Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Reader Feedback Wanted on this Story Excerpt.

August 3, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Today I am sharing the first paragraph of a ‘on the back burner’ work in progress. It is the result of a National Novel Writing Month challenge, a couple of years ago. I am unsure if it will ever become a fully fledged novel, time will tell. I would welcome any feedback on this excerpt.

Do you ‘see’ Jess?

Do you get an idea of her background, her personality?

What genre do you think it is?

Would you read more?

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

Coming to University – Part One

Jess                                                                                                                                        

Jess sat hugging the hot coffee mug in her hands, she may have looked relaxed and happy, but inside she was in turmoil. Her eyes scanned the many pedestrians walking back and forth on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. Willing him – the one -to appear out of the crowd. Tall, blonde and athletic her first real crush, well as she called it – a grown up infatuation – not like the silly childish crushes, when she was at school back home. Here at university it was so different.  She had independence from a worrywart doormat of a mother, who pushed her towards any ‘suitable’ young boy. “Make the right choice now, Jessie, and you will be happy. Don’t make my mistake and go for the ‘cool guy’.  Her mother always whispered this advice least her distant and unemotional father heard. Jess tried to elicit more information from her mother on the subject, but it was always brushed aside.

The thought of the three of them eating in silence every evening meal at the dining table made her cringe. Jess once ventured to ask to eat in her room, mainly to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere; it was met with a horrified look on her mother’s face and a rage exploding from her father, which so terrified Jess she vomited there and then. This, of course, made the matter a hundred times worse. Her father stormed out of the room; slamming his study door so hard it propelled two pictures off the hallway wall. Her mother visibly shaking went into clean up mode immediately, running to the kitchen and filling a bowl of hot water and grabbing several rags to ‘save’ the carpet. Jess stood frozen in place, the vomit drying on her dress and chin as tears ran unbidden down her cheeks.  It wasn’t until her mother pushed at her leg to reach a splash of vomit that either realized the other’s presence. “Get in the bath, Jessie and put that dress in the sink.” Having an instruction gave her body permission to move. She climbed the stairs, stripped and sat in the bath as it filled with water. Deep inside a switch turned, she needed to escape this house and find real love, someplace where people loved each other and were happy. At the time, at the tender age of eleven, she could only dream and secretly plan, but as the weeks and months passed, her escape route gradually formed. Her art teacher told her she had a real gift and after several conversations between them, they managed to find a grant-funded course for Jess in a university several hundred miles away. For Jess the distance was heaven sent almost as much as her teacher’s ability to get the grant on her behalf. With no costs to pay, her parents could not refuse Jess attending.

She announced her entrance into the university over another silent dinner table the day of graduation. Her mother looked at her wide-eyed, but Jess could see relief there too. Her father paused putting a mouthful of food in his mouth, looked directly at Jess and said, “Make the most of the opportunity.” He then continued eating, no good luck, and no congratulations – nothing. Later, her mother came into her bedroom and hugged her. “You will find someone wonderful Jessie, I am so happy for you.” Even then, her mother did not divulge any information on love and life or relationships, leaving Jess with a hope nurtured in her chest that she would indeed find love, a true love. Someone who made her happy, talked to her, listened to her, and gave her a wonderful life.

Thank you for participating. Your comments will be helpful.

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – 10 Tips To Get Your Writing Mojo Back.

June 11, 2020
mandyevebarnett


block 2

Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.

However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.

Has that ever happened for you?

There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:

1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.

2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.

3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.

4. Finish a small project.

6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.

8. Do another creative activity.

9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.

10. Create a character description – including all their back story.

himalayan salt lamp near laptop on wooden table

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!

 

 

Guardianship themes…

June 14, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Tutelage – definition: instruction : protection : guardianship

Winner of NaNo

My current work in progress is the result of my successful participation in NaNoWriMo 2012. It is a children’s book about woodland sprites helping the animals that live within their forest. The sprites knowledge of healing was passed down generation to generation. Elders instructing their offspring.

With all new project’s; after the initial idea is laid down, the real work begins. I had to create a history for the sprites and their kind as well as decide, which animals I would have them interact with. Each animal also required their own history and an ailment the sprites could fix. I researched herbal medicines and fabricated instruments the sprites could use. Coming up with names for all these characters was also really enjoyable. I tried to match the name with the animal’s personality. For example the wise old owl is called Xavier, while the mole is Morry.

Woodland sprites front door

Woodland sprites front door

When I thought about today’s word, it occurred to me that these sprites are guardians of the forest dwellers. They ensured the well being and safety of their charges. In a different way, my protagonist, Evan in Life in Slake Patch also had a guardianship role. Although his difficulties were much more complicated. He fought to maintain the matriarchy rules, whilst discovering opposing views to the system and becoming instrumental in historic changes.

What is your current project’s theme?

Do you have guardianship in one way or another?

Lurch – a character study…

March 27, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Lurch – definition: a sudden swaying or tipping movement, a staggering gait.

I don’t know about you but my immediate thought is of Lurch from the Addams Family. Although he is not a main character he is well known and takes an integral part in the show/movie. I will use him as a character study.

Fester_lurch_1966Lurch is an imposing figure at 6 ft 9 in tall with a deep, resonating voice that seems to come up from his boots. As the family‘s butler his shambling, gloomy persona also gives the audience a sense of strict formality. His stumbling, slow gait gives us the impression that he is still coming to grips with walking. He does resemble Frankenstein’s monster in some ways, with a flat head topped with scant hair and one opaque eye but does not have the neck bolts. He is much more pleasing to the eye in his suit and bow tie.  Lurch can speak normally, however tends to use inarticulate moans instead, which are fully understood by the family members. We can only take the word of said family that Lurch can indeed be eloquent and vivacious. Although Lurch does not excel in his role as butler he is without doubt faithful to the Addams but is often the object of their jokes.

Although his size and strength can be a hindrance at times, Lurch goes about his duties as best he can and seems to take pride in even the most arduous of tasks. There is no question that he is loyal to the Addams family although he can be clearly exasperated by them on occasion. This is shown by the occasional dubious looks he gives some of their stranger activities, although he does share some of the family’s macabre standards.  However, his loyalty is rewarded by the family treating him as one of their own.

When Lurch is summoned by way of the hangman’s noose bell pull, we hear a loud gong-like sound and Lurch appears instantly with the immortal words “You rang?”  It seems that no matter where he happens to be in the house he can transport himself instantaneously to whomever called him.

This strange character does seem to have quite a strong paternal affection for both Wednesday and Pugsley, and looks after their needs from making their lunch to driving them to school to generally keeping an eye on them. Next to her headless Marie Antoinette doll, Lurch is Wednesday’s best friend. Lurch in turn is close friends with Thing, the disembodied hand. Surprisingly Lurch’s talent is in playing the harpsichord at a virtuoso level.

Have you got a secondary character you would like to share as a study?

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