Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Reading Challenges, Book Reviews and Giveaway Wins

July 20, 2021
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I join the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge each year, sometimes I succeed, but other times I miss by a book, or maybe two. This depends on how busy my life gets. I’m sure you can agree. As a writer, reading is an integral part of my education. Reading new genres, authors and styles gives me, not only ideas, but the ability to dissect the plot, characterizations etc. This can be done with movies too. This year, I am on track with my reading, probably because there have been no events to plan or attend apart from virtual ones. I would love to see your challenge statics if you want to share them. Here’s mine:

I was fortunate to win all three books in the series in a giveaway.

Review: A delightfully imaginative story that envelopes the reader into a magical world of imps, elves, forest and aquatic creatures. There is good tension throughout and the reader is propelled to read the next chapter.

My current read is one I received from another giveaway contest. When Robins Appear by Densie Webb.

What are you currently reading? Why did you choose that specific book? Have you won a book giveaway – which book(s)?

A friend of mine is a talented artist and she gifted me this delightful image. I can imagine a character from Ockleberries to the Rescue living there. https://www.amazon.ca/Ockleberries-Rescue…/dp/1988723663 Who do you think lives there from the stories?

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Thorsten Nesch

June 24, 2021
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Your novels tend to have unexpected protagonists/settings. Was this a conscious decision or the spark of an idea that evolved? My ideas hit me just as unexpected. It is not like I want to come up with this or that like a contract writer where an idea is developed and catered to a market, I am on the other end of that spectrum. I am not in control of my ideas, and there are plenty, and many I can’t even tackle, most of them I won’t finish in my life time. The once that make it are pressing, have an immediate impact on me and when they linger over weeks I know I have to sit down and deal with them. What brings us to …

Do you plan an outline or free flow write? … this question, and yes I do. For the longest time I had to keep up a job to buy myself time to write (and food and the other trivialities), so I couldn’t just write into the blue and hope the novel turns out well somehow. I had to be sure. I could not waste any time. Early on I developed my outline technique where I work only on 1 letter sized piece of paper, which I could take anywhere (jobs etc.) at all times. Everything is on that 1 page, the entire outline, like “They steal the car”, that’s a beat, at that time I don’t know where they do this for example. Only when I see these beats work and I understand my protagonists, hear them, feel them, know them, and I clearly hear the narrating voice I start the novel. This planning phase takes between 2 and 15 years before I start writing, but then the 1st draft is the novel. 

Can you explain how the process of writing with a fellow author works? Is it a chapter each or a combination of thought and writing? I did this more than once, but always we agreed one of us writes a quick first version and the other expands on that. This way the voice of the novel is not flopping back and forth – except there are 2 distinct views or narrators, then this would make sense.

What differences are there from writing a novel to a film script to a song? A song or a poem is the entire opposite to a novel to me. These happen in an instance, a spontaneous outburst in under an hour, unplanned, unmanaged, quasi anarchic in character. A film script (as well as a radio play or a theatre play) is planned like the novel, but the writing is a fraction of it. I love film scripts, I wish more people would read them and they’d become an own literary genre.

Does your music affect your writing or the other way around? All the different media I am working in influence each other, ideas bleed from one form into another (example my song “Joyride Sky” was inspired by my novel “For a Spin”, I invented a band that pops up in a number of my novels, and for the dystopian novel “2112” (working title) I am currently working on I recorded an entire album you can listen to on Bandcamp, the band is called JENNY HAS TRAFFIC. It is fun and adds to the characters.

You have been prolific in the number of publications. Are the ideas still coming as quickly? Do you have a folder of ideas pending? Oh yes, ideas come constantly, I have to dodge them, write them down and put them in the folder. That folder is full with ideas, no way I can write all of them.

What challenges do you face with language? English is my 2nd language. The biggest challenge for me as a writer is not so much the spelling, grammar, vocabulary (you can work on that), but the fact I did not grow up in the English culture, I miss out on most childhood references, sport and political events, etc. I have to live with that, there is no way I can catch up with that.

When you write songs what influences you? My mood. My mood dictates the feeling of a song. Many lyrics come from darker places, I am not a musical comedian although I wrote many funny novels and had the pleasure to experience their impact first hand during my readings in schools between Denmark and Italy.

What propelled you to start you podcast? I was the kid (14 years old) that stayed up late to listen to radio shows at midnight. I always loved the medium, for music and word. I worked for radio in Germany, and as a volunteer I had an own 4 hour show at CJSW at the University of Calgary called PolterZeitGeist where I mixed words and music. Since technology evolved digitally I was able to get the equipment and do it myself.

Can you tell us about your latest project? I received this year the Literary Arts Individual Project Grant by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to write the dystopian novel “2112”, and I document this process on my homepage in words, photos, audio and video until February 2022.

Where can readers find you? http://www.thorstennesch.com

Is there a message you would like to share with your readers? Don’t judge a book by its cover, please read the first page. Even with my novels, because the narrating voice changes.

Bio:

Thorsten Nesch is a German author who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 2008 Nesch’s first novel Joyride Ost was nominated for Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis and the Landshuter Jugendbuchpreis. 2012 the book won the Hans-im-Glück Award

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How the Natural World Influences My Life and My Narratives

June 22, 2021
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My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.

My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.

In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.

In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.

I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.

As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.

You can find my books here: https://www.amazon.ca/Mandy-Eve-Barnett/e/B01MDUAS0V/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

What have you discovered in the natural world? How does nature affect you?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Summer Approaching

June 15, 2021
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A lot of us look forward to summer – it’s heat, long days and lazy days in the garden/yard. Of BBQ’s, beaches and the open road. This , of course, depends on the continent you live on and the weather cycles. I am not a heat person and like to stay at 22°C degrees with a breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay. They absolutely love my English blood, here in Canada.

I wrote this poem a while ago about impending summer.

summer loading

Summer, you are long awaited

Through snow, sleet and rain, your heat and blasting glory

Pull us through.

Memories of sea and sand, camp fires and BBQ gatherings

Pull us through.

Green lushness, long days and outside chores planned

Pull us through

Then you are here – Summer – our darling

Flowers are planted, friends and family gather and lawns cut

Joy abounds

Garden furniture released from storage and nature’s sounds surround

Joy abounds

Vacations, road trips and splashing in the pool

Joy abounds

Long awaited, now enjoyed.

We love you Summer.

***

This summer there will be road trips to look forward to based on a new contest for Go East. Linda and I have already collected stickers from two routes and will explore new places over the summer months. Our first trip was ambitious driving two routes in one long day (15 hours to be precise!), so now we have planned stop overs for the remaining routes. Making it much more leisurely and giving us the ability to explore more.

The other trip we are taking includes one of the areas included in the adventure game, but for another reason. We are hosting and presenting for When Words Collide. This is an annual event and is virtual this year. We have booked an isolated cabin on private land beside a lake. The perfect writing and relaxation retreat, as well as a great dog walking venue.

I have received the last editing workshop comments and will be diving into the next round of revisions of book one in the Delphic Murders, An Elusive Trail, in the coming weeks. I am excited for this project and hope that you will enjoy the stories once they are published.

My last review is for Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
A beautifully told story centering around a particular house during two different time periods. Barbara has expertly woven the two story lines and the inhabitants lives together. The core of the novel centers on the real life of a intriguing woman, Mary Treat. Someone history should take notice of and celebrate.

In the meantime you are welcome to browse (and buy) any of my other books here: https://www.amazon.ca/Mandy-Eve-Barnett/e/B01MDUAS0V/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1 or any of these e-book sites.

As always if you have any questions about my stories, writing life or events please feel free to contact me.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Parallels between Queen Boudicca and Owena Wintermute of The Commodore’s Gift

June 1, 2021
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Queen Boudicca of Britain

In British history, we learn about Queen Boudicca, who ruled the Celtic clan, the Iceni tribe and united a number of other British tribes to revolt against the Roman occupying forces in 60 – 61 AD. She famously succeeded in defeating the Romans in three great battles but alas the war was won by the Romans. However, this does not deter from the fact that Queen Boudicca was a courageous queen, who fought for freedom from her oppressors.

Her rousing speech united the tribes and even today stirs the blood.

“We British are used to women commanders in war; I am descended from mighty men! But I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters…. Consider how many of you are fighting — and why! Then you will win this battle, or perish. That is what I, a woman, plan to do!— let the men live in slavery if they will.”

Ancient Celtic women served as both warriors and rulers, and girls would be trained to fight with swords and other weapons, just like their male counterparts. As an adolescent, Boudicca would have been sent away to another aristocratic family to be trained in the history and customs of the tribe, as well as learning how to fight in battle. Celtic women were distinct in the ancient world for the liberty and rights they enjoyed and the position they held in society. Compared to their counterparts in Greek, Roman, and other ancient societies, they were allowed much more freedom of activity and protection under the law.

Owena Wintermute of The Commodore’s Gift

Owena has a unconventional upbringing within Victorian society. Motherless, she is brought up by her father and only sibling, an older brother, Benjamin. Feminine conventions are a mystery to both men and they welcome Owena’s tom-boy personality and actions. This leads to instruction in horseback riding astride the saddle instead of side-saddle and freedom to read whatever literature she wanted. Her attire is adapted to accommodate her other activities, such as instruction in swordplay, with the removal of corsets. Owena becomes proficient in this discipline. She also joined her brother as he played with toy soldiers and not only learnt battle formations and strategic planning but won against him.

Owena is certainly not a meek and mild woman but a warrior and worthy ally to the men of the rebel force. She joins them in their fight against the Buldrick Empire and ultimately gains their respect.

Read Owena’s story here: https://www.amazon.ca/Commodores-Gift-Mandy-Eve-Barnett/dp/1988723760

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