Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Feast or Famine of Story Ideas

May 26, 2022
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As writers we are used to juggling many writing projects at the same time or the complete opposite – nothing! (Although, I have to say my mind is crowded with ideas most of the time in MUSE central!)

These opposing states come with their own problems, each unique and as frustrating as each other. Firstly, ‘feast’ has us worrying which project to do first. Which one is the most strident in it’s demand to be written? Is it the right one to pursue? Will another story ‘vanish’ if we ignore it?

Secondly, ‘famine’ when ideas may be circling in our minds, but none of them ‘stick’ or have the ‘legs’ to form a longer narrative. Or there is a void. This is a frustrating feeling, leaving us grasping for elusive or fragments of ideas, or something to write!

So what can we do to organize the jumble or utilize a fragment?

Let’s look at the multiple ideas first. Write down as much as you can for each idea – lay them out on separate pieces of paper or word documents. Organize each idea into genre or categories and then plot, character or scene and any other components of each particular story you do have. Separating the stories in this way allows us to focus on them, if not objectively, as least with a clearer vision. Once you have them in an orderly list you will see which idea has the most content. Now, comes the difficult decision – which one do you pursue? It might not be the one with the most detail, but another that attracts you to it for whatever reason. Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If one starts to ‘grow’ within your minds eye, or the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then that is typically your direction.

Now comes the void. How do we spark our Muse? There are many reasons for this dearth of ideas, illness, relationship problems, work commitments etc. As a writer we know that the act of writing is not only satisfying, but a real need. Our creativity requires it. This is the time to look at those filed away short stories, or fragments of ideas. We always have inspirational quotes, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that have languished somewhere in journals, notebooks or electronic folders. Take time to read through these, after all we kept them for a reason. Utilize writing prompts – writing anything helps us get back on track. Fifteen minute bursts of writing from a word or picture prompt can refresh our minds, spark our creativity and set us on a new course. Your prompt response might only be short – a poem, a paragraph, even a word association list, or it can develop into something. I recently used an image of a dragon’s egg to spark my Muse. It was going to be a short story but grew and grew into a three thousand word story! You never know where an idea can lead, and that is the beauty of story writing.

How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

new idea

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.  Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”     Dee Hock     

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Utilizing Your Writer in Residence

January 27, 2022
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I have once again taken advantage of our local Writer in Residence program hosted by my library. Last week, I attended a virtual presentation entitled Writing Three Dimensional Characters That Sing. It was a highly informational session. As writers we are always learning and taking the time to learn is essential in improving our writing craft.

There was an extra bonus to this year’s writer in residence as she is an acquaintance and a great writer and writing community advocate. Rayanne Haines is the author of seven books, including three poetry collections. Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower women’s narratives. In addition to her writing, teaching, and festival work, she also produces/curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across Canada. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma.

Having the opportunity to access a writing mentor and their free services through this program enables local writers to gain insight into their work. The program services include individual manuscript consultations, public readings and talks, information on the publishing process and networking with the writing community.

Do you have a similar program where you live?

What devices, programs and events do you use to learn your craft?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – My Winter Poem and a Book Review

December 21, 2021
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Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Winter Forest

The wind whistles around the pine trees

Scattering fallen snow into festoon veils

The eagle flies on high

Its wings like sails.

Creatures huddled together in burrows

Sleeping the winter away in hibernation

Others braving the weather conditions

As hunger requires them to be brazen.

The forest lays quiet in winter’s grip

Sounds are dulled, its inhabitants scarce

Branches bare or thickly covered in white

The conditions make life adverse.

Fur changed from brown to white

Camouflage a lifesaving trait

Blending into the white landscape

With no option to migrate.

Footprint trails the evidence of life

Hooves and fluffy feet, both large and small

An outline of outspread feathers

The scene of a life and death brawl.

The forest sleeps until spring’s return

Life hidden, silent and encased

Patiently waiting for animation

And life once again chased.

I really enjoyed this story. A mystery, a realization of self and re-connecting with family. The author immersed me in her main character’s world and kept me turning the pages. My take away – be true to yourself.

Do you have a favorite winter time book you read?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Poetry Anthologies & Commencement of Book Two of The Delphic Murders

October 26, 2021
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The writing group I am secretary of, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, has recently published two poetry anthologies. These collections of poems were created using the responses to prompts created during the last two April Poetry Month challenges. As many of you know I dabble in poetry once in a while, but it is not really my forte. However, I hope that you will take a look (and buy) these wonderful collections. The poetry is as diverse as the poets themselves.

For any inspiring poets out there the foundation holds free online poetry workshops the third Wednesday of every month. No membership required. Just click the link on the main website page to receive the Zoom link. 7:00 pm MST. Next workshop 17th November Link

Other workshops and a sharing meeting are also every month. Check out the website

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Writing Update

As for my writing schedule, I am looking at beginning preparation for November’s National Novel Writing Month and book two of my crime trilogy. The two detective’s personalities are beginning to talk to me, which is good! There are some plot points to consider, such as where the body is found and how, the feud between one detective and a pushy wannabe detective character, as well as a partner, who flies close to the wrong side of the law on occasion. I already have the title – The Tainted Search. I know once I begin writing the characters will talk to me and the story will flow. It is always exciting to start a new project.

Do you want to connect?

As always if you have any questions about my stories, books, writing life etc. – I am happy to answer them. Just put a comment in the box below or email me through the contact form.

Happy reading.

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Road Trip Thoughts

October 12, 2021
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Apologies for my tardiness, as it was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I enjoyed a weekend away and just relaxed. This is not a bad thing, we all need to decompress regularly. Hence, I did not draft a blog post for today – so I am late.

The trip was to Lloydminster, which is unique in the fact that it spans the Alberta and Saskatchewan border. This may seem unusual, but when you add in the fact that Saskatchewan has an extra sales tax, you can imagine how residents and commercial businesses have to juggle what is paid where! We discovered a wonderful park with the city and enjoyed a leisurely walk with the dogs.

A super chance encounter happened on the way home, when we spied a herd of small ponies. They were curious and met us at the fence. This is why we travel the back roads

I wrote this poem to reflect my road trip experiences.

ROAD TRIP THOUGHTS

Road trips are a joy, incorporating

New places explored

Frequent wildlife encounters

Cherished memories to share

***

Increased expectation and excitement

A check list of essentials made

Local sights and attractions investigated

Reservations confirmed and paid

***

Double checked suitcase contents

Cooler bag filled with bottled water

Snacks bought to dispense

Extra footwear, jackets and sunglasses

***

Early morning start, packing the trunk

A double check before we drive away

Puppies walked, fed, then harnessed in

Breakfast our first stop along the way

***

Routes taken – off highway & gravel

Multiple stops for photo opportunities

This is the only way to travel

Wildlife and scenery abound

***

Arrival at our lodgings, truck unpacked

Dogs walked, fed then settled

Organizing of our spaces, preferences known

Comfortable companionship not meddled

***

Evening meal eaten, then to relax

Tomorrow’s adventure discussed

Reading and writing commence

Time is not rushed

***

An easy morning routine

New adventures and sights shown

Snacks gathered and packed

Our destination known

Do you have road trip memories you would like to share?

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