Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

September 20, 2020
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Kathie

  1. Why did you decide to write an autobiography? For many years, existential questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” have haunted me and challenged me to go deeper into myself. My search for answers to these questions led me to journaling about life moments captured on the page; writing these short pieces called out for expression. Exploring poetry and essay, fairy tale and short life stories helped me find my “real writer” voice. Self-help books, spiritual retreats, talented mentors, friends and a personal interest in storytelling, psychology, image and myth fuelled my appetite for words. Gathering these stories together into an autobiographic novel took a long time. Now that my book is complete and ready for publication, I am more aware of the gifts and talents I can bring to the world through writing.
  2. How long did it take you to write it? I began capturing moments of my life at a women’s writing seminar in 2004. When the instructor said I had an unusual story – growing up female in the macho world of the military – I was surprised; my upbringing seemed “normal” to me. Many of the stories in my book began back then.
  3. What difficulties did you experience in writing it? Because of the transient nature of my childhood, I saw my early life as chopped into segments and filed in my memory by location. Recently when working with an editor, I began to see links and patterns in my life and finally, story connections were forged and fashioned into a smooth narrative. I had difficulty identifying the genre of these stories because they are based on authentic flashes of memory, and reimagined with fiction writing tools. My goal was to reveal my authentic emotions in short life stories and connect with other kindred souls through them.
  4. How did you come up with the title? In my childhood, our family was in constant transition, and my tools for coping with goodbyes and hellos and consequently with loss and resilience. Alternate titles I considered included “Permission to Speak, Sir!”, “Nesting Places”, “Home and Away”, and “Finding Home Without a Map.” These titles spoke to my developing comfort with being at home in my heart and belonging in my own skin. At one point, the title was “Saying Goodbye is Easy – Letting Go is Hard”. The second half of this title was dropped because it became obvious to me that letting go of the past was getting easier.
  5. As a child of a military family – what can your story teach others? The stories we tell ourselves and others influence what we believe about the world. The military has its own myths, my father’s story included World War 2 events, and my mother told stories connected me to generations of extended family and how the military influenced them and my own childhood. All the legends and myths to which I was exposed inspired my narrative of leaving the sanctuary of home and seeking independence. I believe that many women experience loneliness and isolation when they choose to leave their parents’ home and grow into their own lives. Reframing my life story allowed me to understand that it is a universal story.
  6. The book is a collection of short stories – why did you chose this format? Short stories stand alone, and a collection of short stories are sometimes linked but not always; a novel-in-short-stories has a narrative arc even though the stories stand alone. It is not a memoir because that genre covers a set period of time. Autobiography is factual but many of my stories were imagined to make a point. My research revealed that short stories are more likely to be accepted by a publisher if the author’s stories appear in literary magazines or their writing is well known. This format seemed to work for me because it suited my experience in life.
  7. Do you write in any other genre? I began writing poetry in the 1970s, and I was seeking inspiration for poems when I attended the women’s writing classes in 2004. With encouragement, I began writing prose and personal opinion essays for magazines. Poetry continues to intrigue me and I hope to add to my published books of verse but I also have a novel on the back burner (which is also told in segments!), two based-on-real-events historical fiction books and a non-fiction book. I do not write fantasy or romance and tend to lean towards literary fiction.
  8. Do you have other books? Since 2004 I’ve created several handmade poetry chapbooks, and published two books of poetry. I’ve also self-published a book of essays and a volume of personal fairy tales. All of them are inner focused, and intended for kindred spirits who are interested in myth and metaphor.
  9. Where can your readers find you on social media? On FB as Kathie Sutherland Author, on Twitter as Kathie.Sutherland aka wordpainterpoet, on LinkedIn, Instagram and on my website kathiesutherland.com where my books and writing companionship services are available. I offer Inner Child workshops, Reminiscence and Listening Services, a scuba diving-inspired workshop focused on going deeper into emotions and create “Portrait Poems” as personal gifts.
  10. Do you have a blog? Since writing “Saying Goodbye is Easy”, I have gain clarity about the purpose of my writing. I want to give back through coaching and writing companionship. I have renewed my blogging practice.
  11. What did you learn about yourself while writing this autobiography? The whole of my writing life has been about acknowledging and accepting myself. This autobiography has been narrative therapy for me. Each piece I worked on required me to come to terms with the theme of the story I was writing. One of my greatest strengths is my love of learning. That love brings me back to the greater life questions and my search for answers. I love learning through research. I love learning about words. I love inner work. I love writing to grow.

Saying Goodbye

Blog:

https//kathiesutherland.com

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/kathiesutherlandauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/kathie.sutherland/?hl=en

@wordpainterpoet

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Newsletter Content

September 16, 2020
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What do you put in an author newsletter?

When it came to my author newsletter, I asked my subscribers what they wanted to hear from me. I also looked at other newsletters for ideas. It is a great way to formulate how you want your newsletter to look and to give you ideas on your content and frequency of transmitting it. 

Tip: You can pre-write your newsletter and schedule it.

Make sure you are not mailing out your newsletter too frequently or it will become a chore. I send mine monthly (most of the time!)

Chose a name for your newsletter and stick to it. 

Mine is Musings from Mandy Eve-Barnett – to distinguish each newsletter I add the month and a title.

Here is a list of possible content you can include: (it is by no means conclusive though).  

Personal anecdotes and photos of your everyday life. You can include your writing space.

Behind the scenes peeks – what you are currently writing, ideas formulating etc.

Exclusive content like a cover reveal or a sneak peek at your next title

Launch dates of your new book

Events you are attending (due to COVID19 these will be virtual of course)

Your writing process

Request feedback on a current manuscript/project

Interviews you have participated in with links

Spotlights/interviews of guest authors

What you are reading

Your book reviews

The goal of any newsletter is to promote, so make sure to include:

Your author bio
Links to your blog, social media sites and any interviews and your book sale sites

Tip: Even unpublished authors can create an author newsletter. The sooner you start to grow your subscription list, the bigger your platform will be when you have something to sell.

Photo by Content Pixie on Pexels.com

What do you include in your newsletter?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Preparation for a Radio Interview

September 10, 2020
mandyevebarnett


It was my pleasure to be interviewed on Sunday 6th September by Mike Deregowski on his show, The Writers Block at Sound Sugar Radio. Due to COVID19 restrictions the interview was conducted over the telephone.

To prepare for the interview, I took the following steps, which I hope may help you.

  1. Firstly, we agreed on a date for the interview.
  2. I then asked what the procedure would be prior to the interview. Such as, what time I needed to be available, and was I calling in or would they call me.
  3. I also asked about details of the interview – time I would actually be on air, types of questions they would ask and any special points they wished me to cover.
  4. As I was sharing an excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Commodore’s Gift, I chose two options of five minutes each.
  5. I practiced reading them aloud several times. This allowed me to ‘hear’ the piece and also decide on inflections in my reading voice.
  6. Once I had read them, I knew which one gave enough detail of the genre and story but also left a question to entice readers.
  7. Prior to the interview itself, I posted across my social media that I would be doing the interview and shared the links to the radio station. After all the more the merrier.
  8. One the interview had taken place, I once again shared the link to my social media sites. Then added it to my media kit on my blog.

The Commodore’s Gift will be officially launched at Words in the Park – Virtual on 26th September 2020.

Opened parcel tied with string with blank label, copy space included within torn section

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Blow Your Own Trumpet! Author & Book Promotion

September 3, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Once we transition from writer to published author, there are many things that change. No longer can we sit in isolation, hide from the world or pretend it’s a ‘hobby’. Words we created are available to the public and so begins the promotion bandwagon.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Our writing becomes a business – expenses and income need to be reported for tax purposes, we create a ‘store’ whether virtual or real, and we become a public entity. We are no longer completely anonymous.

Over the last nine years (since publishing my first book), I have gathered information, advice and ‘tricks’ on how to promote myself and my books. At first, it felt foreign to ‘be out there’. Now-a-days, I utilize all my social media and this blog to promote my books,  events, interviews and my freelance writing business.

promotion

However, promotion does not come easy! It is a constant workhorse of creating posts, commenting, liking and linking. It is not enough to have two weeks of posts when your book first comes out. You need to continue promoting forever! Yep – that’s right – forever.

You can’t discard your previous creative efforts once a new novel comes out. It’s like ignoring your first born when another child arrives. They all need the same amount of love.

Look at each book – it’s concepts, genre, theme, topic and utilize any and all social media posts – far and wide – to mention that book. For example, I have a children’s picture book called Rumble’s First Scare. It is set at Halloween so I create posts before then to create awareness. And usually hold a colouring contest. I also use any ‘monster’ mentions as a link back to it.

You have to be creative and think how you can make a comment or post refer to your book(s). If it is set in a specific historical era – find similar posts, articles about that era etc. Join social groups on the many platforms that would be interested in your story’s genre.

Always assess what you can use for promotion. Yes, it is time consuming but so was writing your manuscript! Put the same amount of effort into the ‘business’ of selling your book. You wrote it to sell it didn’t you?

Create contests around your book – give prizes, such as a physical gift basket or a free/discount on your book.

Do you have any tips for other authors on promotion? Please share them, after all we are one big community.

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Marc Watson

August 27, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Marc

1. What inspires your short stories?

Short stories have always been a way for me to test the waters of genres and styles that I’m interested in but may not necessarily be ready to write a full novel in. I’ve used it to release things like pure science fiction or perfect prose-style writing, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. It really lets me stretch my legs.

2. Does writing short stories need a separate kind of skill set than full length manuscripts? What is the difference?

For sure. The biggest and most obvious difference is that you as a writer have very little time to get the entire message of the story across. Whereas a novel will let you build characters and settings, you need to be quick and to the point with what you’re telling in a short story. I started with micro-fiction, and studying things like Twitter for ideas on how to slam a story home in a small number of words. I’m still not an expert, but the experience has been invaluable.

3. Have any of your ‘shorts’ become full length novels?

No, nothing like that. I’ve actually had the opposite problem where I take a story idea I’ve had and convert it to a short story in order to tell the tale I wanted to tell as quickly and succinctly as possible.

The first story in my new book is called ‘A Conversation: Alive Again’, and it tells the origins of Nixon Ash, the imposing Scottish phoenix-man first introduced in my ‘Catching Hell’ duology. Originally I wanted Nixon’s origins to be its own book. I had it plotted out and ready to get started on. However, as I started writing the stories that went into this collection I realized that Alive Again fit so well into the style and structure I had laid out, so I converted it and came up with a way to tell that same story in significantly less pages. Nixon is interesting enough that he can carry that kind of story and tell what needs to be told without a hundred thousand words.

bookcover0000888-2020-01-12-09-32-45-kindle

Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin is live! Coming September 25th

4. What drew you to fantasy & science fiction writing?

It was the ability to create whatever I wanted. The freedom to tell a story and the only limits were my imagination. I don’t consider myself skilled enough to write the kind of deep, intriguing stories that win Pulitzers, and I’m totally alright with that as well. It’s not who I am. But I can just jump right into an epic fantasy with magic flying around everywhere, or the endless possibilities of technology or the universe, or both combined! I’m not limited, and that is a very satisfying way to write.

cathcing

5. When writing the Catching Hell series did you plan the two books prior to writing, or did they emerge later?

It came after it was finished. When I pulled my head up from my keyboard and looked at what I had created, it was 225k words long. Impressive, but wholly impractical when it comes to marketing or trying to get picked up by a publisher or agent. Someone early on said I should consider making it a duology. I resisted the idea for a while, but realized they were right. I found a very natural split about half way through, tweaked some of the story, and added the prologue to Part 2, and that’s how it was born. One day I may rejig it again and make it one big book, but that’s the kind of thing we dream about and likely never do.

6. Do you have a favorite character – and why?

Although I think Nixon has the most potential as a character, who can shapeshift and summon fire and have a sense of humor, (not to mention the masochistic joy I get from trying to write a Scottish brogue) my favorite will always be Crystal Kokouo, who is a main character in Catching Hell but who has circulated through my ideas since I was a teenager. She’s an infinitely powerful woman who was one of the first people born into a damaged and destroyed world. Her father was a great man and hero to millions, and she has always tried to achieve the goals he never had the chance to complete and that pressure has molded her into what she is now. There’s a level of complexity with her that the casual reader misses because they only know her from the one story. There’s a depth there that I can’t wait to let the world see, but it will take time.

deathly

7. Where is your favorite place to write?

At my desk in my office at work. I write best surrounded by the low thrum of business and work going on all around me. I can’t work at home because there’s a million things I’d rather be doing if I’m there. At lunch, at my desk in my little cubicle there’s nothing to distract me, and I can spend 45 minutes to an hour just off in my own little world.

8. What is your usual writing procedure – planner or panster?

Pants! Pants pants pants, all day long.

I don’t go through the steps I know some authors do, where they lay out pages of plot details and character sheets and all of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I let a story grow organically. I start with an idea of who everyone is, and I always know where I’m going, but I don’t always know how I’ll get there. It’s worked to my detriment, as shown with my 225k epic that was so large it needed to be cut in half, but its work to my advantage as well. My debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was smashed out very quickly because I had that general idea in my head right away, but when the comedy and heart started popping up unexpectedly I was just as surprised as anyone else. I still like to go back and re-read parts of it just to get that feeling back that I had when I first wrote it. I see a line and I remember coming up with it and the happiness I felt at making something I personally enjoyed so much.

9. Can you tell us about your new release(s)?

I would love to! My newest book is called ‘Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin’. It is a collection of nine short stories (though calling some of them ‘short’ is a bit of a stretch. There’s some whoppers in there I admit) that take place in the same world as Catching Hell, however those books are in no way required reading to enjoy this collection. They all stand on their own.

The stories are a wide range of genres, going back to what I was saying about trying new things. There’s a pure-horror story, a YA-style adventure, a bar scene I like to call Tarentino-esque, a historical fantasy. It’s just all over the place, held together by the collective structure of the world. The stories are told chronologically, from the 1600s up to thousands of years into the future. I really want the reader to see the amount of fun I had putting this together.

10. Do you have a message for your readers?

I sure do: this is a crazy time where we are constantly inundated with news and scenes and images that shake our collective mental health. I don’t say this to sell my books or the work of my contemporaries, but when this world has you worse for wear, pick up a book and read. Escape for 5 minutes to someplace, or learn about something that interests you. Escape, and don’t feel bad about doing it.

Or, forget the book and garden, or go for a hike, or find your zen away from the things that are getting to you. Separating ourselves from the cacophony has never been more important than it is today. My motto is “Be a hero”, and that doesn’t just mean to other people. Be a hero to yourself as well.

Links:

Blog: http://marcwatson.ca/home/

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

Bio:

Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). He began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and has never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to him than his defining trait. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. Marc has been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.

Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. A husband, proud father of two, and can be sometimes found at an actual job. Marc is an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on his business cards.

You can also find Marc on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson. For public appearances and interviews, he is proudly represented by Creative Edge Publicity.

Creative Edge

 

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