Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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A True Story for Halloween

October 29, 2010


Whilst training as a nurse, I was assigned three rotations of geriatrics; two male and one female. It was while on one of the male wards that this event happened. My night shift started at 9 pm and after the usual updates from the day staff, my colleague and I were left to care for the old gentlemen.

One gentleman took my hand as I fluffed his pillows.

“Thank you so much for the daffodil.”

“Daffodil? I’m sorry, what daffodil.”

“It was so sweet of you.”

Thinking he was in a confused state, I just made sure he was comfortable and continued with my tasks. The two of us administered medicines and settled the patients for the night, then turned most of the lights off. Our desk was situated at one end of the ward so we hear and see all the beds. For several hours we took turns in attending to patients needs, writing out reports and taking vitals.

At about 3:30 am, the gentleman who had spoken to me, passed away. After the doctor had been, I attended to his body. After cleaning and wrapping him in a sheet, as is the custom, I left him for an hour and went to write my report.

Later with everything in place, I watched the day staff arrive. One nurse was carrying a bunch of daffodils – yes, I was very shocked. The reason not only because of what the old man had said but also the fact that it was the midst of winter, much too early for daffodils.

“Where did you get daffodils from?”

“They’re from the florist down the street. The blooms are forced in greenhouses. I couldn’t resist a piece of spring to cheer us up.”

“May I have one bloom?”

“OK but why?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

I gently placed the yellow flower between the old gentleman’s hands, just the way he had described. He had told me he had ‘seen’ this happen and knew he was going to pass away. It had given him peace to thank me for my kind thought. As to how he had ‘seen’ this event before it happened, I have no idea, but I did want to ensure it was done.

Happy Halloween one & all.

As NaNo 2010 Approaches…

October 18, 2010


As NaNoWriMo 2010 approaches with gathering pace, I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Will I succeed this year in completing the task? Instead of a grain of an idea; that expanded beyond my expectations, like last year, I do have a few sample chapters waiting in the wings this time around. The story revolves around four main characters and their current and past lives.

I was very fortunate to have large amounts of time free for my writing last year with a part time job – alas not this year. So I can see myself burning the midnight oil, disregarding household chores and demands and escaping whenever I can this November. There are several ‘bolt holes’ I will be able to use – luckily!

This year I will be joined by two of my writing circle friends and we hope to keep each other on track and engaged throughout the month. I have asked for the other members to follow our endeavor – a dedicated support group, if you will.

If you wish to follow my progress I am logged in as MandyB on the NaNoWriMo site. Any encouragement is welcome – matchsticks to keep my eyes open gladly received. If you are participating why not buddy up with me on this incredible writing journey?

How I Do…

October 11, 2010


I am asked quite often, how I manage to come up with stories from picture and word prompts. Obviously each writer has a mechanism unique to themselves and each prompt has a variety of writing responses.

Sometimes an idea just ‘pops’ into my head but other times, I need to play with words to get myself started. Take this week’s prompt – Remember the joy of a fairy tale? Lost in an imaginary world? Absorb yourself in a fairy tale – either using your favourite fairy tale characters or creating new ones. Find your innocence again and enjoy.

Firstly I copied the prompt into a word document then let my mind dwell on the idea. Anything that came to mind I wrote down. For this particular prompt, for some reason, the word mermaid came through strongly. I looked through a list of Grimm’s fairy tales and read two I had never heard of, neither of which actually had a mermaid in. Then I imagined a beach overlooked by a castle and a man walking along the shoreline. Now an idea began to form – what if the man was a Prince and he was wishing for a wife? What wife could I give him? Then the story came easily with a few edits here and there before I posted it on the web site. This was the result.

Prince Ellon looked upward and saw his father’s castle standing atop the steep crag. Its walls were honed from the very cliff face. Dark grey slabs towering above him as he walked the sandy beach below. His father’s insistence that he take a wife, weighed heavily upon him. There were many beautiful young women all too eager to become his betrothed but he was reluctant. None were willing to dirty their clothes on the beach or abandon them for a swim in the sea. He found their lack of spirit and their trifling concerns boring. Why could he not find a woman with a more adventurous spirit?

  As he kicked the damp sand a glistening object flew forth and landed a few feet away. Puzzled the Prince picked it up to find a bronze ring made in the shape of a mermaid. It was a most unusual ring so he placed it upon his finger to admire it all the more. Once the ring encircled his knuckle, a water spout began to rise from the waves and foam. The Prince watched in astonishment as the water twisted and curled, gradually forming into a woman’s upper body and a fish’s tail. What witchcraft is this? He tried removing the ring but it stuck fast.  The water ceased its swirling and the Prince looked upon the most beautiful face he had ever seen.

  “You have been granted your wish, young Prince. Behold your wife.”

  “I have not made any such wish.”

  “Did you not want a wife who would swim in the sea with you, a wife who will also wander along the beach with you?”

  “Those were my private thoughts. I did not speak them aloud.”

  “The ring hears your thoughts and grants you the wishing of them.”

  “If that is so then how could you walk with only that tail?”

  “Think legs for me and they will appear, young Prince.”

  The Prince wished it so and there appeared long shapely legs where once there had been a fish’s tail.

  “Will this magic last?”

  “Yes, my Prince, as long as you continue to wear the ring.”

    “Then it shall never leave my finger. Have you a name or do I wish that too?”

    “My name is Serene but of course I will go by any name you chose for me, my Prince.”

  “Serene is a very lovely name and I will certainly not change it.”

 The Prince covered her nakedness with his cloak and escorted Serene up the cliff path.  Once in the throne room he announced to his parents and the court that he had found his future wife. The wedding was a splendid affair with courtiers coming from far and wide. No-one knew the new Princess but all agreed she was indeed a very beautiful young woman. The Prince spun a tale of travelling to another land and finding her abandoned. No-one questioned the story – after all he was the Prince.

The Prince and Princess were very happy together and took many evening walks down on the beach. Unbeknown to the household they would swim together with the use of a simple wish from the Prince, as merman and mermaid in the cool waters. The Prince had his perfect wife and the mermaid could return to her natural element every night.

How do you instigate a story? What processes do you use? Our writing is as individual as we are – that is the fun of it – each person will come up with a totally unique response even when the prompt is the same.

These prompts help me unblock my thought processes and give my imagination license to go where it likes, freeing it for a while before returning to a WIP.

Take a look at the web site –

Absent Muse…

October 4, 2010


My writing life has not been a long one by any means but I have experienced the dreaded block. The first time was in the middle of my first NaNo and I was gripped with panic. The story, up until that point, had been flowing really well and I was feeling confident. Then suddenly the words stopped and I felt at a complete loss. This was a phenomenon I had never experienced before. What was I supposed to do? My mind was scrambling for my ‘story’, to no avail. Desperate for an answer, I searched the internet, rang writing friends – any advice was gladly received. In the end I walked in freezing temperatures and that released the cloak covering my mind. My muse returned and so did my main character, telling me where he wanted to go and what he was to encounter. Relief washed over me and my fingers began their furious typing once again.

In my new novel there are many voices. Each character has their own path within the story, bringing with them a different perspective and objective. Having so many voices clambering for attention takes some getting used to. I had been so comfortable with Evan in the Slake Patch. He had been a welcomed companion on my journey. Now I am torn between several characters all wanting my attention so their story is told first. So how do you separate your characters inside your head? Do you allocate time to each? Do you write out each separate path? I am interested to hear.

Every writer has their own ‘method’ and what works for one will not or may not work for another. This is one reason why I enjoy my writer’s circle so much – the differences make us incredible individuals but our shared passion makes us akin comrades.

I will succeed, I have no doubt, in forming my own method to harness my many character’s voices but any hints are very welcome.

Be happy immersed in your muse.

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