Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
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1.         How did you meet?

We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.

2.         When did you begin writing?

Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.

Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.

3.         Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.

We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.

4.         How did this quote bring about your book series?

We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.

5.         What age range are your books aimed at?

We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.

6.         Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?

We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.

7.         How many books will be in the series?

 We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.

8.         What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?

Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.

9        What are the subjects you will cover in your books?

Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.

10.     Has your own background contributed to the stories?

Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?

11.     Where do you prefer to write?

We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.

12.     Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?

Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.

13.     What is your writing process – punster or planner?

We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.

14.     Can you share your social media and book links 

Thebookpatch.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Spider-Gang-Mysteries-100321741923085

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andrew_underwood_65/

Bio:
Cristal Underwood:
Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children.  She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school.  Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes. 


Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week.  He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream.  He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors.  He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write. 

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – 10 Alternative Gift Ideas for Writers

December 10, 2020
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Of course there are numerous gift ideas for writers and authors out there. I have picked ten more unusual and useful gifts.

  1. Domain name for a writer website – creating a domain name as an author is a significant step. Help them make that step.

2. Finger-less writing gloves – these can be to ease the cold or medical support for wrists.

3. Online course for improving their writing – writers can never get enough learning for their craft.

4. Bookends – whether reflecting the genre they write in or their favorite animal, author or to match their decor. Your choice.

5. Gift card for a bookstore or online – always a welcome gift.

6. Subscription to a literary journal – there are numerous journals to choose from. Find one that matches the writers genre or style.

7. High-tech pen – the more fancy the better. Writers have multiple pens at arms reach all the time!

These next three are so good for posture. Writers tend to huddle over their laptops or notebooks.

8. Adjustable footrest

9. Back rest for desk chair

10. Ergonomic wrist rest pad 

What has been your favorite ‘write’ gift?

Do you have a wish list for this year?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – 10 Tips To Overcome Being Disheartened With Your Writing

November 18, 2020
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We have all felt disheartened as writers. It can manifest itself in a variety of forms. Lack of impetus, illness, stress, unrealistic comparisons, self expectations or stumbling over a particular section in a writing project. Some call it writers block. In truth it is just life.

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up, you are not alone. Every writer, whether novice or any of the top 100 authors, have doubts about what they are writing. We question ourselves – is it good enough, over and over. This can only spiral us downward into self-doubt. There are ways to give yourself a pick you up. I hope these help.

1. Focus on enjoying telling your stories. Do it to the best of your ability.

2. Remember you are building an inventory of your writing but also learning your craft.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

3. Lessen your expectations, don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes, we all want a certain quality to our work, but with patience it will come. There is no quick fix.

4. Don’t compare another writer’s finished work against your in process drafts. You have no idea how many changes they made.

5. Remember you get to rule over your own creative process. You choose, shape, mold, and create whatever you want.

6, Your words will, in time, sway minds, move hearts, and touch the lives of dozens of people you will never meet in person.

7. Your words, your stories are your legacy.

8. Do not take rejection personally. Think of it as a learning tool.

9. Take a long-term view of your writing career – no-one is ever an overnight success.

10. Participate in supportive writer groups. Share your work with encouraging friends.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

What have you found works for you when you are feeling disheartened?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Review & Book Titles

November 16, 2020
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In my research for my new detective series, I read a novel by M.J. Arlidge entitled Eeny Meeny. The premises of the narrative becomes all too clear and links to the title all too well as you read. You can find my review on my Goodreads page but just in case, here it is: Absolutely riveting! I didn’t see the culprit coming. Well written and structured. A fast paced, who done it. A real page turner.

I will endeavor to ensure my own narrative has the same tension and surprise culprit. M.J. Arlidge uses the same detective for his novels, using various scenarios for each narrative. My detective series has a different structure, covering three detectives and three different cities but the same antagonist.

I have been asked to explain the reason I chose the title of my series as The Delphic Murders. I wanted a word that meant obscure, as my antagonist is just that. So I delved into my knowledge of Greek literature and found Delphic. It means deliberately obscure or ambiguous.

What books have you recently read? What was your review on them?

Winter Arrived

As you can see winter arrived here in Alberta. So I have decamped from my writing desk into the living room, where there is a huge window. This gives me welcome daylight but also a cozy writing space beside the fireplace.

The first book in my series, The Delphic Murders is well under way, with over 36,000 words. As with any first draft, I am just writing where the characters take me. Early next year, I will begin revisions and editing and making notes for book two.

I am so pleased my steampunk novel has proven so popular, with online and in person purchases. Thank you all for continuing you enjoy the stories I create. All my books are here: https://amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V

Please leave a review it would mean the world to me.

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Nature & Writing Inspiration

October 15, 2020
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We all need to refresh our writing Muse, so this past Thanksgiving long weekend, I enjoyed two day road trips to Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. The first was on Saturday and then again on Monday. Both trips were a discovery of back roads and nature. It was chilly and breezy but glorious colours of the season were enjoyed.

There was plenty of wildfowl, a friendly squirrel, a couple of muskrats and evidence of a busy beaver too.

Although, I did some research for my detective book series and compiled a file folder of research, I did not write. We all need downtime.

However, I may write a short story on the unusual sight of a beaver lodge with a satellite dish! It’s too good not to.

Inspiration does come from anywhere and everywhere.

What do you do to refresh your writing Muse?

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