Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Verna McKinnon

November 10, 2022
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It is my pleasure to welcome back a fellow author to my blog. Verna has been here before, but today we celebrate her newest novel, The Bastard Sorceress.

Since your last interview, how has your writing life changed?
I’ve learned to go with the flow. I’ve survived and found new publishers for my fantasy novels when my
previous publishers stopped publishing. It’s happened to me more than once too! But I’ve been lucky to
find new publishers willing to take me on. It’s a tough business, and small presses suffer the most.
Other than that, I’m still a mad writer who drinks pots of tea and keeps a package of emergency cookies
on hand when I create my tales. I’m focused in details of story, world, and characters. I put together
book bibles for each novel that are very detailed about every aspect of story, world, and people in in. I
still have plans on becoming the next princess of heroic fantasy. Just give me time.


What have you learned about your craft of writing?
I learned I have a knack for three things-creating good dialogue, great characters, and giving my
characters good names. It’s a gift I’m grateful for.


Would you ever write in another genre?
I love fantasy, but would love to dive into science fiction, especially some space opera.


What inspired you to write about Sabine Fable in your latest novel?
A new character I’ve never done before. I love my heroines, and they always lead my tales. With Sabine
Fable, I wanted to explore a character who suffered a rough home life and poverty, but was determined
to rise above what society dictated. I added real human elements in this tale of magic, and created flesh
and blood characters with more depth.


What characteristics does she have that make her a force to be reckoned with?

A tough upbringing can make a tough character. Her heart is good, but she is fierce and protective of
those she loves. She does not trust easily. She champions the underdog because she is one of them. Her
family once had magic, but mage fever took that away. She was a bastard, and judged for her low birth.
Magic is currency in her world, and mages rule. Even humble charm caste has respect. She had none.
Sabine is hungry for more than magic. She wants justice and to be treated with respect. She wants
people to see her. And yet she would never betray a friend or family member for what she desires.


Which author would you most like to meet and why?

There are so many! Many of my favorites have passed (Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, Robert E. Howard,
Patricia McKillip). Neil Gaiman is one of many on my list. I did have the joy of meeting Tanya Huff (so
awesome), Kevin J., Anderson, and the great Larry Niven at conventions. I would love to meet Jennifer
Roberson someday. At least she is my Facebook friend. As are you, Mandy.


With several series of books, are you planning more?
Yes, but with publishers rising and falling around me over the years, I plan to be more careful. Even if I
plan a series, I will do each novel as a stand-alone. I am working on the second novel to Bardess of
Rhulon, called War Poet. But I am writing my novels from that perspective.

Has a movie or TV show inspired any of your stories?
Some of the actors in favorite shows or movies I may be inspired by. Some of my characters are drawn
from well-known actors.


What aspect of writing do you like the most?

The power to create my own worlds and stories. Yes, I am a goddess who rules her worlds.

Where can readers find your books?
Amazon has all my novels, available in both print and Kindle. My books are also on Barnes& Noble
online. And my new publisher (for Bardess of Rhulon & The Bastard Sorceress) TANSTAAFL Press.

Bio:

Verna McKinnon is a fantasy author of adventurous heroines. She is the author of the novels, The Bastard Sorceress, The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice, though she has some science fiction in the works. Check in with her at her website. You can also read some of her previously published short stories at her website http:// vernamckinnon.com. Stay in touch by subscribing to email list at http://vernamckinnon.com/newsletter.html for her quarterly newsletter for news & updates. Follow Verna on Instagram @ vernamckinnon.author & Facebook for the latest on her writing life as a fantasy author, animal lover, and how she stays sane despite the odds. Chocolate helps.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Attending Another Book Event

September 27, 2022
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As secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, not only did I help plan, set up and tear down this event, but also attended as an author. It was an early start at 7 am to ensure the volunteers and all the display items were organized and in place prior to the opening at 9 am. As they say many hands make light work and the set up and tear down were completed in record time. The event celebrated it’s 15th year, which is a great milestone and this was the first in-person for 2 years.

It felt good to get my author table set up once again, and have the interaction with readers, and local authors too.

Another part of the day was author readings, and all the local authors delighted us with chapters of their chosen book to read. I read part of The Rython Kingdom – it felt good to reading out loud again after so long.

Of course, as a reader, I couldn’t resist buying a few books! So my TBR is now quite an impressive height! It will be difficult to pick which novel to read, after I finished Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Maybe I can write the titles on slips of paper and pick one out of a hat?

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Real Places in Books

September 6, 2022
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I have just finished a wonderful novel, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax. It is a super read and I recommend it. (My review is on Goodreads).

After I finished reading, it occurred to me that as I lived near, and often visited Highclere Castle (Downton) when I lived in England, there must be numerous novels sited in actual places, rather than fictional ones. I have used my road trips the length and breath of England, Wales, Scotland and a portion of Canada to create locations in my books.

Knowing a place you are reading about is exciting as you can picture it exactly, and spot any errors, truth be told, as well. Of course, in the TV series of Downton the locations are many and not related to the fictional area at all in many cases. Here is a list of locations, many are far apart from each other! Link: That is the magic of TV & movies.

I used my many visits to castles, historic houses and ancient sites in my medieval novellas, The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy. Experiencing a place makes the narrative even more compelling and real to write about, and I hope that comes across in the stories.

For my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch, I used the enormity of a Canadian prairie as the setting for the male compound. Mountains are seen in the far distance, just like we see when driving west on the Yellowhead, but the concrete jungle is no longer in existence in my story.

What books have you read where you have known the location? Did it ring true? DId you find errors, or notice author’s license to fictionalize it?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Picking a Book Cover Colour

August 25, 2022
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We all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ – however, it is the cover that initially attracts a reader to pick up our book. Choosing the ‘correct’ colour for your book cover can be difficult, as it will subconsciously give an impression of the genre/topic/trope of your story. We might look into the typical colours used for a genre, or go with our gut feeling and pick a colour we feel is ‘right’ for our narrative. No matter which avenue you choose all covers are an extension of us and our stories.

I am currently debating, which colour to use for an upcoming novella, which will be a prequel to a two-part series. The existing books have similar designs, but different colours to signify the different characters. As this third character is evil, having a black cover, or elements, will translate to the story of evil, and unhappiness.

Here is a list of colours and their significance with each genre.

Black evokes a serious theme and signifies mystery, death, evil, a sense of authority, power, control, and suspense, but also can feel sophisticated, modern, authoritative, and formal. It is most commonly used in horror, thriller, and mystery genres.

Gray is a neutral color associated with wisdom, sophistication, knowledge, and prestige, but also depression. It elicits an emotional spectrum ranging from remote, distant, cool, and bored to serious, focused, and intelligent.

Green is associated with nature, vitality, environment, health, evoking a soothing, refreshing, and tranquil state of mind, and is therefore a good fit for high fantasy novels or environmental nonfiction. Although it is one of the least-seen colors for book covers, it is often equated with a fresh beginning, excitement, vitality, wealth, and even jealousy.

I chose green not only for my medieval fantasy, but also my children’s picture and chapter books.

Blue has many associations including thoughtfulness, trust, calmness, serenity, inquisitiveness, dependability, mental engagement, sadness, stability and trustworthiness, safety and elicits feelings of calm and serenity as well as nature. Blue is commonly used for covers of political memoirs and nonfiction as well as more thought-provoking fiction. The choice of blue hue changes its meaning as a dark blue or indigo means intuition, truth, sincerity, and trust.

Purple/Violet signifies spirituality, prosperity, transcendence, harmony, while dark purple is related to royalty, depth, wealth, and fantasy. For my YA fantasy novella, Clickety-Click as you can see, I chose a deep purple not only for the background, but for the creature!

Yellow is a striking colour, evoking feelings of motivation, warmth, ambition, fun, cheerfulness, happiness, creativity, and energy, and in all has an attention-grabbing effect. However, it can also be grating and annoying, or even aggressive, while pale yellow is warm, friendly, approachable, and inviting. The choice of hue for yellow is paramount to balance the effect you are looking to convey.

Brown might seem an odd choice and dull, but it evokes feelings of nature, comfort, gives an ‘of-the-Earth’ vibe. Ecological genres may utilize a brown hue for a cover. I, however, utilized rich golden brown backgrounds for three books – a steampunk, a speculative fiction and a reincarnation romance. I find them atmospheric.

White is associated with purity, cleanliness, safety, simplicity, self-sufficiency, freshness and peacefulness. Although, white can come across as stark, bland, or cold, it is well-known as a symbol of purity suggesting a straight-forward, simple book.

Orange is a color associated with playfulness, energy, creativity, dynamic, positive, optimistic, hopeful, confidence and attention-grabbing with feelings of warmth and happiness, but can also be found to be overwhelming and cartoonish. Interestingly, I chose a blue background with orange lettering for my upcoming crime trilogy.

Red conveys energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power, dominance and aggression responses as well as angst for horror and thrillers, but with the choice of a softer tone also gives a feeling of passion, excitement, hunger (desire), love, and warmth.

Pink depending on the shade of pink, this hue can evoke feelings of passion, romance, innocence or childishness, femininity, playfulness, love, tenderness, youthfulness, emotion, and innocence.

With a combination of a deep rose and mahogany hues my YA alien adventure reflects the four young friends and the invading creature.

How did you choose your book cover colour(s)?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Bookstore Romance Day

August 23, 2022
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I was very happy to be asked by my local bookstore, The Sherwood Park Bookworm to be included in this fun event. Copies of all my books can be found in the store, but of course the main five for this specific event were – The Twesome Loop (reincarnation/romance), The Commodore’s Gift (steampunk/romance), Life in Slake Patch (speculative fiction) and the two Rython novellas – The Rython Kingdom & Rython Legacy (medieval set fantasy/romance)

As we all know it is so important to support and buy local. Chain stores use their buying power to cut prices, but it is the personal touch and knowing you are helping an entrepreneur that is so important.

Do you have a favorite local bookstore?

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