Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A 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?

 

Author Interview – Karen Harmon

November 5, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel? My father passed away when I was 27 years old, so none of my three children had ever met him. To keep his memory alive, I used to tell my kids true stories about my dad. He was an amazing fun loving, comical, adventurous person but he came from a very dysfunctional, heartbreaking back ground. One day (8 years ago) when I was telling my (then) 11-year-old son about how my father rode the rails when he was 13 years from Saskatchewan to BC, my son said, “Mom, I love your stories so much, you should write a book”. So, I did.                                                                     

How did you come up with the title? The title of my book Looking for Normal, is a play on words. For a big part of my life I would often say, “I just want a normal family”. Therefore, I was always looking for normal. When, in the real world, there is no such thing as normal. I use a quote from Erma Bombeck, “normal is just a setting on your dryer” on the first page, chapter one.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? YES! I would very much like my readers to 1) feel inspired by my story 2) come to understand that mental illness and addiction can cause people to behave a certain way, but there is always hope and humour if you can get past the pain. Mental health issues are not uncommon.

How much of the book is realistic? My book is a true story about family, heartache, heartbreak, hope, and humor, it is all true and about my life. Some people have described my memoir to be unique and eclectic and I say, “aren’t we all?”

normal

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Yes, the main characters in my book are my mother, father and myself. It weaves in and out with flash backs and stories throughout. I have been told that my book is very relatable, it could be many peoples story. It takes place between 1930 and 1978 and has historical facts, photos and events along the way.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I currently have (as of April 2019) 25 reviews on Good Reads. My book is available on amazon.ca  amazon.com  Indigo.ca  chapters.ca barnesandnoble.ca  I also love chatting with my followers on Instagram, I have approximately 8,000  @karenharmonn  I post about writing, health, fitness and family. Twitter @karenharmonn

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Yes! I am currently (as of April 2019) 50,000 words into my 2nd book which is a sequel. I should be finished by the time this blog comes out. I am very excited as this book takes place in the 80’s and 90’s. Parts of it have been fun to write because I was a disco queen during Vancouver’s disco era. And I started teaching fitness at the same time as Jane Fonda. HaHa! Other portions have been more difficult to write but very therapeutic to write because it deals with AA, and Alanon.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? Of my three main characters they are ALL my favourites and this is why…….. 1) my dad adored me, and I idolized him. He was funny and kind. He never repeated the cycle of abuse that he was raised under. 2) my mother wanted to be a private detective in the 1930’ & 1940’s which was completely unheard of for a woman, so she settled and became a mom & house wife. Plus, she had mental health issues and in those days that too was unheard of. 3) Me, my heart breaks for the little girl I once was. I really got to know little girl Karen during my telling of her childhood. I gained confidence from writing about who I once was and my beginnings. Therefore, all three of my characters are my favourite.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I favor non-fiction because writing about something I know to be real and true is easier. I gained my story telling ability from my father, he was animated and funny. I like to look at life that way, we are all characters on the stage of life.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? My first book was by the seat of my pants, sometimes it felt like verbal diarrhea. My second book has been more planned out and I feel way more organized.

What is your best marketing tip? Networking and asking questions. Find a facebook page with like minded individuals. That’s where I found you, and look, I get to be in your blog! Instagram and Twitter are important too.

Be professional, if you are having a book launch, a book read, or any kind of event make professional invitations and hand them out. At my book launch my friend made appetizers that were conventional in the 1960’s. I had old fashioned coke in glass bottles, and everyone was offered coffee or tea. My friend owns a coffee shop, so she gave me a great deal. It was super fun and prior to the launch the newspaper did a story on me.

Contact your local newspaper as they love personal interest stories about people in the community, you are helping them if they do a story on you. So, it is a win-win as it gives you exposure as well.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I want to say a little bit of both. Through Instagram I have connected with some amazing, writers, bloggers and readers. Sending personal messages DM’s (direct messages) I have messaged at least 50 people I have admired. At least ten of those people have responded and we have had some amazing conversations. I have been given incredible advice from other authors. I have sent my book to instagrammers who read as a hobby and I they have given my book great reviews. Plus, its fun to post photos, make videos, network, and make connections.  I find Twitter a bit more challenging as it is important to post something everyday, if not more. I enjoy following people who have odd perspectives on life. My challenge is coming up with something unique and fresh daily.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing? I enjoy thinking of someone reading my material and laughing or crying or becoming inspired. I visualize certain friends reading what I have written, and I can see them smile in my head.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? I have always liked to write stories, but my lack of self confidence and self esteem got in the way. I am way more confident now, so I have way less inhibitions.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? So far it has stayed the same, but I do have a few ideas for a fiction book, based on real people.

What genre are you currently reading? I love true stories and memoirs, I just accidentally read, Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner. I say accidentally because I read it before, years ago but I forgot and read it again lol. My favourite book was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Wow! I have a few. I have three author friends who have helped me and inspired me in different ways. Nadine Sands she wrote Hold On, Let Go, she told me these simple words, “not everyone likes memoirs, which does not mean that yours is not good”. As silly as that sounds, it was like an epiphany for me. Mary Edigar, she wrote Mennonite Girl, she said “just keep writing, do not worry about mistakes or punctuation that can be fixed later”. Colleen Friesen she is a Travel Writer and a Blogger, her inspiration is more about who she is and how she lives her life. Plus, she can be very frank in her writing but still manages to bring hope to the reader. She writes about travel, but she also writes about family, death and spirituality.

Where is your favorite writing space? Good question! I love, love, love, writing in my bed with my little dog Steven curled up next to me. I am either drinking a coffee (with extra cream) or a giant water. I live in a small home, but my bedroom is my sanctuary. My husband can have the TV and the living room lol.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? I have attended the North Shore Writers Association and I really like it. They bring in guest Authors and it feels great to be with like minded people.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be? Jeanette Walls and Whalley Lamb.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would live here in North Vancouver, but I would like someone to give me house too. OR if my three children and husband could come with me, I think Hawaii would be a great place to live.

Do you see writing as a career? I would love that, if I could make a living from it.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? I could never nibble while I write, but I do love coffee or tea while I am writing. AND Ice cream after a day of writing with my favourite Netflix show.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Rewards vary. A massage, a pedicure, ice cream and for example today when I finish answering all these questions, I will have a cold Corona with lime. But just one.

Bio:

Local Vancouver writer Karen Harmon, writes passionately in her recent memoir Looking for Normal – which won the Rubery Book Excellence Award in the category of Women’s Health.

The book contains Karen’s recollections based on her parents meeting in 1945 at the Cave Super Club in Vancouver B.C. and her own personal experiences of growing up in the 1960’s. Taking the reader on a memorable journey throughout 1930 to 1978.

“With poverty, addiction, mental illness and family relationships being current topics of discussion, Karen Harmon has tapped into a story that everyone can relate to. I am looking forward to sharing her upbringing with my students”.  Cathy Sieben, Secondary Teacher Gibson’s B.C.

Looking for Normal is a bitter-sweet memoir that covers historical events dating back to the depression era, the outcome of prohibition, the obsolete recognition of mental health issues and a family trying to succeed in amongst the trappings of society and current events in Western British Columbia, Canada.

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An English Woman in a Canadian Winter

October 10, 2019
mandyevebarnett


car in winter

When we first came to Canada it was a trial run over Christmas – not the time you would think is best to get an idea of the country. However, we were thinking of moving to Alberta, where the winter’s are harsh and temperatures drop to ridiculous lows -40 at times. Yes you read that right!

So why come in winter? Because we thought if we came in the most harrowing season and liked it then the rest of the year would be a breeze. Little did we know. The decision was made and we immigrated – there were many obstacles to overcome, too many to go through here that’s for sure – but we arrived in September 2007.

My first morning the sun was shining, the leaves were golden and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. If you have ever been to England we always have clouds. Then the next day it was the same, and the next. It was unusual to me but also pleasing. By the beginning of October we saw our first snow and it was a novelty. Big piles of snow (at that time) were rare in England so we took advantage of all the winter themed activities available. It was fun but as the years passed and the snow came early and stayed, the novelty soon wore off. Vacationing in a winter wonderland is very different to living in one – that was our lesson learned.

There are so few green trees during the greyness of winter and that is what I miss the most. The green lushness year round of England. Albertan seasons are not like ‘home’ – spring is almost an overnight experience – a faint green flush one morning and then the grey sticks of winter suddenly become vibrant emerald and lime green. Summer creeps in and heats up the land in some cases +40 (yes it is a land of extremes). Then fall (autumn to my English friends) comes turning gold and red but only staying for a brief while before the leaves drop.

The snow arrives normally before Halloween and leaves sometime in April or even May – it is a winter gripped land for a long time and we have to live with it. There are many devices that make the winter’s easier – winter tires (tyres), auto-start for the vehicles, so you can warm it up before getting in, in-door shopping malls, winter sports and events, fire pits and Jacuzzi’s.

It has been an adjustment for us all and over time we have found ways of coping but we all wish for one more day without snow! We know it is coming and cherish the time without.

twink

 

 

Local Authors Launch New Books for Words in the Park 2019

September 17, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today I am highlighting some of the incredible authors published by Dream Write Publishing of Sherwood Park, who are launching new books at this event. It will be the 12th annual Words in the Park and with over 100 titles, this publishing company has continued to maintain their mission to assist authors in realizing their publishing dream. http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/

Mike Deregowski: Duffy the Duffle Bag.

Duffy is a large duffle bag. He has a hard time fitting into tight spots and often wishes he could be smaller so he could go more places. Join Duffy and his friends to learn more about acceptance. The trick is to learn to be happy with yourself no matter what size you are.

Duffy

Leslie Hodgins: The Tale of the Siren Song

“Gather ’round, ye who dare! Gather ’round to hear the story of Captain Dara Finn, the Cursed Pirate! Legend has it that he terrorized these shores for as long as memory serves, living without feeling, serving no one, and going where he wanted!”As always, this story begins with once upon a time…Sirens were considered mythical creatures although more stories were being told about them – some about sailors meeting them, some about where they came from, others about what powers they have over you with just their voice. Dara listened intently to the stories, hoping there was a chance they’d hold a clue to breaking the curse. But no one seemed to know…

Siren Song

Mandy Eve-Barnett: Rython Legacy (the sequel to The Rython Kingdom)

Juliana held her granddaughter in her arms; it was a bittersweet moment. The child was a delight but also her replacement; she was the new sorceress who would protect the kingdom if called upon. At that precise moment, Maralynn opened her golden eyes – there was such intensity in them that her observers were taken aback at the obvious power the new little being held. A thin thread of cyan mist floated and twisted above the happy group… unobserved., a portent of things to come. Maralynn’s reign as Eldenma would be fraught with challenges, but could her exceptional power ultimately overcome.

Legacy cover

J.E. McKnight: Unnatural Selection

In a world where the male population outnumbers the female eight to one, the survival of the human race depends on the advent of a breeding program, outlawing marriage and monogamous relationships. This is all anybody knows as there isn’t a generation that hadn’t had to participate in some breeding program or another. Martin 11 od Coddlebury and Eric 23 of Coddlebury grew up together in the same nursery and dreamed of the day they would be old enough to enter the breeding program. Everything changed, for Martin, the day he met Desiree 9 of Peppercoll. Now he is torn between his duty to the program – not to mention the law – and his feeling for a woman he knows he can never have…

Unnatural Selection

Come and meet these authors and over 30 more at Words in the Park, 28th September. Venue: Agora, 401, Festival Lane, Sherwood Park, AB. Time 10.00 am – 4:00 pm

Free admission for books, games, interactive tables, kids Find IT game, prizes, treats, story telling, music, writing prompt workshop, artisan crafts and much more.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2400373120248789/

Author Interview – Sherile Reilly

September 3, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

I’m retired now, but my first career was as an elementary school teacher.

One year I had a boy placed in my class who didn’t like me and unfortunately, the feeling was mutual.

Believing the boy would be much happier with a different teacher, I suggested to administration that they place him in a different class. The Assistant Principal informed me that I’d be good for the boy and left him in my class.

As the year progressed, we grew to like each other very much.

In June, when all the other kids had left for summer holidays, the boy stayed at his desk and he said point blank, “I didn’t like you at the beginning of the year”.

(Don’t you love how kids get right to the point? I love their honesty.)

I thought a moment and decided to be honest with him too. I shared that he wasn’t my favorite student at the beginning of the year, either.

We both accepted the idea that we could change our minds. We had a newfound mutual respect and appreciation.

Over the years, I never forgot that boy. I decided I needed to write a story about a woman who didn’t want a particular child. I wanted to show the love, understanding and self-confidence that grew in both characters as they got to know and love each other.

How did you come up with the title?

The title for the trilogy is Bringing Jamie Home. I got this idea when the ten-year-old boy gets lost in Jamie’s Choice, the first book in the trilogy. The hero tells the heroine that they will find the child and bring him home. There! I had it—the title for the book.

At this time, I didn’t know that the one book would lead into a trilogy.

When I finished book one, I knew that one character appeared to be a “piece of work”, as one reviewer called him. I had to figure out why the character was so cynical. This lead to a mystery that had to be solved in the second and third books. All three books work with the idea of “Bringing Jamie Home”.           

JamieTrilogy2018-3covers        

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

As I mentioned above, I wanted to show the love, understanding and self-confidence that grew in both characters as they got to know and love each other.

How much of the book is realistic?

When I describe the mountains and the snow storm in Jamie’s Choice, I’ve actually been on slippery roads and in snow storms in the mountains. I know how quickly the weather can change.

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

See above

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

I don’t have a blog, but I’d love people to visit me at my website: SherileReilly.com

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

The Bringing Jamie Home books are a trilogy. After them, I wrote a Victorian Paranormal Romance called The Curse of the Lord of Darkness. It’s a stand-alone book. I’m now working on a series which will also be Victorian Paranormal Romances. My books are currently available in print and as eBooks from  Amazon.com.

CURSE-LofD-2MB-HR-2018-09

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

My favorite characters are always in the story I’m working on. I’m deeply involved with the characters—just like when I’m reading a book.

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

I write Clean, Contemporary Romance and Victorian, Paranormal Romance.

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

I love planning my stories. I get ideas and I jot them down on paper. At this point I’m just gathering ideas. I have lots of pieces of info about the characters and the plot.

Next, I think about the order of the scenes. I like to see the story laid out in front of me, so I put the ideas on cards or post-it-notes and arrange them on a two by five foot board. From here, I’m able to see what the general layout of my story will be. Of course there are many changes to this outline, but I really like knowing where the story is going and if the characters are changing and growing.

 

 

What is your best marketing tip?

I don’t know about a marketing tip, but I think authors always have to keep learning the craft–listen to podcasts, read blogs and educate yourself. Join a writing group if there is one in your area. Write the best book that you can and then get it edited by a professional.

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

Social media is a very big topic and I’m learning what might work best for me.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love planning and putting in lots of conflict. Creating characters is exciting. In my Victorian stories I’m always learning more about that time in history. My Victorian stories are set in the United States and it’s interesting to learn about the social restrictions on women in that era.

What genre are you currently reading?

I read across a wide variety of genres. I recently finished a detective novel. Before that I read a Victorian mystery/romance.  I can’t keep up with all the books I’d like to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I read for both.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

I’ve had tremendous support from my husband who drives me to locations so I get a feeling for the setting.

When she was alive, I also had tremendous support from my mother. She’d have been so pleased with the publication of the Bringing Jamie Home Trilogy.

My sister patiently listens to all my new ideas and offers suggestions.

My friends have helped me so much with my technology problems, blurbs, plots and many other facets of the whole writing process. I also belong to two writing groups that offer excellent workshops.

Best of all, my writer friends are fun and great to hang around with!

Where is your favorite writing space?

Lots of people think they’d like to write on a balcony with a beautiful view of the ocean and the sound of the waves. Rather than encouraging me to write, I’d find this a huge distraction. I’d want to be walking along the beach or visiting the local tourist sights.

I’m quite happy being in a room in the basement, surrounded by books and other writing materials that I need.

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

I belong to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association and also the Calgary Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  The groups are called ARWA and CaRWA. Both are terrific for teaching people about writing and industry. Of course, there’s a fantastic group of fellow writers.

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

I love living right where I am. I love the four seasons and the wonderful changes that each brings.

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

When I’m writing, I don’t nibble. If I brought food into the computer room, I’d constantly keep eating and get nothing done. However, I do nibble while I watch TV!

Bio:

Author, artist, and retired teacher, Sherile Reilly has jet boated in New Zealand, climbed the Temple of a Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza, ballooned over the table lands of Northern Australia, and poised for a photographer among the columns of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

As a teacher, she read to children and as a world traveler, she collected stories and soon began to create her own, first for her students, and then for adults.

Not tied to any one genre, Sherile writes Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction and Paranormal Romance. Most recently, she published a trilogy, Bringing Jamie Home, and The Curse of the Lord of Darkness.

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