Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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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.

*******My Monarch – A Final Farewell*******

September 13, 2022
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The news of my monarch’s passing devastated me and I cried with a broken heart. Queen Elizabeth was the only monarch I ever knew. Her smile, sense of humour and fun, service, commitment, integrity and stoic, unwavering presence are my memories of her. During my life I have seen my Queen age, gather more family members, travel to far countries, meet dignitaries, and be a symbol of grace. She was the best of British to me and I do not apologize for being a proud British subject because of her.

As a young woman of 25, she was plunged into a role she never expected to take until much later in life. I do not know anyone, who at that age, could have taken on so much. She kept her pledge until her last breath. She was an inspiration to me and even when her family and country gave her cause for hurt, pain and reflection, my Queen retained her composure and stood tall in public.

We will not see such integrity for some time and that makes me sad. I may not be around when that happens with King William, but know he and Catherine will be a true reflection of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and values.

I will miss you, Queen Elizabeth, but I know you are with your Prince once again, together in spirit. You served your country with the utmost commitment and I thank you.

God Rest Queen Elizabeth.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – In-Person Author Events September

September 8, 2022
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September is a busy month for book events and I am looking forward to them after such a long a break. The first is Words on the Street in Lethbridge on 17th September.

It will be great to see the local authors I know there and meet new ones. There is always so much to do and enjoy centered around literature and writing.

The second event is more local, Words in the Park, in Sherwood Park. The event will be celebrating 15 years, which is a fantastic milestone! With local authors, artisans and musicians showcasing their creativity, the event is part of Alberta Culture Days and there is something for all the family.

If you are a writer, author, or reader this is the event you must attend. The pdf form to apply for a table is on this page – just scroll down. Link:

Invite your friends, family and colleagues and discover local talent.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Character Interview – Owena from The Commodore’s Gift

July 19, 2022
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This is a character interview with Owena from my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift.

1. Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like.) Currently, I am living within a rebel stronghold, deep in a cave complex in a forest in England. I am the daughter of a widowed landowner and sister to an older brother, Benjamin. My mother died when I was young, and so being brought up in a male dominated household, I was able to pursue more exciting and physical pursuits. I am boyish in my interests, but as my body developed these pursuits became more difficult and frowned upon. I have a strong yet feminine body, long auburn hair and brown eyes. I am told I have a determined and fierce look. This reflects my true inner personality, I am not happy to play the ‘little woman’.

2. What do you like to do in your spare time?  There is no spare time for any of us fighting the usurper King, but if I did have time to enjoy, I would be horse riding through the hills and valleys of my home. The freedom from conventional clothing, the wind in my loose hair and to control a strong, capable beast is truly magnificent.

3. Is there something more you would like to do? To find a way to pursue my ideal way of life, which is the opposite of what society expects. I do not want to be shackled to a man, his home, his rules and restricted by societal conventions. I want a man, who is my equal, to stand side by side, and right wrongs and protect those unable to protect themselves. I dream of traveling a life of adventure and experiences.

4. When did you first ride a horse? I was much younger than probably was acceptable. I was brought up by my father and brother and lacking a female role model, I initially rode with my father at five years of age and then quickly gained enough confidence to ride a pony at six years old. I did not ride sidesaddle, but astride, which was frowned upon, of course.

5. How did it feel to discard your female clothes in favor of more manly attire? Today’s fashion, in itself, constricts and limits a woman to the detriment of her health. Without the restriction of a corset and layers of petticoats, I felt free to move. No more stifled and moderated movements. With such agility I could certainly weld a sword more easily, as well as move more freely, it is liberating.

7. What would you say is your biggest quirk? I do not accept I have a quirk at all! However, my strength of character and ability to fight with a sword are viewed as unladylike to say the least, within our Victorian society. I do not bow down to such demeaning rules and conventions. I forge against the ill conceived view of women in society – this makes me ‘odd’ to many people.

8. Who are your enemies? I, and my fellow resistance fighters, have two common enemies. King Buldrick – the self-proclaimed king, whose revolt against the rightful king had the royal family flee for their lives, and Commodore Gripe-Rudhall. A man of such sadist cruelty, even to hear of his exploits can make a grown man vomit. He is without an ounce of compassion in his body. He welds such control, as the false king’s right hand man, that many have given up all hope. He is the one I aim to defeat.

9. What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep them in your life? I would say my dear father and brother, and my friend and longtime companion Josephine are those souls I would protect with my life. However, there is another more recent acquaintance, who has become very important to me. But, I cannot reveal that relationship quite yet. (Read the book to find out!)

10. Are you fearless? No, far from it, but I found out that most people are not either. A man, however, can appear fearless, as he learns to control that fear, use it to his advantage and I am learning that lesson too. Fear can incapacitate or bring rage – it is up to the individual to use it best.

Do you have a question you would like to ask Owena? Put it in the comments.

Book link:

Creative Edge Author Interview – Julie Gianelloni

May 12, 2022
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What affect has your extensive travel made to your writing?

. A large part of my adult life has been spent overseas, and that of course informs my writing. Both my books have international settings, and I feel comfortable writing about international affairs.

·      When did you begin your hiking adventures?

I am not a hiker normally, and I didn’t really train to hike the Camino de Santiago. Still, I had no problem doing the long-distance walking; I just didn’t love it. I set off from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France on May 3, 2016.

·      What made you want to write your book Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike?

In my early 20s, I read James Mitchener’s book Iberia. In it, his last chapter is on the Camino de Santiago. So, in about 1972, I put traveling the Camino de Santiago on my “someday” travel list. I just didn’t know that “someday” would take 45 years.

·      Do you have a message within the hiking narrative for your readers?

Yes, I do have a message, and it makes me a heretic as far as many Camino purists are concerned. A culture has grown up around the Camino that if one doesn’t walk every step one is not a “true” pilgrim. I totally disagree with that philosophy, as the subtitle of my book announces. I think the pilgrimage aspects of the book are much more important than how the journey is accomplished. My mother and handicapped sister made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1956, and my sister walked essentially no steps, yet that was a true pilgrimage. Some people get spiritual thoughts while walking; I don’t. I have those thoughts in cathedrals and while gazing in amazement at incredible architecture and art.

·      Has the access to nature impacted your life?

Very much so. I grew up in the country and was active in 4-H through my teen years. I rode horses and showed livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) competitively. As an adult, I have been largely divorced from that closeness to animals and nature due to my job. Being on the Camino gave me time to slow down, look at the wild flowers along the way, see the birds twittering in the trees. I loved that part of walking the Camino.

·      How did writing the hiking book differ from your process for your short story collections and the children’s book?

I don’t think my book is a hiking book. It is a pilgrimage book and a book about the history, art, and architecture of the Camino. It is most suited to those who are thinking of journeying on the Camino since it offers suggestions and tips, including a list of questions to help readers determine if walking the Camino is really what they want to do. It also is suited for those who will never walk the Camino but who want to be “armchair travelers” as they read my memoir passages about my experiences along the Camino.

·      Is adoption a subject close to your heart and the reason you wrote your children’s book?

Yes, it is. When I adopted my son back in 1992, I looked for a book I could read to him about being adopted. I couldn’t find anything suitable. During the pandemic, I couldn’t travel and so couldn’t work on my planned next book. More or less on a whim I looked on Amazon to find out what was available for children on adoption. Amazingly to me, there are very few books on the subject for children, and most of those books are limited in what they cover. For example, the books only focus  on the adopting mother and the adopted child, whereas in reality many, many more people are involved in an adoption. So, I decided to write a book that adopting families could use to talk to their child about being adopted.

·      Do you consider yourself a nomad rather than a homebody?

I consider myself not a nomad, but a citizen of the world. To quote St. Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do  not travel read only one  page.” Having said that, I am an introvert, and I am quite content to be alone and read a book—I just like to read that book while seated at a café in Lisbon or Santiago de Compostela.

·      What are you writing now?

I have two projects underway. One is a second book about the Camino, and the other is a family memoir. My family, for a lot of reasons, is not a typical American family, and I think readers would enjoy learning about our history.

·      Where can readers find you and your books?

My books are available on Amazon. Savoring the Camino de Santiago is available in four formats: hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is also available from Amazon in hardback, paperback, and ebook. Readers can also order my books from my website, Bayou City Press.com, or from their local bookstores. As for me, readers can contact me through either of my websites, BayouCityPress.com or JulieConnorAuthor.com

Bio

Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in
the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control
to women’s issues. She has one son, James, and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. Her books can be ordered from her publishing website (BayouCityPress.com), from her author website (JulieConnorAuthor.com), or from Amazon.com.

Website Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com

Newsletter Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com/recent-bcp-newsletters/

Website Julie Connor: https://JulieConnorAuthor.com

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