Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Feast or Famine of Story Ideas

May 26, 2022
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As writers we are used to juggling many writing projects at the same time or the complete opposite – nothing! (Although, I have to say my mind is crowded with ideas most of the time in MUSE central!)

These opposing states come with their own problems, each unique and as frustrating as each other. Firstly, ‘feast’ has us worrying which project to do first. Which one is the most strident in it’s demand to be written? Is it the right one to pursue? Will another story ‘vanish’ if we ignore it?

Secondly, ‘famine’ when ideas may be circling in our minds, but none of them ‘stick’ or have the ‘legs’ to form a longer narrative. Or there is a void. This is a frustrating feeling, leaving us grasping for elusive or fragments of ideas, or something to write!

So what can we do to organize the jumble or utilize a fragment?

Let’s look at the multiple ideas first. Write down as much as you can for each idea – lay them out on separate pieces of paper or word documents. Organize each idea into genre or categories and then plot, character or scene and any other components of each particular story you do have. Separating the stories in this way allows us to focus on them, if not objectively, as least with a clearer vision. Once you have them in an orderly list you will see which idea has the most content. Now, comes the difficult decision – which one do you pursue? It might not be the one with the most detail, but another that attracts you to it for whatever reason. Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If one starts to ‘grow’ within your minds eye, or the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then that is typically your direction.

Now comes the void. How do we spark our Muse? There are many reasons for this dearth of ideas, illness, relationship problems, work commitments etc. As a writer we know that the act of writing is not only satisfying, but a real need. Our creativity requires it. This is the time to look at those filed away short stories, or fragments of ideas. We always have inspirational quotes, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that have languished somewhere in journals, notebooks or electronic folders. Take time to read through these, after all we kept them for a reason. Utilize writing prompts – writing anything helps us get back on track. Fifteen minute bursts of writing from a word or picture prompt can refresh our minds, spark our creativity and set us on a new course. Your prompt response might only be short – a poem, a paragraph, even a word association list, or it can develop into something. I recently used an image of a dragon’s egg to spark my Muse. It was going to be a short story but grew and grew into a three thousand word story! You never know where an idea can lead, and that is the beauty of story writing.

How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

new idea

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.  Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”     Dee Hock     

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Road Trips, Exploring and Modern Unicorns

May 24, 2022
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This past long weekend Linda, I and our furry companions took off east to Grande Cache. As always water is the draw for me – large lakes are the closest I can get to ocean waves in landlocked Alberta! I have grown to appreciate the magnificence of the mountains and the wildlife that inhabits them. Not only are the Rockies stunning, but it is always good to realize how insignificant you really are.

On many of our journeys we have been gifted with many sightings of animals, large and small, but one particular animal stayed elusive. It is the modern day unicorn – the caribou. Although, we have driven through the migratory areas of these beautiful deer, we have never seen one until this trip. An adult female grazing by the highway, who dashed into the trees before I could get a photo. However, the joy of seeing one of these endangered animals was the thrill of the weekend. (not my photo)

As a lifelong lover of the natural world, it is always devastating to learn about the impact of human existence on the wonders of the world around us. To help the caribou there is a conservation project and also a Caribou Patrol. Signs are posted for drivers to take care on the migratory routes and any sightings must be reported. It is so great to know these magnificent animals are protected.

We did drive to other locations during the weekend of writing and reading. Victor Lake, Sulphur Gates and the Labyrinth Park.

Wild open spaces are always an inspiration and a respite from every day life. It is fuel for my writing and this weekend was no exception. I managed 4000 words and a good edit of the second book of The Delphic Murders.

Of course Sammie loved exploring too!

But was also happy to sleep while I wrote or was reading.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Two Mother’s Days!

May 10, 2022
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Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

I’m in the unusual position of having the potential to celebrate two Mother’s Day’s. In England the day is celebrated in March, however in Canada it is celebrated in May.

I wondered why this was the case, so did some research to find out why there are two dates. The Mother’s day in the America’s is a 20th century invention by a woman called Anna Jarvis. Her mother organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health, and was also a human rights activist during the Civil War of 1861. Anna wanted to celebrate her mother in a memorial service and did so on 12th May 1907. This was her late mother’s birthday. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day.

In England, Mothering Sunday was not originally to celebrate mother’s per se, but began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. Thus the date falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent three weeks before Easter Sunday.

I was treated to supper and received this lovely calla lily.

The rest of my weekend was spent walking Sammie, editing book two of The Delphic Murders and reading.

What did you get up to?

What are you reading?

My current read is The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. Blurb: Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family’s wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl-and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Chilly Easter Weekend Writer’s Retreat

April 19, 2022
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The Easter weekend saw me, Linda and the two doggies in Cold Lake, and it certainly was cold. Unseasonable weather for April was not in our plans when we booked the hotel, that’s for sure. Our last trip here was early July and it was very warm and crowded.

However, we made the best of our long weekend, with walks along the dock and day trips to explore. Funnily, a lot of the range roads and township roads we tried had no exit signs, so we went back and forth a lot. The retreat of No Exits, we have called it.

This was only my second visit to Cold Lake and I really love it there. Any large expanse of water always makes me happy. Being in landlocked Alberta, I miss the seaside of England, where a quick thirty or forty minute drive got me to salty air, waves, sand (or pebbles) and rock pools.

Sammie and I were out to walk in the early mornings and could hear the deep cracking sound of the ice echo across the lake. We also enjoyed watching the rising sun reflected on the ice. On one walk, we found a cute free library, so on my next trip I must contribute one or two of my books.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. The dark side of family secrets, the repercussions and finding a way to deal with them. A fascinating story, of a family finding the truth of themselves in contrast to their ‘idealist’ childhood. Shadows at every turn and revelations keep you turning the pages. There is redemption, love, sadness and above all a family linked to one another.

I am currently reading The Smart One by Jennifer Close.

Both of these books involve family dynamics. It is interesting to read the different approaches by each author.

What are you reading?

Apart from reading, walking and exploring, over the weekend, I did read through my fellow novel workshop participants comments on the first thirty pages of book two of The Delphic Murders – The Tainted Search. Having four other writers read my work, gives me diverse feedback, which is so welcome and helpful. This trilogy will take some time to complete, but will be worth the effort. I hope once it is published you will enjoy it too.

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Wordsmith’s Creative Thursday – Creative versus Freelance Writing

March 17, 2022
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Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

When I initially, made the decision to branch out into freelance writing after a couple of paid gigs, I had no idea how it would affect my writing style. Obviously, it was interesting, but also gave it me another avenue to learn my writing skill.

When I write creatively, I am in control of what happens, where the story leads when I write and ultimately when I finish. However, with freelance projects I quickly learned to accommodate another person’s viewpoint, requirements and adhere to a deadline. Fulfilling another person’s vision for their project is about asking questions – lots of questions and then reiterating them to ensure you are both on the same wavelength. Among my past projects, I have written new bio’s, edited manuscripts, created blog and social media posts, written articles and information leaflets, mentoring and ghost written a hybrid marketing book to name a few.

Through this business I have gain experience and knowledge from each project, which allows me to hone my skill. I have also gained valuable insights into other styles of writing, which in turn have assisted me in my creative writing. You may think that cannot be the case, but all writing teaches us something. It can be as simple as writing to a deadline or writing to a specific style or tone to align with current literature or media. It also gives me great backstories for future characters, who work in environments I am writing and learning about so a win-win situation.

Have you broaden your writing into freelance? What has your experience been like?

You can find my freelance website, testimonials etc. here:

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