Tag Archives: Apple Pages

One of those kind of days

I woke up this morning to the mellow tones of Otto barfing on my bedroom floor. That’s one of those sounds that wakes you completely up. It was 4:00 AM. He’s fine, sometimes he gets snotty and chokes. I’ve woken up coughing more than once myself.

Since I was up, I had some quiet time and spent it reading. I don’t often get to read these days, and relished the opportunity. As a young man I could devour a book per day. These days it’s more like a book per month.

I’m currently writing two stories at once, and intended to devote some time to both of them. I had a pile of critiques to address on one of them, and did that this morning. If I don’t do anything else, at least I got that done.

I looked to the other one and discovered a problem. This is me, being anal, but it completely stifled me. I’ve been working on it using two different computers, one Apple and one PC. (We get a lot of hour long lunches during January and February due to the holiday weeks.)

Specifically, I’m using Microsoft Word and Apple Pages for iPad. My problem involves straight quotes vs curly quotes. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Some whizbang formatting trick and all should be well. (Apostrophes are the same way.)

I tried the help link in Pages to no avail. I Googled what to do, seemed like some reasonable suggestions, except they didn’t work. I found instructions to try on a Mac. Okay, I have a Mac. I opened my manuscript and went through the step by step instructions. Very easy to follow… except it didn’t work.

I fiddled around myself, and if I delete my paragraph marks, the entire super-paragraph takes on the format I want. Then I can hit return again, make the quotes the way I want them before moving to the next paragraph.

This is possible, but I’m not going to do it just yet. I’m going to see if I can fix it using Word. At this point I gave up completely.

This is my short weekend, and I have other things that need tending. I got a haircut, paid the bills, and we have some errands in town. We’ll probably go out to dinner while we’re out.

Tomorrow is the day I call my parents, and I’m not going to address it then either.

I have some decent time coming up, and I’ll take up the keyboard then.

I hope you are having a better weekend than I am. Boise is covered in snow and ice, but it’s pretty shallow. More freezing than anything else. Maybe some beef and beer will improve my outlook tonight.

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All fixed up, kind of…

Amazon got back to me with a solution to the italics issue I have in my newest book The Playground. They ran my file through something, probably Word, and sent me an HTML file.

I woke up with tightness behind my ears, running all the way to the small of my back. I had an important meeting this morning, but took vacation time the rest of the day. I know the italics issue is the cause of my stress.

I uploaded that file to Kindle and it looks great. This seems to fix the problem I have at the moment.

I fiddled around in my document, and found a typo. That was after Amazon sent me the HTML file, so I may be forever haunted by that typo.

While I'm happy to put a better product online, (excepting one typo at least) this doesn't solve my long term problems.

On a PC, I can open Amazon's HTML file in a web browser. When I get home, opening it in a web browser isn't an option.

I downloaded a program cleverly named File Converter. This is a cool little app. It will make pretty much anything into pretty much anything. There is a quality issue here though. When making a mobi file, I can try the base formats of Pages, Word, pdf, and ePub. Each of them comes with its own conversion problems.

One is left justified with no indents, and nothing centered that I want centered. One puts about an inch of space between paragraphs. Nothing is quite what I expect.

I tried making an HTML file, but the italics disappear completely. That isn't what I wanted either.

I downloaded Word for iPad. Apparently it only works for $100 per year, every year, with automatic renewal at their option.

I downloaded Google Docs. This one is free, but it doesn't offer any other formats.

I also fiddle farted around with Calibre, but it's an independent program outside the Apple Store.

At this point, I'm kind of frustrated about things. I might be able to paste everything into WordPress, copy the HTML file and do something that way, but that seems kind of absurd.

I'm sure this disconnect is some Apple attempt to force me into their book store, but quite frankly they can't do what Amazon can for me. Why the absolute impossibility of getting something I create on a product I love into a format I can use?

At this point, I probably ought to look for someone to format my books for me. If it were $40 vs. the lifetime servitude Word requires, it is probably worth it. More so if I could make changes when something comes up, or to add a new book link to it when I have a new book.

I could email my file to a PC and try using Word to convert it. That would probably work as well as anything else. My problem is I want one stop shopping here. I want to do everything with my own tools.

I could look into something like Scrivener. I would need some guarantee that it will do my file conversion though. I could even keep writing with Pages and just use it to convert files when I'm ready. It would have to work pretty well too, because my other converter leaves something to be desired. I'm not real excited about learning a whole new word processor.

I could rely upon the kindness of friends, but that's absurd too.

Or I could just give up completely. I spend an incredible amount of effort on these projects, and maybe that time is better served elsewhere. 90% of today was driven by stress. I already have high blood pressure, and don't really want to experiment with what's next on that path.

While Experimental Notebook and Panama are profitable, overall I'm not making a profit at this stuff. I keep holding onto the belief that someday I will. Either one title will take off, or volume will eventually produce something tangible. It's important to have dreams and work to make those happen.

Okay, surrender is a mathematical possibility, but we all know I'm not going to do that. Honestly though, drafting new material is the most fun part, and I don't have to publish to enjoy that.

So I'm going to throw it over to you guys. Can anyone recommend a file converter that actually does a professional job? I know a Scrivener expert, and am going to contact him via email. Do any of you use or own a paid service that you're happy with to convert your files, and do they allow updates?

The Playground looks pretty darned good, and I'm not stressed about someone getting lost in all the random italics that were generated by the conversion process. It already has a five star review, and I'm excited to have more people read it.

Hit me up with your recommendations for my future use. I probably have six months to fiddle around with something until I really need another file converted.

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Easter Eggs and the saga of Wednesday

I really wanted to do a facelift on my blog. My regulars will remember me asking if I should go even deeper down the wormhole I've created using Lisa Burton as my spokesmodel. Popular consensus was not to do that, and keep a piece of it for myself.

One of the things I really wanted to do from my very first blog post was to include Easter eggs here somewhere. Not the kind you get at Easter, but the kind that show up in video games and such. Fun little things that will change from time to time.

My thought process went like this. Easter eggs, Easter, Easter Island… How do I keep a bit of myself in this and make it about me?

Dear Sean Harrington, I need a new banner. Here's what I have in mind… It involves leaving an open area where I can place whatever I like.

I got my new banner yesterday and assumed I'd be working on it today. That was before the disaster of italicized words showed up.

I woke up at 7:00 this morning. That's sleeping in for three hours by my work schedule. I ran out and checked my email first thing. Nothing from Amazon, lots of blog comments. Then I heated up some coffee and got some breakfast. This should give you an idea of my mindset over the italics fiasco.

Sat down with my coffee, and responded to blog comments. All combined, an idea was starting to form in my brain. Mae Clair was the one who pushed it over the top. Something had to be wrong with the way my word processor was closing the HTML command to close the italics out.

Apple Pages won't let me look at the HTML code. If it does, I haven't been able to figure it out.

Checked email. Nothing from Amazon.

Decided to get all artsy while waiting for Amazon. (Patiently, because that's how I am.) Used my Apple Pencil to modify my groovy new banner and include the Easter Egg. Right now it's Clovis' car and the dog from The Playground. This also comes with a bit of a learning curve, and some trial and error. It involves using something called masques, then layers, then making the background of the Easter Egg opaque. Turns out there is a vocabulary to this stuff too.

I'm 55 years old, I shouldn't have to learn new things. Why do I have to learn new things?

Check email. Nothing from Amazon. Look at that, Apple released a standard sized iPad Pro, and it has its own keyboard available and supports the Apple Pencil. Should I be mad? Am I mad? No, I like the larger amount of real estate, and the larger keyboard.

Delve deep into the inner workings of WordPress to change my banner. Stop, check email, nothing from Amazon.

Load my groovy new banner. Admire my handiwork.

Check email, nothing from Amazon. (I am so proud of how patient I'm being.)

Decide to change my Gravitar. Delve back into the inner workings of WordPress. Make appropriate changes. Like one of my own posts. It didn't work. Unlike that post.

Check email, nothing from Amazon.

Click on unchanged Gravitar, and attempt modifications through that system. Test by liking one of my own posts. It works.

Check email, nothing from Amazon.

We're burning daylight here people. I have Wednesday off, but I don't have Thursday off. I have to get up at 4:00 tomorrow.

Decided that it had to be something with the HTML code. Maybe if I typed and changed the font to italics when I typed, then changed back, the coding would be correct. The important part is manually changing it back.

Checked email, nothing from Amazon.

Made changes to a future Lisa Burton Radio episode. Emailed the author back. Check email… You know the drill by now.

Worked up the initial shtick for an even more future episode of Lisa Burton Radio, forwarded it to the author. Check email etc.

Open up The Playground in Apple Pages. Modify the italics sections line by line. As an example, if I write, “But you are stupid,” I deleted 'you' 'are' and 'stupid.' Then I retyped those words using “Courier – Courier italics – Courier.”

Checked email, etc. Fill in the blank.

Checked Facebook, accepted a friend request.

Checked email, (all together now) still nothing from Amazon.

Created an ePub version of The Playground.

Maybe I should check email one more time. Nothing.

Upload the new and improved version of The Playground to Amazon and wait for the document to process.

While I'm waiting, I can check email using my phone. Nothing.

Check The Playground using Amazon's previewer Kindle thingie. Everything looks great now. Am I good at this? I could be good at this.

Tap fingers, tug at beard.

Upload a new version of The Playground. Begin waiting 24 hours to see it go live. Then I can grab a review copy and check it line by line. (Looks like someone is going to be up past bedtime tomorrow.)

What the heck, check email. Amazon has answered. The guy was a total professional, and asked for more information including screen captures. I thanked him for his efforts, told him what I'm trying, and promised to get back with him either way.

Checked other forms of social media. John Howell left me an awesome 5 star review on Goodreads. I liked that puppy to get it into my timeline for my friends to see. Ran to Amazon and saw it was there too. Feel like a million bucks now. Probably ought to figure out how to share that on Facebook. New things, I swear I shouldn't have to learn new things.

I'm still uptight about things not working like they should, but I feel much better about it now.

If this all works, I have a dozen short stories to go through using the same process, and then there's the 35000 or so words in The Yak Guy Project. My attempt at an epistolary style short story is going to be a mother with the italics issue. Will that stop me? Noooo, but it may require some complaining.

Here are the takeaways. I have a cool new banner, and the ability to include Easter eggs. I have a new Gravitar image coming soon to a blog near you.

If you already bought The Playground, there may be a decent repair job available tomorrow for you to get. If you haven't, what are you waiting for. Read John's review and let him convince you.

I confess that I didn't get to read all the blogs today. I usually browse the 1000 or so that I follow and read the ones when something catches my eye. I finally made a list of must read blogs and put everyone who interacts with me in there. Today, I managed my list but that's about all. (Bonus takeaway: Those who interact are more likely to get read.)

I have a full growler of Old Chub Scotch Ale by Oskar Brewing, in Colorado. This is one of my favorite beers. I may start early today. I missed my nap, but beer is its own reward.

I hope it all works now. I won't have another chance to pull my beard and work in panic mode until Saturday.

By the way, Lisa Burton Radio is going to be fun tomorrow.

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Well Crap, what now?

It a rare Tuesday post, because I ran into a problem. I uploaded The Playground, checked everything, and it looked great. I've done this a few times, and maybe I've grown complacent. Now I have a formatting problem.

I write in Apple Pages, and have been very happy with it in all respects. To publish a book, I have to create an ePub file, and use the Amazon system to create the Mobi file that Kindles all use. I've never had a problem before.

Software gets upgraded from time to time, and sometimes things don't work the way they used to. Pages has been upgraded multiple times. So has the Kindle software.

My problem involves italics. I use them for emphasis, which I really like. I also use them for thoughts, and the occasional newscast. Just highlight the word, presto, italics.

I decided to see how much of a free preview Amazon is giving customers. My italics are making a completely random error. Sometimes everything is perfect. Sometimes a single word in italics makes the whole paragraph display in italics.

It will throw someone out of the story. I'm bound to get a crappy review because of this.

I can't duplicate it with a test page. It seems to happen completely at random. It would be much easier if it happened every time.

My old friend Google seems to think it involves changing a word to italics the correct way. Amazon appears to want me to change the font. In other words, Times New Roman is a font, and Times New Roman-Italic is looked at as a completely different font.

I write everything in Courier, because that seems to be the most highly recommended font. Never had a problem. There may not be a Courier Italics font.

Okay, back to my test page. If I change the whole page to TNR, then change a few words to TNR-italics, it seems to work fine. The problem is that I can't duplicate the error.

I could go through my document and make these changes. It's a lot of work, but I could get it done in a day and reload the book. I just don't know if it will work at all – because I can't duplicate the error.

I might be able to create a test sheet, load it to Amazon's converter, and proofread the test sheet. Then I have to change my mind and not actually publish it. If it works, I would then go back through The Playground and change it line by line.

Part of my problem is that the problem occurs randomly. It works fine in some sections, and fails in others. I don't think a test sheet is reliable. If it fails, I know it won't reliably work. If it passes, I have no guarantee that it won't fail on a different page.

Changing all my future work to TNR, and TNR-Italics on occasion, isn't a huge problem. At least until the software updates again and something else happens. People already have The Playground, and I want to fix it.

Does anyone have some kind of superior knowledge to share with me? Tomorrow is my day off, but it doesn't look like I'll be taking that breather. I'll probably take a chance on changing the whole thing, and spend my day on that.

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There’s an evening I’ll never get back

I spent 15 minutes upgrading to iOS 9 on my iPad tonight. Then I spent 2.5 hours updating my word processor.

I write everything on my iPad, and use Apple Pages. It probably would have been easier to delete the app and download it from scratch. I'm just afraid of losing all my files. Everything is on the cloud, and the big stuff is also on a thumb drive. Some things, like my Macabre Macaroni stories haven't been added to the thumb drive.

What a bunch of crap! This stuff shouldn't take that long.

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Busy day today

I discovered an upgrade for my Mac last night. It was still running this morning. My devices needed an upgrade too this morning. I got everything running and had to leave. At least my phone and iPad were ready.

My wife decided I needed some upgrades to my truck. Tomorrow is my birthday, and she conspired with my mother to get this done. I wanted a hydraulic bed step, being ever practical. She decided I needed some fender flares. I took it in today, but since everyone is off, I had to wait there.

I went to work editing on my iPad, and they had free coffee, so all was good. Lorelei bailed on me, she’s not into editing. I see myself telling this story more than showing in places. I know this is drilled into writers over and over again. I’m starting to get defensive about it. When my MC has to plow through mountains of documents, I choose to tell. I’ll show when she finds something and makes conclusions. I guess readers can decide if I’m a hack or not.

This story is about four years old, and I still like it. I’ll take that as a good sign.

I wasn’t really into the fender flares, but they look awesome. Sometimes I short myself and try to stay practical.image

 

I’m not too impressed with the upgrade to Apple Pages. It seems harder to do everything. Dragging a button for indents was pretty easy, while it lasted. A help button would be nice too. They also hid undo and redo. I’ll figure it out, but it feels like change for the sake of change.

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