Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Your Justifications Are..?

September 20, 2013

Justification – definition: a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that defends an action or statement


What justifications do you use to leave your writing or on the other hand shirk your family commitments for your writing?

Here are a couple of different perspectives:

Balancing Your Priorities…

September 11, 2013

Precedence – definition: the right to be higher or earlier in order, rank, or importance; priority

220px-Pert_chart_colored.svgPERT chart for a project with five milestones (10 through 50) and six activities (A through F). The project has two critical paths: activities B and C, or A, D, and F – giving a minimum project time of 7 months with fast tracking. Activity E is sub-critical, and has a float of 1 month.

Looks like a complicated way of organizing the writing and editing of a novel while participating in life’s other activities to me. We all multitask to a greater or lesser amount depending on our personality type. We marvel at people who can juggle it all seemingly perfectly but is it just an illusion? Are they constantly busy and never finish anything?

The movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, showed the reality of trying to do it all. The comedy centered around the life of Kate Reddy, a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids. The plot has Kate struggling with more and more demands on her time.

Are your methods this complex? How do you prioritize your writing and family life?

Here is a great post about the subject :

A Writers Bane…

February 9, 2013

Desultory definition : 1) marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose. 2) not connected with the main subject; 3) disappointing in progress, performance, or quality.


Well this is certainly a word we can all relate to. In a perfect world we would be allowed to write, create and dream up our stories without interruption. But real life has a habit of intruding – laundry, housework, meal preparation, time with family…well you get the picture. I will admit there are times I just want to be left alone, in a Greta Garbo kind of way!

So let’s take each numbered definition at a time. Number one – lack of a plan, regularity or purpose. Whether a casual writer or a professional one, time to immerse ourselves in our creations is important.  To enable us to have that time we have to engineer ‘writing time’ in any manner that works within our individual life styles. Maybe, like me, you work full time, have children at home and a household to run. Where can you squeeze in writing? This is dependent on a great many things, such as the age of your children, how stressful your job is and how much ‘help’ you get from your significant other.  With careful planning and a schedule you can balance wants and needs. You may display a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door of a room you can escape into, plug in head phones or leave the house altogether. Whatever works for you is best. The main thing is to have the understanding  of your family that ‘writing time’ is an important element in your life.

Number two  relates, I feel, to character building. As we delve into a new character and his or her struggles, we need a real sense of their character, likes and dislikes and how they would react to certain situations. If we cannot connect with them the plausibility of their reactions will suffer.  Whatever device works for you go with it. Character sketches, research into personality types or people watching are all great ways to know your character better. This will ensure whatever obstacles they come against their reaction and coping skill level will be believable.


The last definition is one we all know and is related to our self belief in our abilities. We have all berated ourselves at one point or another when a plot does not work, a deadline is not going to be met or we are unhappy with how we have written something. Take heart in the knowledge that no-one is immune to these thoughts and feelings. Use your support system to help you. This might be your writers group, a mentor or a supportive family member, whatever or whomever it is don’t consider yourself alone. Reach out and bounce your ideas off them, receive their encouragement willingly. You may have to revise a character, a story line or perspective but you can do it – just believe your muse is with you.

Have you suffered with desultory feelings? How did you overcome them?

Today’s word is…telecommute

January 15, 2013


Telecommute – Definition: work at home by the use of an electronic linkup with a central office.

Would this ability be a dream come true for you? Could you resist delving into your work in progress if it was so easily accessible? What sort of schedule would you come up with to balance official work and writing?

From my own experience of working from home, I can say I was very regimented in my working hours – probably too much so! I was at my desk at 9am worked through until 1 pm – took an hour’s lunch break then back at 2 pm to work until 5 pm. However, I was able to do a couple of loads of laundry and vacuum most days in my ‘tea breaks’ as well as enjoy an hour’s walk with my dog. It was near perfect, except for being alone all-day, apart from my canine companion. I did speak to many people on the telephone during the day but it was human contact I missed. Occasionally I would bump into a fellow dog walker during my lunchtime walk but that was it until the family came home. A lot of people were jealous but once I explained the practicalities, they were surprised at my regime and understood the implications better. Most revealed they could not stick to such a schedule. I then clarified that my boss would soon notice if the day-to-day work was not done! There is always a ‘cost’ to any arrangement.


At first glance this linkup seems perfect but in real terms maybe not. I can envisage a constant conflict of wants and needs even a feeling of guilt as you continue writing past your allotted break period. If I was given this capability now, I’m not sure I could be so regimented. Why you ask? Because at that time I was not writing – now it is too much of an obsession not to be lured into it.


So could you do it or are you doing it? What’s your routine?

Character Development…

January 9, 2013

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Yesterday’s word had me puzzling on how to incorporate it into a blog article. Could I be clever enough? Then life got complicated and I had to leave my train of thought and deal with the situation. So you have two for one today! I’ll let you be the judge on the outcome.

Sobriquet (sho-bri-kay) – Definition: a descriptive name or epitet – a nickname.

In character development we give a lot of thought to our character’s names, personality traits, appearance and their motivations. A name is a vital part of creating a mental image of our character for readers. The right name can give them a quick visualization of our character’s age, ethnicity, gender, and even location, and if we are writing a period piece, even the era. For example if I say the girl was called Britney, you would probably picture a young girl because of the association with Britney Spears. However, if a female character were called Edith or Edna, you would imagine someone born several decades ago. So you see a name is not just a name.

A burly man would be called something like Butch but not Shirley, unless of course you are going to tell the story of his struggle throughout childhood to overcome the name.  There are plenty of web sites available, which list the most common names for each decade and locations around the world.  These are great resources for writers, who require particular names for period stories or want to stay true to a certain decade.

The use of a nickname will also give your character an identity, be it an unkind one given by a bully or one of respect or fear for the bully. You would expect Big Al to be just that, a large person, however Little Mikey would be the exact opposite. Nicknames, or sobriquet’s can work very well in defining an ethnicity as well but care must be taken not to offend a person of color. Obviously there are certain words that were in common usage decades ago that are not politically correct now, so we need to be diligent in their use.

English: Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellari...

English: Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in their Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica) home on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our second word for today is: Symbiosis  – Definition – the living together in close association of two different organisms especially when mutually beneficial.

My immediate thought was two-fold, family and writing life. Most of us have to balance these two sides of our lives, it can be tricky at times but life on the whole is better if we can. From my own experience I know that ‘Mum’s writing’ was thought a bit barmy at first. My family members would notice me frantically typing but had no trouble interrupting me. It took some time for them to understand that the act of writing was extremely important to me and when I was given the space to write, I was happier. Three years down the line, I have worked out a flexible routine and everyone knows my writing is not a passing fad but an essential part of me. So much so that they notice how much happier I am once words have been put to page. The benefits are obvious a happy Mum means a happy home. Getting to this point was not easy but I am glad I persevered.

How do you balance your writing life? Can you share your experiences?

Blog at