#ASI: Mandy Eve-Barnett

Hi, Mandy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I am originally from England but moved to Canada ten years ago. This is the third continent; I have lived on, as I was born in South Africa. The sharp contrasts in culture, weather, landscape and experience have left traces in my soul that I draw upon for my writing. My lifelong interest in the natural world and fairy folklore, influence my writing style and some of the subjects I cover. Although, I have been creative my whole life, delving into paint, clay, textiles, and everything in between, it was not until I moved to Canada that I ‘found’ writing. It seems bizarre that I never tried writing as a creative outlet before, but I am now making up for lost time. My first book was published in 2011 and to date, I have four others published with two more launching in 2018!

Discuss your newest book. My novel, The Twesome Loop, starts its journey in the late 1990’s English countryside, where several characters make seemingly unrelated choices to travel to Italy. Melissa is fleeing a loveless marriage, Gerald wants to find his soul mate, Brett is motivated by greed and Nancy’s insatiable lust drives her. They are drawn not only by the beauty and life of Italy, but by an unexplained inner longing. Each is unaware that a pact made generations before, links their souls to each other and the beautiful villa they will stay in. A parallel story takes the reader to 1874, where a young woman’s happiness is sacrificed for her father’s ambition. Unable to resist she suffers at her older husbands hands until his brother offers a way to escape.

The story came about because I have been fascinated with reincarnation for decades and it was a way to incorporate it into a narrative. I also love England and Italy and enjoyed featuring both places. Sounds amazing!

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Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? When I came to Canada I promised myself a creative outlet. My children were older and did not need constant attention so I wanted to find something for me, not just for my creativity but also to meet new people in our new country. During our first library trip, a regular Saturday occurrence, I browsed the many leaflets displayed for local clubs and picked up a handful. As we left I saw a notice board promoting a writing group the following Tuesday. I sorted out the leaflet read the information and decided to attend. The first meeting was nerve racking – new people, new place, and new craft. I listened and stayed quiet for a couple of meetings then braved reading a brief story. The surprise ending had everyone gasp and that’s the moment I was hooked.

What are your current projects? Oh wow! This is going to be a list.

  1. YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria – publishing spring 2018 – chapter header illustrations to decide upon & complete.
  2. Adult speculative fiction, Life in Slake Patch – final editing & revisions -publishing fall 2018
  3. Adult western romance, Willow Tree Tears – final editing & revisions 2019
  4. Adult suspense/thriller, The Giving Thief – final editing & revisions 2019
  5. Sequel to adult romance novella, The Rython Kingdom – writing narrative 2019
  6. Finding a steam-punk anthology for my short story, The Toymaker
  7. Freelance work – ghost writing a business book

A lot to look forward to in the next year. Good luck. 🙂 

What books have most influenced your life most? I would have to say, I have been a compulsive reader my whole life and there are far too many books to mention. I loved magical themes, stories of the natural world and a broad spectrum of genres. However, I am a huge Stephen King fan, his skillful story telling is masterful and awe inspiring. King is such an inspiration to many, myself included. He is a great mentor, even if he is not aware of it.

What inspired you to write your first book? My first book was a children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare, so not a complicated or long narrative! It came about when I wrote a story prompted by a word prompt on my writing group’s website. The theme was Halloween but I didn’t want to write the usual ‘someone gets scared by something’ so wrote from the point of view of a young monster on his first scare. My friend and fellow writing group member, Linda persuaded me to publish it. And that was the start.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? This is a difficult question in the case of The Twesome Loop as there are four main characters whose lives are impacted by the discovery of their past lives. (see above question). The novel, Life in Slake Patch is set in an alternative future under matriarchal law. The sexes live in separate compounds and only have weekly visits. My main POV character is Evan – a young man living the life unchanged for generations. He becomes the vehicle for change, while fighting a band of dissents, holding a secret book and becoming married.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? In The Twesome Loop, I want my readers to see love can be a powerful thing across time but also that love can overcome religion, traditions and oppression. This is a good message, especially with Valentine’s day just a few days passed.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? For The Twesome Loop, I see Liam Hemsworth and Camilla Belle as the love torn lovers.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Once I began writing short responses to word prompts, it soon became a flood of ideas crowding my mind. The more I wrote the longer the narratives and the more I became obsessed.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Unfortunately only part-time – I have a full time job as well as a freelance writing business. I also have roles as secretary for the local writer’s foundation and president of the local arts & culture council.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? To actually finish it, I wrote the first draft during a NaNoWriMo in 2010. It was revised and edited, put away and the process repeated seven times. I loved the story but the complication of two time periods and multiple characters back and forth across time took some careful plotting and continuity. NaNoWriMo is a daunting task within itself, but the complexities of your work make it twice as. That also means twice as rewarding. 

What is the easiest thing about writing? Sitting down and typing while the story unfolds on the page – I am a free flow writer, so do not plot prior to writing. I let the narrative and characters carry me on a journey.

What book are you reading now? I have just finished Sleeping Beauties and started 11/22/63 – yes I know both Stephen King and I don’t usually read them back to back but they were Christmas gifts. I will have to check out Sleeping Beauties, it’s one I haven’t heard of.

What is one random thing about you? I used to sit in graveyards cleaning the gravestones as a youth. I find graveyards so peaceful and think it is a respectable job, cleaning gravestones.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? Most of my writing is on my laptop although I do jot down short stories in notebooks when an idea hits me.

What does your writing process look like? An idea will come to me, whether from a news story, an overheard dialogue, or even a photo and it sparks a character or setting in my mind. As I have said before, I let the story flow through me and even when it diverts in a direction I was not expecting I just go with it. I can sit and write, when left alone, for hours. Sometimes I listen to classical music but mostly in silence. It is my happy place.

How important are names to you in your books? I try to make sure the names reflect the character’s traits, time period and their place in the narrative.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I am spasmodic in my promotion and need to be more organized in avenues of advertising and target marketing.

What is your favorite book and why? You will find this interesting as it is not a Stephen King book. I love and re-read on a regular basis a book called Ferney by James Long. It centers on a young woman and an old man who are the reincarnations of past lives. It is a fabulously written book and the story totally mesmerizing.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Find a writing group who supports and encourages you and where you can receive constructive critique. Like the Authors Helping Authors Beyond Marketing (New budding group on Facebook).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Apart from the day job – freelance projects, event planning for both non-profit organizations, traveling to book events and attending local author readings.

From where do you gain your inspiration? It is a common answer from writers – everywhere and everything but I have found unusual news stories, fairy folklore and the natural world to be my main sources of inspiration. I’ve been waiting to plug this in because I found it to be my favorite cover of one of your books!

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What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? As I am published through a small publishing company, I cannot comment on self-publishing. I will say that a smaller publisher enables me to have more control over the process, the design and look of the books and it is a far more personal service.

How do you market your books? I am prolific on social media, I have a blog where my books are featured, and my publisher’s website has all my titles. I regularly attend author readings and local and provincial literary events. My books are in the local libraries and independent book stores.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Funny you should ask I have just had discussions with a PR company this week. It is a new venture for me.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Start local and build from there – try not to conquer the world in one go. Gauge how much you want to market and where and focus on that, spreading yourself too thin only exhausts you and leaves no time to write.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? I would say writing is 60% and marketing 40% – it is the writing I enjoy and if people read my stories now or in the future that is my reward.

What do you do to get book reviews? How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

I do not openly request book reviews apart from the occasional meme share on social media. When people buy my books I do request a review. I am keen to see what this PR company can do on this subject. Watch this space.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? When I was promoting The Twesome Loop I did entice readers by mentioning that it contained ‘spicy bits’ – several purchasers remarked on this strategy saying it was the reason they wanted to read it.

Which social network worked best for you? I find Facebook, twitter and Goodreads all have on par success for me. My blog seems to be the place readers and writers visit a great deal.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Without a doubt I would love to spend time with my literary hero, Stephen King. He is a skillful writer but also a fascinating personality, to sit down with him would be a dream come true. I would like to find out what makes the man tick.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I would be honored to have written Ferney. It is the ultimate reincarnation story.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Don’t be afraid to try new styles, don’t restrict yourself to one genre explore them all. Let the story flow and do not edit as you go but later on once the narrative is finished.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I am all over social media:

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

Twitter: @mandyevebarnett

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477059.Mandy_Eve_Barnett

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/mandyevebarnett

Author Page: http://dreamwritepublishing.ca/authors/mandy-eve-barnett

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mandy-eve-barnett-58235250/

 

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Soulmates: Dark #FlashFiction

He was my kind of gorgeous; sweet, funny, great singing voice, protective and a little good looking. Others thought differently with his jerk nature I tended to overlook, tad overweight (just more to love), controlling habits and he was a bit immature.

Still he was my soulmate and I was his. I loved everything about him, but every time we were together things would go wrong. Little things that all couples go through, so we stuck it out. That is until things went really wrong.

I came home one morning, from working nightshift at the hospital, to find another man in my waterbed. Normally I would be ok with this, I’m weird like that, but the poor man was black and blue, tied to a hook in the wall above the bed and looked terrified.

“Leo, what’s going on?” I asked tentatively.

“I needed release, you weren’t here like always. He showed up to deliver a package. I don’t have preference.” He grunted out, still buried deep inside the postman and thrusting. “He took a bit of persuasion but he is better than the corpses in the basement.”

“There are dead bodies in the basement?” I tried not to freak out. That would explain why I’m not allowed in the basement.

“I shouldn’t have said that. Now I’m going to lose the only person that has been able to keep up with me. When you’re home that is.” He kept going, as if in a hypnotic state. “You know they didn’t start out like that. I just couldn’t have them screaming when you are home.”

Mentally I thought of all the places I could run, but he has alienated me from all my friends and family. The cops would think that I was in on it because God only knows how long it has been going on. There is nowhere for me to go.

In order to save my life, I knew what I had to do: join him.

I stripped my clothes and eased down on the unnamed postman’s appendage, facing Leo. “Think of all the fun we could have together.” I said hoping to entice him.

Matching him move for move, I rode them. At the right time, I arched back to the bedside table and grabbed the dagger I keep for protection.

“Rose!” He called out and I plunged the knife deep into his heart.

“That is for thinking to kill me.” I pulled it out and went in again, loving the feel of his warm blood coat my body. “That is for not sharing.”

To Forward or Not to Forward #PoW

I am working on “Price of War” and I keep going back to the forward I wrote and cant decide if I should keep it or not. To me it explains how the story came about and why it is so important to me. Then I think that no one would be interested in that information or they would find that it is stupid, stopping them from reading the book. 

Right now this book is what I would consider my Magnum Opus and I don’t want something that could color the person’s view of the book before they have a chance to read it. Really it is a stupid reason, but it means a lot to me and I would like to share the back story with the readers so they can understand why”Price of War” means so much to me. So much that for the cover, I used my Great-grandparents’ wedding photograph with a few changes, obviously.

#FindingSanta: First Book Blurb and Cover Reveal

The title of Santa Claus is held by one person for a hundred years, passed down from father to son or son-in-law, before he moves on to become Father Time. Candy is the only child of the current Claus family. Her father is in his last year as Good Ol’ Saint Nick and has to find the next Santa before New Year’s Eve or hell will come to Earth.

With the help of Jessiy and Steelwell, members of the Legends’ Survival Squad, she sets out to find a man worthy of taking over. Along the way she meets three potential candidates but everything goes wrong from the minute she hears of her task.

As the days pass and her prospects look bleak, she begins to doubt herself and the magic of Christmas. Will she be able to restore her faith and save the world?

Release Date: Deceomber 23rd, 2016

#BookReview: Loki (Highland Clan Series Book 1) by Keira Montclair 4/5 Stars

Loved it, but about halfway through I began to lose interest. It just seemed like the book should have been split into two but kept going, which is why it took me so long to get through it. Still worth a good read.

#ASI: Ellen Chauvet

Hi Ellen, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

 Discuss your newest book. My newest book is also my first book and is titled “When Darkness Falls”, The First Vampire Redemption Story. It is the first in a series of at least 3 books. It tells the story of Lexie, a vampire executioner who doesn’t know she is one. When her best friend is murdered by vampires, she is thrown into a five-hundred-year-old secret and meets her Amant de Sange or Blood Mate, Etienne Benoit. She chooses to step into her legacy as a ‘Chosen One’ and begins her journey into a dark and dangerous world. Lexie and Etienne fall in love and when he betrays her she vows revenge. Read it recently, loved it!

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 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’ve always been an avid reader and thought that ‘someday’ I would write a book. I’ve loved all of the Anne Rice novels and when a friend introduced me to Buffy, The Vampire Slayer I became intrigued by the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad vampires’. I started reading as many vampire books as I could get my hands on including Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Pike and Stephanie Meyer. They were my research, and when my work commitments changed, I decided it was time to write. I wrote the first draft in 9 months, took a year off when my husband became terminally ill, and then pursued the dream when he died. I found a great writing coach and the next 4 years were spent in rewrites, editing, and polishing. A great publisher found me and we published the book in March of 2016 on Amazon’s Create Space and Kindle. I’m sorry for your loss.

What are your current projects? My current project is writing the second book in the series.

What books have most influenced your life most? When I was a teenager I read a lot of Hemingway and loved his style of writing, so definitely Hemingway. Probably most of all though would be Anne Rice.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? I have two main characters.

Lexie is a Southern Belle from Atlanta, Georgia and was brought up in a strict Southern Baptist household. She’s rebelled against the suppression of her Mother and lives in Paris working as a translator for the United Nations. She’s attractive, sassy, a bit promiscuous and wonders if this is all there is to life.

Etienne is a 500-year-old vampire who was turned against his will and has created an organization to fight against ‘dark’ vampires. He’s sophisticated, handsome, ruthless when he needs to be and resigned about ever finding his Amant de Sang (Blood Mate). He falls hard for Lexie and when he is forced to turn to the ‘dark’ side, vows he will find a way back to her.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  The message is that there is good and evil in all of us and it’s ok. It’s part of being alive (or undead as the case may be). Every day we have a choice between good and evil.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? I’d like to see Olivier Martinez play Etienne and Jessica Chastain play Lexie.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I had the time and the dream.

Do you write full-time or part-time? I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I don’t write every day full-time, but when the story or the characters are demanding my attention, I’m disciplined and write 3 to 5 hours every day.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The rewrites. Then I realized they are the key to honing my craft and producing something that people want to read.

What is the easiest thing about writing?  Creating the story.

 What book are you reading now? I’m reading “Find Me When The Sun Goes Down by Lisa Olsen.

What is one random thing about you? I love horses and music

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? Tablet and computer

 What does your writing process look like? My writing coach trained me to do a lot of what she calls “laying on my bed writing”. In other words, really thinking about where I want to go in a particular paragraph or chapter and making sure my characters are always in character. Also doing the required research – I’ve learned to love research. When I’m on a roll, I’m always in my office by 9am anxious to discover what my characters have been up to overnight.

 Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? No

How important are names to you in your books?  Names are very important as they have meaning.

 Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’m still in the marketing process and so far so good.

What is your favorite book and why? I gave this a lot of thought and I don’t really have a favorite book. I have favorite authors.

 Do you have any advice for other writers?

  1. Never give up – just keep writing.
  2. Don’t listen to the little voice in your head saying you can’t or you’re not good enough or no one wants to read what you want to write about.
  3. Don’t edit your work as you go – get that first draft done and then edit.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? See friends, listen to music, watch TV, travel – in many ways I’m never not writing. I’m always thinking about writing even when I’m not sitting at my computer.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Everywhere – but particularly other authors who write about vampires.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I don’t have an opinion about that – I’m traditionally published and I love my publisher.

How do you market your books? Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, author interviews, pod casts

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I would and I don’t.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Authors need to also be entrepreneurs. Writing is not only creative it’s a business and I think many authors are not business people. I’m lucky in that regard as I was a business woman first and then became an author. Create a marketing plan and stick to it and keep talking about your book – to anyone who will listen.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Right now a lot. The book is newly published and it takes time to build an author platform and develop one’s readership. I’m willing to put in the time and energy to get my book known.

What do you do to get book reviews? How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? My publisher has been extremely helpful in that regard. She discovered a tool we’ve been using and it’s been extremely productive. We’re still working on attaining reviews and know that it takes time and energy on both our parts.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Not really.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? No

Which social network worked best for you? At present Facebook seems to be working well. And I’m also creating a presence on Twitter.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

 

I did a press release for the Horror Writer’s Association – not sure how successful or productive that was. I did a book launch here in Vancouver and it was extremely successful. Sold out of books I had on hand and could have sold more. Launch was promoted through Facebook.

 

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I’d like to meet Bram Stoker. Fascinating mind.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

Sit down and write – don’t critique – just write.

Everything I said above

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 

I have a blog – ellenchauvet.wordpress.com

Website – ellenchauvet.com

Find me on Facebook

#Book Excerpt: The Golden Age Dawns by Gabriel Woods

Susan tossed and turned in her bed. She was still worried over the events in the cottage, terrified of her unbridled power, and of the danger she had placed her husband in when the knife circling around her flew at him – luckily, he dodged it and wasn`t injured.  She was also worried about her work. As a hospital consultant in A and E, it would cause chaos if this power was unleashed and Susan was seen as being out of control. What if she injured patients or staff by implements she sent flying around the room? Susan glanced at the alarm clock, she only had five hours before she got up to go to work.  Her mind was racing, trying to make sense of the events that had happened to her.  Susan rose from her bed. Alex was sleeping peacefully. She thought maybe a cup of tea would help her relax.

Susan put her slippers on and reached to the chair for her dressing gown. She noticed a bright swirling blue light enter the bedroom. The blue light moved in a circle at a fast pace and then revolved slowly around until a figure began to emerge. The figure was in a human shape and she could just make out that it was a man. He was encapsulated by a white light which ran along the edge of his body. His body was huge and it was coloured in different shades of blue. It was muscular and appeared to be at least ten feet tall. The figure had a long gleaming white sword in one hand and a bright blue shield in the other. He wore a purple tunic that covered his upper arms and covered him as far as his lower legs. This made Susan feel threatened. She also felt outraged that this being had invaded her home.

The figure began to speak in a soft voice. “Hello Susan, I am the Protector.”  Susan gulped and she began to shake a little in anger at this being’s intrusion.

Susan moved away from the being and said “I don’t know who or what you are.  What are you doing here?”

The Protector slowly lay down his shield and sword on the floor. He took one slow step forward towards Susan. He held out his hand in an attempt to hold Susan`s hand.  Susan drew back from his hand.  “I am here to help you.  Please don’t be afraid”

Susan replied in a high pitched voice “Help me?  Help me?  Damn it, Damn it!! Do you know what I have been through lately? Do you know how terribly afraid I am for the future?”

“Susan, yes, I do know. You fear for yourself and your family. You are afraid because you do not understand this gift that you have. It will help you in the events of the future in which you will play an important role for all of humanity. I am here to help you and protect you. That is if you wish me to.”

Susan`s hands were in the shape of fists and she shook them at the Protector.  “Why the bloody hell should I trust you? Why should I trust you? You tell me that then!”

The Protector walked closer to Susan. I do not ask you to trust me straight away.  I can help you with something now and, if my help proves effective and the results are beneficial to you, would you trust me then?”

Susan approved of the logic of this. She had seen proof that this being existed and that it meant well.  Susan dropped her fists and lowered her voice. “I possibly might.”

The Protector smiled.  “Good.  Now, what is it you want me to help with, Susan?”

Susan stared at her hands and her body with disgust, and remembered how they had done things without her permission. She didn’t know how her own body worked anymore. “This power that I have, I want to understand what it is and how to use it.”

The Protector attempted to lay a hand on Susan`s shoulder but she resisted and moved back. “Your power is called telekinesis. You can move items at will with your mind. There is a local library – it is on a street left of the park. Go to the psychology section and you will find a blue book entitled `Parapsychology’. That will explain everything about telekinesis and how to control it.”

Susan`s voice had lowered. “Telekinesis, I will look it up on the internet. Ok, I might get that book. Now, you haven’t told me what you meant by events of the future where I help the world, what do you mean?”

“Susan, in the next few months your skills as a doctor will be needed. Many, many people will require your help.  I am here to assist you and to protect you as you carry out your mission.”

Susan stared directly into the eyes of the giant blue figure at the end of her bed. “You barge into my home, and now you talk of some mission I have to complete. This just doesn’t make sense!!!”

The Protector put gently put his hand on Susan`s shoulder and said softly In time, Susan, this will make sense to you, it is difficult for any mortal to comprehend. I can guide you to understand this; I can guide you with anything you ask. Watch out for signs that I am near you. A sparkle of blue or white in the air, the feeling someone is walking behind you or a voice in your mind that will be me.”

Susan began to rub her eyes; her lack of sleep was catching up on her. “Listen whatever you are, I shall have to go to work in five hours.  I need to think about all of this.”

The Protector picked up his sword and shield. “Goodbye, Susan. I will ensure that you sleep well tonight.  We will talk soon.”

Susan moved closer to the Protector, with her hands clasped together as if she were praying to him “Protector, I have one question, what is it exactly that will affect so many people? A fire, a natural disaster, what exactly?”

The Protector had disappeared before Susan finished her question; he had ascended through the ceiling in an instant surrounded in blue and white light. Susan got into bed and looked at Alex.  He was still asleep despite her conversation with the Protector. Susan fell into a deep sleep as soon as she laid her head on her pillow. She dreamt of a beautiful forest and when she awoke she felt re-energized.