Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A Community ©

An English Woman in a Canadian Winter

October 10, 2019
mandyevebarnett


car in winter

When we first came to Canada it was a trial run over Christmas – not the time you would think is best to get an idea of the country. However, we were thinking of moving to Alberta, where the winter’s are harsh and temperatures drop to ridiculous lows -40 at times. Yes you read that right!

So why come in winter? Because we thought if we came in the most harrowing season and liked it then the rest of the year would be a breeze. Little did we know. The decision was made and we immigrated – there were many obstacles to overcome, too many to go through here that’s for sure – but we arrived in September 2007.

My first morning the sun was shining, the leaves were golden and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. If you have ever been to England we always have clouds. Then the next day it was the same, and the next. It was unusual to me but also pleasing. By the beginning of October we saw our first snow and it was a novelty. Big piles of snow (at that time) were rare in England so we took advantage of all the winter themed activities available. It was fun but as the years passed and the snow came early and stayed, the novelty soon wore off. Vacationing in a winter wonderland is very different to living in one – that was our lesson learned.

There are so few green trees during the greyness of winter and that is what I miss the most. The green lushness year round of England. Albertan seasons are not like ‘home’ – spring is almost an overnight experience – a faint green flush one morning and then the grey sticks of winter suddenly become vibrant emerald and lime green. Summer creeps in and heats up the land in some cases +40 (yes it is a land of extremes). Then fall (autumn to my English friends) comes turning gold and red but only staying for a brief while before the leaves drop.

The snow arrives normally before Halloween and leaves sometime in April or even May – it is a winter gripped land for a long time and we have to live with it. There are many devices that make the winter’s easier – winter tires (tyres), auto-start for the vehicles, so you can warm it up before getting in, in-door shopping malls, winter sports and events, fire pits and Jacuzzi’s.

It has been an adjustment for us all and over time we have found ways of coping but we all wish for one more day without snow! We know it is coming and cherish the time without.

twink

 

 

Author Interview – Gail Gillingham Wylie

October 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

gail

First of all, my book is not a novel but a self help book so I will try to answer the questions……

What inspired your latest novel?

In 1993 I left my husband and in leaving him lost everything for a time, my home, my job, my family and so on. I struggled to make sense of how I was feeling without any real help from the therapists I went to, the self help books I read, or any friends, etc. I talked to. I decided to return to University where I discovered the work of William James. It made sense of what I, not only, was experiencing, but also what my family was going through. Had no intention of ever writing a book about it, but after hearing everyone responding to 911, in much the same I felt in 1993, I decided I need to share what I had learned and so put it all down on paper.

How did you come up with the title?                 

William James developed a model of self in the late 1800’s – the title refers to how we, without being aware, are searching for that level of understanding.

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

You are okay – no matter what is happening to you. It all makes sense if you take into account your whole journey through life. Only once you clearly understand your “self” you are you free to choose the next steps wisely.

search 

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it, I hope.

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

There are three main sources for the examples I use in the book, my own life and what I have learned from two groups of people who live on the extreme……those with autism and those who were sexually abused as children.

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

Social media: facebook – interact with people all over the world on messenger through it. No blog as such, but do share thoughts through the notes section on facebook. Also have a website for my work in autism: www.autismconsultingservice.com

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

Have just completed my first novel – one I carried around in my head for 45 years. Currently have a couple more on the go. One is a murder mystery type, the other, the impact in a community in the midst of a world wide disaster. Don’t think I will be writing any more self-help books

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

I like the main character in the murder mystery -Oliver Weary……he is a good man, in spite of what happened to him as a child, and spite of what the community at large assumes.

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

Definitely a dabbler. Just finished a dinner theatre murder mystery for my family that worked out well, completing two very different projects in the moment: a manual for the work we do, and a short history of my grandfather’s life for my extended family as well as the two novels in progress.

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

Am amazed at how, although one has planned out an outline, how stories take on a life of their own as time goes by.

What is your best marketing tip?

Wish I had one!!!

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

For me, it has been a great tool, but it does take time and energy to use it effectively.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It is who I am and I delight in the freedom to do it at this point in my life. At a certain point in life, I actually burned everything I had written up till then, something I have regretted ever since. Not good to not live with the freedom to be oneself.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I don’t remember, did a lot of newspaper ideas as a child and carried on with them in high school and college – the childhood ones were all fiction, while the later ones were of actual happenings and shared with the community I was in at the time.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I think it has always been diverse.

What genre are you currently reading?

Current book of the moment is Emma by Alexander4 McCall Smith – a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s novel. We have a wee library close to our home and I currently get all of my reading material from it……so becomes very diverse based on what others have contributed.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

At this point, pleasure. Started researching both autism and the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse in the late eighties and basically gave up reading for pleasure for the next 20 years…..so it feels goo to get back to it.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My husband Clay

Where is your favorite writing space?

On the computer!!! So nice to have something that I can use that gets my thoughts down almost as fast as I can think them!! Have my own office in my home so that’s where the writing happens at this point. Have this dream of moving into at hotel for a stint and having everything looked after for me so all I needed to do was write, but fear it might end up too boring.

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

No, not really – joined one last fall but nothing came of it…..

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

Margret Lawrence – to thank her for a portion of The Diviner’s which explained how I was responding to life and what I needed to do to change it.

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

Right where I am. Love my home!!! But in the midst of that, also NEED to experience the energy of the mountains, the ocean and the old growth forests so make the effort to visit them at least once a year.

Do you see writing as a career?

Since I am almost at the age of 70, not really looking for a career. May have wanted it when I was younger but know now that the life I experienced has opened me up in ways that sitting at a desk never could have….and it is those experiences that make what I write powerful.

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

No – drink a lot of coffee but rarely snack if ever.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

No deadlines at this point in life!!

Bio:

Gail Gillingham Wylie, M.Sc. is an individual, marital and family therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada specializing in the field of autism. She has a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Science in marital and family therapy from Loma Linda University, California. She has worked as a quantum biofeedback practitioner with SCIO since 2005.

Gail is known internationally through her books on autism: Autism Handle with Care (1995), Autism A New Understanding (2000) and Sharing our Wisdom (2003) and has spoken at many conferences on autism in United States, Canada, England, Malaysia and South Africa throughout the last quarter century. These include presentations at the World Conferences on Autism in Toronto in 1993, and Cape Town, SA in 2006. Her latest book In Search of Self takes her out of the autism world as it applies to each and every one of us.

Gail first began using the model of self as tool with her clients while working as a family therapist. She has successfully incorporated it into her sessions on the scio as it provides a visual map for those who are working towards self awareness. She fully believes that we are living at a time during which developing and unconditional acceptance of one self and of others is of prime importance. The model of self can help us do that.

Author Interview – Dwayne Clayden

September 24, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Dwayne

What inspired your latest novel?

My next novel, Wolfman is Back (released Nov 7, 2019) is the third novel in the Brad Coulter Series. It is based loosely on a very nasty criminal who escaped prison in the early 1980s. He was a stalker who raped and killed several women.

My second novel. OutlawMC is about biker gangs. In OutlawMC there was a very, very nasty biker that readers asked why I hadn’t killed him at the end. The readers hated him.

So, I did the only thing a writer could do, and I not only had him live, but he’s the main antagonist in Wolfman is back. I combined the two ideas for the story with lots of added nastiness.

wolfman_med                                                                             

How did you come up with the title?           

This was the easiest title so far. Jeter Wolf, the biker/antagonist, has a nickname, Wolfman. Since readers wanted him gone, I brought him back, thus Wolfman is Back!

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

I’m not sure I have a specific message, other than the situations police and EMS respond to are at times beyond comprehension. That someone can be so evil and remorseless is chilling and what one human will do to another is incomprehensible, yet it happens. Fortunately, not much of it is reported by the press. But police and EMS have a very changing job, and it takes its toll.

How much of the book is realistic?

The banter between police officers is something I try hard to make real. The closeness of partners, the teasing, the outright pushing all the right (wrong?) buttons is everyday. But when stuff hits the fan, they come together like no other profession I know. It’s almost like siblings fighting, but someone outside challenges on sibling, the whole family takes it as a challenge and becomes very protective. Thus, an injury to a police officer or paramedic, is felt by the entire department.

OUTLAW_med 

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

The characters in my first novel, Crisis Point were almost all based on people I knew or combinations of traits. My Protagonist, Brad Coulter, was a bit of me. I was a police officer for 3 years then a paramedic for 37 years. The premise of the Brad Coulter series is, what could my police career have been if I’d stayed in policing? Before the middle of Crisis Point, the character, Brad Coulter, had taken over the role and he became his own person (if that makes sense and isn’t weird!). I like to think of Brad a better version of me. My police friends have fun trying to guess who the other characters are based on. They manage to nail a few of them!

The German shepherd in the novels is Lobo. And he is the first dog I had (I rescued him from the pound 6 months into being a police officer).

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

There a parts of social media that baffle me (Twitter). I am on Facebook at Dwayneclaydenauthor and Dwayneclayden. Facebook is where I spend most of my social media time. I’m also on LinkedIn: dwayneclayden and yes, Twitter: @DwayneClayden

Crisis Point Flat Cover 1 

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

I have plans for novels from now to December 2022. Whether I can keep that schedule and pace— we shall see.

The next novel which I hope release in March or April 2020, is the first in a new series called Speargrass. The first novel deals with the opioid crisis in Montana and on a Montana First Nation.If you have seen the TV show Longmire, you’ll get a taste of what I’m doing. If you like Longmire, you’ll love Speargrass. It has its own backstory and characters with lots of flaws. I should be finished Speargrass by the end of September and then I will send it to my marvelous editor, Taija Morgan. While Taija does her thing, I’ll start Coulter #4. The working title is Sniper and if all goes to plan, that release will be November 2020.

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

I can be sarcastic and cutting, so I add that to some of my characters. Brad is sarcastic, cutting and very quick with comment or insult.

In Wolfman, there is new character, a detective that I really like. He’s an older, more seasoned version of Brad.

What is a little scary, is that I was able to get inside Jeter Wolfe (Wolman’s) head and I think he comes across realistic in all his evilness! I’ve been told a few times I write the bad guys better than the good guys! That was the critique from my first submission in my first writing class in 2010!

postcard-1

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

I’m definitely a crime guy. I love the style of Michael Connelly, Robert B Parker, John Sandford, and Lee Child.

However, I wrote a short Story, Hell Hath No Fury, which was a hard-boiled, down on his luck private detective story. It was published in2015 in AB Negative, An Anthology of Alberta Crime. It was fun to write and I have a sequel to that half-written.

This fall I’ve been asked to write a short story with a gothic them based in Alberta. So, I’m testing the water, but only with one toe!

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

I plan out every story. I start by putting ideas on index cards and then when I have 50 or so, I lay them out on my pool table and create an order. It gives me a starting point and direction. None of my four novels resemble in any way the original outline. Having direction helps me with the first draft.

Then when I do my first edit, I tend to re-write the story as I go, adding chapters as needed. I believe outlines are simply roadmaps and you can still take various routes to your destination – that’s up to your creativity. But no novel will likely resemble the first outline.

What is your best marketing tip?

I wish I had one! It has been a slow process to get a few enthusiastic fans/readers. The biggest thing right now is that I now have three novels. When readers finish the fist one, they reach for the second, and third. The challenge is keeping ahead of them and not having too much time between novels or they will find someone else.

If someone has ideas on how to sell e-books, I’d be very interested!

I have had local success at Farmer’s Markets and Christmas Fairs.

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

For me, social media is hindrance and distracting. For my novels, I have had minimal success with advertising my novels on Facebook. For now, my time is better spent writing that next, great novel the readers want. However, my Facebook goal is to find the funniest jokes, memes and stories to give anyone following me a laugh or two for the day.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I get lost in the story and the characters and sometimes write well into the night/morning because it is flowing so well.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I started writing short stories in high school, slapstick and parody like Saturday Night Live. Then a career in policing and then paramedics got in my way. I co-authored four textbooks for paramedics, but that is not the same as fiction writing. My fiction writing career began in October 2010.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
Stayed the same.

What genre are you currently reading?

I read Michael Connelly, Robert B Parker, John Sandford and Lee Child. I also read John Grisham, Ken Follett, and Jeffrey Archer to name a few.

I am reading novels by Nelson DeMille. He writes crime/thriller novel. I’ve just started reading his novels on a recommendation from a friend. I quite like his style.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I read for pleasure, but it is hard to turn off the writer/editor brain and just enjoy a novel. In some respects, writing has spoiled reading for me.

For OutlawMC I read 12-15 books on Outlaw Motorcycle clubs

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My best supporter is my mom, Sheila Clayden.

Valerie West, my partner, is my encourager and has always believed in my writing.

Jonas Saul, the Sarah Roberts best selling series author, has been an incredible mentor.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have a writing room/man cave in the basement where most of my writing is done. I have tried writing at nice places, like our cabin, but it’s not the same.

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

I do not belong to a writing group now. For about 3 years we had a writing group in Calgary called the Inklings and we met every Monday evening. The members read Crisis Point and OutlawMC through many, many edits.

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

Tough one.

Joseph Wambaugh because he changed the genre of crime novels to portray the realism of thed streets for cops. That is what I’m trying to do, so I’d to have beer and discuss his early writing. His early novels also changed TV crime from happy ending Adam 12 and Dragnet to Hill Street Blues, the first of the realistic police dramas.

Michael Connelly because I love his Bosch series which is also a TV series. I want to know how he did that! I’d love to have a hit novel series and I think my novels would do well on TV. Of course, that’s just my wishful thinking!

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

The Big Island, Hawaii. We went there for the first time in May 2018 and I loved everything about it. Especially the calm pace. You can’t help but relax there.

Do you see writing as a career?

Writing is my career. I’m putting everything I have into it. I mentioned a writing schedule and I plan to stick to that. Next year I hope to launch 2 novels and 1 non-fiction book.

I love writing and creating. My challenge is getting the exposure beyond my family, friends, colleagues, and into the American ebook market.

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

To my family doctor’s dismay, I drink Pepsi when I write and often eat chocolate covered almonds. That doesn’t mean I don’t like coffee (with Bailey’s) on occasion!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I have been told to reward myself, but I don’t. Maybe a weekend. 

I’m pushing hard to keep the novels coming that by the time one novel is launched, another is in editing and a third is on the first draft. 

I am now receiving emails from readers wanting to know when the next novel will be out. Some readers chastise me when they see I’m on Facebook and say, “You should be writing!”

Bio:

Dwayne Clayden writes crime thrillers.

Crisis Point, Dwayne’s first novel, was a finalist for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards.

OutlawMC is the second in the Brad Coulter Series.

Wolfman is Back, the third in the Brad Coulter Series, with be released in Fall 2019.

In his 40 year career, Dwayne has served as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair.

Dwayne is a popular speaker at conferences and to writing groups presenting on realistic police, medical and paramedic procedures.

The co-author of four paramedic textbooks, he has spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.

DwayneClayden.com

dwayneclayden@gmail.com

 

 

Author Interview – Sherile Reilly

September 3, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

SherileProfilePic500x500.jpg

What inspired your latest novel?

I’m retired now, but my first career was as an elementary school teacher.

One year I had a boy placed in my class who didn’t like me and unfortunately, the feeling was mutual.

Believing the boy would be much happier with a different teacher, I suggested to administration that they place him in a different class. The Assistant Principal informed me that I’d be good for the boy and left him in my class.

As the year progressed, we grew to like each other very much.

In June, when all the other kids had left for summer holidays, the boy stayed at his desk and he said point blank, “I didn’t like you at the beginning of the year”.

(Don’t you love how kids get right to the point? I love their honesty.)

I thought a moment and decided to be honest with him too. I shared that he wasn’t my favorite student at the beginning of the year, either.

We both accepted the idea that we could change our minds. We had a newfound mutual respect and appreciation.

Over the years, I never forgot that boy. I decided I needed to write a story about a woman who didn’t want a particular child. I wanted to show the love, understanding and self-confidence that grew in both characters as they got to know and love each other.

How did you come up with the title?

The title for the trilogy is Bringing Jamie Home. I got this idea when the ten-year-old boy gets lost in Jamie’s Choice, the first book in the trilogy. The hero tells the heroine that they will find the child and bring him home. There! I had it—the title for the book.

At this time, I didn’t know that the one book would lead into a trilogy.

When I finished book one, I knew that one character appeared to be a “piece of work”, as one reviewer called him. I had to figure out why the character was so cynical. This lead to a mystery that had to be solved in the second and third books. All three books work with the idea of “Bringing Jamie Home”.           

JamieTrilogy2018-3covers        

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

As I mentioned above, I wanted to show the love, understanding and self-confidence that grew in both characters as they got to know and love each other.

How much of the book is realistic?

When I describe the mountains and the snow storm in Jamie’s Choice, I’ve actually been on slippery roads and in snow storms in the mountains. I know how quickly the weather can change.

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

See above

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

I don’t have a blog, but I’d love people to visit me at my website: SherileReilly.com

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

The Bringing Jamie Home books are a trilogy. After them, I wrote a Victorian Paranormal Romance called The Curse of the Lord of Darkness. It’s a stand-alone book. I’m now working on a series which will also be Victorian Paranormal Romances. My books are currently available in print and as eBooks from  Amazon.com.

CURSE-LofD-2MB-HR-2018-09

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

My favorite characters are always in the story I’m working on. I’m deeply involved with the characters—just like when I’m reading a book.

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

I write Clean, Contemporary Romance and Victorian, Paranormal Romance.

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

I love planning my stories. I get ideas and I jot them down on paper. At this point I’m just gathering ideas. I have lots of pieces of info about the characters and the plot.

Next, I think about the order of the scenes. I like to see the story laid out in front of me, so I put the ideas on cards or post-it-notes and arrange them on a two by five foot board. From here, I’m able to see what the general layout of my story will be. Of course there are many changes to this outline, but I really like knowing where the story is going and if the characters are changing and growing.

 

 

What is your best marketing tip?

I don’t know about a marketing tip, but I think authors always have to keep learning the craft–listen to podcasts, read blogs and educate yourself. Join a writing group if there is one in your area. Write the best book that you can and then get it edited by a professional.

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

Social media is a very big topic and I’m learning what might work best for me.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love planning and putting in lots of conflict. Creating characters is exciting. In my Victorian stories I’m always learning more about that time in history. My Victorian stories are set in the United States and it’s interesting to learn about the social restrictions on women in that era.

What genre are you currently reading?

I read across a wide variety of genres. I recently finished a detective novel. Before that I read a Victorian mystery/romance.  I can’t keep up with all the books I’d like to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I read for both.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

I’ve had tremendous support from my husband who drives me to locations so I get a feeling for the setting.

When she was alive, I also had tremendous support from my mother. She’d have been so pleased with the publication of the Bringing Jamie Home Trilogy.

My sister patiently listens to all my new ideas and offers suggestions.

My friends have helped me so much with my technology problems, blurbs, plots and many other facets of the whole writing process. I also belong to two writing groups that offer excellent workshops.

Best of all, my writer friends are fun and great to hang around with!

Where is your favorite writing space?

Lots of people think they’d like to write on a balcony with a beautiful view of the ocean and the sound of the waves. Rather than encouraging me to write, I’d find this a huge distraction. I’d want to be walking along the beach or visiting the local tourist sights.

I’m quite happy being in a room in the basement, surrounded by books and other writing materials that I need.

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

I belong to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association and also the Calgary Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  The groups are called ARWA and CaRWA. Both are terrific for teaching people about writing and industry. Of course, there’s a fantastic group of fellow writers.

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

I love living right where I am. I love the four seasons and the wonderful changes that each brings.

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

When I’m writing, I don’t nibble. If I brought food into the computer room, I’d constantly keep eating and get nothing done. However, I do nibble while I watch TV!

Bio:

Author, artist, and retired teacher, Sherile Reilly has jet boated in New Zealand, climbed the Temple of a Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza, ballooned over the table lands of Northern Australia, and poised for a photographer among the columns of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

As a teacher, she read to children and as a world traveler, she collected stories and soon began to create her own, first for her students, and then for adults.

Not tied to any one genre, Sherile writes Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction and Paranormal Romance. Most recently, she published a trilogy, Bringing Jamie Home, and The Curse of the Lord of Darkness.

Author Interview – Karen Schauber

August 27, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Group of Seven

What is your book about? 

The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings is at once artistic and literary. This anthology is a gorgeous testament to the Group of Seven, through the unique lens of twenty-one acclaimed flash fiction writers. – Each flash fiction story, (a brief, condensed, though fully realized narrative, written in under five hundred words), is paired with a lush full-colour reproduction of the painting that inspired it, showcasing both Canada’s historical artistic oeuvre with its contemporary literary artistic talent.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

The impetus for this book began as a writing prompt. I am always looking for interesting, layered prompts: a phrase, paradox, scenario, image, to inspire and formulate a story around. I happened to be walking my dog along Vancouver’s Jericho Beach early one frigid but bright wintery morning and was struck by the awesome beauty of the snow-peaked North Shore mountains looming across that stretch of ocean. I imagined that Lawren Harris would have wanted to paint that stunning vista, and in that glance, had the inspiration for my story. – It was only later, when conducting background research for my piece that I learned that the one-hundred-year anniversary of the Group of Seven was coming up in 2020. – A light bulb went off! The anniversary presented a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the enduring genius of these painters, in story. I contacted fellow flash fiction writers with the idea of putting an anthology together inspired by the landscape paintings of the Group of Seven and the enthusiasm for this project was immediately infectious. I wanted to put together a book that would both increase the profile and expand the reach of these iconic Canadian painters, while at the same time introduce art lovers to the marvels and delight of flash fiction.

Why flash fiction?

Flash fiction is the hottest rising literary trend in Canada. It is my current obsession. I have been on a maelstrom writing flash for the past three years. Each miniature story (flash fiction) is a delicious morsel, the flavours exploding with each bite. For me, flash fiction (always written in under 1000 words, and usually in under 500) is storytelling at its best. It draws the reader into another world engaging her in an immersive, evocative, and emotionally resonant experience, albeit for a brief moment in time; ‘for a flash’. Each miniature story is meant to delight, surprise and challenge the reader. There is often much hidden in between the lines and white spaces inviting the reader to return again to discover more in the layers of the story. And while each flash fiction takes only a few moments to devour, each story takes much longer to ‘perfect’, requiring a practiced skill in crafting, sculpting, editing, and polishing. I love the challenge writing flash poses, and the sense of satisfaction in completing a layered piece with a beginning, middle, and end, in a relatively short period of time. Relatively short compared to that of the traditional short story of 1500-3000 words, novella, or novel (which can take years to realize). The Flash Fiction community of writers and readers across Canada is exploding. Canadian literary magazines, journals, and anthologies now publish several flash fiction pieces in each issue, and flash fiction workshops and classes, both online and in house, can be found everywhere. I find this so exciting!

 

Why the Group of Seven?

When I first saw a Group of Seven painting, a Lawren Harris, I was gobsmacked. A stunning mountain carved like folds of butter, light cascading down upon its peak, pure and ethereal. I was immediately transported, somewhere deep, sublime, and otherworldly. My love affair with the Group of Seven began in that moment. As a university student living in Toronto in the 80’s, I had the opportunity to visit the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg many times. The McMichael Collection even then, was remarkable and awe-inspiring. Over the years as I have discovered more of the Group’s landscape paintings in galleries, museums, books, and on-line. They have captured my imagination and heart for all these many years, transporting me into the story of the canvas and beyond. – I was inspired and driven to realize this book in celebration of their enduring genius.

How did you decide to pair the Group of Seven with Flash Fiction? 

For me the match is made in heaven! The paintings are immediately perceived as storied, and the flash pieces are beautifully written, as if a painting. Both image and story invite the reader/viewer into another realm; a place of deep resonance and wonderment. Each read of the narrative, when paired with the layers, shadows, and textures of the landscape painting, becomes an immersive experience.

Each Contributor chose a landscape painting that inspired them, from a selection of Group of Seven paintings. Works by Tom Thomson and Emily Carr, both contemporaries of the Group, are also included in the book.

Who are the Writers/Contributors in The Group of Seven Reimagined and how were they selected?

Most of the Contributors are award-winning short story authors, several times over. They come from all regions of Canada, from coast to coast to coast, and three from the US, the UK, and AU, each with a distinct Canadian connection. I felt it was important to invite writers from across Canada who I thought would present a varied, distinct, and unique voice, and, be expert at crafting a miniature work of fiction. While Canada has so many brilliant short story writers, writing flash fiction presents unique challenges, i.e. excellent editing chops and concision, not every short story writer is comfortable with or interested in exploring.

I am a voracious short fiction reader. I read as many short story collections, journal, magazine, and anthology short fiction pieces as I could find, looking for a range of style, genre, and voice. Above all, I was looking for writing at a level of excellence. And of course, I found brilliant storytellers, and was excited by so many extraordinary works of fiction. It was also important that each person I invited to participate be more than enthusiastic about celebrating the Group of Seven and be inspired by their paintings.

I am thrilled with each of the writers selected. Mike Blouin, Carol Bruneau, Paulo da Costa, Alfred DePew, Tamas Dobozy, Valerie Fox, Travis Good, Mark Jarman, JJ Lee, Brett Loney, Lorette C. Luzajic, Yael Eytan Maree, Michael Mirolla, Isabella Mori, Nina Munteanu, Waubgeshig Rice, Robert Runté, Nina Shoroplova, Mireille Silcoff, Mary Thompson. Each one a consummate professional and joy to work with. Each writer has selected a gorgeous Group of Seven painting to inspire their story and each has contributed a marvellous flash fiction piece. The results and pairing are stunning.  In addition to being the editor, I also have a flash fiction piece in the book.

Full Bios (incl photo) for each of the Contributors can be found at: http://SevenFlashFiction.weebly.com  

Where did you get your training? How long have you been writing flash fiction? Have you always written, have you always wanted to write?

I think my path to becoming a writer is rather unique. I was sixty-two before I wrote my first story, ever. And I will be sixty-four before this book is published. I have never written fiction before. Never even tried. My writing up until very recently has been academic and analytically focused. I had done some journal writing intermittently as process-writing, but that’s it. Back in high school I wrote my final English exam interpreting a poem about the Tree of Life, referencing photosynthesis/ chlorophyll / life cycle / and the ecosystem. I was clearly off the mark. Words and imagery, conveying personal experience through metaphor or simile was not my forte, comfort level, or inclination.

Since beginning to write fiction three years ago, I have been published in twenty-five international literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, and have more in the queue.

My training is in Psychology. I am a seasoned Family Therapist. Decades of ‘being fully present’ in the therapy session has made the transition into writing surprisingly seamless for me. As Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler describes, ‘writing takes place in the Dreamscape’. Being fully present in this ‘Place of Solitude’ is where writing is best explored and fashioned. I enjoy this space. It is where I am most myself. And it is where I create from.

I discovered flash fiction reading journals and magazines online. There is a dynamic global flash fiction community. I read flash fiction journals regularly and enjoy discovering new writers (new to me) – the talent out there is magic. I quickly found online workshops teaching flash fiction and have participated in many three-day, ten-day, and monthly workshops, and continue to enrol in one every month or two. The workshops are lots of fun, generative, and attended by highly creative, respectful, and generous writers. I’m totally hooked.

What do you enjoy most about editing?

Cultivating a relationship with the writer is a must for the editing process to be successful.

Pulling back to the barest of form and arriving at clarity is what motivates me in editing. I love the process. Finding increasing precision in word choice is my kind of fun. I delight in the concision, word craft, play, and intentional word choice used to create imagery that resonates and evokes an emotional response in the reader. My tool is a thesaurus. I clean up a piece to reveal its essence, letting it take center stage and shine. Presenting a re-configured or revised passage to a writer who chooses to accept it, is the ultimate satisfaction for an editor.

What’s next?

I have a lot of ideas, although only two have reached the planning stage. 1. A flash fiction anthology similarly structured to The Group of Seven Reimagined, ekphrastic writing, – flash fiction inspired by visual art. This time showcasing the surrealist and magic realism artists Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna. and 2. A collection of flash fiction, all my own pieces.

I am exploring how to approach this next project differently. It has been enormously expensive to put this book together. The cost of permissions and licenses from Art Galleries, Museums and Estates to use hi-res reproductions of the paintings in the book has been almost prohibitive. This expense comes out of the author’s / editor’s pocket; the publisher does not absorb this cost. Having a sponsor/corporate interest would help move this next project forward. It is something I’m looking into.

Where can we read your work?

All my flash fiction can be found online at http://rebelshorts.weebly.com with links to each journal/magazine where the piece is published.

Detailed info about The Group of Seven Reimagined, its inception, contributors, and resources about the Group of Seven and Flash Fiction all can be found at http://GroupofSevenFlashFiction.weebly.com  

Advanced info and resources about how to write Flash Fiction can be found at http://VancouverFlashFiction.weebly.com

The Group of Seven will launch in Vancouver in October, and in Toronto in May – details on Vancouver and Toronto launch coming soon – if you would like to receive an invitation to attend either Launch party, send an email to groupofsevenflashfiction@gmail.com with ‘Vancouver Launch Invitation’ or ‘Toronto Launch Invitation’ in the subject line. We are going to celebrate!

ISBN 978-1-77203-288-8  Heritage House $24.95

Purchases in Canada

https://www.amazon.ca/Group-Seven-Reimagined-Contemporary-Paintings/dp/1772032883

International Purchases (from outside Canada)

https://www.heritagehouse.ca/book/the-group-of-seven-reimagined/

Karen Schauber - credit Koichi Saito - (44) photo

Bio:

Karen Schauber is a Flash Fiction writer obsessed with the form. She has been on a maelstrom writing since she was first introduced to this brief condensed short story form three years ago. Her work has since appeared in 25 international literary magazines and anthologies, including Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bending GenresCarpeArteEkphrastic Review, and Fiction Southeast. The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings, celebrating the Canadian modernist landscape painters, is her first editorial/curatorial flash venture. Schauber runs ‘Vancouver Flash Fiction’, a flash fiction Resource Hub and Critique Circle, and in her spare time, is a seasoned Family Therapist. A native of Montreal, she has called Vancouver home for the past three decades. 

http://KarenSchauber.weebly.com

http://GroupofSevenFlashFiction.weebly.com

http://VancouverFlashFiction.weebly.com

http://www.facebook.com/VancouverFlashFiction/

fb @Karen Schauber

twitter @karenschauber

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mandy!

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.