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Author Interview – Chynna Laird

April 30, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

Just Shut Up and Drive actually started off as a short story several years ago. I was part of a writing group that had weekly writing prompts that could be anything from challenging us to expand on a sentence or writing a story around one word to posting a picture. One week, the host of the group posted a black and white photograph of an old house. It must have been built back in the early 1900’s and had obviously been long ago abandoned. The story came to me right away and Gramps’ character, specifically, came to me the same night in a dream. I know that sounds weird but a lot of my ideas come from dreams I’ve had. A restless brain can prove to be a bonus from time-to-time. But that’s how Just Shut Up and Drive started out.

 How did you come up with the title?

The title so depicts the character of Gramps. He comes across as a brash, cranky, narrow-minded old man. But the more layers he lets peel away on his journey with Wil, and the more vulnerable he allows himself to be, we get to the heart of who he truly is.      

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

Honestly, there wasn’t at first. I just dreamed about this story, got up the next morning and wrote endlessly for the next couple of weeks. Including pre-editing, I think it took me about 3 months in total from idea to finished manuscript. I guess if there was any message I’d like readers to take away with them from this book it’s to embrace all that life has to offer you, no matter what direction your own journey takes you on. Pay attention to what’s around you, absorb the stories others share with you, take away what you need to from each experience and don’t be afraid to make those pit stops along the way. Those stops can often reveal a thing or two either about yourself or someone close to you that you wouldn’t have discovered any other way.

How much of the book is realistic?

Just Shut Up and Drive is a pretty realistic read. All of the places Wil and his grandfather stop to visit are real places. The highway they go down and the descriptions of what they see would be the same as what anyone else taking the same drive would see. Gramps’ house in Winnipeg is basically my grandparents’ house. Of course, some situations I put them in aren’t exactly every day occurrences for most people, but my focus was making this as real as possible so readers could relate to the story and feel a part of the journey right alongside Wil and Gramps.

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

When I ‘see’ characters, I have borrowed some personality traits from people I know and sometimes I’ve put some of me in there. For the most part, though, the characters aren’t usually based on someone I know but a lot of the scenarios I put them in are based off of events from my own life and experiences.

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

I do have an author blog at www.chynnalairdauthor.ca.

I’m also on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chynnalaird

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/chynnaauthor/

G+: https://plus.google.com/+ChynnaLaird

Instagram (although I’m still trying to figure it out): https://www.instagram.com/chynna_l/

Author’s Den: http://www.authorsden.com/chynnatlaird

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2882404.Chynna_T_Laird

I also write for PsychCentral (https://psychcentral.com/lib/author/chynna-laird/) and maintain two blogs on there. One is about raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and the other one is geared more to women’s health issues.

 

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

I’ve just finished the next book in The Watcher series (the first book is Dark Water). I’ve also written another children’s book as well as a parent-to-parent book on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). And I’ve also just completed a new adult novel currently in the editing stages before finding it a home. I always have ideas brewing. Right now, I’m planning my next memoir and have a plan set for a new adult fiction novel, but we’ll see. The Watcher series is the only sequel set I’ve started. The others are all stand alone.
out of synch

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

Oh wow. That’s a toughie. My main characters are all the ‘underdog’ in some way. That invisible presence that not many others give enough time to, but who can make a huge difference in their own way. Each of them has had to face some sort of life hurdle and deal with it in the most positive way they can, bumps and all. And they are each searching, maybe not consciously, to fill some sort of void in their life. There is a character I created in my newest manuscript (that one will come out soon, hopefully) who is very much like me. But out of all of the characters I’ve created in my published works, I’d have to say my favorite is Wil Carter in Just Shut Up and Drive. He is funny, grounded and has an amazing relationship with his grandfather who raised him. And even though he faced the ultimate tragedy of losing his parents at a very young age, he shows others how to keep moving forward…with a little help from his very cranky, but very wise, grandfather. When I wrote the last sentence in Just Up and Drive, I actually teared up realizing I wouldn’t have the daily interaction with him anymore. But he’s still there.  He’s one of those powerful spirits that never truly leaves you. I hope readers feel the same way when they ‘meet’ him.
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Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I’ve been told I’m an eclectic writer in that I have dabbled in different genres. So far, I’ve published children’s books, memoir, adult fiction and young adult and new adult fiction. My heart is writing for youth so my books are clean, contemporary, true-to-life fiction. That’s not to say that down the road I won’t try something else, but that’s my focus for now.

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

I love this question. I think the only books I’ve written that have taken the time to plan out have been my memoirs. Maybe that’s because this genre is a lot more personal and revealing so you need to present the material in the best, most accepting way possible. Otherwise, I’m one of those weird authors who gets an idea for a story and can actually see it beginning to end in my mind. In a sense, it’s almost like transcribing what is already complete in my head. I’ll always write down character names and how they relate to each other as well as research specific things so that the information is accurate, but for the most part I just sit and write when the story is there.

What is your best marketing tip?

I’ve tried various tools out there but I’ve always found that the best marketing tip that’s worked with me is connecting with other authors in the same genre and being a presence in specific social groups relating to what I’m writing about. For example, most of my work is geared toward children and youth so I try to connect with these groups, and those who work with them. I also have no fear in discussing issues or topics on my blog that many others know about but may not talk about as much as they should. That shows that I’m not just writing about these areas, I take the time to understand them. I’ve found this means a lot to readers as they can see that I’m not just ‘blowing smoke’ and simply trying to make money off of a specific issue or group. I write about it because it’s important and it matters. This leads to word-of-mouth promotion, which is just as important or more so than traditional forms of marketing.

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

I actually see both sides of this. There are so many forms of social media out there it can be overwhelming to know which ones to go on and which can offer the greatest benefits for writers and authors. On the one hand, it can be a great tool in that it offers a way to get the latest, up-to-date information on our work to our readers. It also offers a way for readers to interact with authors in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to. I can’t speak for all authors but, for me, it warms my heart to read feedback from readers. It tells me my work is appreciated. On the other hand, spending too much time on social media, even for promo, takes time away from actual writing. The key is only allotting a specific amount of time to posting, responding to comments/questions and staying current with readers otherwise most of your writing day will be spent on it.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS:

What do you enjoy most about writing?

First, I enjoy keeping my muse quiet for a while. She bombards me with ideas and never leaves me alone. I also think that I have a male muse as well so they fight for attention. Seriously, though. Writing is a tough job and many out there don’t truly understand just how hard it can be. It isn’t about throwing words together and having it all make sense. It’s about creating a story that’s believable, enjoyable and has the influence to absorb readers so deeply, they stay awake to read just one more chapter. That is one of the highest compliments a reader can give an author.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

This is a great question I love to answer. When I was in elementary school, I believe it was Grade Four, we had an editor come to our class to discuss the publishing process. As an avid reader, I was thrilled. Then we got to write our own little book from start to finish. We wrote the story, drew our illustrations, created our ‘cover’ (which was basically laminated card stock…but still…) and bound it. After we were finished, we got to put our book into the school library for other kids to borrow. We were supposed to take it home at the end of the year, but I’d forgotten mine in the mad rush of starting summer holidays. I actually forgot about it.

About 15 years later, my younger sister came home from school. She had had library that day and was so excited about the book she took out. Guess what book it was? The one I created all those years ago, when I was the same age my sister was when she found it.

 I look that as a sign that was the profession I’d be in.

(My little book was called, “Super Bug”, which was all about a bug in a superhero costume whose only fear was size 12 shoes. J Every time our class had library, I’d always check to see if mine got taken out. And it did!)

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

Somewhat. I do love to mix my sarcastic Scottish humor in there whenever I can. I still write for children and youth, though. That’s where my heart is.

What genre are you currently reading?

Well, I’m one of those readers who has at least three books on the go at once. You know, then I have something to read in each room. I’m reading a memoir right now, which I plan to review on my blog when I’m finished. I also bought a few books during the Boxing Day sales at Chapters. The one I chose to read first out of that stack is called, ‘Girl in the Dark’ by Marion Paux. I love suspense thrillers.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I do read for research for my books, just to make sure I understand a subject enough. There is nothing worse than authors who choose to write about something and have no clue what they’re talking about. But I mostly read for pleasure. After all, if an author wants to develop and grow their craft, it’s good to absorb what you can from some fellow authors.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

Wow. Well, I have a very small handful of people I consider mentors. They are authors, instructors, editors and publishers who have given me advice, tips and support over the years. Without them, I would have given up a long time ago. My greatest supporter was my Uncle Craig. He was my main promotor and tooted horns for me whenever he had the chance. I lost him last year, which was really difficult, but I know that wherever he is now he’s still turning heads in the direction of my stuff.

Where is your favorite writing space?

My writing space is my ‘office’ I created in our basement. I have everything I need surrounding me right at my fingertips. It looks like a bomb went off around here some days but I call it my ‘organized mess’. I know where everything is. As odd as it sounds, I actually write better when I can hear all my kids running around. My son has his video game area set up just outside of my ‘office’. He busies himself over there, turning around every so often to say, “I love you, mom!” and I absorb myself in my task at hand. It can get a little difficult when my youngest comes down and sits behind me in my chair asking 500 million questions, but it’s all good. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

I belong to a few online groups, as well as a few local ones. Mostly, I am a part of the NaNoWriMo group, The Writers Guild of Alberta, the Canadian Authors Association groups on FB. It’s important to reach out to fellow authors as I have found that unless you are an author/writer, it’s difficult to truly understand the entire process.

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

Oh boy, that is a tough one because I enjoy so many great authors. I love John Grisham, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, John Saul, Chris Grabenstein. But I also enjoy authors such as Jodi Picoult who take real-life situations and turn them into a beautiful novel. Out of all of them, I think I’d like to chat with John Saul. One of the first books I read by him was ‘Come the Blind Fury’. Right after that, I knew I wanted to write for young adults.

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

Australia. I mean, I’d love to visit places like Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii and other places but I’ve always been drawn to Australia for some reason.

Do you see writing as a career?

I pretty much decided that it already is. There aren’t many authors who can completely rely on their royalties from their books, but I think that’s my goal. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

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

Oh boy. I try not to eat at my desk because then I’d never leave my work area. Having said that, I do have a small stash of two kinds of candy I actually like: Sour Skittles and Vanilla clusters. I call them my ‘think candy’. There you go. That’s something very few people know about me. lol

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

High fives from my kids and a nap. Seriously. There are a lot of days my poor kids spend looking at the back of my head when I’m on a tight deadline (or four). Once I’m all caught up, we make a family favorite meal, enjoy each other then I fall asleep. You can ask them. I have my own blanket and space on the couch. lol

Bio:

CHYNNA LAIRD – is a mother of four, a freelance writer, blogger, editor and award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), mental and/or emotional struggles and other special needs. She’s authored two children’s books, two memoirs, a parent-to-parent resource book, a Young Adult novella, a Young Adult paranormal/suspense novel series, two New Adult contemporary novels and an adult suspense/thriller.

Website: www.chynnalairdauthor.ca

 

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

April 9, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Author for Fairy Tales Dec 2018.JPG

What inspired your latest novel? A few years ago, I worked with a personal growth mentor on a workbook for telling life story as a myth. I gathered the stories I wrote and from them created The Storyteller: Tales of Enchantment which was recently published by Dream Write Publishing. My weary Gypsy traveller is an elder who shares tales of magic and wonder while passing on wisdom in these short, fanciful pieces. I am currently at work on an autobiographical novel.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Maturity and aging are ripe with gifts. Elder tales are to be respected as much as traditional fairy tales, which focus on the courage to venture out into the world and seek their fortunes. Instead, my Gypsy Storyteller elder tales touch on the archetypes common to all of us as we age. I hope readers will grasp the deeper message of the stories, seeing in them the courage to confront the challenges of growing old. Our culture is youth-oriented and so I want the reader to appreciate that elders are heroes too.

How much of the book is realistic? These tales are symbolic of the lessons I’ve learned in life. In that respect, they are realistic. The themes are my own observations of loss, self-confrontation, masks, transcendence and seeing wonder in the world, all timeless insights learned by growing old.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Each story is a fanciful description of values and strengths I’ve come to accept in myself, and a way to reflect using active imagination and reflection.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I have an author page and a story page on Facebook, and a website with a blog at www.kathiesutherland.com. My blogs are few and far between lately as other writing projects have taken up space in my mind.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Most of my writing is “life writing” in one form or another. My work is Self-centered, soulful and focused on wholeness although some think it is self-centered and ego driven.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I believe each of us has a story in which we are the protagonist. My Gypsy Storyteller has created these tales to affirm my favorite voices. The Blind Gardener, The Good Wife, Grandmother Spider are all wise characters from my inner world.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I’ve tried many writing genres, all of them focused on life story. Even as a child, my favourite books were fables, songs, fairy tales and classic stories, such as Heidi and Little Women. As an adult, I’ve embraced journaling for personal growth, become a certified journaling facilitator, written poetry and published it in chapbooks and bound books, gathered personal essays into a memoir collection, submitted articles to magazines, had my short stories published in anthologies; all of these works based on life events and family history. I’m currently working on an autobiographic narrative and two novels. I have recently been assisting elders and others at the end of life to identify the values of a lifetime and leave these insightful stories as a “Letter of the Heart” legacy for family and friends.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Definitely seat of the pants but the stories are usually based on true events. Having a structure into which the story falls helps me plan.

What is your best marketing tip? This is not a question I feel comfortable with because I quickly lose interest after completing books and hurry off into new projects without marketing the published ones. Its the writing I love. I could use the help of a marketing assistant!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I like social media as a way to reach out to others but I have to limit my time with it. My favourite self-expression methods are stories and poems in book form. I love using the computer to write and edit.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing? Writing is “the way to me.” Every time I write, I learn something about my values, beliefs and strengths. This lifelong learning is very important to me.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother brought our faraway relatives to life with family stories. As a child, I took on the role of correspondent and wrote letters to friends and family. I surprised myself when I wrote a good short story in 10th grade and later, found poetry could express my feelings as an adult in my early 30s. I became serious about life story writing in 2000 after attending a seminar focused on the lives of girls and women. Once I realized I had a story to tell, I embraced life writing.

What genre are you currently reading? Memoir and autobiography mostly. I love a good novel and love to encourage other writers in their efforts to create with words and enjoy acting as first reader for them.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both. I love to learn more about my current interests, and this strength serves me well in my research. For example, I am reading books about building on my innate strengths, accepting my dark side, aging with wisdom and dying with dignity.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Other writers and writing groups. My mother is my biggest fan and has read all my books. I have worked with personal coaches and other “balcony” people, including my psychologist.

Where is your favorite writing space? In my office/sanctuary. One of my favourite activities is taking a writers’ retreat whether with others or alone. Solitary time is essential to my writing.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? Two, one in Sherwood Park and one in Fort Saskatchewan. I like to feel I belong, and writers groups are definitely the place I find community.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? I am in awe of all writing efforts, because as I said earlier, we all have a story of some sort within us and I’m interested in how we express them.

Do you see writing as a career? I believe my life purpose is to grow into myself. Writing is a way to give my life meaning. Success in a career is simply loving what I do.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? When I write, my tea gets cold, and the ice in my drink melts. I’m not a snacker at any time!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I am working on giving myself credit for completing projects and enjoying the fruits of my labour because I don’t do that often enough. I’m usually off on the next bit of writing. My greatest reward is hearing someone say, “I can relate to this character and your writing.”

Other books by Kathie:

 

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland has recently published a collection of Elder Tales “The Storyteller: True Tales of Enchantment.” She is also the author of Things We Keep: A Memoir, and poetry books balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight; Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She has several large writing projects in the works including three novels.

Kathie is a well-travelled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops and is active in her local writing group. Currently, she encourages others as a story listener and writing companion to elders and those at the end of life as they articulate their values stories to share as a legacy in “Letters of the Heart.”

The Storyteller book icon

Ask A Question Thursday

March 28, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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This week’s question is:  What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

co-authoring

I have co-authored a book with two members of my writing group. It was a great experience as we each contributed different aspects and ideas to create a memoir collecting workbook. http://dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/your-lifetime-stories

Lifetime

 

Last week’s discussion was: How big of a part does music play in creating your ‘zone’? Do you prefer a certain genre of music?

I like and listen to the Medieval Babes.

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

October 26, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

Words in the Park 2017 by G Sheard

1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It depends on the project and on my readiness to tackle the subject. To be open and vulnerable in my poetry and life writing requires risk and that frightens me sometimes. On the other hand, my best work helps me let go of my fears.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Family crises, mood swings and poor self-discipline.

Balancing
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? No, but now that you mention it, it might be freeing.
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Writers Foundation of Strathcona County are encouraging, accepting and creative.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? All of my writing is focused on writing as a tool for personal growth.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Too many! Poetry (Pipers Dream); Family history and memoir (Home and Away); Novel (Mile Zero); Nonfiction (Writing with Inner Child; Diving the Sea of Emotion; Process of Perspective).
7. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Research is one of my favourite activities because it reflects my love of learning. Non-fiction and fiction – reading on the subject. Google on specific aspects. Symbolism.

ShadowGirls
8. How many hours a day/week do you write? Not enough. I’m aiming for 2 hours every morning. I am very inconsistent and that is something I am trying to correct.
9. How do you select the names of your characters? Usually some symbolic aspect of their personality. For example, in my novel the main character Claire is becoming more enlightened.
10. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? Personal writing is self-expressive and spiritual. Poetry is symbolic. All my writing is aimed at finding life’s depth, meaning and purpose.

What-We-Keep
11. How long have you been writing? Poetry since 1974 and life writing for at least 30 years.
12. What inspires you? Nature. People. Mindfulness. Life events. New ideas. New insight.
13. What projects are you working on at the present? Blogs. I’ve neglected my website for the past few months so I want to update and add new ideas. Final edits to my book of fairy tales, which is coming soon! It is called “Life is Not a Fairy Tale” and will be released by Dream Write Publishing before Christmas.
14. Share a link to your author website. http://kathiesutherland.com/

blog

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland is the author of Things We Keep, a memoir in essay form, and a self-published author of several poetry books:  balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight; Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She is presently completing final edits on a collection of Fairy Tales, and has several large writing projects in the works including a “self-help” book and two life writing workbooks.

Kathie is a well-traveled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops. Currently, she acts as a Story Listener for elderly Lodge residents as they share life stories and she facilitates a reminiscence group there.

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – Plantation Tradition

September 17, 2018
mandyevebarnett


plantation

Plantation tradition is a genre of literature based in the southern states of the United States. The genre generally sets the era as occurring or existing before the American Civil War.

Before the American Civil War several works idealized the plantation, such as John Pendleton Kennedy’s 1832 The Swallow Barn. However, plantation tradition became more popular in the late-nineteenth century, due to the reaction against slave narratives like those of Frederick Douglass, and abolitionist novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Prominent writers in the plantation tradition include Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922) and Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855-1938). Other writers, especially African-American writers, soon satirized the genre: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (1899), for example, “consciously evoked the conventions of the plantation novel only to subvert them”.

The earlier novels do not have a place in modern society but there are still novels and movies set during the era. The most famous one, of course is Gone with the Wind (1939). Although, I did not read the book, I watched Twelve Years A Slave, which horrified me. It is a 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, who was a New York State-born free African-American kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. 

There are romanticized novels of plantations but also narratives of the inhumanity and brutality of slavery. 

Do you write or read plantation genre novels?

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