WOODWARD (AP) -- According to anthropologists, the earliest organized forms of writing appeared about 5,500 years ago, congruent with the appearance of that other literary constant -- the starving, unpublished writer.
From charcoal scribbles on papyrus leaves and quill pens coated with India ink, to the clacking of the typewriter and the cool hum of the computer, as long as there have been hopeful writers with something to say, there have been editors and publishers telling them it isn't worth saying.
The traditional world of publishing, however, is changing rapidly as pioneering new authors explore the brave new world of "e- publishing" on the Internet.
One such trailblazer is Woodward suspense writer Melody Meishelle Stewart, who recently signed publishing contracts for three suspense novels, which will be marketed, distributed and sold online.
Stewart signed with Denlinger's Publishers Ltd., a small publishing press that has established its own market via the Internet, specializing in three radically new publishing formats: e- books, Rocket e-books and Instabooks.
According to Stewart, Denlinger's e-books are published and distributed electronically by e-mail or disk, while Rocket e-books are small handheld computers that hold the equivalent of 10 novels.
The Instabook machine produces traditional paperback books, but is basically a computer-controlled printing press that accesses a catalog of titles via the Internet, then custom prints and binds however many copies are ordered, rather than printing in runs.
Stewart, who writes under the pen name Shelle Stewart, said her foray into e-publishing wasn't something she planned.
"When Denlinger's began communicating with me about publishing my books, I wasn't even hooked up to the Internet," said Stewart. "At first I was a little skeptical, because it's so hard to get publishers to pay attention to you."
But once she became acclimated to the new technology, Stewart found it easy to master.
"Their e-books are published in a convenient, stand-alone executable file with pushbutton chapter-by-chapter navigation," said Stewart. "I've purchased both the traditional and Instabook paperback books they market, and was pleased with the quality, but I haven't reviewed the Rocket e-books format yet."
Although the technology may be new to Stewart, computers aren't. In fact, it was her job as a computer database programmer that led to the completion of her first book. …