Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
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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

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Writing Conference and Book Cover Creation

March 18, 2021
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It is that time of year again, I have been working with the Board members of my writing group to finalize details for our annual writing conference. As I am hosting an online session about blogging, I revised my presentation notes in readiness. The countdown is on!

I would ask any writer that is interested in gaining new skills, honing their craft or wants to expand their network to attend this remarkable conference. The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County’s Conference on 27th March – The Art of Writing is covering a wide range of writing skills. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference

We will also be live on our Facebook page if you want to drop by anytime between 8:30 am – 5:00 pm MST https://www.facebook.com/wfscsherwoodpark There is the opportunity to promote your book(s) as well throughout the day so click the link to submit.

Apart from continuing to write my current WIP; book one of the The Delphic Murders trilogy, I have been thinking about the book covers. Each book needs to reflect the story within it but also tie-in to the other two books. After a conversation, an idea has been bouncing around in my head but on Tuesday a much better idea for the imagery came out of nowhere. I am now discussing the possibilities with my cover artist. This is such an exciting stage of any the book creation.

As always, working with any artist, it is paramount to have good communication and be able to describe our ‘vision’ for the illustrations. We are lucky to have the power of technology to find samples and suggested imagery. I have been lucky to have worked with several artists to create artwork that reflects my stories.

With any cover we need to ask ourselves three main questions:

Does the cover reflect the story?

Is it eye catching?

Does it reflect the genre?  

How did you decide on your book (s) cover?

Did you use your own photographs, commission or draw you own drawings or manipulate images some other way?

Interestingly, I searched best book covers for 2020 and there are several lists to look through. All of them have different covers, so it is really a matter of person preference. A cover might attract one reader but not another. It is a balancing act, for sure.

Do you have a favorite book cover? Why not share one?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Wordbridge Writers Conference

February 18, 2021
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 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/

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Organizing My Writing Life

January 21, 2021
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As you may know, I have made a goal for 2021 to enter contests, submit articles to magazines and stories to anthologies. This seemed an easy process until I began to look at all the paperwork accumulating. For each submission there is of course, rules, guidelines, email address and accounts to create. On top of that, I have author interviews for this blog to monitor as well as a novel writing workshop with four other authors. Not to mention my freelance writing projects and my current work in progress.

So how should I organize it all?

Each ‘task’ has its own specific process, so I needed to come up with a way to keep track. Firstly, I printed out the relevant contest, magazine and anthology links and highlighted the deadlines for each one. Noted passwords required and any dates submissions were sent.

Now to catalogue them in separate folders. (And yes I use actual physical folders! I’m a hands on type of girl)

Green folder: Anthologies

Purple folder: Contests

Orange folder: Magazines

White Folder: WordPress Interviews

Orange folder : Presentations I will host

White folder: Novel Workshop

Black folder (not shown) Freelance Projects

Then I separated the relevant information for each in date order with the submission dates – first to last. I printed a calendar for the blog interviews so I can mark each one down, so there is no duplication. I have also bought a large desk calendar to mark submission deadlines, writing events, presentation dates, freelance projects, conferences, interviews etc. Having everything there in front of me lessens the panic that I have forgotten something.

How do you keep track of your writing life?

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