Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Interview – Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait

May 19, 2022
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1.     What drew you to write your first fantasy story?

Believe it or not, it was a picture I made from a picture application of me with a dragon next to me. I wrote a short catchy phrase that I only later learned was a ‘blurb’ I still use on what became my first fantasy novel. It all started with a picture I posted on my Facebook page and people kept saying they wanted more of the story…there was no story! So, day by day I wrote more and posted to my Facebook page for the first 30 days, at which time I discovered I was writing a book!

2.     Did you plan a series or were the characters/worlds too fascinating to leave behind?

This tickles me pink! Since I had no concept I was writing a novel in the beginning, I just keep writing and the characters took control. When your characters are dragons and they talk to you all night long, you awaken and start writing! There was/is so much about these characters that a series developed.

3.     Why did you create a dragon’s world in particular?

This is a great question. The answer stems from that picture we spoke about, but what I didn’t say was that at one time I found out a few people liked to speak behind my back, calling me a dragon. Well, when people cast stones… you build a castle and that’s what I did with my dragons. They are highly intelligent beings and are the protectors of those who cannot protect themselves. 

4.     What is your writing process? Planner or panster.

I’m a pantster all the way. I’m a visual writer. I see the story in my head. Sometimes it is only flashes or glimpses of a moment, but when my hand hit the keyboard, it pours out.

5.     Do you only write prose?

My first outlet in writing was through poetry. I used it as a way to describe my feelings in a more powerful way. Gradually, it morphed into a way of telling stories.

6.     Are you a lifelong writer?

Thankfully, yes. I recently turned 64 and the first I remember writing was a poem to my grandmother when I was eleven or twelve, so with more than fifty years behind me, writing is one of those things that has always been with me.

7.     What are you working on now?

As writers, we always stretch. My first stretch outside of fantasy came last year when I decided to write a contemporary romance novel. Which, wouldn’t you know it, developed into a series. I’m writing the fourth book in this series currently. I actually have three books I’m writing. One is the fifth book in my current dragon series, The Spires of Dasny, one is the one I mentioned, the fourth in the Hope Falls series under my pen name, C.H. Eryl and the third book is one for a romance anthology I was fortunate to be asked to contribute. It will be a starter book for a companion series to the Hope Falls romance series.

8.     Where do you see your series going and for how long?

I have to laugh at this question! I really don’t plan on a series, but they just grow and expand and sometimes make me mad when a character acts up near the end of what ‘should have been’ the last in the series… like now. The Spires of Dasny should have been a four book series, and here I am writing book 5. But wait, not only that but now the same character has stretched beyond his boundaries and now new books will come as a result. At the present I’m unsure if it will carry the same series name or if it will have a new series title.

9.     Where can readers find you?

The best place to find me will be on Amazon. I have two author pages there. https://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Rush-Cowperthwait/e/B078HTLP5X

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – A Question Every Writer is Asked

May 5, 2022
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As writers, we are used to being asked why do we write. Our answers are as diverse as we are as individuals and the many genres we write. There is no catch all answer, our reasons are as many as there are stories. No matter if there are similarities in upbringing, location, class, education or a plethora of other influences, how we perceive our world, and the experiences we encounter on our life’s path, make us unique. Therefore, our stories are unique to us. How we tell them, creative them, construct them is ours alone.

So, I will endeavour to answer that question in my own unique way. And hopefully, it will give you an insight into my creativity.

I write because I enjoy creating imaginary worlds, its characters and their stories. To weave a story around characters that I have conjured up in my mind, gives me not only satisfaction but also allows me to be creative. It is a kind of escape really. I become immersed in another world, where everything is possible through my fingertips. As a naturally creative person, who has tried many forms of creative expression, writing has given me the ultimate power. I am omnipotent. I can place characters in different eras, on other planets, in magical kingdoms – wherever I want. After saying that, a lot of my characters do dictate their story lines and propel me into new unexpected directions on occasion. This is part of the enjoyment and magic of writing. I hope to continue writing for as long as I can see and type and even then, maybe I can utilize modern technology to continue!

To another commonly asked question: what do I really want, my answer is – I want my stories to be my legacy. To be read and enjoyed for future generations and hopefully give a glimpse into my personality when I am gone. Instead of just the ‘dash’ on the gravestone there will be a pile of books to note my contribution to literature. It is a way of paying it forward into the future.

How do you answer these questions?

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Investing in Your Writing

April 28, 2022
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As writers we want to produce the very best story for our readers. Although, we would like to spend all our time writing, there are many other demands on our time. Family commitments, work, chores and more, in fact just life! To improve our writing skill, however, we need to invest in it.

There are multiple ways in which to do this. Of course, some require extended time commitments, while others are easier to slot into our time constraints. Here are some options for you to consider:

Education

Furthering your writing education encompasses broad and diverse options. We can find many free on-line or paid resources, such as on YouTube, Masterclasses or Skillshare. There will also be courses, whether in-person or on-line for a day or evening class basis with a university or college course. These can be a large time and financial investment, so think carefully before committing to one.

Conferences and Events

You can find writing conferences held throughout the year by literary organizations, these range from free to paid. Attending a session with an expert and really focusing on their topic, is a great way to garner information and insight for your own writing.

Books

There is a plethora of books on writing and you can either borrow from your local library or buy. Depending on if you want a general writing guide or a specific one, you should be able to find one that matches your needs.

Writing Apps or Services

There are many to choose from, including ProWritingAid, Scrivener, or Novlr, to name a few. It is important to thoroughly research these before purchasing, so it is in-line with what you need as a writer and how you write. Some have free trial periods so you can test them out.

Coach

This option does involve a financial commitment, as well as a time commitment. Hiring a writing coach can make a tremendous difference to your writing. It can take the form of informal mentors to biweekly counseling sessions. Decide which one suits your personality and learning preference.

Writer in Residence

Many libraries have professional authors, who spend a period of time holding presentations, but also give free advice, whether one-on-one or via email. As a free resource this is a great option for any writer. (I always connect with our local WIR every year).

Writing Retreat

You can find retreats held by literary organizations in most areas. They can be structured or informal. Most will entail a financial commitment. If you belong to a writing group, why not organize your own, with maybe a special guest or two to give a presentation. Or decide on what is the most common element everyone wants to learn, discuss or practice is and build the retreat around that.

Writing Group

A local writing group is a real bonus in helping you improve your writing. You receive feedback on your writing, discuss the multitudinous of writing topics, as well as receive encouragement and support.

No matter which option you choose, investing in your writing always improves your skill.

What have you done to improve your writing skills?

Creative Edge Author Interview – Diane Bator

April 21, 2022
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When and why did you start to write?

I have always loved to read which inevitably led me to tell my own stories. I still have poems and stories I wrote when I was 10 or 12! As for the why, I simply love to tell a good story. Living in a small town, I learned to entertain myself by writing and creating my own worlds.

  • What drew you to the mystery genre in particular?

I love puzzles – both word puzzles and picture puzzles. I guess it’s only natural that I was drawn to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a kid. Funny how I never thought about writing them until I entered a Murder in Ink contest sponsored by a small Ontario publisher for the fun of it. That was how my first book, a novella, was published.

  • Do you feel a book series suits this genre best and if so why?

With cozy mysteries in particular, book series are a great way to go. Readers become immersed in the main character’s town, business, lives and love to watch them grow as the series goes on. Sometimes while writing in a temporary character, I’ve ended up with a whole new sidekick that sticks around for several more books.

  • Over time, with each new novel, have you found it is easier to write about your main protagonists?

By book two or three, my main protagonists become old friends and I like to get them in lots of trouble! It’s fun to put obstacles in their paths and see how they handle new situations. In Gilda’s case in my Gilda Wright Mysteries, she’s grown from someone who started working in a karate school to gain some confidence to a woman getting ready to grade for her black belt. She’s the main character who has had the most growth arc so far.

  • Can you give us some details of your latest book, The Conned Lady?

My two main characters in The Conned Lady are Katie Mullins and Danny Walker.

Readers met them back in The Bookstore Lady when Katie escaped from her bosses who wanted her dead because she knew too much.

Danny, who was investigating the organization, was supposed to keep her safe and lost her. Only to find her again in his hometown.

Together, they faced the bad guys and made sure they were behind bars and developed a romantic relationship through the series.

When the bad guys are suddenly free, Katie needs to confront her past and deal with it – with the help of Danny and their friends.

During it all, they both face insecurities and have doubts until… You’ll have to read The Conned Lady to find out!

  • What is your writing process?

I don’t have a daily schedule for my writing since I have a full-time job as well. Thankfully, during lock down I ended up working with a couple different writing groups and have blocks of time to write Sunday morning and Monday evening. Aside from that, I take time before work, during lunch, and some evenings when things are quiet. After learning to write around the chaos of work and three kids, I’ve learned to grab the free time when I can get it!

  • Do you list ideas for each series/protagonist specifically?

I really don’t list ideas for my protagonists. They grow as the story grows.

As for my series, I tend to come up with a main idea for the series then break it down in to 3-5 books that I write blurbs for. Sometimes I stick with them, other times the overall series story line takes a twist and I either juggle around the book blurbs or create new ones.

  • What do you see for the future of your many series?

My Wild Blue Mystery series has now come to an end – with an ending that will allow me to return to it in the future if I choose to do so.

Right now I’m waffling with ending my Gilda Wright Mysteries with the next novel or write two more.

I originally wrote three book blurbs for my Glitter Bay series, then I created a new character named Quinn who seems very eager to stir up some excitement around Glitter Bay!

As for my Sugarwood Mysteries, Book 2 is in the process with at least one more to follow.

  • Do you have a specific writing area?

I have a beautiful office space I painted Caribbean blue, but usually end up on the couch with my elderly cat, at the kitchen table in the sunshine, or outside if the weather is good. I don’t like to limit myself as to where and when I write, but find I can pick up a pen and paper any time anywhere.

  1. How can readers find you?

The best ways are via:

My website:  https://dianebator.ca/

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

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7179945.Diane_Bator

Bio:

Diane Bator is a mom of three, a book coach, and the author of over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She has also hosted the Escape With a Writer blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching authors, she works for a professional theatre. No surprise she’s written her first play, which may lead to more. 

Her website is https://dianebator.ca/ 

Her books are available through her publisher Books We Love at: https://bookswelove.net/bator-diane/ 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Strange Places Research Takes an Author

April 14, 2022
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There are several memes that state an author’s browsing history should be ignored and/or immediately deleted. We can find ourselves researching the strangest subjects, all of which are perfectly innocence. (One would hope anyway!) I think the most alarming subject for anyone to find on my history would be wanting to know under what conditions a body can dry out and become mummified. Yep, I researched that! This relates to a novel yet to be finalized, The Giving Thief and I will not be giving any hints as to why.

When I wrote The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy, I required medical procedures and medicines from the English medieval period. There were several ‘cures’ I think would have given the poor patient an impossible decision whether to suffer the illness or the cure! Most of the ‘research’ for these novellas was personal experience of medieval castles during visits to such sites in England, and history lessons when I lived there.

Another backburner manuscript is Willow Tree Tears, which resulted in my gaining knowledge of barrel racing. I had never been to a rodeo at the time of initially writing the book, so did some internet research. However, I was fortunate to connect with a couple of barrel racing champions, who were very helpful in their advice. It has made the narrative a lot better.

The Twesome Loop is a reincarnation romance incorporating my interest in that specific subject. My interest began during my nursing days, when a couple of incidents led me down the path to find literature on the topic.

In Life in Slake Patch, I needed to find a natural element that could hinder pregnancy, either temporarily or permanently. Surprisingly, I found one,

When I was writing The Commodore’s Gift, I needed to immerse myself in the steampunk genre, and found a plethora of mechanical devices. I also needed to know the most crucial areas to incapacitate a person with a blade!

As author’s we can get immersed in the research, but it is also a great learning tool that we, in turn pass onto our readers. We need to be careful to know our subject because an expert will pick up on any irregularities or misinformation. As the saying goes, we learn something new every day.

What is the ‘strangest’ thing you have researched?

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