Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Start of a Short Story

October 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


One of the exercises I find helpful as well as fun is using picture or word prompts to create a story (sometimes a poem). I recently chose a made up place name as the genus of an idea. The name was Fiddletown. The exercise is to write something in a limited time frame, around 10 minutes.
Some of these prompts have become full blown novels. This particular one is certainly one I made use at a later date. It sparked such a clear image for me.

I hope you like the beginnings of a story.

Hidden in the depths of the mountains, a small town flourishes. It is populated by beings of short stature with six fingers on each hand. Their ancestors escaped persecution from other people decades before. Safe now, they exist as hunters and gatherers existing in a solitary environment. Until, that is a couple of exploring mountaineers happen across the town.

This causes fear and consternation as well as an ethical question. Should they hide, locking everything up and hope the men think the town deserted, or run into the higher forest and wait them out or murder the two men? Whatever they do will alert the outside world…

Would you like to read the story? What do you think they decide?

I enjoyed a writing retreat from Friday to Monday in Crowsnest Pass. We watched the mountains slowly disappear as the snow arrived. Cozy in our cabin, with dogs, books and wine.

With a long weekend I managed to finish one book and read another. Here are my reviews.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Fabulously written. Gripping to the end, with you guessing (incorrectly most of time!) who the guilty party was. A web of lies hold four friends captive for decades until a three word text brings them together.
A seriously good read.

City of Dream by Suzanne Burkett

A great story of secrets, hidden memories and love. A very enjoyable read. Suzanne has created a wonderful world in this novel.

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

September 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Kathie

  1. Why did you decide to write an autobiography? For many years, existential questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” have haunted me and challenged me to go deeper into myself. My search for answers to these questions led me to journaling about life moments captured on the page; writing these short pieces called out for expression. Exploring poetry and essay, fairy tale and short life stories helped me find my “real writer” voice. Self-help books, spiritual retreats, talented mentors, friends and a personal interest in storytelling, psychology, image and myth fuelled my appetite for words. Gathering these stories together into an autobiographic novel took a long time. Now that my book is complete and ready for publication, I am more aware of the gifts and talents I can bring to the world through writing.
  2. How long did it take you to write it? I began capturing moments of my life at a women’s writing seminar in 2004. When the instructor said I had an unusual story – growing up female in the macho world of the military – I was surprised; my upbringing seemed “normal” to me. Many of the stories in my book began back then.
  3. What difficulties did you experience in writing it? Because of the transient nature of my childhood, I saw my early life as chopped into segments and filed in my memory by location. Recently when working with an editor, I began to see links and patterns in my life and finally, story connections were forged and fashioned into a smooth narrative. I had difficulty identifying the genre of these stories because they are based on authentic flashes of memory, and reimagined with fiction writing tools. My goal was to reveal my authentic emotions in short life stories and connect with other kindred souls through them.
  4. How did you come up with the title? In my childhood, our family was in constant transition, and my tools for coping with goodbyes and hellos and consequently with loss and resilience. Alternate titles I considered included “Permission to Speak, Sir!”, “Nesting Places”, “Home and Away”, and “Finding Home Without a Map.” These titles spoke to my developing comfort with being at home in my heart and belonging in my own skin. At one point, the title was “Saying Goodbye is Easy – Letting Go is Hard”. The second half of this title was dropped because it became obvious to me that letting go of the past was getting easier.
  5. As a child of a military family – what can your story teach others? The stories we tell ourselves and others influence what we believe about the world. The military has its own myths, my father’s story included World War 2 events, and my mother told stories connected me to generations of extended family and how the military influenced them and my own childhood. All the legends and myths to which I was exposed inspired my narrative of leaving the sanctuary of home and seeking independence. I believe that many women experience loneliness and isolation when they choose to leave their parents’ home and grow into their own lives. Reframing my life story allowed me to understand that it is a universal story.
  6. The book is a collection of short stories – why did you chose this format? Short stories stand alone, and a collection of short stories are sometimes linked but not always; a novel-in-short-stories has a narrative arc even though the stories stand alone. It is not a memoir because that genre covers a set period of time. Autobiography is factual but many of my stories were imagined to make a point. My research revealed that short stories are more likely to be accepted by a publisher if the author’s stories appear in literary magazines or their writing is well known. This format seemed to work for me because it suited my experience in life.
  7. Do you write in any other genre? I began writing poetry in the 1970s, and I was seeking inspiration for poems when I attended the women’s writing classes in 2004. With encouragement, I began writing prose and personal opinion essays for magazines. Poetry continues to intrigue me and I hope to add to my published books of verse but I also have a novel on the back burner (which is also told in segments!), two based-on-real-events historical fiction books and a non-fiction book. I do not write fantasy or romance and tend to lean towards literary fiction.
  8. Do you have other books? Since 2004 I’ve created several handmade poetry chapbooks, and published two books of poetry. I’ve also self-published a book of essays and a volume of personal fairy tales. All of them are inner focused, and intended for kindred spirits who are interested in myth and metaphor.
  9. Where can your readers find you on social media? On FB as Kathie Sutherland Author, on Twitter as Kathie.Sutherland aka wordpainterpoet, on LinkedIn, Instagram and on my website kathiesutherland.com where my books and writing companionship services are available. I offer Inner Child workshops, Reminiscence and Listening Services, a scuba diving-inspired workshop focused on going deeper into emotions and create “Portrait Poems” as personal gifts.
  10. Do you have a blog? Since writing “Saying Goodbye is Easy”, I have gain clarity about the purpose of my writing. I want to give back through coaching and writing companionship. I have renewed my blogging practice.
  11. What did you learn about yourself while writing this autobiography? The whole of my writing life has been about acknowledging and accepting myself. This autobiography has been narrative therapy for me. Each piece I worked on required me to come to terms with the theme of the story I was writing. One of my greatest strengths is my love of learning. That love brings me back to the greater life questions and my search for answers. I love learning through research. I love learning about words. I love inner work. I love writing to grow.

Saying Goodbye

Blog:

https//kathiesutherland.com

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/kathiesutherlandauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/kathie.sutherland/?hl=en

@wordpainterpoet

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Discovering & Reading New Authors

August 25, 2020
mandyevebarnett


book shelves book stack bookcase books

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As readers we all have favourite authors, whose writing engages us. We impatiently wait for their next book to come out. In the meantime, what are our options? Should we read another favourite author or find someone new?

I tend to read an eclectic range of genres and authors, although of course any new book by Stephen King is a must for me. However, I am lucky to be able to edit or review author friend’s books and manuscript’s as a freelance writer. This opens up exciting new narratives to me and I will have to say has introduced me to new writing styles.

I am currently reading a debut novel by Sophie Pollard and have another book arriving in the mail any time now from Suzanne Burkett.

I feel reading new genre’s and authors expands our imaginations and opens us up to new reading experiences. There are many ‘lists’ on the internet, if you care to search giving information on new books for each season, entries into contests and up and coming authors. It is a good place to start as well as asking your family and friends for recommendations.

Do you stick to your tried and tested authors or do you try new writers? Have you discovered a new exciting author in some way? Care to share?

Of course I would like to suggest one of my own books. The current list is here: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V  My newest novel, The Commodore’s Gift (steampunk) will be launched on 26th September 2020

books

Happy reading and comment below to join in the conversation.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – DIY Takes Precedence

August 19, 2020
mandyevebarnett


 

Hello and firstly apologies for my tardiness. It has been a crazy week. I have been upgrading my kitchen with some help from a friend. Six days of sanding, priming and painting cupboard doors! You don’t realize how many doors a kitchen has until you have to paint them, I can tell you. So from dull wooden kitchen to a fresh, bright and clean white kitchen with a soft green in the panels. A new splash-back has been put up too.

There is still more to do, as I had white tongue and groove to put over large wood panels and then a major reorganization. De-cluttering will commence once the upgrade is complete. The sanding and painting is a real upper body work out and with the hot temperatures we have been experiencing, sitting out on the deck meant I caught the sun. The sore muscles and weariness are so worth the end result though.

So to sum up – no writing done and almost no reading either. I am waiting on a revision to my steampunk novel book cover and review from my publisher for edits to the manuscript. My newest suspense manuscript has been left alone for the time being. Creativity of another sort took precedence.

crowsnest

I do have one event to look forward to in October – a writing retreat with a couple of friends in Crownest Pass. It is a self contained cabin, so we can write without disturbance, enjoying the views and being inspired by nature. I should be able to get some reading done too.

What have you upgraded during COVID19? It seems to be a popular thing to do for sure.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Creativity Comes in Many Forms.

August 4, 2020
mandyevebarnett


My household has begun a monthly creative day. Before COVID19, I used to host a ladies group, where we went on outings, enjoyed potlucks and craft days. So this is a welcome addition to keep my creativity inspired. This past Saturday, we learnt acrylic pours. There are a lot of techniques and various ways to use the paints and make effects.This was my first foray into this medium. I love learning new things. How did I do?

 

111

I finished Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs:

A fabulous fantasy of tension, extraordinary events, friendship and excitement. Can’t wait to read the next one. Ransom has created a fantastical world you become immersed into with such ease it is a delight.

My new read is a debut novel, One Step Closer by Sophie Pollard.

one step closer
Other books news.
I have commissioned an artist to create the book cover for my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. It is always exciting to begin the process of determining what the cover should look like. Sometimes there is a vision in your head, which you have to describe (or illustrate in some way) to your chosen artist. This gives them the concept you are wanting. There is always a to and fro with images and adjustments. It is a fun project. This particular artist has created a cover for me previously. I love how she can make my vision come to life.
Legacy cover
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