Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Ann Charles

June 25, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Ann Charles 2017 Color Comp

  1. Why did you choose to write mysteries?

I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge that comes with writing a mystery. My stories are actually more character-driven than plot-driven, though, so as much as I enjoy the challenge of writing a mystery, I also have fun exploring character growth on the page.

  1. Is it a genre you enjoy reading as well?

Actually, I don’t read mysteries as much as I do other genres, such as westerns, supernatural suspense, and romance. That’s probably why my books are actually more mixed genre than straight mysteries. I like to include humor, supernatural elements, romance, suspense, and adventure on the page along with the mystery plot.

  1. What sparked your first book idea?

I was unhappy with the endings in several books I’d recently read and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing different endings that satisfied me more. This idea grew into me creating the story from start to end, which then blossomed into writing full-length novels. Novels soon changed into long-running series, and now I have five different series I juggle.

Devil Days Cover

  1. Do you prefer writing series or stand-a-lone novels? 

I like writing series because I enjoy developing characters. It’s more fulfilling to develop these characters over a long-running series than trying to fit it all into one story. My character arcs span the whole series, allowing them to grow and change with every book.

  1. Does your background and location help you capture a setting for your characters/settings? Or is it just imagination? 

I believe my background and the places I’ve lived/visited play a role in capturing a setting, but my imagination takes ideas to the next level. I have a series set here in Arizona where I live (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series), and I have spent many summers and holidays in the Deadwood, South Dakota area because my mom moved there when I was in seventh grade. While my Dig Site series takes place in the Yucatan (an area of Mexico which I have not visited yet), that series plays on my dream of being an archaeologist, allowing me to explore that field without actually living down there under the trees.

Maps

  1. What benefit do you feel comes with the illustrations? Why did you choose that format?

My brother is my illustrator, so I enjoy including his art in my stories. I think illustrations help bring the story to life even more for readers. In addition, these illustrations add to my Ann Charles author brand and help set my stories apart from others. Not many adult fiction novels have illustrations in them these days.

  1. Is Violet “Spooky” Parker based on someone real or a combination of characters?

Violet is a mixture of my imagination and my sense of humor. She isn’t based on anyone I know. Her character became clear to me after some time spent imagining her life and struggles as I worked on the setup for the first Deadwood novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood.

  1. Did you plan your mystery/ humor/ romance subplot plot lines, or did it evolve as your crafted the stories?

I knew from the start of the Deadwood and Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series that I was going to write mixed genre stories with mystery as the main plot. I’ve always enjoyed funny romance stories and had worked for years on strengthening that part of my storytelling, studying humor and romance in books and practicing my ability to mix them together on the page. My favorite movies are mixed genre with these elements, so it’s not a surprise that these are the stories that come out on the page for me.

images

  1. Was it a conscious decision to become an author?

Not really. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but writing was not on my radar until my senior year in high school. Even then, though, I really didn’t plan on becoming an author and spent years in college studying Spanish and daydreaming of other careers. In the end, I took so many English classes in college that I figured I might as well minor in creative writing and see where this urge to tell stories led me.

  1. Do you feel self-publishing has benefited you more than other options?

Self-publishing has allowed me to explore story lines without an outside influence, as in a marketing department that might have forced me to write what was hot in the “market” at the time. Also, I have learned so much about marketing and promotion because I’ve been in charge of building my career. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but I enjoy most of the aspects of running my own business and plan to continue on this path for as long as I can.

  1. Which character do you enjoy writing the most & why?

That’s a tough question—I don’t think I have a single favorite. I enjoy switching between my different series and exploring different characters and their adventures. Violet Parker is fun because I get to dabble in the supernatural with her and she makes me laugh often. The Morgan sisters from my Jackrabbit Junction series are a blast and are always getting into mix-ups with the law. They allow me to explore sisterhood and have fun in the Arizona desert. In my Dig Site series, I enjoy playing archaeologist, and in the Deadwood Undertaker series that I write with my husband, Sam Lucky, I get to write westerns, which is something I have wanted to do for years but was apprehensive about all of the research it would take to make sure the historical elements were accurate. In the end, I like switching between each series and exploring life with different characters.

  1. Have any of your manuscripts gone in a vastly different direction to what you thought they would? 

I often vary from my original plot line ideas that I come up with before starting. These initial plot lines I put together just let me know that I have a story possibility and give me the confidence to go forth and dive into a story. I’m not very good at detailed planning when it comes to books and tend to give my brain the room to come up with new ideas to explore along the way.

  1. How can readers find you? What social media site links can you share?

Website: http://www.anncharles.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwcharles

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

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/annwcharles

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AnnWCharles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-charles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4605878.Ann_Charles

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Charles/e/B004JLYPFW

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnCharlesAuthor

  1. Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

My books are meant to give you a fun escape. I try to teach a little history along the way, but mainly I want to provide fictional places that will make you smile or laugh as well as wince now and then. Also, all but my AC Silly Circus series having crossover characters, which my readers tend to enjoy. It’s always fun to come across a Deadwood series character in my Jackrabbit Junction books, and vice versa. I have a list of my books in series reading order as well as an overall list of all of my books in timeline order on my website (under the Books section) so that you can choose in what order you’d like to read them.

Ann Charles Bio:

USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and paranormal mayhem. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.

Creative Edge

 

 

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Kathrin Hutson

May 28, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Author Photo 2

What attracted you to write Fantasy/Sci-fi? Did you choose it or the other way around?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Fantasy and Sci-fi, because that’s what I grew up reading, for the most part. I still read a little bit of almost everything, but these two genres captured my heart even more when I started writing in them. I’m not sure which one of us did the choosing, but I’d say we make a pretty great pair when all things are said and done.

My favorite part about writing Fantasy is the fact that I can take what I like from reality, get rid of everything else (within sub-genre tropes, of course), and replace it with something completely new, magical, dark, mysterious, and complicated enough that it provides a rich world yet simple enough that I can keep it all straight in my head. Sci-fi is a bit harder. For me, it requires a lot more research too, which I really just don’t enjoy. But it’s not enough of a pain to keep me from writing it. And that’s the part I like about it—plus the fact that I can change a few things (particularly with Dystopian Sci-Fi) about reality and augment them, so to speak, to create the types of stories that reflect what’s happening in the world while putting my own special spin on it.

What inspires you to write your stories? Where does inspiration come from?

Literally everything. Sometimes I get a spark from a dream or a movie clip, a song, a conversation with my kid. Sometimes I read a book that touches on an idea and then I start thinking about how I could expand upon it and make it my own. Sometimes, when I’m at the crossroads of taking a story down one road or the other, I’ll pick one, and the other one gets turned into a different story. Sometimes I keep writing without any inspiration at all, and the story inspires itself.

Do you prefer to write a series rather than a stand-a-lone novel?

All of my series so far were originally intended to be standalone novels. Until I got to what I thought was the end and realized I just wasn’t finished. The Blue Helix series, though, is the only series where each book can be read on its own without having read the previous books in the series. But I think they’re better if they’re read in order 😉

Right now, I’m almost finished with the first book in an actually planned series of five and a quarter of the way through another planned trilogy. That’s definitely a different process, and I’m excited to see how the results of planning series ahead of time differ from… well, not planning it at all.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I’m a plantser—I do both. I used to be all pantser all the way until I started ghostwriting fiction in addition to writing my own stories. Then I started writing up beats for contracted novels, and I discovered that there’s definition something to be said for writing a loose “summary” of 5-10k words (depending on books length) before I dive into the writing the actual story. I don’t get stuck with where I’m headed, and that helps me write a lot faster. Somehow, though, I’ve never quite been able to stomach chapter-by-chapter outlines or intense character sketches before writing the book. In my mind, there is such a thing as doing too much work before the fun begins. If my plotting gets any more detailed than a few thousand words of beats, I lose interest. 80% of the fun is surprising myself with how to fill in all the blank space after finishing the beats. It’s like a giant puzzle that I get to create and fit together at the same time.

Can you tell us about your newest book? The characters and their journey.

static

My newest book, Sleepwater Static, is the second book in my LGBTQ Dystopian Sci-Fi Blue Helix series. This was a monster of a book to write and tackle, just like its prequel, because there was so much I wanted to say through the characters’ journey and the continuing storyline in general. And there was much potential for saying the right thing in the wrong way that I really had to pay attention to how I was writing the story and especially how I was representing different minority groups and marginalized communities through this huge cast of characters.

Beat

Sleepwater Beat focused on Leo Tieffler as the main character, and Sleepwater Static focuses on Bernadette Manney—a seventy-one-year-old white woman from South Carolina who fits a sort of “tough and uncrackable matriarch” role within the group of people called Sleepwater with the storytelling ability of “spinning a beat”. Bernadette really fascinated me in the first book, and she was the perfect character to dive into for the second in order to approach the other sociopolitical topics I wanted to explore while still making this a fantastic story with characters readers had already come to love and a whole cast of new ones.

Bernadette grew up in the South, found her independence and her freedom through standing up for what she believed in, created a family with the man she loved despite racial tensions and facing discrimination from her own family and so many others within her home state. In this book, we learn about who she was before Sleepwater was formed, how and why Sleepwater was formed, and the ways in which she’s been trying for twenty years to redeem herself after an unforgivable yet inevitable mistake drove her away from her past, her partner, and her child. This book is meant as a sort of “breath of fresh air” on the surface, where the characters stop to go into hiding and regroup (plus one Sleepwater member needs somewhere to give birth to her child that isn’t in the back of a van), and they all end up learning more about the past while trying to fight for the future. I can’t wait to hear what people think of this book, and I’m so excited to start diving into Book 3 when the time comes.

What age did you start writing?

I started writing on my tenth birthday. When I discovered that I could create a story, a situation, a relationship, or an outcome to be absolutely whatever I wanted to be, I just couldn’t stop.

Where do you write? Can you describe your writing space?

I write in my home office. I’ve had four home offices in four different homes since I started my Indie career in 2015. It’s a requirement for every new house we move into (obviously, there have been many), and it will continue to be that way for as long as I’m living in a house with an ability to keep writing.

I have a standing desk and a heavy-duty “sit in my chair all day” cushion for my office chair. Bookshelves stuffed to the brim to the point that they’ve spilled into piles on the floor, my desk, and on and in my cabinets. My office is actually the only room in the house that’s been fully “decorated”, because my husband and I have intersecting tastes, but everything he doesn’t like, I put in my office! It’s also the only room in the house where no one else but the author is allowed to enter. No dogs, no three-year-old, no husband. Okay, fictional characters may make an appearance, but I draw the line with physical bodies. I like bright colors and clashing patterns and hanging art on the wall (my own or created by friends). More often than not, it’s a complete mess, but at least I know where everything is.

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

I’d say the highlight so far has been writing the Blue Helix series. Sleepwater Beat got such a phenomenal response, and it really blew me away. It made me an international bestselling author, got me on live television, has been the topic of more radio-show and podcast and blog interviews than I can count, and was both an award-winning Sci-Fi Finalist in the 2019 International Book Awards and a Literary Titan Gold Award Winner this last April.

Sleepwater Static is heading very much in the same direction, and I have really high hopes for the second book in the Blue Helix series too.

Who is your favorite author and why?

It’s not just one (is it ever just one?). My list includes: Stephen King, Jacqueline Carey, George R. R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Cormac McCarthy, William Gibson, and John Irving. With these favorites, I get to cover a wide range of brilliance in so many different elements of good storytelling—characterization, world-building, rich plots, expansive landscapes and history, phenomenal relationships, twists and turns, grit, beauty, humor, surreal parallels to reality… this second list goes on and on. Overall, I love these authors because even when I haven’t read them for quite some time, I find myself thinking about their books, characters, and worlds with a nostalgic longing to return. That, to me, is what makes great fiction.

Who is your most loyal supporter?

Hands down that’s my husband. Without this guy, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m with my writing right now—which is writing 60+ hours a week and absolutely loving every minute of it. And there’s the added bonus that my work as a full-time writer of fiction supports our family of three with a single income. It’s pretty much a dream come true.

He hasn’t actually read any of my books all the way through. But he knows how much I love what I do and has facilitated my ability to keep writing since the very beginning, all the way up to the point where he was able to stop working so he could be a stay-at-home dad and do more of what he wants to do during the day. So yes, it’s been a win-win for everyone. And he never misses an opportunity to tell people what I do for a living and give them my card (yes, I have business cards) with a well-timed, “Check out her books. You’ll love them.”

Where can we find you on social media?

I’m most active on my Facebook page: http://facebook.com/kathrinhutsonfiction

And you can also find me here: http://instagram.com/kathrinhutsonfiction; http://twitter.com/exquisitelydark

Do you have a blog/website?

I sure do! I just had my website completely revamped and am in love with what it’s become. This was very recent, and I wasn’t much of a blogger on my author site, but I’ve written a few things on this new site that are more “reflections of life as a writer” and are not, in fact, fiction. But I’ll be building on that. You can find almost everything else about me and my books on my site: http://kathrinhutsonfiction.com

Bio:

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends.

In addition to writing her own dark and enchanting fiction, Kathrin spends the other half of her time as a fiction ghostwriter of almost every genre, as Fiction Co-Editor for Burlington’s Mud Season Review, and as Director of TopShelf Interviews for TopShelf Magazine. She is a member of both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. Kathrin lives in Vermont with her husband, their young daughter, and their two dogs, Sadie and Brucewillis.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe.

Author@kathrinhutsonfiction.com

kathrinhutsonfiction.com

Facebook.com/kathrinhutsonfiction

Twitter: @ExquisitelyDark

Instagram: @KathrinHutsonFiction

 

Creative Edge

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – How is Your Goodreads Challenge 2020 Going? And in other news…snow!

May 12, 2020
mandyevebarnett


So how is your Goodreads Reading Challenge going so far this year? I am one book behind schedule unfortunately. So I am determined to catch up this week.

My book order came in so I added three more books to my TBR pile. Excited to read them all. It will be interesting to read Tom Hanks – the author! And of course The Heirloom and Maybe in Another Life are reincarnation stories – my favorite. 

Of course it will be hard to leave the world of this beautifully written book. You will have to wait for my review.

18143977

Talking of book reviews have you managed to read every book you have read this year?

111

I keep my reviews on Goodreads (sometimes Amazon too) so you are welcome to take a look. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477059.Mandy_Eve_Barnett

Editing of my steampunk novel, the Commodore’s Gift did stall for a while but after some great feedback on a particular fight scene, I am back on track. As with most people lock-down tends to be a dreadful de-motivator. The virtual writing group I belong to helps with the motivation for sure.

Excerpt: this is the fight scene – feedback is welcome (constructive critique)

They picked up sticks and began circling each other. Owena watched her brother’s movements and eye direction as Galen had taught her and thrust forward. The stick found its mark on Benjamin’s bicep. He looked surprised. Thrust at her successfully landing a tap on her thigh. His arm swung around for another thrust but Owena anticipated his move. She dodged to the left. Swinging around she managed to get behind Benjamin. He shifted his stance in a quick turn to face her, his stick held high. She blocked its downward movement. She held her stick in both hands above her head. Using his momentum, she twisted their sticks to one side towards the ground. Then quickly drew hers upward to his neck. Benjamin pulled back. He brought his stick up to counter attack. Owena twisted around him, taking hold of the other end of her stick to clasp it to his neck from behind. He gasped and tried to turn but she pulled tighter making him cry out. Sensing his surrender she stood back, poised to attack again. She drew in several quick deep breathes. Benjamin looked at her wide-eyed and slowly shook his head.

Other News

In other news, I did get some lovely plants for my deck, including a chive plant from a friend, several herbs and a couple of tomato plants. This cheered me up a lot. I can now start to think about the front planters. Alberta has experienced a ‘late’ spring!

Update: As I write this on Sunday 10th May it is SNOWING!!!!! WHY!

plants

I was also treated for Mother’s Day to a lovely self care package. So it will be foot and face masks, a glass of wine and enjoying the aroma of fresh flowers this week.

How was your Mother’s Day? 

care

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Dreams into Stories

May 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Inspiration can strike us at any time from a vast array of sources. An overheard conversation, a scenic view, an image or a news report – the list goes on and on. One of the most frustrating but rewarding is dreams. They are elusive a lot of the time but if we can capture them somehow, they can become the marvelous start to a story idea.

In my current steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift, the initial scene is actually a dream sequence I experienced. It is a cloaked figure propelling out of a high window. When I woke up, I immediately wrote down everything I could remember of the scene. It was an older mansion house, an older time period and the person falling was a young female wearing a cloak. 

Writer Tip: Always keep a notebook and pen beside your bed.

Upon reflection of the dream, I was able to ascertain that the ‘place’ was actually very similar to my old school in England. Which was an Elizabethan mansion. When I was at school many of the rooms still had the original wooden paneling, large stone fireplaces and leaded-light windows. It is now a historic site and open to visitors. https://www.historichouses.org/houses/house-listing/shaw-house.html (images above)

As with most dreams their fleeting quality can make solidifying them difficult but with practice you can train yourself to remember them. A notebook is useful to have on hand but also try to keep within the dream for as long as you can before you become fully awake and your day starts. 

Here are a few tips to try:

Write, “I can remember my dreams” on a sticky note, place it somewhere you’ll see it before you go to sleep, and read the note aloud.

Go to bed at a regular time.

Practice 20 minutes of mediation prior to sleep.

What dream(s) resulted in a story idea for you? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Miranda Oh

April 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


oh

  1. When you wrote your first novel, Remember No Matter what, Chin Up Tits Out, did you know or plan the subsequent novels in the series?

I originally had a goal to ‘write a book’ but once I started to draft out ‘Remember No Matter What..’ I quickly came to realize I had much more to say than just one books worth.

chin

2. What was the inspiration for the stories?

Real Life is where the juiciest stories are picked from. I enjoy meeting new people and working on improving my connections. I tend to pick up the most interesting stories along the way, so why not share them.

3. How did you come up with the titles?

My parents used to coach us as kids to stand up tall, hold your shoulders back and stand confident, even if you don’t feel it. As the years passed on and teenager attitudes came along, so did the spicy one liners my folks used to keep us in line, focused on staying positive and always strive to move forward… in turn …Chin Up Tits Out was born, and to this day used in our household often.

4. Do you have a follow up in progress?

I am working on a second series, called Love My Lady Bits. It will be a trilogy jammed packed with real life stories from women around the world who have stubborn, unpredictable and often humorous reproductive systems.

up

5. Did you purposely choose chick lit?

No, let’s say it chose me! HA – I just wrote out my story and then we plunked it into a genre. Chick lit is so all-encompassing, which allows me to write about what ever. I want to write about relatable things us women go through, make it less taboo and totally spin it and make it entertaining to talk about all of it.

6. Are you a romantic?

Old soul to the nines – yes! I love old romantic music, candle light environment all while sipping on a vintage bottle of red, star gazing… alone. He-he! Regardless if I am alone or with someone special; taking those moments in time to spread a little old school romance will only bring one good in life. – In my opinion.

7. Who is your biggest supporter?

My mom! Gosh darnit – I have zero shame about it too! She is right there with me through it all thick and thin. The best part of it, is that we are best friends too, so I not only have the support and role model of a pretty awesome mom, but I also have the support of a good ol’ pal and bff. I lucked out in the family department. I count my blessing every dang day!

just

8. Are you a planner or a panster writer?

Plan, map, schedule – repeat. Although, once I am done planning, mapping and scheduling, when the writing starts it doesn’t stop. It is like a dam broke and all the water that floods out are the words. As I write more, this process evolves and becomes more streamlined. Just a wee spot OCD and type –A personality.

9. How did you being writing?

A big glass of wine, noise cancelling headphones and pure determination to get it out on paper. Simply put. I also had a story I desperately wanted to get out; so between the little liquid encouragement, and determination to share my story, the result was me writing my first series.

10. Where can readers find you and your books?

Readers can find my books on amazon worldwide. Type in Chin up Tits Out Miranda Oh and BAM my books will be right there. You can also visit my website at mirandaoh.com . Please give me a follow or a like on FB or IG (OhMirandaOh)

11. Can you share a funny story about the creation of your novels?

Oh yeah – I was writing a REALLY tough chapter during my 2nd book – When All Else Fails Chin Up Tits Out – I was sobbing – loud enough to disturb my roommates. So they banded together, pulled straws, and one poor sucker had to take me out for a drive and Starbucks run so I could calm down and refocus. Poor guys, by the time we got back home, I was way better. I had a smile on my face and whipped cream in my cup. Happy Girl!

Creative Edge

Blog at WordPress.com.