Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A Community ©

Ask A Question Thursday

June 13, 2019
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As you can see I ave been bust enjoying our road trip and did not schedule this post, so apologies for being late today. As writers we gain inspiration in numerous ways, so the question today is. What has been the most inspirational or fact finding trip you have taken?

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The photo is of money from around the world found in a small hamlet pub on our trip this week.

 

Last week’s question:  Where would you go for the perfect writing retreat?

Pamela Allegretto       The island of Capri at the top of Anacapri.

 Bren Leyland             Oxford. Or a room that overlooks a green space or garden.

Mandy Eve-Barnett   It will come as no surprise that I would choose Rome or beside an ocean.

Ask A Question Thursday

May 2, 2019
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As we all know Shakespeare was adept at creating numerous words for his own works, which are even today in common usage (whether we known their origin or not!) So today’s question is: Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?

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Here is a list of Shakespeare’s unique words:  

Bandit Henry VI, Part 2. 1594

Critic Love’s Labour Lost. 1598.

Dauntless Henry VI, Part 3. 1616.

Dwindle Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Elbow (as a verb) King Lear. 1608.

Green-Eyed (to describe jealousy) The Merchant of Venice. 1600.

Lackluster As You Like It. 1616.

Lonely Coriolanus. 1616.

Skim-milk Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Swagger Midsummer Night’s Dream. 1600.

Shakespeare must have loved the prefix un- because he created or gave new meaning to more than 300 words that begin with it. Here are just a few:

Unaware Venus & Adonis. 1593.

Uncomfortable Romeo & Juliet. 1599

Undress Taming of the Shrew. 1616.

Unearthly A Winter’s Tale. 1616

Unreal Macbeth. 1623

When we look at these words it is fascinating to think until the Bard created them they did not exist!

Please post your comments below.

Last week’s question: Where is your perfect writing retreat?

Weather it’s sitting somewhere with a legal pad, or sitting at my desk in front of my desktop computer, I need complete silence when I write.

Although I began my novel, NOLA Gals with an extended metaphor of the ocean while on a cruise, poolside with a tropical drink, I wrote most of it alone at my sister’s cottage. I moved back and forth between deck and kitchen table, piling up research books & handwriting historical data in ringed notebooks. Eventually it all came together on my laptop.

Author Interview – Mandy Eve-Barnett

December 14, 2018
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Yep it’s me today due to an author having to postpone her interview. I thought I should try my own interview to see how it felt!

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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It certainly energizes me, once I am into a story it embraces me in such a way I forget the world around me. My characters carry me along showing me what comes next.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Knowing which story to write…with so many ideas bouncing around my head it is difficult to pick one and stick to it. If an idea comes to me during another project I have to jot down notes, a paragraph or two to enable me to go back to the current WIP.

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  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

To date I have not felt the need to be anonymous. I love to share my stories regardless of which genre I am writing.

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

I count myself lucky to have many author friends, whether virtual or local. My writing mentor is Linda Pedley, without her encouragement and support I would not be writing or indeed published. My writing group friends are very important to me as their feedback and fellowship are worth its weight in gold.

Rython Amazon

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

I write in multiple genres and go where the story takes me so mainly each book is a stand alone, however I was asked by readers of my fantasy novella, The Rython Kingdom to write a sequel and have written the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo this year.

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

Most certainly getting my books published with Dream Write Publishing. I was an integral part of the process and my vision for each book has been created.

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

I was lucky to have parents who encouraged reading from a young age and allowed my imagination to flourish through the portals of magic – books.

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

I may sound like an old record with this one – Ferney by James Long – is the ultimate reincarnation novel for me. I re-read it on a regular basis.

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

I have an affinity with tigers – solitary when they want but will protect their young with their life.

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

Goodness, let’s see a novella sequel, a steampunk novel, a western romance, a suspense/thriller and a possible short story collection.

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  1. What does literary success look like to you?

To have readers respond to me after reading one of my novels to say they enjoyed the story. Of course I would like one made into a movie but knowing my words are out in the world forever gives me a kick.

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

It depends on the genre, for example for my thriller I had to research how a body could dry up. While for my western romance I had to delve into barrel racing. Both of these took some time during the writing of each book.

Clickety Click

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

This depends on how many events, writers and board meetings I have as well as if there is a deadline but I try to write for several hours each week. My constant writing is creating three blog posts per week.

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

I look at the genre, geographical location and era of the narrative and the characteristics of the particular personality.

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

The stories pick the genre, I follow the narrative and the genre becomes clear the deeper we go into the characters personalities.

Creature Hunt

  1. How long have you been writing?

I began writing later in life so only around eight years. I have been making up for lost time ever since!

  1. What inspires you?  

A sentence heard or read, a picture, a writing prompt, a vista or an article on a fascinating subject. Inspiration comes from many avenues and I grasp them with both hands.

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

I am quite structured in regard to my writing blog as I need to post three times a week so will write all three most commonly on Sundays. When it comes to fiction I tend to go in bursts so will hide myself away at my writing desk and let the words flow. If an idea hits me I will write until I feel I have the narrative captured.

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

I participated in NaNoWriMo this year and my plan was to write two novellas, however although one concluded nicely the other has grown beyond novella length already so will be a novel. Both of these will require editing and revision during 2019, which means my other two novels will get pushed back.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

As above I have two NaNoWriMo projects to conclude but also have two other novels on the backburner. I am also considering a short story collection at come point.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

www.mandyevebarnett.com

Collaborations:

 

Author Interview Jim Jackson

December 7, 2018
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Jim Jackson

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Yes. Both. It exhausts me in the short term – I can’t really hammer out more than 2,500 words in a day, even if I have the time.

But it energizes me in the long term. Without writing, the world becomes kind of grey and flavorless. I guess writing is like sex that way – exhausting while you’re doing it, but not something you’d want to give up.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Oh, wow. Interior monologue. And lots of it. In my first novel, I had a full chapter of a character walking and doing an interior – and somewhat whiny – monologue about how put-on he was. Until my beloved beta readers berated me harshly. I rewrote that fully, and I can still hear them in the back of my brain when I slip into interior monologue again.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I have. I wanted to reinvent myself and renaming is a great way to do that. When I started writing again after too long a break, I wanted to separate myself from who I’d become without writing.

I was talked out of it. And good thing. With my name, I bring a much bigger platform than with a new one.

(Though, really, everything I do is under a pseudonym anyway! Sh!)

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

From my close group of writer friends? Rob Bose – he’s a pulp, crime and fantasy writer (check out Fishing with the Devil) – he keeps me honest. Often, I can get a little tongue in cheek. Rob’s writing keeps me connected to that honesty that’s easy to lose touch with, especially when writing genre.

From Laurie Zottmann (and her imaginary raccoon friend – check out her blog, Dark Little Critter) I stay in touch with my first love – making people laugh. I truly believe the best way to effect real change is to wrap it in laughs and good feelings. I’ve learned more about who I am from dumb comedies than from however many dark, brooding indie flicks. Laurie keeps me remembering funny first.

And from Sarah L Johnson (a truly fine writer – check out the short story collection Suicide Stitch and the novel Infractus) – where do I start? There are so many ways Sarah makes me into a better writer. And into the writer I am now. First, she challenges just about every single instance of me being complacent. She recently read my manuscript for Kiss of the Cockroach Queen, and said something like, “Yeah, it’s good enough. I’d read it and probably get the next one. But you can make it great. You’ve got the chops.”

So now I guess I have to make it great.

When I’ve had the privilege of introducing Sarah at events, I like to misquote my favorite poet, Kenneth Koch, and say that, as a writer, you need to have someone around who’s better than you’ll ever be at some aspect of writing. That keeps you striving up an impossible hill. For me, that person is Sarah L. Johnson.

There are others – so many others! – that I can’t list here, but, if they’re reading this, I appreciate all of them, too. I’m very lucky to have found a strong, talented community of writers. And not even across town!

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

Well, there are definitely connections, but not necessarily physical or world or character connections.

No matter what fictional world I’m writing in, or no matter what how-to thing I’m discussing, all my work tends to deal with the stories that we tell ourselves. The stories that define us as humans. That’s the connection between each book.

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

Engaging a publicist. Hands down. I love working with Creative Edge, my publicist agency. Wish I would have started earlier. If you’re serious about being a writer – if you’re ready to turn pro – I’d really recommend a publicist.

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

A few weeks before I turned 15, I found a brand-new, 3-cassette boxed set of Bob Dylan. I’d been listening to his greatest hits record from my father’s collection, and something compelled me to lay out the $50 or whatever – pretty much the only money I had – for this thing. I took it home and listened to every side that day, and something old and good at the center of who I was responded to the ability to use words in that way. Not for conscious thought, not for getting a point across or explain something, but to slip around the brain into the amygdala or whatever and change the way I looked at myself.

I started writing songs that year. I’ve been writing in some way or other since, though only really turned pro a little while ago.

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

I don’t know about under-appreciated – Harold Bloom puts it on his Western canon list – but no other writer I’ve talked to has read it. John Crowley’s Little, Big. The idea of it is that it gets bigger the farther in you go. If I were a better writer, I’d be able to explain exactly how Crowley does this. But, no.

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

Ha! I’ve never thought about that. I want to say something cool like a dragon. But probably not. I should be so lucky. Maybe a lemur? Yeah, my spirit animal when it comes to writing is a lemur. Me and my writing style tend to leap around, be playful. It’s a good thing I have a keen-eyed, Taurus editor (who’s also my wife – sorry, ladies).

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

Right now? I’ve got a couple scheduled to come out in the next year. I’ve also got the novel that brought me back into writing – but I’m waiting until I’m a better writer to finish that.

I also have a little piece of fluff about a World War II superhero that no will ever see. Ever.

And then I have a drawerful of ideas. The best books are always the one I haven’t written yet.

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  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Oh, you know, much like anybody – yachts, bathing beauties, bottles of Cristal in the VIP room. What? No? Not everyone became a writer for the fabulous wealth?

Seriously, though. Literary success? I’d like to supplement my income, and, through the non-fiction writing I do, spin that into a day job with talks, special projects and consulting. That’s success to me.

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

Oh, wow. The stuff I could tell you. Wikipedia and I are living in sin. I tend to need facts as I’m feverishly typing out an idea, so I research on the fly. I’ve learned more things about cockroaches than I care to know. That’s for the next novel. I also know what the three different types of erections are (yep, 3). That’s for the novel after that. I’ve had really odd looks from my wife in conversation. I have to explain I know these things from book research. Not from my checkered past.

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

I spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day writing, first thing in the morning, before I get muddled with the day-to-day. That often spins into an hour if things are going well.

Of course, I write a lot more come deadline times, and there always seem to be deadline times!

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

I’m not sure I’ve thought about it much. I usually start off with a pun, then realize I don’t even find it that clever, so just go with what sounds right. It’s all about the overtones and connotations. Naming Wood Sweeney, the protagonist in Stones in My Passway, took on the natural sense of wood, and the demon barber or T.S. Eliot flavor of Sweeney.

And with King Wong, the world’s only exoterric consultant who deals with Otherkind case in Hong Kong in Kiss of the Cockroach Queen, “Wong” is a Chinese surname that means “king,” so it’s a play on that.

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  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Sex that isn’t funny I find it hard to write. I find sex essentially comical (except when I’m doing it … well, most of the time, at least.)

The vast majority of sex scenes in Dispatches from an Accidental Sex Tourist are funny. But there was a point in the story where I needed to write a sex scene that was tender, unfunny and at least a bit erotic. I’ll let you know how well that worked when I get the manuscript back from beta readers.

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

It’s probably just impatience that makes me write in different genres. I want to do it all, man! Limiting myself feels, well … limiting. I should probably stick to one thing and do it really well, but I’m not one to listen to should. I once met a dragon that had the words you should etched onto every scale. I didn’t care for him.

Balancing is hard. I try to be writing in two different genres at the same time, but that isn’t always an option with the schedule I’ve put on myself. I guess I compartmentalize. And maybe have multiple personalities – that helps!

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  1. What inspires you?  

Oh, I really wish I could say something like walking in nature or meditating at dawn on the deck, but the honest answer is I don’t know. The ideas come. Sometimes. When they do, I write them down. When they don’t, I write something down. Then the ideas usually come after that, and I write those ones down.

Not very helpful, I know. But that’s how it is. I don’t want to crack open the process too much for fear of breaking of it!

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

Right now, I’m working on co-writing the soulful sex comedy Dispatches from an Accidental Sex Tourist. Also, come next fall, there will be the sequel to Stones in My Passway – called Devil Got My Woman. That’s a multi-perspective look at the fallout of a devil’s deal – with some laughs and even scarier hellhounds. And more to come!

19. What  do your plans for future projects include?

There’s an idea that I’ve … what? Struggled with? Flirted with? Anyway, this idea had been haunting me for years. A couple years ago while traveling, I was having a glass of wine in the Library Room bar (fitting!) of the Royal York hotel in Toronto, and the idea showed itself to me in all its glory. I started writing that, but I want to wait until I’m a better writer until I finish. The idea deserves that. (I still go back to that bar every time I’m in Toronto as a kind of pilgrimage to thank the idea for being there).

20. Share a link to your author website.

www.reallygoodstory.com

twitter: @jacksontron

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jim.jackson.author/

Bio

Jim Jackson is a Calgary Herald bestselling author and vintage leather jacket enthusiast whose books look at blues-steeped devil-deals, old-time pulp mixed with Chinese mythology and the art of storytelling. Jim’s mission is to show how the stories we all grew up with – the heroes, the monsters, the adventures – are still solid, muscular realities that shape our lives.
He’s the author of How to Tell a Really Good Story about Absolutely Anything in 4 Easy Steps, Stones in My Passway: A Novel in Blues, and Kiss of the Cockroach Queen. Find out more at www.reallygoodstory.com.

 

Author Interview – Karen Probert

November 16, 2018
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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. It exhausts me when I’m working on something long or complex but also energizes me when I have an idea I want to explore.

    2. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Sometimes I get bogged down and want to quit writing that story, or that part of the story, because nothing is going right. I just have to wait, because the characters will work it out by themselves in my head and then I can go back to it.

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I had 1 poem published under a pseudonym to protect a person who might have been offended by it. The publisher knew my real name and why I chose to do it this way. In all other cases I’ve used my real name.

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

I have many writer friends both inside the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and outside of it. They inspire me to carry on by understanding the pitfalls and frustrations, by helping me improve my stories and by continuing to listen and share their expertise.

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

Each of my 3 books, ‘Fragments of Lives’, ‘Colouring Our Lives’ and ‘Bloodlines’ stands alone. Even my contributions to magazines, periodicals, compilation books and even a workbook I co-authored are separate from all the others.

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

Money well spent has gone for art work for covers, editing and publishing assistance. These are things I cannot do myself and finding the right person or people to do it for me was worth every penny.

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

As a child I was allowed to read whenever and wherever I was. And to read anything that took my fancy. The stories fed what my mother told me was my ‘overactive imagination’. I knew at a young age that words had power as the stories affected me.

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

I have 2 spirit animals, neither of them specifically for me as a writer but both could be. The 2 diverse creatures are the she-wolf and the California Grey Whale. Both have tenacity, a lifelong affinity for protecting and caring for family and a gentleness within their peer group. When attacked or threatened they both can become aggressive in defending their family’s safety and their territorial boundaries. I have neither a mascot nor an avatar – both would be out of character for me.

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

I am not working, at the moment, on any one story or book. I have hundreds of as yet unpublished stories but most of them will remain that way as they would require a great deal of work to come to fruition. Rather than take part in NaNoWriMo I’ve challenged myself the either start or complete a story each day in November. So far this is happening.

10. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success for me is to have my stories read and appreciated. I’d like to have more of my books in libraries and have an audience farther away from where I live.

Bloodlines

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

My latest book, ‘Bloodlines’ took a lot of research. I didn’t know that when I began it as I thought it was just going to be a short story. I started researching possible migration routes for the ancestors of the main female character, Hannah, and ran into a roadblock as I discovered that she could not be of gypsy origins as I had thought. That started a whole process of figuring out where her ancestors could have come from and led to several new characters needing to be introduced. By the time that story was ready to publish it was long enough to be a book on its own and I knew more about Chile, anthropology, bats, volcano cloud storms, old maps and other things than I ever intended to know. I did some of this research online and some using old maps. I enjoyed it but it took me thousands of hours during which I discarded most of what I learned as it was not applicable to this story.

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

I have no set schedule but normally write early in the day while it is quiet and I am rested. I am easily distracted so need quiet and calmness to write.

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

The names of characters are really important. Quite often the first character’s name will just come into my head and I start with that. Names need to be evocative of the time period of the story, the age of the character, the geographical region they come from and somehow give the reader a sense of who they are as well as how they fit into the story. If a writer gets this wrong it upsets the balance of the story.

14. What was your hardest scene to write?

Endings are always hardest for me. It’s difficult to have set a tone of time, place and characters and then round it all up to complete what you’ve written about them. After reading my short stories people often ask “What happened next?” but I don’t know the answer as for me the story has ended.

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

I only write about people who could be real but aren’t. The settings are close to what most of us experience and the people who inhabit the spaces could be neighbours. Real life is fascinating and I enjoy portraying it in a new way, often with twist which is how real life usually happens.

16. How long have you been writing?

Many, many years – I think I took my first creative writing class about 25 years ago although I had attempted writing prior to that. Then I joined a small writers group, albeit one not really suited to me, before finding a group which were helpful and encouraging.

17. What inspires you?  

There is inspiration in many things, a beautiful view of mountains or the ocean, an overheard piece of random conversation, a news story, someone’s outfit, a dream I’ve had, and any number of other things in normal life.

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

For me there is little problem with time. I’m retired from a day job so can plan my time to allow me to do most of the things I want to do. I can write both on a computer or by hand if I’m on a plane or a passenger in a car or alone in my home. I’m never without pen and paper.

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

Just trying to get a few small stories prepared for a monthly newsletter I submit things to as well as one to read at a writers Christmas party. Having just published ‘Bloodlines’ I have no deadline looming.

20. What do your plans for future projects include?

I’m in that space where I haven’t planned the next phase of my writing. I’m hoping that one or more of the stories I’m writing in November will be worth pursuing and turns into something I can share with others in the new year.

21. Share a link to your author website.

I don’t have a personal website but am part of the website of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC).

 

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