Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Short Story – The Crone’s Secret

October 4, 2022
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As most of you know, I love writing prompt’s and some of my novels have started as, or incorporated prompts in one way or another. As host of the writing group’s monthly sharing meeting, I assign ‘homework’ for attendees. This month’s prompt was to incorporate a potion of some sort, after all it is Halloween month. This was my response, I hope you like it.

Thin clouds drifted across the twilight sky, obscuring, then revealing the full moon’s light on the small hut and earthen track leading up to it. A lone wolf’s howl echoed in the forest, startling large black crows into flight from their roost, their noisy cawing disturbing the earlier still night air. A rickety cart crunched the dry earth as its inhabitant and the old horse pulling it, neared the hut. Wrapped in threadbare cloth and barefooted, the rider pulled at the reins and let out a sigh. To any observer the rider was an old crone, bent almost double, a large hump on her back, only her face, feet and hands uncovered, which were veined and wrinkled. She picked up a wicker basket covered by a velvet cloth and descended from the cart. Patting the horse as she passed, it changed shape, diminished in size and became a fox before scurrying away.

            With shuffling steps, the crone opened the wooden door and entered the ramshackled hut. Candles flickered into life at the passing of her hand, and a fire blazed into being. After placing the basket on a wooden table worn to a shine and scarred with use, she discarded the old cloth to reveal an ebony velvet cloak. Slippers of the same colour appeared on her feet and her hair tumbled down her back in dark locks. Anyone seeing her now, as a young woman, would never think she was the old crone peddling in the walled city streets. She guarded her secret well.

            One again, she had accumulated the ingredients for her secret potion. The first step was to soak the gathered fungi, and night lily root in lamb’s blood overnight. This was the basis of the elixir; one she had perfected over the last century or more. Her age was a mystery even to her now. So many renewals, so many moves to walled cities across the land, once again she would move to avoid any inquisitive questioning. She pulled a brass covered wooden box from a shelf and unlocked it. The vial inside shone with iridescence, there was just enough for the next potion. Her renewal would give her time to travel to the cavern deep within a cliff beside the ocean on the western most edge of the kingdom of Udizan. There she would refill the vial from the source, her most guarded secret. A pool of shining liquid, it’s origin unknown, but it’s effects powerful, when combined with the other ingredients. She placed the vial back in the box, turned the key and returned the treasured possession back on its shelf. As she turned, she cast a spell to protect the hut from any intruder and went to bed. In the morning, she would begin the ritual, adding all the items of the recipe, then drinking the elixir before leaving this hovel to find another place, another city, another ‘life’ among mortal beings.

            She lay down as images of her multiple past existences came to mind – cities blended into one, faces merged and became indistinct, memories too many to define. She let out a sigh of despair – did she really want to live yet another life? The secret would die with her unless she could find someone worthy. Was that so impossible? How would she begin? Her troubled thoughts plagued her once again. Was it really such a great thing to live forever?

Do you have a favorite Halloween story? Care to share?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Attending Another Book Event

September 27, 2022
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As secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, not only did I help plan, set up and tear down this event, but also attended as an author. It was an early start at 7 am to ensure the volunteers and all the display items were organized and in place prior to the opening at 9 am. As they say many hands make light work and the set up and tear down were completed in record time. The event celebrated it’s 15th year, which is a great milestone and this was the first in-person for 2 years.

It felt good to get my author table set up once again, and have the interaction with readers, and local authors too.

Another part of the day was author readings, and all the local authors delighted us with chapters of their chosen book to read. I read part of The Rython Kingdom – it felt good to reading out loud again after so long.

Of course, as a reader, I couldn’t resist buying a few books! So my TBR is now quite an impressive height! It will be difficult to pick which novel to read, after I finished Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Maybe I can write the titles on slips of paper and pick one out of a hat?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Festival, Meeting Readers and Buying Books

September 20, 2022
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I attended Words on the Street this Saturday in Lethbridge with my publisher, Dream Write Publishing. This was an annual event I enjoyed until COVID postponed it. So, this first in-person return to the book festival since 2019 was a joy. I reconnected with local authors and met new readers to my novels. To discuss my stories is always a fun conversation, as those who know my work, understand my ability to ‘flip’ ideas on their heads and give surprisingly twists and turns in my narratives.

As a reader I also took advantage of an independent bookstore’s weekend sale. The Purple Platypus in Castor, is jam packed with books and picking one or two is impossible. I left with a bag of books! More for my ever expanding TBR pile. (You know the problem all too well, I’m sure.)

Added to these were novels from three Lethbridge authors – Jenna Greene, Bianca Rowena, and Mandy Michelle.

So after I finish Fairy Tale by Stephen King I will have a difficult decision to make – which book do I choose first. Do any of these speak to you? Which one would you choose?

*******My Monarch – A Final Farewell*******

September 13, 2022
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The news of my monarch’s passing devastated me and I cried with a broken heart. Queen Elizabeth was the only monarch I ever knew. Her smile, sense of humour and fun, service, commitment, integrity and stoic, unwavering presence are my memories of her. During my life I have seen my Queen age, gather more family members, travel to far countries, meet dignitaries, and be a symbol of grace. She was the best of British to me and I do not apologize for being a proud British subject because of her.

As a young woman of 25, she was plunged into a role she never expected to take until much later in life. I do not know anyone, who at that age, could have taken on so much. She kept her pledge until her last breath. She was an inspiration to me and even when her family and country gave her cause for hurt, pain and reflection, my Queen retained her composure and stood tall in public.

We will not see such integrity for some time and that makes me sad. I may not be around when that happens with King William, but know he and Catherine will be a true reflection of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and values.

I will miss you, Queen Elizabeth, but I know you are with your Prince once again, together in spirit. You served your country with the utmost commitment and I thank you.

God Rest Queen Elizabeth.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – In-Person Author Events September

September 8, 2022
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September is a busy month for book events and I am looking forward to them after such a long a break. The first is Words on the Street in Lethbridge on 17th September.

It will be great to see the local authors I know there and meet new ones. There is always so much to do and enjoy centered around literature and writing.

The second event is more local, Words in the Park, in Sherwood Park. The event will be celebrating 15 years, which is a fantastic milestone! With local authors, artisans and musicians showcasing their creativity, the event is part of Alberta Culture Days and there is something for all the family.

If you are a writer, author, or reader this is the event you must attend. The pdf form to apply for a table is on this page – just scroll down. Link:

Invite your friends, family and colleagues and discover local talent.

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