Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
mandyevebarnett


1.         How did you meet?

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

2.         When did you begin writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.         What age range are your books aimed at?

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

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

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

7.         How many books will be in the series?

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

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

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

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

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

10.     Has your own background contributed to the stories?

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

11.     Where do you prefer to write?

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

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

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

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

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

14.     Can you share your social media and book links 

Thebookpatch.com

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

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

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


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

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.

Coax…

March 4, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Coax – definition: 1) to influence by gentle urging, special attention or flattering 2) to get or win by means of gentle urging or flattery

There seems to be two decidedly opposing sides to this manner of influence. We can see it as someone fawning and ingratiating themselves for special favors – we’ve all witnessed it either at school or work. Or it can be a way to assist someone with lack of self esteem or purpose to achieve their goals. When we first ‘reveal’ our writing passion it can be with some trepidation. Will family and friends take us seriously? Will they understand? Talking to many writer friends it has become apparent that the ‘coaxing’ comes from both sides. A writer needs to coax their support system into believing their passion is a worthwhile endeavor while the family and friends have to ‘coax’ the writer into following their goals.

When we set our sights on our writing goals, be it writing that novel, getting published or committing to a blog, it is best to break down that challenge into manageable realistic portions. Telling yourself you can write a novel in three months and have a best seller by the end of the year is not only unrealistic but will be self defeating. Instead decide how much time you can manage for actually writing it. As we all know this first draft will go through many changes as we coax the characters and plot line into a polished project. Be assertive in making this writing time ‘your time’ so you are undisturbed. (Easier said than done I know!) However, if you can distance yourself from people who criticize and demean your efforts you will succeed.

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Realize a novel or novella is not a ‘quick’ project and the more time invested in it, the better it will become. Whatever your support system – friends, family or writing group – use them for feedback as well as encouragement. We all need coaxing from time to time.

What coaxing have you experienced? One of mine was a new found friend in my writing group ‘persuaded’ me to try NaNoWriMo – this was at a time when the most I had written was a short story! Let’s just say she was insistent but also encouraging and to my surprise I succeeded with that challenge. It was a bit extreme to say the least but it opened the flood gates to my creativity so I’m not complaining.

Blog at WordPress.com.