Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Virtual Writing Groups

April 9, 2020

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.


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


Snirtle – My Favorite Word to Date…

December 4, 2013

Snirtle – definition: to snicker mockingly

I absolutely love this word and will have to find lots of occasions to use it. I think everyone needs this word in their personal lexicon. It is both a noun and a verb. It is a soft, suppressed laugh, a soft snortle (itself a reduced snort) or shortened snigger. Therefore, a snort is greater than a snortle, which is greater than a snirtle.

Snirtle was used by Robbie Burns in 1785  The Jolly Beggars : A Cantata

Wi’ ghastly e’e poor tweedle-dee
Upon his hunkers bended,
An’ pray’d for grace wi’ ruefu’ face,
An’ so the quarrel ended.
But tho’ his little heart did grieve
When round the tinkler prest her,
He feign’d to snirtle in his sleeve,
When thus the caird address’d her

Do you have favorite words? What are they?

While investigating the word, I came across these cute pictures at Deviant Art by Tazworth (Shauna) – aren’t they awesome?

Which is your favorite?




Practicing Reticent Pays Dividends…

March 15, 2013

Reticent – definition: 1) not intending to talk or give out information 2) quiet in tone or appearance 3) showing doubt or unwillingness


I am sure we can all relate to reticent feelings when we first walked into a writing group or when we finally had enough courage to share our words for the first time. Whether you are a ‘new’ writer or a seasoned one, our words are precious commodities we treasure. It can be easy to hold them close for fear of rejection, after all no-one could possibly love them as much as we do!

However, it is in the act of sharing that we find a new love. Within the safe harbor of a supportive and encouraging environment, whether family, friends or critique group we see how our words affect others. This brings another aspect to our writing – the power it has on others. If the reaction is one we wished to extract from our readers then we have accomplished our goal. If not, we can use the feedback to revise and edit, enhancing our words to better effect. Our story and how we write it is unique, no matter if it is a love story, a battle of good and evil or a ‘who dun it’ – the themes are universal but it is finding another way to tell them that is the art.

It is also a good practice to be rather reticent when utilizing social media. A constant ‘sales pitch’ with no real interaction with followers and friends has a noticeable detrimental effect on how you are perceived – and its not good! Subtly is the key – a few carefully chosen words, a hint here and there, a reference to a similar character, location or theme and open invitations to find out more, are more effective ways of encouraging a readership than blasting every media avenue open to you with post after post of ‘buy my book!’


Double Meaning Can Confuse…

March 12, 2013

Dilettante – definition: 1) an admirer or lover of the arts 2) a person who has a shallow interest in an art or area of knowledge.


Now I know that ‘English’ is a complicated language and it’s use around the world has altered it drastically but how can the same word mean completely opposing views?   I could describe someone as a dilettante meaning the first version and get sort shrift from them thinking I am being spiteful. Thus I began searching out more antagonyms.

Here are just a few to get your grey matter thinking.


Buckle – fasten securely or fall apart

Impregnable – able to be impregnated or incapable of being entered.

Weather -to endure or to erode.

Buckle- to hold together or collapse.

Fast – move rapidly or fix in position or starve.

Bound – to travel to or unable to move.

This creates a predicament for the writer. How to use the word and ensure the correct meaning is realized by the reader. We don’t want to expound too much as that negates using the word in the first place but some hint as to the specified meaning is required. As writers we play with words and this is an example of how we can excel at our art. Using the location or company of our character can be a good way of ensuring the correct meaning is known or how the dilettante actually responds to the circumstances.

Descriptive words are a writer’s best friend…

January 26, 2013

Let me start with the thesaurus explanation of descriptive : evocative, expressive, vivid, graphic, eloquent, colorful, explanatory, illustrative. Quiet a list, which I’m sure we could expand on if we so chose. However, my point is a single word can encapsulate a mood, a feeling or a condition. Today’s desk diary offering is such a word – Clammy – definition : being damp, sticky and unusually cool.

Check out the Thesaurus' sibling, Dictionary.

Check out the Thesaurus’ sibling, Dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word clammy conjures up an exact feeling, one we have all had at one time or another whether due to illness or a particular uncomfortable situation. Such as our first public appearance, nervously opening a response to a manuscript submission or the tell-tale light headedness prior to fainting.

This delightful word is an example of how you can capture your character’s feelings precisely. In the revision process of any piece of work, tightening up the exposition ensures the story keeps pace and large sections can be refined into their essential elements. In using words, such as clammy, our readers are instantly aware of our character’s situation without losing the impact of the narrative. In other words -using these descriptive words keep our narrative sharp.

Careful word usage is a learned skill for many and delving into our dictionary and thesaurus on a regular basis enables us to use words to their best affect. For example if we did not use clammy, we would need to describe cold but sweaty skin, light headedness, damp beads of perspiration – a lot more words for the same condition and an overly descriptive sentence or paragraph can lose our reader’s attention. We certainly don’t want that.

Use of the thesaurus on our word document screen can assist but does have it’s limits. A good dictionary & thesaurus are a good investment for any writer. There are specific thesaurus as well. For example I have an emotional thesaurus which is a great tool.


Take your time while revising any written piece to identify descriptive words that would sharpen it. They are a writer’s best friend, so use them often.

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