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Author Interview – Chynna Laird

April 30, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

Just Shut Up and Drive actually started off as a short story several years ago. I was part of a writing group that had weekly writing prompts that could be anything from challenging us to expand on a sentence or writing a story around one word to posting a picture. One week, the host of the group posted a black and white photograph of an old house. It must have been built back in the early 1900’s and had obviously been long ago abandoned. The story came to me right away and Gramps’ character, specifically, came to me the same night in a dream. I know that sounds weird but a lot of my ideas come from dreams I’ve had. A restless brain can prove to be a bonus from time-to-time. But that’s how Just Shut Up and Drive started out.

 How did you come up with the title?

The title so depicts the character of Gramps. He comes across as a brash, cranky, narrow-minded old man. But the more layers he lets peel away on his journey with Wil, and the more vulnerable he allows himself to be, we get to the heart of who he truly is.      

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Honestly, there wasn’t at first. I just dreamed about this story, got up the next morning and wrote endlessly for the next couple of weeks. Including pre-editing, I think it took me about 3 months in total from idea to finished manuscript. I guess if there was any message I’d like readers to take away with them from this book it’s to embrace all that life has to offer you, no matter what direction your own journey takes you on. Pay attention to what’s around you, absorb the stories others share with you, take away what you need to from each experience and don’t be afraid to make those pit stops along the way. Those stops can often reveal a thing or two either about yourself or someone close to you that you wouldn’t have discovered any other way.

How much of the book is realistic?

Just Shut Up and Drive is a pretty realistic read. All of the places Wil and his grandfather stop to visit are real places. The highway they go down and the descriptions of what they see would be the same as what anyone else taking the same drive would see. Gramps’ house in Winnipeg is basically my grandparents’ house. Of course, some situations I put them in aren’t exactly every day occurrences for most people, but my focus was making this as real as possible so readers could relate to the story and feel a part of the journey right alongside Wil and Gramps.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

When I ‘see’ characters, I have borrowed some personality traits from people I know and sometimes I’ve put some of me in there. For the most part, though, the characters aren’t usually based on someone I know but a lot of the scenarios I put them in are based off of events from my own life and experiences.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I do have an author blog at www.chynnalairdauthor.ca.

I’m also on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chynnalaird

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/chynnaauthor/

G+: https://plus.google.com/+ChynnaLaird

Instagram (although I’m still trying to figure it out): https://www.instagram.com/chynna_l/

Author’s Den: http://www.authorsden.com/chynnatlaird

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2882404.Chynna_T_Laird

I also write for PsychCentral (https://psychcentral.com/lib/author/chynna-laird/) and maintain two blogs on there. One is about raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and the other one is geared more to women’s health issues.

 

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I’ve just finished the next book in The Watcher series (the first book is Dark Water). I’ve also written another children’s book as well as a parent-to-parent book on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). And I’ve also just completed a new adult novel currently in the editing stages before finding it a home. I always have ideas brewing. Right now, I’m planning my next memoir and have a plan set for a new adult fiction novel, but we’ll see. The Watcher series is the only sequel set I’ve started. The others are all stand alone.
out of synch

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

Oh wow. That’s a toughie. My main characters are all the ‘underdog’ in some way. That invisible presence that not many others give enough time to, but who can make a huge difference in their own way. Each of them has had to face some sort of life hurdle and deal with it in the most positive way they can, bumps and all. And they are each searching, maybe not consciously, to fill some sort of void in their life. There is a character I created in my newest manuscript (that one will come out soon, hopefully) who is very much like me. But out of all of the characters I’ve created in my published works, I’d have to say my favorite is Wil Carter in Just Shut Up and Drive. He is funny, grounded and has an amazing relationship with his grandfather who raised him. And even though he faced the ultimate tragedy of losing his parents at a very young age, he shows others how to keep moving forward…with a little help from his very cranky, but very wise, grandfather. When I wrote the last sentence in Just Up and Drive, I actually teared up realizing I wouldn’t have the daily interaction with him anymore. But he’s still there.  He’s one of those powerful spirits that never truly leaves you. I hope readers feel the same way when they ‘meet’ him.
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Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I’ve been told I’m an eclectic writer in that I have dabbled in different genres. So far, I’ve published children’s books, memoir, adult fiction and young adult and new adult fiction. My heart is writing for youth so my books are clean, contemporary, true-to-life fiction. That’s not to say that down the road I won’t try something else, but that’s my focus for now.

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

I love this question. I think the only books I’ve written that have taken the time to plan out have been my memoirs. Maybe that’s because this genre is a lot more personal and revealing so you need to present the material in the best, most accepting way possible. Otherwise, I’m one of those weird authors who gets an idea for a story and can actually see it beginning to end in my mind. In a sense, it’s almost like transcribing what is already complete in my head. I’ll always write down character names and how they relate to each other as well as research specific things so that the information is accurate, but for the most part I just sit and write when the story is there.

What is your best marketing tip?

I’ve tried various tools out there but I’ve always found that the best marketing tip that’s worked with me is connecting with other authors in the same genre and being a presence in specific social groups relating to what I’m writing about. For example, most of my work is geared toward children and youth so I try to connect with these groups, and those who work with them. I also have no fear in discussing issues or topics on my blog that many others know about but may not talk about as much as they should. That shows that I’m not just writing about these areas, I take the time to understand them. I’ve found this means a lot to readers as they can see that I’m not just ‘blowing smoke’ and simply trying to make money off of a specific issue or group. I write about it because it’s important and it matters. This leads to word-of-mouth promotion, which is just as important or more so than traditional forms of marketing.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I actually see both sides of this. There are so many forms of social media out there it can be overwhelming to know which ones to go on and which can offer the greatest benefits for writers and authors. On the one hand, it can be a great tool in that it offers a way to get the latest, up-to-date information on our work to our readers. It also offers a way for readers to interact with authors in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to. I can’t speak for all authors but, for me, it warms my heart to read feedback from readers. It tells me my work is appreciated. On the other hand, spending too much time on social media, even for promo, takes time away from actual writing. The key is only allotting a specific amount of time to posting, responding to comments/questions and staying current with readers otherwise most of your writing day will be spent on it.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS:

What do you enjoy most about writing?

First, I enjoy keeping my muse quiet for a while. She bombards me with ideas and never leaves me alone. I also think that I have a male muse as well so they fight for attention. Seriously, though. Writing is a tough job and many out there don’t truly understand just how hard it can be. It isn’t about throwing words together and having it all make sense. It’s about creating a story that’s believable, enjoyable and has the influence to absorb readers so deeply, they stay awake to read just one more chapter. That is one of the highest compliments a reader can give an author.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

This is a great question I love to answer. When I was in elementary school, I believe it was Grade Four, we had an editor come to our class to discuss the publishing process. As an avid reader, I was thrilled. Then we got to write our own little book from start to finish. We wrote the story, drew our illustrations, created our ‘cover’ (which was basically laminated card stock…but still…) and bound it. After we were finished, we got to put our book into the school library for other kids to borrow. We were supposed to take it home at the end of the year, but I’d forgotten mine in the mad rush of starting summer holidays. I actually forgot about it.

About 15 years later, my younger sister came home from school. She had had library that day and was so excited about the book she took out. Guess what book it was? The one I created all those years ago, when I was the same age my sister was when she found it.

 I look that as a sign that was the profession I’d be in.

(My little book was called, “Super Bug”, which was all about a bug in a superhero costume whose only fear was size 12 shoes. J Every time our class had library, I’d always check to see if mine got taken out. And it did!)

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

Somewhat. I do love to mix my sarcastic Scottish humor in there whenever I can. I still write for children and youth, though. That’s where my heart is.

What genre are you currently reading?

Well, I’m one of those readers who has at least three books on the go at once. You know, then I have something to read in each room. I’m reading a memoir right now, which I plan to review on my blog when I’m finished. I also bought a few books during the Boxing Day sales at Chapters. The one I chose to read first out of that stack is called, ‘Girl in the Dark’ by Marion Paux. I love suspense thrillers.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I do read for research for my books, just to make sure I understand a subject enough. There is nothing worse than authors who choose to write about something and have no clue what they’re talking about. But I mostly read for pleasure. After all, if an author wants to develop and grow their craft, it’s good to absorb what you can from some fellow authors.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

Wow. Well, I have a very small handful of people I consider mentors. They are authors, instructors, editors and publishers who have given me advice, tips and support over the years. Without them, I would have given up a long time ago. My greatest supporter was my Uncle Craig. He was my main promotor and tooted horns for me whenever he had the chance. I lost him last year, which was really difficult, but I know that wherever he is now he’s still turning heads in the direction of my stuff.

Where is your favorite writing space?

My writing space is my ‘office’ I created in our basement. I have everything I need surrounding me right at my fingertips. It looks like a bomb went off around here some days but I call it my ‘organized mess’. I know where everything is. As odd as it sounds, I actually write better when I can hear all my kids running around. My son has his video game area set up just outside of my ‘office’. He busies himself over there, turning around every so often to say, “I love you, mom!” and I absorb myself in my task at hand. It can get a little difficult when my youngest comes down and sits behind me in my chair asking 500 million questions, but it’s all good. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

I belong to a few online groups, as well as a few local ones. Mostly, I am a part of the NaNoWriMo group, The Writers Guild of Alberta, the Canadian Authors Association groups on FB. It’s important to reach out to fellow authors as I have found that unless you are an author/writer, it’s difficult to truly understand the entire process.

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

Oh boy, that is a tough one because I enjoy so many great authors. I love John Grisham, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, John Saul, Chris Grabenstein. But I also enjoy authors such as Jodi Picoult who take real-life situations and turn them into a beautiful novel. Out of all of them, I think I’d like to chat with John Saul. One of the first books I read by him was ‘Come the Blind Fury’. Right after that, I knew I wanted to write for young adults.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Australia. I mean, I’d love to visit places like Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii and other places but I’ve always been drawn to Australia for some reason.

Do you see writing as a career?

I pretty much decided that it already is. There aren’t many authors who can completely rely on their royalties from their books, but I think that’s my goal. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Oh boy. I try not to eat at my desk because then I’d never leave my work area. Having said that, I do have a small stash of two kinds of candy I actually like: Sour Skittles and Vanilla clusters. I call them my ‘think candy’. There you go. That’s something very few people know about me. lol

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

High fives from my kids and a nap. Seriously. There are a lot of days my poor kids spend looking at the back of my head when I’m on a tight deadline (or four). Once I’m all caught up, we make a family favorite meal, enjoy each other then I fall asleep. You can ask them. I have my own blanket and space on the couch. lol

Bio:

CHYNNA LAIRD – is a mother of four, a freelance writer, blogger, editor and award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), mental and/or emotional struggles and other special needs. She’s authored two children’s books, two memoirs, a parent-to-parent resource book, a Young Adult novella, a Young Adult paranormal/suspense novel series, two New Adult contemporary novels and an adult suspense/thriller.

Website: www.chynnalairdauthor.ca

 

Author Interview – Alison Neuman

November 23, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

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.

 

 

Genres of Literature -Bildungsroman

November 19, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Bildungsroman

The genre is characterized by a number of formal, topical, and thematic features. The term coming-of-age novel is sometimes used interchangeably with Bildungsroman, but its use is usually wider and less technical. It’s meaning encompasses  “education”, and “roman”, meaning “novel”;  “novel of formation, education, culture”; It is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood in which character change is extremely important.

The term was coined in 1819 by Karl Morgenstern, a philologist in his university lectures and later reprised by Wilhelm Dilthey, who legitimized it in 1870 and popularized it in 1905.

The Bildungsroman genre or term is normally dated to the publication of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1795–96, or to Christoph Martin Wieland’s  Geschichte des Agathon of 1767.

Although the Bildungsroman genre arose in Germany, it’s extensive influence spread through Europe and then throughout the world. After Goethe’s novel was translated into English in 1824 , many British authors wrote novels inspired by it. Spreading in the 20th century to Germany, Britain, France, and other countries around the globe.

Examples include: Great Expectations, To Kill a Mocking Bird and David Copperfield to name a few.

Do you enjoy the coming of age genre?

Have you written this genre?

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I am happy to be a guest on Stephanie’s blog today:

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Happy Sunday, writers and readers! I am so pleased to introduce you to writer Mandy Eve-Barnett! We connected several years ago, as we both are writers and bloggers. Being in touch with and staying current with other writers is important as it helps push you and keeps you abreast of what others who share the […]

via Guest Blogger: Author and Writer Mandy Eve-Barnett on NaNoWriMo — Steph’s Scribe

Author Interview – Pol McShane

October 12, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

 

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

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