Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Utilizing Prompts

January 16, 2020
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I have been the advocate of prompts to spark imagination ever since I began writing. In fact my first ‘real’ piece of writing was the result of a three word prompt. Here it is:

Fire, Clock & Certainty.

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Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.

Since those humble beginnings, I have continued to use prompts, whether words or pictures to engage my Muse. At Christmas, I was given a Word of the Day desk calendar and will utilize the words to create a short story or poem. These is the result of the first 10 days of January. As you can see the words are unique and gave me more of a challenge. 

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Kinara, Chronoaut, Ineluctable, Deportment, Palmary, Epiphanic, Kolacky, Bloviate, Cathexis, Redolent

Jensen stood in line with the other candidates listening to the bloviate speech of the head of the facility. As he exalted the program’s cathexis in their training, noting one man stood out above the rest. Jensen saw the commander’s eyes glance towards him and he an epiphanic sensation went through him – he would be the one, it was ineluctable after all, and his tests had all proved top marks coupled with his deportment in any given scenario. Jensen knew his was palmary among these excellent candidates in the chrononaut program.

His first glimpse of the other universe as he emerged as the first time traveler was an elaborately set table with a kinara lighting the room with a redolent kolacky set in the middle.

As writers we are always immersed in our own creative world, full of locations, characters, plot lines and scenarios – whether imaginary or real. However, sometimes our brains become stagnant, unresponsive or just plain tired. To leave our current ‘work in progress’ can help us greatly to refresh and regroup. That is where prompts come into their own. With an unrelated word choice or image, comes new insight and fun. They maybe a quick ten minute exercise or, as so many do, take on a life of their own propelling you into a story you had not previously imagined. Three prompts I found lent themselves to the creation of a novella. 

The easiest way to use a prompt is to let the initial thought flow and just let it take you wherever feels right. It maybe result in a poem, short story, a character study, a word association or something else. Many will be forgotten and not saved but some ignite that creativity to renew.

I create prompts for my writing groups website every Saturday, if you feel like visiting: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/saturday-writing-prompt

Have you used prompts? What is your experience with them?  

 

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – What Makes You Choose Book?

January 14, 2020
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We all have specific tastes in literature, which equates to the genres we mainly read, but there is another reason that a book can catch our interest – something that fascinates us. Obviously, the list is vast and always changing as we grow older, gain life experiences and even move location, whether to a new town or country. These underlining interests can even stem from childhood. For instance, I was taught about the natural world around me and the globe from an early age and I enjoy books that encompass that. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is set in a forest, where magical sprites help their woodland animal friends. 

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I also became intrigued with reincarnation and life after death after experiencing several incidences while nursing. My favorite novel uses this topic as it’s basis. Ferney by James Long is a book, I reread regularly not just because of the reincarnation element but also because it is beautifully written and I love the characters. 

I recently found two books, with this topic. Past Presence by Nicole Bross and River of Destiny  by Babara Erskine. They are spellbinding stories and well written.

I also used reincarnation in my own novel, The Twesome Loop where four characters meet their past souls in modern day. It is a romance that begins in England but culminates in a beautiful Italian villa.

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What guides you to specific genres?

Do you seek out books that use a certain topic or theme?

I would love to hear about them.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Platform

January 9, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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As published authors, we soon realize that writing the book is only half the story – literally! Now we have to promote it in order to sell it. When I published my first children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare this became clear quite quickly, when I was asked where my author platform was. As a new author, I had not heard of or experienced an author platform, never mind created one.

It was a steep learning curve for sure and I began this blog, with a lot of trepidation as I did not have a clue what I was doing. It has, over the past ten years, morphed into a site for support, sharing and encouragement for the writing community and I am proud to be a writing community advocate. However, I am refocusing in 2020 to get back to posting about my writing life as well. So back to the point in hand.

An author platform can range from a just a website or blog highlighting your books to being present on a multitude of social media sites and promoting your novels but also your writing life.

I am sharing a really good definition of an author platform, written by Jane Friedman. It certainly gives us a guide as to what to include and not. https://www.janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/

So what are the first steps to creating a platform?

1. Put up a website and/or blog and purchase a domain name for it.

2. Write articles and publish them online, utilizing your ‘expertise’ on whatever topic you know. It can be parenting, traveling, baking etc.

3. For fiction writers find literary magazines where you can publish short stories then share the links.

4. If you have a book ready for publication, there are numerous ways to gather interest. Post excerpts, the new cover, a character interview, events you are attending etc.

6. Start webinars and/or interviews online. And organize a blog book tour.

7. BLOG!! Make your posts interesting and make sure you edit! It also allows you to acquire an email list.

8. You do not need to be on every social media site – apart from anything else it is a lot of work! Decide which ones you are comfortable maintaining and how your theme/topic/message can be related on them.

9. Create a newsletter to send to your email list – giving glimpses into the narrative, special offers etc.

What author platform tips can you share?

What has your experience been creating your platform?

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Reviews

January 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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As readers we enjoy a well written and absorbing story and know only too well the agony of finishing a good book – the book hangover. The character’s can remain with us for days, weeks or even months afterwards. If we are lucky to know there will be sequel’s, we must be patient and wait for the next installment but sometimes the tale is a one off, leaving the characters to remain in the ether and our minds.

There is one request all author’s ask and it is for a review. Now for some reader’s this simple request brings with it a strong nervousness or even stress. They ask themselves – Where do I write a review? Well, there are numerous options: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads or even directly to the author via their social media or blog. No matter which avenue you choose, the author will be forever grateful, knowing you enjoyed their narrative and the many hours, weeks, months and years they toiled to bring you that story were not in vain.

The next question is the one that makes many readers despair and decide not to leave a review. How do I write a review? Many think a review needs to be a long, lengthy in-depth summary of the book and that is certainly not the case. A simple one line sentence saying you enjoyed the narrative, the characters, the location or that it moved you in some way is all that is required.

Now for the question that is even more tricky. What if I didn’t like the book? Obviously, we can’t love every single book we read but we don’t have to be mean about reviewing it either. If a book doesn’t please you then maybe just a short sentence telling the author this particular book of theirs didn’t move you but always find something nice to say. Maybe the location was well described, one character remained you of a relative or friend, you enjoyed the plot idea, anything to show the author their worth. We authors are a sensitive bunch.

Would you make a pledge to review every book you read this year along with me?

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I have a Goodreads profile so feel free to follow me. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477059.Mandy_Eve_Barnett

I also set a reading challenge on Goodreads each year. It is a fun way of ensuring I read more books and hopefully can exceed the goal.

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Goal Planning

January 2, 2020
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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.

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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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