Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Utilizing Prompts

January 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I have been the advocate of prompts to spark imagination ever since I began writing. In fact my first ‘real’ piece of writing was the result of a three word prompt. Here it is:

Fire, Clock & Certainty.

fire

Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.

Since those humble beginnings, I have continued to use prompts, whether words or pictures to engage my Muse. At Christmas, I was given a Word of the Day desk calendar and will utilize the words to create a short story or poem. These is the result of the first 10 days of January. As you can see the words are unique and gave me more of a challenge. 

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Kinara, Chronoaut, Ineluctable, Deportment, Palmary, Epiphanic, Kolacky, Bloviate, Cathexis, Redolent

Jensen stood in line with the other candidates listening to the bloviate speech of the head of the facility. As he exalted the program’s cathexis in their training, noting one man stood out above the rest. Jensen saw the commander’s eyes glance towards him and he an epiphanic sensation went through him – he would be the one, it was ineluctable after all, and his tests had all proved top marks coupled with his deportment in any given scenario. Jensen knew his was palmary among these excellent candidates in the chrononaut program.

His first glimpse of the other universe as he emerged as the first time traveler was an elaborately set table with a kinara lighting the room with a redolent kolacky set in the middle.

As writers we are always immersed in our own creative world, full of locations, characters, plot lines and scenarios – whether imaginary or real. However, sometimes our brains become stagnant, unresponsive or just plain tired. To leave our current ‘work in progress’ can help us greatly to refresh and regroup. That is where prompts come into their own. With an unrelated word choice or image, comes new insight and fun. They maybe a quick ten minute exercise or, as so many do, take on a life of their own propelling you into a story you had not previously imagined. Three prompts I found lent themselves to the creation of a novella. 

The easiest way to use a prompt is to let the initial thought flow and just let it take you wherever feels right. It maybe result in a poem, short story, a character study, a word association or something else. Many will be forgotten and not saved but some ignite that creativity to renew.

I create prompts for my writing groups website every Saturday, if you feel like visiting: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/saturday-writing-prompt

Have you used prompts? What is your experience with them?  

 

 

The Most Common Question a Writer is Asked…

October 24, 2019
mandyevebarnett


Where do you get your ideas from?

ideas_LI

It may seem like an easy to answer question but for most writer’s it is a multi faceted one. I have answered with:

  1. Word or picture prompts
  2. Dreams
  3. Overheard snippets of conversation
  4. People watching
  5. An idea popped into my head randomly
  6. A personal interest 
  7. A topic of conversation

A couple of examples:

My children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare was a Halloween prompt, which I turned upside down. It is the monster’s point of view of Halloween and his first scare adventure with his Mum.

The Rython Kingdom began as a series of prompts that gelled together to form a story by pure chance.

It is not so clear cut as these to be honest but it helps a non-writer understand the creativity side of our brains a little easier.

I presented a workshop on how to formulate an idea into a novel at the WFSC writer’s conference in the spring. From that initial spark to compiling a story line/arc, creating a plot arc, introducing characters, and finding the correct conclusion for the genre. It was a fun experience.

Do you have Questions:

I would love to explain the nucleus of my stories if you have a question about any of my books. Here is the list: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V

Just leave your question in the comments below. Let’s start a conversation and writers please comment on how your current WIP evolved.

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

May 16, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Your prompt today is to use these words in a short story or poem – octopus, surrender, bright

Have fun! My story is below.

octopus

Tentacle Encounter

With a deep breath, I plunged into the bright blue ocean. The water felt cool against my skin, refreshing after the heat of the Caribbean sun. Goggles and snorkel tightly strapped to my head, I gazed at the beautiful corral and brightly coloured fish swimming in all directions away from me. Careful to swim slowly and keep the top of my snorkel above the water, I rounded an outcrop of rock to find a steep drop ahead. The pale seawater around me descended into a dark hole dropping into unknown depths. What lay within those dark waters? I had promised to keep to the shallows but the temptation was too much. Just a quick look would be all right, surely?

I surfaced to look toward the beach and locate my parents. They were lying on beach loungers, enjoying cocktails under the palm trees. Too busy to notice their son swimming beyond the corral reef, identified as his limit. Breathing in and out several times, I filled my lungs to bursting, having no idea how long I would have to swim downwards. Using strong strokes I descended quickly into the gloom. Shimmering lines of light highlighted more brightly adored fish and corral at first then it became darker and colder.

My lungs were beginning to complain when I saw a long tentacle grab a small fish. An octopus! Wow, now I did have to keep going. What if I could catch it? As I turned, an undulating mass rose from the rock ahead of me. It was changing colour from deep brown to pinkish beige as it swam upwards. Following closely, I anticipated its direction and quickly held three of its tentacles, swimming to the surface in a rush as my head was becoming dizzy. Gasping for air while holding my captive tightly, I did not have enough breath to call out to my Dad.

A tentacle wrapped around my arm while another found my throat and began to squeeze. That’s not good. I slid a hand between a couple of suckers and my neck and pushed with all my strength. For a small animal it sure was strong. I needed to grab all the tentacles then it would surely surrender. I only wanted to show Dad then I would let it go.

A couple of tentacles wrapped around my right thigh making treading water difficult. I just needed to get to the shallows then I could walk and shout to my Mum and Dad. A mouthful of water made me cough and swallow more. Spots burst in front of my eyes. I was sinking. Kicking as furiously as I could with my left leg I surfaced for a moment and gasped for air. I had to get this thing off me or I would be the one surrendering.

“All right, lad?”

It was a strangers voice behind me. I turned my head as far as I could to plead for help. The tentacle around my throat was too tight for me to speak now.

“Let’s get him off you, shall we?”

A slight nod from me was enough for the man to pull at the octopus and release my neck from its grip. Next he wrestled the tentacles around my leg and then I was free. The last I saw of that octopus was its tentacles flying through the air before plunging into the depths.

“Thank you so much. Thought I would drown.”

“Have to be careful out here, young man. Keep to the shallows and you should be all right.”

I held out my hand to the stranger. He smiled and gave it a firm shake.

“Lesson learned?”

“You bet. Thanks again.”

I didn’t relay my story to my parents until a few days later when we were on the flight home. I knew they would have forbidden me to go in the ocean otherwise. Although, I did heed the stranger’s advice and kept to the shallows for the rest of our stay.

I would love to read your story/poem – why not share in the comments?

 

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…

March 6, 2017
mandyevebarnett


events

This week’s events for me are:

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My regular monthly writers meeting is on Tuesday evening. It is always different as we never know how many members and visitors will attend – new faces arrive all the time. After introductions we announce future events and encourage submissions for our newsletter, the Canada 150 book project we have scheduled this year and use of prompts on our website calendar. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

I organize a prompt exercise to start the evening or on request plan a presentation on a particular subject regarding writing. Then we share and discuss current work in progress. Our mandate is constructive critique and acceptance of everyone’s individual style.

The second event is an open mic at a local cafe, Common Ground Cafe hosted by our current Writer in Residence. As I missed the last reading due to ill health I hope to attend.

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8th March – 7 pm to 8.30 pm – all welcome whether reading or listening!

Other events:  

Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival is a celebration of diverse Canadian writers and artists presented by Room magazine.
The festival runs March 8th – 12th, 2017 at various locations in Vancouver, BC.

The festival features 50 writers and artists in more than 20 events over 4 days. Among the line-up are acclaimed writers Amber Dawn, Evelyn Lau, Lorna Crozier, Audrey Thomas, Jen Sookfong Lee, Hiromi Goto, Betsy Warland, and Rachel Hartman, who’ll share the stage with a host of other established and up-and-coming names.

Why not share your events too?

Ode To Friday, A Prompt and Your Local Bookstore…

June 27, 2014
mandyevebarnett


FunDay

It’s here – FRIDAY – the day we all wish for all week long. Our mood gradually becomes lighter as the weekdays past and the countdown begins to the freedom of Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, some people have other days off during the week but their feelings are exactly the same for whichever day their ‘Friday’ is. So celebrate today and enjoy your weekend.

I wrote a poem to celebrate Friday – I hope you like it.

 

You are precious in your promise

Your sunrise heralds relaxation pending

Thoughts of lie-ins and a drink or two abound

Co-workers smile today, pressures reduced

Friday – you are the golden day of the week

Your evening begins two days of fun and activities

Thank you Friday for your promise

We love you.

For today’s prompt why not share your ode to Friday?

Bookstore

An interesting news link regarding authors championing book stores. This campaign should be a global scheme. If I was still in the UK, I would certainly be joining in. How about you?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/27/authors-high-street-independent-booksellers-week

Maybe create your own ‘support your local bookstore’ campaign in the area you live in with fellow authors and writers. Give them a boost to their business and your sales in one fell swoop.

Local stores to me, that carry my books and others by my publisher, Dream Write Publishing are:

http://www.parkbookworm.ca/

http://www.leducartisanmarket.com/

http://www.carvelgeneralstore.ca/

Quotes:

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.  ~Author Unknown

Always strive to excel, but only on weekends.  ~Richard Rorty

happy weekend

I wish you a great weekend, full of words whether writing or reading them. I will be enjoying friends and family activities tonight and Saturday and a few hours of editing and reading on Sunday.

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