Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Picking a Book Cover Colour

August 25, 2022
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We all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ – however, it is the cover that initially attracts a reader to pick up our book. Choosing the ‘correct’ colour for your book cover can be difficult, as it will subconsciously give an impression of the genre/topic/trope of your story. We might look into the typical colours used for a genre, or go with our gut feeling and pick a colour we feel is ‘right’ for our narrative. No matter which avenue you choose all covers are an extension of us and our stories.

I am currently debating, which colour to use for an upcoming novella, which will be a prequel to a two-part series. The existing books have similar designs, but different colours to signify the different characters. As this third character is evil, having a black cover, or elements, will translate to the story of evil, and unhappiness.

Here is a list of colours and their significance with each genre.

Black evokes a serious theme and signifies mystery, death, evil, a sense of authority, power, control, and suspense, but also can feel sophisticated, modern, authoritative, and formal. It is most commonly used in horror, thriller, and mystery genres.

Gray is a neutral color associated with wisdom, sophistication, knowledge, and prestige, but also depression. It elicits an emotional spectrum ranging from remote, distant, cool, and bored to serious, focused, and intelligent.

Green is associated with nature, vitality, environment, health, evoking a soothing, refreshing, and tranquil state of mind, and is therefore a good fit for high fantasy novels or environmental nonfiction. Although it is one of the least-seen colors for book covers, it is often equated with a fresh beginning, excitement, vitality, wealth, and even jealousy.

I chose green not only for my medieval fantasy, but also my children’s picture and chapter books.

Blue has many associations including thoughtfulness, trust, calmness, serenity, inquisitiveness, dependability, mental engagement, sadness, stability and trustworthiness, safety and elicits feelings of calm and serenity as well as nature. Blue is commonly used for covers of political memoirs and nonfiction as well as more thought-provoking fiction. The choice of blue hue changes its meaning as a dark blue or indigo means intuition, truth, sincerity, and trust.

Purple/Violet signifies spirituality, prosperity, transcendence, harmony, while dark purple is related to royalty, depth, wealth, and fantasy. For my YA fantasy novella, Clickety-Click as you can see, I chose a deep purple not only for the background, but for the creature!

Yellow is a striking colour, evoking feelings of motivation, warmth, ambition, fun, cheerfulness, happiness, creativity, and energy, and in all has an attention-grabbing effect. However, it can also be grating and annoying, or even aggressive, while pale yellow is warm, friendly, approachable, and inviting. The choice of hue for yellow is paramount to balance the effect you are looking to convey.

Brown might seem an odd choice and dull, but it evokes feelings of nature, comfort, gives an ‘of-the-Earth’ vibe. Ecological genres may utilize a brown hue for a cover. I, however, utilized rich golden brown backgrounds for three books – a steampunk, a speculative fiction and a reincarnation romance. I find them atmospheric.

White is associated with purity, cleanliness, safety, simplicity, self-sufficiency, freshness and peacefulness. Although, white can come across as stark, bland, or cold, it is well-known as a symbol of purity suggesting a straight-forward, simple book.

Orange is a color associated with playfulness, energy, creativity, dynamic, positive, optimistic, hopeful, confidence and attention-grabbing with feelings of warmth and happiness, but can also be found to be overwhelming and cartoonish. Interestingly, I chose a blue background with orange lettering for my upcoming crime trilogy.

Red conveys energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power, dominance and aggression responses as well as angst for horror and thrillers, but with the choice of a softer tone also gives a feeling of passion, excitement, hunger (desire), love, and warmth.

Pink depending on the shade of pink, this hue can evoke feelings of passion, romance, innocence or childishness, femininity, playfulness, love, tenderness, youthfulness, emotion, and innocence.

With a combination of a deep rose and mahogany hues my YA alien adventure reflects the four young friends and the invading creature.

How did you choose your book cover colour(s)?

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Can We Avoid the Shiny & New Writing Idea?

August 11, 2022
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With the first draft of the second book in my crime fiction trilogy off to beta readers, I can rest easy for a minute. Of course, the plan is to begin the third and final book during National Novel Writing Month but… as we all know something shiny and new can always draw us away from the ‘should do’s’ and entice us in other directions.

In common with many writers, I have a stack of manuscripts in various stages of completion. A western romance, a suspense novel, and a YA romance. These manuscripts have been dwelling in digital folders for some time, and I keep reminding myself that they should be revised and edited and then set out into the world. Alas, a new shiny project always seems to take precedence and steers me away.

However, the one shining brightly at the moment is none of these. Rather, it is a prequel to my Rython saga. It will tell the story of how the vengeful witch, Malgraf became such a malignant force. I have mental images of locations, the young Malgraf and her childhood experiences manifesting into story and it is so enticing. I am even thinking which colour I should use for the book cover! As you can see I have a gorgeous blue and green for the other editions, but need a darker feel for the story of the witch, for obvious reasons. A cover always tells its own story and sets the mood for the reader.

So, how do we avoid a new idea? Well, there are several predisposing conditions.

  1. A publishing deadline.
  2. Reader expectation.
  3. To continue the flow of a series.
  4. Keeping the characters front and center to ensure continuity.

These can help drag you away from a new and shiny idea – but not always. It all comes down to your self control and if you are under a contract. For me, I will explore my new story, jotting down scenes etc. and possibly use part of NaNoWriMo to write it. It will be a novella, in line with the other two editions, so will leave me ‘space’ in November to start the final book in the trilogy. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

How do you avoid a new story idea? Or do you succumb to the excitement?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Alleviating Health Problems in Writers

August 4, 2022
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Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

They say that sitting is now the new smoking and as writers – we sit! It may be in front of a screen or jotting down scenes in a notebook, but the majority of our writing time is ‘bum on seat’. As with any job, there are health pitfalls, but the most common for writers are:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders. Poor posture, and lack of exercise and movement. Get moving!
  • Eye/Vision Disorders. Too much screen time, a back light engages your brain but also burns your retinas. Look away regularly or switch off.
  • Headaches. Excessive screen time, or reading find print. Ensure you have regular eye tests.
  • Obesity. Lack of movement and too much snacking. Limit sugary and salty snacks and exercise.
  • Repetitive Stiffness Injuries. Attributed to mouse holding cramps and also typing/writing for long periods. Wrist, arm and shoulder exercises can help.
  • Stress and Depression. Working to a deadline, revisions and editing – the list is long. Set realistic goals and create step by step targets.
  • Hearing Damage. This may not be for everyone, but having music or back ground noise at too high a level can harm your hearing. Invest in good headphones for noise cancellation or music and keep the volume at a comfortable level.
  • Lower Body/Foot Swelling. Sitting for too long can result in swelling and numbness, especially if your chair position leaves your legs dangling, or footwear is not supportive. Ensure your chair is positioned for your height so your feet are firmly on the floor and wear supportive footwear.
  • Blood sugar. Remember your brain needs ‘food’ as well as rest. Don’t get to the ‘hangry’ status. Set a timer for meals and drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital.

Be conscious of what your body is telling you.

The healthier you are the better your writing will become – a health body is a healthy mind after all.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Do you have any health tips to share?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Political Correctness in Writing

July 27, 2022
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We have all heard and seen the ramifications of derogatory comments in today’s world. Classic movies and novels have been targets for their portrayal of marginalized and discriminated groups and word usage – many have been ‘edited’ or simply removed from public consumption. There is a fine balance as we create our stories, when including what are seen to be stereotypes, and cultural constraints. We must bring light, empathy and well researched content in order to highlight the struggles of minorities and the marginalized within our narrative.

In essence political correctness is the avoidance of terms that are deemed negative, derogatory, racial slurs, or other verbiage that is exclusive in some way. When writing about the struggles of minorities and the marginalized, an author must be aware of the intent behind the politically incorrect verbiage used in their work and avoid gratuitous content and references. These include using unwarranted, uncalled for, and/or lacking good reason verbiage. And, if it is without merit, purpose or substance, should be revised or even omitted.

By writing about the differences between cultures, people, races, the sexes, we can create a compelling, interesting and wonderful story. We may not please all the people all the time as we are all very different, whether politically correct or not, we all have have prejudices, biases, and faults. Great stories use these differences to create conflict, then resolve that conflict in interesting ways. At all times we need to be sensitive to how someone may view our narrative. It may help to employ a sensitivity reader, who can advise on such diverse subjects as race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, illness and disability.

If you are unsure of using any content then it is best to seek assistance to ensure you are not causing harm to a minority or culture.

As always enjoy your writing and telling your stories.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Word Usage to Tighten Your Writing

July 14, 2022
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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

We all want to immerse our readers into our story as much as possible. To this end we need to ‘carry’ them through the experience with as little actual word usage as possible. An overly complicated or wordy sentence or paragraph, can take them out of the situation you have drawn them into. This can be accomplished by using descriptive words.

The definition of descriptive is: evocative, expressive, vivid, graphic, eloquent, colorful, explanatory, illustrative.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is quiet the list, I’m sure you agree, but we can expand on. A single word can encapsulate a mood, a feeling or a condition, which enables us to create without too much exposition or explanation.

In the revision process of any piece of work, tightening up the exposition ensures the story keeps pace, and large sections can be refined into their essential elements. In using words, such as clammy, for instance, our readers are instantly aware of our character’s physical state without losing the impact of the narrative. In other words -using these descriptive words keep our narrative sharp.

Careful word usage is a learned skill for many and delving into our dictionary and thesaurus on a regular basis enables us to use words to their best affect. For example, if we did not use clammy, we would need to describe cold but sweaty skin, light-headedness, damp beads of perspiration – a lot more words for the same condition and an overly descriptive sentence or paragraph can lose our reader’s attention. We certainly don’t want that.

Use of the thesaurus on our word document screen can assist us, but does have it’s limits. A good dictionary & thesaurus are a good investment for any writer. There are specific thesaurus as well. For example, I have an emotional thesaurus, which is a great tool.

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Take your time while revising any written piece to identify descriptive words that would sharpen it. They are a writer’s best friend, so use them often. The more you investigate words the more you will find that can sharpened your work.

What method do you use to tighten your writing?

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