Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Two Mother’s Days!

May 10, 2022
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Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

I’m in the unusual position of having the potential to celebrate two Mother’s Day’s. In England the day is celebrated in March, however in Canada it is celebrated in May.

I wondered why this was the case, so did some research to find out why there are two dates. The Mother’s day in the America’s is a 20th century invention by a woman called Anna Jarvis. Her mother organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health, and was also a human rights activist during the Civil War of 1861. Anna wanted to celebrate her mother in a memorial service and did so on 12th May 1907. This was her late mother’s birthday. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day.

In England, Mothering Sunday was not originally to celebrate mother’s per se, but began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. Thus the date falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent three weeks before Easter Sunday.

I was treated to supper and received this lovely calla lily.

The rest of my weekend was spent walking Sammie, editing book two of The Delphic Murders and reading.

What did you get up to?

What are you reading?

My current read is The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. Blurb: Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family’s wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl-and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Language Differences in Stories

August 24, 2021
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My current read is My Ghosts by Mary Swan, the book I found in a small bookstore while traveling. I am enjoying the author’s style and get a real sense of the main protagonist and her plight. It is of particular interest to me as I too emigrated. Getting to know the customs, language and manner of another country is a remarkable journey for anyone. The novel character’s are from Scotland and travel to Toronto, Canada, while I was from England and came to Edmonton, Canada. You might think that there could be no language differences, but you would be wrong. For example, in England the front of a car is a bonnet but in Canada a hood, or the rear is a boot but here a trunk. I know a sidewalk as a pavement and a wrench as a spanner. This last item puzzled my Canadian work colleagues, when I first asked for one, but when I described it, I was informed the item was indeed a wrench not a spanner.

Languages are a combination of settlers and native inhabitants own language, which is assimilated into common use over generations. Accents are closely related to specific areas, where the majority of inhabitants are from a common location that influences dialect development. This can be from invasions, an influx of settlers or workers to the area and in modern times the use of slang has become incorporated. Another influence is class, where an upper class person will speak differently from a lower class person. It is the influence of their peers that affects their accent.

While writing a story, a writer has to be conscious of the dialect of an area they are writing about or indeed the origins of the character. I find no problem in writing English dialects and accents as I have known them for most of my life. However, as I write my Canadian detective series, I am conscious of word usage and slang. I have to check with my author friends as to the names of certain things. Once example is I use dado rail in a paragraph, but no-one knew what it was until I described it. Then it was clear the word I needed to use was chair rail.

Some author’s have a ‘key’ at the back of their fiction books, most commonly found in fantasy stories. However, I am sure that most readers can understand the ‘new’ words due their context within a sentence or paragraph and the repeated use. Obviously, we are used to a glossary in a non-fiction book, whil ewe study a subject.

Have you read a book with noticeable language differences to your own?

Did you find it easy to read or puzzling?

Was there a glossary at the back of the book? Did it hinder your reading or help?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How the Natural World Influences My Life and My Narratives

June 22, 2021
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My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.

My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.

In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.

In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.

I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.

As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.

You can find my books here: https://www.amazon.ca/Mandy-Eve-Barnett/e/B01MDUAS0V/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

What have you discovered in the natural world? How does nature affect you?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Dreams into Stories

May 7, 2020
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Inspiration can strike us at any time from a vast array of sources. An overheard conversation, a scenic view, an image or a news report – the list goes on and on. One of the most frustrating but rewarding is dreams. They are elusive a lot of the time but if we can capture them somehow, they can become the marvelous start to a story idea.

In my current steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift, the initial scene is actually a dream sequence I experienced. It is a cloaked figure propelling out of a high window. When I woke up, I immediately wrote down everything I could remember of the scene. It was an older mansion house, an older time period and the person falling was a young female wearing a cloak. 

Writer Tip: Always keep a notebook and pen beside your bed.

Upon reflection of the dream, I was able to ascertain that the ‘place’ was actually very similar to my old school in England. Which was an Elizabethan mansion. When I was at school many of the rooms still had the original wooden paneling, large stone fireplaces and leaded-light windows. It is now a historic site and open to visitors. https://www.historichouses.org/houses/house-listing/shaw-house.html (images above)

As with most dreams their fleeting quality can make solidifying them difficult but with practice you can train yourself to remember them. A notebook is useful to have on hand but also try to keep within the dream for as long as you can before you become fully awake and your day starts. 

Here are a few tips to try:

Write, “I can remember my dreams” on a sticky note, place it somewhere you’ll see it before you go to sleep, and read the note aloud.

Go to bed at a regular time.

Practice 20 minutes of mediation prior to sleep.

What dream(s) resulted in a story idea for you? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Boxing Day? An Explanation

December 26, 2019
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The origins of ‘Boxing Day’ are steeped in history and in my naivety, I assumed everyone had or knew of Boxing Day. Growing up in England my understanding was that it was an old tradition to open gifts the day after as Christmas Day was spent in church and then feasting.

The exact etymology of the term ‘boxing’ is unfortunately unclear and although there are several competing theories, none are definitive. Money and other gifts were traditionally given to the needy and to those in service positions, such as servants. The European tradition goes back to the Middle Ages but its exact origin is still unknown. There have also been claims that it dates back to the late Roman/early Christian era. It is known that metal boxes were placed outside churches to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen. In England it was the custom in the nineteen-century for Victorian tradesmen to collect their ‘Christmas boxes’ or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year.

The name could also derive from another old English tradition, where wealthy landowners would allow their servants to have the 26th off work to visit their families in return for a smoothly run Christmas Day feast. Each servant was given a box containing gifts and bonuses and sometimes leftover food! Also around the 1800’s churches would open their alms boxes and distribute the contents to the poor. These boxes were filled with monetary donations from the wealthier members of the congregation.

No matter which version you would like to believe, Boxing Day is still an enjoyable holiday and one spent with family and friends, enjoying the ‘left overs’ and new gifts.

What will you be doing this Boxing Day?

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