Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Joan Marie Galat

July 9, 2019


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 []. 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?

You can also find me on these sites:

Websites: and
LinkedIn –
Instagram – @jmgalat


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.



Writing Area Re-organization…

August 11, 2013

Exertion – definition: vigorous action or effort

It is inevitable that as we accumulate file folders, books, notebooks and reference paraphernalia, our writing space becomes cluttered and dis-organized. Depending on how you view this – we all have varying degrees of ‘messiness’ tolerance – there comes a time when a re-organization is required. My limit came at the end of July. A small bookcase was over flowing, my inspirational board so layered, I couldn’t see many of my pictures and notes and a ten inch pile of papers called out to be filed. Added to this was the receipt of five Create Space copies of my NaNoWriMo winner novel, requiring a home.

The search was on for a much larger bookcase. Now I’m a great supporter of reuse  or re-purpose items, so began looking for bookcases in thrift stores and on internet sites for local sellers. Nothing fitted my space or the ‘look’ I wanted. A chance conversation with a good friend enabled me to take a bookcase off her hands. Then it was a matter of moving the existing furniture, cleaning the space and then deciding on the best placement for the new addition in relation to the old. I am very happy with the result as I have a new board and bookcase and space for more additional stuff.  This is the ‘old’ version showing my inspirational wall, the little bookcase, small printer and old laptop.

Picture WallNew Writing DEsk 003










This is my ‘new’ space with a tall bookcase, larger printer and new laptop/second screen configuration and extra board on the wall. Room to expand and create.


Have you outgrown your space? Care to share a photo? Do you re-organize often?

Comet’s Near Miss – A Learning Tool…?

February 21, 2013

Trajectory – definition: the curve that an object travels along through space (such as a bullet, a rocket, or a planet in its orbit)


What a shame this word was not on my desk diary a couple of days ago, it would have been perfect for the spectacular but frightening event in Russia. Having a massive piece of rock hurtling towards earth certainly shakes our false sense of security doesn’t it? At any time a projectile could plunge to earth devastating everything in its path or at the very least showering molten fragments into the atmosphere with an accompanying sonic boom.

Reviewing all the data that flooded the Internet and news programs made me realize why we like disaster movies so much. In every one there is a seemingly insurmountable problem that is neatly resolved at the end. You can probably think of quite a number of them without much thought. We humans are portrayed as being able to overcome aliens, the earth’s core becoming unstable, mutant animals and a host of other threats. But when it really comes down to it, we have no answer for space rocks apart from tracking them and hoping they miss. A sobering thought. No futuristic spacecraft to shoot them down or massive laser beams exploding them thousands of miles above the earth – but lots of material for ideas!

If we use the comet as the basis of a story, there are a few options. We could start with the object approaching and how the inhabitants react and plan, or the big burning ball could be viewed as a sign and worshipped or we could write about how the survivors deal with the after effects of the impact. Just one event can spark many view points and scenarios. Which view would you choose?

When we develop our stories we need to give our readers the same form of scenario – the ‘normal’ life for our characters, the obstacle they need to overcome and ultimately  the resolution. The greater we can make the odds, the better we engage our readers. Obviously, we don’t all write disaster type stories but every hero or heroine needs to conquer something or someone. Finding a new perspective or view point in which to tell our story makes it unique even if the basic scenario has been ‘covered’ before. This is something I did with my children’s story, Rumble’s First Scare. Instead of the usual Halloween – people are scared by monster – I viewed the night’s events of All Hallows Eve from the monster’s perspective. Rumble experiences his very first scaring expedition.

Rumble's First Scare

Commodious – a writing space…

February 11, 2013

Commodious – definition: having a comfortable amount of space.

We all need space in which to flourish, live and create. How many of us have a writing space? It may be the end of the dining room table, (that’s how I started) a real writing desk or if we are extremely lucky a whole room…there I go again – dreaming!

New Writing DEsk 003

But ‘space’ can also be relevant to how we perceive our surroundings. It may be the quiet space of a library that gives our creativity room to grow or simply putting in headphones to shut out external noise.  No matter where we find ourselves physically once we begin creating, it is apparent to those around us that once there ,we are in a zone of our own. This space has no boundaries and is therefore commodious. It is our space and exponentially expanding all the time. Our ideas have room to expand and formulate there without hindrance.


It may be a walk in the country or a car ride to a remote location that can be space enough for us to look beyond the day to day. To clear our minds and let our muse whisper to us. But it could also be curled up on the settee, pen and paper in hand while the family watch a movie beside us.

Palm Springs 046

Our character’s also need ‘space’ in which to grow within the confines of our story arc. As we write they often surprise us with actions we had not previously thought of and make a detour or two. Let go of the leash and see where they take you – it’s all part of the wonderment that is creative writing.


How do you find your ‘space’?

Where is your querencia?

April 25, 2011

favorite_place fav-place-rebound

Maybe I should firstly explain what querencia means. The dictionary definition is lair, haunt, den, homing instinct but in reality it is any ‘place’ you feel safe in, happy in. By place I do not just mean a physical area such as beside the ocean, walking in a forest or sitting with a loved one but also engaging in something that fills your soul with joy.

For me ‘writing and sharing my writing with others’ is my querencia. The physical space around me is not really important as much as the act of writing and the fellowship of other writers. I have written beside soccer fields & in gymnasiums, huddled in a corner of the library and alone in my bedroom. I become immersed in the worlds I create and my surroundings vanish – until of course a small voice asks “Is dinner ready yet?” As a writer laying down words is the way I find my soul’s ‘home’. This is where I am at my happiest.

Ask yourself – Where am I when I feel at my happiest?? Do I have an ideal writing environment? If I do not write, how does that make me feel? Is it a location or an act that fulfils you?

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