Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Anthologies, Blogs, Movies, Contests and New Tech

July 8, 2021
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I am continuing with my 2021 goals and have submitted to magazines, contests and anthologies this year. It is not only a learning curve, but also a way to expand my writing skills. Every writing experience increases our skill set and knowledge. As writers we are always learning. (or should be!)

In the last couple of weeks, I have been accepted to be part of an anthology 25 Miles From Here, which will be published in September. My short story A New Home will be included.

I also have three articles published (or scheduled) for Opal Writers Magazine and website, with another pending. These articles allow me to write non-fiction and also share my knowledge with the writing community.

I was also honoured to assist in the promotion of a new movie, Back Home Again. It covers the the wildfire evacuation of Fort McMurray and the communities resilience.

And I was also delighted to win a book giveaway by Densie Webb. A lovely novel arrived in my mailbox, which will be added to my TBR pile.

In preparation for my presentations/panel at the When Words Collide conference, I have invested in a headphone/microphone set. I trialed it as I hosted the monthly Writers Circle on Tuesday evening, it works well. It is more professional and cuts out a lot of background noise too.

My latest book news is four of my books (The Twesome Loop, The Commodore’s Gift, The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy) are all available from Daisy Chain Book Co bookstore, Edmonton.

I would love to hear about your writing related accomplishments so far this year?

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Thorsten Nesch

June 24, 2021
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Your novels tend to have unexpected protagonists/settings. Was this a conscious decision or the spark of an idea that evolved? My ideas hit me just as unexpected. It is not like I want to come up with this or that like a contract writer where an idea is developed and catered to a market, I am on the other end of that spectrum. I am not in control of my ideas, and there are plenty, and many I can’t even tackle, most of them I won’t finish in my life time. The once that make it are pressing, have an immediate impact on me and when they linger over weeks I know I have to sit down and deal with them. What brings us to …

Do you plan an outline or free flow write? … this question, and yes I do. For the longest time I had to keep up a job to buy myself time to write (and food and the other trivialities), so I couldn’t just write into the blue and hope the novel turns out well somehow. I had to be sure. I could not waste any time. Early on I developed my outline technique where I work only on 1 letter sized piece of paper, which I could take anywhere (jobs etc.) at all times. Everything is on that 1 page, the entire outline, like “They steal the car”, that’s a beat, at that time I don’t know where they do this for example. Only when I see these beats work and I understand my protagonists, hear them, feel them, know them, and I clearly hear the narrating voice I start the novel. This planning phase takes between 2 and 15 years before I start writing, but then the 1st draft is the novel. 

Can you explain how the process of writing with a fellow author works? Is it a chapter each or a combination of thought and writing? I did this more than once, but always we agreed one of us writes a quick first version and the other expands on that. This way the voice of the novel is not flopping back and forth – except there are 2 distinct views or narrators, then this would make sense.

What differences are there from writing a novel to a film script to a song? A song or a poem is the entire opposite to a novel to me. These happen in an instance, a spontaneous outburst in under an hour, unplanned, unmanaged, quasi anarchic in character. A film script (as well as a radio play or a theatre play) is planned like the novel, but the writing is a fraction of it. I love film scripts, I wish more people would read them and they’d become an own literary genre.

Does your music affect your writing or the other way around? All the different media I am working in influence each other, ideas bleed from one form into another (example my song “Joyride Sky” was inspired by my novel “For a Spin”, I invented a band that pops up in a number of my novels, and for the dystopian novel “2112” (working title) I am currently working on I recorded an entire album you can listen to on Bandcamp, the band is called JENNY HAS TRAFFIC. It is fun and adds to the characters.

You have been prolific in the number of publications. Are the ideas still coming as quickly? Do you have a folder of ideas pending? Oh yes, ideas come constantly, I have to dodge them, write them down and put them in the folder. That folder is full with ideas, no way I can write all of them.

What challenges do you face with language? English is my 2nd language. The biggest challenge for me as a writer is not so much the spelling, grammar, vocabulary (you can work on that), but the fact I did not grow up in the English culture, I miss out on most childhood references, sport and political events, etc. I have to live with that, there is no way I can catch up with that.

When you write songs what influences you? My mood. My mood dictates the feeling of a song. Many lyrics come from darker places, I am not a musical comedian although I wrote many funny novels and had the pleasure to experience their impact first hand during my readings in schools between Denmark and Italy.

What propelled you to start you podcast? I was the kid (14 years old) that stayed up late to listen to radio shows at midnight. I always loved the medium, for music and word. I worked for radio in Germany, and as a volunteer I had an own 4 hour show at CJSW at the University of Calgary called PolterZeitGeist where I mixed words and music. Since technology evolved digitally I was able to get the equipment and do it myself.

Can you tell us about your latest project? I received this year the Literary Arts Individual Project Grant by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to write the dystopian novel “2112”, and I document this process on my homepage in words, photos, audio and video until February 2022.

Where can readers find you? http://www.thorstennesch.com

Is there a message you would like to share with your readers? Don’t judge a book by its cover, please read the first page. Even with my novels, because the narrating voice changes.

Bio:

Thorsten Nesch is a German author who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 2008 Nesch’s first novel Joyride Ost was nominated for Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis and the Landshuter Jugendbuchpreis. 2012 the book won the Hans-im-Glück Award

Author Interview – John Mavin

June 17, 2021
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  1. You have experienced a multitude of jobs – have these experiences given you insights for the characters in your stories, within your book Rage and other writing?

Yes and no.

Yes in that I have based characters on past jobs for some of my writing. For example, two stories which appear in Rage are about archaeologists (“Deposition” and “The Edmore Snyders”) and I did work as a salvage archaeologist for about six years. Consequently, both of these stories carry elements which are very much true to life.

However, most of my stories are not based on past employment. To keep looking at the stories in Rage, I’ve never been a mountain climber, a priest, or a teenage girl (and probably never will be). To look at some of my other past jobs, I’ve never published a story about writers, software developers, or graphic designers–in fact, I find most of my past employment doesn’t excite me enough to craft share-worthy fiction from it. It’s the experiences I’ve had (which may or may not have come tangentially from those jobs) which inspire me, shock me, give me joy, disgust me, scare me, or piss me off so much I find myself mining for my fiction.

I’ll wrap this up by saying I am a strong proponent of thorough research and writers getting their facts as correct as possible. If I can use a past job to get my facts right, I’ll do it. If I need to interview people who’ve experienced the things I’m writing about, I’ll talk to them. I find story elements which don’t ring true to life (or at least my experience of it) can bring me out of a story faster than anything else–and I try very hard to never do that to my readers.

  • Your path into writing was the result of an unusual message, please tell us about it and if now you are convinced or otherwise to the validity of that message?

I’m not sure if the message you’re referring to was actually my path into writing (I’ve been making stuff up for almost as long as I can remember), but that message was most certainly the catalyst which finally got my ass in gear and helped me focus on my dream of becoming an author.

The message was this: you’re on a path for destruction and unless you change your ways, you are going to die. The deliverer of that message was a tarot reader I’d met at a party in New Orleans, and when she told me this, it scared the shit out of me. At the time I was a rather unhappy software developer and I chose to interpret her message to mean I should abandon my career in information technology and give writing a real, honest, both-feet-in effort (I also remember hoping this was not a medical thing).

As a result, I completely refocused my life. I enrolled in some continuing education classes in creative writing and for the first time in a long while felt truly happy (like I was where I was supposed to be). My instructors were encouraging, my classmates were invested, and everyone took the writing thing seriously. I learned a lot. When I got enough decent material together for a portfolio, I applied to Simon Fraser University’s year-long program, The Writer’s Studio. Coincidentally enough, that was the time I got downsized from my software development job, so I was given the luxury of being able to focus on my studies full time. At SFU, I got involved in the local literary community, met many interesting people, and learned even more. Then, I took my biggest leap and applied to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. I’ve got to say when I got my acceptance letter from UBC, I did the biggest happy dance of my life. UBC was a fantastic experience for me, where I met even more interesting people, got involved in teaching creative writing, and learned an awful lot more.

In the end, whether or not I’m convinced of the validity of that message doesn’t really matter–I acted on that message, destroyed my old life, and created a new one I’m very happy with.

  • In teaching creative writing is it an advantage or a disadvantage to your own creativity?

It’s both.

Advantageous in that I get to meet many people with creative ideas so very different from my own. As a writer I don’t get out much, and talking to other writers about stories and other creative things is something I both enjoy and constantly learn from.

The downside for my creativity I experience from teaching is that I let it pull me away from my writing time. When I’m teaching a class, I feel it’s only fair to give my students my full attention, so whether I’m critiquing homework assignments or preparing lesson plans, I find I’m not writing as much of my own material as I’d like (in fact, I find I don’t write at all while I’ve got a course in session).

  • What writing process is the most comfortable for you – pantser or planner?

I’d like to be able to say I’m a planner, but that’s not entirely the truth. While I outline meticulously (not only do I take comfort in an outline, I’ve also discovered outlining saves me from having to write at least a full draft or two), I almost always deviate from my outline and end up pantsing to some degree as I go along. Now that could mean I’m further refining within the scope of my outline, but it could also mean I’ve got to throw away my current outline when I come up with something better (which happens often). As I’ve discovered my own writing process, I’ve realized my first drafts don’t look very much like my second drafts, and my final drafts are very different from what I first envisioned for my story (that’s not to say I only write three drafts–my current work in progress is on draft 10.7). So, um, yeah, I’m a bit of a hybrid.

  • How do you find inspiration and time to write?

As for time, I’m very lucky in that aside from the occasional teaching gig, all I do professionally is write (I’m also very lucky to have an extremely patient and generously supportive wife). As for inspiration, that’s been a bit trickier for me these past two years (as I suspect it has for a lot of people). I usually find my inspiration (whether it’s from things which shock me, give me joy, disgust me, scare me, or piss me off) from meeting new people, going to new places, and doing new things. As those stimuli have been somewhat curtailed lately, being inspired has become a bit of a challenge. I’m currently relying on memory and my outlines to carry me through my work.

  • What determines which genre/style your write in? (Short story, play, or poetry)

I haven’t been writing for the stage lately, and I’m not doing much short fiction or poetry, either. What I’ve been focusing on is longer fiction (the word count of the latest complete draft of my current WIP is about 120,000 words).

That being said, I did take a break from my novel and publish a short story in Speculative North last year. It’s about a werewolf desperately trying to keep her shit together while contending with increasing provocations from sources which have no regard for her as a person whatsoever (by the way, there should be an adult content warning if anyone decides they want to read that story–which anyone can for free by following the Free Downloads link on my website [http://www.johnmavin.com/downloads.html]). I knew that story would be short (it’s only about 7,900 words, admittedly long for a short story) as what I wanted to say wouldn’t have filled a novel.

So I guess that’s my answer–it’s what I want to say about a given idea that determines which genre or style I’ll use. My current WIP is too big and has too much world building to be effective in short formats so I’ve gone long. For my stage plays, it was usually the effect on a live audience I was going for (for example, my one-act play Daguerreotype–also available on my Free Downloads page–is an intentionally uncomfortable experience which is different for each person in the audience, depending on when they figure out what is really going on). For my poetry, if what I’m looking for is the emotional equivalent of a quick punch, that’s the genre I’ll choose.

  • You offer writing courses – what made you decide to do this?

I like to share and I like to teach. Back when I was taking my MFA, my grad advisor looked at my proposed schedule and called me in for a meeting. She said I’d signed up for too many courses and had to limit my choices–specifically, she asked me to choose between a class on teaching creative writing and a class on journal publication. While I was disappointed I couldn’t take both, making that choice was easy (I chose the teaching class).

  • Do you have a current WIP? Can you tell us about it?

I’m currently working on (and have been for far too long) a dark fantasy trilogy. I’m not yet at the stage where I can publicly say much about it, but I will say it’s set in a secondary world and deals with belief, deceit, and what happens to the soul after death. Oh, and yeah, the cast is very much filled with morally questionable characters (as with most of my writing, no one is truly good and no one is truly evil–they’re all hybrids, which I find true to life, or at least my experience of it).

  • How important do you feel creativity is – no matter the medium?

Very, very important. I believe humans have an innate need to create in almost all situations. Whether that creativity is expressed through writing short stories, composing music, painting pictures, solving problems, completing work, or even getting dressed is immaterial–everyone is creative. I realize I’m not expressing this very well, but I do know someone who can: his name is Jim Jackson and he has a podcast called Radio Creative, in which he looks at ways to expand people’s natural creativity and tap into it when they want to in their life, work and art. Full disclosure–Jim had me on as a guest a while back–but he’s also interviewed chefs, business consultants, and lawyers besides editors and writers). I recommend giving Radio Creative a listen. [https://anchor.fm/radiocreative/]

  1. Where can readers find you?

The best place to find me online is my website, http://www.johnmavin.com, where I’ve got links to both my Facebook page [www.facebook.com/author.john.mavin] as well as my Goodreads profile [www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623050.John_Mavin].

  1.  Do you have a message for your readers?

Um, you mean beyond “hello, thanks for reading my stuff, please read more of my stuff, and I’d really appreciate it if you gave my stuff an honest review on Goodreads and/or Amazon”?

Okay, for something much less self-serving, how about this…I came across a meme on Facebook the other day which struck me as apropos. It went something like this:

List of Books to Read Before You Die

1. Any book you want.

2. Don’t read books you don’t want to read.

3. That’s it. The meme goes on, but at its core, I really liked its message

A chilling collection of stories unraveling the consequences of longing, broken trust, and deceit.

BIO:

John Mavin is the author of the dark literary collection Rage who’s taught creative writing at Capilano University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, with New Shoots (through the Vancouver School Board), and at the Learning Exchange in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He’s a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio and also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. A past nominee for both the Aurora Award and the Journey Prize, his work has been translated, studied, and published internationally. He invites you to visit him online at http://www.johnmavin.com or follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/author.john.mavin.

You can find John at Wine Country Writer’s Festival September 24 – 25, 2021

Wine Country Writer's Festival

This years festival will take place VIRTUALLY and be chock full of advice, fun, learning, meetings and of course a little bit of wine. https://winecountrywritersfestival.ca/the-presenters/

Creative Edge Author Interview – Kristine Raymond

May 13, 2021
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. You have written several different genres. Do you decide on the genre before writing or decide which one it fits after writing?

Both!  For most of my books, I knew the genre going in.  The Hidden Springs series – historical western romance.  The Celebration series and Seasons of Love – contemporary romance.  Tempted – erotic drama.  But with Finn-agled, my cozy mystery, I’d intended to write a thriller.  However, the moment Finn Bartusiak took shape, I knew her antics were way too humorous for anything other than a cozy.

  • What draws you to the genres you write?

I wish I had an easy answer to this one.  For the historical westerns, it’s because I love that time period.  The other stories just came about on their own.  When I wrote By Dawn’s Early Light, the first in the Celebration series, I knew it would be contemporary romance for no other reason than I needed a break from historical.

  • Do you plot your series’ book by book or as a series arc?

To date, book by book.  Usually, the storyline in one leads me to the next.  The exception to this is the thriller series I’ve planned.  I can’t go into details, but as it stands now, it’ll be a trilogy with the main character’s background as the series arc.  Of course, that’s what I say today.  By the time I get around to writing those books, I’ll have changed my mind a dozen times.

  • Do you decide on a theme/topic for your series before writing book one?

Only in the most general sense.  I know how the story will begin – more specifically, the opening paragraph or two, a vague sense of the plotline, and how I want it to end, although it rarely happens the way I think it will.  Once my characters take hold, they author their own destinies.  I’m merely their transcriptionist.

  • How did you come up with the idea of your side stories?

Side Stories came about after a discussion with a guest on my podcast, Word Play with Kristine Raymond.  Aside from writing books, he’s also a college professor and told me that he encourages his students to explore the stories that happen off the page.  Between the chapters, so to speak.  I thought it was an intriguing concept and added it as a feature on my website, though, to date, I’ve only written one.

  • When and why did you start your The Felonious Scribe podcast?

The Felonious Scribe was a collaboration with author Dawn Hosmer, who writes the most amazing psychological thrillers!  We thought it would be fun to answer questions from readers pertaining to murder, mystery, and mayhem – eh em, on the page, of course. 

We recorded five episodes of the show, which can be found on YouTube, and then moved on to different projects.  Dawn currently hosts a podcast called Unravel the Binding with her daughter, Jesi, while I’m working on my next book.

  • Who has influenced your writing the most?

This will sound like a copout answer, but every book I’ve ever read has influenced my writing in some way.  How an author tells a story – their voice – is the determining factor in whether or not I choose a particular book, and I believe that has a direct bearing on how I tell my stories.

  • Do you have an author hero?

All those who took the chance to send their stories out into the world for readers to enjoy – and critique.  Because one doesn’t happen without the other, and criticism can be soul-crushing.  And, that’s what authors’ stories are, including mine.  A piece of our souls.

  • Where is your writing space? Can you describe it?

I have one room in our house that is furbaby-free (I type sardonically while looking at the cat who jumped over the baby gate before falling asleep in my lap).  It’s a combo room – part office/part library/part craft room/part whatever else I can stuff in here.  Personally, I think the hubs is afraid to step foot in it which is how it became my space.  Lol.

My desktop sits atop a messy desk covered with scrawled notes, pens, and notebooks.  It’s a wonder I can find my keyboard.

  1. Where can readers find your books?

Links to all of my books can be found on my website – www.kristineraymond.com.  They’re available on all major platforms (and a few minor ones, as well).

  1. Do you have a current release? Can you share what it is about?

My most recent release is Finn-agled, the first book in the Finn’s Finds cozy mystery series.

Running an antique store in the fictional seaside town of Port New, Finn Bartusiak is quite happy with how her life is going – until both a coded message and her high school crush figuratively fall into her lap on the same day.  With murder, intrigue, and pierogis – what’s not to love?

This was such a fun story to write, and I’m currently working on the second in the series, Finn-icky Eaters.

  1. Is there anything you would like your readers to know?

Thanks to my readers, both new and existing, for taking a chance on my books.  I hope you enjoy them.  And thanks, Mandy, for hosting me today.  This has been fun!

Bio:

It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel.  Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle.

When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business.  When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and furbabies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix.

To find out more, please visit her website at www.kristineraymond.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and BookBub.

Amazon.com: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories 

Amazon.ca: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories

Barnes & Noble: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How Do You Choose Your Next Book?

April 27, 2021
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As our options for choosing a book to read have become virtual for the most part, during COVID, we have to decide which one works best for us. The easiest option for many is a book selling site, such as Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble or Kindle, to name a few. There is also the option of utilizing your local library, where you can browse online, order and pick up your selections. And visiting your local bookstore too. Whatever method you use the author will sincerely appreciate your leaving a review. So please do.

It is a matter of personal preference where we purchase our books and in what format. Whether it is print or e-book. As I work on a computer all day for my day job and then work on my laptop most evenings, my preference is a print copy. I enjoy the tactile feeling of weight, smell and texture as well as the physical turning of a page. For me it is better to read without a backlight at night, as it stimulates my brain rather than calming it.

Which do you prefer? Print or e-book?

Why do you make this choice? Is it a practical concern or something else?

I am lucky to have a friend, who gives out books after she and her daughter have read them. I recently visited her and she handed over a huge bags of books! Such a delightful surprise and it was like Christmas lifting each one out to read the blurb. However, it then gave me a problem – how should I choose which one to read first, second, third and so on.

After reading all the blurbs, I categorized them. Ones that did not instantly appeal, others that were soft choices and others that engaged my curiosity. Depending on your specific likes and dislikes, favorite genres and subject matter, choosing can be little easier. So from this stack.

I choose my first three reads as below.

I choose these particular books because two have characters in them that write and the third because I love myths, legends and magic.

This is my review of Saying Goodbye is Easy by Kathie Sutherland

A compelling, complex and enlightening narrative, full of truths, struggles and internal emotions. Every reader will find a connection with the struggles, highs and lows of the narrator. A courageous, heartfelt and revealing story, told in short stories and reflections.
This book will change your outlook on your life and your life’s path.

Please leave a comment on how you choose a book and the last book you reviewed so other readers can find them.

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