Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Investing in Your Writing Chat

June 23, 2022
mandyevebarnett


I was pleased in chat with Cindy DeJager of Opal Publishing about one of my articles in the Opal Writers Magazine.

https://anchor.fm/opal-magazine/episodes/COFFEE-and-CONVERSATION-with-Mandy-Eve-Barnett-on-INVEST-IN-YOUR-WRITING-e1k3fdl

As I relay in the article, as writers we should invest in our craft, to become better equipped not only to write, but to understand the complexities of this art form. There are as many methods, genres and avenues to choose from as there are individual writers. We can learn a new genre, research a new topic or gain insights into another writing style. It is a lifelong learning journey.

To gain new knowledge we can access workshops, writing coaches, buy (or borrow – a library is a great resource) relevant books and discuss methods and outlets for our writing within a writing group.

What new aspect of writing have you learnt recently?

Creative Edge Author Interview – DC Gomez

June 16, 2022
mandyevebarnett


1. What differences are there between writing urban fantasy and children’s books?

While most of my books have common themes, like redefining families and finding their own tribe, children’s books and urban fantasy are quite different. Charlie’s Fables, my children’s book series, is focused on providing life lesson to little ones. With only 800 words to work with, the pictures in the book are just as important as the words to convey the messages.

My urban fantasy stories are more action-packed and a faster paced. They are full of quirky characters and magic to keep you turning pages. I add social commentaries throughout my books, but it’s not the focus of the stories. The books are entertaining and designed to provide the readers with a delightful adventure to escape from their everyday world.

2. Which genre do you enjoy writing the most?

This is a hard question. I’m a huge fan of all the genres that I write in, so I have a blast writing in them. To not get burned out in any one genre, I have switched genres after each project. That is probably the reason each book just feels exciting to me and full of new possibilities.

3. Where does your inspiration for your stories come from?

It is a huge blessing that inspirations come to me from everywhere. A song, movie, or just a conversation with a friend has inspired the background for a character or a book. My nephews were the inspiration for my children’s series. When my oldest nephew was born, I knew I wanted to create a book that help him see himself as a talented and amazing child. I did not want him to be 35 and wondered what he was good at. With that idea in mind is how I created Charlie, what’s your talent?

4. You state you help with encouraging people to overcome their self-limiting beliefs. Is this through your stories or motivational speeches?

I’m able to help individual overcome their self-limiting beliefs and overcome their fears both through my non-fiction books and my speaking /coaching services. The Dare Collection is a series of self-help devotionals designed to aid readers in working through their own beliefs system and the things holding them back.

As a motivational speaker, I’m usually hired to give presentation or seminars both to adults and youths. This is one of my favorite parts of my business. To connect with individuals and be part of their transformational journey. I understand feeling stuck in your life and knowing there is more out there you can be doing. Providing people with tools on how to achieve their dreams, and encouraging them is critical for their success.  

5. What incident sparked you onto your writing career path?

After years of working in the corporate world, I found myself miserable and hating everything. I always considered myself a storyteller, with a very active imagination. My undergraduate degree is in film and television. After college, I joined the military to learn more about people and to create characters people could connect with. Unfortunately, while I was finishing basic training, 911 happened. My goals and dreams changed completely. I still had the dream of creating stories, but I focused on my career instead. I’m a genuine believer we all should follow our passions and gifts. Because I wasn’t living my creative purpose, nothing I did made me happy. At the suggestions of my spiritual director, I agreed to take a chance and write my first novel. My entire world changed. I was hooked on this form of storytelling, and just kept on writing. 

6. Do you have a work in progress at the moment? Can you tell us something about it?

At the moment, I’m working on developing a new series called The Order’s Assassin. It is a spinoff from my Urban Fantasy series, The Intern Diaries. One of our side characters in the Intern Diaries, Eric, has left Texarkana to join forces with the Order of Witches. They have hired him to find the people who betrayed them and bring them to justices. This is an action-packed series with lots of crazy plots, and even a love interest for Eric. I’m super excited to be working on this series.

7. Can you tell us about your latest book? Where did the idea come from?

My last Urban Fantasy Novel was Judgement Day. This is book 5 in the Intern Diaries series. The series is based on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and it’s the story of Isis Black as she becomes Death’s Intern in North America. The book introduces Isis to the wild world of the supernatural, and all the powerful being that lived around her. Death’s Intern is book 1 in the series, and readers start their journey here. Isis is just a normal girl, who is an Army vet and a musician. She doesn’t have any supernatural powers, which is the fun part of the series. This is her journey, learning about the horsemen, saving her friends, and in book 5- the world.  

8. How can readers find you?

Readers can find me in many locations. They can start with my website at http://www.dcgomez-author.com. There they can download the free novella, The Origins of Constantine. I’m also easy to find on social media at:

www.facebook.com/dcgomez.author

www.instagram.com/dc.gomez

www.TikTok.com/@dcgomez_author

Many of my books are also available in Kindle Unlimited, so readers can take advantage of that as well.

9. Do you write every day?

I would love to be the writer that sits down every day to write. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I’m a bit of a binge-writer. I’m either writing nonstop for days/weeks, or I’m not writing at all. This is probably not the most efficient habit, but it works for me. After years of feeling guilty for not writing every day, now I gave myself permission to be me. The system works so far. When it stops working, then it’s time to make a drastic change.  

10. Is there a message you would like to say to your readers?

To all my readers, and future readers, the first thing I would like to say is Thank you! Thank you for going on this magical journey with me and loving these characters as much as I do. I’m super-blessed to create this book and have so many people enjoyed them. Second, follow your dreams, my friends. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to be happy. Take a leap of faith and go for it.

Bio

D. C. Gomez is an award winning USA Today Bestselling Author, podcaster, motivational speaker, and coach. Born in the Dominican Republic, she grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. D. C. studied film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.

D. C. has a Master’s Degree in Science Administration from the Central Michigan University, as well as a Master in Adult Education from Texas A&M- Texarkana University.  She is a certified John Maxwell Team speaker and coach, and a certified meditation instructor from the Chopra Center.

One of D. C. passions is helping those around her overcome their self-limiting beliefs.  She writes both non-fiction as well fiction books, ranging from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Books. To learn more about her books and her passion, you can find her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Book & Movies Relationship Tropes – Bad Boy & Sweet Girl

June 9, 2022
mandyevebarnett


As we all know the definition of a trope in literary terms is a plot device or character attribute that is used so commonly in a genre that it is commonplace or conventional. I’ve recently been intrigued by the bad boy-good girl trope of romance books and movies, especially trilogies. It may have something to do with a draft manuscript I have on the back burner, which has a bad girl – good boy (you know me I like to switch things up!) It is interesting to see this specific relationship scenario played out, and the complexities of the plots. (Some better and more believable than others!)

I have researched three such movie trilogies/series and have found the basic characters and their flaws and/or strengths to be the very similar in each. Obviously, the plots and character lives are different, but the basic character structures are easily identifiable.

  1. The Kissing Booth
  2. Twilight
  3. Fifty Shades

Each one has a damaged, aloof, unattainable male character and also an innocent, charming, loving female character. The love aspect of the relationships are played out with various obstacles, misunderstandings and heart break scenarios. The characters go through intense, fractured and profound changes. The females become stronger and more capable of ‘controlling’ and understanding their love interest, while the male character’s go through a realization process that this specific woman can, in fact, love them for who they are.

So, why go to these lengths, you may ask? Well, there is that draft manuscript languishing in the pile, but also I am working on a trilogy and it is the character development, I am most interested in. Readers want to ‘see’ a character develop and change, overcome obstacles and have some sort of resolution. With trilogies, or indeed, any series, this is the ‘draw’ for a reader. How will the character overcome, manage and ultimately succeed?

With Christian and Anastasia in Fifty Shades – he is emotionally and physically damaged from childhood trauma and he ‘copes’ with punishing his mother look-a-likes in the playroom. Ana shows him there is another way to love and forgive.

With Elle and Noah in The Kissing Booth she breaks the rule of having a relationship with her best friend, Lee’s brother. It is a forbidden love full of secrets, guilt and at times an unattainable relationship. Elle risks her life long friendship with Lee to pursue Noah. The trilogy follows the characters through high school to college.

With Edward and Bella, again there is the unattainable relationship, this time between a vampire and a human. This is the ultimate taboo. Bella is convinced she is destined to be a vampire, but Edward will do anything to protect her from such an existence. The third player is Jacob, a werewolf, which adds to the complexity of the relationship as he is also in love with Bella. The two male character’s have a instinctive, historical hatred for each other, but both will do anything to protect Bella.

As you can see the similarities are obvious with each story with conflicts between the two main characters and their connection to each other, no matter the obstacles.

Can you name another series with this bad boy – good girl scenario?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Ask Me to Write a Story

June 7, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

As many of you know I love writing prompts. These can be an image, a beginning sentence or a series of words to incorporate into a story.

Today I am asking you to give me a prompt, I will then create a special narrative just for you.

You can leave a comment or contact me through the contact form.

I’m looking forward to receiving your requests.

Photo by ugurlu photographer on Pexels.com

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Dragon Story

May 31, 2022
mandyevebarnett


As many of you know I love utilizing prompts to spark an idea for writing a story. This one is no exception, although it ran a little longer than I envisioned.

The hike started like any other, but certainly didn’t end that way. My discovery changed everything in my life. I am, however, getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

As an avid hiker and explorer of new trails, most weekends see me driving to a new location. Fully equipped for every eventuality I can walk for a day – easily. My favorite time to walk is on vacation. These are better as they give me more time to explore and map out my routes to encompass as many trials as possible over a week or two. It is one vacation hike; I want to talk about –the one that started the mayhem.

With a ten-day vacation ahead, I’d researched, planned and mapped out my routes for each day. Invested in a new one-person tent, renewed supplies, and checked and double checked everything before packing it all in the most economical way possible in my rucksack. I walked with the fully loaded rucksack each evening to source any areas that might chafe or bruise. With several adjustments made and additional padding added, I was happy and comfortable with my survival pack.

On the first morning of my vacation, I woke up early, too excited to sleep in. I pulled on my trusty hiking boots, grabbed two large bottles of cold water, and carried my rucksack to the car. It was a glorious early summer morning, full of birdsong and too early for the commuters to drown out their song with the ever-present vehicle engine drone of rush hour. After a quick inventory, I locked the front door and settled into the driver’s seat. The GPS burst into life and announced the time my journey would take. After a short detour to pick up breakfast at the drive thru, I was on my way. New places, new adventures and sights were ahead of me.

Prior to starting my hike, there was a quick stop for the restroom, another high protein meal and water bottle refill. With my orientation map hanging in its clear plastic folder on my belt, I set off up a slight incline into the lush greenery of a forest in the foothills. There were few cars in the car park when I left, but I put my route, time of departure and estimated time of return and personal details on a piece of paper on my dashboard. It was a safety feature, I adopted many years earlier, after getting lost on my first solo hike. Three hours later, I arrived at my destination.

I breathed in the mountain air and took in the sights, sounds and smells of my environment. With any easy stride, I enjoyed the air being just warm enough to be pleasant rather than stifling hot. A breeze whispered through the branches carrying the pine aroma toward me. This was my happy place.

As the sun reached its zenith, I broke free of the tree line to be welcomed by a spectacular view of mountain peaks across a valley. The pine needle trail petered out underfoot and changed to a rocky plateau. Taking my map out, I orientated myself, and began the descent into the valley. This was my destination for the night. My plan to camp beside the river and make my way back to my vehicle the following day by an alternative route. An hour later, sitting on an outcrop drinking water, I displaced a collection of stones. They tumbled downward and I expected them to keep falling but they stopped. Curious I leaned over to see what obstacle had halted their descent. There was a ledge jutting out beneath the one I was sitting on. With measured steps I made way down the incline to discovery a small cave. Taking my flashlight out, I shone it into the interior to have a million reflected lights shine back. Blinking at the sudden illumination, I giggled in surprise. The rock face inside was filled with crystals. This was a first for me, a real discovery. I took several photos using my cell phone flash and the flashlight to capture the glint and shine of the cave interior. I called out and was answered by an echo.

I advanced into the cave depths, sweeping my light from side to side, enjoying the reflected light of the crystals. They became more brightly coloured the deeper I walked until I reached a hollow shape on the floor. I expected a pool of water but instead nestled inside was an egg. It was dark shelled with a cracked line zig-zagging along its length. It was unlike any bird’s or snake’s egg I’d ever seen. What was it? Slipping on a glove I picked it up. It was cold, so not viable to my way of thinking. It would be such a treasure to have so I slipped it into a pouch of my rucksack to examine later, once I made camp.

The trail meandered between rocky plateau and the tree line as it descended into the valley floor. The sun was hot, and the shelter of the pine trees was an intermittent relief as I weaved my way downward. As the light changed, I found a good spot to make camp, sheltered by an outcrop, a stream bubbling nearby and a supply of large rocks to make a campfire. I busied myself with the preparation of my camp, pitching the tent, making a circle of stones for the fire, collecting firewood and placing my sleeping bag and cushioned underlay within the tent’s interior. Satisfied with my camp site, I opened a couple of cans and popped the contents into a pot nestled in the fire. As the aroma of beans and sausages rose, my stomach growled. With only meager rations while walking, I was hungry.

I ate in silence, relishing the spicy sausage and bar-be-que flavoured beans. I followed my meal with two bananas and a multi-grain power bar. It was then I remembered the egg. I pulled it out of the rucksack and examined it closely. The dark charcoal shell was pitted, and the crack looked larger – which I put down to the jiggling in the rucksack it experienced as I walked. At that moment a loud howl echoed nearby and startled me. The egg slipped from my hand and landed in the flames. In a panic I grabbed a long stick and tried to roll it out of the heat. That’s when I saw it gradually change colour. No longer dark and dull but a golden hue emerged as the shell’s top layer peeled away as it got hotter. Transfixed I watched it change. What was this?

The hotter the egg got the more it shone, reflecting the flames orange and red. I heard a sizzle then the egg cracked wide open. What I saw was incomprehensible, my mind was bombarded with scenarios, my eyes blurred. I stumbled backwards, unsure what I should do. There curled up in the egg was some sort of creature. It’s scaled form motionless for an instant. Then it unfurled and opened its golden eyes to fix me with a look of such depth I could not move. My mind would not accept what I was seeing, tried to rationalize it as a dream, a hallucination – anything but what was clearly in front of me. A baby dragon! 

My breath escaped me in a rush, I’d been holding my breath for a long time. The dragon rose upward, stretching and yawning. It’s eyes never leaving my face. Unsure how it would react I keep still and watched as it climbed from the shell, walked over the hot coals without a flinch and approached me.

I instinctively shuffled backwards on my hands and bottom. The dragon let out a snort and sniffed my boot. A guttural sound came from the creature and a puff of smoke issued from its mouth. It stumbled backwards, shocked by its own emission, then huffed again. Another small tendril of smoke left its nostrils. All my focus was on the little dragon now. Would it breath fire now? What should I do? I was miles away from civilization and in the presence of a mythical beast. Or one thought to be, anyway.

With tottering steps, the creature grew closer to me, sniffing at my clothes. My hand rested on the earth beside my thigh, and without thought I reached over to touch the little being. It tilted its head at my touch and uttered a burbling sound, almost a deep purring. I cupped my hands and it hopped into them. We were eye to eye, looking into each souls. We reached a non-verbal understanding through a melding of minds. I was the keeper; the protector and my loyalty would be repaid. The dragon shivered and snuggled under my sweater, drawing warmth from my body. I then realized the fire was reduced to embers and restocked it with sticks and logs until it blazed warmth once again. We sat together, a connection made and a future unknown.

Huddled together we slept and in the early morning light I began packing up my camp, taking care to keep my little friend warm with a well-stocked fire. Using a themo-blanket, I wrapped up the creature and nestled under it in my hoodie. With the fire doused with water and inspected to ensure any hot embers were extinguished, I began the trek back to my car. The dragon’s head popped out of the V-neck sniffing and looking side to side. Exploring its surroundings. How would it take to an urban setting after this? At least I had ten more days of vacation to plan what I needed to do.

As we approached the car park, I gently pushed the dragon’s head down, out of sight. With my rucksack thrown into the rear seat, I sat in the driver’s seat wondering what my next step should be. I could feel the creature’s body shifting and wriggling. Looking around to make sure there were no people close to my car, I let its head pop up. The sudden change in scenery was a puzzle to its senses and it blinked several times and inhaled deeply. I looked down and smiled. Then jumped as a hand slapped on my window.

A child of, maybe ten or eleven, was peering into the side window, thumping the glass and chattering excitedly. I turned away to hide the dragon, but the child’s parents were now wide-eyed standing behind their son. With no choice, I pushed down the door lock, turn the engine on and drove out of the car park. Giving a wave and shaking my head as I went. I hoped these witnesses dismissed the sighting.

I drove to my destination, parking with my license plate hidden in an overgrown bush and replaced my trek details on the dash with my new hike. Then I paused – should I really let them know my route. What if the authorities were notified of a strange creature and were in pursuit? I was gripped with a searing sense of protection for my new friend, so intense I discarded my usual safety feature, locked the vehicle door and set off into the wild.

Three hours later, I found a place to sit, drink and eat. Unsure what the dragon needed I cupped my hand and filled it with water. The creature sniffed, licked and then lapped at the liquid. It recoiled at the granary power bar but chewed happily at a pepperoni stick. As we sat looking out toward a broad swathe of forest, nagging thoughts came to mind. How would I get this creature home and keep it safe? Should I take it home or leave it in the forest? What should it eat? How big would it grow? Would it fly? Breath fire!

For four days and nights we traveled the hiking trails, avoiding people, walking and sleeping close together, skin to scale. The more time I spent with the dragon baby the more I became attached. We developed a telepathy between us, dragon would sense humans and make a low grumble sound to alert me. I’d hide and let them pass. I knew its moods; it’s wants and knew it was sensing mine too. Our connection grew stronger with each day.

I experimented with food to feed my little creature and found berries and pepperoni were relished. We stopped to admire a lake one evening and I was startled to witness the dragon leap into the water and catch a fish. So, then I knew the dragon was an omnivore and found sources of nourishment for it, such as berries, and edible plants and allowed it to hunt small mammals at night. I altered my hiking route to encompass a circular route around any large lake or river, so an evening meal of fish was enjoyed. By day ten, we were in total synchronicity.

I came up with a plan by day five and leaving the dragon hidden in my car went to a local toy store, found a dragon-like toy and charred it in a fire-pit. It looked similar to the real thing and was my explanation when needed. I would call it my lucky hiking charm if questioned. With our increased telepathy ability, I only had to think ‘hide’ and the creature withdrew into my hoodie. I had the toy snuggled to one side of my hoodie and the real thing to the other, so it was easy to switch them when we encountered anyone in a car park or public place.

Apart from buying food and water, I kept my visits to any public places to a minimum. I did, however, stick to my agenda with the hikes I set out for my vacation. Anything to avoid suspicion. As day ten approached I became anxious. My worry and tenseness, in turn, affected the dragon baby and it would bury its head into the crook of my neck. It comforted us both. Our last night in the forest, I tried hard to relay what would happen the next day to my companion. I only hoped the creature would understand.

I woke early and lay still for several minutes breathing in the forest aroma, listening to the birdsong and taking in my last moments of nature. I turned expecting to find the dragon curled up at my side, but it was not there. Sitting up and scanned the tent’s interior. No dragon! Rushing outside I surveyed the campsite, the riverbank, the rocky outcrop. No dragon. I called out “Come on then. Where are you?” Looking all around me, my panic increasing, I was frightened something had taken the baby during the night. Scenarios of the dragon going for a drink and a wild animal grabbing it flooded my mind. Running this way and that, my heart pounding, I began to cry. I searched the tent, the campsite, and surrounding area, again and again. There was no sign of the dragon. Defeated I sat down, with my head in my hands.

A sharp crack of a branch breaking, had my head swing around. I jumped up in surprise to be faced with the dragon. But not a small, compact dragon baby but a large, six-foot-tall dragon with blazing golden eyes. It looked straight at me. For the first time since finding the egg, I was afraid. I backed away, hands held out in front of me, which on second thought was ridiculous. A fire breathing dragon could reduce me to a pile of ash.

The dragon stepped closer, I stepped back, trembling in fear. It made a huffing sound and lowered and tilted its head, just like it used to. A feeling of calm washed over me. A voice inside my head told me I was not in danger. My companion would protect me. With a shaking hand, I reached out. The creature advanced to place its head beside me on the ground. It may have grown larger, but its dependency on me was evident. As we stood there together, I realized all my planning to get the baby dragon to my home was now irrelevant. There was no way I could hide this beast, even under the cover of darkness, there would be possible sightings. What was I going to do now!

A telepathic message popped into my head. ‘I am safe within the forest, do not fret. You have guarded me at my most venerable. I am grateful. You have shown me trails to avoid, places to hide and food to eat. You are free of your responsibility to me from this moment onward.’ I shook my head. I was attached to this being, loved it. I was more aware of the dangers of humans. A sighting would prompt a massive search with people, dogs and helicopters. I ‘voiced’ these thoughts in my mind, knowing the dragon could ‘hear’ them. The answer came after a pause. ‘I cannot ask you to give up your life to protect me.’ I shook my head refusing to acknowledge the message. “I can’t just leave you. I have to find a safe place for you to live.”

The dragon eyes focused on mine. ‘You will be missed. You must return home. These forests are large enough for me to hide, to live without detection. Maybe, if you wish, you could visit?’ I sat down feeling frustrated, angry and confused. “How would I ever find you? There are thousands of acres of forest, mountains, foothills, and lakes. It would be impossible. There must be something I can do?” Crouching down on its hide legs the dragon, shook its head. ‘I know your scent and can trace you over a thousand miles, I would find you, no matter where you were. It is as it should be. You have afforded me your friendship and I will forever be in your debt. Go home. Only return when it is possible. I will be safe here.’

I left a while later, despondent but resolved. I would return as many times I could. I would do as I was advised by this mythical creature – its very existence seemingly impossible to the entire human population. I was the only one, a special being myself. A secret I would keep forever.

I would live to know what you think of this story. Please leave a comment below.

Blog at WordPress.com.