Plugging In and On

Saturday was a long day for a number of reasons, which was mostly due to me getting up at five-thirty and not heading off to bed until almost eleven.  Lots of running around, lots of drama, lots of things happening.  It was the sort of day that seems to go on and on, and it just sort of ends with one falling asleep in their chair–which is exactly what I did.

Through all that I had one goal to complete:  getting the Table of Contents created for Her Demonic Majesty.  I created a copy of the novel as a Word document for the Smashwords upload, and started getting all the bookmarks set up, ran thought it looking for errors (of which I found three), and then began linking the chapter headings to the bookmarks.

In all, a solid two hours of work, getting the document ready.  But it’s ready.  Finally.

It remains for me to do the Kindle version today, but that won’t take as long because I don’t need to do a review of the manuscript, just create bookmarks on the chapter headings, and set up the links to the bookmarks.  I may do that after I upload the first document into the Smashwords meat grinder–that checker of all epublishing checkers–and wait to see if any errors return.  I don’t believe it’s going to kick me, but you never know.

This is where I stand this morning:  all ready to go, covers and everything.

I’m nervous as hell.

I remember when I uploaded Kuntilanak to Smashwords, and after reading all the warnings about how long the programs may take to check the manuscript and the possibility of errors forcing me to make additional edits to the story before it could become a real ebook, everything turned a bit anticlimactic when the story uploaded in two minutes.  The day and a half I’d spent getting everything in order paid off, and the week or so I’ve spent with Her Demonic Majesty will, I’m certain, pay off in the long run, also.

Still doesn’t keep me from getting all shook up and nervous.

Oh, and I need to get an ISBN number, which is something the Smashwords upload allows.  You just tell them you need a number, and there it is.  At least I think that’s the case:  I need to check . . . yeah, just ask for a Free ISBN and you’ll get it.  I should look into getting a copyright on the novel as well, because it’s really, really mine then.

So much to do, but not really.  It’s the final crossing of the lines to make sure the novel is truly finished.  Then, once it’s up, I can sit back and watch the money roll in.

Ah, yeah.  If only that last part were true.

If nothing else, I’ll have this novel published this year.  There is more I want put up as well, but this is the start.  And it only took two months to go from the point of “I’m starting to work on this,” to ” It’s up and ready for you to buy!”

Once this is out of the way, I guess I can get back to writing.

From the Mountain to the Island

It’s warm outside, the sun is out, work has slowed down a bit, and my novel is back from proofing.  All is good in Cassieville.

Her Demonic Majesty came back yesterday afternoon, and the woman who proofed it had a few comments that we discussed online.  I was a little worried, mind you, because I thought a slam was coming, but she set me to ease, and went into her topics.

First, she loved the story.  That was the one that surprised me the most, because this novel was way outside what she normally reads, and for her to tell me it was a “page turner”, that left me in a good mood.

Second, she asked me if I knew I’d left the novel open for more stories.  I told her, yes, I knew, and I’d already thought of other stories.  She told me that she wanted to know more about the characters, in particular Jeannette, and I let her know that there may be more to come.

Third, she didn’t like the first chapter.  She thought it was slow and plodding, and there was too much exposition.  She suggested I cut it by half, and get readers into the action as quickly as possible.

And I agreed with her . . .

The first chapter of Her Demonic Majesty has always bothered me because I felt I was taking too much time getting to, as my friend told me, the action.  But I didn’t want to mess around with it, because then I’m getting into the area of second guessing, and you can ruin yourself with that stuff.  She told me what I needed to hear, and it didn’t upset me in the least.

Oh, and she said she now understood the title of the book, and it was a good thing I didn’t change it.  I knew you’d see it my way eventually . . .

With all that behind me, I made all the corrections she noted, and started rewriting chapter one:  just created another text card in Scrivener that was a duplicate of the first chapter, then added another fresh card to it, and began cutting and pasting what I wanted to keep, and adding what I needed to say to make it sensible.

By tonight I should have the chapter together, and I can begin editing it into shape.  By tomorrow–maybe I’ll have it ready.

By this weekend I’ll have a novel that’s ready to publish.

This is how it should feel, that you have something worthwhile, and it looks good, it’s got great covers, it isn’t full of typos:  it’s what a novel should be.  Now I need to get the table of contents ready, do my dedication page–there will be one–and decide if I want to upload it over Memorial Day weekend, or wait until the first weekend in June?

Once I have that, I can start thinking about my other ideas–like my erotic camping in the cabin story, or the idea I’ve been considering about a couple of older characters, moving them to a new world where they can learn to be all they can be–in a magical and super sort of sense, that is.  I’ve already figured out where their center of higher education will be located, and I’ve taken Annie and Kerry and moved them from the mountain of Maine to the islands of Massachusetts–no, really, you have to wait and see, because I’ve got it down so nicely.

I’m in a great mood–

Which is why I’m waiting until tomorrow to school someone . . .

Comfort in Numbers

The Formatting of Part Two has commenced.  I opened up the file and started in on it, and just as I was getting ready to head off to bed, I was through with the chapter.  The next awaits me tonight, and I’m going to try and burn through three or four this weekend.  My intention is to get through as much of Part Two before next Monday, then get into Part Three next week, and try and finish up as much of Her Demonic Majesty before the end of the month.

No promises, but if all goes well, I could have the final version heading up through Smashword’s Meat Grinder on 4 May–and not because of any “The Forth Be With You” shite, because that is shite, but but because that would be the first Saturday where I’ll have time to send it up after I finish with the formatting.  If there are issues during the upload, I’ll have the opportunity to fix the problems and send it up again.  And again, if necessary.  But if I get up to Smashwords okay, then I can upload to Amazon as well the same day.Finished-sm

So the first weekend in May is my target publication date.  If it slips–hey, stuff happens.  Oh, and just so you know–I have a second cover!  Just look over to the right and you’ll see it . . .  So the plan now is to use one on Smashwords/Barns, and the other on Amazon, and then after a few months switch them.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe I’ll do like Marvel, and offer variant covers, so if you want them you have to buy everything.  Before you know it, I’m offering the equivalent of the copies of Firestarter with the asbestos covers that once sold for $250.  Not sure how that’s gonna work with ebooks, though . . . maybe that’s where I get the hard copies of the books printed . . .

There is a strange sense here, watching it all come together so quickly.  A month back I was in the doldrums, feeling as if I was getting nowhere fast.  I’d been on Suggestive Amusements since the end of December, and the novel was crawling to an end–or so it felt to me.  I was speaking with a friend the other night, and in discussing my publishing plans this year, I said something along the lines of, “I don’t feel I’m writing now as much as I did last year.”  They asked about what I’d done, and I replied, “I did that novel, that’s about seventy-two thousand words; and I’ve done about seventy thousand words in the blog . . . add a couple of articles, and I’ve written about a hundred and fifty thousand words since the start of last December.”

There was a slight pause, and then came their reply:  “What?  You think you’re not writing anything?  Are you kidding?”

Being so close to the center of the storm, you lose track of what’s going on around you.  Yeah, I know there are some who say blogging isn’t writing, but then, what is it?  Nose picking?  Here’s what it is:  it’s a continuation of the habit that is writing every day.  You need an idea, you need to get it down, you are writing.  And then novel–enough said.  It’s figuring out characters and creating a story and making sure your plot doesn’t fall apart on you.  It’s work.  It’s a lot of work.

And even when you think you’re slacking, you’re probably just kicking yourself for no reason.  As I’ve said, writers are their own worst critics, and this is the pudding full of proof.

So keep on keeping, I say.  Set your goals and work them.  And when you think you’re falling behind–check your data first.

You’ll likely be surprised.

Storytime Three Way

You can get your mind out of the gutter, because you’re not reading smut here today–that’s next Wednesday, because we know we need a little something to get us through the middle of the work week.  No, today I’m going to show off, because I’m in the mood, you know?

Talking about the editing and formatting process of Her Demonic Majesty, I’ve talked up how I’m using Scrivener, and in yesterday’s post I discussed how I was using all three views to find a problem, flipping from the Cork Board  to Outline to Scrivener views.

I understand, though, that a lot of people I know are visual, and they just can’t get their minds to see something they don’t know.  I make shit up in my head all the time, but I have known a few people who don’t see what I’m seeing when I describe what’s in my mind.  Sometimes I have to draw a floor plan–not that I mind, ’cause something even I need that.

Lets look at the story, and see how it presents itself to me.Part One Corkboard

First, I have Part One of Demonic Majesty up on the cork board.  I use the cork board a lot:  this is usually how I plot out a story, with each text card representing a chapter.  I set up my chapter numbers, enter my metadata, set up when the scene is happening–I’ve done this for a number of stories–and then I define what each part is, and the status of each section.  The little bit of color in the upper right hand corner tells me what the section is, and I have the status plastered across the the card itself.

As you can see, I have one “Novel Part”, which is the Part One title card, two chapters are “Formatted”, and the remainder of the part is “Done”.  Sure, I know this, but when I’m back into a story I haven’t played with in six months, I might need a little mental refreshing.

Every little bit helps, right?Part One Outline

Now we roll over to the Outline, which is something I’ve only played with and not used much until this point.  There are two things I like about this display, however.  One, you see the story in a top-to-bottom representation, so if you have your metadata set up correctly, it should be easier to see if your chapters are following you plot.  Also, if you need to insert a chapter, it’s a bit easier to see where it should go.

There’s another nice feature in this mode:  you can customize your metadata.  Here, I’m showing my total word count, and that is being displayed for not only each chapters, but each part.  I knew Part Two was big, but I didn’t realize the words differences between Part One and the other novel parts.

The other thing I can view here is a word count goal, and how much of that goal I’ve completed.  This can be a good thing for someone who’s broken their story into scenes, and they’re trying to reach specific word counts.  Pull up the Outline and you’ll see where you’re at in seconds.

Now, onto the last . . .Part One Scrivener

The Scrivener view gives you the whole story in one big bunch.  In this picture I’m showing the beginning of my novel:  the end of the Table of Contents, the blank space that is the folder for Part One, the Part One title card, and Chapter One.  I used this mode to do group searches for words and phrases, so I could change them all somewhat quickly.

If you look closely you’ll see I’m showing the hidden characters, so I can see carriage returns and spaces between words.  It was by staring at the story in this format that I realized that having a few returns before “Part One” was the thing that was screwing up my page break on a compile of the story to Word.  Now it’s much better.

That’s my journey up to now.  I may actually run this story through the Smashwords meat grinder in a few weeks, and see what pops out.  If it comes out clean, then I can upload the cover, and send the same document up to Kindle Direct.

It’s so close, I can almost smell it.

Which is a neat trick, you have to admit.


Publisher Row

It was a rough day yesterday.  It was raining, it was cold, it was windy, there were assholes on the road, three whom nearly wrecked me, and one guy who felt that driving over 75 mph in a hard rain was completely legit, and nearly took himself and a few other cars out when he almost lost control.  When I am allowed to mount heavy weapons on my car, idiots like that will vanish quickly . . .

Thus it was that when I sat down to continue my conquest of my current novel formatting so that I can transform it into the epic story that folks will line up to by.  The way it’s suppose to look is good:  I’ve figure out the ways that compile time formatting should work, and I’ve begun employing that process.  I also tried a epub creation, then converted that to mobi, but the phantom pages issue remained.  Hummm . . . phantom pages.  I could use that as a movie title.

One question that I received this morning was, “Why is this Scrivener so great?”  What I did last night is a prime example.  I have a story that I’m trying to convert to different formats, all three which are nowhere comparable to each other.  And yet, I’d make one change in the Scrivener compiler, and off I went, creating a .doc, then a few seconds later creating a .epub, then trying a .mobi format a few seconds after that.  Nothing else was required; information I’d used for formatting on one format was good for information on another, and where I had formatting styles particular to .epub and .mobi, that information was retained when I switched over to .doc.

I could call Scrivener “Out of One Comes Many,” but that is stretching things just a little.

Though I’ve not gotten to the very root of my phantom page problems, I’m learning a great deal about the creation of an ebook without having to do a lot of extra work.  Trust me, though:  I will work this out, one way or the other.  Part of the issue could be that the Windows version of Scrivener is not quite as powerful as the Mac OS version of Scrivener, but it’s getting there.  I’m a programmer, which means I not only understand this concept of “getting your software up to speed,” but I know work arounds.  I’ve created an ebook before, and I’ll do it again using my work around.

I will not be found wanting.

It’s back into cleaning up the chapters tonight.  I think I’ll throw Scrivener into Outline view and just pick chapters and go through them, so that I get a feel for how that part works.  I love my Corkboard, but trying the Outline view is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and tonight is just as good a time to play as any.  Besides, with the change I’m going to try with my story, the Outline will work better than the Corkboard.  At least that’s how I see it at the moment.

Editing is boring?  Are you kidding?

I’m having a blast.

Mobi Dick

Falling back to the famous opening line from Shoot and The Mist (which King admits he stole from Shoot), this is what happened:

Last night was Formatting Night at the casa, and it was time to play with the Table of Contents.  Almost every ebook needs one, particularly if you’re hawking a novel, and you want your readers to jump to chapters quickly.  I’ve done this for Kuntilanak, and I started playing with it for Her Demonic Majesty.

I discovered quickly, however, that while you can set up a text file in Scrivener for you ToC, you can’t link to things as you would in Word.  That functionality simply doesn’t exist.  But wait!  After doing some research using this strange tool that a lot of writers seem to be unaware of called “Google”, I was reminded of something Scrivener does, and that’s compile your documents into epub and mobi formats.

For the less and tech savvy out there, epub is a common ebook standard that’s been around a few years.  The other format, mobi, has been around even longer, and is what’s used by Kindle.  When you compile into either of these formats, if you have things set up right, you’ll build your Table of Contents automatically.

With that being the case, why not give it a try?

I decided to try out mobi, since I could shoot this straight up to my Kindle Direct account when the time came to complete this magic.  So I selected a few things to test this out, and . . .

Wait a minute.  Since you need a way to see your ebook before it becomes an ebook, I needed a little tool for that.  I downloaded Kindle Previewer from the Kindle Direct page, so once I had my mobi file, I could pull it up and “read” my story.  Great!  I get that on the machine, then I start the compile . . .

Oh, wait.  In order to compile anything as a mobi, Scrivener needs to know where you store your KindleGen program.  KindleGen lets you convert files that could be ebooks into mobi format, and even though I’m creating a mobi file, Scrivener wants to know where this magical program resides on my computer.  Which meant I needed to go and download that–

I have all the tools in place.  I selected my text, click to Compile, say I want mobi, and do it.  A few seconds later–success!  I have a mobi file!  It was that simple.

With the mobi file in place I started Kindle Previewer, loaded by file, and–there it was!  My test book, all nice and . . . well, not exactly neat.  The ToC was a mess, but this was due to how I named things rather than something Scrivener did.  But things were in place, and the pages looked great . . .

That was when I noticed the page count:  1,452.  What?  What is his insanity?  It seemed that when the mobi file was created, all sorts of pages that I can’t see were created, and this led to this incredible page count, rather than the 72 pages which should have been.

Obviously, there is something I did when writing that brought about this issue.  That means more investigation and research, and more testing.  But when the time comes, I’ll have this book made.

Oh, yes, I will.

Hot Chocolate and Mountain Stars

One project ends, another begins; it’s how you do it, really.  Suggestive Amusements is in the can–or on the hard drive, as this case may be–and my information for a book cover for Her Demonic Majesty is off to a friend for her appraisal.  What is left to do?

Edit, what else?

Replacements is under the literary knife again.  I’m giving it another polish in, preparing it for it’s own publication date.  That will mean getting a cover for it as well, and prepping the manuscript for ebooks, but that’s easy.  Well, the formatting is:  not sure on the cover yet.  But it’s all coming together.  If anything, as I edit, I can format.  I did Chapter One last night; I’ll likely edit Chapter Two tonight, then start doing a format on Chapter One–which is a small chapters–to get back into the swing of getting an ebook ready.

Even with all this, there are always things going on in my mind.  Are those story ideas you’re talking about, Cassie?  Why, yes:  yes, they are.

There is a set of stories that I’ve developed of a particular set of characters.  As of this moment I have three stories written about them that amount to three long novels, one short novel, and a novella.  I’m so tied into these characters, in fact, that I have a time line of their lives figured out, and that the stories that revolve around those lives.

Last week I was thinking about one of those stories, one that takes place further along in their lives, and it’s an event that, as they say in the business, changes them forever.  It really does, because it’s needed for later in their lives, and for the stories that follow.  As I want to do, I thought out things from a meta standpoint, with the intention of figuring out things later.  As for the meta, it goes into a file, or my head, both of which are pretty good for that sort of thing.

Here is the kicker, though:  the night before, I had a dream that revolved around what I’d been thinking about, as well as some of the research I’d done, because I’m all about the research . . .

I know it was about a place I’d researched for this story, because I just did.  It was in the mountains; it was night and the air was crisp, with fall approaching.  I was sitting alongside someone, both of us wearing thick sweaters against the mountain chill.  There was wine, just a small glass each, because you want to enjoy the alcohol-infused warmth that comes from sitting a sweet white wine.

Then, after the lateness of the hour became apparent, inside we go to sit before a fire, stretching out upon an overstuffed sofa–

Which is where my dream ended.  But the writer in me–ah, I see thing going beyond that.  Because the overstuffed sofa reminds me of two people in a very different place, with their own sofa, their over comforters, their own fire . . . and plenty of pumpkin juice, hot chocolate, and cheese banitsas.  All the things meant to keep a couple warm . . .

All the things they’d need to remind them of their love.