Does writing energize or exhaust you? Usually it energizes me. I get excited when I read something I’ve written that is well done, or when a character takes me on a journey I wasn’t expecting.
What is your writing Kryptonite? My busy life. I’m a middle school teacher, coach, volunteer, and mother of a one year old.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I thought about it before I became married. Butrenchuk isn’t a great pen name. Once I got married and changed my name to Greene, I thought “That’s a good one!”
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’ve become acquainted with several Lethbridge and Calgary writers. G.W. Renshaw has given me tips on book signings and introduced me to my publicist, Mickey Mikkelson. While I don’t know Adam Dreece as well, but have spoken to him and find him very nice, he’s my motivation to become successful as an indie author.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have a YA fantasy series, which will eventually have a companion picture book. Each book has a distinct connection to the previous and forthcoming. However, I also have a YA contemporary that is a stand-alone. (It may have a companion book someday though…)
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? On a publicist. Creative Edge has opened a lot of doors for me. Also, ordering business cards, booklets, and banners through Vistaprint. They have great products that don’t cost writers and arm and a leg and a thigh.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Every time I stood up to a bully with just my tone and the word “No.”
Listening to stories on my mom’s lap, or my grandma’s, or my sister’s.
Watching She-Ra in a big, brown chair, shouting “For the honor of Greyskull!” and transforming into a powerful woman.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Most of the indie authors I’ve met. As for a favorite book, I think my favorites are appreciated. However, THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, by Avi, should be read more often, and it deserves its own movie.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I want to say NYX, the Greek goddess of the night, but I don’t think anyone would believe me. Let’s go with chipmunk. They’re small, cute, but have a bit of spunk.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Plenty. A few picture books that I’m seeking publishers and/or illustrators for. One YA novel that I’m looking for the right market for. Half-finished books aren’t too common for me, but barely-started projects are.
What does literary success look like to you? When someone laughs, cries, or screams from reading one of my books. Oh, and a million dollars in sales.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I don’t do a lot of research, except in my head. The joy of fantasy is that I get to make a lot of stuff up. But I have to formulate it in my mind, write it down to keep continuity, and brainstorm ideas with my best friend, Rachel, to make sure things are clear.
How many hours a day/week do you write? It varies. During the school year, only 1-2. During summer vacation (teaching rules!) it quadruples.
How do you select the names of your characters? Sometimes it is based off people I know. Other times the names are from literature.
What was your hardest scene to write?Any time a character dies or loses someone they love.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? I think the style of YA chose me, more than I chose it. I like YA literature, and feel there are fewer boundaries with what you can do.
How long have you been writing? Since grade 1.
What inspires you? Adventures.
How do you find or make time to write? I write in short doses. Maybe thirty minutes at a time.
What projects are you working on at the present? I am editing the third book in my YA fantasy series. (Imagine, Reality, Heritage). I’m also working on a short story – not my forte, but I’m experimenting – for an anthology.
What do your plans for future projects include? Dabble with picture book manuscripts. Perhaps a humorous autobiography about teaching.
This coming weekend is not only a long weeked (whoop!) but also when I am spending four wonderful days fully immersed in my writing at Strawberry Creek Retreat. Anticipation is high for my fellow wordsmiths and I. My plan is to read through, revised and to some extent edit my current WIP – Willow Tree Tears. The novel is a cowgirl romance, with the heroine a champion barrel racer, enjoying rodeos and a ranch lifestyle. She finds herself having to choose between an old high school friend who lives a similar horse ranch life, or a suave, handsome wel- traveled Italian. There are numerous plot twists and several other characters and it does include adult content. Currently standing at 25 chapters (50,365 words) – I am aware it requires additional descriptions, dialogue etc. It was my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel so is rough to say the least! For an excerpt go to https://mandyevebarnett.com/current-project-2/
When we attend a writing retreat there are many personal aspirations and goals set – it is a time to have 100% focus on our work but we must decide on what our level of interaction will be within a group retreat. There are simple ‘rules’ that can be set out at the start of the retreat, such as a closed door means no interruptions, meals are taken together, prompts or short workshops will be available, exercise/walks can be taken in a group or solitary – no matter the format you should decide on what works for you.
Vital elements to the retreat are of course your means of writing! Bring your laptop, charger and memory sticks, notebooks, pens and pencils, research material, and any other related material that will assist you with the task in hand. Secondly, think about what you want to achieve within the time limits of the retreat. Make realistic goals so you enjoy the process but are not too exhausted to enjoy sometime away from the computer screen to refresh your mind, body and muse.
OK so be honest what image came into your mind immediately you read today’s word? A movie scene from An Officer & A Gentleman? Calendars with men in uniform? Or maybe a loved one, who is in the military? There is something very striking about a man in a uniform – we imagine being whisked up into his arms and carried off into the sunset. We all have levels of romanticism from the knight on his magnificent steed to a dress-suited gentleman to men in uniform, whether on or partly off!
No matter where you shop you will find multiple ‘corset ripping’ tomes. Not all are set in historical times though; some are delightfully modern with today’s struggle of the sexes. It seems to be that women want the romance but also the independence of modern day. Is this actually possible? Asking a man to be both is probably pushing your luck, but how about his dilemma? If he treats his significant other as a delicate flower he’s being chauvinistic but to let her be ‘her own woman’ he is unsympathetic and unromantic.
Are there any guidelines out there do you think?
My dear friend, Lisa de Nikolits has a most delightful book called West of Wawa, in which the heroine journeys not only geographically but emotionally across Canada. Here is the site and some awesome reviews for the book, I would recommend it. http://www.lisadenikolitswriter.com/WestofWawa.html
It is truly a modern day romance for not only does Benny (heroine) meet some rather scrumptious men but also finds love for herself.
Maybe as modern women we no longer need a man to ‘fulfill’ our emotional void as much as in days gone by. A woman had a certain social standing once she was married and was ‘looked after’ financially – she was complete. This mode of thinking has, in the most part – disappeared however, there are still some women out there that need it! And I, for one, certainly don’t think that is a bad thing, if you can find happiness then go for it.
We have the ability to easily fulfill our own needs now-a-days with our own careers and financial independence but what of those day dreams? Can we separate them from reality or do they linger making an under current of dissatisfaction?
Love should begin with yourself. Not an easy task if you are a mother, I understand that only too well, but when you are happy the people around you notice and respond in a positive way. Self love is not selfish, it is giving everyone a better you.
Trajectory – definition: the curve that an object travels along through space (such as a bullet, a rocket, or a planet in its orbit)
What a shame this word was not on my desk diary a couple of days ago, it would have been perfect for the spectacular but frightening event in Russia. Having a massive piece of rock hurtling towards earth certainly shakes our false sense of security doesn’t it? At any time a projectile could plunge to earth devastating everything in its path or at the very least showering molten fragments into the atmosphere with an accompanying sonic boom.
Reviewing all the data that flooded the Internet and news programs made me realize why we like disaster movies so much. In every one there is a seemingly insurmountable problem that is neatly resolved at the end. You can probably think of quite a number of them without much thought. We humans are portrayed as being able to overcome aliens, the earth’s core becoming unstable, mutant animals and a host of other threats. But when it really comes down to it, we have no answer for space rocks apart from tracking them and hoping they miss. A sobering thought. No futuristic spacecraft to shoot them down or massive laser beams exploding them thousands of miles above the earth – but lots of material for ideas!
If we use the comet as the basis of a story, there are a few options. We could start with the object approaching and how the inhabitants react and plan, or the big burning ball could be viewed as a sign and worshipped or we could write about how the survivors deal with the after effects of the impact. Just one event can spark many view points and scenarios. Which view would you choose?
When we develop our stories we need to give our readers the same form of scenario – the ‘normal’ life for our characters, the obstacle they need to overcome and ultimately the resolution. The greater we can make the odds, the better we engage our readers. Obviously, we don’t all write disaster type stories but every hero or heroine needs to conquer something or someone. Finding a new perspective or view point in which to tell our story makes it unique even if the basic scenario has been ‘covered’ before. This is something I did with my children’s story, Rumble’s First Scare. Instead of the usual Halloween – people are scared by monster – I viewed the night’s events of All Hallows Eve from the monster’s perspective. Rumble experiences his very first scaring expedition.
a) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
This is a difficult question, Mandy. For some reason, the men characters I create seem to stay with me more. They are big, bold and very charismatic, I’m told. In Mirror Deep, this would be Pierce Bonner, Kat, my heroine’s, would-be hero. There is also a very flamboyant French older gentleman by the name of Charles… not to give too much of my story away. The reason I find this question a little difficult to answer is that these characters are like my children and, as you know, it’s hard to favor one child over another.
b) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Yes. I love a good suspense story or a mystery with lots of twists and turns to the main plot. This means many subplots and tons of foreshadowing. This is the sort of book I like to read, which is why I love to write this, I guess. I also enjoy urban fantasy. I am writing one at the moment, and I’m almost finished. I like dreaming up all sorts of powers for my heroine. I also enjoy a good paranormal yarn. Yet in all my stories, you will always find some love connection between several characters. To me love is the seasoning that goes with all my recipes.
c) What do you enjoy most about writing?
Great question, Mandy, and in case I forget to mention it later, I want to thank you for doing this thoughtful interview about me. What writer does not enjoy talking about his or her projects? I enjoy creating something that boils and spins. All my life, while in the home, I’ve spent most of my time in the kitchen, cooking, baking, and even catering for friends’ parties at times. Now, I’ve moved my creations to paper and to an office and a computer. Writing allows me to think outside the box, and creating people and their many life adventures is my favorite form of escapism.
d) Have you got a favorite place to write?
Yes. I can’t just write any old place, although inspiration will come at the weirdest moments, and no matter what I’m doing or where I am. Usually inspiration comes when I’m doing something physical, like walking my dog, or swimming. To write, just give me an office with a window on one side and a TV on the other and I’ll be able to work. Oh, and I can’t write longhand. It has to be on a computer.
e) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
A story comes to me early morning, in that ephemeral state between sleep and awake. Full characters with names and personalities begin full conversations… Whenever this happens, I have to get up and write the moment down before it is gone completely.
From there comes a title, then the main plot and then sub plots. Most importantly, because the characters and their conversations come first, I have to hunt down the character pictures as I see them via photos on the Internet.
Then I proceed to write a detailed character sheet on all the main characters and even the secondary characters depending on their role. Then, the city of where this is going to take place is born, again depending on what I saw and heard. I locate it on a map and give the place a neighborhood, a house, every little detail that pops to mind. By the time I begin to write, it’s easy as everyone is clearly defined. The setting is established, and the fact that their character sheet is detailed and their pictures are real, dialogue is much easier to craft.
f) What inspires your stories?
I can’t be sure, Mandy. Once I was going out early morning to walk my dog, and I saw a neighbor four houses down coming out of his front door with his two children by the hand, and a whole short story sprang from this picture. A short story I just blogged about Vi et Veritate. Don’t know where it came from. Mirror Deep came to me while I was actually working on another story and while I was watching a Grand Slam tennis match at the same time. When my mind is occupied in more than one area, I find I get these little electrical shorts that give me insight into what I’m supposed to write.
g) What are you currently reading?
Several books at the same time. I like to review books and when I do, I like to read more than one at the time. If I can’t finish a book, I won’t review it. If I can get through it, I will rate it and review it. Finishing a story for me means I was captivated and able to get to the end. I must have bookmarks in 25 books at home that I have never finished. Thank God for Kindles. I like to read mystery, suspense, romance, and anything that will keep me hooked and far away—except horror and vividly described cruelty. If I have to close a book because of a horror passage, I will not open it again… same thing for cruelty.
h) Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
I guess I’ve had the same odd habit since childhood. I sing from the time I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night, in my head or aloud; and sometimes through the night, as I have woken while in the middle of a dream because of a song in my head, countless times. I couldn’t sleep for weeks when Bobby Vinton’s ‘Blue Velvet’ first came on the radio—Shakira’s songs do that to me also. I guess it didn’t help that I could read music before I could read words. I come from a long line of singers and when my mother heard me sing at 4 years old, she thought I sang off key. So she had me take piano lessons with nuns. By the time I was 5, I was competing and winning against children 3 times my age. The result: I learned how to sing.
i) Do you have any pets?
I love all sorts of pets. I think they are soulful creatures that need our help and devotion in order to survive. Love horses, and dolphins, and dogs. I have a dog, always did, in fact. Chief is going on 13 and he is the best friend anyone could wish for. He sleeps for hours while I write. When I get up to get coffee, he follows, wags his tail, gets his ears rubbed and goes back to the same place to resume his sleep when I sit down again. We take our walks every morning and every night, even in below freezing temperatures. He wears a little coat and boots when it’s too cold, and in more clement weather, he can easily walk a mile every morning.
j) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
Too many to name. Romance Writers of America, The Canadian Author’s association, about 25 Facebook groups of writers, The Absolute Write Water Cooler, The Next Big Writer.com and the list goes on and on. I read many people’s blogs and I am so inspired after I do. I am forever in awe of all the great bloggers and writers there are out there, stories written in so many forms and wearing so many different styles, all of them perfectly suited to what they say and do. So much creativity and downright smarts are propagated through the Internet… You know, Bill Gates may have started the movement of the personal PC, and the rush to the World Wide Web, but we are the ones who placed the order for it. All of us, we are co-creators.
k) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
The eldest of 6 children, and having three siblings by the time I was six, my mother relied on me to tell my sisters and brother stories to help them fall asleep. I did. I invented many stories, unable to tell the same one twice as most of them were made up, of course. I guess this prompted me to read early. At 8 I was reading books without pictures and could summarize most stories for my little brood. By then, there were four younger than I was. Of course, this drove me … to write diaries, which I did until I was fifteen. Still have all of them, only no one can read them, not even me because the handwriting is illegible.
l) Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
Yes, I have a book that was published on November 1, 2012. Mirror Deep. It is a suspenseful romance with the subplots and twists and turns that I like, and provides 456 pages of whodunit and romance. It’s available on Amazon.com, in print form and kindle. http://tinyurl.com/aups9ep for the Kindle and http://tinyurl.com/bcky3l9 for the print version. It’s also available on Barnes and Noble and other favorite sites. It will be available in Kobo and nook in early February.
m) If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why?
Well, I’ve already met some of my favorite authors, Anthony Robbins, and Deepak Chopra. I’ve met Zig Ziglar, and Marylu Henner as she is a fabulous health writer.
In fiction I have met Pat Conroy, wonderful literary writer. I have two of his books and I love his fiction. So that would leave me with a tossup between John Grisham and P.D. James. John Grisham is the best scribbler I’ve read in a long time. His prose is unique, vivid, real and so intense that I could read anything he writes, not caring about the story. P.D. James, of course is out of bounds to most of us. Her book Devices and Desires is absolutely phenomenal. I have read it more than once, just to revel in the turn of her phrases and the twisting of her plots and many subplots.
n) If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Easy. Anywhere there’s a beach. Preferably with palm trees. I am a beach bum who loves the ocean, and everything about it: the smell, the swell, the salt that lingers on me after a long swim. I love the blue look of it, the feel and the howling sound of waves during a wind storm. The only two cities that would have me rethink living near the ocean would be Paris, France… or Lyon, a close second, and New York City, both tied. Yep you’ve guessed it. I’m a city girl who needs the ocean. So Miami Beach and Maui come pretty close to heaven for me.
o) What’s your favorite movie of all time?
I have tried but find it impossible to just have one. I am a movie aficionado and I love them all. I have favorites of course, but dozens and dozens of them. Anything with Julia Roberts, with Sandra Bullock, with Michael Douglas, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Anniston, Matthew Perry, Andie MacDowell … well, you get the picture.
p) Where can readers find you and your blog?
You can find my blog on book reviews, and such stories, and interviews at: http://www.josslandry.com/blog People are welcome to follow my blog and stay connected.
q) Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?
I have already seven manuscripts penned that need tightening and professional editing. One is being edited right now. A romantic suspense of 75,000 words called Ava Moss. That will be the next one published.
r) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband is my best supporter. He has been there through thick and thin and is the best beta reader I know. My daughter, Mary, is another pro-active supporter. She is the voice in my head, the one always encouraging me to be positive. Since all of us practice the Hawaiian science of Ho’oponopono, I guess you could say that the best supporter we all have is of a spiritual nature.
Thank you Joss for such an enlightening and interesting interview.