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.

Closing Doors

And so it came to be that Replacements was pushed into Final Draft status, and all the remains is the formatting and the cover, and the author saw that it was good, and relaxed.

Or something like that.  Sounds a lot more complicated than it was, but the reality is far more boring than the truth.

With only a couple of chapters left I figured I better get to editing, ’cause chapters don’t edit themselves, as much as writers wish they would.  I’d already edited nine chapters–two of which were brand new–and I was hovering about the sixteen thousand word limit for a couple of days.  I did not want to go over seventeen thousand five hundred words, because then I was on novella territory, and if I got up about eighteen thousand, then I might as well have gone twenty thousand words, because . . . that’s how I roll.

So I edited.  I knew Chapter Ten was about twelve hundred words, so not a problem, I’d burn through it.  What I had forgotten was that Chapter Eleven, the last chapter, was almost two thousand words–hey, though, these things happen.  Besides, I’d done the same thing the night before, so why get serious?

As it was, the last two chapters had been well written, so editing was not a chore.  I did one, then the other, then saved, then sighed . . . and commended myself for a job well done.  For Replacements is the first ready-to-publish story I’d done in over a year.  There’s been a lot of writing, but almost no publishing.  Once I have a cover, Replacements is going up to the big Kindle Store in the Internet, and maybe this strange little tale will get noticed–

I say strange little tale because it is.  There’s sex and some BDSM, but not so much that it’s going to trip the erotica wires.  There’s romance, but not that kind of romance.  There’s drama galore, but if I had to pin this sucker down, I’d say it’s science fiction, because it deals with things that one normally wouldn’t find in real life.

This is something I find myself doing:  I write in genres that actually contain so many other elements.  I’m a child of the New Wave of Science Fiction, and that could get out there in terms of what one might read.  (Check out “Riders of the Purple Wage” by Philip Jose Farmer is you want a great example.)  There might be robots, and murder, and sex, and they might all be together in the same story:  that’s what I used to read, and that’s what I tend to write.

The door is closed on Replacements.  It is, as they say, what it is, and I own it.  That’s one thing I do with my stories:  if I finish them, they’re mine.  If I don’t finish them, then they were never meant to see the light of day.  I’ve had that happen a few times, but only once in the last two years.

The story is ready, the song is over.  All I need is a cover–

Seems like the story of my life of late.

Preparation Great

Oh, my my my, was Sunday a fun day for a writing day.  Got my blogging, got my article, got my editing, got my ideas–

What’s that?  Ideas?  What are you talking about?

As I said, I had writing to do.  I knocked off an eighteen hundred word article on the wonders of powered armor, which is probably being edited as I write this–or not, who knows, because I know it’ll get done and get posted, and I’ll be allowed to work on what is pretty much part two of the same article.

Then there was some editing for Replacements, which involved a lot of cutting of words so issues wouldn’t arise between what I’d once written, and what had been newly written.  It was therefore necessary to do some cutting and adding, to rearrange words and make sentences whole, where once that didn’t exist.  I’d worried that I would somehow screw things up, but some thirteen hundred words later–no problems.  Handled it the way it was meant to be handled:  like a pro.  Or, semi-pro, if we want to get technical.

I thought I was finished for the night, but it was eight-thirty, and I didn’t feel as if I needed to laze about doing nothing, so I looked at the next chapter, thought, “I can do this,” and jumped in.  It wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t trying, and with the focus I still had, I was able to find some obvious mistakes and rewrite some clumsy sentences.  It’s all part of the editing game, where you learn to read your material, and find the stuff that either doesn’t make sense, or is flat-out wrong.

But what’s this about ideas, hum?  Not a problem:  sit down and let me tell ya . . .

During a lull in all the thing that were going on, I decided to take a look at my ideas file.  I have my ideas set up in Scrivener  so when I need something, I made a new folder, give it the meta idea name (like “Orion Story”, which tells me the basic idea), and then set up a text file with a little more information as needed.  For a few of my ideas I already had notes written, so I copied them into the various folders where they can set until I need them.

One idea that I’ve worked on in the past has to do with my Indonesian horror tales.  Kuntilanak is the first, and during NaNo 2012 I wrote Kolor Ijo, the second.  When I was close to finishing Kolor Ijo, I started wondering if there were more stories that could be writing about the horror that is supernatural Indonesia.  The answer was, “Hell yeah”.

I already had some idea about these other stories, and some idea about where they would take place, so . . . all that remained would be to give them a title and some time frame, no?

So I copied out some cards, added titles, gave a time frame, and there I was with four more stories . . . really, four more novels, perhaps three hundred thousand words to work on–

No problem, right?

This is what I get when I say I don’t have ideas.  They come after me until I write them down.

It’s when they make me want to do something more that I get into trouble . . .

Closing on the Cover Rag

The last couple of days has been a bit of a drag.  Thursday was Project Runway night, and I almost never get anything done when that show’s on.  Only a few more episodes to go, however, so I can soon get back to having a productive Thursday night.  As for last night . . . I stopped off after work to give blood.  This is something I used to do all the time, but after being laid off, then going to The Undisclosed Location (which many of you have figured out was Indianapolis, Indiana) for a year, it was hard to find a place where I could get a needle stuck in my arm.

I did it yesterday, and while there were a few interesting things that happened, the upshot was by eight-thirty last night I was nodding out.  I think it was a combination of being up about four AM, then a long drive to and from work, that helped put me down.  So today, I have busy writing day–at least I’ll try to stay busy writing.  Who knows what will really happen.

So while I sit here with my coffee, my leg and head bouncing up and down while I listen to the Duke Suite–pretty much the same way Tony Banks did when he played it–I’m getting this blog out of the way.  Then on to some other work, editing Replacements, then maybe start an article . . .

But first, something to show.

As many know, I’m going to self publish Her Demonic Majesty this year, maybe by the end of May, maybe the end of June, but it’s getting done.  One of the requirements is that I have a book cover, and since I am the suckest when it comes to doing covers, I asked someone to do it for me.  I’m even paying them in cash, which is just as good as money–  (That’s a Yogi-ism, if you didn’t know.)

That said, they’ve shown me what they’ve developed, which were five panels to start.  One I discounted right away, because it didn’t speak to me.  Of the remaining four, I like two very strongly, then worked my way to the final one–

Which is here on the right.Cover Red 02

I had one of my writing friends tell me that this will be another “eye” cover, since my story Kuntilanak used an eye as well.  What I told them was since I’ll likely go with this cover for Demonic Majesty, that will give me the opportunity to change the cover for my Kunti story and go with my original idea, which is to show a rural Bali scene in a mysterious fashion.

I may do something with the font still; I like it, bu I wonder if I should have it a little bolder?  Probably not.  Don’t over-edit, otherwise I’m spending all my time second guessing myself, and I don’t do that with my writing now, so don’t do it with my cover selections.

So, better or worse, this is going to be the cover, though by the time it hits the Might Amazon servers, Ms. Nom de Plume will be gone, and . . . there is an issue with the author’s name.  I’ve had at least one person tell me to write under a pseudonym, because then I can write different genres and not worry about alienating fans.

But my fans–the few I have–know I’m all over the place, genre-wise, so I don’t mind if people discover I’ve published a story pertaining to mild BDSM, and a horror story–and soon, a strange sort of science fiction/fantasy novel.  About the only time I’ll dive into the pseudonym is when I start writing Centaur Porn with Ms. Penelope Poffer, because I figure I’ll need it then.

It’s coming together, as you can see.  A few more weeks, a couple of months at best, and I’ll have this sucker out for sale.  Then get Replacements done, get it covered, and it’s done.  That’s two of four.  After that–

Who knows?  You’ll know as soon as I, you can bet on that.


Mercurial Rearrangements

In a much better place this morning, since the drive in wasn’t nearly as insane as it was yesterday, and I’ve had some munchies that have put me in a happy place.  It shouldn’t have been that way; I should have little depression going, because I had some rather depressing dreams that culminated with me going to place where I believed I’d interviewed once before, and trying to get another interview, and having to deal with some smarmy punk giving me the glad-hand all the way out of the building without telling me if they wanted to interview me or not.

After doing the Walk of Shame through what appeared to be a bombed-out T.J. Max, I took a left turn into another building, and then–darkness.  Lots of darkness.  As I walked onward, it became darker, and then everything was pitched dark.  That’s when I woke up because it almost felt as if I were pushed out of the dream.  Not a good feeling, mind you, and I laid there for a while trying to gather my wits about me before heading into the day.

Last night’s writing was, to say the least, interesting.  I finished the second of the two new chapters for Replacements, then headed in to edit the first of the new chapters.  I finished the edit, looked at the chapter that came before the new Chapter Six–and realized I’d screwed up.  The chapter that was before the new Chapter Six was suppose to come after the new Chapter Seven.


However, Scrivener is good for fixing screw ups.  What I did was move the note card that is the chapter from the front to the back of the new chapters, then relabeled them, changed the titles inside the chapters, and there you have it:  screw up all taken care of.  Now all I have to do is rewrite part of the new old Chapter Seven, because some of the things I said in that chapter I’d set up in the old new Chapter Five, and I want the follow up chapter to deal with what comes after, well, what comes after the end of this second new chapter I wrote.

I already have in my head how I want to fix that chapter, which I’ll likely do tonight after Project Runway, ’cause first of all, I’m about the fashion.  At this rate I’ll likely finish up the Replacements this weekend, then it’s a combo of finishing up some descriptions for Windows 8 themes, and maybe start an article before getting into the finial edit of Her Demonic Majesty–for which I have seen a set of possible covers.  That means I also have to get back to the designer and tell her what I think . . .

No, I’m not feeling down today.  There’s a lot going on, and it’s making me feel that I have some hope of keeping ahead of all this.  If I can get my cover finalized in the next couple of weeks, no reason why I can have my novel ready for publication by the first of May.

Yeah, a great way to celebrate the second anniversary of this blog, don’t you think?

Swirling Skeaming Desires

Today has been one of those days.  Between idiots on the highway–including someone who nearly hit me even though I was hard on the horn to get their attention–and idiots at work, I’ve had distractions up the yang, and getting into the blogging grove has proved difficult at best.

There was also the issue what what to say.  I had something to say this morning, but like my ba-lance, I lost it and having had time to find it.  My life seems to go in these directions these days:  distractions on the road, distractions on the job, distractions on the internet.  And now I have to deal with road construction tonight–oh, goody.

I worked on the new chapter for Replacements last night, and the brain was dead:  far deader than zombie Amy Pond.  I was writing, I was getting the ideas out, I was making the scene–but it was coming so slowly.  I’d do fifty words, then I couldn’t think, so I’d read a little.  Then another fifty and it was time to look for music.  Went like that for two and a half hours, and in the end I came close to my thousand words, but just like light speed, I didn’t make it that far.  A gallant effort, but I had to sigh when it was over because I felt I’d let myself down.

And yet . . .

Maybe it was the complexity of the scene that thwarted me.  Though my story is sort of science fiction with borderline erotic elements, it isn’t screaming sex.  It’s all about the characters:  one who becomes so obsessed with doing something that she literally takes over someone’s life, and another who wants her own relationship with the main character, and has pushed the relationship into a new direction.  There is a lot happening between these two people, all of which is coming out in these new chapters, amounting to about three to four thousand words of character development.

In trying to get the information right, I’m having to think about what I need to have them do, and that means thinking about their actions.  They aren’t looking up from the Scrivener file going, “No, I’m not wearing that!” or “Are you kidding?  I’m not going to make her suck my toes!”  No, it’s all in my head, and I’m working hard, though a haze of semi-exhaustion, to drag it out of my brain and kicking it out through the tips of my fingers.

As I’ve said, it’s a lot of work, because writing is work.  If you want to do it right, you have to do it right.  I spoke with a friend today, another writer, who said she’s going through a number of calculus calculations because there’s something she needs to do that she wants to do correctly.  I know that eventually she’ll get it all right, but there’s another example of someone doing the work needed to do it the way that is best.

Maybe I shouldn’t be hard on myself.  Maybe I’m doing the best I can with a head full of stuffing after getting up at five AM and spending two hours on the road to go from home to hole and back.

That doesn’t mean I won’t do the work.

Nor feel bad when I don’t do as well as I feel I should.


Spring Into Power

Yes, it is 1 April, and there will be no jokes, no pranks, no misdirection.  I’m not going to tell you I found a contract in my inbox this morning, offering a six-figure advance for one of my novels, ’cause it’s just too damn good not to publish . . . no, there’s none of that.  If anything, I stay away from those kind of pranks, ’cause what do they get you?  Nothing.

Does Cassie sound grumpy?  Probably a bit.  While Friday was something of a pain in the ass, the rest of the weekend was, for the most part, nice.  Weather was great, there were some interesting things to do, The Doctor was new, and I did a lot of writing and reading.  I’m doing a beta read on a story, and the writing . . . lots of editing, a few things I’m doing on the side for a friend, and I set up a Scrivener file for articles I develop.

Oh, and there was editing.  Busy, busy, was I not?

I went through at least three chapters in Replacements over the weekend, getting them clean, getting them better.  I found few errors, but in one chapter I wasn’t happy with the way things sounded.  The structure was clumsy, the words didn’t sound like they should come from my character’s thoughts; it’s not how she’d speak.  So a bit of rewriting was necessary, because if I want the story to sound right, then I gotta make it right.  It’s not like the character is gonna jump out of the computer and redo her own imaginary dialog, is she?

Last night saw the start of a new chapter, however.  In the original story, I went from events in Chapter Five to establishing that things were pretty much hunky dory in Chapter Six, even though it was established that one of the characters was a bit freaked out by her actions in Chapter Five.  After I finished the story I looked at it and said, “Naw, that doesn’t seem right,” and began wondering if there should be something else, something that shows the development of the characters from the actions that occurred at the end of Chapter Five, and how they seemed to have fallen into their roles at the start of Chapter Six.

I’d created a new Chapter Six, and began writing that last night.  One thousand twenty-six words later I finished, established that one of my character had did her research and decided that she’d fallen into something that the other character wanted, and now had–and she was stuck with the aftermath.  Given that, she figured out that if she needed to establish some kind of equilibrium in this relationship, she’d need to set her own ground rules, and thus . . .

I started wondering, after I’d finished my writing for the evening, if I needed to separate the scenes in the new Chapter Six, and create a new Chapter Seven.  Because, the way I lay things out, it makes sense.  And with Scrivener, all things are possible.

Why, it’s as simple as pinning a card to a corkboard and writing, “Chapter Seven” upon it.

Looks like I have some extra work tonight.