Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday Blog Writing – Workshop Tips

October 1, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I hosted a virtual workshop last Saturday for the Words in the Park event. It was fun to utilize Zoom so that participants from far and wide could join me. As the workshop was free, I thought I would share the bare bones of the workshop. Hopefully, it will give you some helpful information in creating a blog of your own.

There are numerous blogging sites but these tips cover the basics for you to start.

The number of blogs available on the internet is mind boggling – every topic you can imagine is covered. Whether factual, diarized, crafting, a myriad of interests or informational, you can find several postings about things you are interested in or want to know about. 

So why should you blog? Or indeed why not!

The first and most important question is – why do you want to blog in the first place.

There is a huge range of reasons to blog but maybe the best idea is to ask yourself if any of the following relate to you.

 1. To create something you are proud of

2. Challenge yourself

3. Strengthen your knowledge on a particular subject

4. Meet others with similar interests

5. Help other people in a specific field or topic

6. Gain confidence

7. To improve your writing ability

8. To learn new skills

Once you decide on starting a blog there are several key elements you need to decide on.

  • Name Your Blog

This may seem easy – however, you need to search what names are already in existence, will the name reflect the topic OR theme you will be writing about. Is it a personal blog, a business blog, or a specific interest blog? Does the blog name read OK when it’s in a domain URL format?

Later you may want to purchase your own domain name so consider how it will look.

  • Define Your Target Audience

For an author, this will be readers in your genre, for business people, it is who wants/needs your services. Will you mentor? Cover aspects of health, travel, personal training, or something else?

  • Tone Of Your Blog

What tone or voice will the writing reflect? Strictly business or more personal/friendly?

  • Reason For Your Blog

Will you be building your brand around your blog name or the other way around? Is the blog part of a website or standalone? What do you want to achieve with your blog? Choose one area you have the most expertise or interest in. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself straight out of the gate. Your passion about the subject will bring about the following benefits:

  1. You’re more likely to put the time and effort into your blog to make it shine.
  2. You’re less likely to abandon your blog in the future.
  3. You’re less likely to run out of ideas.
  4. It shows through in your writing, and your readers can feel that. This, in turn, will lead to a larger following.

Tips for Writing A Blog

 Understand your audience

 Write for yourself first

 Build you

 Love your existing readers/followers/clients

 Focus on building an amazing call-to-action

 Be consistent

 Give away your knowledge

 Be true to your voice

 Give it time

Write catchy headlines

Be Yourself

Keep it short

 Positives to blogging:  

1. You’ll gain confidence.

2. It’s a form of diary.

3. Blogging is great writing experience.

4. There is potential financial gain if that is your future goal.

5. The blogging community is great.

6. It allows potential for self growth.

7. It allows development of technological skills.

8. It gives people a creative outlet.

9. Blogging is the current way to market a business or product.

10. And it creates opportunities. Whether in the form of friendships, financial gain or self-growth.

Key Elements for a Blog Post

Make sure to include images in every post. A block of text is seldom read. (Attention spans are very short). Rule of thumb is to use one every 300 words or so.

Format your blog post – longer text should be divided with headers and sub-headers

Use bulleted and numbered lists

Bold and italicize key points

Use short paragraphs – 3-5 lines to prevent ‘skimming’ by your reader

Stick to a theme

Don’t wing your content. Make a plan and schedule your posts.

I either write several blog posts at a time and then schedule them or create a draft when an idea pops into my head.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Preparation for a Radio Interview

September 10, 2020
mandyevebarnett


It was my pleasure to be interviewed on Sunday 6th September by Mike Deregowski on his show, The Writers Block at Sound Sugar Radio. Due to COVID19 restrictions the interview was conducted over the telephone.

To prepare for the interview, I took the following steps, which I hope may help you.

  1. Firstly, we agreed on a date for the interview.
  2. I then asked what the procedure would be prior to the interview. Such as, what time I needed to be available, and was I calling in or would they call me.
  3. I also asked about details of the interview – time I would actually be on air, types of questions they would ask and any special points they wished me to cover.
  4. As I was sharing an excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Commodore’s Gift, I chose two options of five minutes each.
  5. I practiced reading them aloud several times. This allowed me to ‘hear’ the piece and also decide on inflections in my reading voice.
  6. Once I had read them, I knew which one gave enough detail of the genre and story but also left a question to entice readers.
  7. Prior to the interview itself, I posted across my social media that I would be doing the interview and shared the links to the radio station. After all the more the merrier.
  8. One the interview had taken place, I once again shared the link to my social media sites. Then added it to my media kit on my blog.

The Commodore’s Gift will be officially launched at Words in the Park – Virtual on 26th September 2020.

Opened parcel tied with string with blank label, copy space included within torn section

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Creating A Writing Session

July 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

We all want the time and space to write more. Life gets in the way a lot of the time, but if you make some ‘writing’ time within our normal life, it can be done.

person writing on notebook

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Firstly, it seems obvious but set a goal for your writing session. Do you know what your objective is? Are you brainstorming, creating a character description, outlining a plot, starting a new project or completing one?

Secondly, prepare for what you will be writing, do your homework for locations, period etc. Brainstorm ideas before you start, make notes. Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

TIP: Don’t be too ridge, let the story flow – it doesn’t always go to plan! But that’s the joy of writing.

 Thirdly, gauge how committed you are to this piece of writing? Are you excited to start or is it feeling like a chore? If the latter, try something new or another project.

TIP: Use word or picture prompts to ignite your Muse to get you started and in a writing mood.

Also make sure you are in a good writing spot. Have you minimized distractions? Do you need quiet or music, a cafe or library setting. Or is your home space best for you or will there be too many interruptions?

Decide on how long you will write for. Don’t make the session too long or it will dampen your enthusiasm. Ensure you have breaks for refreshments, to stretch or even go for a walk.

Once you have these elements in place check your clock and set the timer. Don’t look at it constantly – just write. Lose yourself in the narrative. Enjoy the process. Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. Let your imagination expand.

TIP: Don’t edit or revise – just write.

I like to sit in my living room with my laptop on a little table – in the warmer months, I can look out at the lawn and watch the birds & bunnies and in the cold months, I enjoy the fireplace. When we go on road trips, I usually sit at the desk or on the bed with my little table.

 Where is your ‘go to’ writing spot?

What are you working on currently?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Weather Affects Our Writing

July 9, 2020
mandyevebarnett


July has been a wet month so far here in Alberta. Walking my little rescue pup, has left us often soaked, but when we do manage to escape a thunder storm and finally catch a break in the clouds, we enjoy the sunshine to the fullest. Sammie is an enjoyable addition to my life – my step count have gone through the roof! Another good point in our writing life – bum off seat for exercise.

BBQ SAMMIE

The weather can affect our writing too. Sunny days draw us out into the warmth away from our usual writing spot. A patio or deck, balcony or beach or mountain retreat become our new inspiring spot. Cold weather has the opposite effect – cozy in front of a fire, huddled in blankets and fluffy socks. Whatever the weather, our writing changes ever so subtly. We may not even realize it.

Do you write more in the colder months or does creating outside in the sunshine increase your word count?

beach3

Do your character’s situations reflect how you feel? Frustrated not to be outside in the warmth? Or happy not to have to trek through snow drifts?

Are your characters experiencing your weather or climate? Does it change how you write the scene? Or does it inspire you to accelerate their situation to extremes of weather?

With the effects of COVID19 across the world, we have either found writing to be an escape or a block on it. Maybe, we cannot find the inspiration for a narrative but our journal writing has increased. A record of our experience for future reference.

sofa

Have you written a scene a certain way because of the weather you were experiencing at that time?  There are ways weather can be used in a narrative. It can give a mood or be symbolic, or even complicate the character’s situation.

I have currently returned to a manuscript, where the main protagonist escapes into the wild and the current storms helped set the mood. I could feel the intense foreboding, the expectation, the fear of the next thunderclap.

What weather inspired writing have you experienced in 2020 so far?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Tips for Good Editing & Proofreading – Author ToolBox Blog Hop

June 18, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

A good editor is worth their weight in gold. They not only fix your grammar and find and correct major and minor errors , but also improve your book’s content and structure in a way that preserves your style. There are two main processes a manuscript has to go through prior to publication. Both require a systematic approach.

Use these as a guideline to edit and proofread your manuscript before sending it to an editor. Expect a red-lined manuscript back and learn from the experience.

edit

Editing

This process concentrates on:

Paragraph structure and clear transitions between paragraphs.There is a flow of the story – whether character development or plot.

Highlighting any repetition of words, sentence structure, and the correct use of any technical, historical or factual elements.

Helps to condense and improve the efficiency of your writing.

Questions your flow of the narrative.

proof

Proofreading

A more focused approach to find common errors and the ones missed during editing. Here are a couple of tips to help you:

Read the manuscript out loud or divide it into sections. TIP Read from last chapter to first.

Rewrite structure if required, such as plot, story line, consistency and continuity. TIP Create a general outline 1 – 3 pages maximum to track the story line.

Scene outline. Read each scene to determine if they require editing or deletion TIP Do they push the story forward? If not delete them. TIP Create a check list for each step of proofreading. Then concentrate on that particular one at a time.

Print out your manuscript – it may seem odd to do this in the computer age but we perceive information differently between screen and paper. TIP Read it out loud. On hearing the flow of the language you will understand your strong and weak points.

TIP from the King!

We can be too wordy in our writing, Stephen King learned: “2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”. An average manuscript requires at least three rounds of editing and at each round try to shorten your draft for 10% of its original length.

Linear Edit. This is the point you deal with the minor issues such as rewriting sentences, exchanging with words, and fix grammar, punctuation, proofread for misspellings and typos.

Do you have a particular system or tip you use while editing & proofreading?

I have read about one author who prints the manuscript on different coloured paper for each step but this seems a bit excessive! 

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