Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

September 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Kathie

  1. Why did you decide to write an autobiography? For many years, existential questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” have haunted me and challenged me to go deeper into myself. My search for answers to these questions led me to journaling about life moments captured on the page; writing these short pieces called out for expression. Exploring poetry and essay, fairy tale and short life stories helped me find my “real writer” voice. Self-help books, spiritual retreats, talented mentors, friends and a personal interest in storytelling, psychology, image and myth fuelled my appetite for words. Gathering these stories together into an autobiographic novel took a long time. Now that my book is complete and ready for publication, I am more aware of the gifts and talents I can bring to the world through writing.
  2. How long did it take you to write it? I began capturing moments of my life at a women’s writing seminar in 2004. When the instructor said I had an unusual story – growing up female in the macho world of the military – I was surprised; my upbringing seemed “normal” to me. Many of the stories in my book began back then.
  3. What difficulties did you experience in writing it? Because of the transient nature of my childhood, I saw my early life as chopped into segments and filed in my memory by location. Recently when working with an editor, I began to see links and patterns in my life and finally, story connections were forged and fashioned into a smooth narrative. I had difficulty identifying the genre of these stories because they are based on authentic flashes of memory, and reimagined with fiction writing tools. My goal was to reveal my authentic emotions in short life stories and connect with other kindred souls through them.
  4. How did you come up with the title? In my childhood, our family was in constant transition, and my tools for coping with goodbyes and hellos and consequently with loss and resilience. Alternate titles I considered included “Permission to Speak, Sir!”, “Nesting Places”, “Home and Away”, and “Finding Home Without a Map.” These titles spoke to my developing comfort with being at home in my heart and belonging in my own skin. At one point, the title was “Saying Goodbye is Easy – Letting Go is Hard”. The second half of this title was dropped because it became obvious to me that letting go of the past was getting easier.
  5. As a child of a military family – what can your story teach others? The stories we tell ourselves and others influence what we believe about the world. The military has its own myths, my father’s story included World War 2 events, and my mother told stories connected me to generations of extended family and how the military influenced them and my own childhood. All the legends and myths to which I was exposed inspired my narrative of leaving the sanctuary of home and seeking independence. I believe that many women experience loneliness and isolation when they choose to leave their parents’ home and grow into their own lives. Reframing my life story allowed me to understand that it is a universal story.
  6. The book is a collection of short stories – why did you chose this format? Short stories stand alone, and a collection of short stories are sometimes linked but not always; a novel-in-short-stories has a narrative arc even though the stories stand alone. It is not a memoir because that genre covers a set period of time. Autobiography is factual but many of my stories were imagined to make a point. My research revealed that short stories are more likely to be accepted by a publisher if the author’s stories appear in literary magazines or their writing is well known. This format seemed to work for me because it suited my experience in life.
  7. Do you write in any other genre? I began writing poetry in the 1970s, and I was seeking inspiration for poems when I attended the women’s writing classes in 2004. With encouragement, I began writing prose and personal opinion essays for magazines. Poetry continues to intrigue me and I hope to add to my published books of verse but I also have a novel on the back burner (which is also told in segments!), two based-on-real-events historical fiction books and a non-fiction book. I do not write fantasy or romance and tend to lean towards literary fiction.
  8. Do you have other books? Since 2004 I’ve created several handmade poetry chapbooks, and published two books of poetry. I’ve also self-published a book of essays and a volume of personal fairy tales. All of them are inner focused, and intended for kindred spirits who are interested in myth and metaphor.
  9. Where can your readers find you on social media? On FB as Kathie Sutherland Author, on Twitter as Kathie.Sutherland aka wordpainterpoet, on LinkedIn, Instagram and on my website kathiesutherland.com where my books and writing companionship services are available. I offer Inner Child workshops, Reminiscence and Listening Services, a scuba diving-inspired workshop focused on going deeper into emotions and create “Portrait Poems” as personal gifts.
  10. Do you have a blog? Since writing “Saying Goodbye is Easy”, I have gain clarity about the purpose of my writing. I want to give back through coaching and writing companionship. I have renewed my blogging practice.
  11. What did you learn about yourself while writing this autobiography? The whole of my writing life has been about acknowledging and accepting myself. This autobiography has been narrative therapy for me. Each piece I worked on required me to come to terms with the theme of the story I was writing. One of my greatest strengths is my love of learning. That love brings me back to the greater life questions and my search for answers. I love learning through research. I love learning about words. I love inner work. I love writing to grow.

Saying Goodbye

Blog:

https//kathiesutherland.com

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/kathiesutherlandauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/kathie.sutherland/?hl=en

@wordpainterpoet

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Creating A Writing Session

July 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

We all want the time and space to write more. Life gets in the way a lot of the time, but if you make some ‘writing’ time within our normal life, it can be done.

person writing on notebook

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Firstly, it seems obvious but set a goal for your writing session. Do you know what your objective is? Are you brainstorming, creating a character description, outlining a plot, starting a new project or completing one?

Secondly, prepare for what you will be writing, do your homework for locations, period etc. Brainstorm ideas before you start, make notes. Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

TIP: Don’t be too ridge, let the story flow – it doesn’t always go to plan! But that’s the joy of writing.

 Thirdly, gauge how committed you are to this piece of writing? Are you excited to start or is it feeling like a chore? If the latter, try something new or another project.

TIP: Use word or picture prompts to ignite your Muse to get you started and in a writing mood.

Also make sure you are in a good writing spot. Have you minimized distractions? Do you need quiet or music, a cafe or library setting. Or is your home space best for you or will there be too many interruptions?

Decide on how long you will write for. Don’t make the session too long or it will dampen your enthusiasm. Ensure you have breaks for refreshments, to stretch or even go for a walk.

Once you have these elements in place check your clock and set the timer. Don’t look at it constantly – just write. Lose yourself in the narrative. Enjoy the process. Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. Let your imagination expand.

TIP: Don’t edit or revise – just write.

I like to sit in my living room with my laptop on a little table – in the warmer months, I can look out at the lawn and watch the birds & bunnies and in the cold months, I enjoy the fireplace. When we go on road trips, I usually sit at the desk or on the bed with my little table.

 Where is your ‘go to’ writing spot?

What are you working on currently?

Author Interview – Alison Neuman – Children’s Series – Book Launch

May 10, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Alison Neuman

 

home

 

  1. Please tell us the story behind your new book, Home.

My new book is the bookend of the Friends and Family series about Fluffy the cat and Levi the mouse. This book in the series was more challenging to write than the others because the series was written for my mom, and she passed away two years ago. My mom was my hero, and my best friend. She always provided me with a sense of security and home. As a family, we shared a love of reading, and my mom made sure, whether I was staying in the hospital or at home, that the routine of reading to me before bed was a constant.

As an adult, my mom’s macular degeneration made reading a challenge so I would read out loud to her. Then as her dementia progressed, she found a renewed passion for children’s literature. This series was based on a childhood pet of my mom’s and has a diverse character, which I wish I had to identify with when I was a child. Despite dementia stealing my mom’s words, the smile on her face and her reaching out to grab and hold Don’t Eat Family communicated her love and appreciation.

Mom would’ve wanted me to finish the series despite the fact that during the writing process and now the launch of Home, she would not be here in person. My illustrator, Katherine Restouiex, who also knew my mom, made the human character a cartoon version of her. While writing this last book in the series, memories mom and I shared and the lessons that she taught me were reminders that she will always be with me.

  1. As the third in the series, does it complete the series?

Yes, Home completes the Friends and Family series.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for the series?

My inspiration for this series came from a childhood cat Mom had and the fact that cats and mice don’t usually get along. This series was an exploration into each character’s ability to make their own decisions based on who they want to be and not who they are told to be by society. I wanted my characters to travel through the world with kindness, respect, and a belief in the goodness of people.

  1. Can you tell us about the characters and how you created them?

The character of Fluffy is based on a grey Persian cat that my mom had as a child. The character Levi is based on some of the strong and independent individuals I have met who experience disability. Maybe even a little part of myself is in the character of Levi.

Dont Eat

  1. In Don’t Eat Family what is the message you wanted to convey?

The main messages that I was trying to convey in the book Don’t Eat Family were that, just like Fluffy and her decision to be friends with Levi versus be a mouser as some cats are, you could be who you are and not give in to peer pressure. Also, individuals experiencing a disability may experience challenges but have other abilities and should not be judged by the way they get around in the world.

help

  1. In Help from Friends do the characters follow on from the first book?

Yes, the characters in Friends and Family continue along the journey to find their way home, a journey that started in the first book.

  1. Did you start out planning a series, or did the story and characters dictate more stories?

No, I didn’t start outlining a series, but the characters and the story dictated more books because their adventures required more pages than I wanted to squeeze into one book.

  1. Tell us about your writing life – what other books/plays have you written?

I have written the following

Books:

Ice Rose – A young Adult Spy Novel

Searching for Normal: A Memoir

Don’t Eat Family

On Ne Manage Pas La Famille

Help From Friends

Home

Plays:

Searching

The Sunset Syndrome

In Progress:

Book – Hindsight

  1. Do you only write fiction?

No, I also write creative nonfiction.

Alison’s website:

http://www.alisonneuman.ca/?fbclid=IwAR2_bjRPr3grdeLMeyR6Jv1JjZE0bLKB6nq7X0mOralPynATNr43q-M1YGo

Dream Write Publishing

1DWP logo

Bibliophiles Collective Tuesday – Character Interview – Lenni from Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria (YA novella)

April 28, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Chapter 5 Mandy 52_preview

Today I am ‘interviewing’ one of the main character’s from Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, a YA novella. Lenni is the main instigator in persuading her three friends to seek out the invading alien monster on their planet.

Hi Lenni,

Can you tell us about why you live on another planet instead of Earth?

I can tell you what I know from history lessons. The human race suffered multiple pandemics over decades, which decimated the world population. In an effort to save the human species, one hundred generation ships were built and several space stations. These were built to offer a temporary home above the planet until the virus’ could be controlled or eliminated. 

So how did you get here?

The expected term for being on the ships was extended over and over for years until each generation ship struggled to sustain its population. As the remaining human population on Earth died, a decision was made to head out in as many different directions as possible. The hope was that one or more of the generation ships would find a suitable planet to populate. After many years my ancestors ship found Toaria. 

So then they landed and built all the domes?

It took another generation to build the domes and establish the growing pods. Several new technologies were created so that ‘soil’ was artificially grown from agar, molds and vermiculite and then seeds regenerated from capsules that had been frozen in transit. 

Can you describe Planet Toaria?

It is mainly rock and dust but there are frackist trees and whickety vines. We have two moons and when they align, the sky becomes magenta then burgundy before total darkness. That’s our curfew time – we must be home by then. All the other plants are from germination of seeds brought here and cultivated in the home dome’s central gardens or in the growth pods. We have metal paths in-between the home domes and the community domes. Apart from the living areas, there is a complex of industry domes restricted to only workers and the military. Most of the planet is uninhabited still but as our population grows we expand with more sections.

Can you describe frackist trees and whickety vines, they sound fascinating?

The trees have thick trunks, which are topped with branches that look like an upside-down scalene triangle. They have sticky buds, which you mustn’t touch as the sap causes instant numbing to anything it touches. Climbing them is discouraged because of that. The vines have a natural luminescence in the leaves and they are planted along the main paths to grow along them and climb the metal columns.

I noticed that you do not have ‘normal’ pets, like dogs and cats. What do you have instead?

No, we do not have animals as such on Toaria, they were not allowed on the first ships from Earth. We have robotic ‘pets’ or bots as we call them. Each child is assigned a bot when they are born. It is a protector as well as a companion. They are made up of a series of metal intersecting plates, have compartments for supplies and technology and power up overnight as we sleep.

Can you tell us a little about the alien invader?

Initially, no one knew there was an invader but then my bot, Bubble chased off something and did not return for a long time. This is unheard of as they are to stay with their owner no matter what. When Bubble was found, his recording data did not identify what the thing was and that’s when I began to wonder.

Why did you decide to find the alien with your friends?

At first I thought it would be a fun thing to do with Troon, Braze and Nevis. You know to explore a little further than we are allowed. There are sections to the habitat only open to the military. I didn’t really think we would find it! As our search continued it got more serious and we all thought it would be an excellent way to be considered for a position within the security force.

Thank you for being with us today, Lenni and telling us about your life on Planet Toaria.

If you want to know more of the story the e-book is available here, on Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. 

 

 

 

Bibliophiles Collective Tuesday – Fighting the Lethargy of Isolation

April 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


lethargy

Many of us are finding the lock downs, social distancing and isolation difficult to cope with. Logically we know it is the best possible way to curb the spread of this horrid disease but humans are social animals. The most basic interactions are forgone as we protect our loved ones, whether family or friends. We miss the hugs, the physical closeness – over tea or coffee, a lunch or dinner date, groups we normally attend, family visits and more.

However, we are in an era of excellent technology that allows us to connect – if not physically – as least visually. All social media sites are open for us to message or video with each other. There are many video conferencing apps for group chats, we can even have watch parties. So it is not so bad.

Imagine this change happening in the 1960’s or 1970’s when a rotary phones or letters were your main options for connection. At least we have instant options now.

We endeavour to ‘busy’ ourselves with a multitude of activities available to us within our homes. There is an increase in books sales (happy author here for one!) gardens are being tended, DIY projects completed, spring cleaning finished, increased book reading, board & card games played, jigsaw puzzles completed. ‘Old’ toys are seized from closets, basements and attics and dusted off and enjoyed.

Maybe look on the positive side – it is more ‘family’ time instead of ‘screen’ time. Embrace the new and be creative.

Take care #stayhome and #stayhealthy

Keep #reading #books! And remember to review each one.

hands  holding open book

 

Blog at WordPress.com.