Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Toolbox – 8 Lockdown Tips for Writers in COVID19

May 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


book on a white wooden table

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’  in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).

Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.

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Here are a few tips to try (or not):

  1. One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
  2. Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
  3. Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
  4. Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
  5. Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
  6. Online writing workshops. There are now lots of options for online workshops and courses. Maybe it’s time to hone your skills? I enjoy the monthly creative workshops my local writing group organizes. They are held on the last Saturday of each month. (Link here for May’s workshop: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/event-details/creative-writing-workshop-online-3 )
  7. Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog

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What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?

 

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Hashtags for Writers, Authors & the Writing Community

April 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

We are all vying for attention on social media and one of the ways we can get more exposure is to use hashtags.

Put simply a hashtag is a label for content. It helps followers, who are interested in a certain topic, quickly find content on that same topic. Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that aggregates all of the posts with the same hashtags, in real-time. It is also a great way to discover other authors, writers and books in your genre(s).

Hashtags can be used on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is a plethora of them specific for writers, authors, readers, the writing community and books. Here are a few but I’m sure you can list more!

Hashtags for writers.

#amwriting #amediting #writingtip or #writetip #writingprompt
#book #novel #nonfiction #fiction #paperbacks #short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads #litfic #histfic and #histnovel #womensfiction
#scifi or #science #fiction #romance #paranormal #crime #suspense #kidlit #Writing #AmWriting #Creativity #Editing #WordCount #WriteChat #WriteGoal #WritingPrompt #WIP #StoryStarter #Creativity #MustRead #Novelines #FridayReads #TeaserTues #WriteTip #WritersLife #WritersLifeChat #5amwritersclub #WritingCommunity #readercommunity

Now over to you – how many more can you list?

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#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Author/Writer Space Essentials

March 18, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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What do you consider essential for your writing zone? It may not be the same as everyone else, so firstly let’s take a look at my desk (the one above).

Firstly, I have a laptop and second screen – this enables me to utilize two screens for editing purposes with beta-reader and publisher suggestions and edits. It is easier than splitting one screen to read two full pages.

Secondly, there are numerous note books and folders/binders of relevant information, event details, contact sheets, and freelance clients contracts. Yes, I am rather obsessed with organization – I put my hands up to that! As you can see I have several desk organizers for said items all labeled, storage is key to having information at your finger tips.

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Next is ‘fuel’ – water and tea! What do you favour for hydration? 

You may have noticed the propensity for purple – yes it is my favorite colour. Purple wall, crystals and water bottle to name a few. It is interesting that when I looked up the meaning of the colour purple there were key words relevant to my writing. Maybe there is a deeper force at work than we know, when it comes to our colour choices.

Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Purple. … The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic. 

Light sources are also an important choice – I have the normal ceiling light and natural light from the window but a spotlight disperses shadows so I have a clean and clear view of my screens.

Storage is key and yes I have several spaces just for it. The storage tower holds business cards, promotional items, paper, filing supplies, and more.

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The cupboard has books, more promotional material, such as an event banner, card holders, table coverings and larger promotion items as well as books.
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Yes, I am lucky to have this space but bear in mind I started using the dining room table as my writing space. It took me nearly seven years to get to this. Maybe you don’t need this kind of writing area – anywhere can be a creative zone after all. When I go on writing retreats I use a folding table and write on the hotel bed or desk. (And even at home). As long as there is room for a laptop or notebook we can write anywhere.

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What are your writing zone essentials?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Writing Inspiration Boards

February 13, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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When in the midst of creating a new narrative, inspiration boards, whether physical or digital, can help immerse us in a particular time period, allow us to ‘see’ our characters, and are a great aid to making the story come alive. This board will evolve over time as ideas, images, quotes, magazine and newspaper clippings, photos, found objects, handwritten quotes, font samples, buttons and badges etc. influence our writing.

There are options for an inspiration board:

  1. A full wall
  2. A large poster
  3. A notebook
  4. A digital folder of images
  5. A Pinterest board
  6. A collage

Find an option that works best for you and that can be arranged and rearranged easily. As you delve into the narrative new characters may form or there is a twist in the plot that takes the story somewhere unexpected – change the board accordingly.  Physically moving papers, photos, objects, and ephemera triggers different parts of our brains than moving digital information…and that can help us create new connections and come up with even more fresh ideas.

There are options for the type of board you create but all of them should allow change as the story develops.

  1. Book Cover Board – what images appeal?
  2. Character Board – what do they look like?
  3. World Board – where are they?
  4. History Board – what events have taken place?
  5. Problem Board – what is the protagonist’s problem?
  6. Quote Board – which evoke the story?

As I am writing a steampunk novel currently, my boards are filled with physical and digital images. There is a plethora of images available so that has made it easy to some extent but also difficult as too much input can detract from my focus. Here are some examples.

Physical:

Digital

 

What does your current inspiration board look like?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Compelling First Lines to Capture Your Reader

February 6, 2020
mandyevebarnett


 

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How to capture your readers attention.

It seems like an easy question until you try to write it. There is always the cover, the blurb and, of course the competition of a favoured best seller author’s new book compared to yours to overcome. However, it can also be those first few lines glanced at as a reader browses the shelves of their local book store or library. These are the most worked on, pondered and despaired lines by authors. They must capture a reader’s attention so completely that they are compelled to continue reading. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It is far from easy it though.

There are some key elements that draw a reader in:

  1. Make them wonder.
  2. Begin with a pivotal moment.
  3. Create an interesting scene.
  4. Intrigue them with a character.
  5. Begin with an unusual instance.
  6. Use a compelling narrative voice.
  7. Begin with a conflict.
  8. Use a life changing moment.

Here are a couple of my first lines:

Celeste watched her daughter, Maralynn; grow over the years while seeing her power increase. She could see her own mother, the previous Eldenma’s movements and expressions reflected in her daughter. Since her own mother, Juliana and her lover, Guillem’s transition to the other realm, Celeste and her lover, Michael, were her daughter’s only protectors in the earthly realm. They knew in time their ability to protect her would end as Maralynn learned how to control and manipulate her powers.

“Come back, here, Bubble – you’ll get stuck up there.”

Lenni called to her pet in vain. Bubble climbed up the bark of the tree in her usual wobble side-to-side manner, getting higher and higher. As she watched her pet, Lenni could see the two moons begin to converge in the magenta evening sky. Once they were one moon, she would need to be safely at home behind the dome wall. Lenni realized there was only one thing she could do, climb up the frackist tree and carry Bubble down.

These are the first lines from a book I re-read quite often. It was the first book I found that centred around reincarnation, a fascination of mine.

Ferney by James Long.

As he looked for the bones of his long-dead wife, old Ferney came close to death. Caught in the traffic jam that resulted, Gally Martin’s life changed.

Care to share your favourite first lines & links?

 

 

 

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