Tag Archives: books

Book Review: The Sword in the Stone

Book Name: The Sword in the Stone
Author: T.H. White
First Published: 1938

T.H. White was born in Bombay, British India, to Garrick Hanbury White and Constance White. His parents separated when he was fourteen years of age and he returned to England to finish his schooling in Gloucestershire. He later studied at Queens’ College in Cambridge where he was tutored by scholar and author L.J. Potts. Potts would become his friend and correspondent throughout his life. White considered him to be “the great literary influence in my life.” It was at Queens’ College that White wrote a thesis on Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and was exposed to the legends of King Arthur.

After his graduation in 1928 he began teaching and to write. His first novels were science fiction. Earth Stopped in 1934 and its sequel Gone to Ground in 1935 concerned dystopian themes. Once they were completed, White was searching for a new subject to write about. He wrote to a friend in 1937, “I got desperate among my books and picked [Malory] up in lack of anything else. Then I was thrilled and astonished to find that (a) The thing was a perfect tragedy, with a beginning, a middle and an end implicit in the beginning and (b) the characters were real people with recognizable reactions which could be forecast[...] Anyway, I somehow started writing a book.”

This book was The Sword in the Stone, which White considered a preface to Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur that he had written his thesis upon. It would bring a child’s delight to the story of Arthur’s early days and was influenced by Freudian psychology and White’s love of natural history. The book became a Book of the Month Club selection in 1939.

In 1939 White moved to Ireland where he remained during the second world war as a conscientious objector. During his time there, he wrote the sequels to The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood and the Ill-Made Knight.

White died of heart failure in 1964 while aboard a ship en route from Piraeus, Greece after a lecture tour in the United States. He is buried in Athens and his papers are held by the University of Texas at Austin, USA. White had no children and was never married.

Whoso Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of all England.

The Sword in the Stone began as a single novel, but later became the first tome of the classic series The Once and Future King. Of all five books, it is the most lighthearted and could be considered a young adult novel. The rest of the series is darker and clearly for adult readers. The Sword in the Stone follows the story of a young orphan boy who is nicknamed “Wart”. He lives with Sir Ector, a knight of the King and works as a page in medieval Great Britain. One day, while retrieving one of Sir Ector’s birds, which his foster brother Kay has lost, he meets Merlin, a wise wizard who lives his life backwards, growing young as the years go by. Merlin knows Wart’s true heritage and has come to tutor the boy. He becomes both Wart’s and Kay’s teacher.

Merlin and Wart go on a series of learning adventures, each one designed to teach Wart the skills necessary to become a great and wise ruler. Wart rescues people with Robin Hood and Maid Marian, goes on a quest with King Pellinore for a beast, and turns into a wide variety of animals to experience the world in new and more interesting perspectives. In the end, he gains enough knowledge and wisdom to fulfill his destiny, to pull Excalibur from the anvil and be proclaimed the rightful King of England. For Wart is actually King Arthur of Camelot and he will become the stuff of legends.

The Once and Future King is a reworking of Sir Thomas Malory’s 15th Century romance, Le Morte d’Arthur. In fact T.H. White wrote in a cameo appearance for Malory as one of the historical figures that populate the tales. While the first book is light-hearted and has a boy protagonist, White follows the entire life of King Arthur including many of the darker aspects of his life in the later books. This is not a series for children, although The Sword in the Stone can be thought of as a young adult novel. The books are full of medieval references that could be confusing to those that are not familiar with common terms of the time period, yet the writing style is quite readable and as the story continues, the darker side of man is revealed.

The Sword in the Stone was made into a famous cartoon by Walt Disney in 1963. The movie features a famous battle between Merlin and the Sorceress Madam Mim. This battle was removed from later editions of the novel by the author and usually is not found in the later collections of the series. Lerner and Loewe’s 1960 musical “Camelot” is based on the last two books of The Once and Future King series and later this musical was turned into a movie of the same name in 1967.

You’ll find references to these stories woven into our pop culture from the Broadway musical and the movie, to its being an inspiration to author J.K. Rowling as she wrote her Harry Potter series and to Neil Gaimann’s character of Tim Hunter. If you enjoy the legends of King Arthur or stories about the middle ages and have some familiarity with the time period, you will find this series of books to be enjoyable.

The Sword in the Stone Book CoverThe Once and Future King

The Sword in the Stone (1938)
The Queen of Air and Darkness (1939, original version The Witch in the Wood)
The Ill-Made Knight (1940)
The Candle in the Wind (1958)
The Book of Merlyn (1977)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksIt is time for another Monday of writer’s links here on No Wasted Ink. This time I found articles about the art of self publishing, the future of the book industry, and posts about writing in general. Enjoy!

Beyond Dickens: Trends and Tech in Serial Fiction

A Self-Publishing Checklist for First-Time Authors

What Is Speculative Fiction?

Go Midwest, Young Writer: Why the Middle of the Country (Not Brooklyn) Is the Future of American Literature

Not even one note

We’re The Pinnacle of Civilization — Just Like Everyone Else

The 4 Things You Must Do to Succeed as an Indie Author

Secrets of a Bestselling Author: How to Become a Writing Machine

What is the Future of Bookstores? 25 Influential Authors Weigh In

Worldbuilding: Integrating the Top Down and the Bottom Up

ISBN: Every Novel Needs One

BowkerWhen you are in the process of independently publishing your novel, you need to make a decision if you are going to own the ISBN of your book, becoming the novel’s official publisher, or if you are going to use a “free” ISBN from the Print-on-Demand company. There are reasons for going free or for starting your own imprint.

What is an ISBN?

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is an identification system that was developed in the 1970s for paper bound books. It can be used for inventory control, sales tracking and order processing by booksellers, wholesalers, libraries and universities. Originally it was a 10 digit code that helped to distinguish between books with the same title or different editions of the same book, be it fiction or non-fiction. Each edition of every book was given its own ISBN number to aid in this process. In 2007, the ISBN number expanded to 13 digits that are divided by hyphens creating five different identifying parts.

Prefix – A three digit number that identifies the book industry.
Country – These next set of numbers indicates which country the book was published in.
Publisher – Every publishing company bears its own unique code.
Title – Every book and edition of a particular title has its own code.
Check Digit – This solitary digit at the end of the ISBN validates the number. Usually it is the letter X, the roman numeral for 10.

When you look at any book that is for sale commercially, on the back cover you see not only the ISBN, but a barcode and the book’s suggested price. Today, not only paper bound books have ISBNs, but ebooks do as well. Each distributor that sells your ebook will require a new ISBN number for your novel. You will need different one for Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo and any other commercial venue you wish to sell your ebook. Think of each of these sales points as a “new edition” for your ebook.

There are 160 companies that handle the assigning of ISBNs worldwide. Their jurisdiction is based on the country the book is being published in. In the United States, that company is Bowker. The process to apply is done online with delivery in around 15 days. There is a $20 processing fee in addition to purchasing the ISBN. ISBN starts at $125 for the first one, or you can purchase a block of ten for $250. Bowker will also create a barcode of your ISBN for an additional fee, although there are programs that can do that for you if you end up buying a large number of ISBNs that will be used in print books.

Once you have created your imprint within Bowker and have assigned ISBNs to your upcoming books, each edition should be listed with Bowker’s Books In Print, a database and directory of all current and upcoming books. This is the main directory used by libraries, schools, booksellers and other institutions to search for and pre-order books.

Why Purchase Your Novel’s ISBN?

Many independent authors are on a tight budget and decide that because the various ebook distributors offer “free” ISBN numbers for their books and short stories, that is the best way for them to publish their book. After all, who cares what name is in the “publishers” section of the book when purchasing an ISBN is a hundred dollars or more? In the short term, this statement is correct. If you are looking to publish one book and then move on to something else, creating your own publishing imprint is probably not for you. This would also apply if you are creating in-house manuals for your business, a cookbook collection for your small club, or perhaps a genealogy book for your family. ISBN is an additional expense that will give you little short term benefit.

If you are an author who plans to have a stable of books under your name and to gain income from them for the next few decades, then there are additional aspects to consider.

Let us say you have a finished writing a novel and you don’t want to take on the expense of purchasing your ISBNs for the various online distribution points.

To save upfront money, you publish your book as an ebook instead of also creating a printed version. You proceed to distribute your ebook on Amazon which assigns it an ASIN (Amazon Product Code). Next, you distribute your ebook on Barnes & Noble, which gives it a B&N product code. Kobo will give your ebook a “free” ISBN, but Kobo will be listed as the book’s publisher. Finally, you distribute on Smashwords and once more the ebook is assigned a new ISBN, but the ebook will now list Smashwords as the publisher instead of yourself. With the exception of Smashwords, which does put the ISBN into the actual ebook, none of these distribution companies identifiers will be in your book.

Twenty years pass by. Let us suppose that Barnes and Noble and Smashwords have gone out of business. Amazon decides to change their in-house product codes and no longer uses ASIN numbers. Perhaps Amazon decides to not provide a searchable database for their discontinued ASIN products. Kobo, which owns the ISBN on your ebook, updates the information about your book in a way that is not to your liking. However, because they own the ISBN number, it is the only record of your book “in print”.

As you can see, owning your novel’s ISBNs can be critical in the long haul. By purchasing your ISBNs and creating your own small imprint, you can retain control over the information of your books in the long term.

Final Word

There are ways to gain the advantages of using “free” ISBNs and also purchasing ISBNs. When you are first starting out as a new imprint, you might want to consider juggling your novels and short stories imprint status to keep your initial ISBN block purchase only for your larger works. It is possible to use the free ISBNs that the companies offer you at first to save on startup costs and then “republish” your novel later with your own ISBN. Perhaps you are planning on doing a cover change after your book has been out a time, that would be a good time to pull out a new ISBN and assign it to your book. Another example is with short stories. Perhaps you decide to publish a few of your short stories as singles on Amazon, but later want to put a group of them into a book collection. You can use the free ISBNs from Amazon for the singles and then use your own ISBN for the collection at a later time. You’ll be covered both in the short term and in the long that way.

Using the ISBN system takes time and patience. Give yourself time to learn about the database and what it has to offer. It is my view that the ISBN system is here to stay. Having your books listed in the Bowker Books In Print database under your own imprint is well worth the time and money in the long view.

Author Interview: Adam Gillrie

It is with great pleasure that No Wasted Ink introduces science fiction author Adam Gillrie.

Author Adam GillrieMy name is Adam Gillrie. I am the least terrible writer you will hear about today. I have a wonderful wife, four kids and a fifth on the way. I live in Sunny Florida, I have a very lazy horse and an extensive knowledge of modern day firearms (research purposes only).

When and why did you begin writing?

There are always two camps of writers. Those that are inspired by a good book and those inspired by a bad one. I’m in the bad one camp.
I can’t put a book down once I start it. Even when I know five pages in, it’s a disaster. I find myself getting more and more upset when a great idea or character is being lead through a formulaic disaster of a book. Nothing sends me faster to my computer to write than a terrible movie or a bad book.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In my heart I’ve been a writer since I published my first book to the School Library at age 6. In reality I told very few people that I’m a writer until my first book was published. I have had wonderful jobs in promising fields but kept finding myself drawn back to writing. In reality I never saw myself doing anything else. I am happiest banging away in front of a computer telling one of the hundreds of stories trapped in my head.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book Silent Intrusion took three years to write and edit the last time I wrote it. I wanted a universal story that connected all the alien abduction stories in a uniform pattern. Something that brought it all together. To give you an idea how long this book has been under construction, I typed the last page of the first draft minutes before my brother called me to watch a movie trailer for a movie called Independence Day.

Nothing was more frustrating than seeing what I thought were my best ideas already on the big screen. I sat back down threw out the draft I had and started writing a new version of the story focusing on the Men In Black aspect.

Needless to say Men In Black was released after I finished the second draft. Will Smith just has it in for me. I was frustrated and shelved the book for a number of years. To be fair, although Independence Day had some neat similarities to my book it wasn’t the same story, and Men In Black was also very different. Then three years later I decided to try again. By now I knew the book series incredibly well and decided that it needed something more, humor.

Everyone does scary aliens, but not many people write a good story that is generally funny at the same time. (Don’t say Men In Black this is different) So I locked myself in a hotel room for months and wrote Silent Intrusion for the last time, and it’s funny.

What inspired you to write this book?

The need to let my characters outside of my head. I’ve carried them inside for long enough, it’s time for the rest of the world to meet them. Also I have a childhood dream of world domination and being adored by millions is a big part of that.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Being homeschooled sometimes I don’t fully understand the question, so I’m going to answer this question twice. Something I was able to do in homeschooling, “thank’s mom!”

Answer 1: I do, I try to write with absolute minimalism. I hate reading a book where they talk about the colors of a field for twenty pages. My attitude is if it doesn’t make the story better it’s out. I’d rather have a shorter book that covers the story that needs to be told than a longer book with a strange singing fairy guy in the middle (guess that Lord of the Rings character I’m referencing for a bonus point).

Answer 2: How I write is unique. I wish I was one of those writers that could get it right the first draft but I end up rewriting hundreds of pages throughout the process. I’ve taken to writing the beginning and end and figuring out how to get the characters there after. I may write ten pages for every page that makes it into the final book. So if you thought those pages were bad, let me tell you there are nine others that are much worse.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Surprisingly it’s been the title I’ve wanted to use from the beginning. It also happened to be available. It’s a subtle attack (intrusion) happening quietly (silent). See what I did there?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

This Author is not an idiot! A secondary message revolves around Breaker’s sacrifice. I want people to know that strangers will give their all to help someone being wronged. There is always hope.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I pulled a lot from my life. I have four wonderful over opinionated sisters who I have a special bond with. I think often of them when I write a brother sister relationship. I think of my own personal struggles to save those I love, sometimes successfully sometimes not. Despite a great desire to be abducted by aliens as a kid, it never happened. So I was not able to pull from any of those types of experiences.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

J.K. Rowling – She caught me by surprise and took me on a wonderful journey. (Through her books, we are in no way friends, sadly).

Tom Clancy – I was a kid who knew nothing and he taught me how the military worked. It’s not my genre but his influences are all through my writing. I also wrote him a letter on Prodigy once and he wrote me back. I still have it.

Orson Scott Card – Enders game is still my favorite book. I believe he perfectly captured the endless possibilities of a talented child.

C.S. Lewis – What a great message of good. C.S. Lewis shaped much of my child hood with his books.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

This is a hard one. I feel that I’ve pulled a lot from other writers. One indirect help was Brandon Mull. A friend of the family I peppered him with questions on publishing and writing for years before he had his successes.

Hugh Howey did an incredible job with Wool. I originally intended on combining the first three books of Silent Intrusion into one large volume but after reading his 60 page book. I recognized people would appreciate a book now and a book later, instead of me waiting another three years to get the other two books done. Also he’s successful, which is great and another reason I want him as a mentor.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I have a great Illustrator in Christopher Hayes and some of his work is on my site, but for the cover I did my own photography and Photoshop work. It was right after I completed the cover that I hired Christopher so I would never have to do that again.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Two pieces of advice. The usual is to get a good editor. You’ll learn more from them than any English class you’ve ever taken.
The second is to spend as much time mapping out the structure of your book as you do writing it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’m sorry. I mean, Book 2 is coming along nicely and I promise a few things are resolved. As a writer a short note from a fan who liked the book is absolutely a day maker. It’s why we write books in the first place, to feed our ego. Well besides trying to prove everyone we know wrong.

Silent Intrusion Book CoverAdam Gillrie
Tampa, Florida

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Book: Silent Intrusion
Publisher: Iron Rod Publishing

AMAZON

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThe right tools of the trade is a subject that I’m fond of. Perhaps it comes from my artisan jeweler background where I have a bench covered in a myriad of hammers, saws, and antique tools that I use to create jewelry. Writing is another medium, filled with specialized tools of its own. I hope you enjoy this week’s offerings.

How to Build Street Cred as an Indie Author

The Writer’s Journey

Travel to Write, Write to Travel

Speed Reading Redux

How To Write Well: 10 Essential Self-Editing Tips

Here’s What Both Pantsing and Plotting Miss: The Real Story

Lewis Carroll Discusses His Hatred of Fame in Letter Up for Auction

Can the Right Tools Help You Write Better?

Is There a Place for the Slow Writer in the Digital Age?

Every Writer Needs a Tribe (Have You Found Yours?)