The Curtain Parts

Today is Travel Day once more:  that day where I hop in the car and drive six hundred and thirty-five miles back to The Burg after a week of sleeping in my old own bed.  So on the road about ten my time, and back to the apartment about ten at night Burg Time–or as the kids in my story would say, around twenty-two.

I managed to get Parts One and Two formatted and set up as a pdf for beta reading.  I sent the first one out last night, so right before I headed off to bed someone was reading this:

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Two parts, one hundred and seventy-six pages.  Part Three is waiting in the wings, and I know one of my readers will demand I have it to her soon.  I’ll be mean and ship it off about the time the season finale of The Walking Dead comes on, because I’m that sort of mean girl.  Naw, I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that mean.

This is another of the great things about Scrivener.  I set up what I wanted printed, told it I needed a pdf, set the basic formatting, and there it was–and there it was again, because I’d find something I didn’t like, and I’d go back and fix it, then tell the program I needed another pdf.  I did this for a few hours, because I pretty much did another read through of the manuscript.  My beta reader found a couple of things like words that are unnecessary and a few other things, but I know that’s coming.  There’s one hundred forty thousand words there, and I’ve only given this a pretty good read through, and a so-so yesterday.  There’s probably three or four more edits ahead of this act before it’s to where I want it.

I know this, because I’ve become a better writer in the last year.

But the manuscript is nice and need, and if I’d wanted I could have made this an .mobi and let someone read it straight up as an ebook without navigation.  Or maybe with it, because you can have Scrivener set up your own table of contents.  I should try that and see if it works.  The people could get here sooner:

When Helena smirks, a shiver should run down your spine, 'cause it's not a good smirk.

When Helena smirks a shiver should run down your spine, ’cause it’s not a good smirk.  Don’t worry:  Annie will get to see it next week, ’cause she’s gonna have fun . . .

And right there is where I go from one scene–The Witch House–to another–Selena’s Meadow–with the four “#” there to show where the break happens.  I have them labeled for me, but the reader won’t see them–unless I set it up in a table of content and allow the person reading this on an ebook to go right to the scene.  Not a bad idea, actually.  A bit of work, but . . . if you’re paying to read a huge first act, then you should have the option to do it your way, right?

This gives me extra incentive to get back to The Burg in one piece, ’cause I’ll have someone eager to read Part Three real soon.  Like . . . yesterday soon.

I knew I should have formatted that when I had the time last night.

Over the Finish Line

Her Demonic Majesty is a done deal.  Yesterday morning I started to prep the novel for upload to Smashwords.  When I mentioned to a friend that I was “thinking” of uploading the novel just to see if it made it through the Meat Grinder, she was like, “What’s keeping you from doing it?”  And she was right:  there was nothing holding me back.  As she told me, “Girls shouldn’t fear!”  Which is good advice to anyone who is fearful what they are doing is shit, but it struck a chord with me, because . . . there’s always fear.

Without further ado I set up the file and uploaded it, once again expecting the meat grinder to take a long time, and gaining great surprised when I was through the process in less than five minutes.  So here it sits on Smashwords, waiting to get sent out to other selling locations.

What about Amazon, you say?  Good question.  In the afternoon I started the upload to the Kindle Store, and just like with Smashwords the novel and cover were through the conversion process in about five minutes.  I’ve received notice from Amazon that the book is “live”, but when I try to find it, nothing appears.  I had this happen with Kuntilanak, where it took about a day before it started showing up on the Amazon pages, so I’ll wait until tonight before sending off messages to the Amazon people.

So here I am, three stories published, and this being my first novel.  I feel–well, relieved, actually, because I can move on to other things now.  I was thinking up a building design last night, one I need for a story, because while I’ve seen the building in my mind, I haven’t actually seen it as it should be.  It’s something I want to get done, even if I’m not starting on that particular story for a while.

What I need to do is get the word out about the novel.  I need to pimp it a bit.  I’ve done a bit of that already, but I want to get more going. I don’t expect it to become a best selling, but a few dozen would be a gas.  It’d be even better if it were a few hundred.

We’ll see.

One thing I’m going to do is do a give away, and there will be an interview.  When I mean “interview”, I mean something probably strange and unusual, since I myself am strange and unusual.  Also, I want to have fun, and I think I can come up with something that’ll fit that bill.  I’ve done the author’s interviews many times before, and while they were good, they seemed . . . well, they could have been a little more light hearted.  So something to else to put into my sights.

It’s finished, and with it a year and a half of my life that started at a minute after midnight on Nov 1, 2011.  All because someone told me I should try NaNoWriMo, and that if I did, I’d be able to finish–

And look at me now.  Top of the World, you know?

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.

Transformatting Station

As Replacements is no longer the work in progress, it became time to, shall we say, find a replacement.  What is a girl to do, then, when she needs a project?

She goes demonic.  And with majesty.

After weeks of getting Replacements ready, it was time to bring out the big story:  Her Demonic Majesty.  With a cover on the way, and Harper Voyager out of the way, I’m free to publish Demonic Majesty as I see fit.  As such, last night began the almost final leg of this novel, nearly two years in the making.

The editing is out of the way, but getting into Chapter One again, and what do I find?  A couple of typos.  Which pissed me off because I wonder:  did HV see those few errors and think, “What a tool.  The reject pile for her!”  One can never tell, because Harper Voyager will keep their secrets, and they gave me no pointers when they told me, “Next time, Chickiepoo.”

But the editing is minimal; it’s the formatting that’s important.  What does one do to get a story ready?  Let me tell ya–

First I bring up the “Show Hidden Marks” in the document.  When you’re formatting for an ebook, you need to make certain there isn’t a space at the start of a paragraph.  This does strange things to your document once it becomes an ebook, and you only want strange in your stories.

I don’t have to worry about en and em hyphens, because I have Scrivener take care of that while writing.  En hyphens are found when you’re writing something like “New York-to-London-to-Paris,” and em hyphens are used when you’re separating clauses–like that.  Since I learn how to use character codes to put them in place in my story, I never worry about this part, I only double check to make sure something didn’t get messed up while writing.

I then check for three words that I don’t want to use.  First is the word, “So” at the beginning of dialog.  It’s never a good thing to have your characters saying, “So, you’re going to . . .” because it sounds a little awkward.  Then I check for “Suddenly”, and in, “Suddenly, the word appeared in a sentence!”  Whatever is appearing is appearing right that minute, so unless it’s creeping into view–which you’ll point out in your writing–don’t tell your readers it’s there suddenly.  Lastly, I look for “Very”, because very is a bad word.  Very is soft; very is weak, very–as was pointed out in Dead Poets Society–will not get you laid.  So be done with it, and use a word that is far, far better.

After that I need to set up my Table of Contents, but since Scrivener allows you to create .mobi fills for ereaders, I’m going to play with that and see if it builds one for me.  It’s not hard to do, just time consuming.  When that’s done, you set your title, set your last page, and then . . .

Then you upload and put it, as Freddie would say, in the lap of the gods.

If all goes well, I’ll have Her Demonic Majesty published by the end of May.  Maybe before, because with Memorial Day weekend then, too many people will be out and won’t be around to buy the book.  I wouldn’t want to deprive them of the joy of purchasing my first novel.

It’s coming.  No more tall.

It’s really happening, and soon.