Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
mandyevebarnett


1.       What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?

For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.

2.       Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!

3.       How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children? 

I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.

4.       Where can schools access your books?

Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.

5.       Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?

My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.

6.       How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?

I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.

7.       Is imagination important for children?

It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!

8.       Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?

Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.

9.       Where is your favorite place to write and why?

I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.

10.   Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?

I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.

11.   How can readers find you?

My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:

Website: www.mariepowell.ca  https://www.mariepowell.ca/

 Last of the Giftedhttps://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/

Follow @mepowell   https://twitter.com/mepowell

Facebook: Marie Powell  https://www.facebook.com/mariepowellauthor

Instagram: MariePowellAuthor https://www.instagram.com/mariepowellauthor/

YouTube: Last of the Gifted https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiJ3JY8YIleqD6W-cJHgSwWKlz3JV_sL3

Spirit Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/3n8A95 

Water Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/4A701d

Bio:

Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as RoomsubTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca

Fallbrandt – Author Interview – JMD Reid

February 25, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  1. What drew you to write in the fantasy genre?

It’s what I fell in love with. Ever since I read Lord of the Rings, almost all I have read is fantasy. It’s so imaginative. You can have almost anything happen in them. You can create outlandish worlds that could never exist. It’s creative.

  • Who are your fantasy author heroes?

Robert Jordan, R. Scott Bakker, and Brandon Sanderson.

  • How do you plan a series like the Jewels of Illumination or The Storm Below?

They are very different origins. The Storm Below was my first. I intended it to be a light-hearted adventure with flying ships and sky pirates and then, in my world building, I discovered a secret of the world that changed it into epic fantasy. I only have a book ahead planned writing that series. I knew what I was writing and the next book was shaping up in my head. I felt 5 books was what I needed even if I wasn’t sure how I would get there.

Jewels of Illumination, I had a much more concrete ending and what would happen. I knew the major events of the books. And even though it deviated a lot from my outline, the general gist didn’t change.

  • What do you feel are the key points in fantasy stories?

Great characters. That’s the key point of any book. But great characters who are exploring and unveiling and discovering a world that is fantastical.

  • Can you tell us a little about the new series Masks of Illumination?

It’s a companion series to Jewels of Illumination. They are separate series that can each stand-alone, but they compliment each other. It follows Foonauri, a noblewoman exiled from her home and tired of being just a pretty bauble on a man’s arm. When she is invited to join a thief group and steal an artifact, she might just find what she’s searching for.

  • How does constructing a standalone novel differ in the writing process?

It doesn’t. Its just a shorter story. You don’t have to worry about setting up future events, I suppose, but it’s merely the scale that’s different.

  • Is poetry a new venture for you?

I dabble from time to time.

  • What characteristics have changed in your main protagonists from the first to last book?

It depends on the characters, but it’s usually about going from weakness to strength. Not necessarily physically, but in understanding who they are, in overcoming flaws, in accepting their place.

  • Do you have plans for other books in the two series?

Not for the Storm Below, but Assassins of Illumination is a sequel to Jewels of Illumination.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Seriously since 2013 but I started back in 1993 or so in Junior High.

  1. How do you juggle your own writing with client’s projects?

I have a schedule. I spend X time on their stuff and X time on mine. I use timers and have my work day scheduled.

  1. Do you have a dedicated writing space? Can you describe it?

Since I moved back in August, I do. No more writing in the living room! I have an office. It has my desk, some book shelves, and my recliner that I write on with a laptop. I have some posters for decoration.

  1. Where can readers find you on social media?

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

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/158087188138155

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/61bSz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JMDReid

  1. Do you have a blog?

I do: http://JMD-Reid.com

  1. What message would you like to send to your readers?

I hope you’ll trust me in take you on a journey to another world. The characters might go into the dark, but the light is always on the other side.

Find all JMD Reid’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/J.M.D.-Reid/e/B00P44PBQK%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Bio:

JMD Reid has been a long-time fan of Fantasy ever since he read The Hobbit way back in the fourth grade. His head has always been filled with fantastical tales, and he is eager to share the worlds dwelling in his dreams with you.
Reid is long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest in and around the City of Tacoma. The rainy, gloomy atmosphere of Western Washington, combined with the natural beauty of the evergreen forests and the looming Mount Rainier, provides the perfect climate to brew creative worlds and exciting stories! When he’s not writing, Reid enjoys playing video games, playing D&D and listening to amazing music.

JMD Reid is also a ghostwriter, which gives him a great deal of freedom to work on his own fantasy. It is his passion, that shines through his stories. JMD Reid has a lot of stories in his head and is looking forward to sharing them with his readers.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing Another Story

February 2, 2021
mandyevebarnett


This week’s I’m sharing another story from my Six Weeks, Six Senses writing course. We had to use scent as the main element. Let me know what you think.

A Cruise Romance – SCENT

An unaccustomed briny aroma invaded Josh’s slumber conjuring up dreams of pirates and tall ships in his mind. A large black bearded captain loomed over him, shouting orders. The pirate’s breath blasted Josh’s face making him reel backwards. It was disgusting, a mixture of rotten teeth, belched stomach contents and rum.

                “Get ye up the foremast, boy and be lively about it!”

                Afraid of a flogging, Josh ran barefoot on the wooden planked deck, scurrying past burly, unsmiling men. Their rancid sweat emanating from their toiling bodies. Each man busied themselves with their tasks, keeping their heads down low to avoid the captain’s stare or displeasure. The salty air and bracing wind assaulted his face and lungs. At the bottom of the mast, he looked up at the rope rigging and the impossibly high climb to the crow’s nest. The wet ropes had a pungent smell of kerosene. Josh could feel his fear clawing at his stomach. I can’t do it, I just can’t. A huge swell broached the ship’s side tossing men, rigging and barrels across the deck. Briny water and debris crashed onto the wooden planks, adding to the unpleasant smell all around him. Josh stumbled hitting his head. The shock woke him from his dream. Disorientated, thinking the rocking movement underneath him was a figment of his imagination, Josh opened his eyes. Blinking several times, he saw a round porthole and blue sky and splashing water. Am I still dreaming?

                A knock on his cabin’s door and his mother’s voice alleviated his bewilderment. We are on a boat, but not a pirate ship. A fresh linen smell replaced the buccaneer odors.

                “It’s time to go to the dining room for breakfast, Josh. Are you awake?”

                “Yes. Mom, I’ll meet you there.”

                Once he was dressed, Josh slipped on his new dark blue canvas shoes. He smelt the rubber of the sole, the canvas fabric and the waterproofing spray his mother has insisted on applying. He’d picked them especially for the cruise.

                The large dining room was filled with wonderful aromas of bacon, toast, coffee, and fruit. A long serving counter held hot plates at one end and chilled bowls at the other. The hot plates sizzled with fatty fragrance. A long line of people stood choosing their preferences to eat. Josh found his mother standing to one side waiting for him.

                “There you are. Let’s get in line so we can pick our breakfast, find a seat and eat together.”

                Their choices made, Josh and his mother sat near the rear of the room, near the exit. Josh spread golden butter generously on his toast, then opened a strawberry jam jar. The tangy sweetness of the fruit unmistakable at the lid popped open. Next he poured maple syrup over his pancakes, the odour a mix of caramel and toffee. He cut into the pancake pile and added a strip of bacon to his bite. Delicious! The waiter refilled their coffee cups giving rise to a nutty, smoky aroma.

                “I’m going to find a nice spot with a deckchair to read. What will you do this morning, Josh?”

                “I was going to explore a bit, Mom, as it’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise ship.”

                “Well, have fun. We can meet back here at one o’clock for lunch.”

                “Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you later.”

                Josh pushed open the heavy metal door; a whiff of grease wrinkled his nose for an instant before the rush of briny air invaded his nostrils. The ship rocked back and forth like a cradle. Josh braced his legs and walked along the deck rails for support. Ahead was the lido deck, filled with the sound of excited voices and splashing. Its faint chlorine smell merging with the stronger brine aroma. He took steps upward and was surprised by a tumbling ball of string heading towards him. He caught it and began winding the loose thread back around the ball. At the top of the stairs, he was met by a beautiful face, a hand grasped to her mouth.

                “Oh goodness, I’m so sorry. It just slipped from my hand.”

                “No worries. Glad I was there to catch it. It could have rolled straight over the edge into the ocean.”

                “That was what I was afraid of. Thank you for rescuing it.”

                Josh shrugged and handed the twine to the girl. Her green eyes transfixed him and she smelt so good. It was a heady mixture of citrus and cinnamon.

                “Why do you need string for on a cruise, anyway?”

                “Oh, well you may think it odd but I use it for macramé. I make wall hangings and wall art out of it.”

                “I don’t think that’s odd, sounds kind of cool actually.”

                “Would you like to see some of the things I’ve made? Only if you have time, I’ve probably stopped you going to do something as it is.”

                “No, I’d like to see. I was just taking a look around. This is my first cruise. I’m Josh, by the way.”

                “Heh, I’m Heather. Come this way. I’m all set up on the viewing deck. Might as well have a great view while I craft eh?”

                Josh was impressed with the array of coloured cotton cord; Heather had lain out on two loungers. He could smell a delicate cotton and musky scent as she lifted up an intricate piece.

                “That is so cool. Can you show me how you make them?”

                Josh and Heather soon became an item and spent many hours together, either exploring the ship and it’s attractions the any port of calls or sitting making macramé. He knew he would get a ribbing from his mates back home but once they saw Heather they’d stop. She was a knock out and smelt so good.

I am also continuing to read Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube. The writing style is fast paced, full of details, dialogue, internal thought and not a book to relax with. It keeps you on your toes who the protagonist is talking about/to or where/what she is doing.

This week I attended the creative writing workshop hosted by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and we covered the romance genre. This genre is popular and has many categories and sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, spiritual, suspense and YA. Our writing exercise gave each participant a sub-genre and a title. I got paranormal – Bad Boy Earl’s Desert Mistress. I will share the result in my newsletter. It was fun.

Which romance genre do you like to read?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing A Story & a Book Review

January 26, 2021
mandyevebarnett


As I continue my six week writing course, I am sharing my third submission with you. This week is the sense of TOUCH

VERONIQUE’S WORLD

Veronique relished the feel of the pale champagne coloured silk sheets as she woke up and stretched. The smooth fabric gliding over her golden skin, silky, fine and decadent. A reflection of the way Veronique demanded to live. Hers was a life of luxury, of the finer things and endless opulence. Every fabric she wore was chosen for its texture and appearance. Silks, Indian cottons, furs, cashmere, leather and high tread count linens. She reveled in the sensation of these fabrics on her skin, the way they flowed around her slender body and complimented her long tresses of burnished copper hair. Her body was smooth, tanned and hydrated, constantly pampered and devoid of blemishes or marks. Veronique stood up, her feet sinking into the deep wool carpet, like a soft hug. She gazed at her naked body in the wall length mirrors of her boudoir, the polished glass surfaces cool to the touch – she was perfect.

The heavy plush velvet drapes were drawn apart by the slimmest of gaps, allowing a microcosm of particles to dance in a thin ray of sunlight. Veronique pressed a remote on her bedside table, the button giving a small hesitant resistance before it clicked into place. The curtains began their slow mechanical glide apart caressing the sumptuous fabric across the deep piled and soft carpet, moving fibers like a wave. The window revealed the Champs-Élysées Avenue and the Arc de Triomphe. This was her city, her home and she ruled it and its upper echelons like no other. Her limited-edition clothing designs were fought over, surging the prices to unbelievable heights. The reason she could live in such luxury and indulge in an endless life of grandeur.

She clicked the light switch to her vast en suite bathroom, pushing the dimmer lower to give the room a soft glow. She entered the shower, with its multitude of jets, sprays and waterfall feature showerhead allowing her to clean, massage and invigorate her body as her mood decided. This morning, she began with a soft spray to waken her senses, and then gradually increased the pulse and power to knead her back, her legs, her breasts, and her stomach. She applied scented gels and lotions, smoothing and stroking her skin. When she felt cleansed and invigorated, Veronique stepped out of the shower to wrap herself in a large white fluffy towel of long-staple cotton and linen fabric the best available. She dabbed her skin letting the towel absorb the wetness before applying a rich creamy body lotion and slipping into a silk kimono.

A barrage of noise interrupted her calm morning routine, shouting, banging and clattering came through the open window. Veronique walked to the window and peered out, her agitation obvious. On the pavement, she saw men and women, stomping and jeering with placards and signs, their footwear grating and scraping on the concrete. Veronique picked up the telephone beside her and call down to the concierge.

            “What is going on outside, Michael? What is that awful gathering about?”

            “Madame, it is an anti-fur protest. I believe your latest autumn coats have caused concerns.”

            “Well, how ridiculous. Send them away, Michael. I have to go to the design studio in less than an hour.”

            “I have called the Gendarmerie, they assured me they will send men over shortly.”

            “Well, see that they do, I need them gone…and soon.”

An hour later, the protesters and the Gendarmerie were still outside the building. Veronique had no choice but to call her car around to the rear entrance. She was not going to push her way through, sweating, shouting and vile people. The car sat idling as she exited the building, her cashmere wrap caressing her bare shoulders and her high heels pushing her calves upwards. She looked at her pocket watch, a memento of her late husband. A hard, callused hand shoved her back and she fell to the dirty, gritty concrete. A cry of hurt and shock uttered from her throat – a raw, rasping feeling in her throat. Pinpricks of tiny stones pierced her knees and hands. She felt blood ooze and flow. The pocket watch smashed into the ground, shattering and issuing shards of glass and cogs of shiny, cold metal. A man is screaming at her, vile things, obscene things. Her head swims, her eyes unfocused, the hard surface assaulting her skin, breaking her skin. Brash, solid, hard, unyielding surfaces inflicting pain.

A gloved hand took her upper arm, the leather smooth and stitched. A commanding voice issued orders, as she was guided to the back seat of the vehicle. She felt more leather, soft with use under her as she collapsed on her side. Pain radiated from all over her assaulted body, her mind too confused to make sense of what was happening. The door slammed shut, hands and feet thudding on the sides of the car. Gendarmerie vehicle lights and sirens adding to the cacophony of sound as her car inched forward. Veronique looked down at her legs and palms, where pain radiated. Filaments of skin hung from numerous cuts, gashes oozed, bruises formed, and grime soiled and spoiled her body. Tears traced tracks through her makeup leaving salty deposits. Veronique’s body vibrated with shock an anger. That man would pay for his attack and the damage he caused to her body.

How did the character of Veronique make you feel? Did you like or dislike her?

What are you currently reading?

Book Review:

I just finished Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay and enjoy her style and method of writing. It is a clever vehicle to have the lies contribute to the momentum of the story. Beautifully crafted narrative that carried you along. Moments of tense, fear and sadness coupled with heights of joy.
Highly recommended.

Currently reading: Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Change in Writing Technique

October 8, 2020
mandyevebarnett


When I was struggling to find a concept for NaNoWriMo this year, out of the blue an idea came to mind. Now this, in itself, is not unusual because we all know it happens. However, it was not only the genre that surprised me but the fact the idea formulated as a three book series!

The genre is a detective/crime, something I have not tackled before. Although, I have written in various genres, it is normal for the story to come first and then the genre becomes apparent as I write. This is the complete opposite and makes it an exciting prospect. The idea formulated around three main characters and a common adversary across three books.

The other surprise was that I easily began planning each book – another first for me the self proclaimed free flow writer. I am not sure why this change in technique came about but it will certainly play a big part in this new project.

Whether we plan in detail or go with the flow, there is no right or wrong way to write – we all do it differently, which results in the uniqueness of our narratives.

Has your writing technique changed over time?

Do you plan or free flow your stories?

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Blog at WordPress.com.