Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Toolkit to Create a Writing Retreat at Home

May 27, 2021
mandyevebarnett


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Without the luxury of travel during COVID, regular writing retreats have been cancelled, but it is not all bad news. We can create our own mini retreat at home. There will be some necessary arrangements to be made, which relate to your personal circumstances but it can be done. If you have a full household ask if it is possible for your partner to take your children out for an extended walk or to a play ground or even outside yard activities? Set times that you want to write without interruptions. This may be early morning or late evening, a time of day that you can set aside for writing. If staying in the home is too difficult, maybe drive to a secluded spot and write in a notebook to type up later. There is always somewhere you can find to accommodate writing time.

The length of time you have for your retreat will, of course, depend on what is possible for you. You may have two hours a day over a couple of days or a day or two. Before creating your retreat think about the following:

Why do you need a retreat? This might seem like a silly question but take the time to decide if the retreat has a direct purpose for your writing.

What is your goal? Again ask yourself, what can this retreat help you accomplish. Is it to begin or finish a project, a full edit, or a final read through?

Once you have identified these two points, you can plan by initially setting targets with measurable realistic goals, don’t overwhelm yourself. Depending on the time allotted for your retreat, create a daily writing plan. What are your objectives for each day? This can be writing or editing a certain number of pages, sequencing chapter content or revising scenes.

It is important to eliminate distractions as much as possible allowing you to concentrate. This should include switching off your cell phone, setting specific times for social media interactions, or even setting a timer!

The more you organize before hand the better your experience will be. Let’s look at some essentials.

Plan Your Retreat Time– use your preference – a simple sheet with goals for each day/hour, or a whiteboard with retreat objectives or notes in a day planner.

Tools – these can include a notebook, laptop, post-its, record cards, mood board, a print out of your manuscript, reference books or research sites bookmarked on your search engine. Everything that you need to successfully accomplish your goal.

Snacks & Water– the brain needs to be fed and watered as you delve into your project. Have plenty of water and easy nibbles handy.

Space – designate a space where you will work, where you and your tools will not be disturbed.

Rewards – how will you reward yourself for accomplishing your set goals? Decide how, it can be going for a walk, or thirty minutes on social media, or relaxing reading a book.

Remember this time is ultimately for you and your writing, a time to invest in your craft.

I’d love to hear your experiences with a home writing retreat. How did you achieve it?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – DIY Takes Precedence

August 19, 2020
mandyevebarnett


 

Hello and firstly apologies for my tardiness. It has been a crazy week. I have been upgrading my kitchen with some help from a friend. Six days of sanding, priming and painting cupboard doors! You don’t realize how many doors a kitchen has until you have to paint them, I can tell you. So from dull wooden kitchen to a fresh, bright and clean white kitchen with a soft green in the panels. A new splash-back has been put up too.

There is still more to do, as I had white tongue and groove to put over large wood panels and then a major reorganization. De-cluttering will commence once the upgrade is complete. The sanding and painting is a real upper body work out and with the hot temperatures we have been experiencing, sitting out on the deck meant I caught the sun. The sore muscles and weariness are so worth the end result though.

So to sum up – no writing done and almost no reading either. I am waiting on a revision to my steampunk novel book cover and review from my publisher for edits to the manuscript. My newest suspense manuscript has been left alone for the time being. Creativity of another sort took precedence.

crowsnest

I do have one event to look forward to in October – a writing retreat with a couple of friends in Crownest Pass. It is a self contained cabin, so we can write without disturbance, enjoying the views and being inspired by nature. I should be able to get some reading done too.

What have you upgraded during COVID19? It seems to be a popular thing to do for sure.

Genres of Literature – Musical Fiction

November 5, 2018
mandyevebarnett


musical-notes.jpeg

Musical fiction is a genre of fiction in which music is the main subject matter of the narrative. It can also be through the rhythm and flow of the prose itself.  As a literary sub-genre it engages musical pretexts, as well a relationship to a musical model.

June Skinner stated in her book, The Best of Rock Fiction – “Rock fiction has not received the proper respect it deserves, which is unfortunate given the caliber of writers who have captured its fleeting essence on the written page.”

Novels written with a musical component can be base on the era, a personality or a vehicle to set the ‘mood’ of the narrative.

One of my favorites is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, the movie of the same name starring John Cusack was full of musical references.

Here is a great list of music based novels. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/the-read-down/books-to-read-if-you-love-music

Genres of Literary – Graphic Novel

August 20, 2018
mandyevebarnett


GraphicNovels

A graphic novel is made up of comic styled content rarely using any words but a lot of pictures. The term “graphic novel” is broadly applied and can include fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. This type of novel was originally created in the 1940’s and 50’s. The definition is – a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.

The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck is the oldest recognized American example of a comic subsequently published as a ‘novel’ in 1828. The genre grew in popularity from the 1920’s through to the late 1960’s, when American comic book creators were becoming more adventurous with the form. While, in continental Europe, the tradition of collecting serials of popular strips, such as The Adventures of Tintin became popular.

 Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin’s Blackmark (1971), was a science fiction/sword-and-sorcery paperback published by Bantam Books and described as the very first American graphic novel. It was a 119-page story of comic-book art, with captions and word balloons, published in a traditional book format. 

In response to criticism regarding the content of comic books, and to the establishment of the industry’s self-censorship, Comics Code Authority an underground alternative comix movement was created in the 1970’s.  The term “graphic novel” was intended to distinguish it from the traditional serialized nature of comic books, with which it shared a storytelling medium. One term used was that graphic novels introduced the concept of graphiation, which was a newly coined term used to describe graphic expression or visual enunciation. 

Which graphic novel character is your favorite?

 

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..

July 20, 2015
mandyevebarnett


To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

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