#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/

 

An Author’s Romance #AAR Preview

Rushes of angry foreign words as the priest keeps glancing back at me and Jolene before turning his head back to the man who came to the door.

“Jessabel, I don’t like this.” Jolene called to me from the window.

I went across the room to her side, “What’s going on?” I looked out and had to grab the edge of a table to steady myself. “Shit. That’s a lynch mob.” My worst fear has come true.

“Jessa, it gets worse. Look who is leading it.” Jolene pointed to two figures on a brown and white horse. They turned just right so we could see the woman’s face, “Coira.”

“Double shit. I think she is still ticked about the other night and the marriage.” I turned to the priest, fell to my knees and begged for our lives. “Father, please grant us sanctuary. Please. I promise we are not what they think we are.”

He glared back at us, “I know exactly who you are, Witches! I carry the proof!” He held up the battered and stained diary he was just reading to us allowed. “You will get a trial by water, may God have mercy on your souls.”

The gruff man who knocked and a companion from the angry mob rushed forward with lengths of rope. They tied us up and dragged us outside. Jolene’s screams ring in my ears as we are thrown over horses, precariously balancing like teeter-totters, forced to hope we didn’t fall as the riders sped off at a full gallop. The crowd of people jeering and laughing all the way to the pond.

Find at: https://books.pronoun.com/an-authors-romance/?ebook_referrer=true

#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.

#NaNoWriMo Has Ended!

The month of writing hell is done! No I did not complete my novel, but powered through 28,455 words and believe that to be a pretty respectable number…Ok it’s lousy, but I’m proud of getting that much done in one month. It could of been a lot worse. I have a lot more to do on the book, I’m going to put it on the back burner for awhile. I’m burnt out on #TPAV (To Paint a Vampire) for right now, and if I hear the word vampire again for at least it will be way too soon.

To Paint A Vampire

Until then I’m going to work on my other projects. So many to choose from. Saving Santa, is a holiday romance that came to mind.

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There is also the third installment to my Legend Series, Shattered, but that involves the “v-word” so I don’t think so.

LoaOG bk 3

Plus the elusive historical novel, The Price of War.

The Price of War

Then the three that I don’t have mock covers for: Haunted House (WT) obviously a ghost story, Dream Walker about a dream jumper, and The Right Place to Write Time (WT) time-traveling story I started recently.

May #WrapUp

CLTBRChallenge15 and GoodReads Book Challenge Progress- 21 of 65 and 30 of 65 books read. I really need to start reading books from my TBR pile again! But I have the next Night School preordered and an ARC of RSVP From Heaven to read as well. I am a failure at diving into my long list of TBR.

May books:

Night School: Resistance

Pines non-CLTBR

Wayward non-CLTBR

The Last Town non-CLTBR

Spearwood Academy Vol 6 non-CLTBR

Spearwood Academy Vol 7 non-CLTBR

My Camp NanoWrimo book, #LoveandDrugs has been sent off to a Beta Reader (no word back yet). If there is anyone interested in Beta Reading it, I would happily send you a copy for honest feedback!

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I continued #Musical Monday Reviews and will continue them into May. Sanctuary Edits is still open for new clients. Sadly I think my guest post author has backed out, but if anyone else would like to step up send me a message and we can talk. Any topic you would like, I don’t mind. Also still taking author interviews!

As you saw there have been some posts from my creative writing class and I’ll continue to post them. I have also posted my poems and there may be more in the future…I’m not sure as I don’t write them that often.

My Book Facts

The hardest book To read:

The hardest book for me to read, is actually a series. The Sleeping Beauty series by Ann Rice. That series puts 50 Shades of Gray to shame and I was able to drag myself through the first book but didn’t make it halfway through the second before I called it quits.

A book I haven’t read yet but should have:

I have my own religious issues. I have made it my mission to read the bible, and have started it but keep putting it off. It is one book I feel I should read and should have read a long time ago.

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Books I hated having to read in school, but I loved once I grew up:

Can’t say I have any of these yet. I have done well staying away from books I hated in school. That list would include two books: Lord of the Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird. I do not have any plans to reread these.

A book I should have read sooner:

Aside from the Bible, I would have to go with Lolita. Very interesting and wish I had read it when I was younger, give me a chance to love it longer than the 5 years and counting.

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Books I read at least once a year:

I don’t usually read a certain book once a year. If the mood strikes for a certain reread, then I will but it doesn’t usually happen yearly. However, I have read the 50 Shades series once a year for two or three years now.

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Books I should never have read:

That again goes to the Sleeping Beauty series. It just freaked me out and I cannot look at Disney’s Sleeping Beauty the same way.

My favorite books as a child:

The Dear America Series. Diaries from girls of different time periods expressing what their lives were like. I loved every one I could get my hands on. Another favorite was Love from Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky about a girl writing to FDR and becoming a penpal with him. I ended up writing a letter to Former President Clinton and George W. Bush. With all of my moving around I’m not sure what happened to the letter from Clinton, but I do still have GWB’s as well as a picture of him and his wife that was sent along with it.

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Series that should have went further:

Harry Potter. A series that brought the world together could go one to fill in little details about Harry’s life after the War. How did everyone cope? Did they all get over it or are some still haunted? The ending J.K. provided was nice but so much could still be done.

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Books that should not have been made into movies:

Twilight probably shouldn’t have been made into movies. While I loved the books and was overjoyed when the movies did come out, I think a lot was not transferred to the big screen and they kind of turned four good books into a bit of a mockery. Still love both the books and movies but hate comparing the two. I prefer to judge them separately.

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Books that sucked me in:

Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades…pretty much any book I find, I get sucked into at some point. Even if I end up not liking it.

How about you? Did you have a book that was hard to read, or one you read over-and-over again? I would love to hear what your book facts are. Let me know!