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Author Interview – Christie Stratos

November 12, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me big time! I feel so excited when I get a good writing session in, it’s hard to stop. I could go for hours, but my time is usually limited. When I write short stories in particular, I usually can’t stop until it’s done and I’m happy with it, all in one session. I love it!

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Stress. There are certain things I can write while stressed, but the most common issue for me is settling my mind into writing. I have to work to get myself relaxed and creatively focused, which can take music, ambiance, changing the colors on the screen, and other things. Not fun.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I have! I like writing a lot of different genres, from dark psychological suspense to positivity poetry and haikus, cozy short stories to horror. I’ve polled my readers on this, and they tend to agree that I should keep my real name and at most use my first initial instead of my full first name.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m friends with loads of authors, both in person and online, and they all offer different perspectives on writing as well as balancing writing with other work. They’re really good at getting me inspired and motivated! It’s really good to have friends who understand your creative successes and dilemmas—not everyone does.

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  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Both! My Dark Victoriana Collection is written so that readers can enjoy each book as a standalone, but they’ll enjoy my books on another level if they’ve read the whole collection. Characters and scenes cross over in each novel or short story, so some scenes mean more with the full understand of the collection.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Scrivener, for sure. Using Word was actually stopping me from writing anything longer than a short story. I don’t write in order, I write my scenes in random order, so trying to control that in one Word document or multiple Word documents was not productive for me. Using Scrivener, I just put each scene in one project but in separate text pages, and voila! It’s organized!

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I think Shakespeare’s Hamlet impacted me heavily with this. It was in that play that I realized how important it was to infuse meaning that could be interpreted different ways, and that’s a huge part of my books, which are purposely multi-layered so that readers can either read for entertainment or for depth—whatever they like best.

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  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The Distant Sound of Violence by Jason Greensides. He’s an incredible author, and I recommend his novel to anyone who will listen. The psychology, the depth of emotion, the varied characters, and a lot more all come together into something that should really be much better known. Highly impactful contemporary fiction at its best.

I also have to mention Josh de Lioncourt’s The Dragon’s Brood Cycle series, which is bestseller-level fantasy. He’s an outstanding author who blows me away with his incredible worldbuilding and careful attention to detail. He’s on par with some of the biggest fantasy authors out there.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I think alpacas are my spirit animals because they’re very curious and intelligent, and I think they’d really appreciate all the Victorian research I do. They’re herd animals, too, and I have to say my writing community means a lot to me. Plus they’re just so CUTE!

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

An uncountable amount. Seriously. I have a whole bunch of notebooks dedicated to different ideas yet to be written, and I have a whole ton of notes on yet more fiction to be written. The ideas are unending!

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  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Ideally being able to publish at least once per year. That’s difficult for me, although I always have something published, whether it’s a novel, short story, or poetry in an anthology or literary journal. But I’d like to publish at least one novel per year along with other short stories and creative projects.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a ton of time researching in general, some before the book, a lot during, and a lot after the creative writing is finished. My books take place in Victorian America, which can be harder to research than Victorian England, and I want every detail to draw the reader into the time period. It’s important to me that my books are saturated with the Victorian era and are extremely accurate, so I research everything from how many times per day the mail was delivered to what type of wood would be used on a dresser in a middle-class home.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

Not nearly enough. Writing isn’t my priority at the moment, my editing business is, but hopefully that will change in the future…

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

They’re all meaningful, and for those that don’t have Biblical meaning, there’s a reason for it. I choose Biblically significant names because of the time period and to discuss the concept of religion without discussing it outwardly. It doesn’t smack you in the face, it’s just there if you’re interested.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

In my first book, Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, I have a scene that finally breaks one of my characters, and that scene was extremely hard to write. I felt terrible about what I was doing to her, as bad as if she were a real person. I actually took a month off writing to mourn what I was about to do to her, then came back and wrote the scene in one go. I was glad it was over with once it was done!

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My favorite genre to write in is psychological suspense, and that’s what my Dark Victoriana Collection is. It includes everything I love: psychology, suspense, historical fiction, and horror. I’ve had readers call my books psychological thriller and psychological horror as well. I also write horror short stories, and they also rely heavily on what would terrify a person psychologically more than anything. I write positivity haikus and poetry because I’m actually a very positive person despite all my very dark writings! I like to dabble in all genres—I feel it expands my writing horizons and improves my craft.  

  1. How long have you been writing?

Literally since I was capable of writing. I started out with poetry, then moved straight into novels, then short stories. I also love writing haikus and micro-fiction, which I find to be the most challenging and the most rewarding.

  1. What inspires you?  

Victorian jewelry, fantasy art landscapes, hidden object games with strong ambiance, all kinds of music, art… There’s really no end to what inspires me! If I had my way, I’d write all day and night.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

This is the toughest part for me. I’m trying hard to make more time to write, and the only way I find that works is to set aside a reasonable amount of time per day (usually a 15 minute writing sprint) and force myself to write despite all the other things I have on my plate. The thing is that once I start writing, I usually pour out creativity for about an hour, so stopping myself is hard, and a lot of times I just end up not writing at all because of the time suck (for me, an hour is a lot of time to lose on other projects). I’m trying to develop a routine for myself to avoid that catch-22.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I have two projects ongoing: the third book in the Dark Victoriana Collection and a positivity book based on the positivity writings I do on Patreon. I do work on other things in the background, but those are my two main focuses. I can’t wait to finish writing my third novel and publish it!

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

A lot more books for the Dark Victoriana Collection. Originally I was going to write one standalone book, then I decided I’d write five books, now the plan is six books and additional short stories. I’m slowly developing a fantasy novel as well, but that’s way on the back burner. I have some horror short stories I’d like to pull into an anthology too. Really the amount of projects I have ideas for is never-ending.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

You can find me at http://christiestratos.com, and from there, you can buy paperbacks directly from me that are signed, gift-wrapped, and include a personalized note. They’re great gifts for the holidays, especially since you can ask me to write the personalized note to anyone. Brotherhood of Secrets also comes with a key charm when you buy the paperback directly from my website. Best of all, the cost is exactly the same as buying a plain paperback with nothing special on Amazon.

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Anatomy of a Darkened Heart links:

Amazon: amzn.com/B015KYJXZ8 

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/anatomy-of-a-darkened-heart-christie-stratos/1122766074

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/580327

Brotherhood of Secrets links:

Amazon: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B073YPBHST

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/locke-and-keye-christie-stratos/1126977290

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/742458

“The Subtlety of Terror” links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G4PGRG5/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-subtlety-of-terror-christie-stratos/1129229846

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/886308

Social media links:

Patreon: http://patreon.com/christiestratos

Website: http://christiestratos.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2thw6Pn

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Christie-Stratos/e/B015L5FMTM/

Author YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/christiestratos

The Writer’s Edge YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thewritersedgeshow

Creative Edge Writer’s Showcase: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/sets/creative-edge-writers-showcase

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christie_stratos/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/christiestratos

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/christiestratos

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cstratoswrites

Bio:

Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Brotherhood of Secrets, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies. An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.

Author Tool Box Blog Hop – Tips on Promoting Your Book

October 17, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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 #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop 

As writers and authors, we are formidable in our ability to create narratives but we also have to learn how to market the ‘end product’ of those many months or even years of creativity. We become a book business.

  1. The first avenue many authors take is social media, which can be seen as a ‘soft’ option. After all we are not up close and personal with the public but at arm’s length. However, due to the countless sites available just choosing the ‘right’ one or two can be overwhelming. Then there is the matter of maintaining our ‘presence’ on each platform. We need to research which avenues of promotion will work best not just for our genres but also our ability to sustain them. Do your research on similar authors in your genre and see what they use (and of course ‘follow’ them).

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     2. Following selected authors, genre based bloggers, book reviewers, and writing        groups allows you to gain followers but also to learn about your particular genre   and gain a reader base. When someone is interested in your genre they ‘search’ for more posts, articles, links and books within that specific field. While you are doing that follow 10 ‘friends’ of friends on Facebook and 100 people on Twitter – this can gain a wider audience. However, in light of these two platforms losing participants also follow people on Instagram. (We have to keep up with the ‘in’ thing!)

3. Improve your author bio on all platforms to entice and inform as many followers as possible on all sales sites, your blog and social media platforms. Ask yourself – does it reflect you as a writer as well as a person.

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4. Use hashtags specific to writing, authors, books, genre and associated links – look at what other authors use.

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5. Then there is the personal touch, which means organizing or being involved in author readings, attending book events and participating in Q&A panels. Search your local area for book related events, get to know your local bookstores, inquire at your library, join a local writing group, the wider your reach the easier it will be to find avenues of sale for your book.

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6. Merchandise is another way of promoting your book. It can be as simple as custom bookmarks to T-shirts with the book cover/main character on the front. Make up a prize basket for a contest to be collected at an event (good photo opportunity to use on social media) or create an online contest for a free autographed copy of your book.

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7. An easy promotion is to leave five of your author business cards in local businesses, at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or anywhere you visit on a regular basis. Many places have community boards too so pin some cards or a poster of an event you are attending there too.

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Do you have any promotion tips you would like to share?

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#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Six Tips to Tame the Story Idea Flood

September 18, 2019
mandyevebarnett


Idea Source

Many of us experience, from time to time, the dreaded writers block, that awful feeling while staring at a blank page or screen when words do not flow but what happens when there are too many story ideas bombarding our brains? It can be just as debilitating as staring at that blankness. Bizarrely the symptoms are quite similar – crippling  indecision, procrastination, and even insomnia and anxiety.

As writers we usually have numerous story ideas bouncing around inside our heads usually gleaned from something we see or hear. This may seem like a good problem to have, however, the dilemma is how do we ensure these golden nuggets are not lost or are even worth investigating?  We can make frantic notes, some which, unfortunately make no sense whatsoever later on! That middle of the night scribble is so common. But timing is everything – musing over where a new idea could possibly lead, can lead to a devastating interruption to a current project. So how do we identify if this ‘new’ idea is worth pursuing without jeopardizing our current writing?

There are strategies we can employ to enable us to identify the ideas that are worth keeping – here are a few.

a) Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while.

b) Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.

c) Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it for another time.

d) Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then it should be considered in depth.

e) Get yourself an idea board. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story or idea thread.

f) Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group.

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Not all ideas will make it and that’s okay. Use your internal writer instinct to guide you on which idea excites your specific Muse, the one that takes hold of your imagination and let the words flow. Story is our power and knowing which ones we are best at telling is key.

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Author Interview – Andrew Glen

July 30, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

My latest novel, “After The Sun Rises”, was written as a sequel to my first novel “War Dads”. Without giving too much away, “War Dads” ends with a tragic event and “After The Sun Rises” picks up from there.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came from two sources. The first is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” (Hemingway is my favourite author) and the idea that even in tragedy some good can happen. We need to get up and meet every new day.

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

The message I was trying to convey is that sometimes good can come out of bad. Sounds hokey, but I just tried to imagine what I would like to see happen if I was involved in the same situation as the characters.

How much of the book is realistic?

Not much of “After The Sun Rises” is real. However, in “War Dads,” the trip Jill and her family took to find her dad is based on a family trip my family and I took to Florida when I was in high school.
In “Beating the Odds” (the book I wrote on beating Stage IV bladder cancer), that entire book, is sadly real.

In “The Grotto and Other Short Stories” (a book of short stories I wrote) most of the events in the stories are based on real life events.

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

Yes, there is a little bit of both events that took place in my life and my characters are all based on people I know; family and friends.

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

I have an author page on Amazon: amazon.com/author/andrewglen and a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Glen-Author-1916016901959620/

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

I have three books hopefully coming out next. Another kids book, a book of poetry and prose, and perhaps a sequel to “After The Sun Rises.”

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite and why?

I have three.  In “Eli and the Fisherman” (one of my kid’s books) Eli is based on my son and the book is based on Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”. In “Sebastian’s Fish (another of my kid’s books) Sebastian is based on my other son and the story is based on us going to buy his first fish.  And in “After The Sun Rises, Charlotte is my favourite character, because she is what I would like the world to be; good people doing the right thing.

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

I have dabbled in several genres and have enjoyed them all, but kid’s books are my favourite. Most of my energy will be concentrated on them going forward.

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

Bit of both. My first novel was totally seat of the pants style. The second novel was more planned out.

The kid’s books and the short stories were planned out and the memoir was just an honest portrayal of what I went through.

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What is your best marketing tip?

I honestly wish I was better at marketing but if I have learned anything in life it is the fact that patience and perseverance pays off. Well hopefully for some. In my opinion there is no such thing as overnight success. Success comes from never giving up. One other thing I have learned also is, if you have your books on Amazon, you need to get as many people, family, friends etc. to buy off there. It is the only way to use their algorithms to your advantage. Selling books in person is nice but unless those people write reviews or share your books on their social media sites, in the long run it doesn’t really do you any good.

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

As I said social media can be a great tool, but getting family and friends to share your work is sometimes very difficult. (Example: if all the people who liked my author page bought just one book, I would be a best seller on Amazon. Same goes for the books I have sold personally, if all those people had bought my book on Amazon, I would be a best seller according to their algorithms.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that writing allows me the chance to express the things that I truly believe in. It may be fiction, but there is a lot of what I think and feel in my writing.

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What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I have been writing since I was in high school but I only started to take it serious after I was diagnosed in 2008.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I have always dabbled in poetry and fiction. The kid’s books I started writing after diagnosis. In case I didn’t make it, I wanted my kids to have something to remember me by. I guess they will now.

What genre are you currently reading?

Both fiction and non-fiction. I’m what you might call a political junkie, so I read a lot of stuff on politics fact and fiction.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. I also find that reading really helps with my writing.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My mum and dad encouraged me to read from a very early age.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have a place in my house where I put all the finishing touches on my work; it used to be my mum’s office space, (we live in m parent’s old house). But I always carry a notebook with me to jot stuff down. I never know when the muse may come so I like to be prepared.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to several groups on FB.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Ernest Hemingway; he was/is my idol. I just loved the simplicity of his writing and how every story would take you on a different adventure. He instilled in me a passion for travel as well. Because of him I have been to Paris and Cuba because I wanted to see them first hand. Hopefully Spain will be next, or to see Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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

Cuba. I have been there twice and love the people and the climate. That or Italy, again because of the people and the climate.

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love it if it were, but realistically, no.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Chips are my favourite snack food. (Salt and Vinegar)

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t reward myself with anything in particular. Completing a book and seeing it published is enough of a reward. I have always wanted to be a published author, and now I can say I am. Not too many people can say that. For that I am truly grateful.

In closing I would like to thank everyone who has bought a book and supported me thus far.

Bless you all.

Bio:

I have been writing for the better part of thirty years. In that time I have written a memoir, several children’s book, a collection of short stories, a book of fiction, numerous poems, works of prose and free verse.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and I underwent two years of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. In January of 2010 I had my bladder removed and thankfully I have been cancer free since then.

During treatment I found writing to be very therapeutic and I kept notes throughout my treatment. These notes then became my story.

In 2014 I self-published my memoir “Beating the Odds”, A Chronicle of a Cancer Survivor’s Battle with Cancer, Inadequate Healthcare and Social Injustice.

Unlike most cancer survivor success stories, my book, in my opinion, differs because it provides the reader with a poignant look into the trials and tribulations that all cancer patients have to deal with above and beyond their treatment.

Since then I have gone on to publish:

“War Dads” a fictional story about the unfortunate killing of a war vet who was living on the street and suffering from PTSD.
“After The Sun Rises” a sequel to “War Dads”. After Jill and the family are met with a tragic event they must learn to cope with the help of an unsuspecting aide; the woman who caused the accident.

“The Grotto and Other Stories” a collection of short stories based on real life events.

“Eli and the Fisherman” children’s book that tells the story of a young boy and an old fisherman.

“Sebastian’s Fish” children’s book that is a delightful and beautifully illustrated story about a boy who goes to buy his first fish.

All of these books are available on Amazon worldwide, as paper backs or E books, at: amazon.com/author/andrewglen

Ask A Question Thursday

July 18, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question:

How did you find your particular writing style? A creative writing class, a teacher, a format or something else?

Do you write differently for different genres?

We all find a process that allows us to convey our story in the best way is good – right? There are several styles that utilize words/language, sentence structure, and paragraph structure, to convey our meaning effectively in respect of the genre we write.

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Last week’s question: How important is research to you when writing a book? What have you researched for you current manuscript?

For me, research is half the fun of writing. Even with the convenience of today’s Internet, I still enjoy thumbing through “real” reference books: highlighting, underlining, dog-earing pages, sticky noting, etc. My most recent research project has been on cremation.

Mandy Eve-Barnett

I have researched medieval physician’s healing techniques, the circumstances of how a body can dry out and become a husk, natural substances that prevent pregnancy or induce sterility.

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