Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meet, Mandy Ward Author and the creator of the new WebZine :"Welcome to Wherever."

Firstly Mandy... let’s get to know you a little…

Do you have to? Oh, all right then…
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Suffolk, England. For those of you who have never been to England, Suffolk is on the East side of England and it’s coastline runs along the cold North Sea. The land is mostly flat and a fair bit of it is arable farms or heath land. I lived on an American Airbase (my Dad worked there) for the first ten years of my life and as a consequence, I’m very comfortable with all sorts of different people.
Where do you live now?
I’m in South Wales now. We came here because my Fiancé got a job here and for a while I considered myself in exile, but now I’m content to stay here for a while.
Are you in a relationship?
*smiles * I have a very long suffering Fiancé. We’ve been engaged for fifteen years and I wouldn’t be able to write without him – he helps me get round blocks, gives me ideas and makes me laugh! We have two gorgeous children who stop me from getting too absent minded.

My research indicates that you follow the Pagan belief system, can you tell my readers a little about the basic beliefs of paganism?

*laughs* Paganism is such a broad system of belief that it’s hard to describe. My particular beliefs are a mixture picked up from different things that I’ve studied, but I suppose in essence I am roughly Wiccan.
There are people on the net who explain it far better than I can – here’s one answer…

“There's an old saying that if you ask any ten wiccans about their beliefs, you’ll get fifteen different answers.
While not exclusive to every single tradition, the following are some of the core tenets found in most Wiccan systems:

• The Divine is present in nature, and so nature should be honoured and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. You'll find that many practicing Wiccans are passionate about the environment.

• The idea of karma and an afterlife is a valid one. What we do in this lifetime will be revisited upon us in the next. Part of this idea of a cosmic payback system is echoed in the Law of Threefold Return.

• Our ancestors should be spoken of with honour. Because it's not considered out of the ordinary to commune with the spirit world, many Wiccans feel that their ancestors are watching over them at all times.

• The Divine has polarity -- both male and female. In most paths of Wicca, both a god and goddess are honoured.

• The Divine is present in all of us. We are all sacred beings and interaction with the gods is not limited just to the priesthood or a select group of individuals.

• Holidays are based on the turning of the earth and the cycle of the seasons. In Wicca, eight major Sabbats are celebrated, as well as monthly Esbats.

• Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Personal responsibility is the key. Whether magical or mundane, one must be willing to accept the consequences -- either good or bad -- of their behaviour.

• Harm none or something like it. While there are a few different interpretation of what actually constitutes harm, most Wiccans follow the concept that no harm should intentionally be done to another individual.

• Respect the beliefs of others. There's no Recruiting Club in Wicca, and the Wiccans are not out to preach at you, convert you, or proselytize. Wiccan groups recognize that each individual must find their spiritual path on their own, without coercion. While a Wiccan may honour different gods than you do, they will always respect your right to believe differently.”

That pretty much sums it up for me!

You wear many hats … mother, teacher, writer, and now you are publishing an online magazine. Share with us firstly the writer. You write different genres under different pen-names…what are the names and why the need for them?

I had several different pennames to start with, one for each type of writing I did and I used my real name for teaching. The pen names eventually reduced down into two:
• Children's / Young Adult / Fantasy / Science Fiction - Kira Morgana

• Horror / Dark Fantasy - A.E. Churchyard

The idea behind them wasn’t that I wanted to hide, it was more that I didn’t want to confuse myself or my readers too much and also, from an educational protection point of view, I didn’t want any of my younger pupils picking up the Horror / Dark Fantasy stories from the net (“Ooh look! Miss Ward has a story on here…”)

I get quite gruesome and the stories can get rather nasty. I use my real name for non fiction and poetry.

Which of the genres is your favourite to write in?

I started out in Fantasy (I love David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony…the list goes on), slid sideways into Science Fiction, dropped swiftly into the depths of Horror and crawled back out again, through Dark Fantasy back to my first love of Fantasy. Now, I have a tendency to slip-stream Sci-Fi and Fantasy (unless I concentrate) and Horror creeps in from time to time… maybe I’ve invented a new genre? Dark SF Fantasy? I don’t know which is my favourite any more!

You have completed a book and a novella, share those with the readers?

*rolls around laughing* I don’t consider any of my work completed really!

The first book I ever wrote took two years to build the world and six years to write. When I finished the storyline it was nearly 200,000 words long! I ended up splitting it into three books and starting a sequel, but I haven’t touched it for ages. It is one of my favourite worlds though. I’ll go back to it one day.

The first book is called “The Kingdom of The Seven Towers: Innocence” and follows a young Earth Priestess as she discovers who she really is.

The second book is called “The Kingdom of The Seven Towers: Choice” and brings the MC to a place in her life where she has to make a decision – ignore her responsibilities and destiny or embrace them and save the Kingdom.

The third book is “The Kingdom of The Seven Towers: Journey” and as this one gives away the ending of the second book, I’ll stay quiet about what happens to the MC.

The sequel is barely half way through the storyline… no point in talking about something that hasn’t happened yet!

The Novella is called “The Heir of The Dragon” and the first draft was written when I was in love with the Buffy TV Series. I sent it off to an E-zine / Print Magazine publisher and waited eagerly. *laughs* That was my first proper rejection (just before I joined Authonomy) and the editor was really nice. He liked the story and gave me a couple of pages of things that needed sorting out. Then he said to send it back when I finished it.

So, I did. With the help of various people from Authonomy and Webook, I edited, tightened and polished, until I felt it was ready; then I sent it back. The rejection this time was just as nice, but this time he suggested that I lengthen it into a novel – the sub plots weren’t clear enough in novella form apparently.

And that is where I’ve got it to. I’m halfway through doing what he suggested and I have the help of a wonderful Editor / Writer who has recently been published herself. O’course, I only bother her with it when I really need to, but knowing she is there helps me to focus on the end product.

As a writer do you plot out each of the storylines/ characters carefully before writing a word…or do you sit down and begin to write with no pre-plotted format?
Depends on what I am doing. With a short stories, I’ll write the first draft, re-read it and sort it out from there.

With a Novel, I create a Project book for each world. This is where I put things like maps, character descriptions, rough outlines etc. But it doesn’t always happen before I start writing. Often I’ll start writing, realise that I need to draw a map of the area I am writing about (I love drawing maps) and then start a project book for it. I do have a rough fantasy format I write to - it’s approximately the same as David Eddings outlined in “The Rivan Codex”, I just adjust it to fit what I am writing.
How long did each of them take to write?

Too Long! *snorts* Sorry, that’s the answer my Fiancé would give you. He often complains that I love the computer more than I love him or the kids.

I think I went completely overboard on “The Kingdom of The Seven Towers” though. Seriously overboard… I just got carried away really. I am aiming for a maximum of two years for a finished product – I don’t want to be one of those writers who churn out one or two books a year, I’d rather take a little bit of time to make sure that the finished product is as good and polished as I can make it.
How do you find time between teaching full time, motherhood and writer to create an ezine? Do you need to schedule your days/nights?

When I’m teaching full time, I carry my work with me on a flash drive, so I can sneak in a bit of writing at lunchtime and after school. I also write at weekends. Currently, I’m not teaching full time, so I have plenty of time (a little too much actually.) I try and schedule myself, but have you ever tried to tell a five year old that she can’t have a cuddle “…because mummy’s working”? It’s impossible. *grins*
So how many hours a day do you devote to writing your own work and publishing /editing content for the Ezine?

Ah, now that’s the sneaky bit… by setting my submissions deadline three weeks into the month, I have a fair bit of time to edit content – not that I have to do a lot, most of my submissions are pretty polished and I don’t change American spellings to English spellings – I think you lose some of the writer’s voice if you do that.

Having said that, the last week of the month is frantic – I have to get the content up onto the website and depending on the strength of my internet connection that can either take a few hours or several days.

I work on my own writing as and when I feel I need to. NaNoWriMo is a godsend in that respect – I can get almost an entire novel written in one month competing in that!
What is it called and what type of magazine is it?

“Welcome to Wherever…” is a cross between a writing magazine (stories, poems, hints, tips, book reviews etc) and Woman’s Weekly…just without the celebrity gossip, I loathe celebrity gossip! *shudders* I have allocated areas for articles on all subjects (not just writing), a letters page, a Tarot Reader and a Food Writer.

I intended it to be the sort of magazine you might buy at the beginning of the month and flick through, reading odd bits here and there, going back to a particular article – a relaxation device I suppose!
What prompted your decision to create an online magazine?

The webzine came out of my desire to see some of the brilliant writers I’ve met in the last three years online, published for all to admire. As I can’t afford to put them into print, online was the only way to go. I’ve also always wanted to run a magazine; I used to make my own up when I was a kid and give them out to my friends.
What audience is it aimed at specifically?

I’ve aimed it mostly at writers, but there is something there for almost everyone. It’s an adult magazine though – I’m not about to stifle a writer’s creativity because a younger teenager or child might read it. That’s easier online because most good parents tend to police their younger children’s net use carefully and if any content appears that is adult only (Erotica, strong Horror), I will put a warning on the cover page.

In the future I may have to put it on a website that allows me to password protect pages though – I’ll see how it goes.
You have only just launched your very first issue, have you had a good response?

As much as can be expected, I suppose. I had an average of 20 visitors a day in the first month. I won’t know how good people think it is until I start getting some feedback through the webzine itself and it’s been going for a while.
Are you seeking submissions and if so in what areas?

Submissions are open from the 1st to the 25th of each month. Anything received after the 25th is held for consideration for the next month – unless I already know it’s coming my way – this is why I ask for initial queries about submissions to go through the contact page on the webzine.

The submission areas change through the month – I update the page according to what I’ve recieved, so the easiest thing for interested writers / readers to do is head for the submissions and contact page. One thing I am looking for though is a regular blogger in the Children / Family area. I don’t mind if they’re male or female – I want to have a realistic look into family life from them. It seems to be a popular thing in print magazines. If anyone is interested, contact me through the webzine and we’ll chat about it.
Are you the sole Administrator?

Sadly, yes… are you volunteering to help?*grins*
Please don't tempt me!

I can’t afford to pay anyone for it, so I have to do it myself. I could do with help on the proofreading front – my grammar and punctuation is atrocious and I often wonder, as I’m pressing the publish button, if there’s something I’ve missed.
You also run a monthly contest on the The World of the Tiger Princess site, you seem to derive a great deal of pleasure from promoting other authors, that is a very caring approach, is it appreciated and acknowledged?

I love the fact that I’m reading stories written just for me and I adore the fact that it brings a smile to people’s faces when they win… but I’m actually being rather selfish… *looks shamefaced*

The contest brings a lot of traffic through the website, both before the contest deadline and after the winner (s) are published and you never know who might be reading your work – it’s roughly the same lines as Authonomy is run on.

As to whether it’s appreciated… I don’t know. I hope it is, but I don’t really get all that much feed back from readers. *sigh*
What are you currently working on as far as your own writing is concerned?

I have three WIP Novels and a chapter for “Choose or Die”. I can’t talk about the Choose or Die chapter though – that’d give the game away…

The three novels I’m working on are: “The Secret of Arking Down, Book One: The Angels Crown”, “The Secret of Arking Down, Book Two: The Dragon’s Pendant” and “The Cry of Albion”. I also have a long story collection called “The Tower and The Eye” in the works.

"The Secret Of Arking Down, Book One: The Angels Crown"

The Angel's Crown (The Secret of Arking Down: Book One)

Kira Morgana
Separated from her twin sister by their parent's divorce, Jenni discovers there is much more to her family than she first thought.

Separated from her twin sister by their parent's divorce, Jenni discovers there is much more to her family than she first thought; being asked to find the Crown of Llanirstyr is only one of them!
Jenni and her twin sister Morgana have never been apart until the Courts separate them, on the advice of an Educational Psychologist. Morgana stays with their mother and Jenni leaves Cardiff with their father, moving to the town of Arkingham across the border in England.
Once there, she makes friends and settles into her new school, determined to not allow the separation change her. Her father gets a job as Head Gardener at The Grange and Jenni meets Aderyn Archington, an eccentric scientist and Lord of Arkingham.
Aderyn Archington is more than he seems. Racked by illness, his interest in Jenni and her family appears to be benign. His death brings Jenni into a great deal of money; it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to being Lady of Arkingham than living in a big house.
And life will never be the same again…

Reviews on "The Secret Of Arking Down: Book One: The Angels Crown"
William Holt wrote

Fantasy connected to the world we live in. I think immediately of the Chronicles of Narnia and the works of Stephen Donaldson. This is written with flair and obvious skill, and I predict a strong showing here. Obviously, this is not a teenager filled with dreams of being an Author without having ever learned anything of the craft of writing, as too many fantasy authors are. This is the real thing.

Andrew Burrans wrote:
You have written a very interesting and unique storyline, which I do like, and created a most memorable main character in Jenni. The dialogue is realistic and well written and the pace of your story flows well. All of this along with your descriptive writing makes your fantasy a pleasure to read.
Andrew Burans

missyfleming_22 wrote 
This is great, I love when an author can take a fantasy world and merge it with our modern world, I think it gives it a whole other step up to an already great genre. You've got an excellent premise here, one that can win over fans who like all kinds of books. You have a great talent for writing and it shows in your work. It's so vivid and engaging. It's nice to see something with a solid structure that will be part of a series. You've done a wonderful job with this, I hope you upload more someday.

Tell us about the horror/fantasy contest you entered and ultimately won?

The House of Horror (another webzine) ran a writers duel contest. The Head Editor, Sam Cox, would set a prompt and a word count and two writers – working under pen names – would write a story. The readers of the Webzine then voted on the one they liked best.

I came in at Round Eleven with a story called “Stitched Up” and won the round. Round Twelve was harder; I had to write in 2nd POV – like Choose or Die – and wrote a story called “Almost Safe”, which won that round. The next two challengers pulled out (Sam says I scared them off!) so Sam resurrected the two writers who had won the most rounds and we went up in a three way duel, writing about the way the Duel would end if we were particular horror monsters – Sam set the scene and we went from there.

The end of the duel was a real surprise. I thought I had lost to Dwight “the Fright” Patterson who was playing a werewolf in the duel fight. I wanted to vote for his story – it was much better written than mine. However, just as Sam was about to call time on the voting and declare him the winner, she got distracted and I got a couple more votes, which slid me in under the wire!

I’m taking part in the next duel by the way – I won’t tell you my new pen name for it though. I want the readers to vote for the best story, not for the previous winner…

The publishing world is evolving rapidly, many people are clinging on to the belief that “Kindle” and the like are a fad that won’t last. What are your views?

The only way that electronic media will go away is if computers and the internet disappear. Unless we have a EMP surge that wipes them out, its fairly certain that e-readers are here to stay. People have been reading stories and things on their phones and computers for ages, the Kindle / Nook are just a more portable extension of that.

However, I don’t think that real books will disappear all that fast. Reading a book is more about the word on the page. It’s a sensory experience; the rustle of the page as you turn it, the smell of paper and ink, the tactility of the paper under your fingers.

Not to mention the fact that you can take a book anywhere without needing to carry a charger or extra batteries. Can you imagine splashing a Kindle with water from your bath? A book can be dried out – the Kindle may well be ruined…

Do you ever envisage a time when the feel of a paperback in your hands will be nothing but a distant memory?

Not in my lifetime, or my children's or grandchildren’s lifetimes. Besides, The Doctor has already answered that question – you have seen the episode with The Library in it, haven’t you?

Where do you see yourself both personally and professionally in 2011?

Good question. Personally, I am just hoping to have a day job, so I can devote my evenings to writing again – I prefer writing in the evenings.

I don’t know if I’ll still be a teacher though – while I enjoy teaching, there are aspects of the career that stress me out far too much and I don’t want to make myself ill; I’ve had enough of that in the last couple of years!

Out of everything you have ever written do you have an absolute favourite story/article/poem tell us about it and why it’s a favorite?

Out of my Noetry, one poem springs to mind that I recently turned into a video, called “The Haggis” – and yes, I narrated the poem on the soundtrack. It’s my favourite because it’s light-hearted and makes people laugh. I’d love to turn it into an animation actually.

It’s hard to choose one short story out of the hundred or so I’ve written. If I were to choose out of the published ones, it would have to be “A Horse of a Different Colour” recently published in the Novus Creatura Anthology by Aurora Wolf Press. It’s one of the best I have ever written. I worked really hard to get it right and it’s based in one of my favourite worlds.

What sites do you have your work and articles on at the moment?
Err… do you really want the whole list? I’m all over the place!

Go for it...
Okay, I’ll give you the main ones:

“The Secret of Arking Down, Book One: The Angels Crown” – the first ten chapters are up on Authonomy at the moment.

On Webook, where I’m known as Tigerprincess, I have loads of stuff stored – it’s an easy way of working on things from different computers.

On Storywrite (I’m Book Priestess there) I have a few stories posted – I don’t get there very often though.

I’m a member of, and; they’re all private members sites though.

I also have a couple of books up on Slushpile Reader – not my WIP though.

I’m registered at several others such as You Write On and Scribophile – I just never went back; I didn’t get on with the systems they used for feedback etc.

Where can my readers access your book to read excerpts?


This is “The World of The Tiger Princess”. You can find some of my short stories, Noetry and of course, my writer’s blog and the FSS Contest.

The Tiger Princess is a screen name that has stuck with me ever since I first joined (don’t bother looking for it, the website folded) and has sorta become my alter ego. She’s who I really am I suppose, outside of the whole mother, teacher, editor thing. TP is almost a brand now and I am certain that if someone yelled “Hey, TP!” at me when I’m walking along the street, I would probably look round!


This is my personal blog. It doesn’t get updated very often; a fact of which I am slightly ashamed…


Sit In Tree by Steven Novak

This is my Baby. I really want her to take off and fly someday, maybe even a print edition… but that’s just a dream really.


Facebook wouldn’t let me have Tiger Princess! So I combined Tiger Princess and Book Priestess for this user name. This one is my personal profile.

These three are the fan pages for: me as an author, my website and the webzine.

Thank you for joining us today Mandy.

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  1. Yay for a great interview with a lovely lady

  2. Great interview, Mandy/ Sooz. Knew some of the writing bits but the Wiccan side was new and very interesting! Go girl!

  3. I'd forgotten all about this... some of the links aren't current - my authorial site moved to wordpress - - and I deleted the Author Page on Facebook, I'm using The World of the Tiger Princess Fanpage instead now.

    *grins* Thanks for having me Suze!



Please leave a comment/review on any of the stories/poems contributed.