Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

A Creative Workshop Story

November 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


 

I attended a creative workshop a couple of Saturday’s ago held by my writer’s group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. The topics were POV and plot lines. We had several warm up exercises and an explanation of the various POV types and the variety of plot structure methods. Then with a timed exercise of twenty minutes, we had to write a short story using those techniques but with a title and a genre picked from a bowl. My title was Clue of the Painted Hand in a children’s book style. Although the last couple of paragraphs were added later, I think I did pretty well to have characters, plot, and a beginning, middle and finally an end!

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Clue of the Painted Hand

Daisy pulled at her mother’s hand as they entered the library. It was her favorite place. Books let her escape to other worlds and made her feel less lonely. An only child, Daisy looked like a mini replica of her mother – blonde, brown eyes and slim -the only difference was the flower shaped birthmark on her right cheek. The reason she was called Daisy.

As usual there were lots of people in the library browsing book shelves and she saw a small huddle of younger children were listening to story time. Daisy felt too old for the short picture book stories and felt proud her reading age was ten years old, more than her real age of seven. She surpassed most of her school class mates in reading.

She looked over to see her mother talking to a friend so made her way to the book shelves in her favorite section – mystery adventure. Daisy loved jigsaw puzzle when she was younger, solving the patterns to create a whole picture. Now it was the same with stories. She would figure out the answer to the clues in the narrative before the end, most of the time.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Daisy ran her fingers across the book spines reading the titles. If one interested her, she took it out and read the explanation on the back. One by one she piled up books beside her. She could take out ten books and always finished them before the next Saturday. One book pulled another off the shelf and Daisy dropped them on the floor. As she lay down to grab one from under the shelf her fingers encountered another book shoved under the wooden base. After several tries she prised a dusty old book from under the shelf. It was an old book, its cover tattered and dusty. Daisy used her sleeve to wipe the dust off the cover. The title was immediately interesting – Clue of the Painted Hand. Oh this looks good, she thought. Turning the book over and opening it, she realized there was no library stamp of barcode. How long has it been there? Looking side to side, Daisy felt a real thrill – a book I can keep! A shiver of excitement and guilt went through her young body. No-one would know, she could put it in her coat pocket without anyone seeing. Her curiosity could wait no longer; opening the first page a map covered the first two pages. As she traced her finger over the markings and named streets, she recognized one – Hampton Avenue, where she lived. How could a book hidden under a shelf have a map of her town?

“Daisy, are you ready to go?”

Her mother’s voice startled Daisy and she quickly put the book in her pocket before picking up her selected library books. With the books scanned, they returned to the car. Daisy kept her excitement to herself but raced upstairs as soon as they arrived home. Now I can read the clues and find whatever treasure there is. It only took an hour to read the book. It told the story of an old Jack in the Box made by a master toymaker, who lived in the town many years before. His shop sign was a painted hand. This particular Jack in the Box had a musical mechanism and a doll instead of a jack, which popped up. Daisy read the clue, traced the map’s tracks and realized the location of the box was in the play ground behind her house.

She walked through the back garden, through the gate and counted steps just like the map said – one, two, three – until she reached twenty-five steps. Standing beside an overgrown old fountain, she pulled ivy and weeds away. The instructions said there was a secret detail to push in sequence. Daisy brushed away dirt and old leaves to find the stone carved like a bunch of daisies. She pressed the first petal it did not move, then another. Gradually, she discovered the petals that did move and marked them with a thumbprint. Now how do I press them in the right order? She sat down cross-legged and looked at the stone decoration. It was a posy of daisies, the stems long and disappearing into the weeds. Maybe I should pull these weeds out as well. Her thought propelled her into action. The flower stems were encased in a stone vase decoration with faint lettering on it. After rubbing the grime off with her sleeve, the words were clearer. A riddle! How exciting.

I’m at the peak

Then to the right

Follow me to the base

And reach to the left

A final center will release

Daisy read the riddle three times then pressed the loose petals, top, right, left, bottom and center. A grating sound alerted her to something moving. The vase shape pushed forward to reveal a void. Sitting in it was a dusty square box. With nervous excitement, Daisy pulled it out of its hiding place and wiped it clean. She knew her mother would be upset with all the dirt on her clothes but the treasure was worth it. Gently, she wound the handle on the side of the box until the lid burst open to reveal a beautiful blonde doll, head to one side holding a book and smiling. Music started to play and the doll’s head moved side to side just like if she was reading. This is so beautiful, she looks a little like me. Blowing gently she rid the doll and its book of a layer of dust. That’s when she saw the title of the book – Daisy the Adventurer. It is me! How can that be? Another mystery for me to solve but maybe I will need mother’s help. With great care, Daisy pushed the stone vase back into place, pulled the ivy and weeds back over the fountain and walked home cradling her treasure.

I hope you liked it. 

Which plot method do you think I used? Story map, Story Flow Chart or Story Mountain?

 

Preparation for NaNoWriMo 2019

October 31, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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It took some time to decide whether I would participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I have participated ten times in all and each time have created novel or novella length manuscripts. Most have been revised and edited over the following year or so to become published books. Some quicker than others it must be said. My very first NaNo in 2009 resulted in a work not published until last September! Yep 9 years. This was due to it being my first full length manuscript, my novice writing and self doubt that it was worthy of publishing. I revised and edited almost every year until I took the plunge, finally satisfied it was finalized.

However, in regard to this year’s NaNo, my first stumbling block was the two draft novels I have pending, which are previous year’s NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Again I know they need revisions and editing prior to submission to a publisher. My struggle was should I work on these manuscripts rather than create another one?

Secondly, I have several events to attend during November, which will take me away from the vital writing time needed for NaNo. As we all know every minute counts during November. Will I have enough time to succeed?

Thirdly, although I browsed the multitude of saved short stories in my laptop folders, I was not convinced any of them were novel length material. Or maybe it was my Muse not being excited enough about them – who knows? So I pondered what ‘new’ story I could write. Nothing I thought of seemed the elusive ‘it’ until just as I was drifting off to sleep an idea burst into my mind. It gave me a rough timeline, one character and the inkling of a plot. Knowing that relying on memory is a writer’s mistake when ideas pop up, I got up and wrote it all down. Subsequently, I have managed to decide on my two main characters, their location, some backstory and a timeline.

So I am as ready as I can be for 1st November. If you would like to connect on the NaNoWriMo site I’m MandyB.

How about you?

Do you have a rough outline?

Where did you idea come from?

 

Author Interview – Gail Gillingham Wylie

October 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

gail

First of all, my book is not a novel but a self help book so I will try to answer the questions……

What inspired your latest novel?

In 1993 I left my husband and in leaving him lost everything for a time, my home, my job, my family and so on. I struggled to make sense of how I was feeling without any real help from the therapists I went to, the self help books I read, or any friends, etc. I talked to. I decided to return to University where I discovered the work of William James. It made sense of what I, not only, was experiencing, but also what my family was going through. Had no intention of ever writing a book about it, but after hearing everyone responding to 911, in much the same I felt in 1993, I decided I need to share what I had learned and so put it all down on paper.

How did you come up with the title?                 

William James developed a model of self in the late 1800’s – the title refers to how we, without being aware, are searching for that level of understanding.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

You are okay – no matter what is happening to you. It all makes sense if you take into account your whole journey through life. Only once you clearly understand your “self” you are you free to choose the next steps wisely.

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How much of the book is realistic?

All of it, I hope.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are three main sources for the examples I use in the book, my own life and what I have learned from two groups of people who live on the extreme……those with autism and those who were sexually abused as children.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Social media: facebook – interact with people all over the world on messenger through it. No blog as such, but do share thoughts through the notes section on facebook. Also have a website for my work in autism: www.autismconsultingservice.com

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

Have just completed my first novel – one I carried around in my head for 45 years. Currently have a couple more on the go. One is a murder mystery type, the other, the impact in a community in the midst of a world wide disaster. Don’t think I will be writing any more self-help books

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I like the main character in the murder mystery -Oliver Weary……he is a good man, in spite of what happened to him as a child, and spite of what the community at large assumes.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

Definitely a dabbler. Just finished a dinner theatre murder mystery for my family that worked out well, completing two very different projects in the moment: a manual for the work we do, and a short history of my grandfather’s life for my extended family as well as the two novels in progress.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Am amazed at how, although one has planned out an outline, how stories take on a life of their own as time goes by.

What is your best marketing tip?

Wish I had one!!!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

For me, it has been a great tool, but it does take time and energy to use it effectively.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It is who I am and I delight in the freedom to do it at this point in my life. At a certain point in life, I actually burned everything I had written up till then, something I have regretted ever since. Not good to not live with the freedom to be oneself.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I don’t remember, did a lot of newspaper ideas as a child and carried on with them in high school and college – the childhood ones were all fiction, while the later ones were of actual happenings and shared with the community I was in at the time.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I think it has always been diverse.

What genre are you currently reading?

Current book of the moment is Emma by Alexander4 McCall Smith – a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s novel. We have a wee library close to our home and I currently get all of my reading material from it……so becomes very diverse based on what others have contributed.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

At this point, pleasure. Started researching both autism and the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse in the late eighties and basically gave up reading for pleasure for the next 20 years…..so it feels goo to get back to it.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My husband Clay

Where is your favorite writing space?

On the computer!!! So nice to have something that I can use that gets my thoughts down almost as fast as I can think them!! Have my own office in my home so that’s where the writing happens at this point. Have this dream of moving into at hotel for a stint and having everything looked after for me so all I needed to do was write, but fear it might end up too boring.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

No, not really – joined one last fall but nothing came of it…..

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

Margret Lawrence – to thank her for a portion of The Diviner’s which explained how I was responding to life and what I needed to do to change it.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Right where I am. Love my home!!! But in the midst of that, also NEED to experience the energy of the mountains, the ocean and the old growth forests so make the effort to visit them at least once a year.

Do you see writing as a career?

Since I am almost at the age of 70, not really looking for a career. May have wanted it when I was younger but know now that the life I experienced has opened me up in ways that sitting at a desk never could have….and it is those experiences that make what I write powerful.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

No – drink a lot of coffee but rarely snack if ever.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

No deadlines at this point in life!!

Bio:

Gail Gillingham Wylie, M.Sc. is an individual, marital and family therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada specializing in the field of autism. She has a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Science in marital and family therapy from Loma Linda University, California. She has worked as a quantum biofeedback practitioner with SCIO since 2005.

Gail is known internationally through her books on autism: Autism Handle with Care (1995), Autism A New Understanding (2000) and Sharing our Wisdom (2003) and has spoken at many conferences on autism in United States, Canada, England, Malaysia and South Africa throughout the last quarter century. These include presentations at the World Conferences on Autism in Toronto in 1993, and Cape Town, SA in 2006. Her latest book In Search of Self takes her out of the autism world as it applies to each and every one of us.

Gail first began using the model of self as tool with her clients while working as a family therapist. She has successfully incorporated it into her sessions on the scio as it provides a visual map for those who are working towards self awareness. She fully believes that we are living at a time during which developing and unconditional acceptance of one self and of others is of prime importance. The model of self can help us do that.

Review of Words in the Park 2019 & Upcoming Books Events

October 3, 2019
mandyevebarnett


 

I so enjoy this annual event not just because I am involved with the organization of it (I’m secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) but that so many local authors attend – some are regular to the event but every year new authors join us. Part of Alberta Culture Days, the event hosted it’s 12th year with 50 tables of authors and artisans.

As may of you know, I am rather an obsessed planner, so had practiced my table displays before hand. With eight published books in multiple genres, it takes some planning! With two tables, I could split the children’s and YA books from the adult books by way of different coloured tablecloths. I also, again, used summary & review pages (backed with linking coloured card to the book background colour – see obsessive!) for each book. This engages the visitors and gives them an idea of the story and what other readers thought of it. I also have merchandise, hats and T-shirts, related to a couple of the books, which are always fun.

 

This year was the launch of the sequel to The Rython Kindom, which was reader driven (they nagged until I wrote it – a nice thing for an author to experience). Rython Legacy follows the trials of the original sorceress’ grand-daughter.

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This is the second book fair in September, a week earlier I was at Word on the Street in Lethbridge, and each time it is the connection to local authors that makes the events so special. I do have several other book events up until the end of the year to attend.

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Saturday, 5 October 2019 from 10:00-16:00
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Christmas Fair
November 23, 2019 in Josephburg at Moyer Rec Centre. 10 am – 4 pm

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Sunday, November 24th 12-3 pm Bremner Mansion – Arts and heritage activities, vintage tractors, Indigenous traditions  – dance, story telling, music and more. 12-3 pm 53452, Range Road 225 780-464-8095

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Christmas Craft Sale

Saturday, December 7, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Cooking Lake Hall.

As you can see it will be a busy end to 2019.

 

Author Excitement – Opening a Box of Books & Literary Events

September 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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This will be a busy week! I attended Word on the Street on 21st September in Lethbridge. It is my fourth visit to that particular location for this event and as always have so much fun meeting readers and new authors. My publisher, Dream Write Publishing attended and I assisted with their table.

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There were several authors, I wanted to catch up with from last year: Krysta MacDonald, Jenna Greene, and Bianca Rowena. I was pleasantly surprised to find another author, Natasha Deen, whom I had not seen in quite a while.

We were fortunate that the weather was a balmy +21 (unlike last year when we froze!) as it is a outside canopy event. There was lots to see and many presentations and speakers too.

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With that event over I could not sit on my laurels, as I have another event this Saturday 28th September – Words in the Park. So it was home late Monday night, unpack and reorganize. You can imagine my excitement when I found a box of books waiting for me. These are the long awaited sequel to The Rython Kingdom. So many readers wanted a sequel and I spent quite a long time (to my readers frustration) pondering what that story would entail. Now it is here: Rython Legacy – the sequel.

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I hope to see you this Saturday – Agora, Community Center, 401, Festival Lane, Sherwood Park, Alberta. 10 am – 4 pm Free admission with local authors galore, music, story telling, treats, games & interactive sessions and prizes too. A family friendly event with something for everyone.

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