Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Compelling First Lines to Capture Your Reader

February 6, 2020
mandyevebarnett


 

first

How to capture your readers attention.

It seems like an easy question until you try to write it. There is always the cover, the blurb and, of course the competition of a favoured best seller author’s new book compared to yours to overcome. However, it can also be those first few lines glanced at as a reader browses the shelves of their local book store or library. These are the most worked on, pondered and despaired lines by authors. They must capture a reader’s attention so completely that they are compelled to continue reading. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It is far from easy it though.

There are some key elements that draw a reader in:

  1. Make them wonder.
  2. Begin with a pivotal moment.
  3. Create an interesting scene.
  4. Intrigue them with a character.
  5. Begin with an unusual instance.
  6. Use a compelling narrative voice.
  7. Begin with a conflict.
  8. Use a life changing moment.

Here are a couple of my first lines:

Celeste watched her daughter, Maralynn; grow over the years while seeing her power increase. She could see her own mother, the previous Eldenma’s movements and expressions reflected in her daughter. Since her own mother, Juliana and her lover, Guillem’s transition to the other realm, Celeste and her lover, Michael, were her daughter’s only protectors in the earthly realm. They knew in time their ability to protect her would end as Maralynn learned how to control and manipulate her powers.

“Come back, here, Bubble – you’ll get stuck up there.”

Lenni called to her pet in vain. Bubble climbed up the bark of the tree in her usual wobble side-to-side manner, getting higher and higher. As she watched her pet, Lenni could see the two moons begin to converge in the magenta evening sky. Once they were one moon, she would need to be safely at home behind the dome wall. Lenni realized there was only one thing she could do, climb up the frackist tree and carry Bubble down.

These are the first lines from a book I re-read quite often. It was the first book I found that centred around reincarnation, a fascination of mine.

Ferney by James Long.

As he looked for the bones of his long-dead wife, old Ferney came close to death. Caught in the traffic jam that resulted, Gally Martin’s life changed.

Care to share your favourite first lines & links?

 

 

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Why I Write in Multiple Genres & Reincarnation Book Review

February 4, 2020
mandyevebarnett


fantasysubgenres_reduced

When I am asked about the stories I write, one question arises quite often. Why do you write in multiple genres instead of just one?

To answer this is not as simple as it first appears. It is linked to my process of writing. I allow the story to evolve as I write and do not steer it in any specific direction. Enjoying where the characters take me is, for me, the best part of writing. I may have an idea what the story is going to be about but more often than not, it diverts into another direction – many times to somewhere I have not thought of. There are many writers that need a lot more structure to their writing, such as complete plot notes from start to finish and I admire that but it is not something I can do. It stalls my creativity. Once the first draft is written then I begin refining the narrative and decide on the genre it suits best.

For example, my Edmonton Best Seller, The Twesome Loop began as a light-hearted romance with a few characters finding their soulmate. However, the complexity of writing in two time periods required a significant amount of detail to be incorporated to allow my readers to understand the backgrounds and personality traits of these people from their past lives to the present. Other secondary characters also began to take on a life of their own and the subsequent narrative follows several love stories intertwined with the main characters.

Clickety Click

https://www.amazon.ca/Clickety-Click-Mandy-Eve-Barnett/dp/1927510856

In my YA novella, Clickety-Click, I had what I though was a definite plot arc but young Alice, the central character and the circumstances of her finding out about her true self went in a surprising direction. It still deals with self discovery and self confidence but also has a twist that I hope will delight the reader.

As a reader what captures you about a book?

Do you prefer one genre over another?

111Reincarnation themed

Past Presence by Nicole Bross

42856212Absolutely loved this book! Well crafted characters, a sense of place and a great plot, I didn’t guess the culprit! Woven with regression tales, which is an interest of mine it has wonderful elements in the story to propel you onward.
Can’t wait for the next book, Nicole.

What book have you just reviewed?

 

Valentine’s Day Special – Romantic Fiction Novels

February 3, 2020
mandyevebarnett


val
Order one of these books before 11th February to get it signed and a surprise gift for Valentine’s Day.Go to the links below:
amazonfullcovertwesomeloop
slake cover
Delve into a romance for Valentine’s
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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Dwayne Clayden

January 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Dwayne

Do you feel your previous careers shaped your narratives?
Absolutely. A significant writing goal is to bring the realism I experienced as both a police officer and paramedic to the pages. Not the Hollywood or TV version, but the authenticity of both professions. The banter of partners, the sarcasm, pushing each other’s buttons, then leaving it all behind when the s**t hits the fan. The absolute, unquestionable, I have your back. When I write, I am back on the street and see my characters and their interactions. And more so, I think the characters know the plot, I do the typing!

Was it an easy transition from your professional life into writing about it?
I was excited about writing fiction, but I hadn’t written fiction since high school. I thought, how hard can this be. If you write what you know, I’ve got this nailed! But for over 30 years I wrote technical documents, research papers, protocols and co-authored four paramedic textbooks.

I was in for a surprise when I submitted my first chapter in an early writing course, and the instructor said, “You obviously know your stuff, but it reads like a police instructional manual. Oops. So, over the next five years, I took writing courses to learn to write fiction. Now it is easier to write fiction and let what I know flow to the page.

Did you make a conscious effort to make a series or did you think your first novel would be a stand alone?
My main character is Brad Coulter. In Crisis Point, he’s been a cop four years and getting restless. The plan was always for a Brad Coulter series. The initial premise was, what if I had stayed as a cop, and not switched to a career as a paramedic. I had a plan for at least ten novels, and initially, they would be spaced out every two to three years in Brad Coulter’s career, essentially taking him to the end of his police career.

The plan has changed, each novel will follow, time-wise, on the heels of the previous novel. The original ideas for future novels are still there, but I have added new ideas because Brad Coulter told me to.

I have also started writing a second series with a completely different premise.

Do you see many more novels in the series? Have you planned them?
I am currently finishing on novel #4, 10,000+ words into novel #5 and have a rough plan for 6, 7, and 8. I’ll keep writing the series as long as readers keep loving Brad Coulter.

Crisis Point Standing.png

How many of the story lines are based on true experiences?
The first three novels, Crisis Point, Outlaw MC, and Wolfman is Back, are all based on actual events that happened in Calgary. I can give a detailed background on every event. I have taken various actual events, combined them, and made it my own story, with my own characters. Crisis Point has several experiences from my time as a cop, including a twenty-minute car chase. Subsequent novels were less about what I had experienced, and more about interesting crimes based in Calgary and the details from the cops who were involved. However, I take each story and twist and turn it into my own version that may or may not closely resemble the real event.

Is there a message you want to convey to your readers, in regard to those who serve us?
Emergency Services takes its toll on those who serve. Whether police, EMS or other emergency services, most who choose these careers do so because they have an overwhelming need to help people. But they can’t save everyone. And those that they couldn’t help or save will haunt them for the rest of their lives. No one is harder on themselves than emergency services personnel. If only… I should have … What if …

The men and women in emergency services go to places and do things few others would do. It’s not cliché, but they would take a bullet for each other or anyone under their care or protection. There is a side to the streets of every city that is totally unknown to most citizens—and that is good because I wouldn’t want anyone to see the things I have seen. Into the darkness of a city is where emergency services personnel are called to regularly. Truly, into the shadow of death. They go there so you don’t have to worry about your safety or the safety of your family. I don’t say this for my benefit, but for the benefit of my family, my brother and sisters in emergency services. They don’t hear thank you enough.

Did you base your main protagonist on a specific person or a combination of many?
I am asked that a lot. Since the premise was, ‘What could my career have looked like if I’d stayed a cop,’ Brad Coulter started as me. Hopefully, a better version of me! But a funny thing happened. Brad had his own ideas of his personality and the direction he wanted his character to go and the changes he wanted to make as the novel, and the series progressed. So, deep down Brad is me, but what you see in the second and third novels, is Brad as his own guy.

How does your professional service life compare to your writing life? Hours worked, location etc.
Writing life couldn’t be different from my professional life. For many years I worked shift work, was always sleep-deprived, and always on alert. When I was in the Staff Development division, I had regular hours, but the pace was hectic, so those regular hours often stretched several hours past “quitting” time. I attended lots of meetings and was around people all the time.

Now I am at home, write in my writing cave, and need to be forced out into the public. And I love it!

Is this the genre you are most comfortable writing in?
Crime/police procedural is undoubtedly the genre I am most comfortable with. Within it, though, are a few sub-genres. I can write a fast-paced thriller, a mystery, or a character-driven plot with police or paramedic partners. I have so many ideas for stories I will never get to them all. They are all within the crime genre, but with a different focus.

Would you write in another genre?
I wrote a short story in 2015 that was published in an anthology, A Positive, An
Anthology of Alberta Crime. It was supposed to be a noir story, but I wrote more of a soft-boiled detective story. It was fun to write, and I have ideas for more short stories for the character. I have also been working on a time-travel story, but it is still crime-related. I guess I’m stuck on crime!

Where do you feel most comfortable and creative when writing?
I have an office set up at home. Most of my writing is done there. We also have a cabin, and when we are out there, I write. My office is my favorite location, probably because it is quiet, whereas at the cabin there is always something else going on. I am also an afternoon/night writer. The afternoon part is okay, but the night part is trickier because for some reason, Valerie likes to spend time with me! On occasion, after she has fallen asleep, I sneak down to my writing cave and write until two or three in the morning.

postcard-1

Has your writing process changed?
Absolutely. It has been nine years of trial and error – heavy on the error. But I know that was a process I had to go through, and probably every writer has to. There are writing rules/guidelines and lots of writers who will tell you the way you need to write. The rules are the opinion of a single person, and the views may work for that writer, but maybe not for you. It takes time for you to find ‘your’ process and it doesn’t matter if that fits with what others do. If you need to plot, then plot. If you need to write at midnight, then make that work. Crisis Point took seven years to get to print, Outlaw one year, and Wolfman six months. I finally know what works for me today. I’m sure that process will evolve into something different, but it will be what works for me. My advice is to find your own process.

You have received a nomination for your writing, namely Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards. How important are awards to you and writers in general?
The nomination came at a critical time for me. I’d been working on Crisis Point for five years and had a stack of rejections. It was either give up on getting it traditionally published, self publish, or quit writing and find a new hobby! I was close to quitting.
I was so low on myself and my writing skills that the night the nominees were announced, I wasn’t paying attention when the announcement was made for the Unpublished category, I was sitting in the front row not paying attention and had my eye on a bottle of wine that I knew I could get to once the last nominees were announced. I don’t think I’ve ever been more shocked in my life, and to shock me takes quite a big event. As well, I was speechless, which is also foreign to me.

That validation was so important to me. I kept writing. All three novels have made the bestseller list and Crisis Point and Wolfman have made the list twice. I think that kind of validation is significant to every author.

If you could eliminate one task from your daily schedule, what would it be?
Definitely social media. There are too many platforms with too many changing protocols and it is almost a full-time job to keep up with posting on every site. I use Facebook the most. I like to find the funniest or weirdest things and repost so that my friends will get a laugh. I’m all about the laughter and occasional sarcasm. I can’t say I think social media has helped my exposure much. And, I just don’t ‘get’ Twitter!

If your life was a movie, would it be a drama, comedy, action/adventure, or science fiction?
Definitely action/adventure. I was fortunate to have a fascinating career with lots of action. But I hope there’d be comedy as well. I have a quick wit, sharp tongue, and biting sarcasm. So that would need to be there too!

Think about punctuation marks. Which one would you pick to describe your personality and why?
!
If my life is an action/adventure, then it has to be an exclamation mark. Too many times I was in a position where afterwards I’d say Oh My God! Or the occasional, ‘That didn’t work!”

I was able to do things that would be a dream adventure weekend for lots of people. I shot guns, blew up stuff, played hide and seek with night vision goggles, flew in Hawks and STARS to name only a few. There weren’t a lot of dull moments.

Describe your handwriting.
I should have been a doctor. My writing is a cross between cursive and printing and most of it illegible. I’m sure if you took a sample of my writing to the drug store, they’d accept it as a prescription for something. I thank my stars that in grade nine, rather than take French, band, or drama as an option, I took typing. And I mean typing on a Selectric typewriter. Who knew that it would be the best option class I took and through policing, EMS, and now fiction writing, that one course has been so valuable! Strangely the most critical course was not algebra!

Do you have any tips on creating an author platform?

You saved the hardest questions for last! I wish I had the magic answer to that. I am fortunate, in no small degree, to have worked for over 40 years in emergency services and that helps my writer credibility. I genuinely write what I know. My background gives credibility to what I write and separates me from the majority of crime writers. I bring a different feeling to the novels—that of actually have been there. So that is my niche that I need to use for my platform.

I like to make presentations and have a pretty good following at When Words Collide Conference in Calgary and the Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby BC. So, I use that to my benefit.

However, despite a lot of ‘friends on social media and lots of promotions of my novels and those of other authors, I haven’t seen a jump in e-book sales.

I will stick with it because I think who I am and what I write are intimately connected. I have seen an increase in interest in the Coulter series now that I have three novels. I think one of the best ways (and this was advice from Jonas Saul) was to keep writing and get the books out there.

The question was about tips. I’d say you have to find a niche for yourself—something that separates you from other authors in your genre. Success comes from taking a different path as well. Two author friends had success where they didn’t expect it. One had pretty much given up on writing crime and delved into fantasy, which took off and then her crime novels were accepted for publication. Another author added a non-fiction book (Adam Dreece and 5 Critical Things for a Successful Book signing). I’m not sure how sales are going, but it is a remarkable book and now he has tapped into another market.

Creative Edge

https://www.creative-edge.services/

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Fear of Falling & Book Review

January 28, 2020
mandyevebarnett


43798285111

5 of 5….Once again the King delivers a story that grips you from the start and pulls you into a situation that could be only too real…secret government establishments and projects, the harnessing of powers from the most vulnerable and the enormity of trying to overcome it.

What are you reading? What was the last book you reviewed?

I’m asked where my inspiration comes from, so I am happy to share this piece, which is the result of my walking to the store along an icy sidewalk. As I walked, it occurred to me how careful I was with my steps as opposed to a couple of young boys, who passed me without a care, in regard to the condition of the surface they walked on. Inspiration comes from a wide variety of sources, and like this piece can emerge seamlessly.

The Fear of Falling  

As children, falling is as commonplace as eating and breathing, there is no fear. We transition from crawling on all fours to the tottering and grasping of objects or parental hands to standing upright. The falling is a learning process on how to balance upright, adapting our bodies to counteract the instability of standing. Once standing has been achieved, we learn the motion of walking and eventually running. As we grow older, we engage in other activities that result in falls, such as bike riding, engaging on playground equipment, sports and the inevitable school recess antics. It is an expected result of such endeavours and bruises, cuts and scrapes are a part of everyone’s childhood. Skinned knees are the badge of childhood.

In our teen years and early twenties, our falling can be of a more serious nature as our activities involve more extreme modes of transport and sports. Snowboarding and skiing, for instance, are often accompanied by falls, which hopefully have softer landings but not always. Unfortunately, motor bikes and cars do not have a soft landing to our falling. For example, I suffered severe bruising from coming off a motorbike on an ice covered road and hitting the curb with my rear! I couldn’t sit properly for weeks. Injuries are more severe and falling has more dire consequences. This is the start of a fear of falling for some of us.

As we mature, play recedes into the background as we immerse ourselves into work and other commitments. Some of us continue with sporting activities, of course, but we minimize the risks of falling as much as is possible.  Our body weight, as opposed to a baby or toddler is greater and therefore so is the impact of a fall. Falling becomes a distant memory for the most part and is a rare occurrence (hopefully). We may see the fear of falling in our elders and try to understand their way of thinking as we have not reached that stage of our life yet.

Eventually, as our body ages and its ability to bounce back declines, our fear of falling increases as does the impact, literally. A steep hill, an icy pathway, slippery rocks by the ocean and a vast number of other obstacles increase our apprehension. The mere thought of falling is anxiety inducing. We understand the fragility of our aging bodies and the possible outcomes of a fall. We read statistics that give us more anxiety, such as 800,000 patients a year are admitted to hospital due to fall injuries, usually hip or head fractures but also strained muscles, dislocations and open wounds. We understand falls are caused by balance problems, muscle weakness, poor vision, low blood pressure or even dementia. In other words getting old isn’t for the faint hearted and certainly falling isn’t on a ‘to do list’!

Illustration of grandma hitting ass

Do you have a question for me on any of my novels? Please comment and I will be happy to tell you. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V

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