Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Toolbox – 8 Lockdown Tips for Writers in COVID19

May 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


book on a white wooden table

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’  in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).

Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Here are a few tips to try (or not):

  1. One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
  2. Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
  3. Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
  4. Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
  5. Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
  6. Online writing workshops. There are now lots of options for online workshops and courses. Maybe it’s time to hone your skills? I enjoy the monthly creative workshops my local writing group organizes. They are held on the last Saturday of each month. (Link here for May’s workshop: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/event-details/creative-writing-workshop-online-3 )
  7. Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog

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What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?

 

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Virtual Writing Groups

April 9, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Peach Photo Women Quote Instagram Post

Yes, we all know writing is a solitary pastime, however we do need to connect with others writers from time to time. In this virtual age many of us have connections across countries as well as in our own place in the world. This is achieved with local writing groups or through the wonders of the internet.

With our imposed isolation those precious moments of physical connection have been extinguished for the time being and ‘virtual’ has become the norm. We have all seen the virtual book readings, book launches and promotions. The greatest thing as far as I am concerned are the growing number of virtual writing groups.

Zoom

I have such a group, who link up on Sunday’s for three hours of writing. We can see each other and there is a brief hello and details of what project we are tackling. Then it is heads down and write! At the end we report on progress and feel accomplished. We may not be ‘together’ but we are!

The added benefit is that we are accountable and that drives us to write. No matter the circumstances there is always a way to stay connected.

Happy writing!

Have you found an online group to write with?

How did you discover it?

Did you start one?

writer isolate

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday -Writing Workshops Aid Creativity

March 5, 2020
mandyevebarnett


manuscript

As writers we are always honing our skill and learning new styles and types of writing aid our creativity. I attended two workshops on 29th February, both gave me the opportunity to improve my writing.

As an author, we welcome constructive critique of our work, it is how we grow. So a group of local authors and I spend the first few months of each new year working on our current work in progress. Some are the result of our NaNoWriMo participation, while others are whatever story/novel/project we are working on currently. The premise of these monthly workshops is to read a certain number of chapters each month of each others work, then using track changes edit, suggest and comment on the plot arc, continuity, premise etc. Having a number of different reader’s feedback allows us to identify any inconsistencies and correct them. Obviously, we do not have to take every suggestion, it is after all our work but if there is a consensus of opinion throughout on a specific part, then we can revise and improve them. This allows us to create the best story possible prior to publication. 

My project is my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. Currently 75,102 words, 201 pages, 39 chapters and epilogue. Publishing date September 2020.

my steam hat

The second workshop, I attended was a poetry workshop held by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in anticipation of Poetry Month in April. I have to admit that poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity a bit! We covered several types of poetry: monorhyme, enclosed rhyme, simple 4-line rhyme, coupled rhyme, chain rhyme and alternative rhyme. After an explanation of each style, we then had five minutes to create a rhyme in that style using randomly selected words. The words chosen for the chain rhyme were: after, banana, crafter, panorama, would, bandanna, could, dessert, should. Yes rather a mixed bag and it had everyone struggling, but that’s the point – we cannot learn without effort. I managed this:

Alice’s happy thought was about the contest after

As she ate her second banana

Her final piece as a genius crafter

Showed a glorious textured panorama

Comments from friends confirmed she would

Win the coveted bandanna

Her gumption knew she could

A promised reward when she won – a dessert

Even though her diet negated she should

I even managed to include the ‘extra’ point words of happy, genius & gumption in that one.

What workshop have you recently attended. What did you learn about your writing?

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Define a Genre for Your Narrative

February 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


genre-picture-2Being aware of your genre can help you contextualize your story but remember—just because you may have been writing towards a certain kind of genre, it may not mean that’s what your story actually is.

Common Genres include:

  • Thriller –built around the fast-paced pursuit of a life-or-death goal.
  • Fantasy – typified by fantastic aspects, such as magic.
  • Sci-fi – Sometimes called ‘speculative’ fiction. Fiction typified by scientific aspects, such as nonexistent technology or alternative realities.
  • Horror – instilling dread or fear in the reader. Sometimes but not always featuring supernatural aspects.
  • Mystery – solving of a mysterious set of circumstances.
  • Crime – typified by a focus on criminal activities.
  • Historical – set within a defined time period but drawing context from the cultural understanding of that time.
  • Western – typified by aspects of the American frontier.
  • Romance –focuses on a romantic relationship as the source of its drama.
  • Erotica – primarily intended to instill arousal in the reader.
  • Literary – focuses on realistic, weighty issues, typified by character-focused writing and a lack of other genre features.
  • Adventure Story
    A genre of fiction in which action is the key element, overshadowing characters, theme and setting. … The conflict in an adventure story is often man against nature. A secondary plot that reinforces this kind of conflict is sometimes included.
  • Biographical Novel
    A life story documented in history and transformed into fiction through the insight and imagination of the writer. This type of novel melds the elements of biographical research and historical truth into the framework of a novel, complete with dialogue, drama and mood. A biographical novel resembles historical fiction, save for one aspect: Characters in a historical novel may be fabricated and then placed into an authentic setting; characters in a biographical novel have actually lived.
  • Ethnic Fiction
    Stories and novels whose central characters are black, Native American, Italian American, Jewish, Appalachian or members of some other specific cultural group. Ethnic fiction usually deals with a protagonist caught between two conflicting ways of life: mainstream American culture and his ethnic heritage.
  • Fictional Biography
    The biography of a real person that goes beyond the events of a person’s life by being fleshed out with imagined scenes and dialogue. The writer of fictional biographies strives to make it clear that the story is, indeed, fiction and not history.
  • Gothic
    This type of category fiction dates back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Contemporary gothic novels are characterized by atmospheric, historical settings and feature young, beautiful women who win the favor of handsome, brooding heroes—simultaneously dealing successfully with some life-threatening menace, either natural or supernatural. Gothics rely on mystery, peril, romantic relationships and a sense of foreboding for their strong, emotional effect on the reader.
  • Historical Fiction – story set in a recognizable period of history. As well as telling the stories of ordinary people’s lives, historical fiction may involve political or social events of the time.
  • Horror – includes certain atmospheric breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces.
  • Juvenile – intended for an audience usually between the ages of two and sixteen. The language must be appropriate for the age of the reader, the subject matter must be of interest to the target age group, the opening of the work must be vivid enough to capture the reader’s attention and the writing throughout must be action-oriented enough to keep it with the use of suspense and the interplay of human relationships. Categories are usually divided in this way: (1) picture and storybooks (ages two to nine)… ; (2) easy-to-read books (ages seven to nine)… ; (3) “middle-age” [also called “middle grade”] children’s books (ages eight to twelve)… ; (4) young adult books (ages twelve to sixteen.
  • Literary Fiction vs. Commercial Fiction
    Literary, or serious, fiction, style and technique are often as important as subject matter. Commercial fiction is written with the intent of reaching as wide an audience as possible. It is sometimes called genre fiction because books of this type often fall into categories, such as western, gothic, romance, historical, mystery and horror.
  • Mainstream Fiction – transcends popular novel categories—mystery, romance or science fiction, [etc.] and is called mainstream fiction. Using conventional methods, this kind of fiction tells stories about people and their conflicts but with greater depth of characterization, background, etc. than the more narrowly focused genre novels.
  • Nonfiction Novel – real events and people are written [about] in novel form but are not camouflaged and written in a novelistic structure.
  • Popular Fiction
    Generally, a synonym for category or genre fiction; i.e., fiction intended to appeal to audiences for certain kinds of novels. … Popular, or category, fiction is defined as such primarily for the convenience of publishers, editors, reviewers and booksellers who must identify novels of different areas of interest for potential readers.
  • Psychological Novel
    A narrative that emphasizes the mental and emotional aspects of its characters, focusing on motivations and mental activities rather than on exterior events.
  • Roman a Clef
    The French term for “novel with a key.” This type of novel incorporates real people and events into the story under the guise of fiction.
  • Romance Novel – the romance novel is a type of category fiction in which the love relationship between a man and a woman pervades the plot.
  • Romantic Suspense Novel – romantic suspense novel is a modern emergence of early gothic writing and differs from traditional suspense novels because it moves more slowly and has more character interplay and psychological conflict than the fast-paced violence of [most] suspense thrillers.
  • Science Fiction [vs. Fantasy]
    Science fiction can be defined as literature involving elements of science and technology as a basis for conflict, or as the setting for a story.
  • Techno-Thriller – utilizes many of the same elements as the thriller, with one major difference. In techno-thrillers, technology becomes a major character.
  • Thriller – intended to arouse feelings of excitement or suspense focusing on illegal activities, international espionage, sex and violence.
  • Young Adult – refers to books published for young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen.

Do real research, describe aesthetic/tone/vibe over content, and be open to adjusting your decision down the line as you grow more accustomed to working with genres.

genre

Genre is different from age group

Genre isn’t the age group you’re writing for.  Age group and genre are often said together, so it’s easy to think they’re the same, but they’re not. For example: Young adult is the age group – Spy and thriller are the genres.

The primary age groups are:

– Board books: Newborn to age 3
– Picture books: Ages 3–8
– Colouring and activity books: Ages 3–8
– Novelty books: Ages 3 and up, depending on content
– Early, levelled readers: Ages 5–9
– First chapter books: Ages 6–9 or 7–10
– Middle-grade books: Ages 8–12
– Young adult (YA) novels: Ages 12 and up or 14 and up

Choose a primary genre

When you pick your primary genre, you’re identifying the most prominent elements of your book. Ask the following questions.

You may have a handful of these elements in your book but when picking a primary genre focus on the most dominant aspects of your novel.

Is there magic?

If the answer is yes, then your book is most likely a fantasy. Is it set it in a fictional world that you created from scratch (like Lord of the Rings)? Then you probably have a high fantasy. Or is it built into our own world? If so it is most likely an urban fantasy.

Is it a fairy tale or a fairy tale retelling then you might want to classify your book as such.

Are there paranormal creatures (such as vampires, zombies, etc.)?

If there are, then it could be a fantasy, or it could be a supernatural/paranormal. Fantasy and paranormal are closely related and share some overlap, so it comes down to what is the more dominant element. If the magic is the more dominant element, then you have a fantasy. If the creatures are the more dominant element, then it’s supernatural.

When is it set?

If it’s set in the past, it’s probably a historical fiction. If it’s set in the present, you’ve got a contemporary and if it’s set in the future, it’s probably science fiction.

Where is it set?

If it’s set in this world, it might be a historical or contemporary. If it’s set in a world you made up, it might be some kind of fantasy or science fiction.

Is there manipulated science/technology?

If you are using significant manipulation of the science, we know today it’s likely to be science fiction. If you have time travel, then you could consider it science fiction.

Is there an element of mystery/crime to solve?

If the main purpose of your plot is mystery, then this is the genre you will use.

Is it laugh-out-loud funny?

If it is, then you’ve got a comedy

Is it a tear-jerker or a book with a lot of interpersonal conflicts?

Then it’s probably some form of drama.

Is there a romance?

Use the romance genre when the central plot of the book is a romantic relationship.

Is it intended to scare?

Then you’ve got a horror.

Is it “literary”?

If it’s a deep book, rich with symbolism and deeper meaning that’s meant to be dissected an analyzed than you most likely have written a work of literary fiction.

Is it action packed?

If your book is littered with action scenes like fights and car chases, then you have an action or thriller on your hands.

Is it about a terrible version of this world?

Then you’re looking at a dystopian.

Now decide which elements you think are the strongest/most prominent. That’s your primary genre.

Do your research

Make sure you do your research and have a good understanding of genre conventions. Readers of each genre have certain expectations. While you can most definitely take some liberties, you want to make sure you’re giving your readers what they’re looking for.

Note*** I did a series of posts throughout 2018 detailing every genre if you want to scroll through put ‘genres’ in the search box.***

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Reviews

January 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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As readers we enjoy a well written and absorbing story and know only too well the agony of finishing a good book – the book hangover. The character’s can remain with us for days, weeks or even months afterwards. If we are lucky to know there will be sequel’s, we must be patient and wait for the next installment but sometimes the tale is a one off, leaving the characters to remain in the ether and our minds.

There is one request all author’s ask and it is for a review. Now for some reader’s this simple request brings with it a strong nervousness or even stress. They ask themselves – Where do I write a review? Well, there are numerous options: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads or even directly to the author via their social media or blog. No matter which avenue you choose, the author will be forever grateful, knowing you enjoyed their narrative and the many hours, weeks, months and years they toiled to bring you that story were not in vain.

The next question is the one that makes many readers despair and decide not to leave a review. How do I write a review? Many think a review needs to be a long, lengthy in-depth summary of the book and that is certainly not the case. A simple one line sentence saying you enjoyed the narrative, the characters, the location or that it moved you in some way is all that is required.

Now for the question that is even more tricky. What if I didn’t like the book? Obviously, we can’t love every single book we read but we don’t have to be mean about reviewing it either. If a book doesn’t please you then maybe just a short sentence telling the author this particular book of theirs didn’t move you but always find something nice to say. Maybe the location was well described, one character remained you of a relative or friend, you enjoyed the plot idea, anything to show the author their worth. We authors are a sensitive bunch.

Would you make a pledge to review every book you read this year along with me?

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I have a Goodreads profile so feel free to follow me. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477059.Mandy_Eve_Barnett

I also set a reading challenge on Goodreads each year. It is a fun way of ensuring I read more books and hopefully can exceed the goal.

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