DM Stoddard Radio Interview Jan 4, 2016 4:00PM PDT

Interview of DM Stoddard, author of Amanda’s Quest
January 4, 2016 from 4:00 to 4:30 pm PDT
KCKQ 1180 AM in Northern Nevada
http://amm.streamon.fm “around the world”
Lerue Book Hound for WebJanice Hermsen, of LeRue Press and talk show host of The Book Hound TM, will be interviewing DM Stoddard, author of Amanda’s Quest, book two of the Kingdom of Torrence series, on January 4th. The show is also available on the Tunein Radio application. For Tunein Radio, search America Matters, The Home of Community Radio.

The interview will include questions about Amanda’s Quest, and other interesting topics posed by Mrs. Hermsen. Please tune in…

Contacts:

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Holiday Cheer & the Coming Year

Amandas-Quest-300x200

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amanda’s Quest was released on December 8, 2015, and has received its first ratings: all 5 stars from Goodreads fans. I hope that you are enjoying your copy too. Amanda’s Quest is doing well on Amazon, which will be the only outlet for the eBook format until March 2016. It is available in paperback through most distribution points. The hard back format should be available in January 2016.

2015-1227 Goodreads Ratings

I have been invited to and confirmed attending an interview on LRP’s Book Hound Radio starting at 4:00 pm on January 4th. I will update this post with information as it becomes available.

I also had a tremendous opportunity this Christmas to send out wishes with a number of other authors from around the world. You can view our video at: Christmas Wishes from Authors Around The World

My Work In Progress (WIP) for 2016 will be The Light of Ak’ron (c), book three of the Kingdom of Torrence series. The title was introduced in Amanda’s Quest by the Master of Bards, Reginald Rhinestone during the annual Bards’ Festival. I hope that Toni Rakestraw will agree to edit book three. Most certainly, I hope to continue my association with Streetlight Graphs for book formatting and cover design.

Thank your for all your interest and support. I am looking forward to a fantastic 2016. And now, off to Toys-R-Us to replace my grandson’s Moosey ….

 

 

Amanda’s Quest Cover

Amanda's Quest Cover

Amanda’s Quest

By D.M. Stoddard

Cover illustration by D.M. Stoddard & Streetlight Graphics

Cover layout by Streetlight Graphics

 

 

Back Cover

Leaving her friends behind to ascend Mount Thoradan, Amanda journeys alone towards the northern realm to “recover” the legendary Horn of Valhalla and bring it to the Guild of the Crimson Pommel. With less than a year remaining she races through the barbaric lands of the followers of Odin to complete her blood-debt, promised as payment for healing the half-Elven druid princess. Only the completion of her debt will save her and her friends, but Amanda’s quest holds challenges beyond her comprehension. As events escalate, wizards, druids, knights, and warriors become entangled in deadly conflicts and two dragons become bitter enemies.

Inside Dust Cover (hard cover only)

– Front  Flap

On the created world of Dendür, the reader will travel across the continent of Ak’ron through lands where Zeus and Odin are followed and a new religion, the Order of One, confronts the old ways. In the troubled kingdoms of men and Elves, magic is limited out of fear and dragons are thought to be a thing of the past. Events are unfolding that will bring change to the kingdoms of Ak’ron. The prophecy foresees the coming of a second hero. It is a time of heroes and great deeds.

– Back Flap

The reader will meet a legendary bard who spins a magical tale of Amanda’s struggles into his song. He sings of individual battles and armies’ wars, filled with the cold of steel and the power of magic. Wizards cast spells and druids draw power from nature as warriors wield heavy blades, but nothing is as it seems. The ballad recounts deadly conflicts between men, Elves, and dragons. It is a song of love and desire, survival and betrayal, heroism and enlightenment.

Happy Thanksgiving

DM Stoddard with the Sword AndurilAuthors are so thankful for their readers and fans. We write for personal enjoyment/expression and to share those thoughts with others. It is great to hear from readers about what they like and dislike.

We also appreciate those who help us bring our stories to you. In my case that includes: my editor, Toni at Rakestraw Book Design; Glendon at Streetlight Graphics; and my beta readers: Carolyn, Helen, Eric, and Dennis. And my friends and mentors at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Network (FSFNet.comm) and at High Sierra Writers (http://www.highsierrawriters.org/).

I wish you and your families the happiest Thanksgiving.

Amanda’s Quest, Chapter 1 ©

By D.M. Stoddard

New Beginning

Amanda stood at the bow of the ship, her long blonde hair blowing freely in the wind, her feet solidly planted on the deck as it rose and fell beneath her, and her hands grasping the rail as the water of the winter sea sprayed up into the air each time the bow dove into the next wave. Her journey had begun….

Download an excerpt from Chapter 1 for free.

Blog – Amanda’s Quest Chapter 1 Excerpt

 

The Road to Publishing: The Publisher (Part II)

So, how does it feel? You have worked your manuscript through the editing process – red lines and mark ups. It is a hard, often lonely road, but you’ve made it. Again, congratulations. Now, it’s time to determine your publishing options. The question is whether it will be a traditional publisher, a publishing service, or self-publishing?

Each of these routes has its Pros and Cons, its rewards and pitfalls. The most important thing at this point is knowing what you want. Why are you writing in the first place? One of my favorite topics, strategic planning, but that is for another post…

Traditional Publishers: Fame and fortune painted in your eyes? This route typically starts with a query letter to a literary agent who will represent you with a publishing house, presumably leveraging their acquaintance with the publishing houses to get your manuscript seen. If you have chosen to pursue this route, do a Google search. There are some traditional publishers that accept direct submission. You should be aware, however, that this route offers a steep challenge.

Tara K. Harper writes an interesting article about the likelihood of being published. In short, 3 out of 10,000 manuscripts are reported published by a traditional publisher. As I understand it the publishing house will only provide about 3 months of marketing, but will probably get your book placed in brick and mortar bookstores. The cost – a portion of your royalties…

Publishing Services: This method involves hiring a professional publishing service, but you are still considered an indie author. The biggest benefit is that the service will (should) manage all of your business logistics: manuscript formatting, cover design, channel placement/distribution, and book orders. Some may even offer some marketing.

I am very thankful for Friesen Press. I was treated well and learned a lot from them about the business hidden behind being an author. My debut book, The Legend of Jerrod, won two awards and was ranked about 180,000 with Amazon. With the exception of marketing (which I was disappointed with), everything they told me was “right on the money”. I retained all rights to my book and received the royalties as they promised while they did all of the posting logistics; retaining all rights was the biggest issue for me. It was a good way to break into the business side of being an indie author (non-traditional publishing).

That said, be careful about your publishing services. When I started selecting my first publisher I didn’t know too many authors. The one I knew best told me she had paid twice what Friesen was requesting, and she had signed the rights to her book and to any movie away for 4 years. Ouch! One of the publishing services that I considered for Amanda’s Quest required me to use its editor if they were going to published the manuscript, which included some marketing. If I paid for the publishing it would have cost the same amount…. hmm?

I discovered some local favorite publishing services who would have taken some of the business burdens off my back, but they were 3 to 4 times as expensive as the true, self-publishing route.

True Self-Publishing: As I have gained experience I have met some wonderful, mutually supporting authors and mentors. I am a member of three author groups: FSFNet.com (fantasy & sci-fi authors), World Literary Cafe, and High Sierra Writer; thank you all. Based on their experience and encouragement, I am about to jump into the deep end without flotation devices.

I selected Streetlight Graphics to format Amanda’s Quest into the various formats required by the distribution channels. Streetlight was recommended by a number of authors, appears on the title pages of numerous books, and offers pricing and payment plans that were as reasonable as any others I could find. I have been very happy with their service.

The Pro to this route of publishing is that the royalties and copyrights are all mine, and the price is much less. Using Ingram as one of my distribution channels may enable me to be in brick and mortar book stores, if I chose to pursue that path. The Cons, I am taking on all the business logistics.

Recommendation: The route to publishing you select must optimize your goals. If you want to be in brick and mortar book stores or traditional publishing is the only way to be eligible for an author group, then pursue a traditional publisher. If you want to publish quickly and retain control all of your copyright decision, then pursue either a publishing service or self-publishing. Chosing between these two options depends on cost/royalties and the amount of business transactions you want to manage.

Keep in mind, in May 2014 The Wire – News from the Atlantic reported that Amazon’s share of all new books purchased was 41 percent. Amazon also held 65 percent of all new online books (in both print and digital) and 67 percent of the e-book market.  Additionally, in July 2014 The Daily Dot reported that 2013 eBook sales surpassed the number of books sold in brick and mortar book stores, although the total revenue due to price disparities were still less.

 

The Road to Publishing: The Editor (Part I)

Finishing a manuscript is a monumental task; congratulations.  Now you need to make some choices, the first of which is who is going to edit your manuscript?

If you are unfamiliar with the types of editing you should do some research. There is copy editing, line editing, and content editing to name a few. Also, as you consider editors, keep in mind whether they have edited in your genre before.

Editor Selection. In my debut novel, The Legend of Jerrod, I rushed into editing. I gave the manuscript to a recent college graduate at a bargain price and rushed to publishing. After The Legend of Jerrod was released in January 2013, I immediately hired an established editing service to complete a second edit and my debut novel was re-released in January 2014.

I wasn’t completely happy with the second editing company, but my debut novel earned two awards (noted on the home page) and a rather remarkable critique. Still, I did not have a good rapport with the second service. They did not communicate with me between submission and their returned product. They provided very little feedback other than to say they wanted to completely rewrite the already published novel (I may still do this someday); they suggested cutting out several sections that were included in the debut novel to set up book two in the Kingdom of Torrence series; and they continually bragged on staff credentials. While they were nice enough people, I did not consider them in my selection for the Amanda’s Quest manuscript.

For Amanda’s Quest, I considered several options. I received an editor recommendation from an established author whom I meet on-line in social media (yes, it works). I got to know her personality and reputation to the point I trusted her opinion. I also contacted several other editors, including a book publishing company and another author who offered in-depth editing services. Other potential sources for editing service included my writers group, High Sierra Writers.

In order to select an editor, I first determined which services were within my budget, highlighting those that offered a payment plan. I was comfortable with the input from my beta readers that the manuscript was logical and consistent, so I was focusing on line and copy editing services. I provided the first chapter of the manuscript to my top three candidates and interviewed each to determine their philosophy and how well we might communicate. Part of my selection process included a reference request, but even the references for the selected editor did not respond to my inquiries. Thus, I was left with reviewing the books listed on the editors’ web pages.

For me the two largest factors were the sample editing each candidate provided and how well we communicated. An editor needs to be able to tell you where your manuscript needs improvement, but there is a positive way of stating a concern and a destructive way. Most importantly, I didn’t want an editor who would remove lines that were setting up a subplot or major point in my pending, third book, The Light of Ak’ron. As a fantasy writer I provide description of the scenes and “head hop” to give the reader more information about the world and the characters; I needed an editor that could work with the fantasy approach and guide me towards improving my writing.

For the Amanda’s Quest manuscript, I ultimately selected Toni Rakestraw as the editor. We agreed to a service contract that included pricing, details of the editing service, recourse in the event of a breach of contract, etc. Toni has done a remarkable job and the manuscript will be published this fall (2015).

Summary. There are professional editor services, such as The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (I am not a member), available that will help find an editor and attest to the editor’s credentials. Vanity and self-publishing publishers/presses also have editors on staff, but don’t accept them at face value even if it means not using their editor may preclude your manuscript from being picked up as “one of their books”.

It has been my experience that the more organized a group of services is the more it costs, but the risk may be far less. I spent nearly as much on the two editors of The Legend of Jerrod as I did on Amanda’s Quest, but got less than half the quality and service that Toni Rakestraw provided. I am reminded of a line in Indiana Jones, “You chose wisely.”

I had contracts with both the college graduate that I initially worked on The Legend of Jerrod and with Toni Rakestraw, who edited Amanda’s Quest. Although the second contract was better written and provided more protection, I am uncertain how much would have been gained if I had to try and enforce the contract. However, we did refer to the contract at one point during the Amanda’s Quest editing, just to refresh our memories on an issue (re: intended direction, not a controversy). Remember, you need a friendly relationship with your editor, but hiring an editor is a business function: a provided service for monetary compensation.

The bottom line is the level of professionalism Toni Rakestraw provided, which improved the manuscript; I was only able to find such outstanding service through research and due diligence. Selecting an editor is not just a mouse click-and-go process.

Part II will be on selecting a publisher on The Road to Publishing. Watch for it at www.KingdomOfTorrence.com/wordpress

 

Book Review – Cracker by Jacci Turner

Jacci Turner - croppedCracker is an examination of cultural prejudice through a twist in history that reverses roles in common acts of discrimination. Jack Turner seeks to awaken emotional awareness to a number of social issues by stepping through key points, highlighted by each chapter.

The story is about Ann, a home-schooled youth, who is returning to public school in face of sure discrimination. She encounters some stereotypical discrimination through personal experience and through friends who face other challenges in what reminds me of the 1960’s social mentality. Set in a more current alternate atmosphere, their efforts to band together in order to ward off oppression go awry, ending in tragedy, but from that tragedy other events are set in motion, both good and bad.

This insightful novella is well written and presents many of the challenges facing racial boundaries and cross-race alternative lifestyle. The characters are well thought out and true to their nature. The ending should leave thoughtful readers in an enlightened position to ponder the fundamental question, how to relate to others in our community who may be different than ourselves?

Jacci Turner is the Amazon bestselling author of the young adult novel, The Cage, and author of the Birthright and Finding Home series. Cracker is available on Amazon.com

Creating a World

Full Map
Map from The Legend of Jerrod: History & Arms

I love creating worlds. I think I first fell in love with fantasy maps when I saw J.R.R. Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth. After studying architecture for two years, I had years of practice mapping worlds and underground adventures as a Dungeon Master (DM) playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).  I am also an artist. When I couldn’t find an affordable illustrator for the cover of The Legend of Jerrod, I painted the Sword of Trisdale myself; I used watercolors.

Sword Photo
Jerrod finds the Sword of Trisdale in the skeletal hand of a fallen knight.
Parents sometimes frown on D&D, but I found it expanded my imagination and creativity. With a good DM it is like playing a part in a dramatic play that somehow lost the script. Actors are left to wing in as they are tormented by, I mean guided by a director. Most of the time it is a good experience, but it can get a little dark as most things can.
Given time and a few tricks, anyone can draw a fantasy map. When I don’t have an idea of what a world should look like, sometimes I just close my eyes and squiggle several shapes on a blank piece of paper. Other times I begin with a more finite idea of what I want contents to look like. One consideration is the water-to-land ratio you may want, but it is not always important. Sometimes, I just limit my designs to a single content. I stay away from color maps because they are harder to reproduce and, if you are putting them in a book, more costly.
After you have your continents down, start adding rivers and lakes. Hills and mountains will often parallel your rivers. If it is easier, put the mountains in first. There are a number of examples of how to draw these landmarks, including lines, circles and upside down “V”s.  In my case, I added shading. Remember, in nature things are seldom completely straight, so have fun with it. You can be a simple or elaborate as you want. Just remember, like creative writing, have fun.

Look for new maps of the continent of Ak’ron in Amanda’s Quest, anticipated to be released in the fall of 2015.

Kingdom of Torrence series

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