.

person writing on white paper

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Other News

I have gained a new freelance client for August. So I am looking forward to working with this author on her novel from August onward.

My steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift is now with my publisher and set for a September 2020 launch. Unsure at this point what that will actually look like or compose of but we will see.

Take care and stay well.

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Ann Charles

June 25, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Ann Charles 2017 Color Comp

  1. Why did you choose to write mysteries?

I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge that comes with writing a mystery. My stories are actually more character-driven than plot-driven, though, so as much as I enjoy the challenge of writing a mystery, I also have fun exploring character growth on the page.

  1. Is it a genre you enjoy reading as well?

Actually, I don’t read mysteries as much as I do other genres, such as westerns, supernatural suspense, and romance. That’s probably why my books are actually more mixed genre than straight mysteries. I like to include humor, supernatural elements, romance, suspense, and adventure on the page along with the mystery plot.

  1. What sparked your first book idea?

I was unhappy with the endings in several books I’d recently read and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing different endings that satisfied me more. This idea grew into me creating the story from start to end, which then blossomed into writing full-length novels. Novels soon changed into long-running series, and now I have five different series I juggle.

Devil Days Cover

  1. Do you prefer writing series or stand-a-lone novels? 

I like writing series because I enjoy developing characters. It’s more fulfilling to develop these characters over a long-running series than trying to fit it all into one story. My character arcs span the whole series, allowing them to grow and change with every book.

  1. Does your background and location help you capture a setting for your characters/settings? Or is it just imagination? 

I believe my background and the places I’ve lived/visited play a role in capturing a setting, but my imagination takes ideas to the next level. I have a series set here in Arizona where I live (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series), and I have spent many summers and holidays in the Deadwood, South Dakota area because my mom moved there when I was in seventh grade. While my Dig Site series takes place in the Yucatan (an area of Mexico which I have not visited yet), that series plays on my dream of being an archaeologist, allowing me to explore that field without actually living down there under the trees.

Maps

  1. What benefit do you feel comes with the illustrations? Why did you choose that format?

My brother is my illustrator, so I enjoy including his art in my stories. I think illustrations help bring the story to life even more for readers. In addition, these illustrations add to my Ann Charles author brand and help set my stories apart from others. Not many adult fiction novels have illustrations in them these days.

  1. Is Violet “Spooky” Parker based on someone real or a combination of characters?

Violet is a mixture of my imagination and my sense of humor. She isn’t based on anyone I know. Her character became clear to me after some time spent imagining her life and struggles as I worked on the setup for the first Deadwood novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood.

  1. Did you plan your mystery/ humor/ romance subplot plot lines, or did it evolve as your crafted the stories?

I knew from the start of the Deadwood and Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series that I was going to write mixed genre stories with mystery as the main plot. I’ve always enjoyed funny romance stories and had worked for years on strengthening that part of my storytelling, studying humor and romance in books and practicing my ability to mix them together on the page. My favorite movies are mixed genre with these elements, so it’s not a surprise that these are the stories that come out on the page for me.

images

  1. Was it a conscious decision to become an author?

Not really. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but writing was not on my radar until my senior year in high school. Even then, though, I really didn’t plan on becoming an author and spent years in college studying Spanish and daydreaming of other careers. In the end, I took so many English classes in college that I figured I might as well minor in creative writing and see where this urge to tell stories led me.

  1. Do you feel self-publishing has benefited you more than other options?

Self-publishing has allowed me to explore story lines without an outside influence, as in a marketing department that might have forced me to write what was hot in the “market” at the time. Also, I have learned so much about marketing and promotion because I’ve been in charge of building my career. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but I enjoy most of the aspects of running my own business and plan to continue on this path for as long as I can.

  1. Which character do you enjoy writing the most & why?

That’s a tough question—I don’t think I have a single favorite. I enjoy switching between my different series and exploring different characters and their adventures. Violet Parker is fun because I get to dabble in the supernatural with her and she makes me laugh often. The Morgan sisters from my Jackrabbit Junction series are a blast and are always getting into mix-ups with the law. They allow me to explore sisterhood and have fun in the Arizona desert. In my Dig Site series, I enjoy playing archaeologist, and in the Deadwood Undertaker series that I write with my husband, Sam Lucky, I get to write westerns, which is something I have wanted to do for years but was apprehensive about all of the research it would take to make sure the historical elements were accurate. In the end, I like switching between each series and exploring life with different characters.

  1. Have any of your manuscripts gone in a vastly different direction to what you thought they would? 

I often vary from my original plot line ideas that I come up with before starting. These initial plot lines I put together just let me know that I have a story possibility and give me the confidence to go forth and dive into a story. I’m not very good at detailed planning when it comes to books and tend to give my brain the room to come up with new ideas to explore along the way.

  1. How can readers find you? What social media site links can you share?

Website: http://www.anncharles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnCharlesAuthorPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwcharles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ann_charles

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/annwcharles

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AnnWCharles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-charles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4605878.Ann_Charles

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Charles/e/B004JLYPFW

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnCharlesAuthor

  1. Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

My books are meant to give you a fun escape. I try to teach a little history along the way, but mainly I want to provide fictional places that will make you smile or laugh as well as wince now and then. Also, all but my AC Silly Circus series having crossover characters, which my readers tend to enjoy. It’s always fun to come across a Deadwood series character in my Jackrabbit Junction books, and vice versa. I have a list of my books in series reading order as well as an overall list of all of my books in timeline order on my website (under the Books section) so that you can choose in what order you’d like to read them.

Ann Charles Bio:

USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and paranormal mayhem. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.

Creative Edge

 

 

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