Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Utilizing Prompts

January 16, 2020
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I have been the advocate of prompts to spark imagination ever since I began writing. In fact my first ‘real’ piece of writing was the result of a three word prompt. Here it is:

Fire, Clock & Certainty.

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Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.

Since those humble beginnings, I have continued to use prompts, whether words or pictures to engage my Muse. At Christmas, I was given a Word of the Day desk calendar and will utilize the words to create a short story or poem. These is the result of the first 10 days of January. As you can see the words are unique and gave me more of a challenge. 

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Kinara, Chronoaut, Ineluctable, Deportment, Palmary, Epiphanic, Kolacky, Bloviate, Cathexis, Redolent

Jensen stood in line with the other candidates listening to the bloviate speech of the head of the facility. As he exalted the program’s cathexis in their training, noting one man stood out above the rest. Jensen saw the commander’s eyes glance towards him and he an epiphanic sensation went through him – he would be the one, it was ineluctable after all, and his tests had all proved top marks coupled with his deportment in any given scenario. Jensen knew his was palmary among these excellent candidates in the chrononaut program.

His first glimpse of the other universe as he emerged as the first time traveler was an elaborately set table with a kinara lighting the room with a redolent kolacky set in the middle.

As writers we are always immersed in our own creative world, full of locations, characters, plot lines and scenarios – whether imaginary or real. However, sometimes our brains become stagnant, unresponsive or just plain tired. To leave our current ‘work in progress’ can help us greatly to refresh and regroup. That is where prompts come into their own. With an unrelated word choice or image, comes new insight and fun. They maybe a quick ten minute exercise or, as so many do, take on a life of their own propelling you into a story you had not previously imagined. Three prompts I found lent themselves to the creation of a novella. 

The easiest way to use a prompt is to let the initial thought flow and just let it take you wherever feels right. It maybe result in a poem, short story, a character study, a word association or something else. Many will be forgotten and not saved but some ignite that creativity to renew.

I create prompts for my writing groups website every Saturday, if you feel like visiting: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/saturday-writing-prompt

Have you used prompts? What is your experience with them?  

 

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Platform

January 9, 2020
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As published authors, we soon realize that writing the book is only half the story – literally! Now we have to promote it in order to sell it. When I published my first children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare this became clear quite quickly, when I was asked where my author platform was. As a new author, I had not heard of or experienced an author platform, never mind created one.

It was a steep learning curve for sure and I began this blog, with a lot of trepidation as I did not have a clue what I was doing. It has, over the past ten years, morphed into a site for support, sharing and encouragement for the writing community and I am proud to be a writing community advocate. However, I am refocusing in 2020 to get back to posting about my writing life as well. So back to the point in hand.

An author platform can range from a just a website or blog highlighting your books to being present on a multitude of social media sites and promoting your novels but also your writing life.

I am sharing a really good definition of an author platform, written by Jane Friedman. It certainly gives us a guide as to what to include and not. https://www.janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/

So what are the first steps to creating a platform?

1. Put up a website and/or blog and purchase a domain name for it.

2. Write articles and publish them online, utilizing your ‘expertise’ on whatever topic you know. It can be parenting, traveling, baking etc.

3. For fiction writers find literary magazines where you can publish short stories then share the links.

4. If you have a book ready for publication, there are numerous ways to gather interest. Post excerpts, the new cover, a character interview, events you are attending etc.

6. Start webinars and/or interviews online. And organize a blog book tour.

7. BLOG!! Make your posts interesting and make sure you edit! It also allows you to acquire an email list.

8. You do not need to be on every social media site – apart from anything else it is a lot of work! Decide which ones you are comfortable maintaining and how your theme/topic/message can be related on them.

9. Create a newsletter to send to your email list – giving glimpses into the narrative, special offers etc.

What author platform tips can you share?

What has your experience been creating your platform?

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Goal Planning

January 2, 2020
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Firstly, a Happy New Year to you all. I hope the writing gods are kind to you in 2020 and inspire you to write many new stories.

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It is customary to make goals or resolutions with the arrival of a new year, some will be accomplished others not, but no matter what, we can help ourselves by planning. There are several way to do this, such as:

  1. Making a goal board
  2. Using a planner
  3. Writing out each goal on your calendar so you have a deadline
  4. Work with a group of friends to encourage each other to stay on track
  5. Or even a mixture of some or all of the above!

As you can see from the image, I have four different ‘planning’ tools – I always use the same fridge calendar, where dates are entered for all my ‘writing’ related items such as conferences, meetings and events etc. This year I am attending a new event, When Words Collide and traveling to  new parts of Alberta and British Columbia on writing road trips.

The weekly notepad with the lovely floral background now has my facebook/twitter group schedule so we all post the same subject each day enabling us to share and comment. The smaller notebook has freelance projects listed in it with details, contact information and deadlines. I also have a new ‘word of the day’ desk calendar, which I will use to inspire my Muse.

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What do you use to keep yourself on track with your writing life?

Mandy Eve-Barnett’s Blog Schedule 2020

December 31, 2019
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Blog schedule 2020

As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the coming year. My blog has in the past morphed into a writer’s blog as opposed to a reader’s blog and so I want 2020 to be different by still continuing to support my writing community as advocate but also to engage my reader’s more. To this end my twice weekly posts will be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.

I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday

Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.

First pages

Update on events I will be attending.

A glimpse at my current writing project.

Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.

My book reviews

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday

Segments from my interview with Online for Authors

Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge & First Pages

Writing Tips

Author Toolbox

Author Website links

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I am also starting a newsletter so please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.

Author Interview – Jaclyn Dawn

December 24, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Jaclyn Dawn

What inspired your latest novel?

  • The idea for The Inquirer came to me in line at the grocery store where the tabloids and gossip magazines are on display. I wondered what the featured celebrities thought of the headlines. What would my neighbors and I think if our local newspaper was publishing sensationalized articles about our love lives, blunders, and appearances? In The Inquirer, a mysterious tabloid starts airing the dirty laundry of a small town here in Alberta, and Amiah Williams becomes an unsuspecting feature.

How did you come up with the title?                       

The Inquirer struck me as the perfect title. It brings to mind the National Enquirer, which is the type of newspaper I want readers to imagine. And it represents Amiah, the protagonist, who is forced to dig into the twisted truth behind the tabloid and her past.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope The Inquirer entertains readers. On a deeper level, it explores different types and levels of stereotyping and gossip. Perhaps some readers will question what happens behind closed doors or think twice about when to speak up and when best to be quiet.

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How much of the book is realistic?

It hasn’t happened, but it could, if that’s what you mean. I was surprised by how often I would come up with what I thought was an outrageous headline for the fictional tabloid and then something similar would happen in real life! Most often, I would then change the headline for fear that people would think it was based on them.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The Inquirer is fiction, but I feel like the characters are familiar and I have had readers say they have known similar sets of characters in their lives.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Readers can connect with me on Twitter (@readjaclyndawn), on Facebook (@authorjaclyndawn), and at jaclyndawn.com.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I recently started putting on paper an idea for another stand-alone, fiction novel that has been percolating for some time. I don’t have an elevator speech quite ready yet, though.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I really like Ray Williams, Amiah’s dad in The Inquirer. He doesn’t fit his stereotype, buy into stereotypes, or give stereotypes all that much thought. I has a quirky sense of humour, and I wish I could feel as comfortable in my own skin as he does his.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I dabble in many genres as a writer and a reader. NeWest has called The Inquirer genre-bending but primarily markets it as literary fiction; it is located in the general fiction section of the library. I enjoy writing children’s stories, but so far that has been reserved for entertaining my son.   

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

My story ideas have to percolate for a while. If I try to write or discuss them too early, the ideas fall flat. I have a general idea of what will happen before I start writing and will jot down notes I don’t want to forget, but the characters tend to take over and connect the dots from there. 

What is your best marketing tip?

Embrace the digital age, including finding social media that suits you and your readers, connecting with fellow writers online, and participating in blog interviews like this! 

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? 

Social media can help you reach a lot of potential readers and connect with fellow writers, but it can also be distracting and disheartening.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

For me, writing is cathartic and entertaining. It is a way to explore topics. I find myself asking the same two questions in most of my writing: Why do people do what they do? And, what if?

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and telling them even longer according to my parents. You would probably be rich if you got paid a dollar for every time you’ve gotten a variation of that answer!

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

I consider myself lucky that this is a difficult question to answer. However, to keep it brief, I will just mention the two I live with: my husband and son. Logan makes sure when I get too grounded that I get my head back in the clouds and write. And Seth’s teachers and coaches knew about The Inquirer before the publisher’s catalogue even came out.

Where is your favorite writing space?

The space in our house that the previous owners called a dining room is my library, with shelves of books and memorabilia that has more personal than monetary value and the writing desk my husband refinished for me for one of my birthdays. I call this my writing hub because I come and go with my notebooks, scraps of paper used when inspiration hits at inopportune times, and laptop. I find myself writing for snippets of time everywhere I go. If I was limited to a traditional work space, my creativity, efficiency, health (migraines), and – I admit it – mood would all suffer.

Do you see writing as a career?

With a Bachelor of Applied Communications from MacEwan University and a Master of Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University, I have made a career of a combination of writing. I taught at MacEwan and NAIT, work with my Scriptorium team, and am now also fulfilling my childhood dream of seeing a book of my own in the bookstore and library.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

The Inquirer was originally my MA dissertation, and involved being part of a writing group. Otherwise, I am not part of a formal group but have a growing and much appreciated network of fellow writers.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

My writing times and locations vary, but I will never turn down popcorn.

Bio:

Jaclyn Dawn grew up in a tabloid-free small town in Alberta. With a communications degree and creative writing masters, she works as a freelance writer and instructor. She now lives somewhere between city and country outside Edmonton with her husband and son. The Inquirer is her debut novel.

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