As writers/authors, we want our books to become well known, best sellers, and even made into movies. It is a dream that most of us will never accomplish and that’s okay. I feel that my stories are my legacy into the future, where they will be read by future generations and enjoyed. That is true fame to my way of thinking.
Best seller lists are a false statistic anyway – it is the retail orders volume that put such books on the various lists not their imaginative plots or narratives, but perceived sales. Most celebrities will have ‘best sellers’ because the general public want to read about them – for good or bad. Thus the bookstores will order more to accommodate the promotional machine afforded such tomes.
So my message to you is don’t be disheartened, and certainly don’t think ‘success’ can only be measured with these false statistics or lists created by the media. If you have sales and reviews, receive congratulations, and comments on your stories that is true fame.
If you look at the following list, you will see more modern books have made record sales thus proving the promotional circus works. The book industry is now global and this contributes to these sales figures.
25 Best-Selling Books of All-Time
#1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (107 million copies sold) #6 – And Then There Were None (100 million copies sold) #7 – The Dream of the Red Chamber (100 million copies sold) #8 – The Hobbit (100 million copies sold) #9 – She: A History of Adventure (100 million copies sold) #10 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (85 million copies sold) #11 – The Da Vinci Code (80 million copies sold) #12 – Think and Grow Rich (70 million copies sold) #13 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (65 million copies sold) #14 – The Catcher in the Rye (65 million copies sold) #15 – The Alchemist (65 million copies sold) #16 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (60 million copies sold) #17 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (55 million copies sold) #18 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (55 million copies sold) #19 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (55 million copies sold) #20 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (50 million copies sold) #21 – One Hundred Years of Solitude (50 million copies sold) #22 – Lolita (50 million copies sold) #23 – Anne of Green Gables (50 million copies sold) #24 – Charlotte’s Web (50 million copies sold) #25 – Black Beauty (50 million copies sold)
Be happy with your ‘success’ no matter what shape it takes. After all, you wrote and published a book (or books) and that is worth celebrating for its own worth. Many people dream of doing it and never do. Chasing a pipe dream makes us disillusioned and that is not good – pat yourself on the back for what you have achieved. It is remarkable.
As writers, we are used to being asked why do we write. Our answers are as diverse as we are as individuals and the many genres we write. There is no catch all answer, our reasons are as many as there are stories. No matter if there are similarities in upbringing, location, class, education or a plethora of other influences, how we perceive our world, and the experiences we encounter on our life’s path, make us unique. Therefore, our stories are unique to us. How we tell them, creative them, construct them is ours alone.
So, I will endeavour to answer that question in my own unique way. And hopefully, it will give you an insight into my creativity.
I write because I enjoy creating imaginary worlds, its characters and their stories. To weave a story around characters that I have conjured up in my mind, gives me not only satisfaction but also allows me to be creative. It is a kind of escape really. I become immersed in another world, where everything is possible through my fingertips. As a naturally creative person, who has tried many forms of creative expression, writing has given me the ultimate power. I am omnipotent. I can place characters in different eras, on other planets, in magical kingdoms – wherever I want. After saying that, a lot of my characters do dictate their story lines and propel me into new unexpected directions on occasion. This is part of the enjoyment and magic of writing. I hope to continue writing for as long as I can see and type and even then, maybe I can utilize modern technology to continue!
To another commonly asked question: what do I really want, my answer is – I want my stories to be my legacy. To be read and enjoyed for future generations and hopefully give a glimpse into my personality when I am gone. Instead of just the ‘dash’ on the gravestone there will be a pile of books to note my contribution to literature. It is a way of paying it forward into the future.
Many of my writing community contemporaries have written from a young age, unlike me. It was a skill and craft they found early on and found it to be beneficial in a multitude of ways. Whether for social, academic, and emotional well-being. It is a useful tool, especially for a child struggling to express themselves, their thoughts, or feelings. Through creative writing they can channel their emotions and harness their imaginations.
Other benefits include, problem solving through the creation of plots, alternative solutions, and seeking ways to identify, assess and tackle problems. Their inquisitiveness will, in turn, improve their research skills as they find information about specific things within their stories. This also brings about increased self-confidence, discipline and persistence, after all it takes time to create a story.
My writing group holds monthly creative writing workshops for children. These are free and no membership is required. An easy RSVP form can be filled in on the website and a Zoom link will be emailed prior to the meeting. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com
It is know that benefits of these type of workshops include improvement in writing quality. An increase in writing engagement and confidence, and better planning and creation of ideas.
1. What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?
For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.
2. Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?
Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!
3. How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children?
I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.
4. Where can schools access your books?
Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.
5. Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?
My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.
6. How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?
I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.
7. Is imagination important for children?
It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!
8. Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?
Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.
9. Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.
10. Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?
I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.
11. How can readers find you?
My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:
Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as Room, subTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca
I’m putting out a call to all book clubs. Would you like me to join you virtually? I have a wide range of novels that I would be happy to discuss – romance, speculative fiction, steampunk, mystery, fantasy. Ask me how I came up with the concept, where my characters came from, what I am working on now.
I am also happy to attend a virtual school book clubs as I have children’s and YA fiction as well, so let me know if you are interested. I can talk about how to expand on an idea, create a plot arc and make up a character.
You can find all my books on this blog under children’s, YA or adult books. Take your pick(s). I can also offer a gift package for a draw. Let me know if you are interested by commenting below or contacting me via the contact form.
Let’s immerse ourselves in stories. Our imaginations let us escape reality.