Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
mandyevebarnett


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. 

Interview with Pat Brannon…

January 25, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Pat Bronnon

1. Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Farley O’Charlie McBarley is my favorite character. Not because he was the main character in my first children’s book, but because of what he stands for. Farley was bullied by his third grade classmates. Although he was belittled repeatedly and made fun of, Farley handled his situation with class and dignity. And, the bullies were enlightened by the end of the story. I relate to this character because I, too, was bullied as a child and as an adult. My son Jason and my mother were both bullied too. Bullying is a serious, atrocious issue that hits close to home for me.

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2. Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I write Christian and children’s books-fiction and non-fiction.

3. What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love to pour my heart into a book, even if it’s a warped, wacky, fun, entertaining children’s book. When I’m writing, I give it my all.

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4. Have you got a favorite place to write?
I usually write on my computer, mainly because it’s faster. If I had grown up back in the Samuel Clemens‘ days and before, I don’t know that I’d be a writer today. Writing by longhand is not for me, tedious at best.

5. Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I have to be inspired to write. I don’t usually just sit down at my computer and type. Every resource book I’ve read says I should write 1,000 words every day. That doesn’t work for me. I write when I’m inspired. I may write two children’s books in one day or I may go weeks and not write anything at all. This system may not be popular, but it works for me.

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6. What inspires your stories?
Lots of things inspire me. My Christian faith is the basis of everything I do. I even implement that faith into my children’s books by writing clean, wholesome material that is suitable for the entire family. My childhood has been a huge factor in one of my recent books, Mud Puddles and Muscadines, a short story collection about my childhood escapades growing up on an ol’ dirt road in rural Arkansas. Also, I was a substitute teacher in our local school system for 10 years. While all of my characters are fictional in my children’s books, those years certainly gave me much material from which to draw for ideas.

7. What are you currently reading?
Today I will finish Terror By Night by Terry Caffey. One of the weirdest things I’ve ever had happen while reading a book is to not know anything about the book prior to reading it and then open the pages and read about real locations that I have either lived at or visited. That has happened to me with the last two books I’ve read. It’s kind of surreal.

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8. Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
My family might tell you differently, but I don’t think I have any odd habits except I don’t usually eat my meals on a plate. I eat my food from a little cereal bowl. I guess that counts as odd to most folks. I have several childhood stories. I’ve written about many of them in Mud Puddles and Muscadines. One story I haven’t written about yet is when I was in the 10th grade and my basketball team was playing in the first round of our district tournament. This was back before the girls played full court. We played six and six then. I was a forward, one of the three players that made the points. I don’t know what happened, but I scored 52 points out of 60 in that game. I couldn’t miss. Our local radio station was covering the game and saying all kinds of nice things about me. Of course, I found this out after the game. I’ve been called a ball hog due to scoring so many points, but it seemed I couldn’t miss that day and the idea was to win the game and advance to the next round of the tournament. I was serious about my ball playing. I didn’t know how many points I had scored until the game was over. But let me just say my coach was thrilled with my performance that day. According to the last official statistics I’ve seen, I am still one of the highest scoring female basketball athletes in the state of Arkansas. You won’t be able to find this information anywhere. You have to take my word for it. To get listed on the Arkansas Athletic Association’s web page as such, I had to provide the correct paperwork to prove how much I had scored in that game. Our gym had been remodeled and they threw away the scorebooks that would have backed up my statement. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

9. Do you have any pets?
Oh yes. We have two miniature horses, Shorty and Belle that are actually my seven-year-old grandson’s horses. We have a Red Heeler dog named Jill who loves to be loved. And, we have a cat named Miss Kitty who adopted our family about two years ago. We don’t know where she came from and we don’t know what kind of cat she is. I’m not even sure that Miss Kitty is a girl. Let’s just say she hasn’t had any kittens yet. But as far as pets go, she’s a good one. Very gentle. Those are the actual pets. We own a small farm, so we have Black Angus cattle, Dorper sheep, ducks and geese. We used to have goats and donkeys, but not anymore. I hope I never see a goat or donkey on this land ever again. Too much trouble.

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10. Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I don’t belong to a writing group that meets regularly. However, I am a member of the Southern Breeze chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and I attend their conferences.

11. What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I began my writing career at the age of nine. Just before I got on the bus for my one hour ride to school, my daddy handed me 2/3 of a Country song and told me to see if I could finish it. I had never written anything in my life. But, I wrote the second verse to that song by the time we arrived at school. When Daddy read what I had written, he liked it. That song was written 50 years ago and Daddy never changed a word that I had written. Since I had never written anything before the song, I didn’t know that I might like to write. But after the song was finished, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment and realized I enjoyed the written word. I had been an avid reader since the first grade, but I never realized I might like to write until Daddy showed great confidence in me by handing me that partially finished song. That first song led to me being a book and songwriter today.

12. Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?

Actually, I have eight books that have been published. Walk Softly (You’re Steppin’ On My Heart!) is my collection of 100 Christian poems. My children’s books are: Filthy Farley O’Charlie McBarley, Food Fight Frenzy, Quirky Kids’ Zoo, The Year Santa Refused to Wear Red/The Sound of Hope (co-written with my son Jason Brannon), Snowman War (co-written with my son Jason Brannon) and Has a Donkey Ever Brought You Breakfast in Bed? And, I have one short story collection about my childhood escapades titled Mud Puddles and Muscadines. All of my books can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com and other online stores. Folks can also ask any bookstore to order my book for them.

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13. If you could meet one favorite author whom would it be and why?

I don’t know that I have one favorite author because I read such a wide variety of books. The closest I can come to answering this is that I’d like to meet a best-selling author and pick their brain. I’d like to know how they got to the point of being a best-selling author.

14. If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

I would live in a big log cabin (house) on a hill surrounded by lots of trees in the Carolinas or Colorado. If I could afford a house that expensive, I’d own a vacation home in Hawaii or Florida too. Wishful thinking!

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15. What’s your favorite movie of all time?

I’ve always said that Holiday Inn is my favorite movie. I love all of the different holidays that are celebrated at the inn and the music is amazing. I could watch this movie every day of the year and never tire of it. However, the past two years The Christmas Card has gotten my attention and I’ve watched it more times than I can count. You asked for my favorite movie, but I must say that Alex and Stephen Kendrick are making some incredible movies that I love (Facing the Giants, Flywheel, Fireproof and Courageous). I can’t wait to see what movie they do next.

16. Where can readers find you and your blog?

My website is http://www.patbrannon.com/Home.aspx  I’m all over Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pbrannon1  and I’m on Pinterest and Goodreads. I’m working the kinks out on my new Twitter account. Let’s just say the best way to keep up with me now is on Facebook. I’m a FB fanatic, but I love interacting with my friends. I’m a people person all the way.

17. Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?
I have several more books already written, most of which are children’s books with 400 words or less. The next book I want out is about my seven-year-old grandson Elijah Nic. The title is Elijah Teaches his Friends the ABCs. It’s another rhyming picture book that is fun, yet educational at the same time. Parents and teachers should love this one when it comes out.

18. Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
I would have to say my mother is my best supporter. She is always there with an encouraging word and she’s there when I get news I’m not thrilled about. She shares my joys and tries to lighten my sorrows. My two sons are totally incredible too. My son, Jason Brannon, is an accomplished author in his own right. We co-write some together and he is my main technical person. He gets lots of phone calls and texts when I run into computer problems. LOL! My son, Shawn Brannon, is my toughest and best critic. He is very direct with his opinions. That’s okay with me. I need honest folks around me that are not YES people all the time. If I need to change something in a book, somebody needs to tell me.

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