Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Short Story – The Crone’s Secret

October 4, 2022
mandyevebarnett


As most of you know, I love writing prompt’s and some of my novels have started as, or incorporated prompts in one way or another. As host of the writing group’s monthly sharing meeting, I assign ‘homework’ for attendees. This month’s prompt was to incorporate a potion of some sort, after all it is Halloween month. This was my response, I hope you like it.

Thin clouds drifted across the twilight sky, obscuring, then revealing the full moon’s light on the small hut and earthen track leading up to it. A lone wolf’s howl echoed in the forest, startling large black crows into flight from their roost, their noisy cawing disturbing the earlier still night air. A rickety cart crunched the dry earth as its inhabitant and the old horse pulling it, neared the hut. Wrapped in threadbare cloth and barefooted, the rider pulled at the reins and let out a sigh. To any observer the rider was an old crone, bent almost double, a large hump on her back, only her face, feet and hands uncovered, which were veined and wrinkled. She picked up a wicker basket covered by a velvet cloth and descended from the cart. Patting the horse as she passed, it changed shape, diminished in size and became a fox before scurrying away.

            With shuffling steps, the crone opened the wooden door and entered the ramshackled hut. Candles flickered into life at the passing of her hand, and a fire blazed into being. After placing the basket on a wooden table worn to a shine and scarred with use, she discarded the old cloth to reveal an ebony velvet cloak. Slippers of the same colour appeared on her feet and her hair tumbled down her back in dark locks. Anyone seeing her now, as a young woman, would never think she was the old crone peddling in the walled city streets. She guarded her secret well.

            One again, she had accumulated the ingredients for her secret potion. The first step was to soak the gathered fungi, and night lily root in lamb’s blood overnight. This was the basis of the elixir; one she had perfected over the last century or more. Her age was a mystery even to her now. So many renewals, so many moves to walled cities across the land, once again she would move to avoid any inquisitive questioning. She pulled a brass covered wooden box from a shelf and unlocked it. The vial inside shone with iridescence, there was just enough for the next potion. Her renewal would give her time to travel to the cavern deep within a cliff beside the ocean on the western most edge of the kingdom of Udizan. There she would refill the vial from the source, her most guarded secret. A pool of shining liquid, it’s origin unknown, but it’s effects powerful, when combined with the other ingredients. She placed the vial back in the box, turned the key and returned the treasured possession back on its shelf. As she turned, she cast a spell to protect the hut from any intruder and went to bed. In the morning, she would begin the ritual, adding all the items of the recipe, then drinking the elixir before leaving this hovel to find another place, another city, another ‘life’ among mortal beings.

            She lay down as images of her multiple past existences came to mind – cities blended into one, faces merged and became indistinct, memories too many to define. She let out a sigh of despair – did she really want to live yet another life? The secret would die with her unless she could find someone worthy. Was that so impossible? How would she begin? Her troubled thoughts plagued her once again. Was it really such a great thing to live forever?

Do you have a favorite Halloween story? Care to share?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Choosing Writing Space Decor

September 29, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Not my room!

I have been given the opportunity to create a new writing/creative space for myself. This is exciting as well as daunting. There are many factors to consider apart from the placement of the desk.

Lighting – natural and artificial

The room has one window, which is central to one wall, so I want to maximize the natural light coming onto the desk. Added to this there is one ceiling light, which will cause shadows, so I will add a good strong lamp for desk work. Having a nice view is a double edged sword for writers – it is relaxing and refreshes the mind, but can also be a distraction. Therefore, I will place my L-shaped desk in such a way to allow focused work and nature watching.

Paint colours

I have to consider what ‘mood’ I want to convey with the paint colour on the walls. Do I go for a single or double coloured walls, or have a focus wall? When researching colours, I found that green boosts creativity, promotes harmony and is a good choice for brainstorming spaces. So that may be my choice, although there are a multitude of greens to consider! I The carpet is a light sandy earth tone so it will balance the room. I would like to have some sort of wall mural to make the room feel like a natural oasis and might invest in a large mural of a tree or hanging foliage to make the space feel like it is in nature. This will be especially nice when I endure the Albertan winter! I found some really nice ones.

Decor – natural and artificial

I love plants, so will choose air purifying and variegated leaf plants for this space. These include spider plants, English ivy, and pothos, all of which I have already, so it will be a matter of propagating and new pots.

There is also the texture to contemplate – soft and plush and hard and shiny to give the room balance. My floor lamp is silver metal, my desk a light beige, my office chair is a dark blue, and maybe I will invest in a plush rug for my feet. Then there are the other furniture items to think about – another bookshelf, a large armchair, a a crafting table for other creative endeavors…the list goes on!

All of these are just ideas at the moment, things change, ideas come to mind. It is the process that is the joy.

How did you choose to decorate your writing space?

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Real Places in Books

September 6, 2022
mandyevebarnett


I have just finished a wonderful novel, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax. It is a super read and I recommend it. (My review is on Goodreads).

After I finished reading, it occurred to me that as I lived near, and often visited Highclere Castle (Downton) when I lived in England, there must be numerous novels sited in actual places, rather than fictional ones. I have used my road trips the length and breath of England, Wales, Scotland and a portion of Canada to create locations in my books.

Knowing a place you are reading about is exciting as you can picture it exactly, and spot any errors, truth be told, as well. Of course, in the TV series of Downton the locations are many and not related to the fictional area at all in many cases. Here is a list of locations, many are far apart from each other! Link: That is the magic of TV & movies.

I used my many visits to castles, historic houses and ancient sites in my medieval novellas, The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy. Experiencing a place makes the narrative even more compelling and real to write about, and I hope that comes across in the stories.

For my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch, I used the enormity of a Canadian prairie as the setting for the male compound. Mountains are seen in the far distance, just like we see when driving west on the Yellowhead, but the concrete jungle is no longer in existence in my story.

What books have you read where you have known the location? Did it ring true? DId you find errors, or notice author’s license to fictionalize it?

Wordsmith’s Collective Tuesday – Novel to Movie – An Author’s Dream

September 1, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Back in November, 2013, I wrote the first draft of a western romance, Willow Tree Tears. Subsequently, it was edited and revised, but to date has not made it into the world. One character is an Italian businessman touring rodeo’s selling his high end leather cowboy boots. Like a bolt of lightening, it hit me that my latest obsession -Michele Morrone would make the perfect actor for this part, if the story was made into a movie. The first scene has my heroine glimpsing a white shirt among the leather and plaid attire of the rodeo crowd.

Lucio

Michele Morrone

Of course, I then had to investigate who would play the other characters. This is a fun exercise for many writers and authors, not only because we would love all our novels to become movies, but also it can help us ‘picture’ our characters as we write. These are my options for the other characters.

Colton – ranch manager and high school friend of Madison’s. Secretly in love with Madison.

Alexander Ludwig

Chord Overstreet

Scott Eastwood

Madison – champion barrel racer.

Madelaine Petsch

Holland Roden

Bella Thorne

Which actors do you think would be best for Madison and Colton?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Little Free Libraries

August 30, 2022
mandyevebarnett


I spent some time driving around my local area yesterday, placing books in little free libraries. The styles and colours are all very individual and the range of books just as varied. The locations are somewhat difficult to find among the streets, crescents and drives, but I managed a few! It will be interesting to see if I am contacted about the books I left and my other novels. As a local author it is this connection I find so gratifying.

I looked up some facts about free libraries. From its humble beginnings, with first one being built in 2009 by the late Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin, as a tribute to his late mother, a book lover and school teacher. There are now over 100,000 registered in 91 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. To date more than 120 million books have been shared worldwide. We should celebrate that fact alone – after all stories are part of human history and the future. Access to books should be for everyone, no matter where they live.

Do you have a local free library? Do you frequent it or own it?

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