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#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Six Tips to Tame the Story Idea Flood

September 18, 2019
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Idea Source

Many of us experience, from time to time, the dreaded writers block, that awful feeling while staring at a blank page or screen when words do not flow but what happens when there are too many story ideas bombarding our brains? It can be just as debilitating as staring at that blankness. Bizarrely the symptoms are quite similar – crippling  indecision, procrastination, and even insomnia and anxiety.

As writers we usually have numerous story ideas bouncing around inside our heads usually gleaned from something we see or hear. This may seem like a good problem to have, however, the dilemma is how do we ensure these golden nuggets are not lost or are even worth investigating?  We can make frantic notes, some which, unfortunately make no sense whatsoever later on! That middle of the night scribble is so common. But timing is everything – musing over where a new idea could possibly lead, can lead to a devastating interruption to a current project. So how do we identify if this ‘new’ idea is worth pursuing without jeopardizing our current writing?

There are strategies we can employ to enable us to identify the ideas that are worth keeping – here are a few.

a) Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while.

b) Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.

c) Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it for another time.

d) Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then it should be considered in depth.

e) Get yourself an idea board. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story or idea thread.

f) Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group.

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Not all ideas will make it and that’s okay. Use your internal writer instinct to guide you on which idea excites your specific Muse, the one that takes hold of your imagination and let the words flow. Story is our power and knowing which ones we are best at telling is key.

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Author Interview – Andrew Glen

July 30, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

My latest novel, “After The Sun Rises”, was written as a sequel to my first novel “War Dads”. Without giving too much away, “War Dads” ends with a tragic event and “After The Sun Rises” picks up from there.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came from two sources. The first is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” (Hemingway is my favourite author) and the idea that even in tragedy some good can happen. We need to get up and meet every new day.

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Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message I was trying to convey is that sometimes good can come out of bad. Sounds hokey, but I just tried to imagine what I would like to see happen if I was involved in the same situation as the characters.

How much of the book is realistic?

Not much of “After The Sun Rises” is real. However, in “War Dads,” the trip Jill and her family took to find her dad is based on a family trip my family and I took to Florida when I was in high school.
In “Beating the Odds” (the book I wrote on beating Stage IV bladder cancer), that entire book, is sadly real.

In “The Grotto and Other Short Stories” (a book of short stories I wrote) most of the events in the stories are based on real life events.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, there is a little bit of both events that took place in my life and my characters are all based on people I know; family and friends.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I have an author page on Amazon: amazon.com/author/andrewglen and a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Glen-Author-1916016901959620/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have three books hopefully coming out next. Another kids book, a book of poetry and prose, and perhaps a sequel to “After The Sun Rises.”

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite and why?

I have three.  In “Eli and the Fisherman” (one of my kid’s books) Eli is based on my son and the book is based on Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”. In “Sebastian’s Fish (another of my kid’s books) Sebastian is based on my other son and the story is based on us going to buy his first fish.  And in “After The Sun Rises, Charlotte is my favourite character, because she is what I would like the world to be; good people doing the right thing.

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Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I have dabbled in several genres and have enjoyed them all, but kid’s books are my favourite. Most of my energy will be concentrated on them going forward.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Bit of both. My first novel was totally seat of the pants style. The second novel was more planned out.

The kid’s books and the short stories were planned out and the memoir was just an honest portrayal of what I went through.

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What is your best marketing tip?

I honestly wish I was better at marketing but if I have learned anything in life it is the fact that patience and perseverance pays off. Well hopefully for some. In my opinion there is no such thing as overnight success. Success comes from never giving up. One other thing I have learned also is, if you have your books on Amazon, you need to get as many people, family, friends etc. to buy off there. It is the only way to use their algorithms to your advantage. Selling books in person is nice but unless those people write reviews or share your books on their social media sites, in the long run it doesn’t really do you any good.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

As I said social media can be a great tool, but getting family and friends to share your work is sometimes very difficult. (Example: if all the people who liked my author page bought just one book, I would be a best seller on Amazon. Same goes for the books I have sold personally, if all those people had bought my book on Amazon, I would be a best seller according to their algorithms.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that writing allows me the chance to express the things that I truly believe in. It may be fiction, but there is a lot of what I think and feel in my writing.

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What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I have been writing since I was in high school but I only started to take it serious after I was diagnosed in 2008.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I have always dabbled in poetry and fiction. The kid’s books I started writing after diagnosis. In case I didn’t make it, I wanted my kids to have something to remember me by. I guess they will now.

What genre are you currently reading?

Both fiction and non-fiction. I’m what you might call a political junkie, so I read a lot of stuff on politics fact and fiction.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. I also find that reading really helps with my writing.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My mum and dad encouraged me to read from a very early age.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have a place in my house where I put all the finishing touches on my work; it used to be my mum’s office space, (we live in m parent’s old house). But I always carry a notebook with me to jot stuff down. I never know when the muse may come so I like to be prepared.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to several groups on FB.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Ernest Hemingway; he was/is my idol. I just loved the simplicity of his writing and how every story would take you on a different adventure. He instilled in me a passion for travel as well. Because of him I have been to Paris and Cuba because I wanted to see them first hand. Hopefully Spain will be next, or to see Mt. Kilimanjaro.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Cuba. I have been there twice and love the people and the climate. That or Italy, again because of the people and the climate.

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love it if it were, but realistically, no.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Chips are my favourite snack food. (Salt and Vinegar)

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t reward myself with anything in particular. Completing a book and seeing it published is enough of a reward. I have always wanted to be a published author, and now I can say I am. Not too many people can say that. For that I am truly grateful.

In closing I would like to thank everyone who has bought a book and supported me thus far.

Bless you all.

Bio:

I have been writing for the better part of thirty years. In that time I have written a memoir, several children’s book, a collection of short stories, a book of fiction, numerous poems, works of prose and free verse.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and I underwent two years of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. In January of 2010 I had my bladder removed and thankfully I have been cancer free since then.

During treatment I found writing to be very therapeutic and I kept notes throughout my treatment. These notes then became my story.

In 2014 I self-published my memoir “Beating the Odds”, A Chronicle of a Cancer Survivor’s Battle with Cancer, Inadequate Healthcare and Social Injustice.

Unlike most cancer survivor success stories, my book, in my opinion, differs because it provides the reader with a poignant look into the trials and tribulations that all cancer patients have to deal with above and beyond their treatment.

Since then I have gone on to publish:

“War Dads” a fictional story about the unfortunate killing of a war vet who was living on the street and suffering from PTSD.
“After The Sun Rises” a sequel to “War Dads”. After Jill and the family are met with a tragic event they must learn to cope with the help of an unsuspecting aide; the woman who caused the accident.

“The Grotto and Other Stories” a collection of short stories based on real life events.

“Eli and the Fisherman” children’s book that tells the story of a young boy and an old fisherman.

“Sebastian’s Fish” children’s book that is a delightful and beautifully illustrated story about a boy who goes to buy his first fish.

All of these books are available on Amazon worldwide, as paper backs or E books, at: amazon.com/author/andrewglen

Ask A Question Thursday

July 18, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question:

How did you find your particular writing style? A creative writing class, a teacher, a format or something else?

Do you write differently for different genres?

We all find a process that allows us to convey our story in the best way is good – right? There are several styles that utilize words/language, sentence structure, and paragraph structure, to convey our meaning effectively in respect of the genre we write.

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Last week’s question: How important is research to you when writing a book? What have you researched for you current manuscript?

For me, research is half the fun of writing. Even with the convenience of today’s Internet, I still enjoy thumbing through “real” reference books: highlighting, underlining, dog-earing pages, sticky noting, etc. My most recent research project has been on cremation.

Mandy Eve-Barnett

I have researched medieval physician’s healing techniques, the circumstances of how a body can dry out and become a husk, natural substances that prevent pregnancy or induce sterility.

Author Interview – Tamara Plant Due to unforeseen circumstances this original post had to be deleted.

May 7, 2019
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Expectations:

We can be overwhelmed with our own and other people’s expectations when creating a writing project. Questions race through our minds, taunting us – Am I good enough? Have I really got the skill? or Will anyone think my work worthy? Don’t feel these insecurities are the soul territory of the novice writer as many well known authors still suffer angst of one sort or another, even if it is only – Will this story be as enthralling as the last? Self imposed expectations can stall or even stop your creative flow, a scary place to be for all creative minds and in particular writers, who sit before a blank page with a whirling dervish of emotion crowding out any creativity.  In some cases this insecurity will be compounded by friends and family, who may demean your passion as a passing fancy or treat it with distaste or derision.

It is true writing is a solitary endeavour but there are ways to make connections. Of course there is the internet route, where everything from writing tips to author blogs to social media is at your fingertips, but do these give you a real connection? What we all yearn for is actually a more personal connection to someone (or even a group) who can encourage and  support us in the real world as opposed to the cyber one. Isn’t it nicer to sit down with like minded people and share our work? Constructive critique over a coffee or within a writers group meeting is not only of practical help but gives us a  feeling of community. An added bonus and one that truly boosts our confidence is when another writer will ask for help, an opinion, a viewpoint or even request mentor-ship. All of us can give as well as receive thus making our writerly life not so solitary.

Reach out to others – find a local group or even start your own! The benefits are countless and to be frank make our passion so much more enjoyable. Some of the following places may help:

Your local library. Search MeetUp or your local yellow pages. Your area’s Writers Guild or Association. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

A great source of advice is – http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/solitary-drop  – the book gives tips on starting your own writing circle.

 

 

Author Interview – Janet Wees

March 5, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

I visited The Hidden Village in 2005, 2007 and decided, after reading the history at the site, that children in North America had to know the story. The man I interviewed was the boy in the Village and he inspired me as well. 

How did you come up with the title?

My publisher chose the title and I liked it.     

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I want them to proclaim “Never Again” – that inhumanity and evil will not be repeated against anyone anymore, especially children!

How much of the book is realistic?

It is all realistic; most of it really happened, and the few fictionalized parts could have happened. It is not fantasy.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The characters are based on the boy and his family upon whose stories the novel is based. I met “Walter” when I interviewed him about his life in the Hidden Village.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Readers can and have found me on Facebook. I am also on Twitter and I have a blog.

Blog – http://whenwewereshadowsbyjanetwees.wordpress.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/WhenWeWereShadows/posts/

Twitter – @JanetRWees

Email – powertutor1@hotmail.com

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

This novel is a stand alone book. I have no present plans for another novel, but I have written two children’s books that could be picture books, but I have to “finesse” them before I submit to publishers.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

My favourite is Walter of course. I met him as an adult and after listening to his stories, I could see the little boy he may have been – intelligent, precocious, sensitive and devoted to family. I heard his voice in my head as I wrote the book.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? 

This is my first book, so this genre is presently my favourite. But if I were to pick a genre, it would be books for children – historical or historical fiction.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Sometimes I sit down and just write and forget to eat and pretty soon it’s dark. The next day I have to review what I wrote. I plan in my head, but I am more a seat of the pants author I would think. During this process, in my revisions, I would go back to previous chapters and add something I thought about. I was constantly re-reading and changing. But with this book, I did have a plan and it was somewhat sequential because it was based on real life. I don’t know what I would do if I had to write fiction. Not sure I could do fiction; I need some facts.

What is your best marketing tip? 

The best marketing items were the bookmarks from the publisher. I have handed out/mailed/presented over 1000 bookmarks since April. They have the title, author and contacts for ordering. For a “tip”, I would say to be consistent and approach bookstores in person to offer your time to do signings/readings. If this is your first book, lead with something that your publisher might have published in the past that would be known to a bookseller. They seem to worry about risking their time on a first-time, unknown author.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

My publisher wanted me to have Facebook and Twitter (both public) and a blog. What I find hindering is keeping up, and not overwhelming or underwhelming readers. I am not a fan of social media and I’ve resisted Instagram mainly because it involves photos and most of the exciting photos from the launches are old now. Not getting feedback from any social media posts is disconcerting; I get likes etc from friends, but nobody new has really seemed to read or respond. I did get messages from students in Belgium and The Netherlands. They were doing book reports on the book and wanted information about the author. They communicated through Facebook.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?  

Being an abstract random thinker, writing forces me to focus and let the ideas flow, blocking out any other distractions.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I was probably 9 years old. Poems came later – in university when I was in love; it just promoted poetry all over the place!

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? 

The first stories I wrote were based on pictures from magazines. It was fiction back then.

What genre are you currently reading?

Currently I am reading biography – In My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? 

Pleasure and escapism

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? 

Rona Altrows

Where is your favorite writing space? 

I only have one writing space – my den.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? 

Geraldine Brooks, because she wrote a book about penpals and I’d love to swap stories with her.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Terschelling, an island in the North Sea, in Holland…or… Vancouver (if I could afford it).

Do you see writing as a career?

I am retired so no career for me.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? 

I actually forget to eat when I am in the throes of writing.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t set deadlines; being retired there are no deadlines. It took me from September 2008 until April 2018 to get the book written, edited, revised and published, in between substitute teaching part-time, traveling, volunteering, reading and daily living.

 Bio:

Born in Winnipeg, raised in a Saskatchewan village, with no running water or TV until she was 12, Janet Wees was a voracious reader. She borrowed books through the mail from the lending library in Regina to quench her curiosity about the world. Radio and Eaton’s Xmas catalogue were sources of entertainment. Being a precocious child, her mother sent her, at age 5, to grade 1 every Friday afternoon. In Grade 8 the principal would ask Janet to “sub” for a Grade 1 teacher who was late for school, occasionally. Thus began a passion for teaching and learning.

Janet attended the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Oregon gaining her B.Ed in Special Education, and an M.Ed in Gifted and Talented Education. During her tenure she was involved in professional committees, was a volunteer for the Calgary Youth Science Fair and set up pen pal, environmental, Young Olympians, running, and debate clubs where she was a debate coach and a judge at local and international levels. In her off-times, Janet was a semi-professional photographer for the Calgary Sun, taking photos of Sunshine Boys. It was the 80’s!

In 1959 Janet began writing a pen pal in Holland. It was while on vacation in Holland, with the family, that she discovered The Hidden Villlage and the seed for her book took root.

Now retired, Janet lives in Calgary where her daughter also resides. She is a volunteer greeter at the Calgary Airport, and enjoys reading (favourites are Jhumpa Lahiri, Rona Altrows and Geraldine Brooks) writing letters (400 a year!), travel, snowshoeing, old movies, writing stories, and photography.

Book link:https://www.amazon.ca/When-Were-Shadows-Janet-Wees/dp/177260061X/ 

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