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Author Interview – Tamara Plant

May 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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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.

love

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.

forgive

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 – Chynna Laird

April 30, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

Just Shut Up and Drive actually started off as a short story several years ago. I was part of a writing group that had weekly writing prompts that could be anything from challenging us to expand on a sentence or writing a story around one word to posting a picture. One week, the host of the group posted a black and white photograph of an old house. It must have been built back in the early 1900’s and had obviously been long ago abandoned. The story came to me right away and Gramps’ character, specifically, came to me the same night in a dream. I know that sounds weird but a lot of my ideas come from dreams I’ve had. A restless brain can prove to be a bonus from time-to-time. But that’s how Just Shut Up and Drive started out.

 How did you come up with the title?

The title so depicts the character of Gramps. He comes across as a brash, cranky, narrow-minded old man. But the more layers he lets peel away on his journey with Wil, and the more vulnerable he allows himself to be, we get to the heart of who he truly is.      

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

Honestly, there wasn’t at first. I just dreamed about this story, got up the next morning and wrote endlessly for the next couple of weeks. Including pre-editing, I think it took me about 3 months in total from idea to finished manuscript. I guess if there was any message I’d like readers to take away with them from this book it’s to embrace all that life has to offer you, no matter what direction your own journey takes you on. Pay attention to what’s around you, absorb the stories others share with you, take away what you need to from each experience and don’t be afraid to make those pit stops along the way. Those stops can often reveal a thing or two either about yourself or someone close to you that you wouldn’t have discovered any other way.

How much of the book is realistic?

Just Shut Up and Drive is a pretty realistic read. All of the places Wil and his grandfather stop to visit are real places. The highway they go down and the descriptions of what they see would be the same as what anyone else taking the same drive would see. Gramps’ house in Winnipeg is basically my grandparents’ house. Of course, some situations I put them in aren’t exactly every day occurrences for most people, but my focus was making this as real as possible so readers could relate to the story and feel a part of the journey right alongside Wil and Gramps.

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

When I ‘see’ characters, I have borrowed some personality traits from people I know and sometimes I’ve put some of me in there. For the most part, though, the characters aren’t usually based on someone I know but a lot of the scenarios I put them in are based off of events from my own life and experiences.

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

I do have an author blog at www.chynnalairdauthor.ca.

I’m also on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chynnalaird

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/chynnaauthor/

G+: https://plus.google.com/+ChynnaLaird

Instagram (although I’m still trying to figure it out): https://www.instagram.com/chynna_l/

Author’s Den: http://www.authorsden.com/chynnatlaird

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2882404.Chynna_T_Laird

I also write for PsychCentral (https://psychcentral.com/lib/author/chynna-laird/) and maintain two blogs on there. One is about raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and the other one is geared more to women’s health issues.

 

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

I’ve just finished the next book in The Watcher series (the first book is Dark Water). I’ve also written another children’s book as well as a parent-to-parent book on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). And I’ve also just completed a new adult novel currently in the editing stages before finding it a home. I always have ideas brewing. Right now, I’m planning my next memoir and have a plan set for a new adult fiction novel, but we’ll see. The Watcher series is the only sequel set I’ve started. The others are all stand alone.
out of synch

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

Oh wow. That’s a toughie. My main characters are all the ‘underdog’ in some way. That invisible presence that not many others give enough time to, but who can make a huge difference in their own way. Each of them has had to face some sort of life hurdle and deal with it in the most positive way they can, bumps and all. And they are each searching, maybe not consciously, to fill some sort of void in their life. There is a character I created in my newest manuscript (that one will come out soon, hopefully) who is very much like me. But out of all of the characters I’ve created in my published works, I’d have to say my favorite is Wil Carter in Just Shut Up and Drive. He is funny, grounded and has an amazing relationship with his grandfather who raised him. And even though he faced the ultimate tragedy of losing his parents at a very young age, he shows others how to keep moving forward…with a little help from his very cranky, but very wise, grandfather. When I wrote the last sentence in Just Up and Drive, I actually teared up realizing I wouldn’t have the daily interaction with him anymore. But he’s still there.  He’s one of those powerful spirits that never truly leaves you. I hope readers feel the same way when they ‘meet’ him.
white elephants

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

I’ve been told I’m an eclectic writer in that I have dabbled in different genres. So far, I’ve published children’s books, memoir, adult fiction and young adult and new adult fiction. My heart is writing for youth so my books are clean, contemporary, true-to-life fiction. That’s not to say that down the road I won’t try something else, but that’s my focus for now.

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

I love this question. I think the only books I’ve written that have taken the time to plan out have been my memoirs. Maybe that’s because this genre is a lot more personal and revealing so you need to present the material in the best, most accepting way possible. Otherwise, I’m one of those weird authors who gets an idea for a story and can actually see it beginning to end in my mind. In a sense, it’s almost like transcribing what is already complete in my head. I’ll always write down character names and how they relate to each other as well as research specific things so that the information is accurate, but for the most part I just sit and write when the story is there.

What is your best marketing tip?

I’ve tried various tools out there but I’ve always found that the best marketing tip that’s worked with me is connecting with other authors in the same genre and being a presence in specific social groups relating to what I’m writing about. For example, most of my work is geared toward children and youth so I try to connect with these groups, and those who work with them. I also have no fear in discussing issues or topics on my blog that many others know about but may not talk about as much as they should. That shows that I’m not just writing about these areas, I take the time to understand them. I’ve found this means a lot to readers as they can see that I’m not just ‘blowing smoke’ and simply trying to make money off of a specific issue or group. I write about it because it’s important and it matters. This leads to word-of-mouth promotion, which is just as important or more so than traditional forms of marketing.

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

I actually see both sides of this. There are so many forms of social media out there it can be overwhelming to know which ones to go on and which can offer the greatest benefits for writers and authors. On the one hand, it can be a great tool in that it offers a way to get the latest, up-to-date information on our work to our readers. It also offers a way for readers to interact with authors in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to. I can’t speak for all authors but, for me, it warms my heart to read feedback from readers. It tells me my work is appreciated. On the other hand, spending too much time on social media, even for promo, takes time away from actual writing. The key is only allotting a specific amount of time to posting, responding to comments/questions and staying current with readers otherwise most of your writing day will be spent on it.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS:

What do you enjoy most about writing?

First, I enjoy keeping my muse quiet for a while. She bombards me with ideas and never leaves me alone. I also think that I have a male muse as well so they fight for attention. Seriously, though. Writing is a tough job and many out there don’t truly understand just how hard it can be. It isn’t about throwing words together and having it all make sense. It’s about creating a story that’s believable, enjoyable and has the influence to absorb readers so deeply, they stay awake to read just one more chapter. That is one of the highest compliments a reader can give an author.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

This is a great question I love to answer. When I was in elementary school, I believe it was Grade Four, we had an editor come to our class to discuss the publishing process. As an avid reader, I was thrilled. Then we got to write our own little book from start to finish. We wrote the story, drew our illustrations, created our ‘cover’ (which was basically laminated card stock…but still…) and bound it. After we were finished, we got to put our book into the school library for other kids to borrow. We were supposed to take it home at the end of the year, but I’d forgotten mine in the mad rush of starting summer holidays. I actually forgot about it.

About 15 years later, my younger sister came home from school. She had had library that day and was so excited about the book she took out. Guess what book it was? The one I created all those years ago, when I was the same age my sister was when she found it.

 I look that as a sign that was the profession I’d be in.

(My little book was called, “Super Bug”, which was all about a bug in a superhero costume whose only fear was size 12 shoes. J Every time our class had library, I’d always check to see if mine got taken out. And it did!)

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

Somewhat. I do love to mix my sarcastic Scottish humor in there whenever I can. I still write for children and youth, though. That’s where my heart is.

What genre are you currently reading?

Well, I’m one of those readers who has at least three books on the go at once. You know, then I have something to read in each room. I’m reading a memoir right now, which I plan to review on my blog when I’m finished. I also bought a few books during the Boxing Day sales at Chapters. The one I chose to read first out of that stack is called, ‘Girl in the Dark’ by Marion Paux. I love suspense thrillers.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I do read for research for my books, just to make sure I understand a subject enough. There is nothing worse than authors who choose to write about something and have no clue what they’re talking about. But I mostly read for pleasure. After all, if an author wants to develop and grow their craft, it’s good to absorb what you can from some fellow authors.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

Wow. Well, I have a very small handful of people I consider mentors. They are authors, instructors, editors and publishers who have given me advice, tips and support over the years. Without them, I would have given up a long time ago. My greatest supporter was my Uncle Craig. He was my main promotor and tooted horns for me whenever he had the chance. I lost him last year, which was really difficult, but I know that wherever he is now he’s still turning heads in the direction of my stuff.

Where is your favorite writing space?

My writing space is my ‘office’ I created in our basement. I have everything I need surrounding me right at my fingertips. It looks like a bomb went off around here some days but I call it my ‘organized mess’. I know where everything is. As odd as it sounds, I actually write better when I can hear all my kids running around. My son has his video game area set up just outside of my ‘office’. He busies himself over there, turning around every so often to say, “I love you, mom!” and I absorb myself in my task at hand. It can get a little difficult when my youngest comes down and sits behind me in my chair asking 500 million questions, but it’s all good. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to a few online groups, as well as a few local ones. Mostly, I am a part of the NaNoWriMo group, The Writers Guild of Alberta, the Canadian Authors Association groups on FB. It’s important to reach out to fellow authors as I have found that unless you are an author/writer, it’s difficult to truly understand the entire process.

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

Oh boy, that is a tough one because I enjoy so many great authors. I love John Grisham, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, John Saul, Chris Grabenstein. But I also enjoy authors such as Jodi Picoult who take real-life situations and turn them into a beautiful novel. Out of all of them, I think I’d like to chat with John Saul. One of the first books I read by him was ‘Come the Blind Fury’. Right after that, I knew I wanted to write for young adults.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Australia. I mean, I’d love to visit places like Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii and other places but I’ve always been drawn to Australia for some reason.

Do you see writing as a career?

I pretty much decided that it already is. There aren’t many authors who can completely rely on their royalties from their books, but I think that’s my goal. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Oh boy. I try not to eat at my desk because then I’d never leave my work area. Having said that, I do have a small stash of two kinds of candy I actually like: Sour Skittles and Vanilla clusters. I call them my ‘think candy’. There you go. That’s something very few people know about me. lol

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

High fives from my kids and a nap. Seriously. There are a lot of days my poor kids spend looking at the back of my head when I’m on a tight deadline (or four). Once I’m all caught up, we make a family favorite meal, enjoy each other then I fall asleep. You can ask them. I have my own blanket and space on the couch. lol

Bio:

CHYNNA LAIRD – is a mother of four, a freelance writer, blogger, editor and award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), mental and/or emotional struggles and other special needs. She’s authored two children’s books, two memoirs, a parent-to-parent resource book, a Young Adult novella, a Young Adult paranormal/suspense novel series, two New Adult contemporary novels and an adult suspense/thriller.

Website: www.chynnalairdauthor.ca

 

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

April 9, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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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.”

The Storyteller book icon

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.

 

Author Interview – Janet Wees

March 5, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

janet

What inspired your latest novel?

I visited The Hidden Village in 2005, 2007 and decided, after reading the history at the site, that children in North America had to know the story. The man I interviewed was the boy in the Village and he inspired me as well. 

How did you come up with the title?

My publisher chose the title and I liked it.     

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

I want them to proclaim “Never Again” – that inhumanity and evil will not be repeated against anyone anymore, especially children!

How much of the book is realistic?

It is all realistic; most of it really happened, and the few fictionalized parts could have happened. It is not fantasy.

wwws_cover8 - front cover

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

The characters are based on the boy and his family upon whose stories the novel is based. I met “Walter” when I interviewed him about his life in the Hidden Village.

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

Readers can and have found me on Facebook. I am also on Twitter and I have a blog.

Blog – http://whenwewereshadowsbyjanetwees.wordpress.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/WhenWeWereShadows/posts/

Twitter – @JanetRWees

Email – powertutor1@hotmail.com

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

This novel is a stand alone book. I have no present plans for another novel, but I have written two children’s books that could be picture books, but I have to “finesse” them before I submit to publishers.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

My favourite is Walter of course. I met him as an adult and after listening to his stories, I could see the little boy he may have been – intelligent, precocious, sensitive and devoted to family. I heard his voice in my head as I wrote the book.

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

This is my first book, so this genre is presently my favourite. But if I were to pick a genre, it would be books for children – historical or historical fiction.

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

Sometimes I sit down and just write and forget to eat and pretty soon it’s dark. The next day I have to review what I wrote. I plan in my head, but I am more a seat of the pants author I would think. During this process, in my revisions, I would go back to previous chapters and add something I thought about. I was constantly re-reading and changing. But with this book, I did have a plan and it was somewhat sequential because it was based on real life. I don’t know what I would do if I had to write fiction. Not sure I could do fiction; I need some facts.

What is your best marketing tip? 

The best marketing items were the bookmarks from the publisher. I have handed out/mailed/presented over 1000 bookmarks since April. They have the title, author and contacts for ordering. For a “tip”, I would say to be consistent and approach bookstores in person to offer your time to do signings/readings. If this is your first book, lead with something that your publisher might have published in the past that would be known to a bookseller. They seem to worry about risking their time on a first-time, unknown author.

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

My publisher wanted me to have Facebook and Twitter (both public) and a blog. What I find hindering is keeping up, and not overwhelming or underwhelming readers. I am not a fan of social media and I’ve resisted Instagram mainly because it involves photos and most of the exciting photos from the launches are old now. Not getting feedback from any social media posts is disconcerting; I get likes etc from friends, but nobody new has really seemed to read or respond. I did get messages from students in Belgium and The Netherlands. They were doing book reports on the book and wanted information about the author. They communicated through Facebook.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?  

Being an abstract random thinker, writing forces me to focus and let the ideas flow, blocking out any other distractions.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I was probably 9 years old. Poems came later – in university when I was in love; it just promoted poetry all over the place!

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? 

The first stories I wrote were based on pictures from magazines. It was fiction back then.

What genre are you currently reading?

Currently I am reading biography – In My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? 

Pleasure and escapism

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? 

Rona Altrows

Where is your favorite writing space? 

I only have one writing space – my den.

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

Geraldine Brooks, because she wrote a book about penpals and I’d love to swap stories with her.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Terschelling, an island in the North Sea, in Holland…or… Vancouver (if I could afford it).

Do you see writing as a career?

I am retired so no career for me.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? 

I actually forget to eat when I am in the throes of writing.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t set deadlines; being retired there are no deadlines. It took me from September 2008 until April 2018 to get the book written, edited, revised and published, in between substitute teaching part-time, traveling, volunteering, reading and daily living.

 Bio:

Born in Winnipeg, raised in a Saskatchewan village, with no running water or TV until she was 12, Janet Wees was a voracious reader. She borrowed books through the mail from the lending library in Regina to quench her curiosity about the world. Radio and Eaton’s Xmas catalogue were sources of entertainment. Being a precocious child, her mother sent her, at age 5, to grade 1 every Friday afternoon. In Grade 8 the principal would ask Janet to “sub” for a Grade 1 teacher who was late for school, occasionally. Thus began a passion for teaching and learning.

Janet attended the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Oregon gaining her B.Ed in Special Education, and an M.Ed in Gifted and Talented Education. During her tenure she was involved in professional committees, was a volunteer for the Calgary Youth Science Fair and set up pen pal, environmental, Young Olympians, running, and debate clubs where she was a debate coach and a judge at local and international levels. In her off-times, Janet was a semi-professional photographer for the Calgary Sun, taking photos of Sunshine Boys. It was the 80’s!

In 1959 Janet began writing a pen pal in Holland. It was while on vacation in Holland, with the family, that she discovered The Hidden Villlage and the seed for her book took root.

Now retired, Janet lives in Calgary where her daughter also resides. She is a volunteer greeter at the Calgary Airport, and enjoys reading (favourites are Jhumpa Lahiri, Rona Altrows and Geraldine Brooks) writing letters (400 a year!), travel, snowshoeing, old movies, writing stories, and photography.

Book link:https://www.amazon.ca/When-Were-Shadows-Janet-Wees/dp/177260061X/ 

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