Thursday, 28 March 2013

Guest Post: Fantasy Author, Toby Neighbors

So you want to please your readers?

Every single one of them?

In the whole wide world? On the world wide web?


It's impossible. You will NEVER be able to write something that EVERYONE likes. And if you did then you'd find every other writer out there copying your success. What you need write is something that you would want to read, and then find readers like yourself to take a chance on it.

That's what Toby Neighbors did. I admire him. He chased his dreams of publishing, writing to what publishers and (what he thought) readers would want. But sometimes your story can turn into a square peg trying to squeeze into the round hole of what a publishing house wants. Toby was left clutching at quadrilaterals and a sieve.

When he turned to self publishing, Amazon was on the up-and-up with its ebook sales. Now, after releasing four epic novels in the same series, Toby has recently released a new tome set in the same fantasy world, which in my eyes bookmarks his own personal success story in the world of publishing.

I'd like to introduce you to Toby Neighbours, but I'll let him do the talking!

I want to thank David for the invitation to write a guest post on his blog.  I’m blessed to be a next generation writing success story.  After years of trying to fit into traditional publishing’s incredibly restrictive mold, I’ve found success writing on my own.  I remember having a conversation with my wife about the possibility of keeping the rights to my novels and publishing them digitally.  At the time Amazon was just starting to get traction selling ebooks and the idea of being able to write exactly what I wanted, to package it and promote how I saw fit was very attractive to me.  It took a while to be discovered in the vast world that is the Amazon bookstore, but once I was it changed everything.  In less than a year I was able to start writing full time, move my family across the country to beautiful northern Idaho and really sink my teeth into creating a mythical world large enough and rich enough to be the cornerstone of my literary career.  I have a beautiful wife, three incredible boys, and we are hoping to adopt our first daughter very soon.

I’m a storyteller, it’s not just what I do for a living but who I was created to be.  I love stories and always have, although it took years for me to realize that the resonance I feel with a good story is from a deeper part of me.  I grew up reading and loving great fantasy.  I started with the childhood stuff, like the Ronald Dahl books that really stretched the imagination. I quickly moved on to classic character driven stories like Edgar Rice Burrows’ Tarzan novels and the various Conan novels by authors like Steve Perry and Robert Jordan.

I had a rich childhood, lots of love and plenty of space to let my imagination run wild, but my parents were anxious to see me develop some responsibility in the “real world.”  After high school I went to university where I started dabbling in creative writing.  I took a class just for fun.  I wrote a very short story and remember being almost sick when it was time for the class to review it.  I’ve always been a fast writer and was one of the first in my class to complete the assignment and so most of my peers were silent during the critique, which I was sure meant that they all hated it (actually, they were all terrified of our teacher and the prospect of having their own work dissected before a live audience).  My professor however surprised me by actually liking the story.  It was the first moment when I allowed myself to even consider the possibility that I could write professionally.

Of course it took me over ten years to stop trying to please everyone else with my writing and actually write a story that I liked.  After years of painful (and fruitless) effort trying to write a commercial novel, I returned to the passion of my youth and the kinds of books I still love to read today - fantasy.  My first book Third Prince set the model for my writing process.  I just sort of fell into a system that works for me.

I had written four books before I started Wizard Rising.  I loved discovering magic with my main character and had no idea it would launch my writing career.  My second big challenge as Wizard Rising began to sell was writing a sequel.  I spent a lot of time developing the world of the Five Kingdoms and the deeper I got in this magical land, the more stories I discovered.  So after four very successful novels of the original series, I branched out and wrote the first installment of the Lorik trilogy.

Lorik is the story of man I feel I can relate to.  He’s spent years living his life with no real idea of who he really is.  When that life starts to unravel, he’s forced to face the fact that there could be more to life than he’s ever known.  It’s filled with action and deep relationships that will carry through the trilogy.  Lorik also marks a change in the way I write.  I still start with the end in mind, but with Lorik I let the characters have more freedom and spent time exploring their decisions.  It has a more organic feel that I think is more realistic and relatable to the reader.

The question I’m asked most often is how many books will be in the Five Kingdoms series.  I initially imagined five books, but the story has grown much larger than that.  I have plans for several more books in the original series and at least three more series spawned from the characters and events in the Five Kingdoms series.  I’m living my dreams now, writing full time and teaching my children to chase their dreams.  Everyday I get to play in the world of my imagination and I’m so thankful to all the avid fantasy readers who have accepted me and encouraged me to keep writing.

Everyone knew he was deadly, even in Hassell Point, a city full of outlaws and thieves.  It was obvious at a glance, from his low slung knives, to the blood dripping from his knuckles.   But the stranger wasn't looking for trouble, he wanted a fresh start and Lorik was determined to give him one.

Lorik is a teamster, delivering cargo throughout the kingdom of Ortis from his home deep in the marshlands where he has lived his whole life.  As rumors of magic and dragons in the northern kingdom of Yelsia cause the  King to march to war with his army, lawless men seize the opportunity to take what they can by force.  It could be the perfect time for Lorik to partner with the newcomer named Stone, but the young warrior brings problems of his own that could place Lorik and the people he cares about in even more danger.

Set in the world first introduced in the best selling Five Kingdoms series, the Lorik trilogy introduces new characters who will impact the destiny of this fabled land. Lorik is the story of a man whose world is suddenly turned upside down.  His concern for a friend earns him an enemy, his actions make him a hero, but his honor could cost him his life.

Lorik is Available NOW from Amazon US & UK.

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