Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Extreme Weather in Stories

August 16, 2022
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As we see the changes in weather around the world due to climate change, with extremes of heat, cold and rain, it is bound to be included in more novels than ever. My family in the UK is currently suffering an official drought with bans on water usage, my daughter-in-law’s family were victims of a hail storm in Innisfail, causing irrevocable damage to vehicles and glass injuries.

We all know the oldest line in writing – it was a dark and stormy night – which sets the scene perfectly.

Weather is it’s own character and is a force to be reckoned with for many protagonists. We all know the cyclone in The Wizard of Oz, the Mist’s creatures and The Shining’s snowfall by Stephen King, the storm in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights, the cyclone in Marilynne Robinsons Lila, the heat in Albert Camus’s “The Stranger”, the flood in William Faulkner’s “The Wild Palms, the drought and Dust Bowl of The Grapes of Wrath and the Galveston Storm of 1900 portrayed in Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale. There are many, many more.

The weather not only affects writers creativity, but also readers reading habits. We enjoy a book on the beach, as well as beside a warm fire on a winter’s night. We may choose the location and season of a novel to match our current season, or even the opposite to immerse ourselves in a story to escape the current conditions. A chilly autumn/fall weekend might have us ‘disappearing’ into a seaside town mystery, or a thriller set around Halloween.

In my novella, Rython Legacy my main protagonist is lost in a snow storm. A frightful storm damages the home of the sprites in Ockleberries to the Rescue and a hot summer day has horses and their riders suffering in The Commodore’s Gift. The effects of the weather can make us ‘feel’ the character’s plight even more. What we experience as writers and readers makes the stories come alive.

Do you choose books because of season?

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Can We Avoid the Shiny & New Writing Idea?

August 11, 2022
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With the first draft of the second book in my crime fiction trilogy off to beta readers, I can rest easy for a minute. Of course, the plan is to begin the third and final book during National Novel Writing Month but… as we all know something shiny and new can always draw us away from the ‘should do’s’ and entice us in other directions.

In common with many writers, I have a stack of manuscripts in various stages of completion. A western romance, a suspense novel, and a YA romance. These manuscripts have been dwelling in digital folders for some time, and I keep reminding myself that they should be revised and edited and then set out into the world. Alas, a new shiny project always seems to take precedence and steers me away.

However, the one shining brightly at the moment is none of these. Rather, it is a prequel to my Rython saga. It will tell the story of how the vengeful witch, Malgraf became such a malignant force. I have mental images of locations, the young Malgraf and her childhood experiences manifesting into story and it is so enticing. I am even thinking which colour I should use for the book cover! As you can see I have a gorgeous blue and green for the other editions, but need a darker feel for the story of the witch, for obvious reasons. A cover always tells its own story and sets the mood for the reader.

So, how do we avoid a new idea? Well, there are several predisposing conditions.

  1. A publishing deadline.
  2. Reader expectation.
  3. To continue the flow of a series.
  4. Keeping the characters front and center to ensure continuity.

These can help drag you away from a new and shiny idea – but not always. It all comes down to your self control and if you are under a contract. For me, I will explore my new story, jotting down scenes etc. and possibly use part of NaNoWriMo to write it. It will be a novella, in line with the other two editions, so will leave me ‘space’ in November to start the final book in the trilogy. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

How do you avoid a new story idea? Or do you succumb to the excitement?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Blog Anniversary and A New TBR Pile

August 9, 2022
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It is always surprising when you get a notification from WordPress as to your blog anniversary. This is quite the milestone. There is effort in maintaining my blog schedule and coming up with new content, but the most enjoyable part is the connection I have with my followers. So a huge thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 12 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

I have a good friend, Karen who has a book swap with several friends and family and I am lucky to be part of it. I collected my next batch for my ‘to be read’ pile last week. It is, as ever, an eclectic mix of genres and authors. Something I enjoy, as reading outside our ‘comfort’ zone gives us pleasant surprises and a new venture into stories otherwise unread. Some are successful, some not, but without the opportunity to read, we would never know. This is the current stack I will be making my way though.

What do you have on your TBR pile? Is it as varied? Which authors do you gravitate towards?

And remember today is National Book Lovers Day! So another celebration.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Alleviating Health Problems in Writers

August 4, 2022
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Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

They say that sitting is now the new smoking and as writers – we sit! It may be in front of a screen or jotting down scenes in a notebook, but the majority of our writing time is ‘bum on seat’. As with any job, there are health pitfalls, but the most common for writers are:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders. Poor posture, and lack of exercise and movement. Get moving!
  • Eye/Vision Disorders. Too much screen time, a back light engages your brain but also burns your retinas. Look away regularly or switch off.
  • Headaches. Excessive screen time, or reading find print. Ensure you have regular eye tests.
  • Obesity. Lack of movement and too much snacking. Limit sugary and salty snacks and exercise.
  • Repetitive Stiffness Injuries. Attributed to mouse holding cramps and also typing/writing for long periods. Wrist, arm and shoulder exercises can help.
  • Stress and Depression. Working to a deadline, revisions and editing – the list is long. Set realistic goals and create step by step targets.
  • Hearing Damage. This may not be for everyone, but having music or back ground noise at too high a level can harm your hearing. Invest in good headphones for noise cancellation or music and keep the volume at a comfortable level.
  • Lower Body/Foot Swelling. Sitting for too long can result in swelling and numbness, especially if your chair position leaves your legs dangling, or footwear is not supportive. Ensure your chair is positioned for your height so your feet are firmly on the floor and wear supportive footwear.
  • Blood sugar. Remember your brain needs ‘food’ as well as rest. Don’t get to the ‘hangry’ status. Set a timer for meals and drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital.

Be conscious of what your body is telling you.

The healthier you are the better your writing will become – a health body is a healthy mind after all.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Do you have any health tips to share?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Crime fiction and writing prompts

August 2, 2022
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August 1st is a holiday here in Alberta, so it was nice to have an extra long weekend. I’m please to day my ‘stalled’ situation in the completion of book two of The Delphic Murders – The Tainted Search – was overcome and I managed to finish the manuscript. It is now in the hands of a few beta-readers. It was such a relief to finally overcome the hurdle. I will let it ‘rest’ for a month and then go back to it for the next round of editing and revision. In the meantime, I have other dormant manuscripts I can return to, but as with all things it may not go to plan. I had a new idea for a contemporary novel and also have the idea for a prequel to the Rython saga. Never a dull moment in a writer’s mind!

As you know I enjoy sharing my responses to writing prompts, this is my latest:

Characters in a Crunch Write a scene or story that includes a character eating cereal. What does a character’s favourite cereal say about their personality?

Regimented Rosemary

Rosemary sat at the small round breakfast table, set for one with a place mat, napkin, silver cutlery and a pot of tea with a china cup and saucer to match. She set it every night before going to bed. Everything in its place and orderly. As she looked through the window at the garden, enjoying the fruits of her many hours of labour over several decades, she spooned mouthfuls of cereal into her mouth. As a child she always loved her grandmother’s English cottage garden. Hollyhocks, honeysuckle, roses, and all the colours of the rainbow all in perfect rows. Now, her garden was a joy to her grandchildren, she had come full circle.

With deliberate care she spooned around the bowl to make sure she had a good mixture of ingredients. She didn’t like overly sweet or one type cereal, she found it boring and the sugary treats stuck to her dentures. Over time she had created the perfect start to her day. Bran, fresh berries, oatmeal and a little honey. Her breakfast kept her regular, gave her a portion of fruit and filled her up.  When she stayed with family, she took her ingredients with her, just to ensure she didn’t have to suffer store bought cereal.

Rosemary enjoyed short stays with family but had to resist tidying and organizing when she did. People lived in such chaos! Her home was picture perfect and that is the way she liked it. Orderly contents in cupboards and closets and a check list for everything. With the last scoop of her cereal she patted her lips with the napkin, then took the crockery to the sink, washed and dried everything and put them away.

Let me know what you think of this little story.

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