Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Holiday Time Writing Tips

December 16, 2021
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We all know that the holiday’s tend to reek havoc on our writing schedule, but there are ways of grabbing writing time. There are always lulls in activities, whether it’s traveling time, the lethargic atmosphere after a meal, or solitary early mornings. You can find somewhere to ‘hide’ away, even if its only for half an hour or so. Here are a few tips to try.

Relax your normal rigorous writing timetable – take time to chill and observe.

Keep track of the number of words you write instead of how long you wrote.

Make the most of “un-scheduled” time – waiting for a flight or sitting in a vehicle en route to a function, at children’s rehearsals, a break for coffee during shopping.

Wake up earlier (or stay up later) than usual to ensure that you spend some time writing.

Decide on a specific amount of time to write and block that time.

Use the time to track your progress on a current project.

Feel comfortable to reflect on your writing plans or current project.

Experiment with prompts, a new genre or a short story.

You’re going to be around a lot of people so pay attention to the interactions and conversations use it as research.

A new location can inspire an new idea or inclusion in a current work.

Always carry a notebook and pen.

Refuse to feel guilty when you remove yourself to write.

Remember it is okay to rest and enjoy the celebrations.

How do you find time to writing during the holidays?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – The Dreaded Editing Process

December 2, 2021
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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.

Where should you start?

Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.

When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.

Limit each read through to a specific task.

When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.

Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:

  1. Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
  2. Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.

When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene.  Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!  

Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.

What is your editing process like?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Plunging into NaNaWriMo Again!

November 4, 2021
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Once again it is that time of year when many writers immerse themselves into a frantic month of writing. National Novel Writing Month gives writers the opportunity to begin, or indeed finish a writing project. Taking part is a challenge, it certainly motivates and is a great experience in writing to a deadline. This banner says it all.

My project this year is book two of The Delphic Murders, my detective trilogy. The title is A Tainted Search. Unfortunately, I managed to delete last year’s project, book one, The Elusive Trail, when I changed the date by mistake. Although, it does show as a goal. Onward and upward as they say. That manuscript has already gone through several revisions and edits.

Personally, I have found NaNoWriMo to be useful for my writing, as stated in the illustrated banner, but also as the vehicle to meet other writers around the globe. We are all experiencing this challenge in different ways, with varying success, but in a uniquely linked way through the portal. It is also a personal challenge and one we can learn from in regard to our writing technique and commitment. Having such a shared experience and the ability to communicate while doing it makes it a fun project, although anxiety inducing as we watch the word counter.

Are you entering the challenge this year? I’m happy to be a buddy – my user name is MandyB

Please share your project so we can encourage and support each other.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – What About Those New Year’s Goals? How are you doing?

October 28, 2021
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At the start of each year, some of us decide on goals for the year. These range from the most common ones, such as weight loss, fitness, and stopping smoking, the ‘healthy ones’ in other words. But, what of the other goals, the practical ones, so to speak? For authors this would be improving our brand, more sales, promotional opportunities, presentations or speaking engagements and more. As writers, we want to increase our word count, the number of projects completed, or receiving publicity or publishing deals.

Obviously, many of these goals go by the wayside pretty quickly, while others make it to mid-year, or possibly later. The question that arises is – why make goals in the first place? Are we swept along with the possibilities of a fresh start? Do we think we can achieve them, and stay committed to our self-inflicted goals? The excitement of a whole new year ahead of us is a powerful momentum for change. I think that is the key to our initial thinking, when it comes to annual goal making.

As we all know that momentum gets harder to maintain as the months roll by. We get off-track.

There are time constraints, health issues, family matters, work events, vacations, seasonal holidays – the list goes on. Each scenario affects how we feel, our ‘free’ time, and what we are able to accomplish. There is always some ‘distraction’ pulling us away from that initial elation of new year possibilities.

So, what is the answer? This is a difficult question to answer, as we are all experiencing life in a multitude of ways. No one person is the same as another. I think the first step is to be totally honest with yourself, when it comes to setting goals in the first place. Too many goals, too loftier a goal and the ‘good grief’ goals should be shelved before they even get ‘out the box’.

Making a goal is a very personal thing. You need to look at what your time will allow and also your personality trait. Do you have a week to week, or month to month planner or do you hope for the best? Or something in-between? Having too many goals sets you up for failure and that isn’t good for anyone.  Remember we don’t have to do ALL the goals in one year – pace yourself. Put the most ‘important’ one first, then plan accordingly and stick to it. Put less pressure on yourself and accomplish one or two instead.

My goal board

You can even make a ‘goal’ under the umbrella of a wider spectrum, such as ‘improvement’, whether for your health or for your writing career. Many of you saw my 2021 goal board link – it is the best board I have made in many years and I don’t think I will be changing it very much for 2022. I have goals I want to reach in the next few years and the board reflects that for me.

Realistically, a goal can take longer than a year. Accept that and work towards it at your own pace. Time constraints and deadlines are not applicable here. We all ‘work’ at different paces, make that work for you.

How are your 2021 goals coming along?

Have you succeeded or are you on track?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Road Trip Thoughts

October 12, 2021
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Apologies for my tardiness, as it was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I enjoyed a weekend away and just relaxed. This is not a bad thing, we all need to decompress regularly. Hence, I did not draft a blog post for today – so I am late.

The trip was to Lloydminster, which is unique in the fact that it spans the Alberta and Saskatchewan border. This may seem unusual, but when you add in the fact that Saskatchewan has an extra sales tax, you can imagine how residents and commercial businesses have to juggle what is paid where! We discovered a wonderful park with the city and enjoyed a leisurely walk with the dogs.

A super chance encounter happened on the way home, when we spied a herd of small ponies. They were curious and met us at the fence. This is why we travel the back roads

I wrote this poem to reflect my road trip experiences.

ROAD TRIP THOUGHTS

Road trips are a joy, incorporating

New places explored

Frequent wildlife encounters

Cherished memories to share

***

Increased expectation and excitement

A check list of essentials made

Local sights and attractions investigated

Reservations confirmed and paid

***

Double checked suitcase contents

Cooler bag filled with bottled water

Snacks bought to dispense

Extra footwear, jackets and sunglasses

***

Early morning start, packing the trunk

A double check before we drive away

Puppies walked, fed, then harnessed in

Breakfast our first stop along the way

***

Routes taken – off highway & gravel

Multiple stops for photo opportunities

This is the only way to travel

Wildlife and scenery abound

***

Arrival at our lodgings, truck unpacked

Dogs walked, fed then settled

Organizing of our spaces, preferences known

Comfortable companionship not meddled

***

Evening meal eaten, then to relax

Tomorrow’s adventure discussed

Reading and writing commence

Time is not rushed

***

An easy morning routine

New adventures and sights shown

Snacks gathered and packed

Our destination known

Do you have road trip memories you would like to share?

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