Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Toolkit to Create a Writing Retreat at Home

May 27, 2021
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Without the luxury of travel during COVID, regular writing retreats have been cancelled, but it is not all bad news. We can create our own mini retreat at home. There will be some necessary arrangements to be made, which relate to your personal circumstances but it can be done. If you have a full household ask if it is possible for your partner to take your children out for an extended walk or to a play ground or even outside yard activities? Set times that you want to write without interruptions. This may be early morning or late evening, a time of day that you can set aside for writing. If staying in the home is too difficult, maybe drive to a secluded spot and write in a notebook to type up later. There is always somewhere you can find to accommodate writing time.

The length of time you have for your retreat will, of course, depend on what is possible for you. You may have two hours a day over a couple of days or a day or two. Before creating your retreat think about the following:

Why do you need a retreat? This might seem like a silly question but take the time to decide if the retreat has a direct purpose for your writing.

What is your goal? Again ask yourself, what can this retreat help you accomplish. Is it to begin or finish a project, a full edit, or a final read through?

Once you have identified these two points, you can plan by initially setting targets with measurable realistic goals, don’t overwhelm yourself. Depending on the time allotted for your retreat, create a daily writing plan. What are your objectives for each day? This can be writing or editing a certain number of pages, sequencing chapter content or revising scenes.

It is important to eliminate distractions as much as possible allowing you to concentrate. This should include switching off your cell phone, setting specific times for social media interactions, or even setting a timer!

The more you organize before hand the better your experience will be. Let’s look at some essentials.

Plan Your Retreat Time– use your preference – a simple sheet with goals for each day/hour, or a whiteboard with retreat objectives or notes in a day planner.

Tools – these can include a notebook, laptop, post-its, record cards, mood board, a print out of your manuscript, reference books or research sites bookmarked on your search engine. Everything that you need to successfully accomplish your goal.

Snacks & Water– the brain needs to be fed and watered as you delve into your project. Have plenty of water and easy nibbles handy.

Space – designate a space where you will work, where you and your tools will not be disturbed.

Rewards – how will you reward yourself for accomplishing your set goals? Decide how, it can be going for a walk, or thirty minutes on social media, or relaxing reading a book.

Remember this time is ultimately for you and your writing, a time to invest in your craft.

I’d love to hear your experiences with a home writing retreat. How did you achieve it?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Seasonal Changes Affect Your Writing & WIR Advantages

March 25, 2021
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As we Albertan’s look forward to ‘proper’ Spring instead of ‘false Spring’, we look forward to embracing the warm weather to write outside and enjoy nature. It is not a pretty sight, with brown grass and slush but it will get better. Although, COVID still has us under restrictions, there are ways to enjoy the outdoors. We can drive to a lake or forest, even explore the Rocky Mountains. If you are like me and my friend, Linda, take the back roads and discover untouched parts of the province. Get away from the noise of the city or town, immerse yourself in the stillness and quiet. Here is where your writing Muse flourishes. It is a time when a new project or idea may come forth.

Indulge in people watching, notice how your mind and body react to the change of season. Learn to use emotional, social, and climatic insights and feelings to the benefit of your craft. It gives us an idea how weather can effect a character’s situation or show the passing of time.

How do the different seasons affect your writing?

In other news my ghost writing gig will start late April/early May so it gives me more time to complete the first book in my detective trilogy. I worked with my designer on the covers for the trilogy so that they are consistent and will ‘link’ together when all three books are laid down beside each other. It is always difficult not to share the cover of a new book, there is excitement and eagerness to show them off. I will have to curb that and keep them secret until launch days, apart from the normal teasers, of course.

When you are working on your book covers, how do you ensure your vision comes to life?

I have been very lucky to have access to several talented artists for my book covers through my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and my publisher, Dream Write Publishing.

I have been taking advantage of our local Writer in Residence at my library with Zoom open mic meetings and special presentations. This is a great way to have an unbiased view of your current work, not only through the readings and subsequent feedback but also because you can send a sample of the manuscript to them for review. Each year the WIR’s are from different backgrounds and literary genre’s, but no matter what your genre (or theirs) this tool is well worth taking advantage of this free service then maybe you should.

What are you currently working on?

I have a presentation on blogging this Saturday. An Easter writing retreat to look forward to. And a ghost writing project lined up for late April/early May.

You can register for the writing conference here. There is a broad spectrum of writing skills to learn about. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – How Do You Choose Your Next Writing Project?

July 2, 2020
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With the final editing revisions sent to my publisher, I am thinking about my next story. As with many authors there is a never ending project pile. So how do you to choose the next one?

binding books bound colorful

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There are several scenarios:

1. You have submitted one part of a series – your choice is reasonable clear – write the next book in the series. This can depend on when the manuscript has to be finished obviously but readers want the next one pretty quickly.

2. You are committed to writing a story for an anthology. Ensure you make the deadline.

3. A new idea has ‘popped’ into your head – it is always tempting to write the newest and brightest. However, can it wait? Maybe ask is it reflecting a current topic? Would it be best to get it published sooner rather than later?

4. You have several unfinished manuscripts pending. (This is my current quandary.) How do you choose?

The above options do give us guidance but if you are not committed to a deadline then what options are open to you?

a) Write the titles out and pick one out of a hat.

b) Ask your readers on social media to choose by voting.

c) Gauge the current ‘popular’ genre and write accordingly.

I have opted for b) and received a flurry of votes on Facebook and twitter, which was a pleasant surprise indeed.

suspense

The choices were – A western romance or a suspense novel. The suspense won! So I will delve into The Giving Thief for this year and into next.

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Other News

I have gained a new freelance client for August. So I am looking forward to working with this author on her novel from August onward.

My steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift is now with my publisher and set for a September 2020 launch. Unsure at this point what that will actually look like or compose of but we will see.

Take care and stay well.

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Virtual Writing Groups

April 9, 2020
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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.

Zoom

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?

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Ask A Question Thursday

July 4, 2019
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Today’s question is: Some writers create a bubble around themselves until they’re finished with their project – how true is that in your case?

For me, once I am writing/crafting a story the outside world disappears. I am within that world of my own creation and all external forces are forgotten. As I write the scenes play like a movie in my head, I experience the characters and their struggles.

How about you? Do you need to lock yourself away, go somewhere in particular or can immerse yourself in your story no matter where?

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Last week’s question. What books do you keep for sentimental reasons?

I shared mine in the post and Pamela shared her love of Pinocchio.

The Adventures of Pinocchio. From the first time my mother read it to me, I was hooked on the little guy. His devotion to his father touched my heart like no other character in any book. I have a collection of at least 10 Pinocchio books in both English and Italian, and each is a bit different due to the various translators. And to add to my Pinocchio fixation, I have quite a collection of Pinocchio puppets, dolls, and figurines scattered around the house. They never fail to make me smile.

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