Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Verna McKinnon

November 10, 2022
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It is my pleasure to welcome back a fellow author to my blog. Verna has been here before, but today we celebrate her newest novel, The Bastard Sorceress.

Since your last interview, how has your writing life changed?
I’ve learned to go with the flow. I’ve survived and found new publishers for my fantasy novels when my
previous publishers stopped publishing. It’s happened to me more than once too! But I’ve been lucky to
find new publishers willing to take me on. It’s a tough business, and small presses suffer the most.
Other than that, I’m still a mad writer who drinks pots of tea and keeps a package of emergency cookies
on hand when I create my tales. I’m focused in details of story, world, and characters. I put together
book bibles for each novel that are very detailed about every aspect of story, world, and people in in. I
still have plans on becoming the next princess of heroic fantasy. Just give me time.


What have you learned about your craft of writing?
I learned I have a knack for three things-creating good dialogue, great characters, and giving my
characters good names. It’s a gift I’m grateful for.


Would you ever write in another genre?
I love fantasy, but would love to dive into science fiction, especially some space opera.


What inspired you to write about Sabine Fable in your latest novel?
A new character I’ve never done before. I love my heroines, and they always lead my tales. With Sabine
Fable, I wanted to explore a character who suffered a rough home life and poverty, but was determined
to rise above what society dictated. I added real human elements in this tale of magic, and created flesh
and blood characters with more depth.


What characteristics does she have that make her a force to be reckoned with?

A tough upbringing can make a tough character. Her heart is good, but she is fierce and protective of
those she loves. She does not trust easily. She champions the underdog because she is one of them. Her
family once had magic, but mage fever took that away. She was a bastard, and judged for her low birth.
Magic is currency in her world, and mages rule. Even humble charm caste has respect. She had none.
Sabine is hungry for more than magic. She wants justice and to be treated with respect. She wants
people to see her. And yet she would never betray a friend or family member for what she desires.


Which author would you most like to meet and why?

There are so many! Many of my favorites have passed (Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, Robert E. Howard,
Patricia McKillip). Neil Gaiman is one of many on my list. I did have the joy of meeting Tanya Huff (so
awesome), Kevin J., Anderson, and the great Larry Niven at conventions. I would love to meet Jennifer
Roberson someday. At least she is my Facebook friend. As are you, Mandy.


With several series of books, are you planning more?
Yes, but with publishers rising and falling around me over the years, I plan to be more careful. Even if I
plan a series, I will do each novel as a stand-alone. I am working on the second novel to Bardess of
Rhulon, called War Poet. But I am writing my novels from that perspective.

Has a movie or TV show inspired any of your stories?
Some of the actors in favorite shows or movies I may be inspired by. Some of my characters are drawn
from well-known actors.


What aspect of writing do you like the most?

The power to create my own worlds and stories. Yes, I am a goddess who rules her worlds.

Where can readers find your books?
Amazon has all my novels, available in both print and Kindle. My books are also on Barnes& Noble
online. And my new publisher (for Bardess of Rhulon & The Bastard Sorceress) TANSTAAFL Press.

Bio:

Verna McKinnon is a fantasy author of adventurous heroines. She is the author of the novels, The Bastard Sorceress, The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice, though she has some science fiction in the works. Check in with her at her website. You can also read some of her previously published short stories at her website http:// vernamckinnon.com. Stay in touch by subscribing to email list at http://vernamckinnon.com/newsletter.html for her quarterly newsletter for news & updates. Follow Verna on Instagram @ vernamckinnon.author & Facebook for the latest on her writing life as a fantasy author, animal lover, and how she stays sane despite the odds. Chocolate helps.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Shannon Felton

October 20, 2022
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  1. What drew you to horror and paranormal themes in your stories?

The main reason is that horror is so fun to write! Remember telling ghost stories at slumber parties to spook your friends, until you’re all squealing with fear and laughter and don’t want to go to the bathroom alone? It’s an adventure! Horror gets the adrenaline pumping and the nerves tingling, and I love trying to craft a story that does that for others.  

Secondly, I’m a catastrophic thinker. Probably because I’m a mom, but we can’t go anywhere without me thinking, “Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen here? How could we all die?” I’ve tried to write other genres but that type of thinking turns a sweet romantic scene into an axe-murderer horror. 

Thirdly, I find that Horror provides us with the ability to explore and process real-life trauma whether in a monster-as-metaphor sense or just through actual real-life scenarios. I think that’s the beauty of the genre for me.

2.     Are there elements you feel are required in this genre?

Anticipation. Survival. Mystery. 

No matter what the threat is—supernatural, alien, slasher—the reader needs to feel a sense of anticipation. Suspense needs to build scene after scene. 

There also needs to be real stakes. People could die, vanish into the void, etc. Horror isn’t scary if nothing bad actually happens to people. 

We also fear what we don’t know, so there needs to be a sense of mystery about the threat and the events taking place. That’s actually one of the hardest parts of reading or writing horror. In the ending, when the monster becomes known, it can feel like a bit of a letdown. Once we know what we face, it’s not quite as scary. Michael wears a mask for a reason.

3.     Where do you find your ideas?

I spent my teen years in a small town that, like most small towns, was full of urban legends and ghosts. Probably because there wasn’t much to do there but go out into the boonies and scare ourselves. A lot of my writing is based on those stories and experiences, just in a very exaggerated way. 

I’m also a total fraidy-cat. Driving down the road at night, I can get freaked out by something on the side of the road only for it be an electrical box. Moments like that will wind up in a story, though it won’t be an electrical box in the end! 

4.     Why is Halloween so special to you?

My daughter and I were talking about this just the other day and she said it’s her favorite holiday because you never outgrow the magic of Halloween. Which is very true! We all outgrow Santa, Easter is a drag after a few years, but no matter what age you are, spooks and haunts and killers can still scare you. And there’s just something in the air at fall! A spooky, creepy feeling in the change of weather and the crackling of leaves and the days getting shorter. The world feels different, like anything could happen. It’s a good time to light some candles, watch a scary movie, and cuddle up at home. 

 5.     Can you tell us a little about The Prisoner of Stewartville – its inception and creation.

My mom started a job in HR for the Federal prisons here in Arizona when I was twelve. Soon after, we attended a Company Day picnic at the actual prison, and I’ll never forget how weird it was to be barbecuing hot dogs and playing tag while prisoners walked along the perimeter of the fence twenty yards away. Little pitchers also have big ears and over time I picked up on bits and pieces of work conversations that were horrifying. Later we moved to a much smaller town where prison did feel like a larger part of our everyday life and when I visited there again a few years ago, I just knew I had to write about it. Of course, the actual town was nowhere near as bad as Stewartville, but that’s the fun of horror! 

6.     Where is your special writing space?

I write on my phone, so anywhere and everywhere. On the couch while we watch TV, in bed, out on the patio, while I’m waiting in the school pick up line. In the middle of cooking, if a great idea for a scene comes to me. 

7.     Which authors have influenced you the most?

Oh wow, so many. The other day my husband and I actually stumbled on the movie Communion with Christopher Walken and almost simultaneously we both freaked out, like, “Omigod! I remember reading that book as a kid! It was terrifying!” And then we had a long conversation about the books we had to hide when we went to bed like Amityville Horror, It. 

Having read all my life, the list went back a long way. I mean, my writing is still influenced by the Sweet Valley Twins Halloween specials I read as a kid. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, R.L Stine’s Fear Street. Stephen King. One of my absolute favorite literary ghost stories is Toni Morrison’s Beloved and I do hope my stories have some of that literary element to where reality can feel just as impactful as the supernatural. 

That’s the great thing about good horror, though. It all influences you. 

8. Are you working on a new project? Can you reveal anything about it?

I’m currently working on a companion novel to Prisoners of Stewartville. I can reveal that the POV is that of a minor character in the last book, and that we’ll see what happened to a fan favorite whose fate wasn’t shown at the end of the original. 

9.     Do you prefer to write a stand-a-lone novel or a series? Why?

I realized recently that I like to tell stories that happen within the Stewartville universe. Devil’s Dip, a short story of mine that appeared in Midnight in the Graveyard anthology, was about a character who had grown up in Stewartville, though the story itself didn’t take place there. 

10.  How can readers find you?

I’m not as good about social media as I should be, but I do post occasionally on Twitter at @ShannonNova3 ! 

Bio:

Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonNova3

P.S. You can find Shannon’s stories in several anthologies as well.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Rachael Tamayo

September 15, 2022
mandyevebarnett


What drew you to thrillers and suspense as genres?

I have always loved thrillers, suspense, and mysteries. I remember watching shows like Cadfael with my mom when it came on Masterpiece Theater when I was growing up. I suppose I got it from her. She always had a love of mysteries. I’ve tried my hand by this point in multiple genres, and thriller is hands down my favorite. I can make it as light or as dark as I like, there is no formula, and I make my own rules when it comes to my story. I found that I thrive here and plan to stay! 

Why did you switch from romance?

I wrote romance first because quite frankly, I was afraid to try writing a thriller. They seem so much harder, more daunting, and difficult to line out when you compare them to something formulated like romance. After my first few books, I got brave and tried my hand at it, writing Crazy Love, my romantic thriller crossover novel that launched me into the darkness where I reside happily now deep in the depths of thrillerdom. I was never comfortable writing romance, it just wasn’t me. 

Would you write a standalone novel? What would your chosen genre be?

I have written a few of them, actually. Lucifer’s Game, Crazy Love, and my current work in progress is a stand-alone thriller that’s only weeks away from being put lovingly into my agent’s capable hands. My new book is a dark psychological thriller, but it is not a Deadly Sins novel. 

Do you have a favorite character in your series and, if so, who and why?

Men are my favorite characters to dig into and write. I wish I could tell you why, but I don’t know. I think to date, my favorite one to write was Cain, in the Deadly Sins novel, Break My Bones. He was so layered and complex, and his motivations were fun for me to explore. His twisted history and relationships and how things ended up for him when his real heart was revealed. He’s a bad guy, but in the end, you almost understand him. I loved writing his story. 

Did any 911 calls you received while working, give you ideas for your stories?

Absolutely! The reactions and actions of callers that I spoke to, the effects it must have had on their lives and loved ones- whatever they might have been going through that day, it all makes the gears in my mind turn. Not to mention the mental illness we dealt with on a daily basis in callers. I’ve had some chilling and strange phone calls that I use as seed when  I create the mental illnesses that I write into some of my characters. 

Is there a central message within your stories?

No one is all good- or bad. As you get deeper into the stories you see the layers of the characters and realize that the “good guy” or victim in the tale might not be so good. Did they deserve it? Are they the cause of what’s happening to them? And the bad guy, just what was it that made them bad? It’s one of my favorite things to do when I create new characters. 

Tell us a little about the relaunch of Crazy Love. What was the impetus?

Honestly, it was my publicist’s idea when I told him that we got the book a new cover for the five-year anniversary. I thought it was a great idea, the new cover is gorgeous, and the book was the one that launched me to where I am today. Crazy Love was fun to write, and it’s one of my favorite stories to date. 

What is your writing process? A daily routine or a looser schedule?

I’m all over the place. This book I’m wrapping up now took me about a year, longer than anything I’ve ever done because I can’t force myself to write when I’m not in the right frame of mind. God bless those authors that can do that, I, however, cannot. I do my best work by waiting it out, as frustrating as it is. But I don’t have a method or writing area, I can write whenever, wherever I feel the need. 

Where can readers find you?

Check out my website: www.rachaeltamayowrites.com

I’m also on facebook

Twitter–https://twitter.com/rtamayo2004

Tiktok https://www.tiktok.com/@rachaeltamayowrites

CRAZY LOVE
The relaunch of the critically acclaimed novel by award-winning novel, Rachael Tamayo

A rich and well-respected man teetering on the brink of sanity. A beautiful young woman that thinks it’s a harmless crush. An obsession for a stranger will push a man to the brink of madness and force a woman to rethink everything she took for granted as safe. By the time she realizes what has really happened, it just might be too late. Top 10 finisher in the 2018 Greenlight Screenplay Adaptation Contest.

Amazon.com: Amazon.com: Crazy Love (Audible Audio Edition): Rachael Tamayo, Erik Anders, Foster Embry Publishing, LLC: Audible Books & Originals
Amazon.ca: Crazy Love eBook : Tamayo, Rachael: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

Other Books by Rachael Tamayo:

BIO:

Rachael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher.  After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books.  A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of sixteen years, and their two small children.   

Links:

author email: rtamayo@rachaeltamayowrites.com 

facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RachaelTamayowrites

facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheRTAsylum

twitter https://twitter.com/rtamayo2004

amazon https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01HC2VZ0C

goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15251093.Rachael_Tamayo

bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rachael-tamayo

Wordsmith’s Collective Tuesday – Novel to Movie – An Author’s Dream

September 1, 2022
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Back in November, 2013, I wrote the first draft of a western romance, Willow Tree Tears. Subsequently, it was edited and revised, but to date has not made it into the world. One character is an Italian businessman touring rodeo’s selling his high end leather cowboy boots. Like a bolt of lightening, it hit me that my latest obsession -Michele Morrone would make the perfect actor for this part, if the story was made into a movie. The first scene has my heroine glimpsing a white shirt among the leather and plaid attire of the rodeo crowd.

Lucio

Michele Morrone

Of course, I then had to investigate who would play the other characters. This is a fun exercise for many writers and authors, not only because we would love all our novels to become movies, but also it can help us ‘picture’ our characters as we write. These are my options for the other characters.

Colton – ranch manager and high school friend of Madison’s. Secretly in love with Madison.

Alexander Ludwig

Chord Overstreet

Scott Eastwood

Madison – champion barrel racer.

Madelaine Petsch

Holland Roden

Bella Thorne

Which actors do you think would be best for Madison and Colton?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Picking a Book Cover Colour

August 25, 2022
mandyevebarnett


We all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ – however, it is the cover that initially attracts a reader to pick up our book. Choosing the ‘correct’ colour for your book cover can be difficult, as it will subconsciously give an impression of the genre/topic/trope of your story. We might look into the typical colours used for a genre, or go with our gut feeling and pick a colour we feel is ‘right’ for our narrative. No matter which avenue you choose all covers are an extension of us and our stories.

I am currently debating, which colour to use for an upcoming novella, which will be a prequel to a two-part series. The existing books have similar designs, but different colours to signify the different characters. As this third character is evil, having a black cover, or elements, will translate to the story of evil, and unhappiness.

Here is a list of colours and their significance with each genre.

Black evokes a serious theme and signifies mystery, death, evil, a sense of authority, power, control, and suspense, but also can feel sophisticated, modern, authoritative, and formal. It is most commonly used in horror, thriller, and mystery genres.

Gray is a neutral color associated with wisdom, sophistication, knowledge, and prestige, but also depression. It elicits an emotional spectrum ranging from remote, distant, cool, and bored to serious, focused, and intelligent.

Green is associated with nature, vitality, environment, health, evoking a soothing, refreshing, and tranquil state of mind, and is therefore a good fit for high fantasy novels or environmental nonfiction. Although it is one of the least-seen colors for book covers, it is often equated with a fresh beginning, excitement, vitality, wealth, and even jealousy.

I chose green not only for my medieval fantasy, but also my children’s picture and chapter books.

Blue has many associations including thoughtfulness, trust, calmness, serenity, inquisitiveness, dependability, mental engagement, sadness, stability and trustworthiness, safety and elicits feelings of calm and serenity as well as nature. Blue is commonly used for covers of political memoirs and nonfiction as well as more thought-provoking fiction. The choice of blue hue changes its meaning as a dark blue or indigo means intuition, truth, sincerity, and trust.

Purple/Violet signifies spirituality, prosperity, transcendence, harmony, while dark purple is related to royalty, depth, wealth, and fantasy. For my YA fantasy novella, Clickety-Click as you can see, I chose a deep purple not only for the background, but for the creature!

Yellow is a striking colour, evoking feelings of motivation, warmth, ambition, fun, cheerfulness, happiness, creativity, and energy, and in all has an attention-grabbing effect. However, it can also be grating and annoying, or even aggressive, while pale yellow is warm, friendly, approachable, and inviting. The choice of hue for yellow is paramount to balance the effect you are looking to convey.

Brown might seem an odd choice and dull, but it evokes feelings of nature, comfort, gives an ‘of-the-Earth’ vibe. Ecological genres may utilize a brown hue for a cover. I, however, utilized rich golden brown backgrounds for three books – a steampunk, a speculative fiction and a reincarnation romance. I find them atmospheric.

White is associated with purity, cleanliness, safety, simplicity, self-sufficiency, freshness and peacefulness. Although, white can come across as stark, bland, or cold, it is well-known as a symbol of purity suggesting a straight-forward, simple book.

Orange is a color associated with playfulness, energy, creativity, dynamic, positive, optimistic, hopeful, confidence and attention-grabbing with feelings of warmth and happiness, but can also be found to be overwhelming and cartoonish. Interestingly, I chose a blue background with orange lettering for my upcoming crime trilogy.

Red conveys energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power, dominance and aggression responses as well as angst for horror and thrillers, but with the choice of a softer tone also gives a feeling of passion, excitement, hunger (desire), love, and warmth.

Pink depending on the shade of pink, this hue can evoke feelings of passion, romance, innocence or childishness, femininity, playfulness, love, tenderness, youthfulness, emotion, and innocence.

With a combination of a deep rose and mahogany hues my YA alien adventure reflects the four young friends and the invading creature.

How did you choose your book cover colour(s)?

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