Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Half Bad – A Review of a YA Story

November 29, 2022
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Summary: It tells the story of a discriminated-against teenage witch who must find his father or suffer a terrible death. The themes include the nuances of “good”; social alienation and discrimination; betrayal and personal integrity.

I was recommended this Netflix series and became quickly immersed in the plight of the main character and his new found friends. Unaware of the YA trilogy, I watched with bated breath as the challenges and dangers increased. Although, I subsequently found out the story in the books is different, the skillful script writing cannot be doubted. The normal good against evil is slightly skewed as both sides have reason to hate the other for savage attacks.

In a world of Fain’s (non-witches), Blood Witches and Fairborn Witches we find Nathan, a half fain-half blood witch, who is monitored by the Fairborn Council almost from birth. He is spared death due to a prophecy, which both sides are anxiously awaiting. He is forced into harsh training by the Fairborn Council, in the hope he will conquer their most elusive and feared enemy.

I enjoyed the world building, the differences perceived by each side as the excuse for their actions, (neither side is all good, or all bad) and the ceremonies a young witch goes through on their seventeenth birthday when their power is engaged.

It is not often a ‘new’ story comes to the screen and this one is fascinating and immersing.

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – YA Fiction – Clickety Click

October 11, 2022
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In honour of spooky month, I am sharing a little about my YA fiction novella, Clickety Click. The protagonist is a young orphaned girl called Alice. Her guardians live in a remote cottage and are mysterious in nature. They assure Alice everything is fine, but certain areas of their large property have been off limits. Not until she begins to have a recurring nightmare of a purple monster, does the truth come out. It is so fantastical, Alice has trouble accepting what she is and where she came from.

This is the opening paragraph.

It’s eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bed covers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click. Click. Clickety-click.

You can find Clickety Click online on the usual purchase sites – Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Amazon, Smashwords and in Shelf Life Bookstore, Calgary. You can also request it at any library!

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Story of My Book Cover’s and Their Illustrators

April 12, 2022
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With a multiple of genres in my repertoire, I have utilized several book cover illustrators to achieve the best cover for each book. All of them have a unique style and process for creating the images. As an author the book cover is a vital tool to attract our readers. It needs to reflect in a quick and simple way the genre of the story and entice our readers to take a look.

Which cover(s) do you like?

Rumble’s First Scare

This cute little monster was the result of a mental image of mine. I asked Matthew McClatchie to bring him to life. This was achieved with my writing down a description of Rumble, as best I could and of the images for each page within the picture book. It took multiple emails back and forth until Rumble emerged. This is the excitement of working with a great illustrator, a mind meld as it were.

Ockleberries to the Rescue

I commissioned J.E. McKnight, a fellow author and artist to help me with this project as I required ‘real’ sketches of animals and Joe’s pencil and ink drawings were perfect for the chapter headers. We used nature photography for the majority of the images, as a basis for the images and a couple were a collaboration of my poor attempts at sketches and Joe’s interpretation of the subject.

Clickety Click

Again, most of the images were in my mind’s eye but the protagonist was a ‘real’ girl, so I asked Linda J. Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography to help with the chapter header images. I described what each scene should incorporate and then Linda drew them in pencil and ink. Again, it is the worth of a great illustrator to draw what an author’s mind envisions.

Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria

I had such fun with this project as it was open to my imagination to create an alien world and who better to use than Matthew McClatchie’s unique technique? From my previous experience with Matty, I knew he would interpret my ‘mental images’ and badly constructed collages to make them come to life. 

The Rython Kingdom

I found the illustrator for this novella via a Facebook friend. At the time, Winter Bayne utilized an online program for images and models. While working together we created the book cover from several different images I felt were important to the cover. Alas Winter no longer offers her services, so I am glad I got to work with her.

Rython Legacy

Unable to use Winter Bayne on this sequel, I was at a loss as who to turn to in order to achieve a similar cover. Luckily, through a Facebook contact I was able to connect with Wren Taylor Cover Design, who knew Winter. She utilizes the same sort of program and we collaborated well on the image to tie it to the first book with an orb shape.

The Twesome Loop

This image was again a collaboration with Winter Bayne, where I wanted several images merged. An olive tree, an old stone well and the lovers. She was able to find models dressed in period costume for the original couple in this reincarnation based romance.

Life in Slake Patch

I was vacationing in England when the original book cover was finalized for this novel, so emails were numerous. Linda J Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography managed to create a scene using multiple images I sent. Subsequently the cover was changed to the current one by Wren Taylor Cover Design to align with my other adult novel covers.

The Commodore’s Gift

Knowing the process and our mutual understanding I once again used Wren Taylor Cover Design to create the cover. It is the culmination of numerous images merged into my vision. There are many items within the cover that required closer inspection. Can you find them? A clockwork bird, a clock, a propulsion device, deep sea divers helmet/octopus, and a heart.

My current detective series has covers already designed by Wren Taylor Cover Design, but they will only be revealed once the trilogy is finalized and published. Yes, I know I’m teasing.

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
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1.       What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?

For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.

2.       Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!

3.       How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children? 

I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.

4.       Where can schools access your books?

Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.

5.       Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?

My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.

6.       How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?

I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.

7.       Is imagination important for children?

It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!

8.       Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?

Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.

9.       Where is your favorite place to write and why?

I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.

10.   Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?

I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.

11.   How can readers find you?

My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:

Website: www.mariepowell.ca  https://www.mariepowell.ca/

 Last of the Giftedhttps://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/

Follow @mepowell   https://twitter.com/mepowell

Facebook: Marie Powell  https://www.facebook.com/mariepowellauthor

Instagram: MariePowellAuthor https://www.instagram.com/mariepowellauthor/

YouTube: Last of the Gifted https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiJ3JY8YIleqD6W-cJHgSwWKlz3JV_sL3

Spirit Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/3n8A95 

Water Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/4A701d

Bio:

Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as RoomsubTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – To Illustrate or Not

July 23, 2020
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I have submitted five submissions for an anthology to be released in the fall. It is a second volume to be published by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. This second book is also full of prompts to inspire our creativity. Each prompt has a few responses from other writers to give the reader an idea of the variety of stories and poems that can be inspired by the same picture prompt. It is a great exercise book for writers of any skill level.

If you are interested in purchasing the first book here is the link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/product-page/writing-prompt-journey-the-road-to-your-creativity

I did submit a drawing for the first book (see here) and have created another for the second book. Drawing and painting were my first creative outlet, so to practice again on the odd occasion is enjoyable.

After sending my illustration, I began to think of images, I have commissioned for my children’s and YA books. Each has been tailored made for that particular age group and style, I envisaged for my children’s and YA books. I am lucky to have access for several artists, who use different mediums.

Then I thought, why is it adult novels are so rarely illustrated? I recently interviewed Ann Charles, who has beautiful illustrations for her novels drawn by her brother. I feel they enhance the stories as does Ann.

So what is the main pitfall for including illustrations? You may have guessed it – money! The bottom line is printing drawings involves more ink thus more expense. So are there any illustrated adult novels out there?

I managed to find these links – so the answer is yes.

https://electricliterature.com/7-illustrated-novels-for-adults/

https://rivetedlit.com/2017/07/17/7-awesome-illustrated-novels/

https://simplyframed.com/blogs/blog/10-illustrated-books-for-adult-shelves

Given the option would you like to have illustrations in your novels?

 

 

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