Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Fallbrandt – Author Interview – JMD Reid

February 25, 2021
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  1. What drew you to write in the fantasy genre?

It’s what I fell in love with. Ever since I read Lord of the Rings, almost all I have read is fantasy. It’s so imaginative. You can have almost anything happen in them. You can create outlandish worlds that could never exist. It’s creative.

  • Who are your fantasy author heroes?

Robert Jordan, R. Scott Bakker, and Brandon Sanderson.

  • How do you plan a series like the Jewels of Illumination or The Storm Below?

They are very different origins. The Storm Below was my first. I intended it to be a light-hearted adventure with flying ships and sky pirates and then, in my world building, I discovered a secret of the world that changed it into epic fantasy. I only have a book ahead planned writing that series. I knew what I was writing and the next book was shaping up in my head. I felt 5 books was what I needed even if I wasn’t sure how I would get there.

Jewels of Illumination, I had a much more concrete ending and what would happen. I knew the major events of the books. And even though it deviated a lot from my outline, the general gist didn’t change.

  • What do you feel are the key points in fantasy stories?

Great characters. That’s the key point of any book. But great characters who are exploring and unveiling and discovering a world that is fantastical.

  • Can you tell us a little about the new series Masks of Illumination?

It’s a companion series to Jewels of Illumination. They are separate series that can each stand-alone, but they compliment each other. It follows Foonauri, a noblewoman exiled from her home and tired of being just a pretty bauble on a man’s arm. When she is invited to join a thief group and steal an artifact, she might just find what she’s searching for.

  • How does constructing a standalone novel differ in the writing process?

It doesn’t. Its just a shorter story. You don’t have to worry about setting up future events, I suppose, but it’s merely the scale that’s different.

  • Is poetry a new venture for you?

I dabble from time to time.

  • What characteristics have changed in your main protagonists from the first to last book?

It depends on the characters, but it’s usually about going from weakness to strength. Not necessarily physically, but in understanding who they are, in overcoming flaws, in accepting their place.

  • Do you have plans for other books in the two series?

Not for the Storm Below, but Assassins of Illumination is a sequel to Jewels of Illumination.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Seriously since 2013 but I started back in 1993 or so in Junior High.

  1. How do you juggle your own writing with client’s projects?

I have a schedule. I spend X time on their stuff and X time on mine. I use timers and have my work day scheduled.

  1. Do you have a dedicated writing space? Can you describe it?

Since I moved back in August, I do. No more writing in the living room! I have an office. It has my desk, some book shelves, and my recliner that I write on with a laptop. I have some posters for decoration.

  1. Where can readers find you on social media?

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

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/158087188138155

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/61bSz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMDReid

  1. Do you have a blog?

I do: http://JMD-Reid.com

  1. What message would you like to send to your readers?

I hope you’ll trust me in take you on a journey to another world. The characters might go into the dark, but the light is always on the other side.

Find all JMD Reid’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/J.M.D.-Reid/e/B00P44PBQK%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Bio:

JMD Reid has been a long-time fan of Fantasy ever since he read The Hobbit way back in the fourth grade. His head has always been filled with fantastical tales, and he is eager to share the worlds dwelling in his dreams with you.
Reid is long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest in and around the City of Tacoma. The rainy, gloomy atmosphere of Western Washington, combined with the natural beauty of the evergreen forests and the looming Mount Rainier, provides the perfect climate to brew creative worlds and exciting stories! When he’s not writing, Reid enjoys playing video games, playing D&D and listening to amazing music.

JMD Reid is also a ghostwriter, which gives him a great deal of freedom to work on his own fantasy. It is his passion, that shines through his stories. JMD Reid has a lot of stories in his head and is looking forward to sharing them with his readers.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Wordbridge Writers Conference

February 18, 2021
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 I was honoured to be part of this virtual writing conference this past weekend. It was certainly jammed packed with panelists from all avenues of the writing community, and I made some great connections and learned a lot. I was also a panelist, which was such a fun thing to do. My first panel was on Friday with Mandy Michelle, Sarah Graham, and Melinda Curtis. We were discussing the romance genre and how it has transformed in line with societal changes since it’s conception, but also the expectation of the genre readers for the story format. Then on Saturday, I partnered with my publisher, Dream Write Publishing’s owner, Linda Pedley to discuss the business of getting a novel published and the extra writing required. This includes an author bio and professional photo, a blurb, a summary, a synopsis etc. etc. These ‘extra’s’ are not always considered by authors and the information proved to be useful.

Being part of such a conference is a great way to get to know other authors and their writing personalities and also to learn new techniques and skills. The participants were also given the great opportunity to have their book links added to an online bookstore. https://www.notion.so/WordBridge-2021-Online-Bookstore-2a7eb0bd5422478dbabe0cfa1f86f2b2

Next month, I will be hosting a virtual session on creating a great blog post at this writing conference, so I hope you will join me and the other great presenters on the day! There are two very special guests presenting! https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference

Take care and happy writing!

If you have any questions or would like me to present please let me know. My media kit lists my presentations, but I am versatile enough to host any writing subject you require.

https://mandyevebarnett.com/media-kit/

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Packed Long Weekend of Writing, Reading & Talking

February 16, 2021
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This past weekend was a long weekend for Family Day in Alberta. Although, it wasn’t much of a family time as we are still under COVID restrictions, so there was no visits or family meals to enjoy, unfortunately. However, I did have quite a busy Friday and Saturday attending the Wordbridge virtual writers conference. I was a panelist for a discussion and Q&A for romance on Friday and also publishing on Saturday. So it was writer talk for the duration! Always a pleasure and a great way to connect with our authors.

I finished Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube

REVIEW: A complex style of writing – fast paced, crowded and emotive. Strong references to internal pain and outside forces changing and pressuring it’s characters. There were a lot of triggers in this book, so please be aware of that.

I am now reading a much lighter and fun narrative. Roadtripping: On the Move with the Buffalo Gals by Conni Massing., who I have had the pleasure to meet.

What are you currently reading? Care to share?

As the Albertan weather was cold (-39 with the wind chill!) I spent most of my time indoors, apart from braving it with Sammie, of course. My place of choice to spend the weekend was the living room, which has a huge window to watch the world go by and the resident wildlife – hares and birds. And a lovely fireplace to complete the warm feeling.

I will be swapping a bag of books with a friend later today, so my TBR will grow! It is always fun to compare views on books.

Are you part of a book club? Would you like me to join you virtually? Please use the contact form if you are interested.

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. 

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