Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Samuel Davel

March 4, 2021
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1) How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing most of my life. Only recently, during COVID honestly, did I realize that it was something that I wanted to pursue professionally and for a career.

2) What inspired you to write Dear Monica? My mom went through some really hard, tough mental health stuff and that was my inspiration. A mind place and setting with a romantic twist. I think it’s interesting for people who don’t understand mental health to read something of someone in that spot.

3) Why did you decide on the format of letters to tell the story? When thinking of mental health suicide often comes up and is at the forefront of mental health, with that idea, letters came to mind.

4)   The core of the novel is the mental health of its main character – is this a subject you feel strongly about? I do feel strongly about mental health, especially in the male community. I think mental health has a stigma for men and that’s something I hope to chip away at with my career.

5)    Is Charlie based on anyone you now? Charlie and Monica are a combination of people that I’ve known in my life, whether a friend or significant other, they’re the best parts of people I knew.

6) Has your Army career influence any of your writing? My army career has greatly helped me with the structure of writing. I consistently schedule my time to write and stick to it, even if I hate what I wrote in that time I have something to go off of. My army career also helped me and opened my mind up to a lot more in this world than I originally thought.

7) Having acting experience yourself, can you see your book being made into a movie? I could definitely see Dear Monica being a movie. Since I am an actor, I usually write from a point of visual and what I see in my head as I write.

8) Do you use the places you have visited as part of your narratives? Yes, I would say 95 percent of the places I write about I have been to. I don’t particularly feel honest writing about something I don’t know, so I try to stick to what I do.

9) Are you writing a new manuscript currently? I am, I have on a novel, “Yours, Only” with the editor now, and my other one “Little Red Card” is 2/3 of the way through its first draft.

10) Can you tell us about any new projects, events or presentations you have coming up? My newest projects are both very interesting. “Yours, Only” is another project that’s a collection of letters between a soldier and his young wife back at home. the letters follow his missions, while he battles with his own demons he’s creating and his life back at home. “Little Red Card” is a pandemic-based romance that I am really excited about.

11) Has the COVID19 restrictions impacted your writing life? If so how? My acting career got put on pause at the beginning of COVID and I really started writing seriously because I needed a creative outlet. I wouldn’t have a novel without Covid.

12) Where is your most favorite place to write? I love to write in central park. I’ll take my laptop out there and write until it dies, that usually enough for a day.

13) How can readers connect with you? My IG is @samdavel

14) Is there a message you would like to give to your readers? I think I would just like to tell my readers that they can do whatever they want. Anything is possible and that people are there for them if they need them.

BIO: Samuel Davel grew up in rural Wisconsin leaving home at 18 for the Army. In the Army Sam was an Airborne Ranger who was constantly taking in the world around him. After leaving the Army Samuel moved to NYC while pursuing a career in film and television. After appearing on the small screen and doing numerous indie works Samuel started writing about the world he absorbed throughout his life. He enjoys writing story’s that have mental health twist or ones that don’t always end in happy endings, at the end of the day, life doesn’t always end happy. Samuel tries to capture the small moments, the ones that everyone can easily take for granted.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Natasha Deen

February 11, 2021
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1.     What drives you to write?

That’s a great question and I don’t know if I have a single answer. I love the challenge, the process, I love the chance to connect with readers and other authors. As a reader, I love the feeling of falling into a good book, the kind that makes me forget time and space, forget where I am, and as a writer, the chance to create that type of experience for someone is just too cool an opportunity to pass up.

2.     How long how you been writing?

Oh, gosh, on and off through school. I also wrote in university as self-care & a break with the course load. In 2006, I got serious—taking classes, attending workshops, reading books on craft—so I would count that year as THE year I began to write.

3.     Why do you write, primarily, with female protagonists?

In every story, an author has to ask themselves, “Who is the best person to tell this story?” Sometimes, the voice that has the most authority is a female voice (as in the case with In the Key of Nira Ghani), sometimes, the voice will be male ( as in the case with Thicker than Water).

Stories should also reflect different experiences, which is why my characters can be BIPOC (Sleight of Hand), sporty (Nothing But Net), and/or come from cultures & families that aren’t based in North America (Maria and the Plague).

4.     What messages do you want to convey in your stories?

Hmm, there’s a two-pronged answer to this question. I hope, when it comes to my writing voice, readers know my stories will have themes/messages of positive resolutions (though not necessarily happy ever after endings), optimism, resiliency, and strength in self. However, a story is subjective. We might all read the same book, but we won’t read the same story—our backgrounds, values, and pet peeves will come into play. To that end, my goal is to create a space that allows readers to feel and interpret as they see fit and enjoy the journey as they go along.

5.      What is your writing style – planner or panster?

A bit of both! I like to have an outline, but I like to have freedom. To me, it’s like having a map. I’ve marked my route, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop at Points of Interest or change the route as I go along.

6.     Do you have a favorite place to write?

I have an office where I spend my days writing and editing. Final read throughs might happen in the family room.

7.     Tell us about your latest book?

Maria & the Plague is part of the Girls Survive series from Capstone Books. Each story focuses on a girl living through an important (and often, a dangerous) time in history and her battle to survive against all odds.

In my book, “years of bad weather and natural disasters have choked Italy’s food supply, and the people of Florence are dying of starvation. Breadlines are battlegrounds, and young Maria has to fight for her family’s every loaf. Adding to the misery, the Black Plague is rapidly spreading through the country, killing everyone in its path. Maria has already lost her mother and sister. Will she be strong enough to save the rest of her family before it’s too late?”

It’s an eerily timely book, given our current pandemic. The similarities and hardships between Maria and today’s readers continue to astonish me. And like today’s circumstances, hope, kindness, and personal strength twine together to help Maria survive.

8.     What made you write this particular story?

At the time, it was a chance to go back into history and learn about the Black Plague. And I loved the idea of having a strong, female character who was resourceful and clever, finding her way through one of the scariest times in history.  

Looking back, I had no idea I was doing a rehearsal for COVID-19! But from wearing masks, travel restrictions, people choosing selfishness over kindness (and vice-versa) what the people of 1300s Florence went through is very much like what we’re going through, now.

9.     Your new book is part of a series, can you tell us more about the series and what to expect?

The book is part of the Girls Survive series, which features a host of amazing writers. If historical fiction is a favourite genre, I encourage readers to look at the other books in the series, https://shop.capstonepub.com/library/search//?series-property=Girls%20Survive

10.  Has your background influenced the subjects you write about?

The short answer is, “yes.” For all of us, how we view the world and how we write about it has deep roots in how (and where) we grew up.

11.  How many pets do you have? Are they a help or a hinderance?

Our home has two cats and one dog, and they are of vital help with the writing. They keep me company during the late nights and early mornings, and hang out with me in the office during the day. Without them to remind me to eat (and—cough—share my food), take a walk, take time to cuddle and have fun, where would I be?

12.  Where can readers find you on social media?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram, both handles are @natasha_deen, and I use pinterest as a way to storyboard my books, https://www.pinterest.ca/806bd1ed29039ff5c5a5f89ffbe4b0/?autologin=true

13.  Do you have a blog?

I do and I’m hoping to be more consistent with posting in 2021! https://natashadeen.com/blog/

14.  What is your next project?

Argh, I don’t know yet—I’m flirting with a variety of ideas and “what if” scenarios, and hoping something will stick, soon!

Bio:

Guyanese-Canadian author NATASHA DEEN writes for kids, teens, and adults, and enjoys visiting libraries and schools to help people to find and tell the stories that live inside of them. Her novel, In the Key of Nira Ghani, was a Most Anticipated Novel for both Barnes & Noble and Chapters-Indigo, nominated for the MYRCA Award, the R. Ross Annett Award, and is a Red Maple Honor Book and a 2020 YALSA Pick for Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the Lark Ba series and the Guardian trilogy (Moonbeam Award winner, Sunburst Award Nominee, and an Alberta Readers’ Choice Nominee). When she’s not writing, Natasha spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Visit Natasha on Twitter at @natasha_deen and at http://www.natashadeen.com.

Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
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1.         How did you meet?

We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.

2.         When did you begin writing?

Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.

Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.

3.         Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.

We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.

4.         How did this quote bring about your book series?

We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.

5.         What age range are your books aimed at?

We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.

6.         Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?

We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.

7.         How many books will be in the series?

 We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.

8.         What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?

Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.

9        What are the subjects you will cover in your books?

Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.

10.     Has your own background contributed to the stories?

Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?

11.     Where do you prefer to write?

We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.

12.     Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?

Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.

13.     What is your writing process – punster or planner?

We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.

14.     Can you share your social media and book links 

Thebookpatch.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Spider-Gang-Mysteries-100321741923085

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andrew_underwood_65/

Bio:
Cristal Underwood:
Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children.  She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school.  Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes. 


Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week.  He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream.  He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors.  He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write. 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Writing Goals for 2021

January 7, 2021
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At the beginning of every year, we decide on what goals we want to achieve. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes not, but it is the thrill of a new year that engages us in this ritual. I make a goal board to help my focus and motivation. It is not just for my writing goals but other personal ones too. As you can see from the image, I have four sections to my board this year – writing, family & friends, finances and health and relaxation.

Interestingly, this board is the most complex one I have ever made. Maybe because there is a stronger motivation this year due to the restrictions we have all encountered. And that is my word for 2021 as well – MOTIVATION.

Do you have a word for 2021?

I have already submitted to several writing contests and began a six week writing course too, so I am on my way. I am also determined to have the first book of my detective novel trilogy, edited and revised by the end of the year, so it can be published. To this end, members of my writing group will be swapping chapters of our current work in progress for suggestions, editing and review over several months. This is such a useful tool, as each person will ‘read’ the story, allowing me (and them) a preview of our novels.

What writing goals do you have for 2021?

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Tricia Silverman

December 31, 2020
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  1. What motivated you to write this book?

I wrote this book as a way to help people beyond what I share in a one-hour seminar or coaching session. The book takes a deeper dive into so many areas of nutrition and wellness. I have been a dietitian for over 24 years, and have a lot of nutrition tips and stories to share. Other books have motivated me to write my own. The Blue Zones books by Dan Buettner give wellness tips, along with vivid stories of his visits to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. I am fascinated by longevity, and when I read my first Blue Zones book, I loved that the book wasn’t just telling you what to do. The helpful wellness tips were woven into the stories that were shared. In my book, I wrote about a 102 year old man who is still driving and enjoying life. Another story is about a man I met who is now 98 and is still cooking for his daughter. When I first met him after a seminar I presented at a senior center, he appeared to be in his low 80’s, if not younger. I found out he was 95 at the time, and it was a surreal moment. I was just finishing up doing a presentation on the Mediterranean diet, and here in front of me was a living example of how this way of eating and living surely does lend itself to longevity. We have become friends. I’ve called him periodically during the Covid shutdowns to make sure he is okay, and we have exchanged fun gifts for holidays and birthdays. His friendship is the best gift of all. My mission is to learn and then share what I’ve learned in fun and meaningful ways to help others improve their lives. My book is one way to do this.

  • Is there a specific age group the book is geared towards?

I had adults in mind when I wrote the book. I have noticed that the book especially resonates for those 50 and up.

  • Do you feel nutrition should be taught in all grades of schools?

The first review of my book that came in mentioned how the information should be shared in schools. I wholeheartedly agree that nutrition should be taught in schools and for all grades. When I worked in school food service, I applied for grants that provided nutrition education in creative ways. One way was that I arranged for an entire elementary school grade to go on a hike, with healthy lunch provided, plus a nutrition talk for the kids during the day. Another way was to have a chef join the school food service staff to promote healthy meals to teenagers. I think that nutrition can be fun and taught in creative ways that appeal to all ages. I always liked show-and-tell as a kid, and my model of teaching for adults is show-and-tell model. I use lots of props and fun demonstrations. My virtual seminars have been a hit, as I have shown a lot of shocking things that make people think about their food consumption, such as all the sugar in one seasonal frozen coffee drink. It has more sugar than an entire container of ice cream!

  • Can you share a tip on how to eat a balanced diet?

I developed a plate to emphasize balance. It’s based on studying what people eat across the world to stay healthy. I call it the NuTricia’s Plate. See the graphic below. Half of the plate is vegetables. A great way to mimic this plate is to make sure that you vegetables cover half of your plate at lunch and dinner, and hopefully some vegetables during snacks, and maybe even breakfast, too. A quarter of your plate should be a small portion of healthy starchy carbohydrates such as whole grains (for example, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta), or potatoes, or corn. A quarter of the plate should be a protein rich food such as beans, fish, chicken, or turkey. People should consider having at least 3 small servings of fruit a day, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil as parts of meals and snacks. Water should be consumed throughout the day.

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  1. How can someone with physical restrictions improve their movement?

If you have physical restrictions, then focus on what you can do. Ask your doctor for guidance, and see a physical therapist. Physical therapists can help solve or lessen many pain problems. They are such a great resource. I have gone through many rounds of physical therapy over the years for different injuries and conditions, and some of the results have been pretty miraculous! Focusing on what you can do can have huge positive mental and physical benefits. Many fantastic exercises stretching and strengthening exercises can be done from a chair.

6.     Did your parents encourage your healthy lifestyle? Somewhat. There was the good the bad, and the downright ugly. The good was that there were lots of health books and magazines around the house, and my mom made very balanced dinners. The bad was that the lunches I brought to school were often cold cut sandwiches on white rolls with no veggies or fruit. The ugly was that my family would have weekend “pig-outs” (junk food binges) that I think was at the root of my overweight status as a kid.

7.     Who are your health gurus? I have several. Deepak Chopra kicked off my love of meditation. He periodically offers free 21-day meditation programs that are a fantastic way to implement or sustain a meditation habit. Dr. Andrew Weil’s book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health was very eye-opening to me. Elian Haan is a mind/body/trauma coach who teaches yoga and tai-chi at an addiction facility. I met her at an SCW Fitness Conference and have learned so much from her about the healing effects of mindfulness and mindful movement. Dr. Walt Willet is one of my favorite nutritionists. I love what I learned in the books, Healthy at 100 by John Robbins, and the China Study by T. Colin Campbell. These books have become guiding lights for me.

8.     What part of your background do you feel had the biggest impact on your life? My dad’s work ethic and the Mediterranean way of living that my grandparents role modeled. My dad is an entrepreneur and a serial hard worker. My dad has been working long hours each day, mostly 7 days a week for over 50 years. Through his example, I learned that hard work pays off. I also learned key business skills that have helped me in my own entrepreneurial journey. My grandparents grew fruit in their yard, and went shopping almost daily for fresh vegetables. There were salads and raw veggies on the table at the beginning of the meal followed by tasty meals that included greens such as spinach and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

9.     Is there an age limit to creating a healthy lifestyle?

Never. it’s never too late to change your habits. Life is one long learning opportunity. There’s always room for learning and change.

10.  What do you do to relax?

During the times of the Covid shutdowns, meditation has helped me tremendously. My favorite meditation app is Insight Timer. I use it a lot. It has helped me gain focus and improve my productivity, as well as helped me enhance my mood, and deal with stress. I have been working on earning my yoga certification over the last year, and learning new-to-me yoga poses has been invaluable. Two of my favorite poses are corpse pose (also known as shavasana—it’s when you are lying down at the end of a yoga session) or legs up the wall. Legs up the wall is what is sounds like. You are lying down on the floor, and your legs are resting up against a wall. I feel especially relaxed after doing this pose, and that effect lasts for hours.

11.  Are you planning on writing anther book?

Yes, I have a lot of books in me, and will be focusing on the creative process over the next few weeks to get the next book moving along. It’s important to schedule creative days in your calendar. I have a few coming up, and am looking forward to it.

12.  Is there a message you would like to send to your readers? Put the past behind you and make healthy choices going forward. Ruminating about the past can get in your way. Dream about your future, and create a vision of where you want to be, then live in the NOW. Make good choices in the NOW, to achieve your vision of the future

13.  Where can readers find your book? My book, Healthy Dividends: Investments in Nutrition, Movement, and Healthy Habits that Pay Off can be found on Amazon.

14.  Do you have a blog? Yes, my blog can be found at www.triciasilverman.com/blog

Additionally, people can find me on social media at:

www.triciasilverman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tricia.silverman

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TriciaSilverman?lang=en

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tricia-silverman-rd-ldn-mba-b8757811

Bio:

Tricia has been a fitness and nutrition enthusiast, since she was a child. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, certified wellness coach, fitness instructor (certified as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor), and smoking cessation facilitator.She graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from the State University of New York and completed her dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She graduated with honors from the Babson College MBA program.

She has extensive nutrition education experience including time spent as the director of nutrition for the prestigious Canyon Ranch Health Resort in the Berkshires. During her employment at Boston Public Schools, she taught nutrition and was responsible for the operations of over 20 school nutrition meal sites which employed over 100 people. Her vast school nutrition experience also includes three years as the director of food services at Watertown Public Schools where she was responsible for operations and developed and implemented innovative nutrition education opportunities for the students. She has been educating clients and groups through her business for many years.

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