Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Avital Gad-Cykman

February 3, 2022
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  • When did you start writing?

I started writing poems, very short plays and long letters as a young child. However, I started writing short stories in English about twenty years ago. Sharing and publishing them felt like opening a window to the world from my corner in Brazil.

  • What drew you to write short fiction/ flash fiction rather than longer works?

I started with flash fiction, when it hadn’t yet been named so. My inner rhythm found its compatible venue in these tiny stories. Over time, I became interested in the possibilities of other genres, and now I write the way I feel that fits certain work best. 

  • Where did you get the inspiration for Life Reflection Over Blues?

The title came to me within a brief moment, but I gave it to a blog, first. But then, I realized it summarized the spirit of this collection. The blues is present in it, because, after all, I’m writing about this life, this world, and it’s one hell of a universe. However, in many moments, the prism of the absurd and the imaginary, of fun or critical humor is here as well. This combination is a way to cope and to write, and the readers are invited into it.

  • Is it a follow up of your first book, Life In, Life Out?

Light Reflection Over Blues has certain themes in common with Life In, Life Out. It speaks of love, loss, boundaries, belonging and solitude. In a way, the stories written here reflect on the evolution of my understanding of these aspects of life. I try even harder not to blink at pain or shut off vulnerability but include them lovingly.

  • What differences are there between the two collections?

The first difference you’d notice in Light Reflection Over Blues is an addition of expressive, marvelous illustrations by Revital Lessick to echo and reflect the stories. Light Reflection Over Blues also differs from my first collection in its chronological order, an ongoing narrative that sheds light on age and experience. In addition, this book embraces longer pieces, in which fragments give continuity to one another and complement the whole.

  • Where is your favorite place to write?

I am lucky to have “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf named that private, quiet place where a woman can avoid distractions and focus on her writing. Clearly, life bursts in, either called or uncalled, but my little office, full of books, pictures of the women of my family and objects I’ve collected over the years, is one of my favorite corners in the world.

  • Do you have a writing schedule?

I keep trying to plan my day so it includes a lot of writing, but I frequently stray from the plan. However, I sit at the computer most days, and do my best to write, revise, edit or deal with other aspects of the writing life. The mind flows better when I manage to leave everything else outside. Having said that, breaks from writing are very important to me as well. During times of travel (I hope so much it’ll be possible again!) or other intense activity, I let myself absorb the experience, without putting words to the paper. The words come afterwards, usually unrelated to the fact themselves, as if they’ve been there all along.

  • Who is your mentor/supporter?

I exchange literary texts with friends from the writing community, and I am open for a conversation with smart, honest, literary-driven people. My friends, members of the writing community in Zoetrope.com, Francis Ford Coppola’s virtual workshop, and within its offices “A Hell of a Universe, Vacancies”, “Hot Pants” and “No Forcing the Sea” have always been a source of inspiration, support and wisdom.

  • Would you consider writing a novel? If so, which genre would it be?

I have a complete novel called “Baby Harvest” and another one in stages of revision, called “Puzzled.” Both of them are literary, and very different from each other. I also keep writing flashes and stories, and I’d love to have both novels and story collections out.

  • Have you won awards for your writing?

My work won the Margaret Atwood Studies Magazine Prize, a story was placed first in The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and my story collections were finalists for the Iowa Fiction award. My flashes have been twice listed in Best of the WEB, Wigleaf. A flash of mine has been chosen for Best Fictions 2020, and another for Norton’s International Flash Fiction. Apart from this, I have been nominated for the Pushcart Award six times.

  • Where can readers find you on social media/website?

I am on Facebook quite regularly, and I have an Instagram account. I am also trying to put my brain around Twitter. It’s fairly easy to find me.

  • Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?

I am glad you are reading books published by small presses! I’m honored to be published by Ravenna Press, and after the past tough years, they need you. Also, I am happy for every single reader, who finds something in my book to keep close to heart.

Bio:

Avital Gad-Cykman is the author of the flash collection “Life In, Life Out” (Matter Press) and the collection of short prose “Light Reflection Over Blues” (Ravenna Press). http://ravennapress.com/books/light-reflection-over-blues/
 Her work has appeared in The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Ambit (UK), The Literary Review, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere.  Her PhD in English Literature  focuses on women authors, gender, minorities and trauma studies. She grew up in Israel, and lives in Brazil.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Utilizing Your Writer in Residence

January 27, 2022
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I have once again taken advantage of our local Writer in Residence program hosted by my library. Last week, I attended a virtual presentation entitled Writing Three Dimensional Characters That Sing. It was a highly informational session. As writers we are always learning and taking the time to learn is essential in improving our writing craft.

There was an extra bonus to this year’s writer in residence as she is an acquaintance and a great writer and writing community advocate. Rayanne Haines is the author of seven books, including three poetry collections. Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower women’s narratives. In addition to her writing, teaching, and festival work, she also produces/curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across Canada. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma.

Having the opportunity to access a writing mentor and their free services through this program enables local writers to gain insight into their work. The program services include individual manuscript consultations, public readings and talks, information on the publishing process and networking with the writing community.

Do you have a similar program where you live?

What devices, programs and events do you use to learn your craft?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Anthologies, Blogs, Movies, Contests and New Tech

July 8, 2021
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I am continuing with my 2021 goals and have submitted to magazines, contests and anthologies this year. It is not only a learning curve, but also a way to expand my writing skills. Every writing experience increases our skill set and knowledge. As writers we are always learning. (or should be!)

In the last couple of weeks, I have been accepted to be part of an anthology 25 Miles From Here, which will be published in September. My short story A New Home will be included.

I also have three articles published (or scheduled) for Opal Writers Magazine and website, with another pending. These articles allow me to write non-fiction and also share my knowledge with the writing community.

I was also honoured to assist in the promotion of a new movie, Back Home Again. It covers the the wildfire evacuation of Fort McMurray and the communities resilience.

And I was also delighted to win a book giveaway by Densie Webb. A lovely novel arrived in my mailbox, which will be added to my TBR pile.

In preparation for my presentations/panel at the When Words Collide conference, I have invested in a headphone/microphone set. I trialed it as I hosted the monthly Writers Circle on Tuesday evening, it works well. It is more professional and cuts out a lot of background noise too.

My latest book news is four of my books (The Twesome Loop, The Commodore’s Gift, The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy) are all available from Daisy Chain Book Co bookstore, Edmonton.

I would love to hear about your writing related accomplishments so far this year?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Writing Conference and Book Cover Creation

March 18, 2021
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It is that time of year again, I have been working with the Board members of my writing group to finalize details for our annual writing conference. As I am hosting an online session about blogging, I revised my presentation notes in readiness. The countdown is on!

I would ask any writer that is interested in gaining new skills, honing their craft or wants to expand their network to attend this remarkable conference. The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County’s Conference on 27th March – The Art of Writing is covering a wide range of writing skills. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference

We will also be live on our Facebook page if you want to drop by anytime between 8:30 am – 5:00 pm MST https://www.facebook.com/wfscsherwoodpark There is the opportunity to promote your book(s) as well throughout the day so click the link to submit.

Apart from continuing to write my current WIP; book one of the The Delphic Murders trilogy, I have been thinking about the book covers. Each book needs to reflect the story within it but also tie-in to the other two books. After a conversation, an idea has been bouncing around in my head but on Tuesday a much better idea for the imagery came out of nowhere. I am now discussing the possibilities with my cover artist. This is such an exciting stage of any the book creation.

As always, working with any artist, it is paramount to have good communication and be able to describe our ‘vision’ for the illustrations. We are lucky to have the power of technology to find samples and suggested imagery. I have been lucky to have worked with several artists to create artwork that reflects my stories.

With any cover we need to ask ourselves three main questions:

Does the cover reflect the story?

Is it eye catching?

Does it reflect the genre?  

How did you decide on your book (s) cover?

Did you use your own photographs, commission or draw you own drawings or manipulate images some other way?

Interestingly, I searched best book covers for 2020 and there are several lists to look through. All of them have different covers, so it is really a matter of person preference. A cover might attract one reader but not another. It is a balancing act, for sure.

Do you have a favorite book cover? Why not share one?

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Author Blog Statistics & Growth

December 3, 2020
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Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

I don’t normally track my blog statistics but it was interesting to see how my blog has grown over the last nine years. From a tentative start to promote my first children’s book, Rumble’s First Scare, to currently connecting with my readers and the reading community ,as well as engaging and supporting the writing community, it has been a fascinating journey.

Through trail and error, I have found that posting twice a week is the most popular for my readership. As you know this year, I split the two weekly posts so they are specifically aimed at readers on Tuesday’s and writers on Thursday’s. This has proven very popular. Looking at the growth of my blog, the statistics speak for themselves.

First years stats: 2011 views 1424, visitors 0 posts 37

Last years stats 2019 views 14830 visitors 10640 posts 108

It has been a steep learning curve, and continues to be! I know there are things I should be doing, but with full time work, writing, publishing and promoting my books, as well as ‘normal life stuff’ there are never enough hours in the day. However, I am compiling a strategy to improve all aspects of my writing business, so watch this space.

For me the best part of having this blog is connecting with people from all over the world. It is so neat to see my flag map. I truly reach a global community.

In this time of COVID, we need connection and a blog is a way to gain that. Whether you post weekly, monthly or less frequently, you are reaching out to others. Stay safe, stay well.

I would love to know:

How did you start your blog?

How often do your post?

Do you have any tips for new and established bloggers?

Blog at WordPress.com.