As I relay in the article, as writers we should invest in our craft, to become better equipped not only to write, but to understand the complexities of this art form. There are as many methods, genres and avenues to choose from as there are individual writers. We can learn a new genre, research a new topic or gain insights into another writing style. It is a lifelong learning journey.
To gain new knowledge we can access workshops, writing coaches, buy (or borrow – a library is a great resource) relevant books and discuss methods and outlets for our writing within a writing group.
What new aspect of writing have you learnt recently?
When I initially, made the decision to branch out into freelance writing after a couple of paid gigs, I had no idea how it would affect my writing style. Obviously, it was interesting, but also gave it me another avenue to learn my writing skill.
When I write creatively, I am in control of what happens, where the story leads when I write and ultimately when I finish. However, with freelance projects I quickly learned to accommodate another person’s viewpoint, requirements and adhere to a deadline. Fulfilling another person’s vision for their project is about asking questions – lots of questions and then reiterating them to ensure you are both on the same wavelength. Among my past projects, I have written new bio’s, edited manuscripts, created blog and social media posts, written articles and information leaflets, mentoring and ghost written a hybrid marketing book to name a few.
Through this business I have gain experience and knowledge from each project, which allows me to hone my skill. I have also gained valuable insights into other styles of writing, which in turn have assisted me in my creative writing. You may think that cannot be the case, but all writing teaches us something. It can be as simple as writing to a deadline or writing to a specific style or tone to align with current literature or media. It also gives me great backstories for future characters, who work in environments I am writing and learning about so a win-win situation.
Have you broaden your writing into freelance? What has your experience been like?
You can find my freelance website, testimonials etc. here:
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, young adult and adult books. Every story has a basis of love, magic, and mystery. Mandy currently lives in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. Her background is diverse and gives her rich experience to utilize in her writing. She has been a nursing professional, a business owner, and a sort after administration expert. She has traveled throughout Europe, parts of America and Canada and was born in Africa.
Mandy joined a writers group about 10 years ago and has not looked back. She shares about reading her first piece of writing to the group “I thought okay, I have to write something. So I write this very short piece and it had a twist at the end. So, you know, I was really nervous, but I read it and the room went quiet. I’m thinking, “NO OH!?” I’m never coming back again, it was obviously dreadful and they absolutely hated it. Then everyone went, Wow! They just loved it and that was the hook for me to have a reaction to something I’d written just was absolutely thrilling. I’m just thinking I have to do it again.”
Mandy is passionate about writing to the point of obsession and she succeeded in becoming a published author in record time. With eight books published since 2011 and one more launching in September 2020, she indulges her Muse in creative as well as freelance writing. Her venture into freelance writing has been successful in creating projects as diverse as social media posts, promotional literature, and professional biographies, to ghostwriting a marketing book. She also regularly contributes to the Never Been Better page in the Sherwood Park newspaper, has been published in several anthologies and collaborated in creating a ‘how to begin writing your memoir’s’ guide book for seniors.
Mandy regularly blogs and she encourages support and networking of all writers as a writing community advocate. She is also prolific on social media in a multitude of platforms. As the current Secretary of The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and past President of the Arts & Culture Council of Strathcona County, she lives her creative life to the fullest.
Alis the Aviator was initially inspired by my son. Andre was two years old and a very wiggly, spirited kid who loved airplanes – but couldn’t sit through long books. I’d just published my second popular aviation history for adults, and had so many fun facts swirling around in my head. I sat on the back porch of my house one day when he was napping and most of the first draft poured out onto the page in the bouncy, rhyming style I love from growing up with Dr. Seuss.
How did you come up with the title?
Alis is based on the real-life Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely the first Indigenous woman in Canada to get her private and commercial pilot’s licenses. I found out about Dr. Alis after I’d completed the ABCs of the book, and then was able to layer in her inspirational story in the bio. Dr. Alis has flown planes, but also is a veteran with a doctorate in psychology, who now dedicates her life to amazing volunteer causes around the world.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I hope that little kids – especially girls – read the book and feel like aviation is a dream they can pursue. The illustrator, Kalpna Patel, did such an amazing job getting the people in her cut-paper art to reflect the incredible diversity we have in Canada and the US. The number of girls and people of colour in aviation is tiny, unfortunately – and I recently learned that only about 1% of all picture books feature Indigenous characters. I hope kids of all backgrounds see themselves reflected in this book!
How much of the book is realistic?
This book is 100% fact-based. It’s a nonfiction picture book that incorporates my years of aviation history research, but presents it in a colourful and quirky way to hopefully capture the imaginations of tykes and their grownups.
Do you have plans for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have a few manuscripts in the works. The one I see following on from Alis the Aviator is a picture book biography of the pioneering Gwich’in pilot, Freddie Carmichael. We’ve known each other for ten years and it was incredible spending a week with him in Inuvik this past March working on the book. I can’t wait to share his story with the world!
Do you favor one type of genre?
I write across genres and audiences, which can be tricky from a branding perspective! So far I’ve published nonfiction for adults and kids, but I’ve got two novels in the works (a WW2 book and an upmarket contemporary novel). I’ve also been researching and writing a book about the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital that is part memoir and part history.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I’m a plantser – half and half. It really depends on the project. With my picture books, it’s like writing poetry or songs. I do a ton of research and thinking and then the first draft pours out of me in one or two sittings (with multiple rewrites and tweaks). With my adult popular histories it was easier to plan out ahead of time because I had most of the research done and they were chronological. But even then there were surprises! My novels and creative nonfiction are somewhere in the middle because they are largely based on research and real-life events.
What is your best marketing tip?
It’s also my best writing and life tip! Make friends. Join communities. Be a good literary citizen. Remember that high tides raise all ships.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
A little of column A and a little of column B. Or a lot of each, actually. Social media has been a great way to connect with people around the world – especially as I move around so much. I learn so much through those channels as well. At the same time, it can have a toxic quality to it full of judgment, comparison and shaming. I find if I think about it too much it can have a silencing effect, because I worry too much about what other people will think of me. And, like the news, it can be devastating and overwhelming, so I have to be careful how much I take in.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It’s hard to pick just one! While it’s true that sometimes it can make me cry with how challenging it can be, with how exposed I feel, there are those times when I’m in the flow and it’s like all is well. I’m in alignment. My words come out and I feel that maybe I will be understood and seen.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
My parents saved the clippings from when I was a kid – so there’s (often embarrassing) proof that I was scribbling little stories and poems from a young age. I created a little zine in my neighbourhood with friends when I was in elementary school and then was co-editor of a school newspaper in middle school. I think I published my first letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen in Grade 8 – then I was totally hooked on bylines!
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
I have jumped all over the place – poetry, fiction, nonfiction, kidlit and freelance writing for magazines and newspapers. They all feed into each other in interesting ways, I’ve noticed, and taught me different lessons. Freelancing was excellent discipline for hitting deadlines and pitching ideas, and not taking edits personally.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I belong to several writing organizations: the Writers Union of Canada, Creative Nonfiction Collective, and the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators. I was a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta for five years and it was excellent – I still miss it! I’ve created two critique groups since moving to Houston. One is online-only and focuses mostly on creative nonfiction. Members span from Canada to California to Texas. The other one is in-person here in Houston. I realized it’s not natural for me to write in a cave all the time!
Do you see writing as a career?
Actually, I see it as more of a compulsion. A job you can quit. This is forever. My son (who is now 7 years old) asked me the other day, “Mama, will you ever stop writing?” And I told him, “As long as the stories and ideas keep coming, I’ll keep writing.”
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
If readers would like to connect with me, they can find me at my website (www.daniellemc.com), and on social media: @Danielle_Author on Twitter, @dmchenail on Instagram, and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail on Facebook. I also have a blog dedicated to my Camsell Hospital research, www.ghostsofcamsell.ca.
I plan on immersing myself in the ghost writing project for the rest of this and most likely next week. It needs to be propelled forward so a final draft can be approved. A graphic designer is working on the images so the placement of these will have to be worked out as well. With possible sizes of print books and price estimates from the publisher we are nearing a conclusion in the next month. An exciting time for both my client and I as we all know when we hold a physical copy of our book for the first time it is magical and awe inspiring.
However, prior to that schedule, I invested in a workshop last night for my writing. A local author, Jennifer Snow is currently writer in residence at a downtown bookstore, Audrey’s and she was holding a workshop, which intrigued me. The evening’s workshop title was – First Five Pages & Avoiding a Saggy Middle in your Novel.
There were several other writers attending and it was interesting to hear their questions and the advice given by Jennifer. Although you may not write in the same genre as the presenter or the other attendees at workshops or conferences, there are basic fundamentals required to entice, engage and hold a reader no matter the narrative.
We all need to invest in our writing, no matter how much we think we know. You can always learn from another writer or author and as it happens I did have an idea pop into my head during the evening, which will assist in the revision of one of my manuscripts. (For those of you who don’t know I am editing four manuscripts over this and next year!) I detail my progress here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/current-project-2/
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
My review: What a wonderful book – stories of life, death and rebirth. Perfectly linking each of the souls/characters lives. Sometimes they linked up, others not. Suzanne weaved a perfect tale of past lives making great use of the ‘echoes’ of past life bringing them forward to the new existence.
If you are intrigued, interested or fascinated by reincarnation you must read this book.
Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Onto this novel – a great opening line and the story propels you forward with enticing glimpses of what might have happened.
Invest in a few valuable resources starting with The Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style.
Grammar: learn the rules and then learn how to break them effectively.
Do you have particular resources you use? Care to share?