Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Book Fame is False

January 19, 2023
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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.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Festival, Meeting Readers and Buying Books

September 20, 2022
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I attended Words on the Street this Saturday in Lethbridge with my publisher, Dream Write Publishing. This was an annual event I enjoyed until COVID postponed it. So, this first in-person return to the book festival since 2019 was a joy. I reconnected with local authors and met new readers to my novels. To discuss my stories is always a fun conversation, as those who know my work, understand my ability to ‘flip’ ideas on their heads and give surprisingly twists and turns in my narratives.

As a reader I also took advantage of an independent bookstore’s weekend sale. The Purple Platypus in Castor, is jam packed with books and picking one or two is impossible. I left with a bag of books! More for my ever expanding TBR pile. (You know the problem all too well, I’m sure.)

Added to these were novels from three Lethbridge authors – Jenna Greene, Bianca Rowena, and Mandy Michelle.

So after I finish Fairy Tale by Stephen King I will have a difficult decision to make – which book do I choose first. Do any of these speak to you? Which one would you choose?

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Feast or Famine of Story Ideas

May 26, 2022
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As writers we are used to juggling many writing projects at the same time or the complete opposite – nothing! (Although, I have to say my mind is crowded with ideas most of the time in MUSE central!)

These opposing states come with their own problems, each unique and as frustrating as each other. Firstly, ‘feast’ has us worrying which project to do first. Which one is the most strident in it’s demand to be written? Is it the right one to pursue? Will another story ‘vanish’ if we ignore it?

Secondly, ‘famine’ when ideas may be circling in our minds, but none of them ‘stick’ or have the ‘legs’ to form a longer narrative. Or there is a void. This is a frustrating feeling, leaving us grasping for elusive or fragments of ideas, or something to write!

So what can we do to organize the jumble or utilize a fragment?

Let’s look at the multiple ideas first. Write down as much as you can for each idea – lay them out on separate pieces of paper or word documents. Organize each idea into genre or categories and then plot, character or scene and any other components of each particular story you do have. Separating the stories in this way allows us to focus on them, if not objectively, as least with a clearer vision. Once you have them in an orderly list you will see which idea has the most content. Now, comes the difficult decision – which one do you pursue? It might not be the one with the most detail, but another that attracts you to it for whatever reason. Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If one starts to ‘grow’ within your minds eye, or the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then that is typically your direction.

Now comes the void. How do we spark our Muse? There are many reasons for this dearth of ideas, illness, relationship problems, work commitments etc. As a writer we know that the act of writing is not only satisfying, but a real need. Our creativity requires it. This is the time to look at those filed away short stories, or fragments of ideas. We always have inspirational quotes, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that have languished somewhere in journals, notebooks or electronic folders. Take time to read through these, after all we kept them for a reason. Utilize writing prompts – writing anything helps us get back on track. Fifteen minute bursts of writing from a word or picture prompt can refresh our minds, spark our creativity and set us on a new course. Your prompt response might only be short – a poem, a paragraph, even a word association list, or it can develop into something. I recently used an image of a dragon’s egg to spark my Muse. It was going to be a short story but grew and grew into a three thousand word story! You never know where an idea can lead, and that is the beauty of story writing.

How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

new idea

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.  Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”     Dee Hock     

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – What Inspires Me to Write?

June 29, 2021
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There are a number of ways that stories come to me, one is using writing prompts because they always spark ideas or images in my mind. Some result in a short story or, occasionally a poem, but others have become full blown novels.

I recently responded to the prompt below and the character emerged complete in my mind. I could see him walking along the sidewalk, and the effect he had on the people he passed. He may appear in a future novel – who knows. Some characters stay with me and after a time begin to demand attention. This one is mysterious and I am keen to know his backstory and his future plans.

Heads turned, chatter ceased and whispers began as the tall, dark clothed man strode along the high street. His focused gaze ahead, never glancing at the store fronts, or the recoiling of other pedestrians as he passed by. The summer atmosphere cooled as an ominous air pervaded his very being. The holiday town was used to many visitors but this one was different and dangerous.

Would you like to ‘meet’ this character?

One prompt that resulted in a published book was my novella, The Rython Kingdom, which was actually a series of prompts that combined into the basis of the story. The prompts were – blue beads, a beast and a medieval town. You can read the full story (and its sequel if you want) here:

Another inspiration are dreams. And the reason, I have a small notebook on my bedside table. If I don’t write it down immediately, the dream dissipates never to be remembered again. The opening sequence of The Commodore’s Gift was a snippet of a dream that just needed to be used in a story. At the time, I had no idea that Owena, would become such a integral part of the story and evolve into it’s central character.

Other ways I am inspired are by those chance encounters. A case in point, was a huge plant growing on the side of the road, while I was traveling. It morphed into a creature in my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria.

Do you have questions about my writing inspiration? Please ask on the comments, I will be happy to answer them all.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How the Natural World Influences My Life and My Narratives

June 22, 2021
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My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.

My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.

In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.

In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.

I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.

As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.

You can find my books here: https://www.amazon.ca/Mandy-Eve-Barnett/e/B01MDUAS0V/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

What have you discovered in the natural world? How does nature affect you?

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