Tag Archives: Amanda

Dare to Dream – Why I Write

2016 NGIB Award Finalist in Fantasy - Amanda's Quest (preliminary copy)

Amanda’s Quest
2016 Finalist in Fantasy
Next Generation Indie Book Awards

I am honored that Amanda’s Quest was recognized in the Fantasy Category. It is a privilege to be included with such impressive past and present authors who submitted books to the competition. To some, competitions are scary; to many, competitions challenge personal confidence. To all, the out come of competitions are uncertain.

In Letters to Juliet,  screenwriters José Rivera and Tim Sullivan set a scene in the middle of a wedding ceremony where Claire, played by Vanessa Redgrave, reads a letter about the possibilities of love.

“’What’ and ‘if’ are two words as none threatening as words can be, but, put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you the rest of your life. What if. What if? What if. ….”

For me, it’s a moving scene empowering the viewers to believe. What? If? I am very honored to be recognized as a finalist. What if I had not submitted Amanda’s Quest for the competition. You never know what the results may be. But, over the last few weeks, I have reflected on why I writing. Its purpose. It meaning.

In Hamlet, Act 1, Scence 3, Polonius says to his son, Laertes:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, …”

I love to write for the readers to enjoy my stories. I loved to tell my children impromptu bedtime stories about forest animals. I loved to design AD&D campaigns with surprises to keep the players guessing, hoping to increase their enjoyment. And I enjoy writing for you.

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kingdomtorrence@aol.com

 

In the World of Dendür (From the Back of My Mind)

In the World of Dendür, I am writing on the manuscript of book three, The Light of Ak’ron. I am almost finished  with the first draft of chapter three. I would have liked to have been working on chapter five at this point.

The surviving heroes of the Battle of Demeter Plains (Amanda’s Quest) are in the Wilds Mountain Range seeking an on-going threat to the Kingdoms of Torrence and Lithlillia, but nothing is ever as easy as expected. The search party includes men, Elves, centaurs, and one very determined dragon.

I am finding that the characters’ unfocused search makes it harder to write. They know what they are looking for, but not where to look. As the author, the dialog is harder to construct… How would Jerrod react to this situation?  See my last post on how I was caught off-guard by Imelrinn’s history. Oh, and his torn love for Amanda and Rhonda is as confusing as ever.

While the search goes on in the Wilds, King Garrett is entertaining the Lady Mòr and her brother, Lord Ròidh, of Beinn Caladh (the Highlands). The king of Greensland might not be too found of the developing friendship between Torrence and the Highlands, and the implications for his young daughter who is betrothed to King Garrett, but the greater danger is the storm brewing to the north in Haithenbeurn. The followers of Asgard are on the march.

Felicia, Queen of Witches, returns as well. Her desire for the Dragon’s Orb (The Legend of Jerrod) is driving her to become more meddlesome in Jerrod’s and Amanda’s lives, and she is becoming confrontational with Hecatē, Olympian goddess of witchcraft.

It was such a peaceful kingdom.

Send me a note about who your favorite character is and why?

  • Amanda – female warrior and (ops.. spoiler)
  • Jerrod – miller’s son seeking fame and fortune
  • Drin – holy knight who (ops… another spoiler)
  • Rhonda – half Elven druid princess
  • Imelrinn – ancient Mountain Elve (Elf)
  • Fraum – sage and (ops… have you read TLOJ?)
  • Nathanial – wizard
  • Felicia – witch
  • Lady Lieisa – Elve (Elf) druid priestess and leader of Lithlillia
  • Sasha – large black panther or house cat, depending on the form she chooses to be in

I look forward to hearing from you.

D.M. Stoddard, author of the Kingdom of Torrence series

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.

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.

 

Amanda’s Quest Manuscript & Websites Changes

The Amanda’s Quest manuscript has been submitted to my editor. I am moving forward on the cover art and maps.  I am also working on the editor’s changes. Still on line for the fall release of Amanda’s Quest.

Amanda’s Quest has all the characters that survived The Legend of Jerrod. It answers some of the cliff hangers from the first book, but creates some new questions for the future. Amanda’s Quest introduces Norse mythology and some Highlands elements as Amanda travels the continent of Ak’ron, through the Kingdom of Haithenbeurn and the U’thra Basin.

The author of An Anthology of Dreams suggested that I post some excerpts from Amanda’s Quest, which I will do shortly in a separate post. I am also going to redesign this web page and add an author’s web page. Another place to watch for information about this falls release is the Amanda’s Quest Fan Page on Facebook.

Fantasy Writing – the Kingdom of Torrence series

I remember the first time I read Lord of the Rings, laying in bed, wishing that I knew what all the characters were thinking. The narrative was wonderful; I could see the landscape and other scenes as I traversed though the story-line, but, for me, there was just something missing. And even more so with wonderful stories like Harry Potter and Hunger Games.

So often I reflect on a favored article by Charlie Jane Anders, “10 Writing ‘Rules’ We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break”. I often argue with authors from other genre that its okay to have Prologues. That fantasy (and sci-fi) readers want and need narratives. Ms. Anders even encourages “info dumps”. I know, non-fantasy (and sci-fi) genre authors/readers may be holding their breath. In the Kingdom of Torrence series (are you sitting down?) I even use multiple points of view (i.e. character hopping) to allow the reader to feel what primary characters are feeling (gasp?).

The second book in the series, Amanda’s Quest (release fall 2015) will follow the debut book, The Legend of Jerrod, in the series. While Jerrod and the others ride up Mount Thoradan toward Terrace Xul, Amanda goes on alone to fulfill the blood debt that threatens all of their lives. Leaving her only love in Rhonda’s arms, Amanda crosses the Kingdom of Haithenbeurn to “recover” an artifact for the Guild of the Crimson Pommel, but the witch queen, Felicia, and the wizard, Nathanial, each have their own agendas.

Amanda’s Quest will double the size of the map found in the Histories & Arms section of The Legend of Jerrod and offer a new map, a map from the northern kingdom’s perspective. I am currently working with a new editor to finish the manuscript and have had some discussions with a cover designer. I am not sure which publisher may manage the printing yet, but I intend to make the story available in hardback, paper back, and eBook.

Amanda’s Quest Update

I have spent the last month pushing to polish the third set of chapters for Amanda’s Quest to submit to my beta readers. That has been completed and I have started the search for a new editor. I am looking for someone with experience in the fantasy genre. I hope to publish Amanda’s Quest in 2015.

In the meantime, I am designing the cover, working on enlarging the map found in The Legend of Jerrod, possibly adding a new map, and laying out battle diagrams for the truly fanatical fantasy readers, of which I include myself. I have finished the first dragon battle which is part of the chapters just submitted to the beta readers. In their current predicaments, all the characters are separated by the fates, Felicia, the witch from Cipper, has become more involved in their destinies, and Nathanial threatens the kingdom.

I anticipate that the main body of the Amanda’s Quest manuscript will be slightly shorter The Legend of Jerrod manuscript was. However, the History & Arms section will be longer, including a tactical depiction of a battle between Torrence and ….

Well, would that ruin it for you?

I love meeting and hearing from readers. Leave me a comment.

Facebook: /kingdom.torrence

Twitter: @kingdomtorrence

 

Reflections – Why do I write?

I have taken pause this weekend to reflect on what should be a simple answer. I was asked, why do I write? The answer, because I want to bring a story to readers that they will enjoy.

Since Wednesday, I have received a Gold Medal Finalist Award for The Legend of Jerrod from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, an international competition. I have spoken with two best selling authors (the first has 3 fiction/non-SciFi/Fantasy best sellers; the second is a best selling fantasy author with two books out). I have also communicated with a small traditional publisher and a self-publish publisher. Finally, I sat with two readers and had the opportunity to tell them about the book. I even gave one of them the chance to read the first part of Chapter 1 in Amanda’s Quest. Of all my experiences this last week, I think sitting with the readers was the best.

I wrote The Legend of Jerrod with a couple things in mind:

  • I wanted to write about an ordinary teenage boy with common struggles who achieves his dreams through fortitude and tenacity.
  • I wanted to have fun with the Prologue and Epilogue. The histories of Torrence are passed down by bards who sing to crowds. So, the introduction and closure of the book are presented by a legendary bard, Reginald.
  • I took the first few chapters to describe the Kingdom of Torrence, building the foundation for the series, while I began Jerrod’s story. It was my intent to be a little “Tolkienesque”. Not everyone would agree whether I was successful. The literary painting of the kingdom has worked for some and not for others.

One of the authors I spoke with this week felt the book never should have been published and encouraged me to do another major rewrite. The other said “…wish there was more dialog … you have a tendency to tell me instead of show me but you have an awesome voice…” Confused? I was.

When I spoke with the publishers we discussed marketing , trends, setting plans/schedules, and the quality of books being published. Of course, their was also some share puzzlement over Amazon. But in the end it was the thrill of the young lady if had just met who couldn’t wait to get home where her smart phone was charging so that she could order the Kindle version of The Legend of Jerrod.

It has never been about the money for me. I has been about creating an enjoyable story line for you, the reader. A follow-on questions was, how many readers? Certainly the more readers, the more enjoying the story…. and more money. I guess, indirectly, money will always find a way into consideration. Perhaps I should shoot for 10,000, but I will be happy when I pass the first 1,000 (print and eBook versions combined).

At the end of the weekend it has come down to one thing. The words of my University of Maryland creative writing professor that have been immortally etched into my mind for some time…

“Just write.”