Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Edward Willett

September 24, 2020
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1.      Can you tell us why you chose science fiction & fantasy as a genre?

I think it kind of chose me. I have two older brothers, both of whom read it, so those were the books that were around the house. The first one I remember is Robert Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C, his first novel, written when he was nineteen. I was hooked, and read everything I could get my hands on. When I was eleven, I wrote my first complete short story, “Kastra Glazz: Hypership Test Pilot.” My course was clearly set.

What has always appealed to me about science fiction and fantasy is the unlimited opportunity it provides to give your imagination free reign. Every other genre seems sadly limited once you’ve experienced that freedom.

2.      You have a series called The Worldshaper Series. Can you tell us how you got the initial idea?

I wanted a book series that could be open ended and that would allow me to tell any kind of story I wanted, in any kind of world, but with the same characters. My inspiration was Doctor Who, the greatest storytelling conceit ever: you can tell any story within that framework, anywhere in time or space.

My version: a series of worlds which are consciously Shaped by individuals who then live within those worlds, rather like authors living inside the books they’ve written. The worlds can run the gamut from fantasy-inspired to science fictional to historical to purely whimsical. So far, I’ve had a world much like ours, one inspired by Jules Verne, and one featuring werewolves and vampires!

3.      Will there be another book in the series?

I hope so. If DAW Books decides not to continue the series, I’ll likely continue it myself and publish it through my own Shadowpaw Press. Book 4 is sketched out, so I’m ready to go!

4.      Which character(s) do you like the best in this series?

Shawna Keys. She’s the first-person narrator of the bulk of the story, and she’s my opportunity to indulge in my own geeky sense of humour. She’s great fun to write.

5.      Where can we purchase these books?

Everywhere! DAW Books is distributed by Penguin Random House, so anyone who sells books will either have or can order the Worldshapers novels. For autographed copies, you can go to my online store, www.edwardwillettshop.com. (I don’t have The Moonlit World yet, though, because of distribution issues related to Covid-19.)

6.      Do you think the cover art plays a important role?

Absolutely. DAW books always have great covers, and the Worldshapers books are no exception. The artist, Juliana Kolesova, has used the same model on each cover. Since she’s based in Toronto, I wonder if the next time I’m there I might see Shawna Keys walking down the street!

8.      You also write short stories, how is the process difference from writing a novel for you?

Short stories are typically more limited in time and space—but not necessarily. Really, the difference is the length, and in the amount of worldbuilding detail you can cram in. I’ve written relatively few short stories. I think I’m much more a novelist at heart.

9.      How many books have you written?

Something over twenty novels and more than sixty in total, counting non-fiction.

10.  How many anthologies have you contributed to?

A half-dozen or so.

11.  You also write non-fiction – how is the process different from writing fiction?

I don’t get to make up stuff. Or, at least, not as much stuff. More research. Less dialogue. More footnotes.

12.  How do you chose your non-fiction topics?

I usually don’t. Publishers or clients looking for a writer approach me and ask if I’d be willing to take on a specific topic. I almost always say yes!

13.  You have also written under the name E.C. Blake and Lee Arthur Chane – can you share why?

Marketing reasons. My first books for DAW were science fiction (Lost in Translation, and the two books of what was later called The Helix War: Marseguro and Terra Insegura). They wanted me to try my hand at fantasy, which was selling better at the time, and suggested I use a new name because of the genre change and to attract new readers. So, for Magebane, a fat stand-alone fantasy, I became Lee Arthur Chane (the middle names of my two older brothers, Jimmy Lee Willett and Dwight Arthur Willett, and myself, Edward Chane Willett). Then I kind of switched genres again: the Masks of Aygrima trilogy was essentially YA fantasy, with a fifteen-year-old female protagonist. E.C. Blake wrote those. Then I returned to science fiction and to my own name with The Cityborn and the Worldshapers books. I’ve only used the pseudonyms with DAW so far—my novels with other publishers are all under my own name—but E.C. Blake may have a new one coming out soon from my own Shadowpaw Press, called Blue Fire.

14.  Where can readers find your books?

As noted earlier, my DAW Books are readily available through any bookstore. Check out my page on Amazon, as well.

You can also find the books I’ve published through Shadowpaw Press at shadowpawpress.com. You can order print books directly from there, and download ebooks directly from there, as well.

Speaking of Shadowpaw Press, it’s just released the ebook of a major new anthology that I edited, with the print version to follow in mid-November.

Shapers of Worlds features short fiction by authors who were guests during the first year of my Aurora Award-winning podcast, The Worldshapers, where I interview other science fiction and fantasy authors about the creative process.

I Kickstarted the anthology earlier this year. It features new fiction from Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, John C. Wright, Shelley Adina, and me, plus reprints from John Scalzi, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Julie E. Czerneda, Fonda Lee, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Gareth L. Powell, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer. That list includes international bestsellers, plus winners of and nominees for every major award in science fiction and fantasy, so I’m very excited about it!

15.  How can readers connect with you online?

I’m on Twitter @ewillett, on Facebook @edward.willett, and on Instagram @edwardwillettauthor.

My main website is www.edwardwillett.com; I post news about my writing there, and you can also sign up to my newsletter there. As noted, my online store is www.edwardwillettshop.com.

Shadowpaw Press is at www.shadowpawpress.com (and can also be found on Twitter @ShadwpawPress and on Facebook @ShadowpawPress).

The Worldshapers podcast is at www.theworldshapers.com, and on Twitter @TheWorldshapers and on Facebook @TheWorldshapers.

Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Newsletter Content

September 16, 2020
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What do you put in an author newsletter?

When it came to my author newsletter, I asked my subscribers what they wanted to hear from me. I also looked at other newsletters for ideas. It is a great way to formulate how you want your newsletter to look and to give you ideas on your content and frequency of transmitting it. 

Tip: You can pre-write your newsletter and schedule it.

Make sure you are not mailing out your newsletter too frequently or it will become a chore. I send mine monthly (most of the time!)

Chose a name for your newsletter and stick to it. 

Mine is Musings from Mandy Eve-Barnett – to distinguish each newsletter I add the month and a title.

Here is a list of possible content you can include: (it is by no means conclusive though).  

Personal anecdotes and photos of your everyday life. You can include your writing space.

Behind the scenes peeks – what you are currently writing, ideas formulating etc.

Exclusive content like a cover reveal or a sneak peek at your next title

Launch dates of your new book

Events you are attending (due to COVID19 these will be virtual of course)

Your writing process

Request feedback on a current manuscript/project

Interviews you have participated in with links

Spotlights/interviews of guest authors

What you are reading

Your book reviews

The goal of any newsletter is to promote, so make sure to include:

Your author bio
Links to your blog, social media sites and any interviews and your book sale sites

Tip: Even unpublished authors can create an author newsletter. The sooner you start to grow your subscription list, the bigger your platform will be when you have something to sell.

Photo by Content Pixie on Pexels.com

What do you include in your newsletter?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Preparation for a Radio Interview

September 10, 2020
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It was my pleasure to be interviewed on Sunday 6th September by Mike Deregowski on his show, The Writers Block at Sound Sugar Radio. Due to COVID19 restrictions the interview was conducted over the telephone.

To prepare for the interview, I took the following steps, which I hope may help you.

  1. Firstly, we agreed on a date for the interview.
  2. I then asked what the procedure would be prior to the interview. Such as, what time I needed to be available, and was I calling in or would they call me.
  3. I also asked about details of the interview – time I would actually be on air, types of questions they would ask and any special points they wished me to cover.
  4. As I was sharing an excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Commodore’s Gift, I chose two options of five minutes each.
  5. I practiced reading them aloud several times. This allowed me to ‘hear’ the piece and also decide on inflections in my reading voice.
  6. Once I had read them, I knew which one gave enough detail of the genre and story but also left a question to entice readers.
  7. Prior to the interview itself, I posted across my social media that I would be doing the interview and shared the links to the radio station. After all the more the merrier.
  8. One the interview had taken place, I once again shared the link to my social media sites. Then added it to my media kit on my blog.

The Commodore’s Gift will be officially launched at Words in the Park – Virtual on 26th September 2020.

Opened parcel tied with string with blank label, copy space included within torn section

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Blow Your Own Trumpet! Author & Book Promotion

September 3, 2020
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Once we transition from writer to published author, there are many things that change. No longer can we sit in isolation, hide from the world or pretend it’s a ‘hobby’. Words we created are available to the public and so begins the promotion bandwagon.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Our writing becomes a business – expenses and income need to be reported for tax purposes, we create a ‘store’ whether virtual or real, and we become a public entity. We are no longer completely anonymous.

Over the last nine years (since publishing my first book), I have gathered information, advice and ‘tricks’ on how to promote myself and my books. At first, it felt foreign to ‘be out there’. Now-a-days, I utilize all my social media and this blog to promote my books,  events, interviews and my freelance writing business.

promotion

However, promotion does not come easy! It is a constant workhorse of creating posts, commenting, liking and linking. It is not enough to have two weeks of posts when your book first comes out. You need to continue promoting forever! Yep – that’s right – forever.

You can’t discard your previous creative efforts once a new novel comes out. It’s like ignoring your first born when another child arrives. They all need the same amount of love.

Look at each book – it’s concepts, genre, theme, topic and utilize any and all social media posts – far and wide – to mention that book. For example, I have a children’s picture book called Rumble’s First Scare. It is set at Halloween so I create posts before then to create awareness. And usually hold a colouring contest. I also use any ‘monster’ mentions as a link back to it.

You have to be creative and think how you can make a comment or post refer to your book(s). If it is set in a specific historical era – find similar posts, articles about that era etc. Join social groups on the many platforms that would be interested in your story’s genre.

Always assess what you can use for promotion. Yes, it is time consuming but so was writing your manuscript! Put the same amount of effort into the ‘business’ of selling your book. You wrote it to sell it didn’t you?

Create contests around your book – give prizes, such as a physical gift basket or a free/discount on your book.

Do you have any tips for other authors on promotion? Please share them, after all we are one big community.

Author Toolbox Blog Hop- Character Building

August 13, 2020
mandyevebarnett


character-cube

Whether you spend time intricately plotting and creating your story line or let the story flow unbidden, one facet of all stories that must be created and created well are its characters. Your protagonist, antagonist and all the supporting characters have a ‘job’ to do. They must give our readers an insight into their personalities, their struggles, ambitions and fears. Characters build the ‘world’ you have set your characters within by showing it through their eyes, their thoughts and actions.

Every writer has his or her own methods, when it comes to the creation of a character.

  1. Name,
  2. Physical attributes
  3. Personality traits.
  4. Setting.

For example, Setting: an alien being trapped in a spacecraft, a monster hunting its prey or specific behavior traits for period pieces.

Physical features: This primarily gives our readers an image but more importantly an idea of their personality. A thin, acne-faced teenager will not automatically give our readers the idea of a ‘superman’ kind of personality but a muscle bound, athletic type could.

Name: a good starting point for our creation, but it is also a minefield. Research into real persons, living or dead should be foremost, unless of course you are writing about that particular person.

Accent: a character’s voice says a lot about their location and background.

Real people or not: We can base characters on people we know or a combination of several or from people watching – an author’s favorite pastime. As writers situations, overheard conversation and life in general is a constant source of inspiration.

character-development (1)

There are numerous ‘character development work sheets’ available on the Internet and it can be useful to fill them in for your main characters, if you have no clear ‘picture’ of them to begin with.

I tend to write the story letting my characters dictate how their story will unfold. In so doing the characters develop creating their own story. This tends to change the narrative from my initial perception.  In this way they may develop characteristics I had not considered or react quite differently to a situation from my preconceived idea. This method may seem harder than having a detailed description of each pivotal character, their backstory and emotional compass, but it is my method.

We ‘live’ with our characters for a long time and they become ‘real’ to us. This enables us to write the story with ‘insider knowledge’ of our characters backstory, their emotional compass and their ultimate goal. This knowledge becomes paramount during the subsequent drafts and editing process, giving us a well-rounded character and a believable one for our readers. In truth, the initial draft is the testing ground for our characters, and revisions make them well rounded and ‘believable’.

Character profile

How do you create your characters?

Recognize these characters? Remember how irate poor Wile E Coyote would become with Road Runner? No matter what he did he never succeeded in catching his ‘dinner’. Beep, beep would ring out as yet another ACME kit damaged the coyote instead of the bird. It was truly a lesson in perseverance. No matter how many times the speedy bird escaped the coyote he would try, try, try again. I actually went past a road sign to Acme on my way to Canmore one time and wished I could have made a detour just for the fun of it.

wile-e-coyote-roadrunner

The art of creating such lovable and memorable characters is what every author strives for. We hope our creations will stay in our readers minds long after the last page has turned. Character profiles and back story play a large part in ensuring our characters are well rounded and believable. We delve into their personality type seeking out traits and habits to make them react to their crisis situations in an authentic way.

Do you make up scenarios for people you observe? Have any made it in to a manuscript?

 

Without characters our stories would have no real impact on our readers. We write to engage and intrigue them and hopefully make our protagonist the character our reader cares about. If your experience is anything like mine, there is usually one, or possibly two characters, that make their presence known in no uncertain terms. They want the starring role in our narrative. These characters are usually more defined in our minds and are ‘easier’ to relate to, whether because of a personality trait or that they are more fun to write. When creating the protagonist and antagonist in our stories, we give each opposing views and/or values. This is the basis of the conflict that carries our readers along their journey. Each character, whether major or minor, needs to have flaws and redeeming features, motivations, expectations, loyalties and deterrents.

With such a guideline our characters become clearer. A lot of the details will never reach the pages of our manuscript but knowing our characters well makes for a more believable personality as they struggle through the trials and tribulations, we subject them to. As most of you know I am a ‘free flow’ writer so everything is by the seat of my pants until the editing starts. This is where I find character flaws or great character traits that I can correct or build upon. My characters live with me during the writing process and usually lead me in directions I had never considered – I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As these personalities gain strength they become more ‘real’ and that is the moment their true selves appear.

When creating characters we must remember to ensure that each character acts and responds true to their given personality. Character profiles are a good way of ‘getting to know’ our characters. For example this sheet.

character

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