This week I’d like to talk about another author that inspired me to write and self publish. Last week I gave props to Terry Brooks, who is currently my favorite author, but there is another author who I admire greatly and would like to share with you all. If you know this writer then you can understand where I am coming from. Michael A. Stackpole is a New York Times Best Selling Author. He became wildly popular in the Battle Tech, Star Wars, and Gaming books, but I discovered him by his short stories and Fantasy writings. His series Dragon Crown Wars, to me, is one of the best Fantasy series out there, and the prequel Dark Glory War remains one of my favorite books. I won’t do a review of those books here, but I can tell you that I loved them all. I purchased them in paperback, but some of them are in ebooks….waiting for them all to find their way electronically. If you are reading Mike…cant wait for the rest to be an ebook. I know, something to do with publishing rights…
I first discovered Michael Stackpole by coming across a podcast called The Dragon Page Cover to Cover. A super fun podcast that ranged from two shows a week to once a month or longer. The two Mikes would talk about ebooks, writing, publishing, and interview authors. I can’t tell you how much I listened to that podcast and enjoyed it to the fullest. It was at this time when ebooks were emerging and making a run at the traditional publishers. The Dragon Page was all over it, and discussions about ebooks were the main topic most shows. I learned so much and was inspired to go the ebook route. Through this podcast I also discovered a podcast series by Michael Stackpole called The Secrets. This podcast, hosted by Mike, gave writing tips. It’s free for download. If you are a writer I recommend you download them and have a listen. He also has a series called 21days to a novel packed with information.
Lastly, I would like to plug his short stories. Some are still downloadable through amazon or his website. I cant seem to find the Merlin Bloodstone Brewed Fortune short anymore…I wonder why? Correction! I found it! But if you like short fiction he has some that are worth the read.
There is no doubt that I love Fantasy. Not Urban or Romance, but Middle Earth type fantasy with magic, dragons, wizards, and fantastical creatures full of imagination and wonder. When life is full of stress, work, bills, and traffic there is nothing better than a time of escape in a book of adventure fantasy. That is why I write fantasy. When Dark Moon Shadow is released many of you will have the opportunity to share in the adventure that spins in my mind. In the mean time, while I am working on my book release, I get lost in the world created by Author Terry Brooks. Terry Brooks is a master story teller, and has been weaving his tale since the 1977 when the first book of the Sword of Shannara Series was released. The prequel to this book First King of Shannara, is so far, my favorite one. However, his stories are so magical and enjoyable that I keep reading and can hardly wait until the next book in the series. The great thing for me is that I discovered Terry Brooks when he’s written so many books already. I don’t need to wait for the next book of his, I just look for the next one in the series and off I go. Up to date I am half way through the Elfstones of Shannara and what a treat it is. My praise for Mr. Brooks is that he inspires me to write and tell a story that goes beyond the normal and bring an escape to, not only me as I write, but to anyone who is willing to share in the tale. He has often been labeled as the modern Tolkien and I certainly would agree with that. Although Tolkien is a much different writer, it’s in the term of Fantasy that makes the comparison legit. If you have time visit Terry’s website Shannara and get lost in his magical words. Elfstones is also being made into a television series that will be on MTV of all channels. I won’t hold my breath, or get too excited until they actually air the program. Until then, I recommend giving Terry Brooks a try if you haven’t already. As for me…better late than never. I’m glad I discovered Shannara.
How do you world build? I came across a good blog post on World Building while searching for how authors create universes in fantasy. If you are a writer this is a good read and full of advice and ideas. Check it out. I agree with the writer of the blog (Berley’s Top 10 World Building Tips for Sci Fi or Fantasy) that one must develop a thick skin as a writer due to all the critics and rejections we suffer at the hands of readers. Here the writer says it wasn’t until ten years of writing and much practice did he finally learn to be a better writer and world builder. He touches on the ten most important elements in a world and explains why. Size, history, culture, dominant technology, governments, transportation, magic systems/Sci-Fi technology, religion, currency, and food. So far in my research Berley’s list is the best I’ve seen. For a writer it’s worth a read and a re-read at that.
One thing that I found most helpful in my world building was a map. Even if it’s a crude one drawn with a pencil, a map was really important for me to keep the feel of the world, size, and direction. Without it I think there would be great risk of inconsistency of time and space. A map helped me move my story along and I was never lost. I always knew where the cities were, the forests, mountains, rivers and deserts. I also could keep track of where everyone was and the distance it would take for a character to travel. All this falls int he size category.
Thanks Berley for your contribution to the world of writing and the advice you shared with all of us. Every little bit help Indie authors hone their craft.
So how do you world build? I would be interested to know.
Do you really need an agent to get published? That is an assumption I thought for a long time, especially before e-books came on the scene. When I researched what traditional publishing required to submit a manuscript I would often run into the (agent-only guidelines). This was a momentum stopper for me. If you are a writer and think you need an agent here is a excellent blog of advice by Dean Wesley Smith The New World of Publishing: The Assumption of Agents . I recommend all aspiring writers to read Mr. Smiths blog, as it is full of practical advice from someone who has the knowledge and experience in the world of publishing. Here he explains, in steps, why you really don’t need an agent in the new world of electronic media and the “do-it yourself” Indie publishing. He also explains what to look for in an agent if you are still bent on using one. One of the most important bits of advice I came away with was to obtain an IP Lawyer to look over your contract if you are ever offered one… by anyone. There is so much more on Smith’s blog…so jump on over and have a browse.
I must be honest, Dean makes it look easy. I can only say that, it is for him, because he has spent so much time learning his craft and the business side of things that makes it look so simple. I personally, still struggle with the daunting thoughts of the business side, and am still trying to grasp the trade as I embark with my writing aspirations. We Indie authors MUST take time to learn the business in order to succeed, as well as pen a good story. I appreciate authors like Dean Wesley Smith who share their experience and knowledge to those of us who are swimming with the sharks of the business.
Pennerstories update: Art work for Dark Moon Shadows is in production. I look forward to sharing that with you all very soon. As I mentioned before in an earlier post, I will be migrating this wordpress blog into a hosted website that will enhance the reader experience and will focus-central into a fantasy theme. If you look in the bookstore tab and the side bar I have already begun preparation by removing the non-fantasy related ebooks/ books and have kept the two ebooks that will make it on the new website. Hang with me and keep checking back for the upcoming announcements and changes.
As for Dark Moon…It is going through multiple edits to fine tune the reading experience once it is launched.
Once again I am looking for reviewers…if you are interested please reply and I will contact you. I will blog more in detail when the book is ready.
Happy Saturday to you, or whatever day it is you find this. These past two weeks have been productive and hectic all at the same time. I performed a rough edit and read through of Dark Moon Shadows and found areas that needed some attention. These areas are being addressed currently…I’m halfway through the re-edit now. My plan will be to give it another edit once I am finished. This is the painful part of writing. I am targeting an April 2nd or May 1st release date, but don’t hold me to that. I will blog about it before hand.
Cover Art for Dark Moon Shadows will begin mid February. I am really excited for it and can hardly wait to see what the artist comes up with.
Things to look forward to: I will convert this WordPress blog to a full website with a hosting provider that will allow me more freedom with how this site is utilized. I will change the look, feel, and design to reflect my Fantasy World I created in Dark Moon Shadows. You can look forward to tabs that will detail characters, creatures, cities, and histories along with sections where I hope to host Indie author interviews as well as a full functional E-bookstore linked with paypal. I am still debating on how all of this will look and feel, but I aim to have it all completed before the launch of Dark Moon. Not sure if I will change the name as well. Pennerstories is unique and is easy to remember, but doesn’t have a fantasy “ring” to it. Still debating on that.
I will be looking for reviewers of my e-book soon, so if anyone is interested in a free copy to review, feel free to reach out to me about your interest. I will be sending review requests to many reviewers once the edits are complete, but for those that frequent here, I am extending the offer. Once you are finished reviewing…post a nice comment on amazon and rate it.
Happy Reading everyone.
The first month of 2014 is almost complete and its been a productive one at that. I’ve done more writing this month than the past 12 months all together. I can credit that to having full-time employment. Not worrying about the paycheck certainly gives one quality writing time.
Dark Moon Shadows is nearly finished. If you notice my progress meter the book should house around 110K words. I hope to finish the manuscript in the next week and then begin a line by line proofread before finding someone to do a proof/edit. By the time my edits are complete I should have a cover made. I’ve recently been in contact with an illustrator whose work, I think, looks amazing. Assuming I get the cover and edits complete I will then format my book for upload/sale.
However, before I announce a release date I will be in search of REVIEWERS. This is an approach I’ve read about and would like to give it a chance. When the time nears I will blog/tweet/ and reach out to various author sites in search for Reviewers. For those that are willing, I will give a free copy of my Fantasy Novel for review with hopes that you will in-turn post your thoughts on Amazon.
I will also be launching a new website (powered by WordPress) that will be suitable for e-commerce and other plug-in features that this free blog page cannot support. A new look…A new book.
If you are interested in being a Reviewer…feel free to leave a comment indicating that you are interested and I will be in touch. As I mentioned before, when the time is closer I will make some noise about it.
For some side notes: I read a post from Dean Wesley Smiths site about a Q&A byJoe Konrath and a CEO from Kensington publishing. If your interested in the business side of traditional publishing and self-publishing its worth a look.
I love reading high fantasy, you know the stories that have castles, swords, magic, and mythical creatures. Each story, good or bad, is an attempt to steer us from the every day stress and reality of life to a world of imagination and adventure. That is why I always love it when I hear that a great authors imaginary universe is getting made into a television series. Even if it’s not an authors series that is getting produced, but that an attempt to bring good fantasy to TV is on the way. If you are a watcher of fantasy TV then you may have some opinions on how that has fared in recent years. Because it is such a hit and miss kind of thing I am a little concerned when I read that author Terry Brooks’ Shannara series is going to be made and aired on MTV. That’s right…MTV. Didn’t that used to stand for Music Television? Not sure what network is actually airing content that it set out to do anymore? Take a look at Travel Channel, A&E, TrueTV, AMC etc. Here is the article from Terry Brooks website that announces the project: http://www.terrybrooks.net/2013/12/why-shannara-on-mtv-is-a-good-thing/ It just so happens that I am in the middle of that very same book Elfstones of Shannara.Terry Brooks is quickly becoming my favorite fantasy author. I’ve read his previous two books in this series and I must say I am loving every word. I particularly wish they would have decided to start the TV series with the first book in the series The First King of Shannara. So all this leads me to say, will they get it right? Too many times a good book story is destroyed by the television version. Can we say Dracula (NBC), and I dare say the new take on Frankenstein…although I know it’s called I, Frankenstein…even though I havent seen it yet, but the trailers tell me so much. The most recent before that was author Terry Goodkinds adaptation to his Sword of Truth series called Legend of the Seeker. I had high hopes for that when it came out and then was greatly disappointed as the series went on. They took a fantasy series that was medieval and edgy and made it cartoonish and full of costume and make-up. Will MTV do the same? From my perspective and taste here are some good fantasy television: Merlin, Grimm, and Game of Thrones. Merlin gave me just what I wanted in a high fantasy legend series that was youthful and fun. I loved the whole series and was sad when it ended. Grimm is current and I enjoy the play on the Grimm stories. It’s totally made up and has hardly anything to do with the actual writings but makes for good modern fantasy. Lastly, The Game of Thrones. Television wise I think the production value and the money put into this series along with the acting is superb, however I have long been a critic of the unnecessary foul language and nudity. If you watch any of the series above you will quickly understand why Legend of the Seeker failed. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Merlin it is on Netflix streaming, and Grimm is still currently on NBC. Game of Thrones is in-between seasons and should start-up again in March (I think).