Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

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

typewriter

What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?

 

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How I Stretch My Creativity

March 3, 2020
mandyevebarnett


w1

I spent our ‘extra’ day, 29th February indulging in two writing workshops. One was a novel workshop, which will span four months. A group of writers email a number of chapters of their current work in progress for edits and suggestions to each other and then email them back for revisions.

The second workshop, held by The Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County, was a monthly creative workshop, covering many aspects, styles and types of writing. As we are approaching poetry month in April, we covered different types of poetry. I have to admit poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity. We covered six styles. I am sharing my attempt of a coupled rhyme (rhyme in pairs AA BB CC). The words we had to incorporate were chosen at random. Clock, rock, storm, born, wall, tall. Five minutes later I achieved this:

The fisherman looked at the clock

Then walked to the big rock

He knew it was time with the storm

For the creature to be born

The waves rose up as a wall

And there the beast stood so tall

Do you have a certain style of poetry that you prefer? 

Book Review

lavinia

Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin – my review:

To be immersed again in ancient Italy was a joy for me. I learned Greek & Roman literature in school and was transported back to the world of gods, mythology and mystery.
A wonderfully written narrative, anyone would enjoy.

Current Read:

black Esi Edugyan

What are you reading?

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. 

IMG_4614

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?  

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

October 31, 2018
mandyevebarnett


espresso

When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.

Here are a few examples.

The stick flew
My dog pounced
And collided with him
That’s how we met
My love and I

Trapped but guilty to move on
Loving but alone in a crowd
Sleeping but horror in her dreams
Smiling but crying within

Free of her kidnapper
She fled the horrific basement
Running along a darkened road
Through torrential rain
The driver never saw her

Tantrum:  But I want it!!!!  You’ll get it alright

Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.

Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!

Why not have a go?

 

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…

June 5, 2017
mandyevebarnett


events

This week I will be attending a special supper with a member of my writing group who resides in Newfoundland. Not only is it exciting to see her, for her visits are few and far between but to really connect with her rather than on social media. A group of us will share stories and gossip (of the writing kind of course!) at a local restaurant  and then attend the normal monthly writing meeting. I know, Sharon is really looking forward to the evening especially the meeting as she so misses the camaraderie of the group.

Writers Foundation Strathcona County

Our meeting will run in its usual format with a review of upcoming events, submissions for the newsletter and our Canada 150 book project and then a writing prompt to inspire the Muse. After this we will share our current writing projects for constructive critique. 

After the workshop I attended last week I did try out an exercise suggested by Jennifer. Read the first five pages of your manuscript and then answer the question, does it give the reader 12-15 points to introduce who, why, when and where of your protagonist. Obviously, some genres do not start with such an ‘info dump ‘ but if your reader can get a sense of who the protagonist is that will help engage them and make them turn the page. It was an interesting exercise with my current five manuscripts and I did change one first paragraph.

Have you tried this technique?

Did it help you identify a revision?

My major event will be on Sunday. It has been months of exhaustive organizing by both boards of the Arts & Culture Council and the Diversity Committee and we hope for good weather and large crowds! Heritage Day of Strathcona County may become an annual event (what am I letting myself in for?) if this initial event does well. With numerous vendors, performers, food providers, music and even a special free shuttle and a magician, we have done all we can.

heritage day

Other events:

 June 8, 2017: The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories

“The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories” conference takes place June 8 to 10, 2017 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. It will foster conversations on editing and publishing Indigenous stories and writers. The conference is intended for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from all walks of life including publishers, editors, writers, storytellers, filmmakers, academics.

juxtapostions

Welcome to the WGA Annual Conference 2017: Juxtapositions! This is where writers from all across Alberta come together to socialize, network, learn, and celebrate writers and writing. We’ve asked over a dozen authors to share their talents and experiences in fiction, short story, poetry, and journalism through keynote speeches, author interviews, panel discussions and more. And Saturday night we’ll take it up a notch with our Literary Awards Gala. Join us June 10 and 11 at Lister Centre, U of A campus in Edmonton!

https://writersguild.ca/events/wga-annual-conference-2017-juxtapositions/

Blog at WordPress.com.