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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Inspiration and a Story

June 21, 2022
mandyevebarnett


This past weekend, I enjoyed a special four day weekend away in Pincher Creek and visited for the first time, Waterton. Although, the devastating fire of two years ago has left the forest slopes covered in blacken and bone white perished trees, there is an abundance of lush green undergrowth springing up everywhere. Nature restores herself and brings about beauty only she can achieve. Experiencing such magnificence does inspire not only my soul, but a deeper need to be in nature. Growing up, my parents encouraged us to explore, learn about and cherish the natural world. I grew up with Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet tones enthusing over a multitude of wildlife. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is my small homage to the natural world – with a magical twist, of course, you know me! – Of magical sprites caring for the animals within. Maybe, deep down, I hope for magical beings to save the world’s wildlife, although in reality there are many individuals and organizations that try.

We were so lucky to encounter two brown bears and two black bears on this trip!

My creativity is born of a multitude of inspirations, some from the familiar, but others from unexpected sources. One draft manuscript, lying in wait, has the seasons as the ‘four’ chapters of a relationship. Another is the result of several news reports, culminating in a story, where I meshed them together. Unrelated or applicable, each inspiration source has the ability to evolve into a story. Some remain as short stories, poems, or even a paragraph or two, but all have enabled me to create. I have kept all these inklings in an electronic folder for many years and from time to time click on one or two. Sometimes, I remember the initial idea source, but many are a mystery now. I read them as if they are written by someone else, enjoying their ‘newness’. A couple have become ‘inserts’ in a subsequent manuscript, in one way or another – a character description, a scene or something a character experiences.

This short story written a long time prior to The Twesome Loop might have been a precursor to it! Perceptions of future or past events.

https://www.amazon.ca/Twesome-Loop-Mandy-Eve-Barnett-ebook/dp/B075DRWHXN

The Coin by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. After working hard all week and completing chores and shopping on Saturday this is my time to relax. With the sunshine warming through the patio door, I curl up on my oversized armchair with a glass of wine within easy reach. Now I can start my new novel without interruption, pure bliss.

My absorption in the make believe world is rudely interrupted when a drop of water splashes onto the page. Where could that have come from? I look up to see a glassy sheen on the ceiling and another drop hits my cheek. Oh no, it must be a leaking pipe or something overflowing. I fetch a bowl from the kitchen and place it beneath the circular patch. Another drip makes a pinging sound as it hits the glass. What shall I do first, phone the landlord or go upstairs and check with my neighbor? The latter wins the day and I climb the stairs to apartment eight. With a couple of gentle knocks I stand back and wait for an answer.  I hear shuffling sounds and then an elderly voice asks.

“Who’s there?”

“Hello, my name is Annie and I live downstairs. There is water coming through my ceiling.”

“Water in the ceiling? Oh my, that may be my fault.”

The owner of the voice opens her door and I am faced with an old lady wrapped in several jumpers.

“Do come in. I think I may have caused the leak. Come and see, maybe you can switch it off. My hands are so frail I can’t seem to fix the damn thing.”

I follow her and realize her apartment is a mirror image of mine. She stands to one side as I walk into the bathroom to find an overflowing toilet cistern.

“Let’s see what’s happening. The ball cock has stuck, it’s an easy fix.”

With a few twists and by levering the float’s rod up and down I free up the mechanism.

“That should do the trick for now but you should call the landlord and ask him to replace it.”

“I don’t think he will do that, he’s not very capable with this sort of thing. I can call a plumber.”

“Plumber’s are very expensive and really it is a simple fix. I could do it for you if you like?”

“That’s very kind, Annie, I’d pay for the parts of course. Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Thank you that would be nice. Sorry I didn’t catch your name.”

“How rude of me. My name is Annie just like yours.”

“What a coincidence.”

We walk back to the kitchen and I realize how cold her apartment is, I have goose bumps. I rub my arms and wish I’d brought a jumper it had been lovely and warm in my armchair. As Annie organizes pretty little china cups, sugar bowl and milk jug on a tray I notice she has the same cookie jar as me.

“Another coincidence, Annie, I have a cookie jar just like that one.”

“Do you, dear? Would you like a cookie with your tea?”

“No thank you but I have to say you need to put your heating up a bit, it’s cold in here. You will catch your death.”

“I’m used to it I just put on another jumper. You can borrow one if you would like.”

I begin to decline her offer but it is so cold I acquiesce. She turns and hands me a jumper that had been hanging on the chair. It is wonderfully soft and warm.

“Could you carry the tray into the living room for me?”

“Of course I can, Annie. “

It seems strange using my name for another person. I follow her into the main room and stop short when I see my cozy armchair – well an older version of it anyway. There are several objects on the coffee table that are similar and I place the tray down with shaking hands.

“Sorry Annie, I think I’m having a déjà vu moment. You have so many things just like mine.”

“They are yours, Annie, you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path. I chose the wrong one so came back to warn you.”

“I’m sorry? What are you talking about?”

“Take this coin and you will see.”

Annie hands me a brass coloured coin tied with a red velvet ribbon and the apartment spins. When it stops I am watching myself weeping and calling out to someone called Carl.

“Please stay, Carl, I’m so sorry. I was scared and acted on impulse.”

I swing around as a male voice speaks and I’m confronted with Carl from my office.

“Annie, I trusted you. How could you betray me?”

My mind is whirling, what did I do? When did I start going out with Carl? When did this happen? My other self replies,

“It was going too fast for me, I wasn’t sure about us. It’s only been five months.”

“You could have told me to cool it off a bit, Annie, I would have understood.”

I feel a tug on my hand and the illusion disappears. I’m back in old Annie’s apartment. My knees give way so I sit with a thump on the armchair.

“Don’t be afraid to let go of your emotions, Annie, trust them. He won’t come back and you’ll be alone like me- forever regretting that one night stand.”

“How did you do that? How are you here with me? I feel sick.”

“Take a few deep breaths you will be alright. I came from another reality to warn you. Keep this talisman as a reminder.”

A thud wakes me my book has fallen from my lap. I look up to see a perfect ceiling, no dripping water, no glass bowl catching the drips. What a dream it was so vivid. As I sit up I smooth the cashmere jumper and grasp something in the pocket. A coin wrapped in red velvet ribbon.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Julie Gianelloni

May 12, 2022
mandyevebarnett


What affect has your extensive travel made to your writing?

. A large part of my adult life has been spent overseas, and that of course informs my writing. Both my books have international settings, and I feel comfortable writing about international affairs.

·      When did you begin your hiking adventures?

I am not a hiker normally, and I didn’t really train to hike the Camino de Santiago. Still, I had no problem doing the long-distance walking; I just didn’t love it. I set off from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France on May 3, 2016.

·      What made you want to write your book Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike?

In my early 20s, I read James Mitchener’s book Iberia. In it, his last chapter is on the Camino de Santiago. So, in about 1972, I put traveling the Camino de Santiago on my “someday” travel list. I just didn’t know that “someday” would take 45 years.

·      Do you have a message within the hiking narrative for your readers?

Yes, I do have a message, and it makes me a heretic as far as many Camino purists are concerned. A culture has grown up around the Camino that if one doesn’t walk every step one is not a “true” pilgrim. I totally disagree with that philosophy, as the subtitle of my book announces. I think the pilgrimage aspects of the book are much more important than how the journey is accomplished. My mother and handicapped sister made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1956, and my sister walked essentially no steps, yet that was a true pilgrimage. Some people get spiritual thoughts while walking; I don’t. I have those thoughts in cathedrals and while gazing in amazement at incredible architecture and art.

·      Has the access to nature impacted your life?

Very much so. I grew up in the country and was active in 4-H through my teen years. I rode horses and showed livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) competitively. As an adult, I have been largely divorced from that closeness to animals and nature due to my job. Being on the Camino gave me time to slow down, look at the wild flowers along the way, see the birds twittering in the trees. I loved that part of walking the Camino.

·      How did writing the hiking book differ from your process for your short story collections and the children’s book?

I don’t think my book is a hiking book. It is a pilgrimage book and a book about the history, art, and architecture of the Camino. It is most suited to those who are thinking of journeying on the Camino since it offers suggestions and tips, including a list of questions to help readers determine if walking the Camino is really what they want to do. It also is suited for those who will never walk the Camino but who want to be “armchair travelers” as they read my memoir passages about my experiences along the Camino.

·      Is adoption a subject close to your heart and the reason you wrote your children’s book?

Yes, it is. When I adopted my son back in 1992, I looked for a book I could read to him about being adopted. I couldn’t find anything suitable. During the pandemic, I couldn’t travel and so couldn’t work on my planned next book. More or less on a whim I looked on Amazon to find out what was available for children on adoption. Amazingly to me, there are very few books on the subject for children, and most of those books are limited in what they cover. For example, the books only focus  on the adopting mother and the adopted child, whereas in reality many, many more people are involved in an adoption. So, I decided to write a book that adopting families could use to talk to their child about being adopted.

·      Do you consider yourself a nomad rather than a homebody?

I consider myself not a nomad, but a citizen of the world. To quote St. Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do  not travel read only one  page.” Having said that, I am an introvert, and I am quite content to be alone and read a book—I just like to read that book while seated at a café in Lisbon or Santiago de Compostela.

·      What are you writing now?

I have two projects underway. One is a second book about the Camino, and the other is a family memoir. My family, for a lot of reasons, is not a typical American family, and I think readers would enjoy learning about our history.

·      Where can readers find you and your books?

My books are available on Amazon. Savoring the Camino de Santiago is available in four formats: hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is also available from Amazon in hardback, paperback, and ebook. Readers can also order my books from my website, Bayou City Press.com, or from their local bookstores. As for me, readers can contact me through either of my websites, BayouCityPress.com or JulieConnorAuthor.com

Bio

Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in
the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control
to women’s issues. She has one son, James, and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. Her books can be ordered from her publishing website (BayouCityPress.com), from her author website (JulieConnorAuthor.com), or from Amazon.com.

Website Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com

Newsletter Bayou City Press: https://bayoucitypress.com/recent-bcp-newsletters/

Website Julie Connor: https://JulieConnorAuthor.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/JulieConnorAuthor

Facebook: https://facebook.com/BCPHouston

Instagram: https://instagram.com/JulieConnorAuthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bayoucitypress

LinkedIn: https://Linkedin.com/in/JulieConnor

Twitter: https://Twitter.com/@JulConnorAuth

Twitter: https://Twitter.com/@Bayou_CityPress

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Road Trip Thoughts

October 12, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Apologies for my tardiness, as it was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I enjoyed a weekend away and just relaxed. This is not a bad thing, we all need to decompress regularly. Hence, I did not draft a blog post for today – so I am late.

The trip was to Lloydminster, which is unique in the fact that it spans the Alberta and Saskatchewan border. This may seem unusual, but when you add in the fact that Saskatchewan has an extra sales tax, you can imagine how residents and commercial businesses have to juggle what is paid where! We discovered a wonderful park with the city and enjoyed a leisurely walk with the dogs.

A super chance encounter happened on the way home, when we spied a herd of small ponies. They were curious and met us at the fence. This is why we travel the back roads

I wrote this poem to reflect my road trip experiences.

ROAD TRIP THOUGHTS

Road trips are a joy, incorporating

New places explored

Frequent wildlife encounters

Cherished memories to share

***

Increased expectation and excitement

A check list of essentials made

Local sights and attractions investigated

Reservations confirmed and paid

***

Double checked suitcase contents

Cooler bag filled with bottled water

Snacks bought to dispense

Extra footwear, jackets and sunglasses

***

Early morning start, packing the trunk

A double check before we drive away

Puppies walked, fed, then harnessed in

Breakfast our first stop along the way

***

Routes taken – off highway & gravel

Multiple stops for photo opportunities

This is the only way to travel

Wildlife and scenery abound

***

Arrival at our lodgings, truck unpacked

Dogs walked, fed then settled

Organizing of our spaces, preferences known

Comfortable companionship not meddled

***

Evening meal eaten, then to relax

Tomorrow’s adventure discussed

Reading and writing commence

Time is not rushed

***

An easy morning routine

New adventures and sights shown

Snacks gathered and packed

Our destination known

Do you have road trip memories you would like to share?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Chance Bear Encounter

July 21, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I count myself extremely lucky to have seen a bear and her two cubs on Saturday, when we took the dogs to Elk Island Park for a walk. A few minutes earlier or later and we wouldn’t have seen them. A fortuitous encounter indeed. I was totally surprised and delighted, as I had no idea bears were in the park! I thought bear sightings were just for the mountains. We have visited on numerous occasions and never seen bears. Bison, ducks, coots, hawks, eagles, pelicans and geese, of course, with the occasional deer, coyote, moose and once a fisher.

Escapes into nature are always good for the mind, body and soul and special events like this make them even more special.

In other news, I completed an illustration for a second prompt book launching in September. Yes, I do draw but not often. It was my creative craft of choice, when I was younger but writing has superseded it now.

Here is the book and my drawing. The prompt was dry leaves and humbugs. If you want the first book before the next one comes out, here is the link. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/shop

Book News

I am totally immersed in this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41044147-library-of-souls and was delighted to find there are six books (so far) in the series. So here’s to more adventures for Jacob and his peculiar friends. 

What are you currently reading?

Which book did you last review? Share the link for others to read.

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Weather Affects Our Writing

July 9, 2020
mandyevebarnett


July has been a wet month so far here in Alberta. Walking my little rescue pup, has left us often soaked, but when we do manage to escape a thunder storm and finally catch a break in the clouds, we enjoy the sunshine to the fullest. Sammie is an enjoyable addition to my life – my step count have gone through the roof! Another good point in our writing life – bum off seat for exercise.

BBQ SAMMIE

The weather can affect our writing too. Sunny days draw us out into the warmth away from our usual writing spot. A patio or deck, balcony or beach or mountain retreat become our new inspiring spot. Cold weather has the opposite effect – cozy in front of a fire, huddled in blankets and fluffy socks. Whatever the weather, our writing changes ever so subtly. We may not even realize it.

Do you write more in the colder months or does creating outside in the sunshine increase your word count?

beach3

Do your character’s situations reflect how you feel? Frustrated not to be outside in the warmth? Or happy not to have to trek through snow drifts?

Are your characters experiencing your weather or climate? Does it change how you write the scene? Or does it inspire you to accelerate their situation to extremes of weather?

With the effects of COVID19 across the world, we have either found writing to be an escape or a block on it. Maybe, we cannot find the inspiration for a narrative but our journal writing has increased. A record of our experience for future reference.

sofa

Have you written a scene a certain way because of the weather you were experiencing at that time?  There are ways weather can be used in a narrative. It can give a mood or be symbolic, or even complicate the character’s situation.

I have currently returned to a manuscript, where the main protagonist escapes into the wild and the current storms helped set the mood. I could feel the intense foreboding, the expectation, the fear of the next thunderclap.

What weather inspired writing have you experienced in 2020 so far?

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