January 17th, 2005, 12:00 PM
Let me start off with a little background, a brief taste of indoctrination, err, introduction.
So far I have managed to survive fifty plus years on this planet, and the last eight have been as a full-time fantasy author. My previous occupation was the president of a consulting firm. I live in sunny Florida with my wife and cat. My daughters are grown and are off making their own marks in the world.
I have just finished writing book number eighteen, which is the finale of an eight book series. All of my books fit into three series, and the bibliography follows:
- Origin Scroll – 1997
- Dark Quest – 1997
- Ancient Prophecy – 1997
Sword of Heavens
- Sapphire of the Fairies – 1998
- Unicorns’ Opal – 2002
- Abuud: the One-Eyed God – 2002
- Dwarven Ruby - 2002
- Emerald of the Elves – 2002
- Dragons’ Onyx – 2003
- Amethyst of the Gods – 2003
- Young Lord of Khadora – 1998
- Star of Sakova – 2000
- Web of Deceit – 2002
- Aakuta: the Dark Mage – 2003
- Island of Darkness – 2003
- Elvangar – 2004
- Winged Warrior – 2004
- Time of Cleansing (working title) – 2005
My next work will be a stand-alone fantasy novel, which I shall refer to as CFTK for now.
Although my books are available in print, my primary focus has been the ebook world. I understand that I am a bit ahead of the readership world, but I am a firm believer in the future of ebooks. It is my intention to be firmly situated in that industry when it finally takes off. Currently, two of my books are ranked first and second at fictionwise.com in the fantasy category.
I am thrilled to have sffworld.com host this forum, and I look forward to hearing from all of you.
January 17th, 2005, 07:45 PM
Books of Pellinor
Hi Richard - gosh! 18 books! And here am I, struggling along with my third...I'm amazed by how much people write here.
How do you see the internet changing book distribution? Does it have particular implications for genre literature? I love the net and read a lot fo ezines, for example, but I love all the sensual properties of a traditional book and I'm not sure it will be superseded - you seem to have the best of both worlds. And does the idea of writing ebooks change the way you approach writing?
January 17th, 2005, 11:42 PM
The internet has already changed book distribution with the coming of amazon.com, but that is in terms of a physical book. With internet marketplaces, one can yield to sudden impulses and order a book immediately instead of making a mental note to look for a recommended book the next time they get to a bookstore. How many times have we meant to purchase a recommended book and forgotten about it by the time we made the trek to the store? Push that instant gratification scenario a little further and imagine getting the book downloaded instantly, no matter where in the world you happen to be at the moment. Ebooks will definitely change the marketplace for reading material in the future.
As for the feel of a real book, nothing can beat it, and physical books will never go away. What we will find in the future, however, is that more and more of our reading will be done electronically, although not neccessarily on a computer. Currently the ebook industry is in its infancy. There is no one standard for the format of an ebook, handheld reading devices are too expensive, and most large publishers do not understand how to attack the market, but all of those problems are solvable.
It is just a matter of time before we all carry around ebook readers as we now carry cellphones. In fact, many of my readers actually read on their cellphones! Personally, I could never stand a screen that small for my own reading, but I do own several larger devices for reading. They are typically the size of a paperback book, and they can hold scores of books in memory. I chuckle to myself each time I say this to someone. My family devours books, and I remember some summer vacations where the entire back ledge of the car was loaded with books, making it impossible to see out the rear window. Ah, to have had these handheld readers back then!
As for writing, it doesn't matter much whether you are writing an ebook or a physical book. The process is much the same; only the formatting differs, and that occurs after the manuscript is complete. The same manuscripts feed my print books and a number of different ebook formats.
Now, if I could get you to come out with an ebook version of The Gift, I could indulge in some instant gratification of my own
January 18th, 2005, 09:49 PM
Books of Pellinor
Hi Richard - Thanks for your reply. From what I understand, ebooks offer startling royalties compared to print: does this translate into more actual cash?
I've never seen an actual ebook reader, but I'm sure you're correct that they will become very common. But I sure couldn't read on a mobile - it would do my eyes in - you mean people actually read novels on them?! That's true devotion, I think! I can imagine reading newspapers and suchlike on those things, but books, not quite... though I do a fair bit of screen reading, so I guess this remains to be seen.
Sorry that The Gift isn't in ebook form. Though I must say, as a writer, nothing beats that first moment when you pick up the advance copy of the new book, still smelling of print, and think, when the hell did I write this?
January 19th, 2005, 12:59 AM
Ebooks are very profitable and everyone makes out well. Customers get the book for less while the publisher does not have printing costs or warehousing to contend with. There is never a problem with overstocking, or returns, or goods printed wrong, or damaged in shipping. While the customer pays less for the reading material, there is more profit for the publisher to share with the author. If one can generate sales, then the profit potential is great.
Originally Posted by alison
You would not believe some of the stories I get back from readers. People carry their cellphones and palm pilots wherever they go, and they have begun to utilize idle moments to read. I hear from guys that hate to go to the mall with their wives/girlfriends because they end up standing around for hours. Now they whip out their cellphones and read instead. I have readers whol utilize text-to-speech to have the story read to them, although that monotone voice would drive me nuts. As I age I find my eyes can no longer handle tiny text, so I could not live with a screen as small as a cellphone, but the standalone readers have a screen the size of a paperback and the ability to enlarge the font size, so that suits me well.
Originally Posted by alison
LOL I know that feeling. Whenever I start a new book in a series, I make a point to reread the entire series to get me in the mood. I often wonder where the words came from. THe mind can be an amazing tool at times
Originally Posted by alison
October 1st, 2006, 10:44 PM
Most of my ebooks come out in "multiformat" so that they can be read on the majority of the readers (or on a computer screen at home). Like you I'm enchanted over the idea of stuffing that many books into one little pocket-sized device. Now readers can carry an entire library along with them wherever they go!
Originally Posted by tuttle
Eighteen books, huh. You put me on my mettle; I just turned in my thirteenth.
October 1st, 2006, 11:18 PM
Originally Posted by JDCrayne
Multiformat is a great option especially with Fictionwise. The problem is that most distributors demand DRM, so unless you are selling only on Fictionwise, you eventually end up getting involved in the whole DRM thing.
I am not really concerned with piracy as some are, but there are other problems with multiformat, too. When you create an ebook for a particular format, you can utilize all of the features that are offered for that format (think in terms of links to webpages, email, TOC's, maps, etc.) to make a better end product. My books usually carry descriptions and covers of all of my others book in the back material, and I have found that readers appreciate it.
As your books are sold both in multiformat and DRM, I would be curious to hear how you think DRM affects your sales.
Oh, btw, I am working on number twenty-two now, so get back to work
<threatens to bring out the whip>
October 2nd, 2006, 12:28 AM
Unfortunately, I don't get a breakdown of sales numbers for multiformat and other modes, so I don't know what actual difference it makes. The publisher supports four or five different formats. It's sort of like the wars between the various video players in the 'Seventies, and I'll be very glad when/if some manufacturer strong-arms the others into accepting one single standard. I'm not worried about piracy either. In fact, I have fond hopes that a whole host of frat kids are sitting around with beer, pizza, and copies of my books on the monitor screens in the dorm. I hope they're having a whale of a good time.
I hadn't thought of putting links to my other books in the ebook files. That's a great idea, and I will mention it to my publisher!
Twenty-two books. No whip, no whip!! I guess I could try working on mine three at a time...
January 20th, 2005, 03:28 AM
What a nice surprise to find you here.
I have really enjoyed the books of yours that I have read so far and am looking to reading more.
As a reader only (not a writer) I am curious about how you approach a new novel. Do you map out the story line and then fill in the details, do you make a list of all the characters and their relationships and then start the story line, or do you just dive in and start creating, or....?
Do you have any plans to write anything other than fantasy?
January 20th, 2005, 02:06 PM
There are many story ‘seedlings’ bouncing around in my head. When I chose a seedling to turn into a story, my first step is to dwell upon it in my mind until I have developed a basic structure of the storyline. That structure will include a dozen or more significant turning points in the storyline, although not necessarily the beginning or the ending.
My first physical task after achieving that structure is to create a map. The map may be crude, but I am lost without it. Once I have a map, the land becomes a real place to me. The map may be changed or enhanced later on, but it always remains firmly in my mind.
The second task is defining the main characters, because they are really what the story is about. The character definition that I am talking about here is not a physical description, but rather their abilities, gifts, and emotional states. As characters must grow and develop before the reader’s eyes, characters will have multiple definitions. This can be a complex and time-consuming portion of the planning, but it is essential to me. Changes in a character can sometimes be abrupt (some earth-shaking occurrence), but that is not usually the case. Characters change slowly over time as they mature and broaden their experience. Interaction with other characters or places will bring on subtle changes in a character. Mistakes they make will mold their reactions to events in the future.
Once these two tasks are done, I am ready to begin thinking about the beginning of the story. The task here is to create an event that immediately captivates the reader and logically leads towards the first significant turning point developed earlier. One note on the significant turning points developed earlier is that they may well change during the course of a story. The changes may evolve from character actions or other events taking place in the realm. The ending of my story is never developed beforehand. It is the culmination of events that precede it.
All of the above is a rather clinical description of my process for starting a new story, but in reality it is not as straightforward nor as clearly defined as I have described. Once the characters have a ‘life’ of their own, they do change the storyline that I have set out for them.
As for writing something other than fantasy, I do have random thoughts along those lines, but I have avoided the temptation so far. Fantasy is where my heart is.
Thanks for the question, Darryl. It made me reflect upon my own thought process. As a reader of my books, you will be pleased to know that the final volume of the Forgotten Legacy series is complete and will be published soon. If you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will let you know when it is released.
January 22nd, 2005, 08:12 AM
Thank You for a great reply. I am amazed at the amount of prep work you do but must say it shows in your writings.
Do you have a favorite fantasy author ( other than you of course); what about Science Fiction favorite? And is there an author of any persuasion that you feeel had a major influence on you and your writings?
January 28th, 2005, 08:22 PM
Books of Pellinor
Hi Richard - I have a map thing as well. I just can't write the narrative without it. Time=space=story, or something...
I find beginning a book the most difficult part. I think The Gift had about seven different versions, and it was certainly the most rewritten part of the book (I must be improving, because The Riddle I just wrote it twice). Endings are much easier, for some reason. Do you find beginnings difficult?
January 30th, 2005, 01:46 PM
Assuming the Role
Actually, I have trouble with both the beginning and the ending, but I usually work out the beginning in my mind before I start writing anything. I may agonize over different beginnings, but I start writing only after I have made that decision.
The endings are never clear to me, though. I suppose I generally have an idea of how a story will end, but I let the characters drive the story, so anything I come up with beforehand is most likely no longer valid. To me the thrill of writing is in how the characters change the direction of the story. When I plan a book, I set major turning points in the storyline. I never ponder beforehand how the characters will get themselves out of the fix. When I am actually writing the scene, I assume the character's role and try to think as he or she would think. That process has led me to many surprising changes in the direction of the story. It often requires me to reevaluate the other major turning points in what I had planned, so you can imagine how I might not have a clue about the ending of a story.
I am curious if other authors write in a similar fashion. Do you assume the characters in your books? Do you toss away reality and actually become the character when you write? Or do you view it more from the sense of a movie director where you watch from afar and manipulate the pieces on the board?
January 30th, 2005, 02:05 PM
I think we all have been influenced by what we have read, as well as what we have seen and experienced. Truthfully, I have never examined myself enough to understand what has influenced my writing. I am sure that the influences of other authors on my writing are vast and numerous, but I can't identify them. I suspect that others might actually see the influences more readily than myself. I have a terrible memory when it comes to books, authors, movies, actors, etc.
Originally Posted by dkenning
Often in the forums I will read about people discussing a particular book or author, and I find myself wondering if I have read it. When the discussion turns to particular scenes or characters, I suddenly remember the book. Strange, but that is how my mind works.
January 30th, 2005, 02:19 PM
Hi Richard. Nice to have you to talk to here as well. Thia author forum is shaping up to be an exciting place.
As far as I am concerned, when I write, I am there, right smack in the middle of the action. If it is a contemplative chapter, then my mood naturally either predates the writing or it adapts to the events. I love and cherish those chapters where I totally lose myself in the world I have created. I try to do that with each one that I write, as well as when I write poetry that I incorporate into the text. I type with my eyes closed anyway. My world is so much bigger and so much clearer to me when I am not looking at this one.