Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
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1.         How did you meet?

We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.

2.         When did you begin writing?

Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.

Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.

3.         Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.

We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.

4.         How did this quote bring about your book series?

We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.

5.         What age range are your books aimed at?

We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.

6.         Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?

We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.

7.         How many books will be in the series?

 We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.

8.         What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?

Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.

9        What are the subjects you will cover in your books?

Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.

10.     Has your own background contributed to the stories?

Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?

11.     Where do you prefer to write?

We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.

12.     Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?

Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.

13.     What is your writing process – punster or planner?

We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.

14.     Can you share your social media and book links 

Thebookpatch.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Spider-Gang-Mysteries-100321741923085

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andrew_underwood_65/

Bio:
Cristal Underwood:
Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children.  She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school.  Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes. 


Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week.  He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream.  He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors.  He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write. 

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?

The Commodore’s Gift – Book Launch Update – Words in the Park

September 29, 2020
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So Saturday was an intensive all day event, with interviews, virtual vendor walks, workshops and interaction. I hope you were able to drop by and take in the event.

Get it here:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1044821
Amazon POD: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1988723760/
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08JS3GY6Z

If you did miss out here is the Facebook page to browse the day’s events. https://www.facebook.com/Writers-Foundation-of-Strathcona-County-108504131009645/

You will see me interviewed for my book launch of The Commodore’s Gift as well as reading from my writers group new writing prompt book. P.S. I left it with a teaser LOL

Now this event is behind me, I will be waiting on reviews for The Commodore’s Gift but also making plans for my new project. Yes it is never ending!

I have decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month again this November and will be tackling another new genre – detective/crime. An idea popped into my head for a three book series covering three female detectives in three different cities. Apart from the Rython novellas, this will be my first book series. I;m looking forward to the challenge.

If you have not heard of NaNoWriMo it is a frantic 30 days of writing to achieve 50,000 words! Yep in the month of November. This will be my tenth year. I only missed 2017 since 2009. It is

https://nanowrimo.org/

Mandy Eve-Barnett’s Blog Schedule 2020

December 31, 2019
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Blog schedule 2020

As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the coming year. My blog has in the past morphed into a writer’s blog as opposed to a reader’s blog and so I want 2020 to be different by still continuing to support my writing community as advocate but also to engage my reader’s more. To this end my twice weekly posts will be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.

I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday

Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.

First pages

Update on events I will be attending.

A glimpse at my current writing project.

Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.

My book reviews

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday

Segments from my interview with Online for Authors

Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge & First Pages

Writing Tips

Author Toolbox

Author Website links

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I am also starting a newsletter so please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.

Author Interview – Craig DiLouie

August 13, 2019
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AuthorInterview

craig dilouie Headshot

What inspired your latest novel?

Published in hardcover, eBook, and audio book by Orbit and released August 20, 2019, OUR WAR is about the consequences of political tribalism as told in a story about a second American civil war. This story is about a brother and sister forced to fight as child soldiers on opposite sides, and the people whose lives they touch: a UN worker who wants to stop the use of child soldiers, a journalist seeking to expose it, and a rebel militia sergeant who begins to see the humanity in those he hates.

The novel has several influences. The first is the rise of violence and polarization in American politics. Another is the Bosnian War of the 1990s; if a second civil war occurred in America, it would far more likely be between city and country than between states. And the last is American exceptionalism, the idea America is superior to broken countries like Syria, but should war ever break out inside our borders, the country will suffer like any other, producing refugees, atrocities, and even child soldiers. This brutal world provides the backdrop for a story about love, sacrifice, and the meaning of patriotism.

OUR WAR final cover                                                                                                                  

How did you come up with the title?

The title speaks to the personal nature of a war that divides communities and even families.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message is simple. If Americans cannot agree on a common set of unifying ideas, then it is just another multi-ethnic empire. Aside from that, there are many minor themes.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it—that’s the intent, anyway! As I said, I took a great deal of inspiration for what a war in America would look like from the Bosnian War of the 1990s. This was a war between conservative and liberal, between ethnicities, between urban and rural. Most of the combatants were average people motivated to fight either out of resentment and demonization of their countrymen, or out of desperate self defense. In a war like this, everybody fights, and nobody wins.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I have a blog at www.CraigDiLouie.com. At my blog, I review a lot of interesting books, movies, and TV shows.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

OUR WAR is a standalone novel, though of course there is potential to continue the story, if enough readers want to read it.

My next novel is about a group of people who grew up in an apocalyptic cult and survived its horrific last days, and who reunite to confront the past and the entity that appeared on the final night. This novel is about trauma, memory, belonging, and faith.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I grew to love all the characters in OUR WAR, but my favorite is Hannah, a girl who joins a local militia after everything has been taken from her. Forced to grow up fast, she accepts her new cause and family and fights for them. In the end, she must learn to fight for herself if she wants to survive the war’s aftermath. Her story is heart-wrenching, relatable, and hopeful.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

For me, genre is what the story needs, not what I need. My job as the author is to tell a good story. That being said, some genres allow you to do more interesting things. OUR WAR is a straight-up literary thriller. Otherwise, I’ve written sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, which allow me to play with a fantastic element. Horror is particularly fun because you can really push boundaries and entice the reader to consider uncomfortable truths.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Both, in that I outline the major plot points so I always know where I’m going. During writing, there is a process of discovery between the plot points, where the story and characters tell me what they want to do.

What is your best marketing tip?

Write the absolute best book you can write. Nothing sells a book better than a good book that resonates.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I use social media primarily to network with other writers. It’s been invaluable for that. I also connect with fans. I think it’s very hard to get new readers on social media these days unless you dedicate a lot of time and energy to developing a certain persona and flogging it. I’d rather my books speak for themselves, while remaining accessible and responsive as an author.

Bio:

Craig DiLouie is an acclaimed American-Canadian author of literary dark fantasy and other fiction. Formerly a magazine editor and advertising executive, he also works as a journalist and educator covering the North American lighting industry. His fiction has been nominated for major awards, optioned for screen, and published in multiple languages. He is a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. He lives in Calgary, Canada with his two wonderful children.

Please check out Craig’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Craig-DiLouie/e/B001JS1SCQ

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