Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Connection to the Writing Community Around the World

March 26, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Evolution-Social-Media-Friendships-4

Without the planned author interview blog post for today, I was curious to look at some of my past posts and came across this one from March 2014. It is quite eerie how relevant it is for today.

We are fortunate to have the ability to connect with people from all over the world with the click of a button. Barring time differences we can speak face to face with them as well as converse via various technologies unimagined in quite recent history. Technology can be a burden but also a gift. Personally, I have met other writers from as far away as America and Warsaw, to name just two. People I would never have met any other way. The American writer posted on a non-writing site and our responses to a topic were so familiar we began emailing each other. After several months, we found out our lives were mirrors of each other’s life experiences. This culminated in us visiting each others ‘homes and becoming firm friends. We call each Soul Sister.

The young woman from Warsaw, blogged how she felt alone in her writing, this was a call I could not ignore, so responded with a paid membership to my writers group as we have virtual as well as local members. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  She has since managed to publish her work and enjoys the connection with other writers. This is the positive side of the internet, as well as research possibilities for anything under the sun we care to find out about. Our curiosity for knowledge can be satisfied with almost no effort at all.

However, not all connections can become physical ones and that is the shame of the internet. We cannot jump on a ‘plane at the drop of a hat in order to travel to far away countries to visit these contacts, for the most part. Our ‘relationships’ are limited to short conversations and ‘funny’ Facebook posts. In short it is not a’ true’ friendship with shared experiences but that being said, still important connections for a host of reasons.

How many of you open a conversation in a coffee shop, on a train or bus, even in the food store? People around us are as interesting as those on the computer screen. Has technology taken this ability away? I remember watching my Mother striking up conversations with complete strangers all the time. As a shy child I found this alarming but as I grew up I realized without human contact, we become isolated in a crowd.

We should not be afraid to connect with people – everyone has an interesting story to share after all. Who knows it might be a story idea.

What has been your experience with internet contacts? Has it changed now?

plug

Today’s writing tip

Set your writing goals for every writing session

Outline your aims for a writing session in order to keep yourself focused. It may help to write down what you want to achieve in the next chapter or scene. However, remember,  to give yourself elbow room. It is okay to depart from your scene summary if you feel the story should go (or wants to go) in a new direction. Personally, I let the story flow but some writers find writing a pre-scene enables them to maintain a clear sense of direction for each scene in relation to their story arc.

Do you set goals for your writing sessions?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday -Writing Workshops Aid Creativity

March 5, 2020
mandyevebarnett


manuscript

As writers we are always honing our skill and learning new styles and types of writing aid our creativity. I attended two workshops on 29th February, both gave me the opportunity to improve my writing.

As an author, we welcome constructive critique of our work, it is how we grow. So a group of local authors and I spend the first few months of each new year working on our current work in progress. Some are the result of our NaNoWriMo participation, while others are whatever story/novel/project we are working on currently. The premise of these monthly workshops is to read a certain number of chapters each month of each others work, then using track changes edit, suggest and comment on the plot arc, continuity, premise etc. Having a number of different reader’s feedback allows us to identify any inconsistencies and correct them. Obviously, we do not have to take every suggestion, it is after all our work but if there is a consensus of opinion throughout on a specific part, then we can revise and improve them. This allows us to create the best story possible prior to publication. 

My project is my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. Currently 75,102 words, 201 pages, 39 chapters and epilogue. Publishing date September 2020.

my steam hat

The second workshop, I attended was a poetry workshop held by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in anticipation of Poetry Month in April. I have to admit that poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity a bit! We covered several types of poetry: monorhyme, enclosed rhyme, simple 4-line rhyme, coupled rhyme, chain rhyme and alternative rhyme. After an explanation of each style, we then had five minutes to create a rhyme in that style using randomly selected words. The words chosen for the chain rhyme were: after, banana, crafter, panorama, would, bandanna, could, dessert, should. Yes rather a mixed bag and it had everyone struggling, but that’s the point – we cannot learn without effort. I managed this:

Alice’s happy thought was about the contest after

As she ate her second banana

Her final piece as a genius crafter

Showed a glorious textured panorama

Comments from friends confirmed she would

Win the coveted bandanna

Her gumption knew she could

A promised reward when she won – a dessert

Even though her diet negated she should

I even managed to include the ‘extra’ point words of happy, genius & gumption in that one.

What workshop have you recently attended. What did you learn about your writing?

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Public Speaking & Interview Practice

January 23, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Jan 2017

One of the additional skills, writers need is public speaking. This can be a nerve wracking thought let alone practice for the ‘new’ author. There will be author readings and interviews as you promote your book, so knowing how to read from the narrative and talk about the story is important.

Here are a few tips that can help make reading your novel in public easier, once you have the booking.

Author Reading

  • Visit the venue (if possible) to become familiar with the layout. Ask staff where the reading will take place and if you will have a podium or a chair and table.
  • When choosing what to read chose a short section with dialogue and action. The opening line should be a hook that says something about the book and hopefully intrigues the audience. Choose excerpts of varying lengths and with varying appeal.
  • Practice in front of a mirror, ask a friend to sit and listen or video yourself. Notice where you hesitate and read the passage over and over until you know it well. 
  • Once you are confident in the piece practice looking up to engage with the audience instead of having your head down buried in the pages.
  • As you practice the segment use inflection to elevate the language and avoid a monotone speech.
  • Practice your reading aiming to be shorter than the time allowed.  Using a timer will help keep you on track.
  • On the day of the reading, arrive early so you can relax and arrange your books for sale in a display.
  • Ask someone to tweet and record your reading for later promotions.
  • Once you have read your piece thank everyone for attending and mention your books are available for sale.

Interview

There are several options for interviews, prerecorded, live and via social media. Preparation is important so ask as many questions as possible from the host prior to the interview. If possible have a list of the questions they will ask, this is not always possible but they should be able to furnish you with a framework for the interview. 

  • Make sure you are dressed appropriately, smart but casual.
  • Have your book(s) with you and memorize the blurb.
  • Know the back story, the protagonist’s motivations, and the genre of the book. This may sound irrelevant but refreshing your knowledge will make the interview more polished. You don’t want to be stumbling with your answers.
  • Prior to the interview relax with some deep breathing and curb your nerves.
  • Keep eye contact with your host but also the camera (if relevant) so you are engaging the audience.

Here are some interviews I have done to give you an idea.

TV Interview on Arts Talk – 7th December 2011 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtIz3amV_HI   Go to 8.22 on the time bar.

TV Interview n Arts Talk: Talking about Clickety Click and my other books on Arts Talk TV show – go to 11.04 on the timeline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNl7Db_jGaQ&feature=youtube

Online for Authors Video Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfpGTAlbd2s&t=10s

Newspaper Interview:

www.sherwoodparknews.com/news/local-news/local-author-pens-fantasy-novella-sequel

15 Nov 2019 interview

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Generating A Story

January 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Writing Exercise

greyscale photography of car engine

At the last writing group’s sharing meeting, we were given these words to create a poem or short story in 10 minutes. bird, scrape, clock, envy, whistle, sunset

I am sharing my story with you.

Gerald scraped the ice from the car windshield, his breathe making clouds in the still cold air. The sunset made the glass a mirror of the orange and burgundy. With the screen clear, he whistled in relief and quickly got into the heated vehicle., relishing the warmth. The digital clock in the dashboard flickered it’s red LED lights at 9:02 pm. He looked back at the large impressive house, where his car was parked, unable to deter the feeling of envy. If only, I could be as clever as my cousin, Jake and get a  job that paid that well. I would buy a mansion over looking the bay and hold great parties every weekend.

He put the car into gear and pulled away, unaware of the bird nestling in the engine bay, relishing the warmth. It wasn’t until Gerald drew up outside his apartment block on the other side of town, that he noticed the odd noise. As he got out he could hear fluttering and chirps from under the hood. Carefully, he opened the hood and fell backwards as  a flurry of wings brushed past his face. He stood for several moments in shock but then relief that the bird had not been burnt alive. You’re lucky, he called as he watched the bird perch on a low branch lit by the street light.

These writing exercises help generate imagination and having a set time ensures we write without thinking in too much detail. 

Event

I have an event coming up on 22nd January, which is an interview with a local arts TV channel – Arts Talk. I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by the host before – twice in fact – for my books but this particular interview is to promote and inform the local community of my local writers group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. It is something I have done before as Secretary of the society but in a different setting. (photo)

WFSC speech 2016

As an author, I had to become ‘comfortable’ with public speaking for events, such as interviews and author readings. It was nerve racking when I first started but I have found the more I do the easier it gets. Like anything ‘practice makes perfect’ but it still doesn’t curb the nerves completely.

I plan to video a copy of readings this year so stay tuned. If you have a request for a particular segment of one of my books, please let me know.

Do you have any questions for me on my writing life? I would love to hear from you.

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Goal Planning

January 2, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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Firstly, a Happy New Year to you all. I hope the writing gods are kind to you in 2020 and inspire you to write many new stories.

planners

It is customary to make goals or resolutions with the arrival of a new year, some will be accomplished others not, but no matter what, we can help ourselves by planning. There are several way to do this, such as:

  1. Making a goal board
  2. Using a planner
  3. Writing out each goal on your calendar so you have a deadline
  4. Work with a group of friends to encourage each other to stay on track
  5. Or even a mixture of some or all of the above!

As you can see from the image, I have four different ‘planning’ tools – I always use the same fridge calendar, where dates are entered for all my ‘writing’ related items such as conferences, meetings and events etc. This year I am attending a new event, When Words Collide and traveling to  new parts of Alberta and British Columbia on writing road trips.

The weekly notepad with the lovely floral background now has my facebook/twitter group schedule so we all post the same subject each day enabling us to share and comment. The smaller notebook has freelance projects listed in it with details, contact information and deadlines. I also have a new ‘word of the day’ desk calendar, which I will use to inspire my Muse.

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What do you use to keep yourself on track with your writing life?

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