#NaNoWriMo #Interview: Mandy Eve-Barnett

*This year I wanted to provide a spotlight for a few writers who have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy getting to know them and learn from their insights!

Tell us why you participate in National Novel Writing Month

I find it a superb way to practice writing to a deadline, write without the worry of editing and letting my creativity flow with no constraints.

How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?

My first NaNo was 2009 when I was persuaded by a new writing friend from my writing group to participate. At the time I’d only written very short stories (and I mean short). The idea of fifty thousand words made me refuse point blank but gradually she convinced me I could do it. That first NaNo’s project was edited and revised almost every year until I finally published it 2018.

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?

This will be my tenth NaNo – I only missed 2017 when I was working on two manuscripts that were published that year.

What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?

The idea came late in October (almost November) it just popped into my head to write a young romance set with a university campus. The two main protagonists have evolved into fully rounded characters now.

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say?

I indulge my creativity in writing whether writing fiction or aiding clients within my freelance business and am a writing community advocate.

Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?

I have used several dream sequences within my works of fiction, they are always vivid and I quickly write them down. I always have a notebook on the bedside table.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

Stephen King is my literary hero. He is the greatest story teller, creating characters with minimal description, grips your interest from the first page and never disappoints. My greatest possession is a personal letter I received from him. It is framed about my writing desk.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

I do not write to genre, I write the story an it chooses which genre it is as it unfolds.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I use my blog to interact with writers across the globe: http://www.mandyevebarnett.com

You can find me across social media –

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/mandyevebarnett

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

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

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V

On NaNoWriMo site I am MandyB

 

Mandy’s Writing Desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you so much, Mandy for taking the time to share with us a little bit about yourself and your writing experiences.  Best of luck for your NaNoWriMo! If anyone has any questions or comments for her please leave them in the Comment section.

 

Q&A with Beth and Ezra Barany about PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO

 

 

*Today we have two very special and amazing guests with us! Let’s give Beth and Ezra Barany, both award-winning authors, a warm welcome! 

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about each of you, and why you both decided to work together as teachers and mentors.  When you’re not helping other writers, you both also write fiction. Tell us about them.

 

Beth here. Our collaboration didn’t happen overnight. When Ezra and I first met we were both writers, but not yet teachers. Pretty soon after getting married we decided to teach overseas. So we both got training in teaching English to foreigners. Then we went to Paris to teach English for two years.

When we got back home, Ezra got his credential to be a high school physics teacher and I went to work in a bookstore and then an office.

Fast forward 3 years, I decided to start a business helping writers as a creativity coach. Pretty soon when I started doing presentations, Ezra helped me with some of them. Then he had a break from teaching high school and started to teach more actively with me. He approaches writing differently than I do, so I really wanted to include his perspective so that the writers could benefit.

Over the years I’ve been asking him to teach various aspects that he knows well so that we have a more robust group of courses for writers.

I write young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery, and have series published in the first two. Many of my interests have been very different than Ezra’s and that’s been great. When I met him he was writing short stories in horror, mystery, and surrealistic fiction. Ezra has published 3 books in his Torah Codes series.

 

Presto! Ezra speaking! As Beth said, it took some time before we worked together as teachers. But uniting our teaching superpowers was inevitable by the way we both loved the craft and business of writing and wanted the world to see how fun it could be.

We toyed with the idea of cowriting a story, but our genres are so different, that we find it’s best if we stick to editing each other’s work.

 

  1. In what ways are your creative process different from one another, and how did you manage to weave them together as you teach and mentor other writers?

 

Beth here: I am much more of an organic writer than Ezra. I start with character and evolve the plot from there. I also start with a clear idea of my genre, and I think this is where he and I are similar.

And because I have an organic approach to the writing process I would notice where there were holes and ask to see if Ezra could fill them. Since he has a more linear approach to planning his novels I knew that would be helpful to some people, and I learned from it too.

 

Abracadabra! This is Ezra! I’m a plotter. A severe plotter. We’re talking write-every-detail-of-each-scene-on-index-cards plotter.

I tend to start with the “Holy crap! I didn’t see that coming!” idea of what happens in the thriller, and how it will make the reader want to share the thriller with all her friends.

From there, I think of the main moments that fit a standard hero’s journey or Act I II and III model, those moments that lead up to the climax I already have in mind. I usually do so by using a problem-solution tool, such as Problem: Jacob gets attacked by lobsters at the restaurant; Solution: Jennifer, chef extraordinaire, fends off the lobsters with a hatchet. I scribble the problem-solution scenes down on index cards and then I fill in missing scenes on more index cards.

My biggest issue is character development, and that’s where Beth saves the day. She asks me questions about the characters that make me discover there’s more to the story than I originally intended.

Overall, I’d say Beth’s strengths are my weaknesses in writing and vice-versa, so our skills complement each other in helping round out the skills of other writers.

 

  1. You both just published a book, Plan Your Novel Like a Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! Tell us about it, and about how you both put this together.

 

Beth here:This book is based on a course we have been teaching for over five years. The material just evolved out of mostly my process and then adding in Ezra’s process where it made sense.

I was the main driver in producing an editing the book and Ezra looked at everything, added editorial comments, and created the awesome cover with my input.

 

Ezra here: What she said.

 

  1. Where can we find this book?

 

You can find this book at all these vendors:

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

iBooks

Other vendors

 

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?  Why?

 

Beth here: I love to plan and write my first draft at cafés. I love the ambient noise, the fact that even though I am alone in the project I am surrounded by other people doing their thing, and it gets me out of my house, so I have a change of pace.

 

Voila! Ezra at the post now! I love to dig holes in the ground and find chests of gold bullion and non-sequiturs.

As for places to write, I, too, like writing my first drafts at cafés. I like the possibility of someone coming up to me and saying, “You’re writing a thriller? No way! You’re the most amazing person in the world!”

It hasn’t happened yet, but yeah. That would be cool.

 

  1. In each of your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

 

Beth here: One of the biggest obstacles facing writers today is just starting the process. Often writers don’t know where to begin and that can be overwhelming and confusing. Another huge obstacle is that they feel that there might be something wrong with them because their ideas don’t fit the mainstream. Lastly I see writers not even starting because they don’t think they can do it even though they really want to write a novel.

 

Ezra’s mouth talking now: I agree. B.I.C. is one of the toughest tasks writers have to overcome. B.I.C. stands for Butt In Chair. Getting started is hard for me and, I believe, for other writers. But there’s the five-minute solution. As soon as a writer sits down, tells herself, “I’m going to write for five minutes,” and starts writing, those five minutes typically end up being a half hour.

Another tough obstacle is the desire to get it right the first time. Analysis paralysis. I tell myself that my goal is to write crap and have fun doing it. Often, if I’m having fun writing the story, readers will enjoy reading it. Also, giving myself permission to write crap takes the pressure off to be perfect.

 

  1. Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

 

Beth here: If you have the dream and the desire to write a novel but don’t know where to begin, then I recommend you start by setting the timer for five minutes and just write. Nonstop. Not caring about typos or anything. Not caring if you repeat yourself or write nonsense. Writing is a practice, writing is something you can get better at. And if you want to write a novel, you absolutely can. I believe in you.

 

Ezra here: *hug*

 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

“I can honestly say this book saved a manuscript that was headed for the shredder!” — Ann W. Shannon

This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.

This 168-book comes with 20 chapters, lots of exercises, and a free bonus workbook.

 

About Beth Barany

Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. More resources on publishing, book marketing, and novel writing are on her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone. When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

About Ezra Barany

Ezra Barany loves riveting readers with thrillers, but by order of the Department of Motor Vehicles he must place a warning on every book cover, “Do not read while driving.” His first two books in The Torah Codes series were award-winning international bestsellers. In his free time, he has eye-opening discussions on the art of writing novels with his wife and book coach Beth Barany. A high school physics teacher, Ezra lives in Oakland with his beloved wife and two cats working on the next book in The Torah Codes series. Ezra, not the cats. For a free short story in The Torah Codes series, “Mourner’s Kaddish,” go to http://www.thetorahcodes.com/.

 

 

 

 

The #Blogging Poll Results

Last Monday, I put out a poll asking writers if they saw any advantages to blogging on a daily basis.

*45% believed that writing daily posts will enable the blog to thrive

*36% did not

*18% selected “other

-“I think it depends on the content more than the frequency.”

-“Probably not, though sometimes these month long challenges do bring new people.

 

Here are various other comments that were included with the reponses:

“Quality vs quantity. I’d rather post once a week with something that followers want to read instead of posting daily and have followers delete it.” –Darnell Cureton, Fictionista

 

“I think putting out too much material can be overwhelming for readers. I find that the blogs whose writers post just once or twice a week are the ones I read religiously and look forward to.” –Susan Richardson, Stories From the Edge of Blindness

 

“Writing every day doesn’t mean your blog will thrive. In order to have a thriving blog, we have to interact in a meaningful way and that means we have to support the blogs that support us. Unless, of course, our blog is for information purposes or we are selling something to someone, then it may be different. Perhaps it comes down to relevant content, whatever the genre of the blog. ” –Poetry From the Inkwell

 

“I do post everyday, I think if it helps me, then it could someone else. I write a lot in advance and whatever is on my heart. And I even go back and read what I wrote last week or month even year. It may be different with everyone.” –Rebecca Jones, A Daughter’s Gift of Love

 

“I think writing every day helps … maybe not posting them every day. I loved the accountability of the #Write28Days and knowing that I had committed to posting daily made me do it. But as someone mentioned … the quality does suffer — unless you are a professional journalist.” –Hulda Bennett, Hearts Fully Alive

 

What about you? Do you have any other thoughts on this poll and its results/comments?

#Writerslife How Does A Writer Survive Now-A-Days?

by rawpixel via Unsplash

 

You’d think with all the technology we have on hand, as writers, we’d find a way to make a living. But the truth is, technology has made it so that anyone can publish therefore flooding the digital world with stories, poetry, how-tos, comics, etc. it has become nearly impossible to make any kind of a living.

So, how does a writer survive now-a-days?

  1. Community. Being a part of a community of writers and authors (guilds, groups, tribes, followers, link-ups, etc.) helps you through times when you’re feeling alone and overwhelmed. Plus, through a community, you’ll have access to opportunities to further your career/dream (a community tends to be filled with people from various creative/professional backgrounds).
  2. Diversify. I’ve noticed that many successful authors these days are also teachers, coaches and mentors, working with those just beginning their journey as writers. Others speak at various conferences, summits, and events spreading their knowledge as well as promoting their published works. For those who dislike public speaking of any kind, there are other opportunities such as writing guest posts for blogs, journals, and magazines with large subscribers, or content writing/freelance writing, etc.
  3. Exposure.  With so many ebooks or print books in the market these days, it’s nearly impossible for any potential reader to find your published novel.  You need to find ways to get your name/brand/written work before as many eyes as you can. A few ways to do this: publish shorter works in ezines, journals, and magazines; set up a blog and write regular posts; guest posts on other blogs that have a high number of subscribers; set up interviews with various media outlets (popular blogs, podcasts, book reviewers with their own websites/blogs, etc..)

What about you? Can you think of other ways for a writer to survive in this highly competitive creative industry?

Story Saturday: The Extinction Event

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

I recently came across a prompt put out by Liam J Cross Writing and Editing:

A rocket ship to outer space. A mission to save the world. Or so they thought…

It was way too intriguing NOT to write a story for this!

 

The Extinction Event

 

 He watched as the white smoke trailed behind the first rocket as it zoomed up towards space.  For months, it was advertised, preached, and listed as “man’s greatest hope for survival,” but he knew the truth.

By agreeing to send “them” any and all offspring for research and food, they basically secured mankind’s doom.  It was only a matter of time before the public found out, and what would happen then?

Again, he knew.

Chaos.  Total anarchy.  And then what would “theydo?

No matter what, annihilation was certain for them all.

#IWSG A Rainy Day For This Writer

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

 

Photo Credit: Alexander Tayson

 

I’m experiencing this weather phenomenon right now.  If you look out my window, you’ll see the partially bare ground laced with dirty snow.   The air is frigid as the arctic breeze sweep through the barren trees that pepper our farmstead.

It’s April, but winter is sticking around.

I’ve been cooped up indoors for months.  I leave the house only once a week for grocery shopping, and that’s it.

No fresh air.  No real exercise (the treadmill only goes so far).

Depression is settling in heavy, and affecting my writing life.

With several projects lined up to be worked on, all I’ve done is watch medical dramas on Hulu.

I feel the dark clouds billowing over my head as I ignore the jabbering of characters in my mind.   Rain comes in form of tears as the frustration (with myself) grows.

I must find a way to jump-start my writing.

Writing is my sun.  My fresh air.

But right now, the storm clouds are winning.

Bottomline, the problem is I’m a writer with very little outside contact (other than family members).  No one to spur me on with a pep talk or encouragement.  Being a shut-in (self imposed), there is no one to blame for my predicament other than myself.

Granted, I can’t just hop in a car and drive because of my blindness.

However…

There is this lovely thing called technology that allows one to keep connected with people from all walks of life.  This for me has been a blessing.

So, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’m here, blogging, and in essence, writing which is all the kick in the pants I need for the clouds to roll back, and allow the sun to peek through.

 


 

#Writing is a Journey

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Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images CCO

 

You may have noticed a few subtle changes on this blog.  One’s the color.  The other is the name.

Since 2007, I’ve been blogging and (seriously) writing, and have used “a writer and her adolescent muse” as a title because I was still exploring genres and forms to see which were the best fit for me.

It’s now 2018 and I believe I’m close to the answers  I’ve been seeking.

Close.

I enjoy writing horror and dark stories and dark poetry.  And I plan to continue. As for writing books, I will be focusing on inspirational romance-suspense.  Hence, the name change of this blog to A writer and her sentimental muse to reflect this shift.

I also have a memoir in me that wants to be written.  This will be titled, The Whispering Shadows.  I already have a blog by that name, and will be revamping it in the near future to start the memoir.  I will share more on this in the future.

Author Interview: Huck Krueger

Today I have a special guest with us-author of several Science Fiction novels, Huck Krueger!

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say? 
I’ve told people that I’m a pilot and a writer. But since I put my plane away and don’t know if I’ll ever fly it again, I might say, “Hi. I’m Huck. I’m a writer and a former pilot.” Or I might leave out the word, ‘former,’ for now.

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 
Like most kids, I had fantasies, and I enacted them in my play. In my teen years, I still had those fantasies, though I didn’t play any of them out with toys or action figures. I started drawing cartoons and comics. But I knew I didn’t have any special skill at it and never assumed I’d sell any of my comic stories. Many of those comic stories and booklets are sitting in a box in my basement.From sixth grade through junior high, I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were enthusiastic about writing, and they had taught me the concepts of English grammar and writing basics. Then I ‘saw’ the ‘window’ to write my fantasies out in stead of trying to draw inept comics.I’ve thought that if I ever publish a big-time seller, I’ll dedicated it (my first book anyway) to my junior high English teachers.

 

What do you write?
I’m interested in science, especially astrophysics and aerospace.  So I write Science Fiction mostly, though I’ve dabbled in romance, contemporary and wartime settings. My science fiction is most often involving space travel or life on other planets. I don’t care for the pure fantasy involving the supernatural or spirits, or worlds and creatures that likely wouldn’t exist.

I read a lot of history too, but I shy away from writing stories in that genre because I worry about being historically inaccurate. With sci-fi there’s usually more suspension of belief. I can be ‘way out there,’ and feel comfortable that no one will definitively prove that what I write can’t happen.

 

You’ve just released a book (or two) this year, correct?  Can you tell us some about it (them)? Where can we find your books? 
My latest novels are a series about four crew-members who fly an Astral Research Vessel, or ARV, throughout the galaxy to study stars and nebulae. The crew consists of two men and two women. My main character, Miles Wendel, is the pilot of their ship. Tana Vargas is their engineer and bio scientist. Li Keung is their astrophysicist who mans their science equipment. And Cassie Nystrom is their captain.

Their ship is ‘sustained’ by force fields and is often invisible. Only the objects and equipment they access or touch become visible. If someone wants privacy, say in his or her quarters, then the walls will appear, usually throughout the living compartment of their ship.

Their ship is capable of ‘bypassing the speed of light’ by what I’ve termed, ‘Hyper Sub-dimensional Transition (HST),’ which means they enter alternate dimensions of space/time and fly a ‘shorter’ distance to their destinations.

Of course, at their destinations, they encounter adverse situations. In each of the four stories I’ve conceived so far, they’ve encountered extraterrestrials as well as ‘external conditions’ which complicate their struggles.

I’ve published the first two books in this series which I call, Voyages of the Altair. I named their ship Altair after the star in the Aquila constellation. Its name means ‘Flying Eagle.’ I thought it was appropriate.  Each book has a main title, and so far, I’ve titled them after the star or nebula where the plot takes place.

The first book is WR104, which I published in June, 2017. On their maiden voyage we find them near the unstable blue star, identified by astronomers as WR104. The second book is M42, which I published in November, 2017. The crew is assigned to fly through and study the famous Orion Nebula (M42). I’ve finished the first draft of the third story, Eta Carina, and I’m currently writing the fourth, with a working title of, M54.

Information about these books and links to purchase them, along with my other books, can be found at my website, huckkruegerauthor.com. One can also find them via Amazon. Nook and Kindle versions are available.

 

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories? 
Space travel and extraterrestrials are what I write about most, because they give me so much ‘room’ to create and work out ideas. I like to note that most of my aliens are not evil aliens out to destroy humanity or Earth. They have their faults, but I often have them interact and cooperate with my human characters.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters? How do you come up with various settings? 
I usually use the ‘closely attached’ third-person point of view, and usually choose one main character to do it in each story. To clarify, the story is shown through the view of one person–only things he/she knows is told. Though, I try to imagine what each character thinks, sees and feels, so I can have them interact in a believable fashion. Sometimes while writing, as an excuse to get up and move around, I’ll physically act out a scene to get the concept and figure out how characters would respond.

Many of my story ideas have come from a topic in science I happen to be studying at the time. I try to construct a story with that aspect of science involved.  I came up with one story after I read about Jupiter and its moons and the forces at play between them. In the story I explain the basics of Jupiter’s ‘plasma torus’ and how it affects the electromagnetic fields around the four moons. Then I ‘stretched’ the science and went beyond to create a plot for the main two characters.

Another idea came from combining two news stories. Back when the influenza virus was ravishing through the world, I had that story rolling through the back of my mind when I read about UFO abductions.  I combined the two into a plot of aliens abducting someone and mistakenly allowing their victim to contract one of their diseases. After they set him/her free, the disease spread rapidly. The result was a pandemic that wiped out hundreds of millions. I created a story about an astronaut woman whose family had died from the disease.

In my new series, Voyages of the Altair, I’ve been reading about dark matter and dark energy, and worked the plots around the idea of living beings made of dark matter and energy.

 

How valuable is being in a writing group for you? 
It turns out that the writing groups have been very valuable. Since the late 1990s, I had let my story writing go dormant. I had only dabbled with poetry and some articles and essays from that time until the local retired fire chief invited me to check out the local writers’ group in November, 2006. That group identifies itself as the Lake Region Writers’ Group. There was another group that met in Willow City, called the Prairie Rose Writers.

They ‘prompted’ me to rekindle my story writing. While I worked on an old story and wrote new ones, the Prairie Rose group, who had collaborated with our group on an anthology, ‘recruited’ me to assemble and publish the work.  After learning the processes of self-publishing, I decided to ‘join the ranks’ of the other two in our group who had self-published their own works. After learning about what I did to publish the anthology, one of the Prairie Rose writers has now self-published one or two books.

 

When you’re not writing, where would we usually find you?
Outside of my job, which is custodial and maintenance at the local college, I’m often at my computer studying a science or history subject, or communicating with someone, or just entertaining myself. Otherwise I might be working in my shop in the garage or doing some chores or repairs around the house, and in the summer times I often worked on or flew my ultralight plane.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today? 
Writers today still face the usual problems any writer has such as writer’s block or deciding how to compose an article or story. In the business realm of literary jobs and publishing one’s work, I don’t know how much competition one faced in the past. But now-a-days writers will find a lot of competition.  The major traditional book publishers and major magazines receive tens of thousands of submissions in a year. Getting noticed will often be through luck.

An ‘outlet’ for many writers has been via the internet, which includes blogs and self-publishing. Writers of blogs, ezine articles/stories, self-published books, or other digital compositions can get their ‘foot in the door,’ if their piece catches the eye of a major publisher. Publishers sometime notice when a piece gets thousands or millions of views or sales. They might approach the author(s) and offer a proposal.

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Off hand I can’t think of any advice or tips that haven’t already been mentioned or posted somewhere.

 

 

 


 

About the author…

Huck lives in Devils Lake, N.D. with his wife, Linnea. He graduated Cando High in 1982, and in 1989 received a B.A. with a major in English, a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in German from MSU-Minot.  You can find his science fiction titles atKindle and Nook.