#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*

 

********

 

 

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/.

 

 

 

 

#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?

Author Interview: David Cedar

 

** This week we have a special guest with us to share about his debut scifi-mystery-thriller novel, Anniversaries.

 

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 

I have a creative mind and an Art background and in lieu of expressing myself in paint on canvas (like my father did), I chose the written word.

 

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what kind of music? 

Sometimes. If I do, it’s mostly 1960s pop and rock or Classic Rock. And it’s always on in the “background” to keep me company.

 

Who is your favorite author? Why? 

I have read novels in the past but, I mostly read magazine articles, so I don’t have a “favorite author”.

 

Do you have a favorite magazine or two?

I have, in the past, subscribed to two magazines: “Hemmings Classic Car” and “Collectible Automobile”. And have hundreds of back issues. But, I no longer like either publication anymore, I’m sorry to say.

 

You’ve just published a book. Tell us what your book is about. 

ANNIVERSARIES is about Darren Prescott, an ex-drug dealer/pimp who discovers a way to travel back in time to specific events on specific days in his past (and other people’s past too). He plans to parlay this ability into a money making venture, but gets side tracked when he discovers (while Time-Traveling) something horrible his father did years earlier.

 

What inspired you to write this book?

When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother gave me a slice of Swiss cheese for a snack and as I was about to bite into it, she said, as a joke, “Don’t eat the holes”. Well, I believed everything my mother told me, so when I was finished eating, on my plate were several Swiss cheese “holes” all with bite marks around their perimeters.

This little memory, this quick “snippet” of my life, has stuck with me all these years. And there are dozens and dozens of other “snippets” in my memory bank. One day, I got to thinking that these memories, although insignificant, all have anniversaries. Let’s say that the “Swiss cheese” incident happened on July 10, 1966, that means that every July tenth, it has an anniversary. My novel is loosely based on this concept.

 

You write under a pen name, what prompted you to do this?  Is there a story behind this pen name (on how you came up with it?)?

I decided to use a pen name because, my late father (Albert Swayhoover) was an Artist and his artwork is all over the Internet. If one were to Google “Swayhoover”, the result would be thousands of websites that sell his work. I was concerned that my book and I might get lost among all of that.

The origins of my pen name are: “David” is my middle name and “Cedar” was part of the name of the street in which I grew up, Cedar Point Drive. Then I searched Author names and didn’t find any other David Cedars, so that’s what I went with.

 

Where can we find this book? 

Amazon

 

What are your writing plans for the near future? 

I’m considering a sequel to ANNIVERSARIES. And there are two or three articles on one of my favorite subjects: American Automobile History that I am writing.

 

Where can we find you? 

www.davidcedar-author.com

 

******

 

About the Author:

David Cedar (aka Robert Swayhoover) was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1984 with a degree in Advertising Design. In 1997, he married Patricia Townes-Swayhoover. The couple lived in New York City before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2003. Writing has always been something David was interested in, but never gave it a try until seven or eight years ago. Besides writing, his interests include: Automobile History and World War II History.

 

Click on image to purchase

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Share: The Dream

Online anthology inviting collaborations between artists + writers

My poem, The Dream, was selected to be included in this month’s anthology with Visual Verse 🙂   Click on the VV’s link to see the image used for this month’s inspiration.  Enjoy writing poetry and like to participate?  Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to be notified of next month’s image.

 

The Dream

 

I dreamt of my sister last night
as I watched her walk down a road
towards the golden gates

The urge to call out
filled me with an urgency
I couldn’t understand

Like a thief in the night
the illness stole her essence
covering the core in
unending darkness and despair

Before I could say a word
she turned to me with a smile
I’d not seen in years

I swore her body shimmered
like a jewel in the sunlight
her soul for all to see

And she waved
                  farewell
                         my little
                                    sister

© Carrie Ann Golden 2018

 

Stop by and check out the other poems especially the one by Susan Richardson, Perfection Has No Sound, which is incredibly (but haunting) beautiful!

My #Publishing Dilemma

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

I love writing stories and poetry, and one of my dreams is to be a published author.

However…

I retired from the workforce in January 2015 (five days before my 44th birthday) due to my worsening eyesight (coupled with moderate hearing loss), and now live on Social Security benefits as well as my husband’s salary.

Although I consider myself as a writer, I feel like I’m a faceless woman with no true status or identity of any kind.

Why is that?

I desire to write books and have them traditionally published; but, since I’m on Social Security, I’m not allowed to make any money. So, this puts me in a frustrating dilemma.  How do I go about realizing my dream now?

Writing is NOT a hobby for me.  It’s my passion and my life.  Would not making money off my writing put me in the “hobbyist” realm?  Gosh,  I hope not.

What to do?

I could self-publish but if I put my books on “permafree” would people want to “buy” and read them?  Would my books be considered as “inferior” just because they’re for “free”?

On the other hand, being in this predicament is somewhat liberating as I find I have more range to do things differently than many authors.  So perhaps this really isn’t such a terrible thing after all.

Hmm…

Sunday Story: The Vanishing

Click on image for original story

*Author’s Note: I wrote this short story over five years ago.  It’s dark.  It’s creepy.  It’s one of my secular, mainstream stories that I decided NOT to submit for publication now on Wattpad. 

 

Story Blurb:

Leesa, a mother and wife, contemplates on the undesirable state of her life…but one should be careful, you might just get what you wished for in the most unexpected of ways.

 

Shadows wavered in the expansive backyard as the woman peered through the round window in front of her.  The reflection within the twilight didn’t reveal a happy face.  The skin under her brown eyes, fixed on the deck that spread beneath the small set of panes, sagged with a purplish hue.  Premature wrinkles lined her eyes and mouth.  No, she definitely wasn’t a happy person.  Her hands mindlessly moved each dish from the stainless steel sink, rinsed under cool water, and then carefully placed in the racks of the dishwasher.  She then reached for the knife and grabbed the wrong end.

“Damn it!”  She recoiled and placed the bleeding finger into her mouth.

Nope, it’s been the week from hell, and this was just another reminder that it hasn’t end yet.

Voices drifted into the room from a nearby television.

“Here are our top news of the hour.” A male news anchor said. “State and Federal law officials are investigating multiple cases involving children who have gone missing in the past three days. In every cases, each child reported to have disappeared sometime between bedtime and morning…”

“Frank.” She turned her head towards the living room. “Please turn it to something else.”

“Yes, dear.” A man’s voice said.

A click sounded and a commercial about a brand of soda came on.  She went back to rinsing a coffee mug with the uninjured hand when the floor board creaked.  She turned and smiled at her four-year old daughter who stood, wearing a pink nightgown, at the entrance of the kitchen.

Renee.  The small child was the only source of joy in her otherwise joyless life.

“What’s the matter, Renee? Did you have a bad dream?”

The girl shook her head, locks of blonde curls waved over her petite shoulders. “No, mummy.”

Mother picked up a towel to dry her hands. “What’s wrong then?

“There’s a boogeyman in my room.”

Click here to read rest of the story on Wattpad…

 


 

 

I have two other short stories also on Wattpad.  These two have been previously published.

His world was ending. How will he choose to go out? (Click on image to read the story)

Four college-aged people are dead on an island. The killer? Unknown, but definitely not human. Anna Mae Hart and her partner are called to help with the investigation and things get bloody from there. (Click on image for story)

 

 

 

#IWSG Best Ways To Start a First Draft?

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

This month’s question: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

 

For the past few years I’ve managed to keep a schedule of some kind for blogging.  This year, since I desire to convert a screenplay into a novel, I feel I need to set up a schedule for that as well.  Just figuring out the how part.

I joined a Facebook group, Finish Your Novel, a project really that’s dedicated to doing just that-finishing a novel.  It’s my hope that this group will help keep me accountable and moving forward throughout the year with my book.   I’ve been a writer for a number of years with short works published;  I’m ready to take the next leap to being a published author.

I think about setting aside three days each week to devote solely to writing the first draft.  Will probably do it chapter by chapter.  The challenge will be how to best incorporate the flash-back scenes since they will take place throughout the novel.  Also to keep me going forward, I plan to set a daily (or maybe a weekly one instead) word count goal that I can track via Word as well as a spreadsheet.

Now, the next question is–should I start by planning out the book (character development, outlining the story line/subplots, etc.) or just jump right in and start rewriting the story from the screenplay?

Hmm…

 

 

Writing: Would You Do Things Differently If You Could Go Back In Time?

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

 

This month IWSG question is: if you could backtrack and do things differently as a writer, would you? 

 

Wow, this is a loaded question.  One I have pondered on and wondered about from time to time.  Who hasn’t?  Especially now that I’m in my mid (ish) 40s, this question keeps popping up in my mind.

My first inclination is to say “Yes!”

I’d have attended SUNY Potsdam (only) majoring in Journalism instead of bouncing around at least six different colleges and ending up with a degree in Physical Education (which I barely used).

As a journalist, I would have traveled the world.  In this reality, I’ve only visited one other country…Canada.

Perhaps I’d even started my own magazine or newspaper company.  Or, maybe even branched off into the publishing industry and became an editor or something.

And just perhaps I’d ended up living in Boston (one of my fave cities) where I’d pen my first and break-through novel that landed me on the New York Times’ Bestselling List.

If I’d done all the above, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

As a writer.  As a poet.

A mother.

A wife.

Living on a small farmstead in eastern North Dakota of all places 🙂  Writing full-time at home.

I’m richly blessed.  I don’t think I would give this life up to relive it as a different person.  It’s nice to dream about it, but that’s it, just a dream.

I like this reality better.

What about you?  If you had the opportunity to go back and do anything differently as a writer, would you do it?