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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing a Story of Taste

February 23, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Although the six week writing course has ended, I still have a couple of stories to share. Using one sense, primarily, we had to write a short story using three images. This story is taste! I hope you enjoy it.

Vomit and Chewing Tobacco   – TASTE

It’s a normal Sunday afternoon for me, sitting in the far corner of the launderette, people watching. Harried women with pesky children, older men or couples, and the singles file in and out, filling and emptying the machines in a robotic manner. Eyes are avoided, conversations whispered, distance kept. They are in close proximity within this humid box but worlds apart. Everyone is watchful of a cycle ending and a chance to grab a dryer. Children given candy to keep quiet but the treats, explode their sugary high, amplifying the agitation and boredom. Bundles of multi-coloured fabric stained, torn and discoloured enter the cylinders accompanied by the granular soap powder or brightly coloured tabs. The dispersed powder hovers in the air, you inhale its bitterness. A child takes a tab and pops it in his mouth, mistaking it for a candy. A mother distracted, until he presents a foaming mouth and the pallor of sickness. A spew of vomit gushes forth, its soapy, sugary and bile contents assaulting the child’s taste buds and the nostrils of everyone in the enclosed space.

An urgent plea for water to wash his mouth out, a dirty t-shirt used to mop up the child’s spilled stomach contents. Taste receptors react to the inhaled odour forcing some to exit the launderette before retching themselves. I place a handkerchief across my mouth, scented with lavender. A trick my grandmother taught me as we walked the old canal path many years ago. The putrid rotting debris small permeated the air and stuck in the back of your throat. I turn slightly to one side to check the VCR is still recording. The little red lights flashes on and off. This event will make a great scene in my next book.

I look up to see a Stetson wearing middle aged man enter, he looks around the crowded room with dismay. He is carrying a large black bin liner in one hand and a cell phone in the other. His black and white shoes are stylish and slick. His mouth is in constant motion, chewing on something. Is it gum? He doesn’t seem the type. He walks to the garbage bin and spits a brown substance. Is that chewing tobacco? I didn’t think people did that anymore. This is too good a chance for research; I have to talk to him. Turning the VCR slightly, I amble towards him, fashioning a half smile.

                “May I help you, Sir?”

                He looks at my grey tinged coat, which used to be white and the name tag.

                “I haven’t done this before, how does this work?”

                “I’m happy to help, follow me.”

                I take him to the farthest end of the launderette and open a machine, instructing him to put his clothes in the cylinder. Then continue to show him the process. I can smell the tobacco on his breath, his clothes, and his hair. It invades my senses, hanging at the back of my throat. It is a combination of nicotine and surprisingly mint. He smacks his lips and a brown glob rests on his lip. I stare, he smiles.

“Care for some?”

“No, thank you but can you tell me how chewing tobacco tastes?”

“Well, firstly, I’m using dipping tobacco, most people don’t know that. As for this one I’m chewing, it has mint in it but others have fruit flavours and the like. It has a taste of its own, sort of a mixture of what a cigarette smells like, and some have a chemical after taste and others a natural one but with a burning sensation where you place it. It makes a tobacco juice inside your mouth.”

“Well, that is interesting. Thank you for explaining it to me.”

“Thank you for helping me with this. Not something I ever do but my assistant went down with the flu so here I am.”

“You have an assistant?”

He leans down to lower his voice.

“Sure, I’m on tour and living on the road means usual stuff like laundry has to be done at places like this. Sally, bless her, normally takes care of everything for me.”

“May I ask what you do on tour?”

“Sure, I’m a country singer, not a real famous one but I make do. We’re just passing through to the city for a show. I can give you a ticket if you want in exchange for your help.”

“That’s very kind, I would like that.”

I hold out my hand to shake his and he places two tickets in my palm.

“Oh, I won’t need two, one is enough.”

“No sweetheart to bring with you, eh?”

“No, it will only be me.”

“Okay then. See you tomorrow night. Use this slip for a VIP pass.”

At home that evening, I review the tape. It captured the child vomiting and the country singer’s entrance and spitting. Both events will make for great additions in my current novel.

In other news I have gained a freelance client and will be ghost writing a business book for them. It is always exciting to start a new project.

Let me know what you think of the story and also what book(s) you are reading. Remember to always leave a review.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing a Story

January 19, 2021
mandyevebarnett


As I continue my six week writing course, I am sharing my second submission with you. This week is the sense of SOUND.

Lion

 Sally woke to the rumbling, chuffing and clatter of numerous vehicles on the street. She heard the clash of chains, gears grinding and raised voices. It was an odd assortment of noises in this usually quiet part of town. Loathing the idea of leaving her cozy soft blankets this early on a Sunday, Sally turned over hoping the intrusive clamour would soon disappear. ROAR! If she wasn’t mistaken that sounded a lot like a lion’s roar. She’d watched numerous nature programs to know that sound. I must have drifted off. I was dreaming. ROAR. There it was again, and she certainly was not sleeping. Flinging her bedclothes off her body, inhaling at the sudden chill her body experienced, Sally drew aside the curtains. The metal hoops rasped on the metal curtain rod as she did so. The street was full of vehicles, some in gaudy colours, others rusty and billowing and coughing dirty black diesel fumes. The annual fair convoy – how could she have forgotten the date? There were numerous bulky men, all in what Sally’s father used to call belt and braces attire, gesticulating and shouting at each other. Their voices ranged in tone from tenor to baritone to bass and the occasional soprano. Sally watched their movements in awe and intrigue. Their heavy boots thudded on the road, as they raced back and forth collecting a variety of objects. Some gathered sticks, some shovels and one lugged a huge net over his shoulder.

                As Sally continued to view the scene below her bedroom window, she looked at each vehicle in more detail. She wondered why the men had chosen those particular objects. She surmised that if one of the trucks had broken down, they would need proper tools, not what could only be described as weapons. Then she saw it, the center of the commotion and the possible reason for said weapons, a partially covered cage – an immense cage at that – near the beginning of the convoy. The rear door was ajar. Realization crept into Sally’s mind. Whatever had been in the cage wasn’t anymore. What could be prowling the gardens – my garden?

                A whimpering sound uttered from Sally’s throat. Her thoughts tumbled over each other. Were the front and back doors locked? Were any windows open? Could a large animal break through the glass patio doors? These thoughts startled her into action. Pulling clothes from the back of the bedroom chair, she rushed to the bathroom. She fumbled with the bar of pink soap as she washed her hands; it slipped from her fingers first thudding on the ceramic basin and then thumping onto the tiled floor. In her haste, sally left it on the floor leaving a trail of residue. After hurriedly dressing, she stomped down the stairs in a vain attempt to scare any creature that might have entered her home. Midway down, she stopped and listened. She strained so much to hear any movement, her ears began to ring and buzz. Whatever the animal is it isn’t in here, thank God.

                Sally walked to the kitchen, peering left and right into the lounge and dining room, as she made her way along the hallway. Her missed matched socks made a swooshing sound on the carpet. Exhaled breaths uttered from her mouth, as she entered an empty kitchen. A low squelch issued from her sweating hands, as she gripped the sink and stood on tiptoe to survey the back garden. Her scream filled the room, stunned her ears and mind. There large as life stood a lion in her fishpond. Lapping up water and shaking its massive mane. Another sound filled the kitchen as Sally fainted – wallop as she hit the linoleum.

I hope you like the story.

What are you currently reading? Have you left a review?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – 8 Tips for Submitting to Writing Contests

January 14, 2021
mandyevebarnett


There are a multitude of writing competitions available, whether locally or internationally. When submitting to a competition there are a few common ground rules to adhere to.

Tip #1: Be clear on your goals before entering any contest. Why do you want to enter in the first place?

Tip #2: Follow the rules and submission guidelines – each contest is different. This includes keeping to the submission deadline. ( A day earlier is best)

Tip #3: Proofread – this is absolutely vital. Make sure you read and re-read your entry before submitting.

Tip #4: Enter writing that is appropriate for the contests’ stated theme or topic. Familiarize yourself with the press or journal hosting the contest. Take note of their style and content.

Tip #5: Enter numerous contests to improve your chances of winning.

Tip #6: Don’t ignore lesser well-known contests, it could mean winning it gains you exposure and connections for your writing career. And of course, there is always the prize money! Not only does submitting to a range of contests maximize the likelihood that you may win, but it is a great way to improve and expand your writing skills.

Tip #7: Exploit your genre, your niche when researching the range of contests, there are always specialized creative writing contests out there that suit your style. Make the most of the opportunity to showcase your writing.

Tip #8: Create a story with an emotional impact, and topic. Make it memorable, new, fresh and focus on clarity. Choose a brilliant first line and action. Give your character a goal, a choice and ensure there is a change of personality, status or situation. And above all nail the ending.

Do you have any tips for entering contests? Care to share?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – NaNoWriMo Writing Sprints & Doubts

November 5, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Yes, it is NaNoWriMo month and there is the usual flurry of activity. Pre-planning, devising ideas, questioning if you should do it or not and the encouragement of the writing community. As I said before this year’s NaNo, for me, has me delving into an unknown genre and the start of a trilogy.

I have booked every Monday off work in November to allow myself extra time to write. This doesn’t normally happen but without the option of taking vacations, this year due to COVID19, I thought my best use of my days would be short writing retreats and extra time in November.

My first writing day, Sunday, was a super day. I had the house to myself, apart from the dogs, so indulged in writing for most of the day. Apart from several dog walks, and the occasional snack! My total for the day was 14,558. And at the time, I was super happy with that.

However, the next day doubts began to creep in. Had I given too many clues or sited too many suspects within those 14K words? This halted my writing. Should I re-start or continue? As we all know NaNo writing is just the first draft of a manuscript, so I shook off the doubts and returned to the story. Last night’s total was 16,951.

I may have to dissect this novel in the New Year, but for now I will enjoy the journey my characters are taking me on.

Are your participating in NaNoWriMo? What is your project?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Start of a Short Story

October 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


One of the exercises I find helpful as well as fun is using picture or word prompts to create a story (sometimes a poem). I recently chose a made up place name as the genus of an idea. The name was Fiddletown. The exercise is to write something in a limited time frame, around 10 minutes.
Some of these prompts have become full blown novels. This particular one is certainly one I made use at a later date. It sparked such a clear image for me.

I hope you like the beginnings of a story.

Hidden in the depths of the mountains, a small town flourishes. It is populated by beings of short stature with six fingers on each hand. Their ancestors escaped persecution from other people decades before. Safe now, they exist as hunters and gatherers existing in a solitary environment. Until, that is a couple of exploring mountaineers happen across the town.

This causes fear and consternation as well as an ethical question. Should they hide, locking everything up and hope the men think the town deserted, or run into the higher forest and wait them out or murder the two men? Whatever they do will alert the outside world…

Would you like to read the story? What do you think they decide?

I enjoyed a writing retreat from Friday to Monday in Crowsnest Pass. We watched the mountains slowly disappear as the snow arrived. Cozy in our cabin, with dogs, books and wine.

With a long weekend I managed to finish one book and read another. Here are my reviews.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Fabulously written. Gripping to the end, with you guessing (incorrectly most of time!) who the guilty party was. A web of lies hold four friends captive for decades until a three word text brings them together.
A seriously good read.

City of Dream by Suzanne Burkett

A great story of secrets, hidden memories and love. A very enjoyable read. Suzanne has created a wonderful world in this novel.

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