Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Sophie Mays is the pen name of author, Stephanie LaVigne

October 14, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  • What spurred you into writing stories in the first place?

I was always a big reader, which was red flag number one. Aside from reading though, I had always been writerly, I just didn’t know it would eventually manifest into fiction novels. I am one of those people with an overactive brain, plus I am a talker. So those two things combined are very conducive to be being a writer.

  • Can you tell us about the very first story you wrote?

When I think of my very first stories, I think back to things I wrote when I was in grade school and high school. I had an amazing honors English teacher in high school who was always challenging us in our creative writing. I wrote a lot of bad poems and decent short stories during that time. Then I wrote a lot of plays and screenplays in my twenties. However, my first proper novel was a quirky mystery book written when I went home for the holidays one year. I did a self-imposed NaNoWriMo, which meant sitting down on my parent’s back porch every day for a month and forcing out 50,000 words without going back to edit or second guess anything. I still haven’t published that book, but I think one day I will. Every few years I pull it out and work on it, then realize that I have other books that need to get done so it gets re-shelved for another day.

  • Why did you pick contemporary romance fiction as your genre?

It was originally because my mother-in-law was an avid romance reader. She tends to read a lot of authors like Debbie Macomber, so I set out to write books that she would enjoy. We’ve always had a lot of fun talking about plots and story ideas, and she has always been my go-to person when deciding on romance book covers. Along the way, I realized how much I enjoyed showing that even though life can have its ups and downs, “happily ever afters” are still possible.

  • Why you decide to write series rather than stand-a-lone novels?

Well, a lot of it has to do with the business end. It simply makes more sense to write in a series than unrelated stand-alones. Though I usually write standalone books within my series, meaning you don’t have to read them in order. However, as a reader myself, I am a total glutton for a series. I get roped in so easily, and once I get to know the characters or the town, I want to spend time there. I think a lot of other people feel the same way, so there is something natural about writing a series.

  • What in particular interests you about this genre?

I really like the reminder that ordinary people can have extraordinary lives, they can find love that lights them up, and can navigate through all the quirks and sometimes disasters of every day life. In spite of all the hurdles that life throws at us, we persevere, and eventually we prevail. I love that in the romance genre we strive to show the goodness in the world. We all need our hearts warmed a little more often, to laugh a lot more often, and to be shown that there are good and beautiful things for us out there in this big, old world.

  • What influences your choice of a location for each series?

I think I get my travel obsession catered to when I choose story locations. So far I have picked a lot of coastal locations, in addition to a number of locations that hold great appeal to me. Even though I usually create a fictional town, I try to set my books in places that I want to visit, or that I have spent time in and loved.

  • When writing a series – what comes first the characters, the location or an overall concept?

It is usually a combination. I usually start with a general story idea, which gives me the vague notion of the main character. Then I spent too much time thinking about the location and picking the perfect spot. Once I have the general premise of the location, then I go back in and really start fine-tuning the characters. Which in turn, changes the story in some ways. It’s a never-ending cycle!

  • Can you tell us a little about the Serenity Falls collection? Where did the idea of five siblings come from?

The first book in the series was actually part of a multi-author collaboration. Some other sweet romance writer friends and I wanted to do a Christmas collection together, however we were a slightly diverse group. Some wrote regency romance, some wrote mail order bride romance, and two of us wrote contemporary romance. So we did a lot of messages back-and-forth and several phone calls until we figured out a way to weave the story lines together where the first stories were set in Regency era England, and then those families came across to America. Then characters from that generation became mail order brides who made their way out west. Finally, the last books were there great-great-grandchildren of the mail order brides (I may be missing an extra great in there, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.) When it came time to come up with the story for my book, I knew that I wanted to write something on a ranch and I love the Rocky Mountains, plus I wanted the option to continue writing in the world if I was inspired to do so later on. That led to my creating my main character, Hannah Wyatt. I gave her a really sweet family with two loving parents and four other siblings, which became the Serenity Falls series. It’s ended up making for a really fun and lovable series with lots of unique love stories.

  • Who is your favorite author and why?

It’s terrible, but I don’t have favorites in general, and I definitely don’t have favorite authors. But for the sake of answering the question, I really love this author named A.J. Jacobs because I find his books hysterical. He has a book called The Know-It-All that I literally cried laughing while reading. It’s about the time he decided to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. As you can imagine, this isn’t necessarily a book that would be universally considered high humor, but as a word person, I loved it. I’ve also always enjoyed Carl Hiaasen books. He was one of my first authors that inspired me to want to write novels. Plus, there are a ton of amazing female mystery authors that I’ve read and loved. I also read a lot of non-fiction reference books about any number of subjects that I’m interested in.

  1. How do you juggle life and writing?

Haha, poorly! Just kidding. Though, also not kidding. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and life, and I think that goes for almost everyone, not only authors. There is so much that goes into the business end of being a full-time writer. I am constantly doing my best to triage everything in my day-to-day life. I try to stay organized, but even that comes in bursts. Most days, I have about five hours to work before I leave to get my kids. It is somehow the shortest five hours known to man.

  1. Does traveling prompt your story ideas?

I haven’t done much traveling lately, but yes, traveling is always inspiring to me! Even when I’m not physically traveling, a lot of my story work is me tapping into locations I’ve spent time in, or places that I want to go. One of the great things about being a writer is that I get the excuse of looking up cool places that I want to visit for story “research”.

  1. Where can readers find you and your books?

You can sign up for my newsletter at www.SophieMays.com to keep up with me, and hear about my new releases and deals. Plus, I am on all the usual social platforms, like Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads. I’d love if you come and follow me so I can say hello to you wherever you like to hangout online!

  1. What are you currently writing?

I am working on the spin-off series to Serenity Falls, which follows their Wyatt cousins in the Riverside Ranch series. I am also working on two Romantic Comedy series which I am super excited about!

  1. Do you have a message for your readers?

If you’ve read my books before, thank you! You have made it possible for me to take this improbable dream and make it into my everyday life. For anyone out there reading this who has something in their heart that they wish they were brave enough to do or try, my encouragement is for you to take in a big breath and take the first step toward whatever that goal or intimidating thing is. It is never not worth trying. And I completely, boldly, lovingly support you and believe in you!

The Serenity Falls Complete Series: Sweet Romance at Wyatt Ranch

BIO:

From her home in Florida, she offsets sandy toes and ocean views with trips to her favorite
regions in quaint New England, cozy coastal Maine, the majestic Rocky Mountains, the dramatic
Pacific Northwest, the glimmering Caribbean, and the ever-charming South. Sometimes she does
this in real life, but she can always steal away to somewhere beautiful in her books.

When she’s not writing, she’s wrangling kids, spending time with her husband, doing laundry,
baking cookies, planning dream trips, or attempting to fine-tune her questionable gardening
skills. More information can be found at SophieMays.com

• Five unique siblings, five unexpected life changes •
Set against a gorgeous small-town mountain backdrop in Colorado, we follow five siblings as they each return home to help start a new family business.

From cowboys to unexpected newcomers, from weddings to high-stakes adventures, you will fall in love with this cozy small town in the Rocky Mountains and become friends with the Wyatt family. Meet Emma, Hannah, Anna-Jane, Carson, and Jake! Five very different personalities, each deserving of their own happily ever after…

Read all the books in the Serenity Falls series together! This Collection includes:

🤍 Wishes from the Heart (Hannah & Rafferty’s Story) 🤍 Art of the Heart (Anna-Jane & Cody’s Story) 🤍 Baking from the Heart (Emma & Gavin’s Story) 🤍 Call of the Wild Heart (Carson & Bella’s Story) 🤍 Detours of the Heart (Jake & Mackenzie’s Story)
Brisk mountain air and romance abound at the Wyatt Ranch! From bestselling author Sophie Mays comes this delightfully heartwarming sweet ranch romance series.

Whether you are falling in love alongside a baker, an artist, an ex-Navy Seal, or a world traveler – there’s something for everyone in Serenity Falls.

If you love uplifting, feel-good romance stories with irresistible characters, prepare to get roped into Sophie Mays’ Serenity Falls series!

Author Interview – Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

August 26, 2021
mandyevebarnett


How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since 1987. I started as a journalist, went to college in my 40s, and continued to write after that. My first book, “A River of Stones” was published in 2002.

You write in multiple genres – do you start with the genre and then the story or the other way around?

The genre usually. For my most recent book, I knew what the genre was going to be pretty close to getting it going. I have written mystery, YA fiction, middle reader, nonfiction, a picture book, Christian fiction, Christian Historical Fiction and science/fantasy, so you can imagine what my mind is like.

Which do you find the most challenging to write – fiction or non-fiction?

That depends on the research. When there’s a lot of research, the time it takes to finish a book is lengthened. The easiest books for me to write are those that mostly come from my head. If the book is based on where I live or a place where I’ve vacationed, the challenge is lessened.

Where did the ideas for the Brianne James Mystery & Susan Cramer Mystery Series’ come from?

I really wanted to tackle a mystery, and so I thought how it would be if I was a detective, having no training and no experience in the field. This is Susan Cramer. She loves a great mystery but she really has no idea – especially in the beginning – how to solve the crime. I am like that. The ideas after that came from my ‘strange’ mind. I am always asking what if questions. What if someone died in an old hotel and everyone thought You were the murderer? What if you were on a cruise ship and an old man died at your feet?

Do you have a favorite character and why?

I would have to say Brianne James. She is the daughter to Susan. And she has a little more of her wits about her. She is tough, too.

Were the series planned ahead or did the character’s dictate a continuation?

The series was not planned ahead. “Scrambled” was a one book wonder in the beginning. I wrote it because I was attending college and I needed money for school. I received a $500 scholarship from Mystery Writers of America after sending in my first chapter – a chapter I wrote for one of my college classes.

What is your writing process?

Get up. Sit down. And write. I treat my writing like I would a profession because it is. Writing is NOT my hobby. Yes, I love it, but I write because I have to. I go through multiple drafts and revisions before I call something finished. A have a part-time job as an aide at an elementary school, and two businesses – we publish too over here,             [Idea Creations Press] and run a non-profit [Trees For Keeps], so I keep myself pretty busy.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

Our family just returned from a vacation to Bryce Canyon, Utah. It is a beautiful place. Every morning I would sit out on the porch and write. I loved it. At home I have my office. It’s not as peaceful as an early morning in the canyon, but I love having a work space just for writing.

Does your own life experience play a part in your characterizations?

This question makes me smile. Yes. There is a lot of me in my books. The goofy girl. The question asker. The mystery maker. The searcher.

Where can readers find you?

I love it when readers find me at my blog and learn something new about writing, marketing, or publishing. http://www.ariverofstones.com. I also have a fun Author’s Amazon page here.

BIO:

Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.

Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn’t something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.

Kathryn’s first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.

Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.

Tied Died: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074P1HCCN/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i13

Buckled Inn: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079K49SS2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i12

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Author Interview – A.G. Flitcher

July 29, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  • What promoted you to republish these two books?

When I unpublished these books, it was because I was embarrassed of the quality. But when I looked through them again, I realized my embarrassment had nothing to do with the quality of my work. It had to do with the fact that I wrote these books while I was still raw from my mothers passing. It had two years when she passed away when I started working on book 1. I had never written a novel before. I was a screenwriter at the time. I wanted to write stories without dealing with the competition. So, even though I thought writing a novel would be much harder, I switched to novels. Over time it became the format I loved.

As for why I decided to republish, it’s because I’m proud of every step I’ve taken to get where I am now and am excited for what the future holds for me.

  • Can you us tell about the stories and how the ideas came about for Unforgiven and All in the Family?

At the time the idea stemmed from my grieving process of my mother’s passing. Feeling as if my emotional state and process was quite different from my family. There is a scene in book one where the truth of why the family split up and kept Henry (main character) in the dark of the truth. My perspective of my family was rather negative and dark. Which is why I originally unpublished my work. It felt like I was using an outlet to deal with my frustration, anger, and morose state.

Somehow, as time went on, I saw these books as a much needed and healthy part of my past. That I dealt with my emotions in a creative and human way. Sure, the ideas came from a creative place, but at its core, it came from a tormented and lonesome place.

I believe our fears can create beauty.

On a more literal standpoint, Unforgiven is about Henry reuniting with his family. While questioning his life choices and how he will get himself and his family out of this chaotic mess. As for what the family business is, I will let that be a surprise.

  • Which genre do you enjoy writing the most?

Mystery. When I wrote book 1 of Boone and Jacque, I found joy in creating layers around the central characters.

  • Where did the idea come from to writer this fantasy series?

I wouldn’t consider this a fantasy series. It’s more of a thriller and suspense duology.

  • Do you have other books published?

Yes. My Urban Fantasy/Fiction series, Boone and Jacque. Book 1, Saddleton’s Secret, Book 2, The Brothers’ Odyssey are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle format. Book 3, Saddleton Haunting, will be out in Kindle format in early August. For paperback, sometime in September.

  • What is your writing background?

I did my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Besides books, I’ve written several poems, short stories, and research articles.

  • Do you belong to a writing group?

On Facebook: Author Nation, World Poetry Café; Author/Publisher/Editor/Book Readers, Start in Screen – Canada, BC Writers, Authors and Editors, and countless others.

  • Has the pandemic affected your writing/promotion? If so how?

Not at all. Overtime I’ve certainly evolved as a writer and adapted to change in life. But how often I write and put my work out there hasn’t changed.

However, the pandemic did make me let go of certain fears. One being fantasizing about things I want to do. For example, acting. Starting in August, I’ll be doing a three month acting program. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m excited about it.

  • Which authors influence you?

Good question. It changes over time. Right now it’s Leigh Bardugo, whom wrote the Grishaverse. She is the first fantasy writer to envelope me in the universe she created since I read Harry Potter. I’m not sure why, but something about her style is quite inviting.

I still look up to Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Handler, but I’m expanding my horizons.

  • What are you currently reading?

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

  • Where can readers find you and your books?

For social media:

Facebook: A.G. Flitcher | Facebook

Instagram: Andre (@greatcoffeeequalsfocus) • Instagram photos and videos

Twitter: (13) AG Flitcher (@agflitcher) / Twitter

Books:

Website: https://www.facebook.com/A.G.Flitcher

Bio:

A.G. Flitcher is a self published author, who always had difficulty speaking his mind without fumbling his thoughts. What he believed to be right and wrong. Storytelling is his passion.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Who would play your novel’s character in a movie?

June 3, 2021
mandyevebarnett


As writers and authors, we all daydream of the day our novel is made into a movie. The thrill of seeing our story come to life on the big screen (or even a smaller one!) is something we all crave at one point or another. When we are writing our stories, we get images of our characters in our heads, sometimes it is actors we already know or we create an inspiration board from photos found on the internet.

Forgetting for the moment the practicalities of actually getting the actor you want – who are your chosen ones? Who is on your wish list?

I am sharing a couple here and would be interested to know if you ‘saw’ them the same way I do, when you read the books.

For the role of Evan and Kate in Life in Slake Patch, I would choose Alex Pettyfer and Rose Leslie. They are similar to the promo shot I had created. Link: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07JG1GPP4/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

For Guillem and Juliana in The Rython Kingdom, I imagine Taylor Kinney and Jordana Brewster. He is older but still vital and she is mysterious. Link: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B06ZYP7HWB/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i8

Who do you see in your novel’s movie? I would love to know, leave comment below.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Kristine Raymond

May 13, 2021
mandyevebarnett


. You have written several different genres. Do you decide on the genre before writing or decide which one it fits after writing?

Both!  For most of my books, I knew the genre going in.  The Hidden Springs series – historical western romance.  The Celebration series and Seasons of Love – contemporary romance.  Tempted – erotic drama.  But with Finn-agled, my cozy mystery, I’d intended to write a thriller.  However, the moment Finn Bartusiak took shape, I knew her antics were way too humorous for anything other than a cozy.

  • What draws you to the genres you write?

I wish I had an easy answer to this one.  For the historical westerns, it’s because I love that time period.  The other stories just came about on their own.  When I wrote By Dawn’s Early Light, the first in the Celebration series, I knew it would be contemporary romance for no other reason than I needed a break from historical.

  • Do you plot your series’ book by book or as a series arc?

To date, book by book.  Usually, the storyline in one leads me to the next.  The exception to this is the thriller series I’ve planned.  I can’t go into details, but as it stands now, it’ll be a trilogy with the main character’s background as the series arc.  Of course, that’s what I say today.  By the time I get around to writing those books, I’ll have changed my mind a dozen times.

  • Do you decide on a theme/topic for your series before writing book one?

Only in the most general sense.  I know how the story will begin – more specifically, the opening paragraph or two, a vague sense of the plotline, and how I want it to end, although it rarely happens the way I think it will.  Once my characters take hold, they author their own destinies.  I’m merely their transcriptionist.

  • How did you come up with the idea of your side stories?

Side Stories came about after a discussion with a guest on my podcast, Word Play with Kristine Raymond.  Aside from writing books, he’s also a college professor and told me that he encourages his students to explore the stories that happen off the page.  Between the chapters, so to speak.  I thought it was an intriguing concept and added it as a feature on my website, though, to date, I’ve only written one.

  • When and why did you start your The Felonious Scribe podcast?

The Felonious Scribe was a collaboration with author Dawn Hosmer, who writes the most amazing psychological thrillers!  We thought it would be fun to answer questions from readers pertaining to murder, mystery, and mayhem – eh em, on the page, of course. 

We recorded five episodes of the show, which can be found on YouTube, and then moved on to different projects.  Dawn currently hosts a podcast called Unravel the Binding with her daughter, Jesi, while I’m working on my next book.

  • Who has influenced your writing the most?

This will sound like a copout answer, but every book I’ve ever read has influenced my writing in some way.  How an author tells a story – their voice – is the determining factor in whether or not I choose a particular book, and I believe that has a direct bearing on how I tell my stories.

  • Do you have an author hero?

All those who took the chance to send their stories out into the world for readers to enjoy – and critique.  Because one doesn’t happen without the other, and criticism can be soul-crushing.  And, that’s what authors’ stories are, including mine.  A piece of our souls.

  • Where is your writing space? Can you describe it?

I have one room in our house that is furbaby-free (I type sardonically while looking at the cat who jumped over the baby gate before falling asleep in my lap).  It’s a combo room – part office/part library/part craft room/part whatever else I can stuff in here.  Personally, I think the hubs is afraid to step foot in it which is how it became my space.  Lol.

My desktop sits atop a messy desk covered with scrawled notes, pens, and notebooks.  It’s a wonder I can find my keyboard.

  1. Where can readers find your books?

Links to all of my books can be found on my website – www.kristineraymond.com.  They’re available on all major platforms (and a few minor ones, as well).

  1. Do you have a current release? Can you share what it is about?

My most recent release is Finn-agled, the first book in the Finn’s Finds cozy mystery series.

Running an antique store in the fictional seaside town of Port New, Finn Bartusiak is quite happy with how her life is going – until both a coded message and her high school crush figuratively fall into her lap on the same day.  With murder, intrigue, and pierogis – what’s not to love?

This was such a fun story to write, and I’m currently working on the second in the series, Finn-icky Eaters.

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

Thanks to my readers, both new and existing, for taking a chance on my books.  I hope you enjoy them.  And thanks, Mandy, for hosting me today.  This has been fun!

Bio:

It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel.  Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle.

When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business.  When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and furbabies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix.

To find out more, please visit her website at www.kristineraymond.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and BookBub.

Amazon.com: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories 

Amazon.ca: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories

Barnes & Noble: Seasons of Love: A collection of seasonally-themed short stories

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