About Wizard of Wisdom

On the writing of Book One

Wizard cover-1I decided to take a run at writing a novel after buying a couple of used fantasy genre paperbacks one summer which were, to be charitable, not of the highest literary quality. I don’t remember the titles and wouldn’t share them even if I did, but I clearly remember feeling it a shame that any trees had been sacrificed to their production. When I told my wife that I felt I could write a better story than either one of those, she challenged me to do so.
Now, understand that in my senior year in high school I was summarily tossed out of the “prestigious” English Literature class by the teacher (a published author herself) despite my counselor’s protestations. (I’m quite certain it had more to do with my obnoxiousness than with my potential since I was out of there after the first hour; certainly not enough time for her to learn what a stellar writer I could become. *snicker*) Seeking to build my literary confidence, I took a “creative writing” class at J.C.  wherein the stunningly dull and uninspiring teacher made it clear that he felt I should direct my creative ambitions elsewhere. (In retrospect, he was undoubtedly right since the number of authors, including me, who make more than enough to buy an occasional McDonalds’ Happy Meal is pitifully small.)
But I digress!
I had written a few trade magazine articles and some ad copy in the course of my printing career, but never anything nearly as long as an actual novel. Still, I had the germ of a story that had been incubating in my mind for a year or two, so off I went into the long term insanity of writing.
When my college professor nephew learned I was writing a novel, he begged to be allowed to read and comment on it. I reluctantly sent him the first draft and was blown away when he gushed over it. He is himself a published author of the scholarly, non-fiction type and became my early mentor and informal editor, making suggestions such as expanding and explaining things that I, as the all-knowing author, had glossed over and/or not shared at all. With his help and encouragement the original 75,000 word manuscript grew to just under 103,000.
At its core, Wizard of Wisdom is a love story, but not one of romantic or physical love. It is about the bond of loyalty and love that true and unquestioning friendship engenders between two people; in this case, two men — two very different men — and it is ultimately that bond which thwarts the evil in the story.
As I began writing Wizard of Wisdom, I knew that Wil would need companions. Other than Scrubby, however, they were only identified by type; Caron, Tingle, Kemp, Thisbe and Morgan didn’t  have names at that point. Trivia: Morgan was originally named Templeton, but an early “critic” (i.e. my son) noted that was the name of the rat in Charlotte’s Web. I’m much happier with “Morgan” anyway.
With the exception of Scrubby, none of the characters had back-stories going into it. Morgan’s back-story, of course, is revealed in dribs and drabs as the story proceeds. The back-stories for Thisbe, Kemp and Peg were all added after the first draft of the story was completed. (By the way, for those who don’t pick up on it, Tingle never does really have a back-story; he’s pretty much just an attractive rogue peddling and wenching his way from town to town.)
There were a couple of “surprise” characters that became a part of the story. The most notable is Peg who originally popped up simply as a throw-in name when Morgan was on his way through the kitchen. For reasons known only to her, she elected to join him in his exile—a joining not foreseen by me in any way when I threw in the name as I wrote. It was almost as if I was writing about what I was seeing when Morgan found her waiting for him outside the castle. That’s the point at which I realized the story was really taking on a life of its own.
But how did this single book morph into a series? Well, it became apparent at about the halfway point that there would have to be at least one sequel when both the romantic pairings and the ending of the story changed enough that it became less tidy. Had it not been for the obvious love tension that had developed between Caron and Wil, the ending could have been tidied up with an only slightly longer Book One, but trying to tack a resolution to their love tension onto the end of Book One would only have blunted and diluted the original story.
The obvious solution was to make the “tidying up” its own separate story. Thus was born Princess of Wisdom, which ended up being MUCH different than I originally supposed it would as I completed Wizard.
My greatest stumbling block in bringing this first book to print was getting up the nerve to send it out to agents and publishers because of the fear of having someone actually read and judge my work, other than my nephew. Fortunately, my belief in this story overcame my fear of rejection and I sent it (and revised it) enough times that the entire series was finally accepted by Double Dragon Publishing.
Various readers have told me I succeeded in their reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. The one I treasure most about this, my first ever novel, is by Dr. Howard Castrup, and I humbly share it here: “Brace yourselves lovers of mystical tales of bygone times and lands that might have been. There’s a new kid on the block and his name is Walter C. Conner. Although not a died-in-the-wool [sic] fantasy fan myself, I’ve read several examples (e.g., the Merlin series) and considered them worthy efforts. But I loved this one. Unlike many in the genre who write for children or teens, Conner writes for adults. His characters are three dimensional and their exploits are engrossing and anything but simple. To top it off, if you’ve had enough of plain vanilla endings, you’ll like the one in Wizard of Wisdom.”
The other particularly satisfying review came from the Paranormal Romance Guild, with comments such as “The quality of writing which I thought was excellent may have been covered up by the addictive nature of the story.  Throw in a really endearing and naïve character like Scrubby, a fighting princess, a reluctant hero, a traveling salesman, and a serving wench or two, and you do not get a Shannara-like clone, but a surprisingly original and enthralling story.
Bottom Line: This was a great sword and sorcery type novel; it had an adult feel without being sexual.”
Whether wildly enthusiastic or not, I invite and encourage you to post your own ratings and reviews on Goodreads, or on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Kobo, or on the Lulu.com site if you purchased it as a paperback.

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