Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Joint Author Interview 22April David Ellis & Cendrine Marrouat

April 22, 2021
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Today I welcome a joint interview with Daivd and Cendrine, authors who collaborate to publish a variety of books and a magazine. Welcome to you both.

David Ellis

1.     What drew you to poetry?

I grew up trying to write spoof lyrics for a lot of different songs, inspiration would come out of all sorts of places. When it turned out that my lyrical structures became too big and unwieldy for songs themselves to contain, I started turning to writing poetry because I was drawn into the musicality of playing with words and phrases. I was fascinated by how you could treat words as if they were musical instruments. I began reading lots of poetry written by my peers and in doing so, I gained the ability to write on an emotional level that connected with many different people. This is what forged my love of poetry, being able to communicate with like-minded souls and give them hope, inspiration, passion, courage and kindness in their lives.

2.     You embrace a variety of topics in your poetry. Can you explain your process in choosing a theme?

Theme for me is pretty easy, in that I am most interested in writing things that are inspirational, romantic, funny or all three combined! I’ve always thought that when it comes to choosing a theme or topic, it should be something that you are passionate about. You should actively try to combine multiple elements to give you enough drive and material to visualize a project. For example, you may choose to write about snow but that on its own is not very inspiring. However, if you were to then combine other elements of an emotional nature (a first romance in the snow, playing in the snow as a child/with your own children, etc) then this will give you the means to flesh out your piece. From then on, you can continue to add whatever details you need to give enough colour to your piece of writing to interest others into reading it.

3.     How does writing flash fiction differ from poetry for your writing process?

With Flash Fiction I am usually thinking of a specific scene taking place in my mind. Whilst this can also be true for poetry, stories tend to unfold themselves when I have some characters chatting to each other. Usually my flash fiction pieces consist of dialogue between quirky characters and action unfolding. I would say that a poem can embrace many different angles but a piece of story writing is focused, concise, every word needs to count when it comes to describing the scene/event. With a poem, you can be more vague when it comes to the overall meaning of the lines and still have a deep message that can be conveyed. Whereas with a piece of story writing, it is important to convey to the reader where they are and what is happening (even if the twists, turns and outcomes are a mystery), so that they can quietly imagine being there themselves enjoying the experience.

4.     Who are your writer heroes?

I have tons in different genres! My favourite genre is Fantasy, so I will say that my top two literary heroes are Terry Practchett and Neil Gaiman. Stephen King for horror. For poetry, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson & Maya Angelou are also but a very small selection. I could literally spend all day and night naming people in the literary, TV and film world who constantly inspire me on a daily basis!

5.     How did you come up with the title –  “TooFullToWrite – I’ve started so I’ll finish”?

The short answer is that I always thought about the notion how writers and artists start things but struggle to finish them. Maybe they lose their creativity or drive, or some other shiny thing comes along to distract them. My philosophy was born out of wanting to finish things that I start because I am not a fan of loose ends and it is satisfying to complete things (no matter how long they take!) for our own peace of mind.

I actually wrote a humorous origin story about the namesake of my website, so if your readers are interested they can read it here:-

https://toofulltowrite.com/2013/02/12/daily-prompt-all-about-me-the-mostly-true-origin-story-of-toofulltowrite/

6.     You have created workbooks for authors. Can you tell us about them and why you created them?

Cendrine & I created our workbooks series at Auroras & Blossoms because we wanted to inspire artists to create more material, to become more professional and to thrive at what they do best. We focus on a variety of different topics, including writing prompts, inspirational tips/techniques, new poetry and writing forms, social media etiquette, social media marketing, marketing your artwork better and many more. We want to keep expanding and evolving what we offer to be on the cutting edge of what inspires artists to show up and produce the best material of their lives! 🙂

For more information, check out the link here:- https://abpoetryjournal.com/journals-workbooks/

7.     How, why and when did you formulate the partnership with Cendrine Marrouat?

Cendrine goes into deeper detail in her interview segment below. We crossed paths years ago when I was interviewing fellow authors and artists. We have an excellent creative partnership that we have built a strong platform on. We complement each other with our skills sets and are both a creative force to be reckoned with. She is an excellent business partner and extremely talented too!

8.     You have a wide range of skills, including podcaster, lyricist, humorist – do you feel these are all components of your writer life? How do each of these disciplines aid your writing?

I have never wanted to tie my creativity down to just one single thing. As I learn how to do one creative discipline, I become interested in others by way of association and because of my passion in existing disciplines, this enthusiasm carries over to new things that I try out in the artistic world. I do not feel like they are actually defined by a writer’s life, although to be fair, a writer’s life has led me to all of them and so much more. It’s very true what they say about how being a writer means that you can literally be anything you want to be in life! Being involved in many different artistic outlets gives you a much broader palette to paint from. It is not for everyone, since some people prefer to focus on one thing and get really good at it. I have to focus on many things in my life, otherwise I will get bored doing the same thing over and over – variety is the spice of life!

9.     Does living in England enhance your writing – if so how?

This is an interesting question. I definitely have a British sense of humour and it comes out in my jokes, quips, puns and writing style because that is an integral part of who I am. I feel like it gives me a unique perspective on the world, one that is endearing, comical and entertaining to read. I embrace these aspects of my own personal character in that I have manners, am well behaved and professional (plus a bit old fashioned) but at the same time I do have an extroverted side, like to be playful and let my hair down regularly as well!

10.  Please share your social media sites.

Website: https://toofulltowrite.com

Blog: https://toofulltowrite.com/blog

Books: https://toofulltowrite.com/my-books

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TooFullToWrite

Instagram: https://instagram.com/TooFullToWrite

11.  What would you like to say to your readers?

I want to thank every single one of you for your support and interest in what I do. I hope to inspire you, make you laugh or move you deeply in some kind of profound way that connects with you on an emotional level. We live in tough times right now and I would encourage you to spread as much kindness, help and support that you can. Work hard and bear with your struggles, there will always be better things on the horizon, if you weather the storms.

Cendrine Marrouat

1.     How long have you been writing?

Like many people, I wrote sappy stuff when I was a teenager. However, I only got serious about writing in 2005. So, I’m just counting the last 16 years. 😉

2.     What drew you to combining poetry and photography as artistic expression?

Because both art forms work extremely well together.

Most of us are scared of poetry. In school, we are taught to analyze every word and line of the poems we read to uncover some kind of arcane meaning. The adults we then become cannot pick up a poetry book without over-thinking about the way we should respond to it.

As a former teacher to adults, I know that a majority of people prefer visual cues to written ones. Pairing imagery and poems helps redirect the focus towards enjoyment.

The images I use to complement my poems (all mine) have triggered very positive reactions from people. They realize that poetry can also be very relaxing and fun to read!  

3.     You are the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms – how did this partnership begin?

A few years ago, I was looking for interview opportunities to promote a new book. I found David Ellis and we instantly connected. I was impressed with his professionalism and personability.

After the interview, we decided to stay in touch. At the beginning of 2019, one of our chats led to sharing our frustrations about the process of submitting work to magazines and journals. We did not like how many of them factored in “who you know” and your number of publishing credits into their acceptance process.

So, on a whim, I suggested we start working on something that would run counter to that status quo. We decided that we would do things differently and give a chance to everyone. And our focus would be on something we did not see enough: positivity, inspiration and family-friendliness.

Within a few days, we had laid the foundations of Auroras & Blossoms. It took us a few months to set everything up properly, and we launched officially in October 2019.

4.     What are the benefits of a collaboration with another artist?

In this day and age of fierce competition for visibility, partnerships are pretty much the only chance for artists to be successful.

Collaborations give you the opportunity to tap into other artists’ platforms, build relationships with like-minded folks, and pool resources together to achieve greater things than you ever could on your own.

The key to a great partnership is to find someone who is on the same wavelength as you and shares your values. David and I get along really well because we are both very hard-working, committed to our craft, and professional. We respect each other’s time. Finally, we understand what it takes to build solid projects.

5.     Where do you prefer to write and why?

I always write in my office, with very occasional sessions in my backyard. My office is my private space, nobody bothers me there. So I can fully concentrate.

6.     Can you tell us about why you created Reminigram, Sixku, Flashku and the PoArtMo Collective?

I wanted to challenge myself and increase my creativity. 

The reminigram is a type of digital image that seeks to capture scenes that could have existed in the past. It’s my way to pay homage to early photography (daguerreotypes, tintypes, collodion processes, etc.).

To see some of my reminigrams, visit https://www.cendrinemedia.com/Portfolio-Series/Reminigrams.

Based on the Haiku, my favorite poetry form, the Sixku is a six-word poem inspired by a photograph. It’s a fun poetry form that any person will enjoy reading and writing.

For more info: https://creativeramblings.com/sixku/.

The Flashku is my latest creation; it borrows from the Sixku, Haiku, and Kindku, another poetry form David and I created (along with the Pareiku). I came up with the idea because I love flash fiction but suck at writing descriptions. The goal of a flashku is to write a whole story in 50-100 words inspired by an image, using 7 words taken from another piece. I like to call that poetic prose! 

For more info: https://creativeramblings.com/flashku/.

The PoArtMo Collective was one of my long-time dreams. I wanted to bring a group of artists together to create and release inspirational, positive and uplifting art and artistic projects; the goal being to show that good art goes beyond technical aspects to tell memorable stories.

When it launched in 2019, the collective was called FPoint Collective and focused exclusively on photography. But co-founder Isabel Nolasco and I quickly realized that we needed to be more inclusive. Isabel left us last year to focus on other things and there are now three of us. We have recently released our second project, a book titled Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography.

For more information, visit https://abpoetryjournal.com/poartmo-collective/.

Our book: https://abpoetryjournal.com/seizing-bygone-light/.

7.     What is your writing process like?

Quite strange. I always have to start with a title, otherwise, I’ll be stuck. I’m a very slow writer. And I have zero routine.

8.     How have your life experiences affected your work?

Like other artists, I share my life experiences through my writing and photography. That’s why my art is a constant state of flux.

9.     What would you like to share with readers?

Just enjoy poetry on your own terms. Don’t over-analyze. Just embrace the words and let them unleash their meanings over time.

10.  Can you share your social media and blog links?

Website: https://www.cendrinemedia.com

Blog: https://creativeramblings.com

Books: https://creativeramblings.com/books

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cendrineartist

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/cendrinemarrouat

Auroras & Blossoms

Website: https://abpoetryjournal.com

Latest submission calls: https://abpoetryjournal.com/submit/

Books: https://abpoetryjournal.com/store

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlossomsPoetry

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkAh-EnwcJbd865SEXJQsEw

Bios:-

French-born Canadian Cendrine Marrouat lives in Winnipeg. She is a photographer, poet, multi-genre author, and the co-founder of several artistic projects. She is also the creator of the Sixku, the Reminigram, and the Flashku.

Cendrine started her career in 2003. She has worked in many fields, including education (language instruction), social media coaching and training, content creation and curation, translation, photography, poetry, theatre, art criticism, blogging, and journalism.

David Ellis lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the UK. He is an award-winning poet, author of poetry, humourous fiction and music lyrics.

David’s debut poetry collection (Life, Sex & Death) won an International Award in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards 2016 for Inspirational Poetry Books.

David is extremely fond of tea, classic and contemporary poetry, cats, and dogs but not snakes. Indiana Jones is his spirit animal.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Picking Books for Unusual Reasons

April 13, 2021
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Sometimes we are attracted to books for unusual reasons. I recently read Miss Benson’s Beetle, which is a delightfully eccentric account of a woman who leaves everything in search of a gold beetle in the wilds of New Caledonia. I have read this author’s work before and enjoy her style and character development. However, there was another draw to the book due to the title. My daughter, from a very early age has been fascinated with all animals including insects. So a story centered around a beetle was too good to lose in my mind. Through my daughter’s eyes I came to know a whole new world of creepy crawlies beneath our feet.

The book ends with another character and I am hoping the author continues with a sequel.

What unusual subject , interest or hobby has drawn you to a book? Do let me know in the comments.

I am continuing to read a fictional memoir, which centers around the life of a child living in a military family. As the author calls it, life as a military brat.

I had the opportunity to ‘swap’ author interviews with a New Zealand author and this was my interview with her. You will be able to read Elise Brooke ‘s interview on 6th May here on my blog.

https://www.mynzdreamblog.com/post/interview-with-mandy-eve-barnett-author

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Excerpt from The Twesome Loop & Book Review

April 6, 2021
mandyevebarnett


This is an excerpt from Chapter Forty-One A Secret Place – 2002

As the evening grew darker Gina took Caroline’s hand and led her further down the valley towards a grove of olive trees. Gina told Caroline she had a secret place where she spent many peaceful hours. It was there she found a deep pit covered with wooden planks hidden in the undergrowth. Caroline was intrigued so came prepared with a rope.

  “See here, Caroline, here is the pit as I told you. The wooden lid is held down with a large boulder. Why would someone do such a thing? It could only be a water well, don’t you think?”

  “I’m not really sure but whatever the reason, I am curious to see.”

  “It may not be safe shouldn’t we ask the archeological dig people to look?”

  “If I find some precious artifact or relic I will certainly get James over here. Now don’t worry I will be careful.”

  With one end of the rope tied to a sturdy olive tree Caroline’s excitement grows. She holds a lantern over the void, before lowering herself down slowly. Gina watches as Caroline gradually disappears into the inky blackness.

    The lantern hanging off her belt Caroline’s descent was slow but gradual and her eyes could pick out roots and rocks jutting out of the pit walls. Eventually she felt her feet touch ground and called up to Gina.

  “I’m at the bottom now.”

  “Be careful, is there no water? You don’t know what’s down there.”

Peering through the gloom Caroline suddenly gave out a cry making Gina jump and call down to her.

  “Are you all right?”

 “Yes, I’m fine but I’ve found a skeleton!”

Both girls exclaimed at once “Who could it be?”

“I have no idea but I’m guessing this well has been dry for quite some time.”

Caroline knew she would have to get the Professor down the well with proper equipment; it could be a wonderful discovery. For now she needed to make sure she didn’t disturb anything and made her way back up.

Let me know – were you intrigued? You can buy the book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Twesome-Loop-Mandy-Eve-Barnett/dp/1988723078

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Absolutely loved this book! Great characters, story, tension, discovery and the power of finding your true self. The descriptions transported you to the locations. I thoroughly recommend it. 

My next read is Saying Goodbye is Easy – A Life in Short Stories by Kathie Sutherland.

What are you currently reading? What was your last review?

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
mandyevebarnett


1.       What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?

For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.

2.       Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!

3.       How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children? 

I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.

4.       Where can schools access your books?

Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.

5.       Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?

My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.

6.       How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?

I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.

7.       Is imagination important for children?

It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!

8.       Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?

Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.

9.       Where is your favorite place to write and why?

I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.

10.   Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?

I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.

11.   How can readers find you?

My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:

Website: www.mariepowell.ca  https://www.mariepowell.ca/

 Last of the Giftedhttps://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/

Follow @mepowell   https://twitter.com/mepowell

Facebook: Marie Powell  https://www.facebook.com/mariepowellauthor

Instagram: MariePowellAuthor https://www.instagram.com/mariepowellauthor/

YouTube: Last of the Gifted https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiJ3JY8YIleqD6W-cJHgSwWKlz3JV_sL3

Spirit Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/3n8A95 

Water Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/4A701d

Bio:

Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as RoomsubTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Seasonal Changes Affect Your Writing & WIR Advantages

March 25, 2021
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As we Albertan’s look forward to ‘proper’ Spring instead of ‘false Spring’, we look forward to embracing the warm weather to write outside and enjoy nature. It is not a pretty sight, with brown grass and slush but it will get better. Although, COVID still has us under restrictions, there are ways to enjoy the outdoors. We can drive to a lake or forest, even explore the Rocky Mountains. If you are like me and my friend, Linda, take the back roads and discover untouched parts of the province. Get away from the noise of the city or town, immerse yourself in the stillness and quiet. Here is where your writing Muse flourishes. It is a time when a new project or idea may come forth.

Indulge in people watching, notice how your mind and body react to the change of season. Learn to use emotional, social, and climatic insights and feelings to the benefit of your craft. It gives us an idea how weather can effect a character’s situation or show the passing of time.

How do the different seasons affect your writing?

In other news my ghost writing gig will start late April/early May so it gives me more time to complete the first book in my detective trilogy. I worked with my designer on the covers for the trilogy so that they are consistent and will ‘link’ together when all three books are laid down beside each other. It is always difficult not to share the cover of a new book, there is excitement and eagerness to show them off. I will have to curb that and keep them secret until launch days, apart from the normal teasers, of course.

When you are working on your book covers, how do you ensure your vision comes to life?

I have been very lucky to have access to several talented artists for my book covers through my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and my publisher, Dream Write Publishing.

I have been taking advantage of our local Writer in Residence at my library with Zoom open mic meetings and special presentations. This is a great way to have an unbiased view of your current work, not only through the readings and subsequent feedback but also because you can send a sample of the manuscript to them for review. Each year the WIR’s are from different backgrounds and literary genre’s, but no matter what your genre (or theirs) this tool is well worth taking advantage of this free service then maybe you should.

What are you currently working on?

I have a presentation on blogging this Saturday. An Easter writing retreat to look forward to. And a ghost writing project lined up for late April/early May.

You can register for the writing conference here. There is a broad spectrum of writing skills to learn about. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference

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