It’s a good thing John Jakes, 79 (often called the "godfather of historical fiction" for epics like The Kent Family Chronicles), has decades of disciplined writing behind him—40 full-time, with more than 60 years of getting paid for his words. Otherwise, he might find himself distracted by the view of Sarasota Bay glimpsed through the French doors of the room in his Bird Key home where he typically begins his writing day around 9:30 a.m. "First I sit and do my woolgathering," says Jakes. "Then I write until afternoon. I write a chapter a day, print it out, go over it and rewrite." His current work-in-progress is a book about actors. "I always wanted to be an actor," says the bestselling author. Readers are glad he chose otherwise.