We all have specific tastes in literature, which equates to the genres we mainly read, but there is another reason that a book can catch our interest – something that fascinates us. Obviously, the list is vast and always changing as we grow older, gain life experiences and even move location, whether to a new town or country. These underlining interests can even stem from childhood. For instance, I was taught about the natural world around me and the globe from an early age and I enjoy books that encompass that. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is set in a forest, where magical sprites help their woodland animal friends.
I also became intrigued with reincarnation and life after death after experiencing several incidences while nursing. My favorite novel uses this topic as it’s basis. Ferney by James Long is a book, I reread regularly not just because of the reincarnation element but also because it is beautifully written and I love the characters.
I recently found two books, with this topic. Past Presence by Nicole Bross and River of Destiny by Babara Erskine. They are spellbinding stories and well written.
I also used reincarnation in my own novel, The Twesome Loop where four characters meet their past souls in modern day. It is a romance that begins in England but culminates in a beautiful Italian villa.
What guides you to specific genres?
Do you seek out books that use a certain topic or theme?
I am an advocate for always reviewing every book I read, not only does it give other readers an insight into the narrative but also acknowledges the author’s hard work. A review is the life blood of any author – so please write a review, even a single sentence is enough. It can be on any platform: Smashwords, Goodreads or Amazon or copy & paste to put it on all three!
2019 Books: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Elevation, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Lucky One, Spook-Science Tackles the Afterlife, The Icarus Girl, Things Withered, Magnetic North, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, Becoming, Sixpence House, Hollow City, Lomita for Ever, The Little Paris Bookshop, To Air the Laundry, Mrs Everything, Hearts in the Spotlight, Stranger in the Woods, 10 Days in December, Dirt Road, Steampunk FAQ, River of Destiny & Past Presence.
This number equates to about a book and a half a month, which considering I was also writing is not too bad.
As you will see, it is apparent I do not have a particular genre I favour, I much rather chose a book due to the topic or story line than stick to one type of narrative. The Spook book was loaned to me by a friend, who knew of my life long interest in reincarnation and I ordered Stranger in the Woods, as it was one of the news stories I utilized in a work in progress. The others were picked by chance as the blurb caught my eye.
Congratulations are in order to Jenna Greene for winning the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. I asked Jenna some questions about her experience.
Which book won the award?
Reborn – a YA dystopian novel. (The first in a new series).
Can you tell us a little about the story and its characters?
This is a story about a girl named Lexil who is banished to slavery because of the marks on her skin. These marks state that she has lived previous lives and, as such, is to toil in service for those not fortunate enough to have multiple lives.
Why is this story important to you?
This story is important to me on many levels. One – it is a genuinely good story. I feel it is the best writing I’ve done so far. Two – I love the characters and the mythology. I kept the premise of the story simple, but the mythology is unique. Three – I wrote this book in a turbulent part of my life. This story will be forever connected to my mother, as I wrote the first half of it when she was sick and the second half of it after she passed away. And when you write a book about connection to past lives, and those who have lived before … there is no way to escape the fact that maybe those who love us never really leave.
When did you decide to submit this book for the award?
I’ve never submitted a book for an award before but, as mentioned, I feel very proud of this book and very connected too. It just felt okay, for once, to see if others thought it was worthy of recognition.
Where was the award ceremony held?
Traverse City, Michigan.
Can you tell us about the Moonbeam‘s Award – who can apply, who sponsors it etc.?
The Moonbeam Children’s Book Award has bronze, silver, and gold for various categories in Children’s Literature. My novel, Reborn, tied for gold in the YA science fiction and fantasy category. The awards are sponsored by the Jenkin’s Group.
How was your trip to the award ceremony?
Eventful, to say the least. I nearly didn’t make it, as traveling from Canada in winter isn’t exactly easy. Security scanners broke at the Calgary airport, delaying my traveling buddy and I in the line for two hours. We barely caught our flight to Chicago. Our connecting flight to Michigan couldn’t land because of snow, so we had to try again the next night. My luggage wasn’t lost, but it was inaccessible, so I spent 24 hours without it… and the list goes on. But travel adventures make good writing later!
Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult Fantasy series, Imagine! She is a middle school teacher, dragon-boat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder).
I plan on immersing myself in the ghost writing project for the rest of this and most likely next week. It needs to be propelled forward so a final draft can be approved. A graphic designer is working on the images so the placement of these will have to be worked out as well. With possible sizes of print books and price estimates from the publisher we are nearing a conclusion in the next month. An exciting time for both my client and I as we all know when we hold a physical copy of our book for the first time it is magical and awe inspiring.
However, prior to that schedule, I invested in a workshop last night for my writing. A local author, Jennifer Snow is currently writer in residence at a downtown bookstore, Audrey’s and she was holding a workshop, which intrigued me. The evening’s workshop title was – First Five Pages & Avoiding a Saggy Middle in your Novel.
There were several other writers attending and it was interesting to hear their questions and the advice given by Jennifer. Although you may not write in the same genre as the presenter or the other attendees at workshops or conferences, there are basic fundamentals required to entice, engage and hold a reader no matter the narrative.
We all need to invest in our writing, no matter how much we think we know. You can always learn from another writer or author and as it happens I did have an idea pop into my head during the evening, which will assist in the revision of one of my manuscripts. (For those of you who don’t know I am editing four manuscripts over this and next year!) I detail my progress here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/current-project-2/
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
My review: What a wonderful book – stories of life, death and rebirth. Perfectly linking each of the souls/characters lives. Sometimes they linked up, others not. Suzanne weaved a perfect tale of past lives making great use of the ‘echoes’ of past life bringing them forward to the new existence.
If you are intrigued, interested or fascinated by reincarnation you must read this book.
Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Onto this novel – a great opening line and the story propels you forward with enticing glimpses of what might have happened.
Invest in a few valuable resources starting with The Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style.
Grammar: learn the rules and then learn how to break them effectively.
Do you have particular resources you use? Care to share?
My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?
Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish.
I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.
Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.
With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.
Have you been on a writing retreat?
What benefit did you gain?
Did you achieve your writing goals?
Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts.
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.
Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.
My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.