Category Archives: Writing retreat

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?

Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish. 

I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.

  • Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
  • Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
  • Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.

With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.

Have you been on a writing retreat?

What benefit did you gain?

Did you achieve your writing goals?

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts. 

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.

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Writing Tips

Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.

My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

This post is pre-scheduled as today I will still be enjoying my writing retreat, where there is no WiFi, TV or ‘outside world’ to intrude. Immersed in story since 18th May – I may never come back! (Well given the choice anyway). My plan for the retreat is to read, edit and revise two manuscripts – The Twesome Loop and Life in Slake Patch and hopefully be able to share them with beta-readers on my return. I may also have added enough story on my newest children’s book – Bubble the Gruggle to send the manuscript to my illustrator, enabling him to begin chapter header images.

When I do come back to reality I have two events this week. One an ‘extra’ meeting of the Arts and Culture Council on Wednesday to finalize the Heritage Day event organization and then Thursday I will be co-hosting the senior’s writing group at Silverbirch.

So please feel free to share your local writing events in the comments.

Other events:

WGA Alberta Literary Awards Shortlist Reading and Celebration (YYC)

May 24th 2017 from 7:00 to 10:00pm
Shelf Life Books, 1302 4th Street SW, Calgary
Please RSVP via Facebook Invite

Join the Writers’ Guild of Alberta to celebrate the 2017 Alberta Literary Shortlisted authors and their nominated works! There will be complimentary wine and food from Aida’s Bistro, time to visit with friends, and a series of lively readings. Free admission. Authors scheduled to read in Calgary include: Lee Kvern, Paige Feureu, Lauralyn Chow, Gisèle Villeneuve, Mary Graham, Rona Altrows, Helen Hajnoczky, Georgia Graham, Laurie McFayden, Ellen Close with Braden Griffiths, Richard Harrison, Shelley Youngblut, and Sydney Sharpe with Don Braid.

EWF2017 PosterFinal

On May 28, The Elora Writers’ Festival takes place in Elora, ON, with authors announced so far including Andrew Westoll, Brad Smith, and Adrienne Kress. http://elorawritersfestival.blogspot.ca/

Happy writing everyone

keep-calm-and-carry-on-writing-4

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

So my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to write this post – so sorry for my tardiness. I have been busy tying up loose ends, revising freelance projects and ensuring I can leave for my writing retreat tomorrow with a clear desk. On the retreat I will only focus on my writing, which will enable me to ‘complete’ two manuscripts and add to another. These are my retreat goals.

  1. Final read of Life in Slake Patch
  2. Complete revisions and read through of The Twesome Loop
  3. Continue to write my newest story, Bubble the Gruggle.
  4. Enjoy no TV, no cell service and no WiFi.
  5. Converse, share and enjoy my retreat companions company.
  6. Indulge in the most fantastic meals.
  7. Enjoy reading curled up in a cozy corner.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger – I will most certainly finished this book this week. Just love the characters.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – chances are as this is more novella than novel that I will finish this book over my writing retreat as well.

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Then onto new stories!

Writing Tips:

Learn from the masters:

Read works by highly successful authors to learn what earns a loyal readership.
Read works by the canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.

Creek 2016 7Strawberry Creek

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


eventsThis week I do not have any events to attend, (I know a complete shock!), however I will be working hard to finalize freelance projects in anticipation of the writing retreat I will be attending from Thursday. I feel like a little kid waiting for the escape of school term and the long expanse of the summer.

At our retreat we do not set course work or discussion topics, however I do set a prompt, which can be ignored or completed. It is for light relief rather than as an exercise. As for retreat rules we only have a few.

  1. Respect other writers privacy. If their door is closed do not enter, however if it is open then visitors are allowed.
  2. Meals should be taken together not only because they are delicious but it is a time to connect, discuss and refresh mind and body.
  3. Remember to take breaks – whether a walk with a companion or alone, change your writing/reading location or to have a discussion.
  4. Set your own writing goals for the retreat.
  5. After supper gather to relay progress, connect and relax.

creek-sign

Have you been on a retreat?

What rules did they have (if any)?

What benefit did you derive from it?

Local events:

shady

owl nest

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Certainly a non productive writing weekend as I attended a reptile show both days (see previous post https://mandyevebarnett.com/2017/05/08/upcoming-writing-events-add-yours-for-your-location-14/). However, I do have this weekend free so will indulge in as much time as possible writing. This will include a complete revision of the ghost written book project prior to sending back to my client.

I have my writing retreat to look forward and it is getting tantalizingly close – 18th May. Here I can immerse myself completely with no distractions, unless I actually seek them out.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am thoroughly enjoying this story. The characters are well rounded, there is a connection/distance between the two main characters, which gives the narrative an undercurrent of possibilities.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn (because you all know by now I’m fascinated by this subject)

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What are you reading?

I watched this movie, which had a great twist on the subject. I am always intrigued by the variations on the reincarnation theme.

the-discovery

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5155780/

Writing Tips from the Master – Stephen King

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”

“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

What’s your favorite King quote or writing tip?

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

 

My weekend was certainly not writing related but a reptile bonanza. I accompanied my daughter to the Edmonton Reptile and Amphibian Society’s spring show. She took her own reptiles to show and educate visitors, something she has done for a good number of years.

ERAS-Spring-Show-2017-Flyer

There were many incredible and fascinating reptiles to discover and hold, which I enjoyed a lot. However, as a writer the ‘people watching’ gave me a wealth of inspiration. Reptile owners and hobbyists come from all walks of life and are passionate about their particular interest. I discovered a type of gecko I had not known existed – Rhacodactylus leachianus = large geckos! They are fabulous and you certainly know you are holding one as they are quite heavy. For comparison those are my hands! Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhacodactylus_leachianus

I did take my ‘animal’ related books with me just in case – Clickety Click’s front cover got a few looks and Ockleberries was browsed.

This week I have my writer’s group Board meeting which will include a review of our conference and the start of planning for our annual Words in the Park event which will be held on 30th September as part of Alberta Culture Days.

witp

My second Board meeting will be for the Arts & Culture Council on Wednesday, where we are reviewing the Heritage Day plans. This event will be held on 11th June and has a multitude of artisans and cultural associations attending.

heritage day

Obviously I am on countdown for the writing retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. I have decided on completing the revisions to The Twesome Loop and will have a final read through for Life in Slake Patch. Then I feel confident they can go to the publisher. I may have time to write more for my newest children’s book set on another planet.

The lodge is set in acres of woodland with a creek running through it so there is plenty of outdoor space to clear the head, refresh the body and be inspired. To be immersed completely in writing for days on end and have three delicious meals cooked for you is blissful. I never want to leave. (A lottery win would mean I wouldn’t have to of course!)

So what are you up to this week?

Care to share your writing goals, plans or events?

Other events:

book pub

May 11, 2017: U of A Press reception in honour of Linda Cameron

The U of A Press is holding a reception for it’s departing director, Linda Cameron, on May 11 in the Saskatchewan room of the Faculty Club (Saskatchewan Drive and 116 Street) from 3-6 with a program at 4:30. Ms Cameron has been with the U of A Press since 2001, and is retiring on August

abaThe Atlantic Books Festival runs May 11–May 18 with events in all four maritime provinces. http://atlanticbookawards.ca/

forest

The Ontario Library Association’s Festival of Trees takes place throughout May, with events in Toronto, London, and Sault Ste. Marie. http://forestfestivaloftrees.ca/

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

The Twesome Loop

I managed to hide away in my local library last night prior to my writers meeting and work on revisions for my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop. With twenty-two pages revised, 510 words added (I don’t count deleted ones!) I felt satisfied at it’s progress. Now I have found a superb cover designer I’m already thinking of a cover for this novel, the illustrated one was the NaNoWriMo proof copy. This novel is one I will be finalizing (hopefully) at the writers retreat later this month. Countdown is on to 18th May…

Our meeting was fun and I shared a part chapter of Twesome, which was well received. It always bolsters an author’s confidence when their words are liked.

My ghost writing project will have several changes made this week, although as I am accompanying my daughter to her reptile show all weekend I doubt I will get any writing done until the evenings.

Books:

The Other Life

The Other Life by Ellen Meister- I finished this book, thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is my review on Goodreads.

Love the struggle Quinn has in this story, whether to stay with her current family life or switch to a more glamorous one, she once had. There are many factors for and against in both lives and this narrative beautifully demonstrates that.
Mothering has its challenges and Quinn has to make some hard choices, so even if you are not into ‘alternative or parallel worlds’ this story will capture you.

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am now absorbed by this tale, which is set in London, England on the outskirts of Highgate Cemetery of all places. Obviously this appeals to my warped sense of drama.

Symmentry

While I was at Authors for Indies on Saturday at the Sherwood Park Bookworm, I requested a book with a reincarnation theme. Luckily for me, Leanne the owner found it so it is now on my TBR pile.

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn      

Reincarnation

How many books do you read in connection with or research for, your current work in progress?

Writing Tips:

Keep a journal or notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas. If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure it’s loaded with a note-taking app. A voice-recording app also comes in handy for recording notes and ideas.

Personally I keep a notebook beside my bed and one in my handbag/purse all the time – when an idea strikes it is best to write it down – later it will allude you!

Make sure you have a dictionary and thesaurus available whenever you are writing.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you would like to share?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Conference logo 2017

My conference presentation was well received and my audience engaged in the interactive segments with gusto. The theme of the conference was everything Canadian to tie in with the 150 year celebrations. My session ‘Building a Canadian Character’ included choosing a particular province and building a character from its particular landscape, economy, resources etc. With numerous handouts I managed to compile, each attendee went home with helpful resources.

When I created the individual folders I pinned a small cloth doll to each and then asked everyone to choose – this meant they went for colour or pattern unaware I had put a photo inside for another exercise. Sneaky maybe but it worked well. Then later I asked everyone to describe with as much detail as possible the person in those photos. After they read their description they shown the photo to everyone else. It was a lesson in description. 

The week was not as busy although planning for the major event in June did take up quite some time. My other project is ghost writing a book, which is progressing nicely.

I am now on countdown to the Spring Writers Retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. Here I will immerse myself in my writing without distraction. The location is perfect with a small river, woodland and trails to refresh a tired Muse. It is a huge log cabin with an expert chef, whose meals are just so appetizing everyone wants to take her home.

strawberry-creek-lodge

Books:

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – I am enjoying the story’s theme and the tension risen by choosing one life over another.

The Other Life

My friend Karen gave me this book, as she believed the mystery would intrigue me. Looking forward to reading it.  Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger 

Symmentry

Writing Tips:

Do it. Write.  Write every single day.
Read as much and as often as you can. Remember, every writer is a reader first.

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Since my mini writing retreat last weekend, I have not had any time to immerse myself in the revisions for The Twesome Loop, until last night. I took advantage of a couple of hours of peace & quiet in the library prior to my writing meeting. Word count increased by 892 and a couple of scenes were ‘fleshed out’ (actually erotic scenes so literally – pardon the pun!)

Twesome Loop 002

I have a meeting with my client whose book I am ghost writing this evening as I requested ‘personal experience’ pieces from her on several topics within the book. These I will include thus ensuring it is her voice.

My book cover proof is still pending for The Rython Kingdom so I have to be patient – although having the new cover available for my readers is paramount. So excited for it to go ‘live’ on the various websites.

rythonfinaltitletext

Through a facebook page I found a submissions requirement where I can send my steampunk story – The Toymaker. Fingers crossed it gets accepted, it’s only 7790 words.

Books:

I am thoroughly enjoying this book – The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney – sister’s growing up, finding themselves, drama, love, rejection and a mystery. Set in Tasmania and Ireland it becomes international as each sister flies the coop in search of her path.

faraday

My TBR pile includes a book I found in a lovely bookstore while on my weekend escape. The Other Life by Ellen Meister This is the blurb:

If you could return to the road not taken…would you?

Quinn Braverman has a perfect life, with a loving husband, an adorable son, and another baby on the way.

Quinn also has an ominous secret: she knows that another version of her life exists…one in which she made totally different life choices. But she’s never been tempted to switch lives-until a shocking turn of events pushes her to cross over, and she discovers the one person she thought she’d lost forever: Her mother.

But Quinn can’t have both lives. Soon, she must decide which she really wants-the one she has…or the other life…

The Other Life

Doesn’t it sound fascinating? Of course as I love reincarnation, spirits, afterlife and parallel universes it is just up my street, so to speak.

If you have a recommendation for this kind of story, please let me know.

Writing Tips:

Stop procrastinating. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the Internet, tune out the rest of the world, sit down, and write.

Create a space in your home especially for writing.

Why not share your writing space? Here’s mine:

new writing desk

The opposite wall is my inspirational wall.Inspire wall

Happy writing.

 

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


Writing:

Well what can I say but that our road trip resulted in some spectacular revisions, editing and increased word count 72,674 for The Twesome Loop. We left just after work on Friday and made our way to Red Deer, got checked in and made the room our own! This actually means setting up laptops on the table/desks, selecting beds (usually Linda has the one near the window) and then we went for supper. Delicious meal with the chef’s specialty Bulgogi, amazing flavor.

The word Bulgogi literally means fire meat in Korean, and is derived from the Pyongan dialect. It refers to marinated meat, (generally beef if used without a qualifier), cooked using traditional grilling techniques such as gridirons or perforated dome griddles that sit on braziers, unlike deep frying or boiling in water.

15073509_10207622558337301_1573629241843353787_nThe Twesome Loop

Saturday morning after a leisurely breakfast we spent the morning writing in quite companionship for the most part. Then as the sunshine was too glorious to miss, set off for a drive to enjoy the afternoon and surrounding scenery. Back for wine and salad and more writing. As we have a late check out at 1 pm we utilized the time to write after breakfast and set off on a tour of the historical sites in Red Deer. At one site where old buildings have been sited we delighted at two surprise guests – a buck & doe walked in through the gate and calmly grazed just feet away from us.

Our trip home was of course the longer route (common practice for us) and took us to Sylvan Lake, through Lacombe and Clearwater counties up to Rocky Mountain House through Wetaskiwin  and Braznea counties and to Leduc and home.

Linda (as my publisher) kindly completed the update of my fantasy romance, The Rython Kingdom with its new cover and ordered proof copies. So it will be soon. I had the idea of having slip covers made for the editions I have at home so the new cover can be attached. I am so pleased with how the new cover looks.

rythonfinaltitletext

Have you changed a book cover?

Did you write over the weekend?

Do you escape to write? Where do you go?

Books:

uninvited guests

I finished The Uninvited Guests – my Goodreads review:

What a delightful and surprising book. I had an inkling about the visitors (I will not reveal) three quarters the way through the book but it was skillfully written, wonderful prose and immersed me in Edwardian life.
Sadie has a remarkable story telling talent and I recommend you read this story. Love lost, love gained and love thwarted with touch of revenge served cold.

The beginning of The Faraday Girls gripped me from the start – a great first sentence! The story is endearing, surprising and intriguing so far.

faraday

Writing Tips:

Diana Athill: Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out – they can be got right only by ear).

Margaret Atwood: If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick. (I know this from experience after loosing over 5K in the midst of NaNoWriMo – not funny!)

What are your writing tips?