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Writing Prompt Wednesday

November 28, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Zen Garden

The prompt today is to use this zen garden as your inspiration.

Here is my response:

Shoulders slumped, feet heavy on the glistening pavement, Jocelyn makes her way home in light rain, which gradually soaks through her jacket and trickles down her back. The grey drizzle matches her mood, yet another day stuck inside the call center, reading by rote the same sales pitch over and over again. This hadn’t been her dream, she had believed she could find a career designing and tending gardens but no-one would hire an inexperienced student so she had make do with the first job offered and there she had stayed. Even after paying rent and all her bills she had a surplus, which was reflected in her savings account but she had nowhere to spend it. Holidays alone did not appeal, a fancy car would stayed parked in the under ground garage most of the time as she could walk to work in less than ten minutes and she wasn’t into fashion. She had made her small apartment a Japanese inspired haven with rich colours and objects; this was where she was happy. Opening the door she placed her lunch bag on the kitchen counter and headed straight for the shower, the warm water soothed her, her silk kimono feeling luxurious against her skin. After a light supper, she sat redefining her Zen garden, comforted by the slow motion of the small wooden tools, watching the fine grains of sand move and the careful placing of the miniature stones.

The sudden ring of the phone breaks her peaceful meditation.

“Hello?”

“Is this Jocelyn Woo?”

“This is Jocelyn, who is calling?”

“Hello Jocelyn, my name is Harry Kyoto, I was given your number by George Ita at the Sumay Garden Center. He told me you were very talented at design when you worked with him in your summer holidays from college”.

“That was a while ago Mr. Kyoto but I do continue to design gardens in my spare time”.

“Yes, George has shown me some of your designs and that is why I am calling. I would like to offer you a job. Would you consider it?”

“Mr. Kyoto I would be absolutely delighted to accept. What position are you offering?”

“Well garden designer, of course, what else?”

Jocelyn felt dizzy with excitement, her heart was pounding – a dream come true when she had been at her lowest since moving to the city.

“When do you need me to start Mr. Kyoto? I only need to give two weeks notice”.

“That’s excellent news Jocelyn. So shall we say you will start on the sixteenth?”

“Thank you so much Mr. Kyoto, I’m really overwhelmed at your offer”.

“Well from the designs George showed me I think I am the lucky one, Jocelyn. Take care and I’ll see you soon”.

As she replaced the mouth piece, she couldn’t contain her excitement and let out a yell of pure joy – no more stuffy crowded tower block office with the constant gabble of voices saying the same thing over and over. She would be living her dream in two short weeks.

I would love to read your poem or short story inspired by this prompt – leave it in the comments.

 

Author Interview – Alison Neuman

November 23, 2018
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Alison Neuman Picture

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing is one activity which energizes me. The process of creating characters and the stories in which they interact is an exercise for my imagination.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Editing is my Kryptonite because as much as I want to start reviewing the characters motivations and the grammar, giving in to the urge in the early stages of my writing process stifles the creativity and overall potential of the final product.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes I have considered writing under a pseudonym but as I write in the YA and nonfiction genres,  I didn’t feel a need to have distance or different identity, or anonymity associated between myself and my work.

Ice Rose Cover

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

As I experience a disability, it was important that my books always have a character experiencing a disability in them. The disabled characters can be secondary characters but must not represent incorrect disability beliefs and stereotypes.

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

The best money I have spent as a writer has been for any books or classes in which have helped me to build my writer’s skill toolkit. There are so many facets to the success of creating and marketing as a writer, that any money spent learning is returned with each completed project.

Searching for Normal A Memoir Cover

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

I currently have one book in which I’m finish the third draft, two which are finished the first draft, one children’s picture book and one YA sequel which are waiting to be written.

Don't Eat Family Front Cover

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success for myself is when I receive reader feedback about how my books have affected them. While it would be wonderful to be on bestseller lists and be financially sustained from writing only, realistically if I have enough success to continue to write and publish books which find audiences, that is success to me.

On Ne Mange Pas La Famille Cover

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

Research is a part of the writing process which I complete at the beginning, during and also when my manuscript is completed. In order to build realistic characters and circumstances in which they negotiate, it is important for me to construct a realistic world. That said, I am working on a science fiction book right now and so while the characters are moving around in the real world, human anatomy, ethics, energy and time are areas which need exploring. As much of the one character comes from the future and the mission needed to be completed to save humanity from their own extinction, as much as I can base the fictitious elements from reality should help build legitimacy for my readers.

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

The time I spend greatly varies but I am for an hour and a half a week editing and three hours writing or working on activities to grow the manuscript content.

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

Sometimes I will hear a name that I really like but usually I look on baby name websites for the names and origins to see if they fit with my characters.

Help

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

The genres in which I write are Young Adult, Memoir, and Plays. Usually my writing projects become the one in which draws me to write. I chose YA because I wanted to write the books I was searching for when I was the age of the audience. Memoir was because I had read several and found I had something I wanted to share that was the truth as I remember it. Plays are because I love theatre and found limited opportunities for persons experiencing a disability to act or have a voice in the theatre community. When in the creation process, the genre in which the story can best be told balances which area I write and work in. As for balance, the project which I am most eager and energized to write is the one I select.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I started writing poetry, lyrics and screen plays when I was in my teens. Writing manuscripts with the intention of publishing has been only in the past few years. I still consider myself as an emerging writer as I fell there is so much for me learning to be a lifelong experience.

  1. What inspires you?

Life is my inspiration. Sounds weird but being in the world and interacting with people provides me sparks of interest which act as a jumping board for creation of my stories and characters.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?
    Just like with most activities, I have to schedule in the time to write to ensure that there is a  space and time where I’m able to do so.

 

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

In the draft stages of my sci-fi book.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

My future plans include brainstorming and writing the next children’s picture book in my friends and family series.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

www.alisonneuman.ca

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/alisonneuman.ca/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/crossingts

Bio

Alison Neuman lives in Alberta, Canada, where she works as a freelance writer. Her debut novel Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel, a YA book integrating her love of gadgetry with the broad imaginative license afforded by the secret agent genre, features a female protagonist in a wheelchair and was published in 2010 by Fireside Publications.

Alison’s work has appeared in MacEwan Today, Westword, and the Edmonton Journal, and on three tracks of the CD release, Outside the Window.

Alison was honoured in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of persons experiencing disabilities and in 2013 she won the Glenrose Courage Award. One of her greatest achievements was the founding of Camp Mission Access, an integrative camp for children from all walks of life—both with and without disabilities. Her memoir, Searching for Normal, was released in 2013, and a musical of the same debuted in the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in 2014. Don’t Eat Family and Help From Friends, in her children’s Friends and Family series were published through Dream Write Publications.

Her play, The Sunset Syndrome was selected for Walterdale Theatre’s 2016 “From Cradle to Stage New Works Festival” and produced in the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in 2017. Don’t Eat Family and Help From Friends, in her children’s Friends and Family series were published through Dream Write Publishing.

Alison is currently working towards her Master of Arts in Integrated Studies through Athabasca University.

 

 

Author Interview – Carla Howatt

November 9, 2018
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Carla.jpeg

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing both energizes and exhaust me, depending at what stage I am in the writing process. Coming up with cool plot lines and ideas, as well as character development is fun and energizing but about half way through the book, I bog down and get tired. A bit of writing ADHD?

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Chocolate. Laundry. Anything I can use to procrastinate!

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Absolutely! Still haven’t ruled it out in fact.

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

I didn’t have any writer friends until I decided to go on a writers retreat. It was there I learned I could call myself a writer even if I didn’t have a bestseller.

Bearing

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

Both. Some will be connected, some absolutely not.

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

Time away; retreats, get-aways, whatever I need to do to focus.

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

I remember coming home from grade one, waving my reader. I was so excited, and so amazed at the world that was opened up to me through the words. I have never forgotten that feeling of awe and amazement.

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

I’m not sure it is under-appreciated but I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I was hooked beginning with the first paragraph; such lyrical words and such a beautiful picture she painted.

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

Gosh, I really don’t know. Maybe the A&W Root Bear?

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

Two.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

People like what they read and my writings make a difference in this world.

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

I don’t do much research, as the type of books I have written don’t really require it. I may research the odd thing as I go along, just to make sure I have a name right or something. Most of my writing is based in some way on real life.

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

Very sporadic and not disciplined. It can be from 20 hours to zero, sometimes one week after the other.

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

I try them on with their character to see if there is a fit or not. Pure gut instinct.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Sex scenes

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

My first book just happened. I call it my accidental book. It is a collection of FB posts from the time I announced my son had taken his life until about a year later. The second was a children’s book. Coming up I have a novel that walks the line between romance and smut (lol!). I also have a collection of stories that all involved the same women going through different things in their lives.

There is no real balancing as I go with what I am in the mood for and tend to work on that one until I am finished.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since I learned to read. I don’t really remember not writing.

  1. What inspires you?  

If I can find a place of solitude and peace with little distractions, lots of sleep and nature, I find that is when my creativity flourishes.

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

Honestly, I don’t find enough time. I fit it in for the most part.

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

Finishing a novel is my primary focus right now.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a few non-fiction ideas that I would like to work on when I have the time to do the necessary research and interviews. There just are not enough hours in the day!

  1. Share a link to your author website.

Right now the only website I have is for my first book Bearing Witness – www.Carlahowatt.com

Bio:

Carla Howatt lives in Alberta, Canada where she helped raise four children, two husbands and a pug. She is a recovering politician and business owner. A communicator at heart, Carla is also a proud introvert, port inhaler, and dark chocolate hunter.

Author Interview – Pol McShane

October 12, 2018
mandyevebarnett


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Pol

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

      It most defiantly energizes me. Even during those times when nothing else seems to be going right, as soon as I lose myself in a story, it all falls in line.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

       I would have to say the way I feel. If I have a headache or I’m tired, I just can’t bring myself to write. If I do, it usually shows up in my writing and I end up deleting and rewriting.

      3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

      I have written an erotica series that I write under the name Rick Pearson. But that was only because it was an erotica series and I wanted that separation from my other books.

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

I have made many author friends on Facebook, and I find that I am always learning from them and with them.

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

When I am writing a series, I am the cliff-hanger king. I love them. So usually books that follow will be leading from a cliff hanger. However, it has been said that each book in whatever series I write, can be read alone.

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

        I would have to say on my current computer (knock wood). It is just one of the best ones I’ve had, and I’ve gone through quite a lot.

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

It had to be during the initial release of my novel Luthor. It is one of my darkest novels that centers on a boy born with terrible deformities. I have had many people post reviews on how the novel effected them. Some have told me that they loved the book and story, but couldn’t continue because of the depth of sadness the tale touches on.

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

Of my own? I would say, Blue Moon. It was one of the first books I ever published (2000), and it is a story written by a werewolf on the night of a blue moon, the only night when he is able to take his own life. Before he does, he tells his story.

I’ve always loved writing werewolf tales, this book and the sequel, The Rise of the Son.

I enjoyed taking certain liberties with the lore and putting my own spin on it.

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

I have only two. The final installment of my Genie series, that is in the final edit stages, and also a book called Reunion-the Children of Lauderdale Park, which is a book I wrote long ago but has never been quite finished.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

I would consider literary success to be able to make a living off of my writing. That may seem like an obvious goal, but it’s what I strive for.

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

I love doing research. I enjoy looking up whatever I can about a subject and putting it in my stories. The most research I’ve done on a series would be for my other YA books, Serpenteens. The books center around five teenage siblings who are demigods. They can transform into various kinds of snakes and then control different aspect of weather. They travel around battle the increasingly dangerous weather scenarios that are plaguing the planet.

        Research was started the whole series for that. I had the idea to do a story about people who could turn into snakes, and while I was researching information about snakes I discovered their connection to the weather, and that took the story in a whole new environmental direction. After that I researched weather and various locations around the United States where the Serpenteens traveled, and even had to somewhat learn how to drive an airboat. 

12. How many hours a day/week do you write? I am still working a part-time day job, so on work days I don’t have a lot of time. But on my days off, I love to start as early as I can, and I could easily sit for three-to four hours.

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

Naming characters is always fun for me. I try to find names that directly fit the character. I have a children’s series called The Adventures of Johnny and Joey, where two brothers find a magic elevator buried in their backyard and they travel to magical lands like Imagination Land, or Wooden Land, or Aqua Land.

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

I started writing horror and suspense, and that is what I truly enjoy. But when I began writing YA series, I found I had to focus on not getting too scary.

15. How long have you been writing?  

I wrote my first story when I was ten years old.

16. What do your plans for future projects include?

I am currently working on the final installment of my Genie in a Bottle series-After the Wishes, which will be out in a few months.

17. Share a link to your author website. polmcshane.com

Author Interview – Phyllis H Moore

August 24, 2018
mandyevebarnett


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Phyllis Moore

Please welcome Phyllis – as you can see she is a prolific author!

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me. It’s all I really want to do. Once I sit down and start, I don’t want to stop. It’s what I think about when I’m doing other things. Characters talk to me while I’m moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer or unloading the dishwasher.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

My characters drive me. Once I have their name down on paper, these people and animals lead the way. Sometimes they do things I didn’t anticipate, and they are always right.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I briefly considered a pseudonym, but decided against it. My thoughts were, I wanted readers to know me personally and I didn’t think that would be possible if I didn’t use my name.

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

I have virtual writer friends and a few mentors. Social media groups are the place I get the most assistance. I have found other writers to be a generous lot, willing to share their failures and expertise.

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

Currently I have a series of books that could stand alone, but they are based on the same coming of age of the main character, Sabine. The four book series follows her from age four, living in severe neglect with her mentally ill, alcoholic mother, to the age of sixteen. These were the first books I wrote. I only intended to write about Sabine as a child, but I couldn’t stop. I have five other stand alone novels, a pair of middle grade books, an anthology of short stories (a little spooky), and a non-fiction book on retirement. I have learned I am a story teller first and my stories are not always related, so I have no desire for my books to be tied to each other.

Sabine

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

First, I would say editing is the best money spent and second is the money I’ve spent on BookBub promotional deals. I say this because the BookBub deals have garnered reviews.

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

My paternal grandparents used to tell me stories and read to me. I remember picturing images from their words. I could literally see the fairies and beasts in their stories. I think that was my earliest experience, the knowledge I could see what they spoke.

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

I like historical fiction, and I think my favorite was Cleopatra, by Stacy Shiff. I could visualize the palaces, her clothing, the ships, everything described. It takes me back to the time and place.

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

A dog would be my spirit animal. All of my characters have pets. Many of them communicate with their pets. I think we all do that to a certain extent, but my very first character, Sabine, was psychic. Her dog, Auggie, was her only confidant. When Sabine missed human cues, Auggie could help her. For me, that was a metaphor of what we take for granted with animals every day.

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

One book unfinished. I have a rough draft and a few rereads. I hope to get it to the editor in February to publish in late spring. I have a cover and the title is Birdie & Jude.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Success for me would be people reading my books and enjoying the story. I hope readers can take away something they can apply to their own lives. I love it when readers say they feel like they know my characters or can identify with a place. When I hear that I know I did a good job.

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

Characters inspire my stories, so I get to know them first. If they take me to a time I’m not familiar with, I do some research on what appliances, vehicles, clothing, etc. were common. Often, the book is set in a time I’m familiar with. My novel, And the Day Came, was set in the 1930’s, so I read about the history of some of the families in the story. It is historical fiction based on the childhood of my mother-in-law. There were other books written about the family, so I took some time to read those. That was the most time consuming research I’ve done.

And the Day Came

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

I write most of the day and sometimes late into the night. I would say I write about 6 to 8 hours/day. Sometimes my time is blurred between writing and promotion. I spend a lot of time on the computer doing blogs, newsletters, submitting short stories, etc.

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

Selecting names is a challenge. I have to admit I gravitate toward short names, so I don’t have to type so many letters when I’m writing the story. One of my editors criticized a name choice once, but I refused to change it. The young girl’s name was Beatrice. She was a minor character. I live in south Texas. Growing up, I had many Latina friends. Some of my best friends were Veronica, Beatrice, Norma Linda, Mary Helen, etc. The book, The Bright Shawl, begins in San Antonio and ends in Galveston. It would have been perfectly normal for a female to be names Beatrice. However, if she had been the main character, I might have given her the nickname, Bea. I like Pinterest and pin many inspirations there for my books. I have a board for every book. If I’m looking for a name, I do a search on Pinterest. There are wonderful categories, Bohemian, Hollywood, Biblical, etc. Pinterest is a great source for names for humans and animals. I used Pinterest to name the horses in Secrets of Dunn House.

The Bright Shawl

Secrets of Dunn House

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I had to think about this one. I think transition scenes where there is not much emotion or description. It’s hard to come up with a new way to describe the mundane. I don’t do romance, so that would probably be hard for me to write.

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

My experience, my age, and my characters dictate my genre. I wrote first and then decided on the genre. I lean toward southern gothic, but the more I write, the more I think my books are generally Women’s Fiction. I’m aware I’m not the traditionally branded author where all of my books are linked by an atmosphere, font, cover, etc. They reflect me and the issues that concern me at the time. As I learn more, I try to do a better job of branding those things and one of these days I may have a more professional look. I have done some do-overs to tie things together. It does look better on the shelf. I’m a work in progress.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing all my life, but not stories or books. I didn’t start trying to market what I wrote until about six years ago.

  1. What inspires you? 

I like to people watch and I always find things to apply to my characters. This past August, we had a hurricane in Texas, Harvey. Some of the situations I watched on television and read about in the newspaper inspired the story in Birdie & Jude. I started thinking about people who get stranded due to unpredictable circumstances and meet other people they become attached to. It’s not a literal story, but a “what if” that I think about in those types of situations. I have been through a few hurricanes, so the details were easy for me to get in touch with. It’s interesting when I look back at other stories to see how much weather inspires me. My short story, Audrey and the Summer of Storms was inspired by spending summers in the Texas panhandle with my grandparents. They had to deal with tornadoes. There was a summer when I returned from several trips to the storm shelter in Quanah to my home near Corpus Christi to face Hurricane Carla. I can find inspiration in most anything. Houses, food, fabrics, animals, travel, illness. It’s never ending.

Audrey

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

I’m lucky because I’m old enough to be retired. Because I’m old, I have many life experiences to draw on and lots of time to think about them. My normal routine is to write most of the day after I’ve finished my few chores. During holidays, I get a little resentful that there are other demands on my time. Writing is my priority and I’m lucky to be able to do it most of the time.

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

My current project is Birdie & Jude. As I said it was inspired by Hurricane Harvey, but it’s also about the relationship that grows between two women from very different backgrounds. They connect because of their differences, but also because they have the same insecurities and desires. One rejects her family and social status, while the other longs for family and a stable home and friends. One is elderly and healthy as a horse and the other is young a medically fragile. However, as in real life, there is a spirit that unites them and it’s not what they might guess.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I would like to begin writing something to release around the holidays, 2018. I love a good holiday story. Opal’s Story, my best-selling novel. Culminates in a Thanksgiving celebration. Josephine’s Journals takes place during preparations for a holiday open house. I like to decorate using the accoutrements in my imagination. They are free, after all, and I can rummage around in someone else’s attic and polish the silver without getting my hands dirty. I can also order someone else to do it if I’m that character. I can be sweet, or a real “you know what”. It’s the most fun, like playing house and mud pies.

Opal's Story

Josephine

  1. Share a link to your author website. http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://www.Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it and reading about it. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Trilogy, Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site http://www.phyllishmoore.com. Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.

Billy's StoryTangledJackson Roadretirement

Heartbeat 1heartbeat 2

Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.

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