Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

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Ask A Question Thursday

March 7, 2019
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Today’s question is:

Have you ever changed the ending of a book based off the reaction of editors or beta-readers?

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Comments from last week’s question:

What do you think is the most unethical practice in the writing community? Is it plagiarism, ‘vanity’ publishing companies, copyright violations or something else?

I think plagiarism and copyright violations go hand-in-hand. As an artist who has found my work for sale on pirate websites, I can tell you that it really sucks when someone steals your work. Am I flattered that they find my work worthy of copying? No!

Gerri Bowen Piracy.
Ashley Cockerill I agree. Piracy.

Author Interview – Anita Kushwaha

January 15, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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What inspired your latest novel?

I lost a loved one to suicide and felt that there were so many misconceptions—or plain lack of knowledge—about what survivors experience, I wanted to shed light and give voice this loss like no other. The book also examines the cultural complexities that come with this kind of loss, as the characters of East Indian descent. Writing the book was also a way for me to process my grief and transmute the pain into something artful, hopeful.

How did you come up with the title?

SIDE BY SIDE refers first and foremost to the closeness of the relationship between the siblings in the novel, Kavita and Sunil. But it also refers to the themes examined in the novel, such as love and grief, loss and healing, self-destruction and self-discovery, universal experiences that often occur side by side.

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

If the book is about anything, it’s empathy. The protagonist in the novel, Kavita, encounters ignorance and shame in many parts of her life after her brother’s death. But when she finally meets someone who treats her with empathy and she learns to give that empathy to herself, and later to others, her healing journey truly begins.

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

Readers can find me on:

Twitter: @MsAnitaKushwaha

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MsAnitaKushwaha

And at my blog: anitakushwaha.wordpress.com

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

My next book, CAUGHT IN A LIE, will be published by HarperCollins. It’s a mother-daughter story told in alternate timelines that delves into identity, belonging, and the cultural pressures placed upon women.

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

My favourite character in SIDE BY SIDE is Hawthorn, whom Kavita befriends at a bereavement group meeting in the third part of the book. To me, he is empathy. He is definitely the most aspirational character I’ve ever written. I wish I was more like him and I wish I knew more people like him too.

 


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

A bit of both, actually. I like having a skeleton outline, so I have some idea of where I’m going with the story. How I get there, though, is always a great surprise!

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

Depends on the day! I often find it distracting. But it’s wonderful to be able to connect with people and share what you’re going through. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be more active and engaged online. When things get busy, though, I definitely slack off. So, I’m trying to be more consistent with it. I guess social media has the potential to be both a great tool and a hindrance. Boundaries are important!

Bio:

Anita Kushwaha grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Geography from Carleton University and is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the Humber School for Writers. She is the author of a novella, The Escape Artist (Quattro Books, 2015). Her novel, CAUGHT IN A LIE, will be published by HarperCollins Canada in 2020. She lives in Ottawa.

SIDE BY SIDE Synopsis:

Kavita Gupta is a woman in transition. When her troubled older brother, Sunil, disappears, she does everything in her power to find him, convinced that she can save him. Ten days later, the police arrive at her door to inform her that Sunil’s body has been found. Her world is devastated. She finds herself in crisis mode, trying to keep the pieces of her life from falling apart even more. As she tries to cope with her loss, the support system around her begins to unravel. Her parents’ uneasy marriage seems more precarious. Her health is failing as her unprocessed trauma develops into more sinister conditions. Her marriage suffers as her husband is unable to relate to her loss. She bears her burden alone, but after hitting her lowest point, she knows she needs to find a better way of coping. Desperate for connection, she reaches out to a bereavement group, where she meets Hawthorn, a free-spirited young man with whom she discovers a deep connection through pain. After being blindsided by a devastating marital betrayal, she wonders if a fresh start is possible in the wake of tragedy. Will she escape her problems and start over? Or will she face the challenges of rebuilding the life she already has? Side by Side is a story about loss, growth and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy, illuminated through one woman’s journey from harm to care.

Author Interview Eva Blaskovic

November 30, 2018
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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Traditionally, it energizes me, but not because it’s easy. Transcribing from images and feelings to the right words takes blood and sweat, no matter how well I know my story.

I’ve worked under schedules that have exhausted me, though.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Kryptonite weakens Superman, brings him to his knees, makes him unable to go on. For me, that has always been my work hours, which have not only been odd, keeping me out of writing groups and events, but also long. Determined to find a way to improve my writing skills and become part of a writing community, I connected with writing instructors and industry experts through international online courses since 2006. It was a community I could interact with by leaving messages in the middle of the night when no sane local person was awake. It has taken superhuman effort to write my first novel during many upheavals in my life and three jobs at a time, but I was determined to do it.

The second Kryptonite would be my fiction writing speed, which is much slower than my non-fiction speed. Taking part in NaNoWriMo means committing several hours a day to make the 1,667-word daily quota, plus writing about 12 hours on Sunday. I ultimately “won” NaNoWriMo in 2014 with over 50,000 words in 30 days while working six days a week.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I’ve looked into why some authors do it. Sometimes it’s because what they write conflicts with their job or image. Others simply want a name that sounds good and is more likely to sell than their real name. Still others want to cover their gender to prevent publisher or reader bias.

Using my real name just makes sense to me, even if it doesn’t have the eloquence and appeal of a best-selling author name. Or I could be Klára Dvořák.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My first author connections were international, mostly from the US and UK. As a single mom, I was working through all the local author meetings and event times. I couldn’t be anywhere in person unless it was in the wee hours of the night. Thanks to the Internet, I had an extensive online community before I ever became involved locally. Even now, I miss all weeknight meetings, and I’m lucky if I can make a Saturday event. Fortunately, I know a small number of local authors (Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Morinville) with whom I meet in person several times a year. I wish I could meet with the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC) a lot more often.

More recently, my daughter, Leslie Hodgins, has published her first book, Rebel Destiny. It has been wonderful talking “shop” with her.

Author friends and instructors have helped with feedback on my writing, with knowledge of publishing, graphics, promotion, and events. But mostly, it just feels good to be in the company of other writers and be able to talk about writing or read their work. Special mentions go to Mandy Eve-Barnett and Linda J. Pedley.

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Right now, I have a published novel that could stand alone, although I have started writing a companion novel/sequel to expand on some of the situations mentioned in the first book.

The two other books in progress are stand-alones.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The absolute best money I ever spent was on writing courses in 2006 to 2012, which gave me access to professional critiques, editing, and communication with instructors who had worked as acquisition editors in publishing houses, instructed Fine Arts programs at universities, wrote for well-known magazines or publishers, and/or traditionally published their own books. These courses and individuals helped me hone my craft. After that, the best money I spent was to Dream Write Publishing.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was very young and said something stupid that couldn’t be taken back with an apology.

Later, in school, I couldn’t impress anyone with my writing or verbal presentations—neither teachers nor students. A few teachers gave me credit for my mechanics, though, especially in writing dialogue.

Only once ever, in the final year of high school when I answered a child development/perspective question during a discussion period, did the class, much to my amazement, clap. (I was a nobody in school, so that was kind of a big deal.) I guess that’s the one time I can actually say I had insight beyond my years and an ability to get into the developing brains of children and youth, and actually advocate for them. That ability later became the foundation to my job, my parenting, and my writing, but the credit for it goes to my mother.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I can’t even begin to say.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Interesting question. I never thought about it and can’t answer this question even after months of pondering it.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three fiction books and a parenting/educator handbook.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

VJ Gage (January 2018) described it like this: “It would be that many thousands of people have read and enjoyed my books. I would want them to say they could not put my books down and that my plots are unique and clever, and that I have a great imagination.  Then I would like to make lots of money.”

Writing a book is a heck of a lot of work, and prepping it for publication is a heck of a lot of work on top of that. With that in mind, it would be nice if my book had some traction, both in terms of readership, literary credibility, and sales. That’s just the reality of life. Anyone can write for the joy of it, but to make a book and keep making them needs some form of return.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on what kind of book it is. For my first book, the events, relationships, interviews, and readings from my whole life, distilled, were my research. When I needed more, there was the Internet. I researched the psychology of grief in real life as well as through literature.

For my fantasy and supernatural books, the process was different, since the decision to write each was sudden. But I did research locations, clothing, tools, mineshafts, etc.

Research can be done at different stages: before writing, at the beginning of writing when you come across something you need to know, and toward the end to verify or adjust information.

With non-fiction, though, the brunt of the research and organization comes up front.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

When I do get to write, it’s a marathon. I’ll write until it’s done (an article or short story), or until I drop. In the past, I had written for 17-20 hours a day for many days straight when writing novels. Unfortunately, this kind of time was rare and usually took long weekends and holidays.

I often can’t go near a novel (first draft or revision) unless I’m guaranteed an uninterrupted three to four hours at a stretch.

I do not get distracted by social media or anything else during these times. It’s very intense focus.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

*Evil grin* I steal and collect names. I’ve had some sort of protagonist for as long as I can remember. He—yes, always he, though not the same one over my lifespan—often came with a family and a community of friends. These people needed names, so I was always writing down and saving names I liked. Nowadays, I search baby name lists as well.

It’s a little more difficult with last names. I have to be more careful.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

One of the oldest yet hardest scenes to write was the first climax in my published novel. I grappled with it for over five years. It has been rewritten more times than any other scene in the book.

Beyond the Precipice

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’ve always written a form of reality fiction or literary fiction. My novel took on a psychological theme because I guess that’s what I know best.

As a child, I watched sci-fi, but I wrote adventures and was particularly interested in outdoor survival stories—for which I had no hands-on experience, and Internet research was still a good twenty years away. The nifty thing about living life is that you gain experience whether you want to or not. One day, I was finally in a position to write a book, but it was about a different kind of survival—more internal, more cerebral.

I wrote a fantasy adventure for NaNoWriMo 2014 because I could make that form of writing go much faster.

Each genre and book is so different that it’s hard to mix anything up because what belongs in one story doesn’t belong in another.

Random ideas for any story can be written down at any time. However, in order to complete a book properly and give it the best continuity of style, foreshadow, and character, it’s best for me to immerse myself in one book during the processes of revision and preparation for publication.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since before I could form letters. Then, during my childhood and right through university. I took a hiatus after marriage and while the kids were small. Writing was difficult to justify because I couldn’t produce anything worthwhile. I was alone with my passion until the age of the Internet, when I could seek help from people outside of my immediate geographical location. In 2006, online writing courses made it possible for me to connect with writing experts who taught me how to write novels (and articles) properly. Over the next decade, I began to find books and articles with valuable information for the professional writer. I educated myself as much as I could, conferred with my writing mentors, and practiced, practiced, practiced.

  1. What inspires you?

Anything in life, real or fictional, can be an inspiration or become a part of a story. Authors see potential stories and character traits everywhere.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

There has only ever been one way, and it is not healthy: sleep less.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I began working on Beyond the Music (companion/sequel to Beyond the Precipice), Druyan (fantasy adventure), Ironclad (supernatural adventure), and a parenting/educator handbook. However, they are on hold indefinitely.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I would have to finish the above projects first, unless I got an incredibly hot new idea that pretty much wrote itself.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

My website link is https://evablaskovic.com/.

Thank you, Mandy, for this interview.

Eva

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

October 31, 2018
mandyevebarnett


espresso

When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.

Here are a few examples.

The stick flew
My dog pounced
And collided with him
That’s how we met
My love and I

Trapped but guilty to move on
Loving but alone in a crowd
Sleeping but horror in her dreams
Smiling but crying within

Free of her kidnapper
She fled the horrific basement
Running along a darkened road
Through torrential rain
The driver never saw her

Tantrum:  But I want it!!!!  You’ll get it alright

Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.

Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!

Why not have a go?

 

Author Interview – Mike Deregowski

September 28, 2018
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Mike

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

            Both, by the time I finally get to sit down and write, I have probably been thinking about the scene for a good chunk of the day. I don’t write regularly because I can’t unless I have a clear objective in mind. That being said, I get excited because I know that my idea is a good one, otherwise I wouldn’t have been thinking about it all day.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

            Silence. I need noise to be able to focus. I wrote my first book in a noisy airport, between flights, and I finished my book in 7 months. I worked there, so it was a matter of bringing my Ipad and writing while waiting for the next job. When I went on a writer’s retreat I didn’t get nearly as much done, even though I had nothing else to do but write. Too quiet.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

            No, it may sound selfish but I would like to be recognized. My last name is fairly unique and I want to use it to my advantage. When my name gets called somewhere public, I want people to know that it is indeed their “favourite author” and not a look alike. Dreams write?

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

            A lot of the members of my writing group in Sherwood Park, Alberta, are friends of mine. The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County has several published authors within it’s organization. Many of which are also with the same local publishing company Dreamwrite Publishing. We share stories and read each other’s books and offer constructive feedback to one another on a regular basis. This helps greatly in developing our writing skills. It also encourages me to explore my craft and expand my horizons. It is because of their feedback on one of my stories that I will be branching out into the children’s book market in the next couple years.

Insane

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

            I have an eight and half book series in the works write now and plans for another series in the future. They may seem to be stand alone, but there are little “Easter eggs” that would suggest otherwise. I have a MSU. (Mike’s Stories Universe) If I reference a character with the same name from another story in my piece of writing, it’s the same character. In fact, in my current series, my main character will meet another main character from a future series at some point. Best bet is to read as much of my works as you can. You never know who will make an appearance or have a secret origin story revealed.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

            I-pad. More compatible than a laptop by far

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

            As a child grade four to be exact, I was asked a question, “If I could be anyone else for one day, who would I want to be and why?” I answered that I didn’t want to be anyone else but me, because I am comfortable with who I am. The teacher was shocked that a kid could write something like that. I still feel that way today.

Shadowsite

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

            I don’t know if it is under-appreciated or not, but Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, is amazing. The Humans, by Matt Haig is my most recent obsession though. I enjoyed it so much, I bought most of his other books.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

            I’d choose a Sloth or a Bat. A Sloth, because I tend to do things slowly when it comes to writing and a Bat because my writing is mostly done at night.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

            Six. Three children’s books unpublished. One romance thriller, Book one of a Trilogy/Quadrilogy and my third book in my Shadowsite Chronicles series. I am considering compiling my poems I have written and publishing a poetry book, but I am uncertain about that.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

            I want to have a complete series out and available to the public. Fame and fortune would be nice of course, but simply having a childhood dream come true would be enough for me. The renown is a side effect of the project.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

            My research consists of me reading my age group books that I am writing for. I write fantasy mostly, so my research is limited, unless I need a real world situation, then it takes me as long as I need to find the answer.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

            What is this hours a “day”? hours per week is… a few. My Sloth tends to be a procrastinator when it comes to writing. I plan to change that though. Hopefully the Nanowrimo challenge will light a fire under my back end.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

            Sometimes it’s a play on their abilities. Other times it’s people from real life. Mostly though, it is the first name that pops into my head. In the case of Bruce, from my Shadowsite Chronicles series, my sister had a spruce tree that she named “Bruce the Spruce” and it made me laugh. I wanted to use that in my writing, so I did.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

            Fight scenes. Too many times, as a reader, I find myself disappointed with the climax of a conflict. I try to make my scenes exciting and satisfactory to read. There is nothing worse than having a amazing build up, followed by a lackluster fight scene. I want the readers to feel like the effort of reading was worth it in the end.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

            I find Fantasy easiest to right. It’s what I read the most. I don’t balance, I write what my muses tell me to write. I believe that there is no bad story, there is just a inappropriate format. If I am having trouble telling a story, I might write it in a play or a poem instead. That’s the way I balance

  1. How long have you been writing?

            Since I was in grade three technically, although I have only in the last five years tried to have a go at it professionally.

  1. What inspires you?  

            Life. My children’s story came to me when I was working at the airport, loading luggage under the plane. You never know when inspiration is going to hit. Anyone who is interested in writing needs to leave themselves open at all times. Step outside your comfort zone, listen to people talk, ask questions. Some of my best ideas came to me when I least expected them too.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

            I get a friend to tie me to a chair so I can’t move anything but my hands and neck and say, “no matter what you hear, don’t untie me…” Just kidding of course, I write when the mood strikes. I can’t write if I don’t have an idea in mind. Something I plan to work on in the future though.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

            I am working on book three of my Shadowsite Chronicles series, writing song lyrics for a couple local artists and helping write stories for a new video game company called Bedlammage. I am hoping that project takes off so I can start writing perminantly, for a living.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

Finishing my Shadowsite Chronicles series starting my other series after that, hopefully acquiring more lyric writing opportunities, publishing my children’s books and writing for Bedlammage.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

            http://www.mikederegowski.com or find me on facebook at Mike Deregowski – Author Page.

Bio:

A playwright, novelist, poet, game writer and lyricist, Mike enjoys expanding his writing experience and hopefully inspiring others to follow their hobbies and dreams. Once he joined the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, in Sherwood Park, Alberta, because of his friend Kelsey Hoople, he found support that he needed and started his journey to become a published author.

 

 

 

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