Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Samuel Davel

March 4, 2021
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1) How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing most of my life. Only recently, during COVID honestly, did I realize that it was something that I wanted to pursue professionally and for a career.

2) What inspired you to write Dear Monica? My mom went through some really hard, tough mental health stuff and that was my inspiration. A mind place and setting with a romantic twist. I think it’s interesting for people who don’t understand mental health to read something of someone in that spot.

3) Why did you decide on the format of letters to tell the story? When thinking of mental health suicide often comes up and is at the forefront of mental health, with that idea, letters came to mind.

4)   The core of the novel is the mental health of its main character – is this a subject you feel strongly about? I do feel strongly about mental health, especially in the male community. I think mental health has a stigma for men and that’s something I hope to chip away at with my career.

5)    Is Charlie based on anyone you now? Charlie and Monica are a combination of people that I’ve known in my life, whether a friend or significant other, they’re the best parts of people I knew.

6) Has your Army career influence any of your writing? My army career has greatly helped me with the structure of writing. I consistently schedule my time to write and stick to it, even if I hate what I wrote in that time I have something to go off of. My army career also helped me and opened my mind up to a lot more in this world than I originally thought.

7) Having acting experience yourself, can you see your book being made into a movie? I could definitely see Dear Monica being a movie. Since I am an actor, I usually write from a point of visual and what I see in my head as I write.

8) Do you use the places you have visited as part of your narratives? Yes, I would say 95 percent of the places I write about I have been to. I don’t particularly feel honest writing about something I don’t know, so I try to stick to what I do.

9) Are you writing a new manuscript currently? I am, I have on a novel, “Yours, Only” with the editor now, and my other one “Little Red Card” is 2/3 of the way through its first draft.

10) Can you tell us about any new projects, events or presentations you have coming up? My newest projects are both very interesting. “Yours, Only” is another project that’s a collection of letters between a soldier and his young wife back at home. the letters follow his missions, while he battles with his own demons he’s creating and his life back at home. “Little Red Card” is a pandemic-based romance that I am really excited about.

11) Has the COVID19 restrictions impacted your writing life? If so how? My acting career got put on pause at the beginning of COVID and I really started writing seriously because I needed a creative outlet. I wouldn’t have a novel without Covid.

12) Where is your most favorite place to write? I love to write in central park. I’ll take my laptop out there and write until it dies, that usually enough for a day.

13) How can readers connect with you? My IG is @samdavel

14) Is there a message you would like to give to your readers? I think I would just like to tell my readers that they can do whatever they want. Anything is possible and that people are there for them if they need them.

BIO: Samuel Davel grew up in rural Wisconsin leaving home at 18 for the Army. In the Army Sam was an Airborne Ranger who was constantly taking in the world around him. After leaving the Army Samuel moved to NYC while pursuing a career in film and television. After appearing on the small screen and doing numerous indie works Samuel started writing about the world he absorbed throughout his life. He enjoys writing story’s that have mental health twist or ones that don’t always end in happy endings, at the end of the day, life doesn’t always end happy. Samuel tries to capture the small moments, the ones that everyone can easily take for granted.

Fallbrandt -Author Interview – Catrin Russell

January 28, 2021
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1.     You describe your stories as epic fantasies with dark undertones. What drew you to this genre and type of story?

I have always been drawn to dark and gritty genres in all types of entertainment – horror films, true crime shows, certain types of music, etc., so I believe a touch of this will always show through in my writing. Part of the darkness I mention is also due to subject matter. I delve into the human mind and look at how psychological aspects might affect people and the choices they make. However, my books are mainly influenced by more classic fantasy with a medieval world, swords and bows, and a bit of magic. This comes from reading other books of this genre (such as those written by David Gemmell), but also from playing plenty of video games growing up, as well as watching animes and reading mangas.

Furthermore, I tend to add a third genre into the mix – romance. I’ve always loved a bit of romance, especially the slow burns and classy steamy scenes. The best of both (or all?) worlds! In my own opinion, anyway!

2.     When you were creating the background world to The Light of Darkness series, did you have a specific place in mine?

Not really, other than I wanted a world where the characters would see all the different season. I think it adds a certain beauty, with the budding flowers in spring, the light and heat of summer, the shifting colours of autumn, and the snow and darkness of winter. I suppose it is not too dissimilar from where I live myself. I would say the Midlands (where most of the series takes place) is probably a north- to mid-European climate. However, the expanded world has everything from swamps, mountains, lowlands, steppes, deserts, and so on, and the reader does get to meet people from plenty of these places as the series progresses.

3.     How did the characters develop as you wrote the novels? Were you surprised at any changes to their personalities?

I usually design my characters quite meticulously ahead of writing, but since I’m a pantser, they do tend to do their own thing in the end. Some end up as a love interest, where they weren’t initially cast for such a role, whereas others change in ways the reader might not expect, depending on how their motivations and actions are portrayed.

The one character who really took his sweet time to settle into a groove was Edric. He is part of the main cast, and is the main character of one of my prequels (The Redeemed). He is rude at times, obnoxious at others, and suffers from a snappy attitude, but as the reader gets to know him, you get the feeling there is more to him than meets the eye. There is a reason behind his abrasive personality and why he acts like he does. As I finally wrote his complete backstory, I mainly changed some of the ways he spoke. I didn’t soften him, as such, but I streamlined his outward communication and interaction with others.

4.     Do you see yourself in the stories?

The one character I based the most on myself is probably the main character – Anaya. Like me, she tends to do things with conviction. We’re like a dog with a bone, and won’t relent until we have given something our all. She is fiercely loyal and tries to help others whenever possible; also traits I can see in myself. Oh, and we always burn food while cooking. Don’t even get me started on this one.

5.     What made you write the prequels?

As a new author, I’ve had (and still have) a lot to learn! One of those things was how to build a newsletter successfully. When delving into this subject, I researched the most popular sites to do build a following, and I found myself needing a reader magnet to join in on all the fun. I tried to think of a story that would be short, but meaningful, to really complement the series. And thus spawned the idea for my first prequel – the origin story, Righteous Dawn. It takes place 4 decades before the series, and offers a glimpse into how the Priesthood was initially formed.

My second prequel, The Redeemed, I wrote because a dear friend of mine wanted to read Edric’s story. I felt it was a good idea because he has an immensely heavy backstory which I thought should be told. Not that the reader doesn’t get to experience some of this through the series, but it’s much more touching and heartfelt in the way I fleshed out his backstory through The Redeemed. Edric is also a favourite character of mine, so it felt right.

6.     Do you have a regular writing routine?

With 3 kids, aged 5, 3, and 0 (9 months)? That’d be a no, I’m afraid. Although it is regular to the point of me literally writing whenever I’m allowed, pretty much every day, after the kids have gone to bed and until I near fall asleep on my keyboard!

7.     Where do you prefer to write?

In the best of worlds: on my own, using my laptop while listening to some nice music.

In reality? On my phone, while feeding the baby and taking her to bed… You know – mom life! To be honest, I’m happy as long as no one is screaming while I’m trying to write. That’s a win in my book.

8.     Has any aspect of your traveling enabled your writing?

The biggest enabler of my writing is my husband, and what I mean by that is not purely because he supports me, but because he has fed me a lot of the English language. Expressions – and words – which I previously didn’t know what they were. Our relationship and, subsequently, my travels to England has enriched my language immensely, and my books are definitely the better for it.

9.     When did you start writing?

*Drumroll* to ready you all for the most common answer known to man!

I have been writing since forever. But I started doing it more seriously with a close friend and neighbour in my preteens. We wrote A LOT, and it was absolutely atrocious, but we had so much fun! And I was hooked. I’ve been writing ever since, but mainly little snippets here and there, and I never really finished anything to the point where I would even have someone else read it… Well, until now, that is!

I finished my first book in 2019, The Power of Conviction, which is currently being released by Fallbrandt Press. It is also my first complete novel in English, and I’m super happy with how it came out!

10.  Tell us about your latest novel.

The Power of Conviction (release date January 27th) is the first book of The Light of Darkness series, and it centers around the priestess Anaya. She is skilled wielding the Light and thus highly ranked, battling alongside her spiritual brothers and sisters. As part of the Priesthood, they attempt to put an end to the demonic incursion, paving their way through blood and gore on an almost daily basis.

But things are not always what they seem, and Anaya’s beliefs are challenged through the story. She is forced to choose between heart and duty as fate, prophecies and an impossible love will blur the very line between good and evil.

Now, go read it!! There are another 5 of these bad boys coming!

11.  Where do you see your writing career going in the next five years?

The absolute dream would be to write full-time. But if I at least manage to be a part-time writer, I think I will be pretty proud of myself. My recent signing with Fallbrandt Press has really given me the confidence that this is a career I can pursue and I’m like that dog with a bone now! I won’t let it go!

12.  Do you have a specific message for your readers?

Feel like some medieval action, fighting, magic, blood, and gore, but still sweet romance, steam, and heartache? I’ve got something I think you might enjoy! Check out my series, The Light of Darkness!!

And sign up to my newsletter and receive my two prequels for free! The link can be found under question 14!

Also, don’t hesitate to follow me or send a message on social media. I love to connect with readers and all kinds of bookish people! 

13.  Who are your favorite authors?

My absolute favourites have to be David Gemmell, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Janny Wurts! They are my primary sources of inspiration, and I absolutely love their work!

14.  Please share your social media sites and website link.

Visit my website for more information, and sign up to my newsletter for those freebies!

Website: http://catrinrussell.com/

FREE prequels: https://catrinrussell.com/books/freebies.html

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Catrin-Russell

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RussellCatrin

Blog: https://blog.catrinrussell.com/

More links can be found here: https://linktr.ee/catrinrussell

Thanks for having me!

BIO:

Catrin Russell is a Fantasy and Romance author from northern Sweden. Her books are all written in English and are mainly part of the Epic and High Fantasy Genre. However, she does use influences from Dark Fantasy, and a touch of Fantasy Romance. Growing up outside a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, Catrin eventually moved to Stockholm, where she studied computer game development and design. Meeting her soon-to-become husband online, she lived outside of London for the best parts of a year, before finally settling down in Piteå, back in Sweden. Since then, two children and two dogs have joined the family. With a background in design and holding a degree as a registered nurse, she writes novels in medieval settings, with plenty of action and romance. She often brings moral struggles, or highlights issues in society, into her writing. Another subject that is often highlighted is mental health. Catrin also creates concept art, bringing her characters to life on the screen, and her own cover designs, much of which can be seen on her social media pages!

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – 8 Tips for Submitting to Writing Contests

January 14, 2021
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There are a multitude of writing competitions available, whether locally or internationally. When submitting to a competition there are a few common ground rules to adhere to.

Tip #1: Be clear on your goals before entering any contest. Why do you want to enter in the first place?

Tip #2: Follow the rules and submission guidelines – each contest is different. This includes keeping to the submission deadline. ( A day earlier is best)

Tip #3: Proofread – this is absolutely vital. Make sure you read and re-read your entry before submitting.

Tip #4: Enter writing that is appropriate for the contests’ stated theme or topic. Familiarize yourself with the press or journal hosting the contest. Take note of their style and content.

Tip #5: Enter numerous contests to improve your chances of winning.

Tip #6: Don’t ignore lesser well-known contests, it could mean winning it gains you exposure and connections for your writing career. And of course, there is always the prize money! Not only does submitting to a range of contests maximize the likelihood that you may win, but it is a great way to improve and expand your writing skills.

Tip #7: Exploit your genre, your niche when researching the range of contests, there are always specialized creative writing contests out there that suit your style. Make the most of the opportunity to showcase your writing.

Tip #8: Create a story with an emotional impact, and topic. Make it memorable, new, fresh and focus on clarity. Choose a brilliant first line and action. Give your character a goal, a choice and ensure there is a change of personality, status or situation. And above all nail the ending.

Do you have any tips for entering contests? Care to share?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Schedule Writing Time

November 12, 2020
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A lot of us are in the midst of writing new (or completing old) projects for the challenging NaNoWriMo month. Some find it too challenging, others a great way to write to a deadline, while others utilize the month for beginning or finishing a project. No matter why you participate, the structure gives us all a commitment to write at least 1667 words a day.

Obviously, there are other commitments – work, home & family – but making time to write is a bonus. We have the ‘excuse’ that we must write in order to achieve the goal of 50,000 words. Once our family understands your need for this writing time, why not carry it on after November?

With a full month of specified ‘writing time’ becoming the ‘norm’ for those around you, why drop it after November. If the family can accommodate you for one month, why not twelve?

Writing is our passion. We need to write. So make the time to do it. Wake up earlier, go to bed later, write while waiting for children’s activities to finish or write a scene in a small notebook in your purse waiting at appointments. There are always opportunities to allow your Muse to create. You may have to be creative in how we work it out, but it is worth investing in your writing time. It is a writing commitment.

What strange places have you written in?

Do you schedule writing time?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – NaNoWriMo Writing Sprints & Doubts

November 5, 2020
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Yes, it is NaNoWriMo month and there is the usual flurry of activity. Pre-planning, devising ideas, questioning if you should do it or not and the encouragement of the writing community. As I said before this year’s NaNo, for me, has me delving into an unknown genre and the start of a trilogy.

I have booked every Monday off work in November to allow myself extra time to write. This doesn’t normally happen but without the option of taking vacations, this year due to COVID19, I thought my best use of my days would be short writing retreats and extra time in November.

My first writing day, Sunday, was a super day. I had the house to myself, apart from the dogs, so indulged in writing for most of the day. Apart from several dog walks, and the occasional snack! My total for the day was 14,558. And at the time, I was super happy with that.

However, the next day doubts began to creep in. Had I given too many clues or sited too many suspects within those 14K words? This halted my writing. Should I re-start or continue? As we all know NaNo writing is just the first draft of a manuscript, so I shook off the doubts and returned to the story. Last night’s total was 16,951.

I may have to dissect this novel in the New Year, but for now I will enjoy the journey my characters are taking me on.

Are your participating in NaNoWriMo? What is your project?

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