Category Archives: Book review

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?

Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish. 

I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.

  • Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
  • Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
  • Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.

With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.

Have you been on a writing retreat?

What benefit did you gain?

Did you achieve your writing goals?

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts. 

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.

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Writing Tips

Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.

My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

So my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to write this post – so sorry for my tardiness. I have been busy tying up loose ends, revising freelance projects and ensuring I can leave for my writing retreat tomorrow with a clear desk. On the retreat I will only focus on my writing, which will enable me to ‘complete’ two manuscripts and add to another. These are my retreat goals.

  1. Final read of Life in Slake Patch
  2. Complete revisions and read through of The Twesome Loop
  3. Continue to write my newest story, Bubble the Gruggle.
  4. Enjoy no TV, no cell service and no WiFi.
  5. Converse, share and enjoy my retreat companions company.
  6. Indulge in the most fantastic meals.
  7. Enjoy reading curled up in a cozy corner.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger – I will most certainly finished this book this week. Just love the characters.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – chances are as this is more novella than novel that I will finish this book over my writing retreat as well.

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Then onto new stories!

Writing Tips:

Learn from the masters:

Read works by highly successful authors to learn what earns a loyal readership.
Read works by the canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.

Creek 2016 7Strawberry Creek

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Certainly a non productive writing weekend as I attended a reptile show both days (see previous post https://mandyevebarnett.com/2017/05/08/upcoming-writing-events-add-yours-for-your-location-14/). However, I do have this weekend free so will indulge in as much time as possible writing. This will include a complete revision of the ghost written book project prior to sending back to my client.

I have my writing retreat to look forward and it is getting tantalizingly close – 18th May. Here I can immerse myself completely with no distractions, unless I actually seek them out.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am thoroughly enjoying this story. The characters are well rounded, there is a connection/distance between the two main characters, which gives the narrative an undercurrent of possibilities.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn (because you all know by now I’m fascinated by this subject)

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What are you reading?

I watched this movie, which had a great twist on the subject. I am always intrigued by the variations on the reincarnation theme.

the-discovery

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5155780/

Writing Tips from the Master – Stephen King

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”

“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

What’s your favorite King quote or writing tip?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

The Twesome Loop

I managed to hide away in my local library last night prior to my writers meeting and work on revisions for my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop. With twenty-two pages revised, 510 words added (I don’t count deleted ones!) I felt satisfied at it’s progress. Now I have found a superb cover designer I’m already thinking of a cover for this novel, the illustrated one was the NaNoWriMo proof copy. This novel is one I will be finalizing (hopefully) at the writers retreat later this month. Countdown is on to 18th May…

Our meeting was fun and I shared a part chapter of Twesome, which was well received. It always bolsters an author’s confidence when their words are liked.

My ghost writing project will have several changes made this week, although as I am accompanying my daughter to her reptile show all weekend I doubt I will get any writing done until the evenings.

Books:

The Other Life

The Other Life by Ellen Meister- I finished this book, thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is my review on Goodreads.

Love the struggle Quinn has in this story, whether to stay with her current family life or switch to a more glamorous one, she once had. There are many factors for and against in both lives and this narrative beautifully demonstrates that.
Mothering has its challenges and Quinn has to make some hard choices, so even if you are not into ‘alternative or parallel worlds’ this story will capture you.

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am now absorbed by this tale, which is set in London, England on the outskirts of Highgate Cemetery of all places. Obviously this appeals to my warped sense of drama.

Symmentry

While I was at Authors for Indies on Saturday at the Sherwood Park Bookworm, I requested a book with a reincarnation theme. Luckily for me, Leanne the owner found it so it is now on my TBR pile.

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn      

Reincarnation

How many books do you read in connection with or research for, your current work in progress?

Writing Tips:

Keep a journal or notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas. If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure it’s loaded with a note-taking app. A voice-recording app also comes in handy for recording notes and ideas.

Personally I keep a notebook beside my bed and one in my handbag/purse all the time – when an idea strikes it is best to write it down – later it will allude you!

Make sure you have a dictionary and thesaurus available whenever you are writing.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you would like to share?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Conference logo 2017

My conference presentation was well received and my audience engaged in the interactive segments with gusto. The theme of the conference was everything Canadian to tie in with the 150 year celebrations. My session ‘Building a Canadian Character’ included choosing a particular province and building a character from its particular landscape, economy, resources etc. With numerous handouts I managed to compile, each attendee went home with helpful resources.

When I created the individual folders I pinned a small cloth doll to each and then asked everyone to choose – this meant they went for colour or pattern unaware I had put a photo inside for another exercise. Sneaky maybe but it worked well. Then later I asked everyone to describe with as much detail as possible the person in those photos. After they read their description they shown the photo to everyone else. It was a lesson in description. 

The week was not as busy although planning for the major event in June did take up quite some time. My other project is ghost writing a book, which is progressing nicely.

I am now on countdown to the Spring Writers Retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. Here I will immerse myself in my writing without distraction. The location is perfect with a small river, woodland and trails to refresh a tired Muse. It is a huge log cabin with an expert chef, whose meals are just so appetizing everyone wants to take her home.

strawberry-creek-lodge

Books:

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – I am enjoying the story’s theme and the tension risen by choosing one life over another.

The Other Life

My friend Karen gave me this book, as she believed the mystery would intrigue me. Looking forward to reading it.  Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger 

Symmentry

Writing Tips:

Do it. Write.  Write every single day.
Read as much and as often as you can. Remember, every writer is a reader first.

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Well my creative writing took a backseat yet again but I did manage the update my ghost writing project and completed my conference presentation so feel pleased there are both completed.

twesome-loop-002

I am co-hosting the senior residence writing group on Thursday so can escape to the library for a couple of hours before to return to The Twesome Loop. Having found a fantastic cover artist I am thinking of a design for the book cover. It will take some careful thinking to make the cover reflect my characters finding their past selves in an Italian villa, that’s for sure.

I did add more story to my ‘extra’ project – yes I know isn’t four manuscripts enough? Well obviously not because my children’s ‘alien planet’ book has been gaining in word count!

As many of you know I am a multi-genre author and my current WIP’s – are all in various stages of completion. They range from cowgirl romance to thriller to reincarnation romance to speculative fiction, added to that the above kids book. Never a dull moment in my brain, I can tell you.

Do you have multiple manuscripts/ideas formulating or clambering for your attention?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney

faraday

Loved the characterizations in this book, each sister was so unique, so defined. Here is my Goodreads review:

What a wonderful narrative. Lots of characters interacting, conflicts, sibling rivalry and unexpected twists in the plots.
Monica weaves such a artful tale of four sisters brought up by their father – family traditions, a surprise niece/daughter and global travel.
A book I would re-read for sure.

Now onto a book I have been looking forward to. It has started well.

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation for a alternative life, reincarnation or fantasy?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Let go of your inner editor. When you sit down to write a draft, refrain from proofreading until that draft is complete.

Proofread everything at least three times before submitting your work for publication.

Print this one out:

You are a writer so own it and say it out loud: “I am a writer.” Whether it’s a hobby or your profession, if you write, then you have the right to this title.

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Unfortunately my creative writing has taken a backseat this last week while I compiled a schedule, contact sheet and action requirements for the Heritage Day my Board and another organization are holding in June. In all I spent seven hours going through hundreds of emails to find contacts and actions made and needed. Having so many people involved is wonderful for the work share but a logistical nightmare. Now it is done I feel confident that everyone knows the status of what is happening, who is attending and special information.

After all that creating my writers foundation Board’s agenda for tonight’s meeting was a piece of cake!

I will use some of my long weekend to type out the personal experience notes my ghost writing client gave me and insert it into the draft book. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches to the workshop I am presenting at a writers conference on 22nd April – I want to ensure it is informative but also fun.

Conference logo 2017

Hopefully I can also take some time to continue my edit and revision of The Twesome Loop. It is tantalizingly close to the finish prior to going back to beta-readers.

Twesome Loop 002

How is your current work in progress coming along?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney- I am on the last few chapters of this wonderful narrative – I will not spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read it – that’s so unfair. So will put up a Goodreads review once I’m finished which will be this long weekend for sure.

faraday

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – so excited to read this story. If you could choose a different life, one you actually knew about – would you?

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Join a writers’ group so you can gain support from the writing community and enjoy camaraderie in your craft.

From personal experience a writers group is invaluable for any writer as long as you receive constructive critique, your style and voice are acknowledged and respected and there is a strong sense of support and encouragement. My group: www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  encourages writers any stage, any age of their writing career. We have local and virtual members.

Be observant. The people and activities that surround you will provide you with great inspiration for characters, plots, and themes. (And people watching is so much fun!)

Use writing exercises to improve your skills, strengthen your talent, and explore different genres, styles, and techniques. My favorite ‘inspirational kick’ is finding a word or picture prompt. I create a prompt on our website every Saturday – scroll back and find one that ‘speaks’ to you – top right on the calendar www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

Happy Writing…

Image credit: http://www.mywritingblog.com

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Since my mini writing retreat last weekend, I have not had any time to immerse myself in the revisions for The Twesome Loop, until last night. I took advantage of a couple of hours of peace & quiet in the library prior to my writing meeting. Word count increased by 892 and a couple of scenes were ‘fleshed out’ (actually erotic scenes so literally – pardon the pun!)

Twesome Loop 002

I have a meeting with my client whose book I am ghost writing this evening as I requested ‘personal experience’ pieces from her on several topics within the book. These I will include thus ensuring it is her voice.

My book cover proof is still pending for The Rython Kingdom so I have to be patient – although having the new cover available for my readers is paramount. So excited for it to go ‘live’ on the various websites.

rythonfinaltitletext

Through a facebook page I found a submissions requirement where I can send my steampunk story – The Toymaker. Fingers crossed it gets accepted, it’s only 7790 words.

Books:

I am thoroughly enjoying this book – The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney – sister’s growing up, finding themselves, drama, love, rejection and a mystery. Set in Tasmania and Ireland it becomes international as each sister flies the coop in search of her path.

faraday

My TBR pile includes a book I found in a lovely bookstore while on my weekend escape. The Other Life by Ellen Meister This is the blurb:

If you could return to the road not taken…would you?

Quinn Braverman has a perfect life, with a loving husband, an adorable son, and another baby on the way.

Quinn also has an ominous secret: she knows that another version of her life exists…one in which she made totally different life choices. But she’s never been tempted to switch lives-until a shocking turn of events pushes her to cross over, and she discovers the one person she thought she’d lost forever: Her mother.

But Quinn can’t have both lives. Soon, she must decide which she really wants-the one she has…or the other life…

The Other Life

Doesn’t it sound fascinating? Of course as I love reincarnation, spirits, afterlife and parallel universes it is just up my street, so to speak.

If you have a recommendation for this kind of story, please let me know.

Writing Tips:

Stop procrastinating. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the Internet, tune out the rest of the world, sit down, and write.

Create a space in your home especially for writing.

Why not share your writing space? Here’s mine:

new writing desk

The opposite wall is my inspirational wall.Inspire wall

Happy writing.

 

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


Writing:

Well what can I say but that our road trip resulted in some spectacular revisions, editing and increased word count 72,674 for The Twesome Loop. We left just after work on Friday and made our way to Red Deer, got checked in and made the room our own! This actually means setting up laptops on the table/desks, selecting beds (usually Linda has the one near the window) and then we went for supper. Delicious meal with the chef’s specialty Bulgogi, amazing flavor.

The word Bulgogi literally means fire meat in Korean, and is derived from the Pyongan dialect. It refers to marinated meat, (generally beef if used without a qualifier), cooked using traditional grilling techniques such as gridirons or perforated dome griddles that sit on braziers, unlike deep frying or boiling in water.

15073509_10207622558337301_1573629241843353787_nThe Twesome Loop

Saturday morning after a leisurely breakfast we spent the morning writing in quite companionship for the most part. Then as the sunshine was too glorious to miss, set off for a drive to enjoy the afternoon and surrounding scenery. Back for wine and salad and more writing. As we have a late check out at 1 pm we utilized the time to write after breakfast and set off on a tour of the historical sites in Red Deer. At one site where old buildings have been sited we delighted at two surprise guests – a buck & doe walked in through the gate and calmly grazed just feet away from us.

Our trip home was of course the longer route (common practice for us) and took us to Sylvan Lake, through Lacombe and Clearwater counties up to Rocky Mountain House through Wetaskiwin  and Braznea counties and to Leduc and home.

Linda (as my publisher) kindly completed the update of my fantasy romance, The Rython Kingdom with its new cover and ordered proof copies. So it will be soon. I had the idea of having slip covers made for the editions I have at home so the new cover can be attached. I am so pleased with how the new cover looks.

rythonfinaltitletext

Have you changed a book cover?

Did you write over the weekend?

Do you escape to write? Where do you go?

Books:

uninvited guests

I finished The Uninvited Guests – my Goodreads review:

What a delightful and surprising book. I had an inkling about the visitors (I will not reveal) three quarters the way through the book but it was skillfully written, wonderful prose and immersed me in Edwardian life.
Sadie has a remarkable story telling talent and I recommend you read this story. Love lost, love gained and love thwarted with touch of revenge served cold.

The beginning of The Faraday Girls gripped me from the start – a great first sentence! The story is endearing, surprising and intriguing so far.

faraday

Writing Tips:

Diana Athill: Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out – they can be got right only by ear).

Margaret Atwood: If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick. (I know this from experience after loosing over 5K in the midst of NaNoWriMo – not funny!)

What are your writing tips?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

I am pleased to announce I completed the two beta-read & editing assignments given to me and both authors were happy with the feedback. One will require me to re-read once certain details are confirmed for legal consistency and correctness.

Another project – ghost writing – is proceeding well and I am waiting on some input from the client.

As for personal projects I made progress on my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop this past week and the word count is over 80K – so that makes me happy. There is still some polishing to do. A surprise road trip with my dear friend Linda this weekend will give me uninterrupted writing time to do this. Love when we can escape on a whim! I had to plead for a rain check with another friend for a proposed meeting this Saturday but she was accommodating. Thank you Kathie.

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The new book cover for my fantasy romance, The Rython Kingdom is in the hands of my publisher and should be ‘live’ in the next couple of weeks. All in all I am happy with my progress and writing life.

How are your projects progressing? Care to share?

Books:

I am really enjoying this book – it doesn’t give up it’s secrets quickly that’s for sure.

uninvited guests

What are you reading? 

Do you review books on Goodreads? Why not follow me for my reviews and books just click the link on the side of the page.

Writing Advice:

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”Saul Bellow

So is this true? How about you?

I know I have ‘dreamed’ scenes or story ideas but always improve on them when awake.