Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
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1.       What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?

For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.

2.       Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!

3.       How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children? 

I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.

4.       Where can schools access your books?

Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.

5.       Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?

My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.

6.       How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?

I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.

7.       Is imagination important for children?

It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!

8.       Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?

Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.

9.       Where is your favorite place to write and why?

I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.

10.   Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?

I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.

11.   How can readers find you?

My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:

Website: www.mariepowell.ca  https://www.mariepowell.ca/

 Last of the Giftedhttps://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/

Follow @mepowell   https://twitter.com/mepowell

Facebook: Marie Powell  https://www.facebook.com/mariepowellauthor

Instagram: MariePowellAuthor https://www.instagram.com/mariepowellauthor/

YouTube: Last of the Gifted https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiJ3JY8YIleqD6W-cJHgSwWKlz3JV_sL3

Spirit Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/3n8A95 

Water Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/4A701d

Bio:

Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as RoomsubTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Club Offer

March 30, 2021
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I’m putting out a call to all book clubs. Would you like me to join you virtually? I have a wide range of novels that I would be happy to discuss – romance, speculative fiction, steampunk, mystery, fantasy. Ask me how I came up with the concept, where my characters came from, what I am working on now.

I am also happy to attend a virtual school book clubs as I have children’s and YA fiction as well, so let me know if you are interested. I can talk about how to expand on an idea, create a plot arc and make up a character.

You can find all my books on this blog under children’s, YA or adult books. Take your pick(s). I can also offer a gift package for a draw. Let me know if you are interested by commenting below or contacting me via the contact form.

Let’s immerse ourselves in stories. Our imaginations let us escape reality.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Liz Butcher

November 26, 2020
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What drew you to the paranormal genre?

            I’ve held a fascination for all things paranormal, ever since I was a little girl. So, once I knew I wanted to pursue writing it was a natural fit for me to right in the horror/dark fantasy/speculative fiction genres.

Did writing for anthologies aid your writing style?

            Absolutely! When you’re given specific word limits to adhere to, it teaches you to write concisely which I found a great skill to have once I moved forward with my novels.

Did you find the switch from short stories to novel length challenging?

            Not at all, though they are certainly different. With novels you need to make sure there’s a lot more fleshing out of the characters/places etc.

What inspired your debut novel, Fates’ Fury?

            I’m not sure when the idea first came to me. It wasn’t an ‘ah ha!’ moment, but more like an idea that simmered beneath the surface for awhile. It was in 2012, when there was a lot of talk of the Mayan Calendar, and it got me thinking about what would the ancients think if they could see us now?

Can you tell us about the story behind Fates’ Fury creation?

            Essentially, the Fates’ have decided enough is enough and mankind have to go. They start killing people off as they hunt for the Tablet of Destinies, which will allow them to eradicate us for good. Three friends, Jonah, Tristan and Ava find themselves in the middle of it all, when they each have increasingly strange encounters before they’re approached by a man in the middle of a thunderstorm claiming he’s Zeus. He tells them of an Alliance of ancient gods and goddess prepared to help fight against the Fates. Yet the Fates are more powerful than man the gods combined…

Your follow up novel Leroux Manor is set in England. Did you visit England for research?

            I wish! That would have been amazing! Just lots of research, I’m afraid. Though one day I’d love to visit for real.

Where is your favorite place to write?

            I’m boring—it’s my desk! We moved into our first home a few months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve had a space solely dedicated to writing and I’ve loved setting it up.

Do you feel your environment affects your writing?

            100% I hate feeling pent in by clutter or a stuffy room. I love fresh air (even in winter, but it gets super cold here.) and I often have oils in the diffuser to aid concentration and focus. I have drawings by my daughter on the wall, as well as a moon calendar, a framed copy of Fates’ Fury and a Dali print. I like greenery too, and have a little terrarium hubby put together for me, and a couple of potted palms. I’m also a massive procrastinator so I also have to make sure there’s nothing on hand to aid that.

Has your BA in psychology given you insights into how a character would react to a situation? Has it helped in the creative process?

            Yes, I think it has. There’s just an overall deeper understanding of human behaviour and what motivates certain personalities. I think its especially helpful when writing in the darker genres.

Where can readers find your books?

            On Amazon for both ebook and paperback, and anywhere else you can buy ebooks!

Which social media platforms can we find you on?

Website: https://lizbutcherauthor.com.au

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lunaloveliz

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Liz-Butcher-1394868604152823/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13845425.Liz_Butcher

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/lizbutcherauthor/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00X6XN5O6

With the global effects of COVID19 restricting gatherings, how have you managed to promote your books?

            By relying heavily on social media! I’ve also had some wonderful friends sharing it around, which I’m so appreciative of.

Is there any message you would like to send to your fans and readers? Thank you so much for your support!

Bio

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and released her own collection, After Dark, in 2018. ​

Her debut novel, Fates’ Fury, released September 2019 and Leroux Manor in September 2020.

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – So Am I Losing It Or Is It Puppy Love?

May 26, 2020
mandyevebarnett


late

So again I am behind with my blog posts, is it lack of routine, worry over COVID19 or something else? We are all feeling out of sorts as the saying goes. Although, I am working remotely from home and that gives me some structure, there has been an addition to the household. We have been searching for a small, older dog to rescue for quite sometime, over a year. Well, last Tuesday we went to meet one!

Now we are the happy and grateful adopters of Sammie. She is about ten years old and a Schnoodle (poodle/schnauzer mix). She was surrendered, which is sad but now we can give her a loving home. We drove over an hour to meet her and thought it would just be a meet and greet but….we brought her home. Now I have early morning, lunch time and evening walks, (my step count is over 9,000 a day!) a snuggle pup, who sleeps on my bed all night & who loves playing fetch.

So please forgive my distraction. You never know she might be in my next book? #storyidea

Reading Update:

I am really enjoying Tom Hanks book – Uncommon Type. Each story has great characters and settings.

I also read a new manuscript from a fellow author which will be fantastic for speculative and sci-fi readers. Watch this space for the book launch.

So onward & upward! I will get my act together – I promise.

Author Interview – J.E. McKnight – New Book Launch – Virtual Age

May 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Joe photo

1. Please tell us about your new YA novel – Virtual Age

A- Virtual Age takes place in a distant future. Our world is no longer able to support life so, in preparation for this, indoor cities were built where air and water is purified. The technology of virtual reality was adapted so people can work, play, travel, and enjoy a version of the outside world within the system. When you live your lives within a computer, you become susceptible to hacking – which could drain you of all your money as all money is accessed through computers – and your whole world could be altered and flipped upside down.

My main character is a thirteen year-old boy by the name of Aiden Murphy. He enjoyed the simple life of a teen – going to birthday parties, occasionally standing up to the school bully, and going with his family on vacations or trips to the beach. It was on one of these outings where Aiden finds himself trapped in the system, lost and all alone; unable to get home. He doesn’t know who to trust. He doesn’t know where to go. He doesn’t know what he is going to encounter within someone else’s program. He will be tested every step of the way.

Virtual Age

2. How did you come up with the idea?

A- I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of virtual reality and wanted to come up with a story centres around that concept. Actually, I remember when I came up with the idea and some points within the plot while at work. I was working for a commercial insulating company a few years ago. One day I was sent to a job and there was no material there for me to do any work so I spent 3 hours waiting around for the material and while I did, I came up with the concept and title of my book.

  1. Did you decide on writing a YA from the start?

A- I have had ideas for YA novels that I still want to write, however, this wasn’t one of them. I started it off as any of my other novels but then realized as I was writing that it was better suited as a YA.

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

A- There are so many but one that stands out is Dimlyn – an inhabitant of the planet Seledania – she is strong, determined, stubbourn, kind, and generous. Her loyalty to her society is put to the test when she encounters a visitor from beyond the stars –a human – who is feared and hated by the whole of the society besides Dimlyn. She is willing to overlook his outer appearance despite the backlash she receives from the rest of the society. She was probably the most fun to write because she isn’t human.    

Arrival

  1. When did you write the manuscript?

A- I wrote the manuscript in November of 2018. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year. November is National Novel Writing Month and authors who sign up are challenged with writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. 

  1. How many books have you written?

A- I have published 8 books so far. Book #9 is in editing and book #10 is ready to be edited.

  1. Which genre interests you the most?

A- I mostly write in the sci-fi/supernatural genres.

  1. Have you written more than one genre?

A- Aside from sci-fi/supernatural I have also written a psychological thriller, a superhero story and a collection of Christmas stories.

STOCKING

  1. Do your books have a specific message for your readers?

A- I don’t often think in terms of messages within the story but when I thought about my stories I began to realize most of them did carry a similar message- that being of tolerance. We need to treat each other with the love and compassion we want for ourselves. And don’t be too quick to judge.

  1. How many other writing projects do you have in progress?

A- Like I said I have two books in various stages of the editing process as well I have a prequel for my first novel – Time’s Hostage – I’m working on.

hostage

  1. Where can readers connect with you?

A- They can connect with me on my Facebook page: J E McKnight – author

Twitter: @jemcknight1975

And they can check out all my books on my website: jemcknight.com

E-books available on all sites.

ebook-sites

Bio:

Joe McKnight was born in Fort Saskatchewan and raised in the small Alberta farming community of Partridge Hill. He started his schooling in Ardrossan, where he developed a love of story-telling. His love of writing continued to grow throughout his school years. In 2004, while upgrading his English 30, Joe’s passion increased. It was during that same year he stumbled upon a writer’s circle (offered by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) that provided the support and encouragement he needed. He continues to grow in his writing and looks forward to many future literary ventures.

Joe has published several books: Time’s Hostage, Fly on the Wall, The Arrival, Powerless, The Other Secret, Stocking Stuffers, Unnatural Selection, and Virtual Age. He is currently working on a new manuscript.

Joe is also an accomplished artist and his artwork also appears on the cover of From a Solitary Drop – he was commissioned to design the illustration featured on the cover. 

Solitary Drop

VIRTUAL

New Book

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