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Ask A Question Thursday

May 23, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question is: What is your motivation for writing more?

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My reply is that I have so many stories tumbling around in my head, I have to keep writing to get them all out. Many of you know I only began ‘writing’ when I came to Canada so I’m now making up for ‘lost’ time! I have always been creative but for whatever reason I had never written ‘stories’ before for the explicit reason of allowing other people to read them.

What is your reason – leave a comment below.

Last week’s question: Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

 Katie O’Connor.

I’ve done that. Some of my best ideas come to me in dreams. If I was a thriller or suspense writer, I’d have even more writing material. My brain likes to frighten me at night.

Author Interview – Tamara Plant

May 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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What inspired your latest novel?

Death has been a part of my life since I can remember but I didn’t realize it until two people I loved died within weeks of each other from completely different causes. To that point in my life, I’d lost countless relatives, a boyfriend, my mom, grandmother, grandfather, and father-in-law. Yet, the two losses I experienced in 2017 forced me to examine why I had been surrounded by death. Ultimately, the book is a series of love letters to people who have come in and out of my life, sharing the lessons I’ve learned and how death, love and soulmates are all connected.

How did you come up with the title?            

Originally, the book was going to be called Love, Me since that’s how I sign most of my letters but after sharing the original cover on my Facebook page, a friend suggested I drop the Me and simply call it Love. I initially shrugged off the suggestion until I played around with it and decided that I loved the title so I went with it.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Death isn’t an easy topic to discuss and it’s definitely not an easy experience to go through. The book touches on the spiritual connection before and after death, and how you grief is experienced through the loss of love even if the relationship doesn’t end because of death. Basically, the book is about healing.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Everything in the book is non-fiction, the people I write about have lived, and the letters are written by people who knew me at certain points in my life.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Twitter @soulmemos

Instagram @soulconversationswithtamara

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

My next book is connected to the teachings of Mother Teresa of all people. Anyone who knows me will find this completely baffling considering I am nothing like her but there’s a story connected to why I’m writing it *shrugs* I think it will be pretty good. Totally a stand alone book.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I’ve focused on non-fiction because I believe sharing your experiences can help others who might feel alone and if I can help one person get through whatever it is they’re going through, I know I’ve succeeded in my life purpose.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I channel write so basically when I’m writing, I sit down and let the words flow.

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What is your best marketing tip?

Don’t pay for advertising. Building an authentic brand is more important than hitting a million followers with white noise social media ads.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I love social media however I filter through the negativity including anything political or the drama of the day. There’s enough toxic bullshit in the world, I don’t need it permeating my online life.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My teenage son, Oscar, is the one person who reads everything I write and is proud of everything I’ve accomplished. We share a special bond and I love knowing that I can bounce ideas off of him or count on him to be the first person cheering me onto the finish line.

Where is your favorite writing space?

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. I can sit in the Emerald Lounge all day and write.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

S.E. Hinton. She wrote the most iconic YA book of all time and I devoured The Outsiders when I was in Grade 7. I tweeted with her once while I was watching the movie. It was a surreal experience.

 

Bio:

Tamara Plant is the author of Forgiveness and Other Stupid Things and Love (because death doesn’t fuck around). Her story has been shared in the #1 International best selling book, Modern Heroine Soul Stories, and a wide variety of online summits, blog posts and video conferences. October 27, 2014 was proclaimed Tamara Plant Day by the City of Edmonton for her work celebrating 212 men and women across Alberta who made a difference through her annual event, the FIERCE awards. She offers workshops on how to understand grief, forgiveness, and soul connections, and can often be found on social media sharing posts about Eminem, angel messages, and wine. Oh, and once she tweeted with S.E. Hinton while watching The Outsiders. It was as amazing as it sounds.

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

April 9, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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What inspired your latest novel? A few years ago, I worked with a personal growth mentor on a workbook for telling life story as a myth. I gathered the stories I wrote and from them created The Storyteller: Tales of Enchantment which was recently published by Dream Write Publishing. My weary Gypsy traveller is an elder who shares tales of magic and wonder while passing on wisdom in these short, fanciful pieces. I am currently at work on an autobiographical novel.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Maturity and aging are ripe with gifts. Elder tales are to be respected as much as traditional fairy tales, which focus on the courage to venture out into the world and seek their fortunes. Instead, my Gypsy Storyteller elder tales touch on the archetypes common to all of us as we age. I hope readers will grasp the deeper message of the stories, seeing in them the courage to confront the challenges of growing old. Our culture is youth-oriented and so I want the reader to appreciate that elders are heroes too.

How much of the book is realistic? These tales are symbolic of the lessons I’ve learned in life. In that respect, they are realistic. The themes are my own observations of loss, self-confrontation, masks, transcendence and seeing wonder in the world, all timeless insights learned by growing old.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Each story is a fanciful description of values and strengths I’ve come to accept in myself, and a way to reflect using active imagination and reflection.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I have an author page and a story page on Facebook, and a website with a blog at www.kathiesutherland.com. My blogs are few and far between lately as other writing projects have taken up space in my mind.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Most of my writing is “life writing” in one form or another. My work is Self-centered, soulful and focused on wholeness although some think it is self-centered and ego driven.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I believe each of us has a story in which we are the protagonist. My Gypsy Storyteller has created these tales to affirm my favorite voices. The Blind Gardener, The Good Wife, Grandmother Spider are all wise characters from my inner world.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I’ve tried many writing genres, all of them focused on life story. Even as a child, my favourite books were fables, songs, fairy tales and classic stories, such as Heidi and Little Women. As an adult, I’ve embraced journaling for personal growth, become a certified journaling facilitator, written poetry and published it in chapbooks and bound books, gathered personal essays into a memoir collection, submitted articles to magazines, had my short stories published in anthologies; all of these works based on life events and family history. I’m currently working on an autobiographic narrative and two novels. I have recently been assisting elders and others at the end of life to identify the values of a lifetime and leave these insightful stories as a “Letter of the Heart” legacy for family and friends.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Definitely seat of the pants but the stories are usually based on true events. Having a structure into which the story falls helps me plan.

What is your best marketing tip? This is not a question I feel comfortable with because I quickly lose interest after completing books and hurry off into new projects without marketing the published ones. Its the writing I love. I could use the help of a marketing assistant!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I like social media as a way to reach out to others but I have to limit my time with it. My favourite self-expression methods are stories and poems in book form. I love using the computer to write and edit.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing? Writing is “the way to me.” Every time I write, I learn something about my values, beliefs and strengths. This lifelong learning is very important to me.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother brought our faraway relatives to life with family stories. As a child, I took on the role of correspondent and wrote letters to friends and family. I surprised myself when I wrote a good short story in 10th grade and later, found poetry could express my feelings as an adult in my early 30s. I became serious about life story writing in 2000 after attending a seminar focused on the lives of girls and women. Once I realized I had a story to tell, I embraced life writing.

What genre are you currently reading? Memoir and autobiography mostly. I love a good novel and love to encourage other writers in their efforts to create with words and enjoy acting as first reader for them.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both. I love to learn more about my current interests, and this strength serves me well in my research. For example, I am reading books about building on my innate strengths, accepting my dark side, aging with wisdom and dying with dignity.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Other writers and writing groups. My mother is my biggest fan and has read all my books. I have worked with personal coaches and other “balcony” people, including my psychologist.

Where is your favorite writing space? In my office/sanctuary. One of my favourite activities is taking a writers’ retreat whether with others or alone. Solitary time is essential to my writing.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? Two, one in Sherwood Park and one in Fort Saskatchewan. I like to feel I belong, and writers groups are definitely the place I find community.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? I am in awe of all writing efforts, because as I said earlier, we all have a story of some sort within us and I’m interested in how we express them.

Do you see writing as a career? I believe my life purpose is to grow into myself. Writing is a way to give my life meaning. Success in a career is simply loving what I do.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? When I write, my tea gets cold, and the ice in my drink melts. I’m not a snacker at any time!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I am working on giving myself credit for completing projects and enjoying the fruits of my labour because I don’t do that often enough. I’m usually off on the next bit of writing. My greatest reward is hearing someone say, “I can relate to this character and your writing.”

Other books by Kathie:

 

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland has recently published a collection of Elder Tales “The Storyteller: True Tales of Enchantment.” She is also the author of Things We Keep: A Memoir, and poetry books balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight; Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She has several large writing projects in the works including three novels.

Kathie is a well-travelled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops and is active in her local writing group. Currently, she encourages others as a story listener and writing companion to elders and those at the end of life as they articulate their values stories to share as a legacy in “Letters of the Heart.”

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Author Interview – Christa Conklin

March 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.

My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.

During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.

Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.

The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.

How did you come up with the title?

Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.

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How much of the book is realistic?

My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.

http://www.christaconklin.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christaconklin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christaconklinauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528828.Christa_Conklin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christa-Conklin/e/B0788392DJ/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christa-conklin-72002669/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”

Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.

What is your best marketing tip?

I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!

Bio:

CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and
woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school
their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle.
Visit her at christaconklin.com.

Review:

Tranquility  by Christa Conklin
“Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies,
and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative
tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of
characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you
finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next
adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
March 20, 2019

Blurb:
She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying.
The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds.
Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.

 

Ask A Question Thursday

March 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question is:

Have you ever changed the ending of a book based off the reaction of editors or beta-readers?

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Comments from last week’s question:

What do you think is the most unethical practice in the writing community? Is it plagiarism, ‘vanity’ publishing companies, copyright violations or something else?

I think plagiarism and copyright violations go hand-in-hand. As an artist who has found my work for sale on pirate websites, I can tell you that it really sucks when someone steals your work. Am I flattered that they find my work worthy of copying? No!

Gerri Bowen Piracy.
Ashley Cockerill I agree. Piracy.
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