Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Marc Watson

August 27, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Marc

1. What inspires your short stories?

Short stories have always been a way for me to test the waters of genres and styles that I’m interested in but may not necessarily be ready to write a full novel in. I’ve used it to release things like pure science fiction or perfect prose-style writing, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. It really lets me stretch my legs.

2. Does writing short stories need a separate kind of skill set than full length manuscripts? What is the difference?

For sure. The biggest and most obvious difference is that you as a writer have very little time to get the entire message of the story across. Whereas a novel will let you build characters and settings, you need to be quick and to the point with what you’re telling in a short story. I started with micro-fiction, and studying things like Twitter for ideas on how to slam a story home in a small number of words. I’m still not an expert, but the experience has been invaluable.

3. Have any of your ‘shorts’ become full length novels?

No, nothing like that. I’ve actually had the opposite problem where I take a story idea I’ve had and convert it to a short story in order to tell the tale I wanted to tell as quickly and succinctly as possible.

The first story in my new book is called ‘A Conversation: Alive Again’, and it tells the origins of Nixon Ash, the imposing Scottish phoenix-man first introduced in my ‘Catching Hell’ duology. Originally I wanted Nixon’s origins to be its own book. I had it plotted out and ready to get started on. However, as I started writing the stories that went into this collection I realized that Alive Again fit so well into the style and structure I had laid out, so I converted it and came up with a way to tell that same story in significantly less pages. Nixon is interesting enough that he can carry that kind of story and tell what needs to be told without a hundred thousand words.

bookcover0000888-2020-01-12-09-32-45-kindle

Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin is live! Coming September 25th

4. What drew you to fantasy & science fiction writing?

It was the ability to create whatever I wanted. The freedom to tell a story and the only limits were my imagination. I don’t consider myself skilled enough to write the kind of deep, intriguing stories that win Pulitzers, and I’m totally alright with that as well. It’s not who I am. But I can just jump right into an epic fantasy with magic flying around everywhere, or the endless possibilities of technology or the universe, or both combined! I’m not limited, and that is a very satisfying way to write.

cathcing

5. When writing the Catching Hell series did you plan the two books prior to writing, or did they emerge later?

It came after it was finished. When I pulled my head up from my keyboard and looked at what I had created, it was 225k words long. Impressive, but wholly impractical when it comes to marketing or trying to get picked up by a publisher or agent. Someone early on said I should consider making it a duology. I resisted the idea for a while, but realized they were right. I found a very natural split about half way through, tweaked some of the story, and added the prologue to Part 2, and that’s how it was born. One day I may rejig it again and make it one big book, but that’s the kind of thing we dream about and likely never do.

6. Do you have a favorite character – and why?

Although I think Nixon has the most potential as a character, who can shapeshift and summon fire and have a sense of humor, (not to mention the masochistic joy I get from trying to write a Scottish brogue) my favorite will always be Crystal Kokouo, who is a main character in Catching Hell but who has circulated through my ideas since I was a teenager. She’s an infinitely powerful woman who was one of the first people born into a damaged and destroyed world. Her father was a great man and hero to millions, and she has always tried to achieve the goals he never had the chance to complete and that pressure has molded her into what she is now. There’s a level of complexity with her that the casual reader misses because they only know her from the one story. There’s a depth there that I can’t wait to let the world see, but it will take time.

deathly

7. Where is your favorite place to write?

At my desk in my office at work. I write best surrounded by the low thrum of business and work going on all around me. I can’t work at home because there’s a million things I’d rather be doing if I’m there. At lunch, at my desk in my little cubicle there’s nothing to distract me, and I can spend 45 minutes to an hour just off in my own little world.

8. What is your usual writing procedure – planner or panster?

Pants! Pants pants pants, all day long.

I don’t go through the steps I know some authors do, where they lay out pages of plot details and character sheets and all of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I let a story grow organically. I start with an idea of who everyone is, and I always know where I’m going, but I don’t always know how I’ll get there. It’s worked to my detriment, as shown with my 225k epic that was so large it needed to be cut in half, but its work to my advantage as well. My debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was smashed out very quickly because I had that general idea in my head right away, but when the comedy and heart started popping up unexpectedly I was just as surprised as anyone else. I still like to go back and re-read parts of it just to get that feeling back that I had when I first wrote it. I see a line and I remember coming up with it and the happiness I felt at making something I personally enjoyed so much.

9. Can you tell us about your new release(s)?

I would love to! My newest book is called ‘Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin’. It is a collection of nine short stories (though calling some of them ‘short’ is a bit of a stretch. There’s some whoppers in there I admit) that take place in the same world as Catching Hell, however those books are in no way required reading to enjoy this collection. They all stand on their own.

The stories are a wide range of genres, going back to what I was saying about trying new things. There’s a pure-horror story, a YA-style adventure, a bar scene I like to call Tarentino-esque, a historical fantasy. It’s just all over the place, held together by the collective structure of the world. The stories are told chronologically, from the 1600s up to thousands of years into the future. I really want the reader to see the amount of fun I had putting this together.

10. Do you have a message for your readers?

I sure do: this is a crazy time where we are constantly inundated with news and scenes and images that shake our collective mental health. I don’t say this to sell my books or the work of my contemporaries, but when this world has you worse for wear, pick up a book and read. Escape for 5 minutes to someplace, or learn about something that interests you. Escape, and don’t feel bad about doing it.

Or, forget the book and garden, or go for a hike, or find your zen away from the things that are getting to you. Separating ourselves from the cacophony has never been more important than it is today. My motto is “Be a hero”, and that doesn’t just mean to other people. Be a hero to yourself as well.

Links:

Blog: http://marcwatson.ca/home/

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

Bio:

Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). He began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and has never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to him than his defining trait. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. Marc has been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.

Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. A husband, proud father of two, and can be sometimes found at an actual job. Marc is an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on his business cards.

You can also find Marc on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson. For public appearances and interviews, he is proudly represented by Creative Edge Publicity.

Creative Edge

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Lovers Day

August 11, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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For those of us, who love books and reading, we celebrated Book Lovers Day (National Book Lovers day in USA) on 9th August. It is an unofficial holiday, unfortunately – wouldn’t it be marvelous to have a day off work to read? The aim is, of course, to encourage bibliophiles and non-bibliophiles (is that actually a word?) to celebrate reading and literature.

The idea is to discard your smartphone, social media and technology for a while and immerse yourself in a story.  The day is widely recognized on global scale, however its origin and creator remain unknown to date. Whoever it was, I say thank you!

How did you celebrate the day?

What book did you read?

Other Book News

I received the first images for my steampunk novel cover, which of course, is very exciting. With collaboration between my artist and I, we will create an image of the characters, Owena and Galen that is in my head. 

Apart from that, I have to decide if I am putting in a dedication in the front of the book and updating my biography.

Also this week, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a couple of messages, requesting copies of my speculative fiction novel, Life in slake Patch. One copy was picked up directly and another purchased through Amazon. It is always a delight to know my stories are being read.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – What Motivates You To Write?

August 6, 2020
mandyevebarnett


What is your motivation for writing? There are as many reasons to write as there are genres. We may want to persuade, catalog or inform on ‘real’ events or topics but many of us (fiction authors) want to entertain. It is an author’s purpose, to bring to life a concept.

So let’s look at each scenario for motivation:

money

a) Money – we would all love to be a best seller and have fame and fortune like the ‘big’ names, such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and the like. However, we need to be realistic – firstly can we manage to get a publishing contract with a big publishing house? How many years are you willing to wait for that? If you use the self-publishing route how much of your time (unpaid) can you sacrifice for promotion? Should you give your work away? Is the income enough to live on? Could your writing supplement your lifestyle?

If you determine that the net income (we all need to report it in tax season!) is a nice bonus for a treat here and there, rather than your sole income – it will take the stress out of the equation.
success

b) Success – once again we should temper our expectations. Global sales are a dream we want to make real but maybe measure our success on more of a local level. Do you have your books in local bookstores, the library, offered at local events? The more you attend and promote within your own locality the more your ‘success’ becomes tangible. Articles in the local newspaper could have people approach or question you in regard to your being an author. Social media allows us to expand our locality, of course, but starting small will give you a firm basis from which to start. Never under estimate the power of word of mouth for promotion.

satisfaction-

c) Satisfaction – Although this is third on the list, I feel it is the most important of all, as having your words, ideas and stories readily available for people to read now and for future generations, is the penultimate success. Our narratives will be enjoyed and relayed long after we are gone. It is our legacy.

Obviously, in an ideal world, a mixture of all three of the above would be the perfect scenario.

What is your motivation?

What do you consider the most satisfying part of being a writer/author?

Author Interview – VS Holmes – Creative Edge

July 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


VS Holmes

  1. What attracted you to write series?

Both my series actually started as stand-alones! Most of my projects begin as single novels and then I realize the story either has much more to be told (in the case of Nel Bently) or it needs a lot more room (Blood of Titans). I love slow-burn, complex stories, both when reading and writing, so I think I naturally gravitate toward characters and tales that won’t let me go easily.

  1. You have two genres – sci-fi and fantasy. re both equally important to you? If so why.

My writing process and the pacing between the two genres vary wildly and I’m usually working on one tale in each genre at any given point. I don’t really have a favourite, though I think writing fantasy might come easier, as that’s where I started professionally writing. Science fiction, for me, is about hope and road-maps to those futures (even if they’re a bit dark too) and I need that to balance out the drama and scope of my fantasy worlds. Writing any genre, though, is about finding the truth of that particular story.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

For Nel, a lot of the inspiration understandably comes from my day job as an archaeologist, though Nel started on academic sites and I do contract work. So many of the unique places I end up and the wonderful and bizarre people I meet inspire my settings and characters. I’m also a huge “what if” person and enjoy lots of solitude and instrumental music to rattle around in my mental card catalogue.

 

  1. How long does it take you to write your first draft of an idea?

Since my process differs from genre to genre, it really depends on the project! With sci-fi it’s about four months and fantasy eight–the first half I spend dawdling and the second racing my deadline and speed writing. When not on deadline, though, I like to languish in my worlds. I’ll spend over a year fiddling with ideas outside of my main project. Once those ideas are promoted I usually have about 20% of what will be the final book (and many, many typos!).

  1. How much plotting do you do for each series?

A huge amount. I tend to be a very organized writer, in part to make order of my disorganized internal world. When I’m doing in depth revisions on a novel, I have the outline of the next book or series overview open and I’ll jot down key things that need to be paid off, or little cameos I want to include. Many main series events or character arcs are laid out by the time I’ve finished the first book in a series, even if I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there yet. That said, I re-outline at the mid point in my drafting and again at the end, so while I have to have it organized, the content itself is subject to change!

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to write?

While traveling! I enjoy writing on planes and trains and ferries! Movement helps me think, and a lot of my plot knots are worked out on my long commutes to project areas (don’t worry, I use voice-to-text to keep track while driving!) But honestly, nothing really beats my own desk in the early morning. It’s such a sanctuary for me.

  1. If you were one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?

This is tough–mostly because I know what they’ll have to endure! But I think I’d choose to be Firas (Blood of Titans: Restored), the fun-loving bartender from the slums and love interest for the nation’s mercurial, not-quite-human king. I love his bar and sense of community, not to mention his dancing skills are fantastic! I also adore Azimir, but honestly, I’d just like to have him as a best friend. Everyone needs an Azimir in their life.

 

  1. You are an advocate for disabled and queer representation in your work. May we ask what prefaced that decision?

Short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to write characters, who are like myself–I’m gender queer, pansexual, and disabled. Growing up, especially as a teen, it was really hard to find books with characters, who loved and felt the way I do. Queer representation is something that is necessary for our communities and so much of it is tragic or stereotypes, or written for the straight, cis gaze. I wanted to actually write our stories from within. Then, five years ago I discovered that my “aches and pains” were actually a degenerative autoimmune condition that attacks my connective tissue. My way of navigating the world has changed drastically since then, but nothing sparks the imagination like being limited. I aim to write worlds and characters to show all we can do, rather than fall back on harmful tropes. Fiction, especially SFF, is a perfect medium for exploring how we want our world to look and how to make it more accessible and accepting.

blood 

  1. Tell us about your new releases.

My newest release is Blood and Mercy, the final book in Blood of Titans: Restored. It follows two main characters: Rih, a Deaf former soldier plotting rebellion and Keplan a queer, teenaged god. Both face a political marriage and the aftermath of a divine war. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.

My next sci-fi release is this October, Covid-willing, and will be the fourth Nel Bently book, Heretics. Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.

 

  1. How can readers contact you?

You can check out my website, www.vsholmes.com, and grab a free sci-fi or fantasy short to see if you like my work, read my FAQ, and send me an email. Plus, if you become an Explorer you’ll get exclusive updates, free books, and more. Of course, I’m also on various social media.

  1. What social media sites are you on?

I’m most active and candid on Twitter and Instagram @VS_Holmes (if you don’t mind the occasional picture of bugs and bones.) I’m also on Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

  1. Do you have a message for your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my worlds and characters as much as I enjoy creating them, and I hope you’ve found someone in my work who speaks to you, or a tiny dream and the strength to hold fast.

Bio:

V.S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.

When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.

LINKS:

Site: http://www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

 

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Chance to Vote on my Next Book

June 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


As I have only a few chapters of re-editing to complete on my steam punk novel before it goes to my publisher, I thought I would let you vote on which book I delve into next. I have two manuscripts that I can choose from.  So let’s see which is the most popular.

western

1. Willow Tree Tears. Western romance. Barrel racing champion, Madison Beauchamp has two suitors, one who knows her lifestyle and works on her father’s ranch with her but who has a hidden agenda, and the other, who lives in another country, a world away from her norm. Who should Madison choose? The one who knows her life all too well or the exotic wealthy Italian?

suspense
2. The Giving Thief. Suspense. He ran away from a horrific act, now living in the forest alone. How long can he stay hidden? Can he survive alone? A true hermit or a murderer?
Which one appeals the most and let me know why.

TBR Pile Book News

I was happy to receive new books this month. One for my birthday:

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

if it bleeds

And the first novel by an old school chum’s daughter

One Step Closer by Sophie Pollard

one step closer

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs – excited for the third instalment of this excellent series.

Library

Now the problem is which do I read first? Which one would you pick?

And remember review every books you read on Goodreads or Amazon or Smashwords or anyway you can. Reviews are an authors lifeblood.

 

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