Tag Archives: formatting

The end of my working vacation

He glares at me through two oily black eyes, taking my confidence and all joy from the things I've created. Everything I've ever written, or ever will write becomes utter crap under his gaze.

This raven doesn't need three eyes, like a popular fantasy series and television show. He does just fine with two hateful shining orbs. His name is Doubt, and I am his bitch for the next few weeks.

The walls of the writing office close in around me, and nothing matters beyond my collection of short stories, and Doubt.

He kawed raucously over the fact that I miscounted the number of vampires in a coven. There were six, then seven, then six again. He pecked at my hand until I changed it to seven in every instance. Seven is a classic fairy-tale number, and will resonate better in the story.

That seemed to be his only complaint with the story. I set it in Baltimore, and Doubt is a huge Ravens fan. Is he manipulating me to support some kind of cause?

He paces back and forth across my desk muttering one of the few words he mimics, “crap, crap, crap.” Maybe he speaks with purpose, he is no ordinary raven. This one is from Mt. Olympus and is nearly treble the size of an ordinary raven. He was a gift from my Muse, but he seems more like a punishment.

Lorelei, the Muse, told me I must learn to overcome Doubt if I ever want to succeed as a writer. I've taken this to heart for seven different books now, but it never gets any easier. Real authors get something to market. I don't want to put out crap, crap, crap, so I edit to the best of my ability. Always under the watchful eye of my gift, my foe.

He doesn't like my attempt at an epistolary style tale. This is the one he thinks is crap, crap, crap. I breezed through it quickly, and will have to return later. My bloody hands couldn't take it any longer.

I drank coffee, so I know Lisa the robot brought it to me. I just can't remember her being there. Such is the power of Doubt during our editing sessions.

He didn't have much to offer in the story I called Magpies. There is a raven in the story, and I wonder if he has some ulterior motives. I'm tempted to replace the raven in the story with another kind of carrion bird just to spite him. I'm afraid he'll peck my eyes out. The raven remains out of fear.

He didn't offer much in the story about the girl with a fever. This concerns me too. No story is perfect. Maybe I should change it somehow, but how? Is he quiet because it's good, or so bad it's beneath his contempt?

I stopped just before the only fantasy in the collection. There is a battle in this story, and I'm afraid he'll make me add ravens to the scene.

There is more editing to come, and I need to break it up into smaller pieces. My mind is full of doubt right now, and I don't want it to get overwhelming. I need to watch some cartoons or something to change the mood.

I left the writing cabin around 1:00. My working vacation is over. It was productive for what it is worth. I added new words to my novel, finished up my short stories, and assembled them into one long manuscript. I need to edit them, and create a table of contents. Maybe I should look into a book formatter this time. That way my italics will come out correctly. Does anybody have one they would recommend? I'd hire them for the table of contents and an Amazon ready file that I could add a cover to.

I think I'll spend the afternoon playing with Otto, or seeing if the coyote will catch the roadrunner. Maybe Pinky and the Brain can actually take over the world.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and I'm serious about a reasonable formatter.

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Filed under Muse, Writing

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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Back to work…

Right after I update my blog. Yesterday was a long haul, it took about eight hours to get home with various potty and lunch breaks included. Oregon is a strange state, they managed to legalize pot but can’t have a speed limit above 55 anywhere. Their roads are safer at higher speeds, I tested them. You’re welcome.

When I get overwhelmed with projects I make a list. The act of writing it down helps me get organized in my brain. Therefore, this post is not mere goofing off. I’ll add in some fun stuff at the end to keep the post interesting. Here are the things I need to accomplish this week:

  • Select 3000 words of The Playground and send them to my critique group.
  • Push The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack through the Amazon mill and check the formatting.
  • Decide how to do a cover reveal for Notebook.
  • Write a Macabre Macaroni story that’s been on my mind for a long time. I wanted to include the song of my questing bird, but have never identified him.
  • Figure out how to promote Notebook to actual readers. It’s a 99ยข book, so paid promotions are off the table. Maybe tour some blogs? I’ll keep you posted.
  • I’m participating in the Rave Reviews Book Club’s Back to School Book & Blog Block Party this month. (Who names these things?) Therefore, this bullet is about writing my post. This is a cool event and there are prizes involved for commenters at the stops. It’s open to everyone, and I encourage you to check it out. One of the stops today is even giving away some cool graphic tee shirts. If you stop, and comment, you’re automatically entered to win. Here is the link for the tour stops, and it will get updated every day RRBCBTSB&BBP Check it out and play along. There are some cool grand prizes too. My Day is 9/14. I need to write my post ahead of time since that is Old What’s Her Face’s birthday.
  • I need to post a Writing Cabin bit about creating the short stories. I have a couple of new Lisa artwork bits to help with promotion.
  • Gather up data from my critique partners and work up their submissions.
  • Actually publish Notebook.
  • Get Macabre Macaroni ready for October.

I promised some fun things in this post, so here goes. Sand Dollars live all along the Oregon Coast. We didn’t find any this trip, but over the years I’ve gathered up many. Lorelei, my Muse, has my mind working overtime after vacation. This is a sand dollar:

Maybe you guys can have some fun with this. Notice how it resembles a full moon. The moon influences the tides. We discussed how it would be cool to have magic ebb and flow with the tides. It could create a sense of urgency to deal with a problem at low tide and avoid the witch at high tide.

The sand dollar has a wonderful pentagram type image across its face. There is a Christian story about the wonderful relation to Christ, but it also fits my paranormal side too.

Inside the shell are five white pips. They are v shaped, and in the Christian story resemble white doves. So what if I sent my witch to the shore during high tide? She holds the sand dollar up to cover the full moon, and snaps it open. Five pips come out. What can she do with them? Plant them and grow minions? Feed them to victims? Call forth five sea monsters?

My mind also works like this:

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A Little Blogging Help, Please

When I post something and include pictures, it ruins my formatting from the picture southward. I’ve edited the posts and added extra returns to prove I know what a paragraph is. The repair doesn’t take.

Can anyone offer some advice so this won’t happen again? Advice on repairing my older posts is also welcome.

Update: I went to the Forum, and Timethief helped me out. In the visual editor, it requires a “shift/enter” to do what I need. She also said in the text editor, it would only take adding the return.

Thanks to everyone for your help in this. I still have some things to check out, based upon your suggestions.

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Is there a 13 Year Old in the House?

Lisa* and I finished up the auditing pass on Wild Concept. I could edit forever and never get this thing published.

I’ve read a couple books about Kindle Direct Publishing, and am still confused.

I write on Apple products, and this process seems to prefer Word. It has to be possible, and I need to get on with it. Kids seem to get this stuff much faster than I do.

I think I’ll just log in and see if I can figure it out. Does anyone know if I can save and view before I make it available to the world at large? I’d like to double check things (shallow once over) before I set it loose.

This is where I get panicky. I accept that it will never be perfect, but I want to do this right. I don’t want a half baked damaged format out there. Sure I can edit, but once the sheet is pulled back, that first chance is gone.

Lisa is happy to do everything for me, but apparently imaginary characters can’t do things in the real world.

* Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She is a robot, and excited about seeing her story online.

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Formatting’s a Bitch

I just spent several hours going through an old manuscript. I’m paying the price for writing like I used a typewriter. I have to set indents, delete double returns, and recenter my chapter numbers.

Lorelei never taught me about that stuff, and I don’t think she cares. She just wants the words to flow. A muse is awesome to get me started and when the plot bogs down. Formatting and editing are all on me though.

I haven’t used this format in a couple years, and some of my older works are going to take time.

It’s great to visit my older works though. I can see errors that need tending before I put them out for readers. This is a journey, and I know more now than when these were written. I’m excited about what I may yet learn.

I’m reconnecting with the characters too. I take this as the best sign of all. These are engaging characters, and that’s really what a story is all about. If they’re interesting years later, they’re probably going to go over well with readers.

I need to get back to it, but I wanted to share with the blog world. I never really wanted to blow up anyone’s timeline, but getting followers is important too. One of the best ways to get followers is by blogging regularly.

I’m taking on a lot with this project. I have to learn formatting, improve my editing skills, and eventually upload the stories to Amazon. Meanwhile, I’m learning about blogging, promotion without pissing people off, and a plethora of other things.

It’s all good though. Learning is important to me. I’m sure everything won’t be perfect, but this just lets me learn and improve. Getting stagnant just isn’t an option for me.

In other news, I saw a TV series advertised last night that’s going to be a lot like the story I’m toiling over now. Some folks would place the manuscript in the electronic trunk and move on. I’m not one of those people. My story will have some of the same ideas, but my characters will all be different. It’s unfortunate, but it wasn’t of my doing. I’m forging ahead, and I’m going to get this thing accomplished.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Learning about formats

When I made the decision to self publish my books, I knew I’d have to go here someday. I went to Amazon, and they provide several free books, but none of them go where I need to go.

It seems I made the mistake of buying a Mac, and using the Pages program to write my stories. Don’t get me wrong, I like all my Apple products, but the rest of the world seems to have a problem with them. Most of the books are based around Microsoft Word.

I found a book called, “How to Format a Kindle Book on a Mac with iWork Pages.” I’m not finished with it yet, but it’s been pretty helpful.

I’m going to work my way through this, one novel at a time. I made several amateur mistakes, and I’ll have to pay for those one line at a time. I’m willing to do this, because I really like these stories. So far, doing things like turning off the page numbers has been easy.

It’s also good to read some of my work from prior years. I need to do more editing to make them worthy of readers. I am, again, willing to do the work.

I just learned of a November editing workshop in my home town. I signed up, and assume this will make my work even stronger.

I really want to start outlining another story, but putting this work off isn’t going to get me anywhere. You can bet I’ll change the format I write in for the next story. I can copy chunks for my critique group and change the spacing for them with ease.

Tomorrow is a holiday in the US. I expect to get some serious writerly work accomplished.

I know some of you have already walked this path, I see your tracks in the mud. What bits of advice can you give a newbie at formatting works for Amazon? I’ll tackle other platforms later.

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