Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

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 – A Packed Long Weekend of Writing, Reading & Talking

February 16, 2021
mandyevebarnett


This past weekend was a long weekend for Family Day in Alberta. Although, it wasn’t much of a family time as we are still under COVID restrictions, so there was no visits or family meals to enjoy, unfortunately. However, I did have quite a busy Friday and Saturday attending the Wordbridge virtual writers conference. I was a panelist for a discussion and Q&A for romance on Friday and also publishing on Saturday. So it was writer talk for the duration! Always a pleasure and a great way to connect with our authors.

I finished Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube

REVIEW: A complex style of writing – fast paced, crowded and emotive. Strong references to internal pain and outside forces changing and pressuring it’s characters. There were a lot of triggers in this book, so please be aware of that.

I am now reading a much lighter and fun narrative. Roadtripping: On the Move with the Buffalo Gals by Conni Massing., who I have had the pleasure to meet.

What are you currently reading? Care to share?

As the Albertan weather was cold (-39 with the wind chill!) I spent most of my time indoors, apart from braving it with Sammie, of course. My place of choice to spend the weekend was the living room, which has a huge window to watch the world go by and the resident wildlife – hares and birds. And a lovely fireplace to complete the warm feeling.

I will be swapping a bag of books with a friend later today, so my TBR will grow! It is always fun to compare views on books.

Are you part of a book club? Would you like me to join you virtually? Please use the contact form if you are interested.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – International Radio Interview & Extreme Cold!

February 9, 2021
mandyevebarnett


I was very happy to be interviewed by a UK radio station the other week. Not only do they broadcast in the UK but internationally. As an expat obviously it was a special occasion for me. I hope you enjoy the show.

My radio interview on Chat & Spin FRIDAY 22ND JANUARY FRIDAY’S EVENING & LATE SHOW 6.10PM – 8.30PM UK TIME (PART 1) 1:45.40 on the timeline. https://chatandspinradio.com/listen-again/

We are experiencing extreme cold in Alberta, as I write this post on Sunday 7th February. The weather warnings state : Extremely cold wind chill values between minus 40 and minus 55 continue. This prolonged cold snap is expected to persist through the coming week for many areas of Alberta. There will be some moderation in temperature at times, typically during daylight hours. And yes you are reading that right! I am wearing double layers of everything and little Sammie has booties and a coat on. Shorter walks for us for a while.

So we are staying cozy at home as much as possible, reading, writing and editing. I mailed a copy of The Twesome Loop to Michigan today, which is always a favourite thing to do.

I will be a panelist at the Wordbridge Writing Conference this coming Friday and Saturday, so please join lots of authors as they relay their writing lives and expertise. https://wordbridgeconference.com/

You can find me on Friday at 6 pm talking about romance and Saturday at 6 pm co-hosting about publication.

Take care and happy reading. Let me know what your current book is. Remember to leave a review.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing Another Story

February 2, 2021
mandyevebarnett


This week’s I’m sharing another story from my Six Weeks, Six Senses writing course. We had to use scent as the main element. Let me know what you think.

A Cruise Romance – SCENT

An unaccustomed briny aroma invaded Josh’s slumber conjuring up dreams of pirates and tall ships in his mind. A large black bearded captain loomed over him, shouting orders. The pirate’s breath blasted Josh’s face making him reel backwards. It was disgusting, a mixture of rotten teeth, belched stomach contents and rum.

                “Get ye up the foremast, boy and be lively about it!”

                Afraid of a flogging, Josh ran barefoot on the wooden planked deck, scurrying past burly, unsmiling men. Their rancid sweat emanating from their toiling bodies. Each man busied themselves with their tasks, keeping their heads down low to avoid the captain’s stare or displeasure. The salty air and bracing wind assaulted his face and lungs. At the bottom of the mast, he looked up at the rope rigging and the impossibly high climb to the crow’s nest. The wet ropes had a pungent smell of kerosene. Josh could feel his fear clawing at his stomach. I can’t do it, I just can’t. A huge swell broached the ship’s side tossing men, rigging and barrels across the deck. Briny water and debris crashed onto the wooden planks, adding to the unpleasant smell all around him. Josh stumbled hitting his head. The shock woke him from his dream. Disorientated, thinking the rocking movement underneath him was a figment of his imagination, Josh opened his eyes. Blinking several times, he saw a round porthole and blue sky and splashing water. Am I still dreaming?

                A knock on his cabin’s door and his mother’s voice alleviated his bewilderment. We are on a boat, but not a pirate ship. A fresh linen smell replaced the buccaneer odors.

                “It’s time to go to the dining room for breakfast, Josh. Are you awake?”

                “Yes. Mom, I’ll meet you there.”

                Once he was dressed, Josh slipped on his new dark blue canvas shoes. He smelt the rubber of the sole, the canvas fabric and the waterproofing spray his mother has insisted on applying. He’d picked them especially for the cruise.

                The large dining room was filled with wonderful aromas of bacon, toast, coffee, and fruit. A long serving counter held hot plates at one end and chilled bowls at the other. The hot plates sizzled with fatty fragrance. A long line of people stood choosing their preferences to eat. Josh found his mother standing to one side waiting for him.

                “There you are. Let’s get in line so we can pick our breakfast, find a seat and eat together.”

                Their choices made, Josh and his mother sat near the rear of the room, near the exit. Josh spread golden butter generously on his toast, then opened a strawberry jam jar. The tangy sweetness of the fruit unmistakable at the lid popped open. Next he poured maple syrup over his pancakes, the odour a mix of caramel and toffee. He cut into the pancake pile and added a strip of bacon to his bite. Delicious! The waiter refilled their coffee cups giving rise to a nutty, smoky aroma.

                “I’m going to find a nice spot with a deckchair to read. What will you do this morning, Josh?”

                “I was going to explore a bit, Mom, as it’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise ship.”

                “Well, have fun. We can meet back here at one o’clock for lunch.”

                “Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you later.”

                Josh pushed open the heavy metal door; a whiff of grease wrinkled his nose for an instant before the rush of briny air invaded his nostrils. The ship rocked back and forth like a cradle. Josh braced his legs and walked along the deck rails for support. Ahead was the lido deck, filled with the sound of excited voices and splashing. Its faint chlorine smell merging with the stronger brine aroma. He took steps upward and was surprised by a tumbling ball of string heading towards him. He caught it and began winding the loose thread back around the ball. At the top of the stairs, he was met by a beautiful face, a hand grasped to her mouth.

                “Oh goodness, I’m so sorry. It just slipped from my hand.”

                “No worries. Glad I was there to catch it. It could have rolled straight over the edge into the ocean.”

                “That was what I was afraid of. Thank you for rescuing it.”

                Josh shrugged and handed the twine to the girl. Her green eyes transfixed him and she smelt so good. It was a heady mixture of citrus and cinnamon.

                “Why do you need string for on a cruise, anyway?”

                “Oh, well you may think it odd but I use it for macramé. I make wall hangings and wall art out of it.”

                “I don’t think that’s odd, sounds kind of cool actually.”

                “Would you like to see some of the things I’ve made? Only if you have time, I’ve probably stopped you going to do something as it is.”

                “No, I’d like to see. I was just taking a look around. This is my first cruise. I’m Josh, by the way.”

                “Heh, I’m Heather. Come this way. I’m all set up on the viewing deck. Might as well have a great view while I craft eh?”

                Josh was impressed with the array of coloured cotton cord; Heather had lain out on two loungers. He could smell a delicate cotton and musky scent as she lifted up an intricate piece.

                “That is so cool. Can you show me how you make them?”

                Josh and Heather soon became an item and spent many hours together, either exploring the ship and it’s attractions the any port of calls or sitting making macramé. He knew he would get a ribbing from his mates back home but once they saw Heather they’d stop. She was a knock out and smelt so good.

I am also continuing to read Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube. The writing style is fast paced, full of details, dialogue, internal thought and not a book to relax with. It keeps you on your toes who the protagonist is talking about/to or where/what she is doing.

This week I attended the creative writing workshop hosted by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and we covered the romance genre. This genre is popular and has many categories and sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, spiritual, suspense and YA. Our writing exercise gave each participant a sub-genre and a title. I got paranormal – Bad Boy Earl’s Desert Mistress. I will share the result in my newsletter. It was fun.

Which romance genre do you like to read?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing a Story & 2021 Reading Challenge

January 5, 2021
mandyevebarnett


I am engaged in a six week writing course and thought, I could share my submissions with you. The first week is the sense of SIGHT. This was my story using the image.

The Jungle Wall

Lush greenery clings to a rocky reddish brown mock cliff face. A sheen of a waterfall cascades onto a flat hard surface, in a splashing burst. Sunlight shimmers in the veil of water, creating a band of rainbow colours. To the side are smooth, burnt sienna stones and pebbles, piled atop each other. Lighter green foliage creeps among them mimicking rivets of a stream. Large fern like leaves in glossy dark greens surround  the liquid of the waterfall and quench their thirst.  The throng of office workers pass by without a care or indeed interest. The mock jungle wall has become commonplace, a background feature. Too familiar to see anymore.

That is until, Sandy enters the building for an appointment. She initially enjoys the cool air so pleasant after the hot humid summer day outside. As she’d entered the building, she noticed the glass façade created stripes of light on the grey sidewalk, in stark contrast to her comfortable red soft leather shoes. She pulled at her indigo jeans, wishing she had taken time to hem them properly instead of folding the fabric at her ankles, where it now bunched and folded.

Sandy heard the water falling before seeing the green and brown jungle wall. A smile grew on her face at the joy and thrill that came over her as she looked at it. She was drawn to the lush greenery, the sparkling water and how the sunlight, funneled from an overhead skylight, danced on the surfaces. She walked to the edge of the installation and the noise of traffic, voices and footsteps fell away. It was as though she had traveled to an exotic location – a tropical forest. The falling water drew her eyes from  top to bottom and around again – pulling her forward ever closer. Unconsciously, she leaned over the glass panels, reaching out to touch the delightfulness of the scene. She was within the installation in her mind’s eye – the russet browns and verdant greens grew in richness and intensity. She looked at every leaf, every rock and plant – committing to memory the sights.

Suddenly, her dream was broken, a hand gripping and pulling her backwards. Her purse tumbled from her shoulder to the ground, its contents spilling across the tiled floor. A woman’s voice muffled in Sandy’s ears, a stranger’s face full of concern.

“You nearly fell over, my dear. You need to take care. Here let me help you with your belongings.”

Sandy struggled from her daze and thanked the woman, as they gathered her possessions. With all the items gathered Sandy thank you woman and watched her walk away, unsure how she could have been so absorbed in the jungle of her imagination. Glancing at her watch she gasped to see she was almost late for her appointment. Without another look, she hurried away.

In the depths of the rock wall, eyes shone out. The treasure was just inside the glass panels. As the building emptied later on that evening, a small creature crept to retrieve the pink and black vial. It put it with all the other treasures and grinned. Another susceptible human drawn in. 

Let me know what you think of this story.

I have once again entered the Goodreads Reading Challenge – I am committing to read a minimum of 15 books in 2021. I hope I can make this goal, as I missed my goal by two books last year, mainly because I was busy completing my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift and promoting it once it was published and participating in NaNoWriMo. This year I will edit and revise my manuscript for the first book in my crime/detective trilogy, so decreased my reading goal slightly. Have you signed up?

My current read is If It Bleeds by Stephen King. It will not take much longer!

What are you reading? What was your favorite book of 2020?

Blog at WordPress.com.