Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A Community ©

Ask a Question Thursday

August 1, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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For those of you with school age children/grandchildren – are you celebrating having the house to yourself after the summer holiday/vacation? Do you plunge right back into your current manuscript or have some downtime to refresh?

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Last week’s question: Do you incorporate politics and/or religion into your stories? What is the reason?

Mandy Eve-Barnett

 

I have used a matriarchal society in my novel, Life in Slake Patch as the background to a young man’s life in that regime. It was interesting to write about the influences and attitudes of a different society. In contrast my novel, The Twesome Loop, which covers two time periods, shows the patriarchal suppression in the 1800’s.

 

Join the conversation and leave your comment below.

If you have a suggestion for a question please let me know.

Alternative Living -Moving to Another Country…

March 16, 2016
mandyevebarnett


Expat

As an expat myself, I know the trials and tribulations of moving to another country. I moved from the lush green of England, where I could easily travel to the sea in a mere forty minutes. Days of dull and grey weather were the norm and we were used to the rain! However, my family, the centuries old history, and the glorious countryside are what I miss the most.

I now live landlocked in Alberta, Canada, where the winters are long and extremely cold but the summers are hot and we have sunshine a large amount of the time year round. It was so unusual to wake up to sunshine seven days running that my body was in shock. Now when we experience a dull cloudy day, we refer to it as “English’ weather! To get to the ocean requires a flight or several days driving.Canada has enabled me to pursue a passion for writing; given my children an advantage in life and the people have warmly embraced us.

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Let’s look at the Pros and Cons:

Pros

A new country means new experiences for you and your family, such as different cultures, customs, laws, and often languages. You will taste unknown foods and get to experience day to day life that may be a polar opposite of what you are used to. Meeting new people from other backgrounds will broaden your horizons and give you an insight into their culture.

Language may initially be a barrier, although it is best to learn the language before moving. It will make the transition easier and lessen misunderstandings. It can also enable you to find work quicker and benefits your resume/CV when relocating.

Financial benefits can be an incentive to move as many countries have a lower cost of living enabling you to stretch your finances. Although initially there maybe a financial burden due to the extra costs of moving, monthly bills and required purchases, such as vehicles.

A common reason to move is to have a fresh start giving the feeling of freedom and possibilities. You can also form new friendships and interests, which benefit you socially and emotionally.

Cons

Actually uprooting yourself from all that is familiar and comfortable is a stressful endeavor. It is best to research, investigate and meticulously plan everything prior to moving. This will lessen the culture shock to some extent while you find housing, and work.

There is an element of risk that must be considered. A job may fall through or you have not had confirmation of a position. You will probably have to sell all your belongings or spend a considerable sum on transporting them. Your accommodation may not be as expected. Again with careful planning these risks can be minimized.

The largest toll on you will be the emotional one. Living far away from family is the hardest burden to bear. You will miss the simplest of moments, like popping round to a family members house for a quick chat or taking part in seasonal celebrations. There is technology available although it is not the same as being there.

It will take some time to get accustomed to the new country and you need to be patient with yourself. Accepting the ‘new’ and embracing it will help.

I will give you a couple of instances of things I encountered and had not realized prior to moving to Alberta. One the price shown on the item you purchase is not the price you pay! There is 5% GST (tax) added at the check out. Also unlike the English 2-3 week’s vacation per year for each employee, here you do not automatically get vacation until you have worked one year with a company. When you change jobs you start again!

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What has been your experience of moving to a new country?

Did you stay or did you return?

Anticipation of Summer – A Poem…

June 8, 2015
mandyevebarnett


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Summer, you are long awaited

Through snow, sleet and rain, your heat and blasting glory

Pull us through.

Memories of sea and sand, camp fires and BBQ gatherings

Pull us through.

Green lushness, long days and outside chores planned

Pull us through

Then you are here – Summer – our darling

Flowers are planted, friends and family gather and lawns cut

Joy abounds

Garden furniture released from storage and nature’s sounds surround

Joy abounds

Vacations, road trips and splashing in the pool

Joy abounds

Long awaited, now enjoyed.

We love you Summer.

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Similarities Between Gardening and Writing…

January 11, 2013
mandyevebarnett


I may be stretching it a bit with today’s word.

Perennial 1) present at all seasons of the year 2) continuing to live from year to year 3) recurring regularly: permanent

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I have inherited some of my Mother’s expertise when it comes to plants but in no way, shape or form, am I, as green thumbed as she is. From a handful of seeds she can nurture a whole garden of flowers, vegetables and shrubs, which are healthy, vibrant and productive. My gardening is limited to digging a hole, placing the victim, umm plant, into it with a generous helping of plant food, watering for several days and then letting nature take its course. As for in-door plants I do tend to have them growing happily for many years – so I must be doing something right. Case in point, a friend gave me a sleigh shaped planter three Christmas’ ago and it’s still lush and green.  Real plants are a treasure in the dark winter months, just their aroma can transport you to summer warmth. We all know the benefits of having real plants in the house – oxygenating – but they are so much more. As you can see from this list from http://www.bayeradvanced.com

5 Benefits of Houseplants
When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery. These living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life.

Breathing Easier
When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels.

At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants – orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads – do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.

Releasing Water
As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.

Purifying Air
Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.

Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.

Improving Health
Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.

The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.

Sharpening Focus
A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.

How Many Plants?
The recommendations vary based on your goals.

To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).

How is your green thumb? Any tips for a lackadaisical gardener?

When I read the definition for perennial, I was struck by how my writing and the love of words stays with me no matter the season or my location. Even on my Palm Springs vacation, you could find me typing away in the early morning before our various excursions and then again in the evening, recapping our day.  It is an addiction to write – wanting those words to flow onto the paper or computer screen and flourishing.

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As each year passes, I find new styles, genres and skills are added to my repertoire, each a new stem, branch or flower to the fundamental root system of my passion for the written word.  Every segment has a part to play and makes a wonderfully intriguing and enticing whole.  Some work may bud and flower quickly, then fall to the way side, others will form into significant pieces and grow strong and robust.

As I was searching for some nice photos for this article I happened upon an interesting Wikipedia site, detailing The Perennial Philosophy. I must admit I had no idea of this research and so detoured for a read. One quotation struck me:

“If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge.”

 My interpretation on this philosophy is, we all have the ability to modify ourselves and grow beyond our self imposed expectations and capabilities. We can develop into a many faceted and established writer, with or without the publishing contract. After all we can survive and flourish without the plant food but if given it we are able to bloom.

Today’s desk diary word…sparks a writing tip

January 2, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Cerulean (adjective) – si-roo-lee-in

Definition – a deep sky-blue colour.

Just saying this word conquers up lazy summer days, lying on the beach or a lush green lawn looking upward in that happy childlike innocence. Here in Alberta we are very fortunate to have cerulean skies a large part of the year, yes even when its -37 degrees!

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I remember waking up the first morning I had emigrated here and thinking ‘how cool a nice sunny blue skied day to welcome us’. Never imagining that I would wake up for the next eight days welcomed with the very same thing! Coming from England, which has cloud cover the majority of the time it was amazing.

The other thing I came to notice about the Albertan sky was how huge it was. Now I know that seems like a strange thing to say but it does seem to stretch forever upward and horizontally. My theory is that the land mass is so large and flat that there is no ‘interruption’ to your view. Even the clouds are different! Each has a ‘flat’ bottom instead of soft fluffy curves. Again this may be due to the prairie lands affecting them. In England we glimpsed the sky through dense trees and hills. A very different landscape where clouds were massive and covered vast areas of the sky.

As you can see from just one word a myriad of images and ideas can come to mind. Using such words enables a writer to create a sense of time and place for their readers, without having to describe them in minute detail. Too much description tends to ‘shut your reader off’ so your use of words is vitally important. Yes its that old adage ‘show not tell’, which raises its head time and time again.

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