Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Christa Conklin

March 26, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.

My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.

During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.

Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.

The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.

How did you come up with the title?

Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.

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

When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.

Tranquility - Front Cover.png

How much of the book is realistic?

My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.

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

My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.

http://www.christaconklin.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christaconklin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christaconklinauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528828.Christa_Conklin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christa-Conklin/e/B0788392DJ/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christa-conklin-72002669/

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

I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.

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

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.

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

Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”

Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.

What is your best marketing tip?

I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!

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

I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!

Bio:

CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and
woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school
their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle.
Visit her at christaconklin.com.

Review:

Tranquility  by Christa Conklin
“Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies,
and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative
tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of
characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you
finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next
adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
March 20, 2019

Blurb:
She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying.
The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds.
Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.

 

Writing Retreat Reflections…

May 19, 2014
mandyevebarnett


Strawberry group 2014Brenda

 

I am honored to thank the wonderful writers I spent this past weekend with at Strawberry Creek Retreat. Unfortunately, Brenda was not in the group photo (unsure why!) but I found one to add. These marvelous women shared their stories – fictional and real – with each other and found fellowship, encouragement and lots of laughter in each others company. We wrote our words, commented and assisted each other, walked in the spring sunshine, explored the many trails and enjoyed the most delicious meals with copious amounts of wine – for the fortification of our respective Muse’s of course! We all succeeded in accomplishing our goals for the weekend but more than that we found a camaraderie that inspired us to create, safe in the knowledge we were respected and honored. My work in progress, Willow Tree Tears, a cowgirl romance was read through, edited and 3000 words added. So I feel accomplished. After settling into our respective rooms the weekend began with an excellent meal, after which a short questionnaire and writing exercise were handed out to complete (or not) over the weekend. Then it was down to writing our projects and utilizing the glorious spaces, inside and out. With communal areas and private rooms and  nooks, there was somewhere for everyone. Whether you wanted company or not. Every meal was shared together and laughter was a dish served at each one. We paired up, strolled alone or grouped together over coffee – getting to know each other better or for the first time. No matter which, we all found a gift given and received of generosity and caring. I recommend writing retreats to all writers – it sparks the muse, and gives us the opportunity to share with fellow creators.

strawberry-creek-lodgeShare your writing retreat memories.

No Hope of Being a Recluse Today…

December 25, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Recluse – definition: a person who lives in seclusion or apart from society, often for religious mediation

Man Writing WEB

The sentence that came with the word of the day was:  The writer was a recluse all his life and never socialized.

I will have to dispute that. As writers we require social interaction to enable us to create believable and intriguing plots and fully rounded characters. People watching is one of my favorite pastimes and I’m sure many writers are the same. Observing gestures, and listening to speech and accents is actually research for our narratives. The following article reinforces my view.

Image from: http://storytime-vikth.blogspot.ca/2012/01/solitary-writer.html

Without my writing groups support, advice and encouragement I would not be the writer I am today. http://wfscsherwoodpark.com/

Of course when I am actually writing I do prefer to be alone but that is not always possible. To achieve the illusion of a recluse, I put in the headphones, turn on the music and ‘disappear’ into the realm of my narrative.

Today is a celebration and time for family so this post is short and sweet.

holly

Whatever your belief, enjoy the love of your family and friends today.

t-Books

Writing Area Re-organization…

August 11, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Exertion – definition: vigorous action or effort

It is inevitable that as we accumulate file folders, books, notebooks and reference paraphernalia, our writing space becomes cluttered and dis-organized. Depending on how you view this – we all have varying degrees of ‘messiness’ tolerance – there comes a time when a re-organization is required. My limit came at the end of July. A small bookcase was over flowing, my inspirational board so layered, I couldn’t see many of my pictures and notes and a ten inch pile of papers called out to be filed. Added to this was the receipt of five Create Space copies of my NaNoWriMo winner novel, requiring a home.

The search was on for a much larger bookcase. Now I’m a great supporter of reuse  or re-purpose items, so began looking for bookcases in thrift stores and on internet sites for local sellers. Nothing fitted my space or the ‘look’ I wanted. A chance conversation with a good friend enabled me to take a bookcase off her hands. Then it was a matter of moving the existing furniture, cleaning the space and then deciding on the best placement for the new addition in relation to the old. I am very happy with the result as I have a new board and bookcase and space for more additional stuff.  This is the ‘old’ version showing my inspirational wall, the little bookcase, small printer and old laptop.

Picture WallNew Writing DEsk 003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my ‘new’ space with a tall bookcase, larger printer and new laptop/second screen configuration and extra board on the wall. Room to expand and create.

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Have you outgrown your space? Care to share a photo? Do you re-organize often?

Getting into the Spirit…

July 30, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Vim – definition: force : energy : spirit

If you knew me well, you would know I immediately went to the word – spirit! A glass  of wine is the perfect relaxer at the end of the day and fuel for the muse too.

Wine

Just for fun take the quiz and find out which one you are.

http://www.middlesisterwines.com/Contests,_Games,_Quizzes/#quiz

For some reason I’m Mischief Maker – who would have thought?

What is your favorite tipple?

Over the years I have gone from white wine to red and now mostly drink blush. Our tastes change over time – not quite sure why. As a young teen I loved candy/sweets but now can’t quite make myself eat them. My only weakness is good white chocolate – the Swiss kind and Milky Bars!

Nestle – Milky Bar – I can remember the first Milky Bar Kid (yes showing my age!) So in short it comes down to wine and chocolate – what more do we need?

Milky bar

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