Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing a Story of Magic and Other News

March 2, 2021
mandyevebarnett


The Golden Tree

Tom slumped into the metal picnic chair. He hadn’t wanted to come on this stupid trip with his parents. He could have stayed at home, hung out with his friends – had fun. But no, his parent insisted he come on this ‘last’ camping trip before he went to college. He gazed down at his new runners, pristine white and blue. It had been a mistake to wear them here; they would get ruined with the obligatory hike tomorrow morning. The camp fire crackled and spat its warmth welcome as the night air cooled. With a full stomach of baked potatoes cooked in said fire filled with spicy chili, followed with s’mores, he was getting sleepy.

“I think I’ll turn in, Pops, Mom. We’re up early for the hike right?”

“Yes we will be, but before you go, we have something for you.”

Tom frowned but sat back down.

His Mom went into their tent, pitched on the other side of the fire. He could hear her rummaging around. When she reappeared she had a drawstring bag in one hand. His father stood up and both parents looked at their son. A strange look covered their faces, an intent gaze that made Tom uncomfortable.

“Okay what is this? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“We have something for you.”

His mother handed him the bag, Tom pulled the drawstring and cautiously peered inside. He let out a laugh. “An old teddy bear? Come on guys, I way past cuddly toys, you know.”

“It may look like an old teddy bear, Tom but this one is special. It has been handed down through the generations, father to son and so on. It is my honour to pass it on to you, now you are eighteen.”

Tom pulled out the frayed, threadbare teddy bear; it had obviously seen better days.

“Well, okay but what’s so special about an old toy, like really?”

“Tonight you will find out. It is best you experience it rather than me explain, Tom. Have a great night.”

His parents smiled and turned away, entering their tent and zipping it shut. What the heck is up with them? Old toy! Special night! It must be some kind of gag; they cooked up between them to make this last trip memorable. What losers. Well, goodnight teddy. Tom left the toy and bag beside the fire and entered his own tent, zipping the opening up tight and sliding into his sleeping bag.

The clear sky was filled with stars, a haze of purple grew larger and a bright light hovered over the campsite. Tom woke some time later to a rustling outside, he turned over. Pops can’t hold is bladder, poor oh man.

“Tom, it’s time to go.” The voice was high pitched and sort of squeaky. That’s certainly not Pops or Mom voice. He sat up, seeing the tent open and the old teddy bear standing in the entrance. “What the f…” Tom could feel his head spin, bile rising up his throat. This is one hell of a dream.

“No dream, Tom. Tonight we travel to your true home.”

Tom’s body froze as the toy spoke and took a step towards him. I’m hallucinating or dreaming. Too much spice in the chili or something. Maybe it’s the beer Pop’s gave me?

“There’s no need to be frightened Tom, your father and his father and his father have all been through this. Now, it is your turn. Up you get, we have to go.”

The teddy bear raised an arm. Tom could feel his body moving involuntarily. He tried to call out but no sound uttered from his mouth.

“Best we keep quiet, Tom. Follow me.”

Tom’s legs moved, his feet trod and he followed the strange talking toy. He was not in control of his body but his mind was a reeling. He watched the bear raised both arms. A sudden bright light flooded the campsite. Tom looked up to see what looked like a star fall towards them. He tried to turn, his body refused to comply. The light descended and he felt his feet lift off the ground. A whirling purple portal emerged from the light and the toy and boy entered it. A tunnel of swirling mauve light transported them. Tom gripped his hands into fists. This better be some kind of nightmare, I’ll wake up in a minute.

“No nightmare, Tom. It’s your destiny.”

“Can you hear my thoughts, bear?”

“Of course, I can and soon you will be able to do it too.”

The swirling slowed and stopped. Tom looked round him, the campsite was gone, the mountains, the trees, the lake. Before him was an enormous golden tree growing out of a huge crater with gold waterfalls tumbling out of it. An amber mist floated above the water and a long bridge spanned the space between the tree and the boy and bear.

“Where are we?”

“Home, Tom, we are home.”

“I’m not home, you dumb toy. Take me back.”

“You must go to the tree, Tom. She will explain everything.”

“She? What are you on? It’s a tree, it can’t talk.”

“Oh but she can and will, Tom. You are the next in line. You must go.”

Tom tore his eyes away from the tree to glimpse the toy disappear. He yelled for it to come back but to no avail. After some time, he decided to play along in this trippy dream and walked across the bridge. As he stood in front of the tree, bending backwards to see its top most branches a voice entered his mind.

“Welcome, Tom. It is so good to see you. I will teach you all you need to know as the next wizard in line.”

Let me know what you thing of my story incorporating magic into the theme. Did the narrative the way you thought?

I am excited to be presenting at a local virtual writing conference – The Art of Writing on 27th March. I am hosting a session on creating a great blog post.

I managed to grab a ticket for The Winter Book Club with Ethan Hawke on Sunday, March 14 and I get a copy of his book  A Bright Ray of Darkness too.

Also there will be an Easter road trip with my dear friend, Linda. We just need to book an isolated cabin for a few days of writing, reading and exploring.

Fallbrandt – Author Interview – JMD Reid

February 25, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  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
mandyevebarnett


 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 – International Radio Interview & Extreme Cold!

February 9, 2021
mandyevebarnett


I was very happy to be interviewed by a UK radio station the other week. Not only do they broadcast in the UK but internationally. As an expat obviously it was a special occasion for me. I hope you enjoy the show.

My radio interview on Chat & Spin FRIDAY 22ND JANUARY FRIDAY’S EVENING & LATE SHOW 6.10PM – 8.30PM UK TIME (PART 1) 1:45.40 on the timeline. https://chatandspinradio.com/listen-again/

We are experiencing extreme cold in Alberta, as I write this post on Sunday 7th February. The weather warnings state : Extremely cold wind chill values between minus 40 and minus 55 continue. This prolonged cold snap is expected to persist through the coming week for many areas of Alberta. There will be some moderation in temperature at times, typically during daylight hours. And yes you are reading that right! I am wearing double layers of everything and little Sammie has booties and a coat on. Shorter walks for us for a while.

So we are staying cozy at home as much as possible, reading, writing and editing. I mailed a copy of The Twesome Loop to Michigan today, which is always a favourite thing to do.

I will be a panelist at the Wordbridge Writing Conference this coming Friday and Saturday, so please join lots of authors as they relay their writing lives and expertise. https://wordbridgeconference.com/

You can find me on Friday at 6 pm talking about romance and Saturday at 6 pm co-hosting about publication.

Take care and happy reading. Let me know what your current book is. Remember to leave a review.

Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
mandyevebarnett


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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