Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Andrew Underwood and Cristal Sipple-Underwood

February 4, 2021
mandyevebarnett


1.         How did you meet?

We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.

2.         When did you begin writing?

Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.

Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.

3.         Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.

We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.

4.         How did this quote bring about your book series?

We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.

5.         What age range are your books aimed at?

We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.

6.         Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?

We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.

7.         How many books will be in the series?

 We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.

8.         What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?

Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.

9        What are the subjects you will cover in your books?

Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.

10.     Has your own background contributed to the stories?

Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?

11.     Where do you prefer to write?

We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.

12.     Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?

Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.

13.     What is your writing process – punster or planner?

We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.

14.     Can you share your social media and book links 

Thebookpatch.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Spider-Gang-Mysteries-100321741923085

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andrew_underwood_65/

Bio:
Cristal Underwood:
Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children.  She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school.  Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes. 


Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week.  He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream.  He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors.  He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write. 

Writing Prompt Contest – Lighthouse…

November 12, 2016
mandyevebarnett


lighthouse

The storm raged around the lighthouse…

Is your character the lighthouse keeper? A boat heading for the rocks?

Use this as the starting or finishing point of your story or poem.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Writing Prompt Contest – Hippo Cart…

July 16, 2016
mandyevebarnett


hippo-cart

I’m intrigued to read the poems and stories that this photo inspires!

Taken in 1924 this was a circus promotional photo.

Have fun with this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Interview with A.J. Rowe…

August 31, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Bushwhack – definition: to make one’s way through the woods by cutting the undergrowth.

Interview A.J. Rowe – my youngest author by far! He is certainly blazing his own writing trail. Welcome the winner of the Clawson Arts & Authors competition. http://clawson.patch.com/groups/announcements/p/14-year-old-aj-rowe-writing-contest-winner-of-clawson-arts-and-authors-festival_fa4139da

AJ for Blog PicWhat do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy being able to create my own world with no limitations or rules and set my mind free to imagine.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I started writing in Kindergarten.  I told my teacher at the time that I wanted to be a “book maker”.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

For the most part, it has remained the same.  I enjoy writing medieval fiction.

What genre are you currently reading?

Currently I am most interested in fantasy/fiction (there’s a theme here!).

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Mostly for pleasure but some is research to help me with my writing.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My parents, for sure!

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

I created a character named Emily a while ago for one of my other stories.  I would have to say that she has been my favorite so far.  She is funny, smart and rather crazy at times.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I do most of my writing downstairs on the sofa with my iPad.

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

I usually plan the plot and the first chapter or two and just let it flow after that.

What inspires your ideas/stories?

I’m not really sure.  I just get an idea in my head and I want to write.  Once I get started I want to keep going until I finish – just ask my parents.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

No, I don’t belong to any kind of a writing group right now – maybe someday.

Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?

Yes, I currently have a book entitled “Falsely Accused”. It is available on Amazon as a download for Kindle.  I also have had a few paperback copies made as well for family and friends and for people without an e-Reader.

http://www.amazon.ca/Falsely-Accused-ebook/dp/B00ECKQNCS/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1377219844&sr=8-10&keywords=Falsely+accused

Falsely

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

Christopher Paolini.  I love his books and he was a young author like me when he got started. It would be great to be able to talk to him and get some ideas.

Where can readers find you and your blog?

Unfortunately, nowhere yet.  I hope to have a website up and running in the near future to promote my works, get ideas for new books and get feedback from my readers.  Stay tuned….

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?

I have several ideas in my head right now.  I would like to have a poll on my website to see what readers would like to see for my next effort before I get started.

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