Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Food to Eat While Reading Your Favorite Genre.

May 17, 2022
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Photo by Melike Benli on Pexels.com

Quite often we snack while we read, our choice of snack varies with our personal taste, but it may also reflect the genre we are reading. Here is a list of suggested comparable foods for several genres.

Romance – Red wine & dark chocolate covered strawberries or cherries. Chocolate or vanilla flavored foods are also popular. Hot chocolate for an alternative to alcohol. Smooth, rich or decandent foods are best.

Thriller – This snack is right up there and is a real mixture – popcorn with cinnamon, olive oil and pesto or mixed with M&M. You can imagine popping each morsel into your mouth in quick succession as the tension grows within the narrative.

Fantasy – Linking back to a childhood fantasy – Snow White, this pick is the ‘bad’ apple choice. Apples covered in cinnamon, honey, or caramel. Red velvet cookies. Hummus and pita chips or french fries with ketchup.

Comedy – Animal Crackers. Tea and biscuits/cookies.

Historical Fiction – Tea and crumpets (or scones or crackers). Charcuterie. Coffee

True Crime – Aged cheese & wine.

Horror – Spicy pizza. Whisky.

Science Fiction – Cheesy Shrimp Nachos. Gummy Worms.

Action & Adventure – Sriracha popcorn.

Young Adult – Blueberry Crumb Bars. Apple slices & peanut butter.

Realistic Fiction: Chips. Sweet and sour Gummies.

Classics: Tea and Sugar Cookies. A good Bordeaux and a decadent spread of cheeses

Fanfiction: Nuts. Chocolate bars.

Biography/Autobiography: Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Trail mix.

Contemporary fiction Earl Grey tea and scones.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – The Story of My Book Cover’s and Their Illustrators

April 12, 2022
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With a multiple of genres in my repertoire, I have utilized several book cover illustrators to achieve the best cover for each book. All of them have a unique style and process for creating the images. As an author the book cover is a vital tool to attract our readers. It needs to reflect in a quick and simple way the genre of the story and entice our readers to take a look.

Which cover(s) do you like?

Rumble’s First Scare

This cute little monster was the result of a mental image of mine. I asked Matthew McClatchie to bring him to life. This was achieved with my writing down a description of Rumble, as best I could and of the images for each page within the picture book. It took multiple emails back and forth until Rumble emerged. This is the excitement of working with a great illustrator, a mind meld as it were.

Ockleberries to the Rescue

I commissioned J.E. McKnight, a fellow author and artist to help me with this project as I required ‘real’ sketches of animals and Joe’s pencil and ink drawings were perfect for the chapter headers. We used nature photography for the majority of the images, as a basis for the images and a couple were a collaboration of my poor attempts at sketches and Joe’s interpretation of the subject.

Clickety Click

Again, most of the images were in my mind’s eye but the protagonist was a ‘real’ girl, so I asked Linda J. Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography to help with the chapter header images. I described what each scene should incorporate and then Linda drew them in pencil and ink. Again, it is the worth of a great illustrator to draw what an author’s mind envisions.

Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria

I had such fun with this project as it was open to my imagination to create an alien world and who better to use than Matthew McClatchie’s unique technique? From my previous experience with Matty, I knew he would interpret my ‘mental images’ and badly constructed collages to make them come to life. 

The Rython Kingdom

I found the illustrator for this novella via a Facebook friend. At the time, Winter Bayne utilized an online program for images and models. While working together we created the book cover from several different images I felt were important to the cover. Alas Winter no longer offers her services, so I am glad I got to work with her.

Rython Legacy

Unable to use Winter Bayne on this sequel, I was at a loss as who to turn to in order to achieve a similar cover. Luckily, through a Facebook contact I was able to connect with Wren Taylor Cover Design, who knew Winter. She utilizes the same sort of program and we collaborated well on the image to tie it to the first book with an orb shape.

The Twesome Loop

This image was again a collaboration with Winter Bayne, where I wanted several images merged. An olive tree, an old stone well and the lovers. She was able to find models dressed in period costume for the original couple in this reincarnation based romance.

Life in Slake Patch

I was vacationing in England when the original book cover was finalized for this novel, so emails were numerous. Linda J Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography managed to create a scene using multiple images I sent. Subsequently the cover was changed to the current one by Wren Taylor Cover Design to align with my other adult novel covers.

The Commodore’s Gift

Knowing the process and our mutual understanding I once again used Wren Taylor Cover Design to create the cover. It is the culmination of numerous images merged into my vision. There are many items within the cover that required closer inspection. Can you find them? A clockwork bird, a clock, a propulsion device, deep sea divers helmet/octopus, and a heart.

My current detective series has covers already designed by Wren Taylor Cover Design, but they will only be revealed once the trilogy is finalized and published. Yes, I know I’m teasing.

Wordsmith Collective Thursday – Multi-Genre or Hybrid Promotion

April 7, 2022
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As many of you know, I am a multi-genre author, where the story is the motivator not the genre. However, there are some obstacles to this due to the ‘business’ side of writing. Mainly, how to promote myself as opposed to the genre I have written?

Author-Branding-Book-Marketing-Plan-Author-Platform

I have read many ‘book promotion and marketing’ articles, all of which target specific audiences for genre. You can easily target one genre, such as romance, thriller, and mystery but how do you cross genre lines in promotion?

One answer is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership – regardless of genre. So in essence you will need to develop a strategy to create a hybrid solution of your own.

Another option is to write a book that will appeal to the fans of your new genre and not the fans you already have. The plot, cover, and blurb should all be consistent with the genre you want to write in. This can be accomplished by adding your own flourishes to the genre.

You have the ability to create your own style, and unique voice by combining recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing. You can tie a common thread between all the genres you choose to write. After delving into this I have found that love in all its forms are represented in my narratives, whether parental, friendship or lover.

It is much less about genre, and more about what readers have come to expect in your books/writing. It’s in the way you do it – as well as how it’s perceived and interpreted by your audience.
Let’s take a look at how writing in more than one genre is a benefit:
• It requires different strengths and allows you to push your limits and abilities–learn, test, experiment, polish.
• It lets you explore your wider interests without limitation.
• It allows new writers especially to explore various genres before determining the right “fit” for their style, voice and passions.
• It is often not a conscious decision–many writers are compelled to follow the Muse.

So what are the Pros and Cons?
Pros:
1. Writing what you want
It is wonderfully fulfilling to explore new ideas and create something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways.
2. Wider audience
Writing a new genre may attract new readers, who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. And hopefully they will check out your previous works thus cultivating a broader, wider readership.
3. Versatility
Being versatile will sharpen your skills as a writer and may attract a publisher in that genre or other new opportunities. Your ability to handle a variety of genres is always a plus.
4. Broader community
While writing in new genres and categories, you will get to know other writers in that genre and extend your writing community in the process.

Cons:
1. Losing readers
This is obviously the biggest con of switching genres. Your current readership may not pick up your new book at all as they consider you a writer in a particular genre and may be more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future.
2. More juggling
Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling with your marketing and promotion as you need to change from one single cohesive marketing plan into two or more. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, etc.
3. Multiple brands
The worst case scenario is having to start a completely new brand for the ‘other’ genre. You may need to write under a pen-name and devote time to building that platform. It could be you start from scratch in your branding, or utilize your platform in a broader form. To do this you need to find the common ‘theme’. (Not an easy task I might add!)
4. Writing confusion
The other challenge is juggling multiple genres from a writing perspective and requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully. Each genre has its own conventions you need to establish and refine using vastly different voices traits and tones, while meeting readers’ expectations.

More recently, many alternative genres have been created, which combine genres into a sub-genres. For example, romance readers would never go to the horror section first, but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book. This has enabled authors to promote their books in one or more genres.
I have investigated what my ‘brand’ or ‘theme’ is in my writing and after quite some time realized it is a basic theme of love – be it romantic, parental, friendship or some other kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre headings.
It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.

My novel, The Twesome Loop is also romance but has an added reincarnation element as well as set in England and Italy, so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: suspense romance? As I am writing, I realized another sub-genre would fit my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, which is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so maybe it is fantasy or historical romance?

Do you write multiple genres?

How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – A Duck Story and Book Reviews

March 29, 2022
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This is the picture prompt that inspired this little story.

Sabrina coxed Juniper, her pet duck, into her special backpack on Saturday morning. The white duck ruffled her feathers in anticipation of an adventure, being accustomed to these trips from a duckling. The plan was to meet Sabrina’s friend, Alison and meet another duck fancier. The back pack allowed Juniper a view of the world with a clear plastic panel with strategic air holes so the little duck’s nostrils could pick up the various aromas as they walked. The path from Alison’s house was a steep downhill trek, boarded by a low stone wall and many shrubs and trees. Juniper quacked as the backpack moved side to side in time with Sabrina’s steps. Soon the sounds of traffic and the bustle of the small town overtook the birdsong. The two friends looked across the road before stepping out and making their way to the special waterfowl event.

Book reviews:

Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

I really enjoyed the building tension, the red herrings and the characters within this narrative. Skillfully plotted and written with great twists to get the reader guessing.

The Doll’s House by A.J. Arlidge

Once again M.J. delivers a tension packed, fast paced, twisting tale that elicits page turning. His skill with short chapters packed with characters and their journey is exceptional.
I highly recommend these stories of DI Helen Grace.

Currently reading:

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

What are you reading?

The Rython Kingdom review : Link:  

Rython Legacy review: Link

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – Movie Adaptations

March 22, 2022
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If you are like me you have a movie running in your head when you read a book. You can ‘see’ the characters, their surroundings and what is happening. As a writer this is a wonderful tool for my stories. I see everything as I write, getting those images onto the paper is the trick.

So when we watch a movie, sometimes an adaptation of a book or a play we have read or watched, we compare what our vision is or was of the story. Sometimes the director and screen writer get it ‘right’, other times they do not. As you all know I am a Stephen King fan and have watched some of the movies made from his novels. The interpretations can be cringe worthy, such as Shelly Duvall in The Shining. I got angry at her scenes, she did not represent the character at all, she ruined that movie for me. Jack Nicholson, of course, was stupendous in his role, as only Jack can. One movie I watched, and re-watched was The Green Mile, it was expertly portrayed. This is most likely due to Mr. King being on set!

This brings me to several movies I re-watch due to their intriguing plot, my emotional response or the actors characterization. I have a basket of DVD’s that contain many movies, I enjoyed a lot. (This is not all of them though, it would be a very long post!)

The Lake House, which was adapted from Il Mare, a 2006 American fantasy romance drama film written by David Auburn. The movie has a time slip element with the two main characters living years apart but communicating through a mailbox.

Educating Rita, an adaptation of a screenplay by Willy Russell based on his 1980 stage play. I love the two opposing characters in this movie, chalk and cheese as they say. However, as their relationship grows there is a metamorphosis.

Shirley Valentine, this is another Willy Russell screenplay adaptations based on his 1986 one-character play. For many women this is the ultimate ‘escape’ movie. Who hasn’t dreamed of living on the ocean?

Ladies in Lavender, another screen play adaptation, this time based on a 1908 short story by William J. Locke. Superb acting by Dame’s Judi Dench and Maggie Smith bring this delightful story to life. There is heart ache, lost love, new passions and secrets. And, for me, the coastline is memories of home.

Julie & Julia, the film is the first major motion picture based on a blog. Giving yourself a deadline or a ‘monumental’ task can have its ups and downs as is plainly obvious in this movie.

Calendar Girls, based on a true story of eleven members of a women’s institute group raising money for a cancer charity with a nude calendar.

Which movies do you enjoy over and over? Are they adaptations?

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