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Author Interview – Karen Harmon

November 5, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Karen's Headshot.jpg

What inspired your latest novel? My father passed away when I was 27 years old, so none of my three children had ever met him. To keep his memory alive, I used to tell my kids true stories about my dad. He was an amazing fun loving, comical, adventurous person but he came from a very dysfunctional, heartbreaking back ground. One day (8 years ago) when I was telling my (then) 11-year-old son about how my father rode the rails when he was 13 years from Saskatchewan to BC, my son said, “Mom, I love your stories so much, you should write a book”. So, I did.                                                                     

How did you come up with the title? The title of my book Looking for Normal, is a play on words. For a big part of my life I would often say, “I just want a normal family”. Therefore, I was always looking for normal. When, in the real world, there is no such thing as normal. I use a quote from Erma Bombeck, “normal is just a setting on your dryer” on the first page, chapter one.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? YES! I would very much like my readers to 1) feel inspired by my story 2) come to understand that mental illness and addiction can cause people to behave a certain way, but there is always hope and humour if you can get past the pain. Mental health issues are not uncommon.

How much of the book is realistic? My book is a true story about family, heartache, heartbreak, hope, and humor, it is all true and about my life. Some people have described my memoir to be unique and eclectic and I say, “aren’t we all?”

normal

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Yes, the main characters in my book are my mother, father and myself. It weaves in and out with flash backs and stories throughout. I have been told that my book is very relatable, it could be many peoples story. It takes place between 1930 and 1978 and has historical facts, photos and events along the way.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I currently have (as of April 2019) 25 reviews on Good Reads. My book is available on amazon.ca  amazon.com  Indigo.ca  chapters.ca barnesandnoble.ca  I also love chatting with my followers on Instagram, I have approximately 8,000  @karenharmonn  I post about writing, health, fitness and family. Twitter @karenharmonn

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Yes! I am currently (as of April 2019) 50,000 words into my 2nd book which is a sequel. I should be finished by the time this blog comes out. I am very excited as this book takes place in the 80’s and 90’s. Parts of it have been fun to write because I was a disco queen during Vancouver’s disco era. And I started teaching fitness at the same time as Jane Fonda. HaHa! Other portions have been more difficult to write but very therapeutic to write because it deals with AA, and Alanon.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? Of my three main characters they are ALL my favourites and this is why…….. 1) my dad adored me, and I idolized him. He was funny and kind. He never repeated the cycle of abuse that he was raised under. 2) my mother wanted to be a private detective in the 1930’ & 1940’s which was completely unheard of for a woman, so she settled and became a mom & house wife. Plus, she had mental health issues and in those days that too was unheard of. 3) Me, my heart breaks for the little girl I once was. I really got to know little girl Karen during my telling of her childhood. I gained confidence from writing about who I once was and my beginnings. Therefore, all three of my characters are my favourite.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I favor non-fiction because writing about something I know to be real and true is easier. I gained my story telling ability from my father, he was animated and funny. I like to look at life that way, we are all characters on the stage of life.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? My first book was by the seat of my pants, sometimes it felt like verbal diarrhea. My second book has been more planned out and I feel way more organized.

What is your best marketing tip? Networking and asking questions. Find a facebook page with like minded individuals. That’s where I found you, and look, I get to be in your blog! Instagram and Twitter are important too.

Be professional, if you are having a book launch, a book read, or any kind of event make professional invitations and hand them out. At my book launch my friend made appetizers that were conventional in the 1960’s. I had old fashioned coke in glass bottles, and everyone was offered coffee or tea. My friend owns a coffee shop, so she gave me a great deal. It was super fun and prior to the launch the newspaper did a story on me.

Contact your local newspaper as they love personal interest stories about people in the community, you are helping them if they do a story on you. So, it is a win-win as it gives you exposure as well.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I want to say a little bit of both. Through Instagram I have connected with some amazing, writers, bloggers and readers. Sending personal messages DM’s (direct messages) I have messaged at least 50 people I have admired. At least ten of those people have responded and we have had some amazing conversations. I have been given incredible advice from other authors. I have sent my book to instagrammers who read as a hobby and I they have given my book great reviews. Plus, its fun to post photos, make videos, network, and make connections.  I find Twitter a bit more challenging as it is important to post something everyday, if not more. I enjoy following people who have odd perspectives on life. My challenge is coming up with something unique and fresh daily.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing? I enjoy thinking of someone reading my material and laughing or crying or becoming inspired. I visualize certain friends reading what I have written, and I can see them smile in my head.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? I have always liked to write stories, but my lack of self confidence and self esteem got in the way. I am way more confident now, so I have way less inhibitions.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? So far it has stayed the same, but I do have a few ideas for a fiction book, based on real people.

What genre are you currently reading? I love true stories and memoirs, I just accidentally read, Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner. I say accidentally because I read it before, years ago but I forgot and read it again lol. My favourite book was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Wow! I have a few. I have three author friends who have helped me and inspired me in different ways. Nadine Sands she wrote Hold On, Let Go, she told me these simple words, “not everyone likes memoirs, which does not mean that yours is not good”. As silly as that sounds, it was like an epiphany for me. Mary Edigar, she wrote Mennonite Girl, she said “just keep writing, do not worry about mistakes or punctuation that can be fixed later”. Colleen Friesen she is a Travel Writer and a Blogger, her inspiration is more about who she is and how she lives her life. Plus, she can be very frank in her writing but still manages to bring hope to the reader. She writes about travel, but she also writes about family, death and spirituality.

Where is your favorite writing space? Good question! I love, love, love, writing in my bed with my little dog Steven curled up next to me. I am either drinking a coffee (with extra cream) or a giant water. I live in a small home, but my bedroom is my sanctuary. My husband can have the TV and the living room lol.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? I have attended the North Shore Writers Association and I really like it. They bring in guest Authors and it feels great to be with like minded people.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be? Jeanette Walls and Whalley Lamb.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would live here in North Vancouver, but I would like someone to give me house too. OR if my three children and husband could come with me, I think Hawaii would be a great place to live.

Do you see writing as a career? I would love that, if I could make a living from it.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? I could never nibble while I write, but I do love coffee or tea while I am writing. AND Ice cream after a day of writing with my favourite Netflix show.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Rewards vary. A massage, a pedicure, ice cream and for example today when I finish answering all these questions, I will have a cold Corona with lime. But just one.

Bio:

Local Vancouver writer Karen Harmon, writes passionately in her recent memoir Looking for Normal – which won the Rubery Book Excellence Award in the category of Women’s Health.

The book contains Karen’s recollections based on her parents meeting in 1945 at the Cave Super Club in Vancouver B.C. and her own personal experiences of growing up in the 1960’s. Taking the reader on a memorable journey throughout 1930 to 1978.

“With poverty, addiction, mental illness and family relationships being current topics of discussion, Karen Harmon has tapped into a story that everyone can relate to. I am looking forward to sharing her upbringing with my students”.  Cathy Sieben, Secondary Teacher Gibson’s B.C.

Looking for Normal is a bitter-sweet memoir that covers historical events dating back to the depression era, the outcome of prohibition, the obsolete recognition of mental health issues and a family trying to succeed in amongst the trappings of society and current events in Western British Columbia, Canada.

Capture

 

Author Interview – Bruce Olav Solheim

October 15, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Bruce

What inspired your latest novel?
It is actually a comic book called Snarc. The character came to me in a dream in 1982. I believe it was initially inspired by an alien abduction experience from my childhood.

How did you come up with the title?
The title and the name of the character is from the dream

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

Yes, we have to work together to solve our problems because time is running out.

snarc

How much of the book is realistic?
Snarc visits various locations in the USA where real life problems are happening (i.e., the border with Mexico).

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My wife Ginger says that I am Snarc. I pay close attention to what is going on around the country. So, yes.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
No blog, but I am active on FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/SnarcComic/) and my personal website (http://www.bruceolavsolheim.com) and Twitter (@BruceOSolheim)

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Snarc is a comic book series. I have already written enough stories for three more issues.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Snarc is my favorite. He is part human, part alien, all heart. He is learning about the troubles we face as humans from a totally objective viewpoint and with an eye toward helping all of us survive the upcoming calamities.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I write non-fiction, I write theatre plays, I love writing.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Totally right brain seat of the pants and awaaaaay we go!

What is your best marketing tip?
I use FaceBook and direct mailers. Old and new.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Definitely a great tool, but don’t forget about the old ways and use those too!

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is life, and I enjoy life.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?
Age 7.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Both, but mostly research.

Where is your favorite writing space?
My home library, my sanctuary.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be?
Mark Twain.

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

Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, a second career.

Find Bruce’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Bruce-Olav-Solheim/e/B001H6UAKG/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Bio:

Bruce Olav Solheim was born in Seattle, Washington, to Norwegian immigrant parents. Bruce was the first per­son in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a warrant officer helicopter pilot, and is a disabled veteran. Bruce earned his Ph.D. in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993. Bruce is a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He was a Fulbright Professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. Bruce has published eight books and has written ten plays, two of which have been produced. He is married to Ginger and has four children and a grandson. Bruce has just published his second paranormal book, Timeless Deja Vu: A Paranormal Personal History. Bruce’s mother was psychic and introduced him to the magical realm. His first paranormal experience took place in northern Norway in 1962 when he was four years old. Bruce took a parapsychology class while he was stationed in West Germany in 1979 and has wanted to write about his experiences ever since. He has continued to have paranormal experiences throughout his life and has developed advanced mediumship capabilities. It was only three years ago that Bruce had a spiritual awakening after a vision and communication with his departed close friend Gene that Bruce decided to publish his paranormal stories and overcome his fear of being rejected and ridiculed by his peers and the college administration. Bruce studies quantum theory and has developed a model that may help explain our quantum reality, ghosts, reincarnation, alien contact, and more. He is interested in all esoterica and oddities. Bruce teaches a Paranormal Personal History course at Citrus College and has his own radio program.​ He is also an associate member of the Parapsychological Association.

 

Author Interview – Joan Marie Galat

July 9, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I find it very satisfying to challenge myself to write in different genres and especially enjoy incorporating storytelling into nonfiction. I’m published in nonfiction, literary nonfiction, fiction, self-help (Give Yourself a Pep Talk, Pelican Publishing), and travel (Day Trips From Edmonton, Whitecap Books). Two of my Scholastic titles are “info-fiction fantasy,” a classification I always found amusing!

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

With nonfiction, I start with an outline that sometimes resembles a very detailed table of contents. As I research and discover new irresistible facts, I find ways to work them in. Hooray for sidebars! They allow me to expand on main text or add unexpected tidbits. With fiction, I start with a rough outline of events and see where they take me. This approach can be exhilarating or frightening, depending on how long it takes to find a way to get my characters out of the trouble I’ve conjured.

Dark Matters - final cover (hi-res)

The stories in Dark Matters, Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Red Deer Press) began with a list. I compiled an inventory of events in my life relating to astronomy, wildlife, and the environment, then matched them to the points I wanted to make about how light at night impacts different species. Enormous fun, this approach triggered me to remember stories from my childhood, teen, and early adult years that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I feel any writer can benefit from the activity of matching personal stories to a theme, and this is an exercise I incorporate into creative writing workshops. (As a follow-up to the question above, it’s interesting to note that Dark Matters, being part memoir and part science, doesn’t fit into a traditional genre. Even more fun!)

What is your best marketing tip?

When approaching traditional media sources, make your potential interviewer’s job easy. Find a way to tie your content to current events or trending topics. For example, if proposing an interview about Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Clouds—Weather Science and Mythology from Around the World, I could point out connections to thunderstorms, frost warnings, or climate change.

Solve This book cover

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. When not working on my own books, I offer freelance writing and editing services though my business MoonDot Media [moondotmedia.com]. I edited a magazine for several years and take on freelance projects that have included speechwriting, writing/editing website content, museum panel text, grant applications, magazine articles, advertising, annual reports, educational materials, and a myriad of other projects, as well as manuscript and publishing consultations. I have produced radio programming and other projects for broadcast, and offer writing and creativity workshops. Writing as a career can take many forms and every type of writing helps you to build your skills by teaching you to write for different audiences.

Dot to Dot - Stories in the Clouds - cover - low res

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?

While an abundance of ideas are tempting me, I expect to especially continue exploring themes relating to space, astronomy, and ecology. An upcoming title is Absolute Expert: Space (National Geographic Kids).

Day Trips From Edmonton

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

Chocolate is essential to good writing, especially chili pepper dark chocolate.

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

I’m an occasional contributor on the the Sci/Why blog, where Canadian children’s writers discuss science, words, and the eternal question – why? http://sci-why.blogspot.com/

You can also find me on these sites:

Websites: www.joangalat.com and www.moondotmedia.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Joan-Marie-Galat/125108027581967
Twitter twitter.com/JoanMarieGalat
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/joangalat
Instagram – @jmgalat
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/joanmgalat
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/896930.Joan_Marie_Galat?from_search=true
JacketFlap https://www.jacketflap.com/profile.asp?member=dot2dot

Bio:

Joan Marie Galat is an international award-winning author whose career began at the age of 12 when she was hired as a newspaper columnist. Now she is the author of more than 20 books, including a Canadian best seller. Joan shares her love of the night sky in her Dot to Dot in the Sky series (Whitecap Books), which partners sky science with the stories early cultures first told to explain their observations. Dark Matters—Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Red Deer Press) offers personal stories, revealing how light at night impacts wildlife, while Solve This! Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You (National Geographic Kids) encourages young readers to explore hands-on problem solving.

A professional speechwriter, former radio show host, and frequent presenter, Joan has traveled across Canada and around the globe to deliver presentations promoting science and literacy. She has been featured at a United Nations event in Seoul, Australian observatories, the International Dark-Sky Association conference, and numerous other events. When not writing or talking about writing, Joan can be found enjoying the outdoors.

 

 

Author Interview – Tamara Plant Due to unforeseen circumstances this original post had to be deleted.

May 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


Expectations:

We can be overwhelmed with our own and other people’s expectations when creating a writing project. Questions race through our minds, taunting us – Am I good enough? Have I really got the skill? or Will anyone think my work worthy? Don’t feel these insecurities are the soul territory of the novice writer as many well known authors still suffer angst of one sort or another, even if it is only – Will this story be as enthralling as the last? Self imposed expectations can stall or even stop your creative flow, a scary place to be for all creative minds and in particular writers, who sit before a blank page with a whirling dervish of emotion crowding out any creativity.  In some cases this insecurity will be compounded by friends and family, who may demean your passion as a passing fancy or treat it with distaste or derision.

It is true writing is a solitary endeavour but there are ways to make connections. Of course there is the internet route, where everything from writing tips to author blogs to social media is at your fingertips, but do these give you a real connection? What we all yearn for is actually a more personal connection to someone (or even a group) who can encourage and  support us in the real world as opposed to the cyber one. Isn’t it nicer to sit down with like minded people and share our work? Constructive critique over a coffee or within a writers group meeting is not only of practical help but gives us a  feeling of community. An added bonus and one that truly boosts our confidence is when another writer will ask for help, an opinion, a viewpoint or even request mentor-ship. All of us can give as well as receive thus making our writerly life not so solitary.

Reach out to others – find a local group or even start your own! The benefits are countless and to be frank make our passion so much more enjoyable. Some of the following places may help:

Your local library. Search MeetUp or your local yellow pages. Your area’s Writers Guild or Association. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

A great source of advice is – http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/solitary-drop  – the book gives tips on starting your own writing circle.

 

 

Author Interview – Murray Fuhrer

March 19, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Murray

 1) What inspired your latest novel?

Though I have written children’s novels in the past, most of the writing I do now is non-fiction with a focus on self-esteem and personal empowerment – understanding the origin of self-defeating beliefs and breaking down self-imposed barriers.

2) How did you come up with the title?       

The title Extreme Esteem came from the name of a self-esteem and personal empowerment workshop I had been conducting at the time. My editor, Carl and I came up with the name and after a Google search (with no hits), registered it as the official name for my workshop series. Over the years, the title has become popular and you’ll now see it everywhere. I think I can confidently say that Carl and I were the originators of the term.

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

In my book Extreme Esteem – the Four Factors, I want my readers to understand the origins of dysfunctional thinking and disempowering belief systems, how those systems are reinforced, how they can be broken down and ultimately, replaced with more positive, heart-centred ways of thinking and being.

4) How much of the book is realistic?

Much of the book is realistic. Most of the lessons start with real-life experiences. Some are from my history, but many have been shared with me by workshop participants and clients over the years. I am also an intuitive hypnotherapist and life coach, so I’ve heard many fascinating tales. I should mention, I have always asked permission before sharing an anecdote in my writing.

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

Characters are almost always based on people I’ve known or are an amalgam of various people I have met (or heard about) over the years. Sometimes, a character in a story is actually me reacting the way I would to a particular setting or situation.

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

My readers can find me on Facebook under Extreme Esteem Workshops. They can also read my work on http://www.channillo.com/ and coming soon, http://www.extremeesteem.ca (New website is in the works and will feature blog posts).

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

I am working on a sequel to Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors simply called Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors 2. (Pretty creative, eh?) And I’m working on a time-travel novel titled The Fence Post Philosopher combining down-home philosophy (and self-esteem building) with a science fiction premise.

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

The favourite character that I created was from a young adult novel I wrote years ago called Power Glide. The character’s name is Verity Lambert. After the death of his father in a vehicle accident, Verity and his mother struggle to make ends meet. Following a brush with the law, Verity is sent to stay with his gentle, long-suffering grandmother and curmudgeonly grandfather for the summer. The two immediately dislike each other, and after a few days on the farm, Verity decides to run away. I won’t give the story away, but it’s a tale of a son who lost his father and a father who lost his son.

9) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I enjoy writing stories that contain a life-lesson and speak to the heart — stories about loss and redemption, forgiveness, the healing journey and achievement despite enormous odds and obstacles. I love people stories – people are fascinating.

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

It’s weird, I have an idea and will plant a mental “seed” in the fertile soil of my mind. Then I forget about it until I start getting those intuitive nudges that tell me the idea, the seed has germinated, and then I begin to capture everything that comes to mind in a notebook I always carry with me. I try to capture every idea no matter how crazy or absurd because who knows where it might lead or what it might produce.

11) What is your best marketing tip?

As far as a marketing tip, get out there and be seen – be noticed. I used to do a tremendous amount of speaking on the topic of self-esteem and personal empowerment for businesses, schools, colleges and universities and ultimately became known to many as The Self-Esteem Guy. Of course, I would always have my books for sale at every event. For me, it was important to become known for something significant. I once encountered a lady while leaving a restaurant with my family. She recognized me, so approached me and made a life-affirming comment, “You have no idea the difference you’re making in the world and how many lives you’ve touched.”

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

Social media well executed can be tremendously powerful. Poorly executed, it can be a hindrance and even discredit your work. Have a plan and follow it, allowing room for flexibility, innovation and of course, creativity.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love words and the endless combination of ways you can put them together to inform, delight, encourage and inspire. I think I realized the power of words years ago when I wrote a story about my grandfather – the first story I sold. I read it to my writers’ group, and a couple of members were crying at the end. Even though they had never met my grandfather, they were moved by his simple, down-home wisdom and saddened by his passing. I feel that writing is my gift, my purpose. When I’m writing, I feel powerful, competent and capable. I feel good.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?
My mother loved to read and shared that love with me. I started dictating stories to her (which she hand wrote in a notebook for me – she had beautiful handwriting) before I could write. I think I must have been four or five years old at the time. I would dictate them; then she would read them back to me so I could make the necessary edits and corrections.

What is your favourite writing space?
I love spending time in my home office surrounded by all my books and childhood chotskies – old toys, old farm signs, plenty of Elvis paraphernalia and old mantle clocks. I collect and repair old clocks, so they’re all over the house, much to the chagrin of my poor wife.

If you could meet one favourite author, who would it be and why?
My favourite author is Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. I love the way he put thoughts and ideas together in ways (at the time) no-one had considered. Incredibly wise and intelligent, I can read Serling’s stories and words over and over again. I have had the good fortune of getting to know Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling who is an excellent writer.

Bio:

Murray Fuhrer is a professional freelance writer and marketing consultant. Murray spent over 30 years in the broadcast industry, crafting award-winning advertising campaigns for a variety of businesses, large and small. He is a syndicated columnist and author of the popular self-help book Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors.
Murray has written over a million words of advertising copy and sold more than 1000 works to publications across the country. Over the past few years, his focus has broadened to include online advertising, social media marketing, graphic design and video production.
Blog at WordPress.com.