World's First True E-Novels 1996: Documented History
Our First Domain: Omnibus Publishing Umbrella. During the fall of 1996, Brian and I spent many hours discussing our hopes and plans for the future of our brain child. Coming to a critical juncture, we decided upon the business name of C&C Publishers. In December 1996, we bought our first domain name (clocktowerfiction.com).
Brian created the logo and concept above, with the gold lettering, for our first domain website. Brian's model, as with other Clocktowers, was from photos he took on a U.K. trip a few years earlier. The clocktower is an idealized version of the Big Ben tower. The name Clocktower Fiction originated in an unpublished, atmospheric novel of mine, which I will release one of these days yet.
When we acquired our first domain name (clocktowerfiction.com) in December 1996, Brian got this hosted at a hosting service called serve.com. Their domain has long since apparently been acquired by a credit card service.
Working Arrangement 1996-2001. Brian was the design and technical guru in our collaboration. He let me (I had next to no Web skills at the time) manage customer contacts and posting weekly serial chapters. Customers who were in suspense, and could not wait, were able to request an e-mail of the txt file until we made that available as a download (free, of course; there was as yet no e-commerce). I believe that Brian kept the two original subfolders at eciti dot com as sandboxes where I could harmlessly function, while he managed the overall technical operation under his safe control. He had backups in case I destroyed the two subfolders (which to my lasting credit I did not), plus he held the password key and login to our new CTF domain at serve.com. A subsequent page here (my 2013 snapshots of 1998 CTF from The Wayback Machine) will show how Brian designed a straddle by CTF of the two subdomains (using slanted, parallel blue and rose-colored rectangular container shapes. I hope to soon have the Wayback Machine records visible again, which date as far back as 1998.
Clocktower Fiction. As this record shows, my business partner Brian Callahan on 23 December 1996 bought the domain name Clocktower Fiction (com), which became the omnibus umbrella publishing arm over The Haunted Village and Neon Blue Fiction websites. By then, we had two major novels and several shorter novels and short stories published on the two websites. Our plan was to create more websites (at that time). Instead, we went on to create the first professional, web-only paying magazine of SF/F/H or Speculative and Dark Fiction in 1998. The point is that the plans of 1996-1997 were to continue publishing fiction (and nonfiction, hence changing the name to Clocktower Books. We wanted to have a central focus if (or when) we expanded. I think the idea was that we would go beyond just publishing my own fiction, and releasing the work of other authors.
Brian retained technical control of our webplex (CTF/NBF/THV/Deep Outside SFFH) until his departure in 2001, at which time he relinquished the entire wepplex to me as sole remaining proprietor. My ony solo experience before 2001 was to launch Sharpwriter.com in August 1998, which was declared 'one of the Web's 101 Best Resources for Writers' by Writer's Digest in 1999.