Writer working: Feel free to disturb

cropped-p4157551.jpgWHERE, O WHERE HAS MY LITTLE DOG GONE?

It occurs to me that I have left my small band of followers in the dark for a while, and that is not nice.

I am STILL here.

Nothing bad has happened to me.

I have not gone walkabout, quit, decided to take up the care and rearing of dandelions.

What I have been is working my little tail off, for the eventual benefit of those who appreciate such things, and LEARNING all kinds of esoteric things, such as kerning.

In the writing thing, I feel reasonably competent: I’ve been at it for many years, and have come to a style of my own. So when I blog about my writing techniques, while I don’t expect to be followed on that path (many of them are cobbles uniquely suited to my fogged CFS brain), they represent actual solutions to real problems, and I’m proud of having figured out how to do something.

Always use shortcuts, if possible

I don’t blog about writing problems I’ve seen solved elsewhere. Granted, I don’t SEE everything, but I do a search or two, read some blog posts and some books, and hope someone else has provided ‘the answer’ – before I go to the effort of figuring it out on my own.

If someone else has a canned solution, I use it. Even if it needs a minor adaptation or two. Why reinvent the wheel unless you’re designing hovercars?

I will try to credit all the people who have made major contributions to speeding up my work flow, but we all know that you can read ten things before they add up inside your head, and you suddenly know what to do.

So, what HAVE you been doing, Alicia? And how goes it?

I have been making a cover.

This, of course, required learning graphic design for covers, and fonts, and how to search image databases.

And the careful expenditure of cash – for licenses. As a firm believer in intellectual property rights, I want my books to have all the credits and rights and licenses necessary.

J.M. Ney-Grimm has been an absolutely wonderful mentor.

The cover has been finished for ten days now, and I’ll do a reveal a few days before everything else is ready to go – you’ll have to trust me until then. I know it’s done because my subconscious finally let me alone about it.

I have gotten permission to use my quotes from the King James Version of the Bible.

You have to email the rights person at Cambridge U. Press, give all the details, and get an answer.

Why? Because the British crown has awarded itself rights in perpetuity (they paid for the translation, and it took YEARS, and many scholars, and they ARE the crown).

As I want to be able to market world-wide, I didn’t want to have any problems in British territory – and have them decide I would make a fine test case for enforcing their rights-by-treaty with other countries, like US.

I’m working of the book description.

Because it, and the cover, are your most important piece of free advertising.

Over the years, I’ve tried several approaches to describing a long, complex book in a couple of sound bites.

I have the placeholder, and the one I use on Wattpad (which is very different), and one of every form advised by anyone whose blog I’ve read.

And I’ve done my market research – some of the stuff out there is pretty ludicrous, some depends on fame I don’t have, and some has been quite eye-opening.

All I can say about book descriptions is that they are hard to get right.

Lily White LeFevre is helping – I’m getting back to it really soon, Lily. Promise.

And I’m currently up to my ears in ebook formatting.

I want the ebook version to LOOK nice, but to work on ereaders everywhere. A tough combination.

And I don’t want to spend gobs of time when I want to fix a typo, so the process has to be under my control (big surprise), and set up right initially so changes are easy.

Which required a LOT of reading of formatting books and methods, and lots of blog posts, and some experimenting.

And learning enough HTML and CSS to know what need to be changed by hand in any automatic systems I come up with. And to make sure I have nice clean code. No shortcuts. Ha!

I’ve been at this latest venture for the past 8 days, and I am glad it’s going to be a lot faster than the cover. Phew! HTML and CSS are computer coding, and I used to do much tougher programming, so I don’t approach it with the trepidation many non-tech writers do, but with a long list of questions of ‘How do I do X?’

It’s coming. I’ve made some decisions as of yesterday which I hope will result in said system.

I just figured out some of my problems are because I don’t know HOW I want it to look, which makes it impossible to achieve it. Duh!

But yesterday, yours truly created her first ebook for Kindle, navigated getting several programs installed on her computer, learned that several I already had needed updating.

I got the dreaded ‘Kindle can’t open this’ message, tracked it down, got MY EBOOK version open in my Kindle for Mac and several Kindle Previewer formats, and learned how to handle the viewing controls for the Previewer.

I have reviewed dozens of systems (everyone has a favorite), and have decided to use Scrivener + some post-processing in TextWrangler (a free text editor for the Mac, little brother to the famous BB Edit).

Why? Because I have complete control in how I create my text files, set them up in files and folders, and I think I’ve found a way to do everything I want to do. Basically, because I think I can.

You are now up to date.

I’m getting there. I have a path through most of the hard stuff remaining (except marketing).

I’m happily busy, not stalled, not frustrated – just very, very busy with DETAILS.

And, because I have only the experiences of the newbie, I haven’t written much about the processes and steps: we all go through them, no one’s system works out-of-the-box for anyone else, and mine is a patchwork quilt of pieces taken from everywhere (including the very LONG Scrivener manual).

Next task from the TO DO list?

I hope to report next that formatting is a go, and that I have plunged into EDITING. I hope I don’t have to make MAJOR changes there, but I have a long list of things to clean up.

If you have left a comment, editing will be where I will consider what you said VERY carefully, add it to what everyone else said, and decide what to do. Yup, even those comments you made two years ago on Chapter 1, Scene 3.

If you have any other suggestions, speak now or forever… 

Sorry about the radio silence! The two functioning neurons have been busy.




14 thoughts on “Writer working: Feel free to disturb

  1. Alice Audrey

    I don’t generally research things if I can figure them out on my own. Not on the writing front, anyway. I suspect I’ll be doing a lot, though, for the self publishing thing.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Most stuff on computers is logical – once you understand how the innards are programmed.

      I know a LOT more about formatting than I did two weeks ago – and I’m quite please with it. Almost there.

      I’m a control freak, and a bit of a cheapskate, but it’s the fun of figuring things out, and doing what they say you can’t, that makes me happy. I’m so glad I decided to self-publish long ago – I would have missed all this stuff.


      1. Alice Audrey

        LOL. We are cut from the same cloth. The book I had published with The Wild Rose Press went through an awful lot that I wasn’t entirely happy with. I’m looking forward to putting it back out there under my own terms. I’m putting the naked staircase scene back in.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Unhappiness sends many people to self-publishing.

          Unfortunately, SP is a drug. It must be hard giving it up, especially if it worked for you (I know some people for whom it did not, but not many).

          And it doesn’t matter how you start, if you want to be traditionally published, it’s still up to them to accept your book. That’s why I think it’s so silly when people say they ‘choose’ traditional publishing: no, they don’t. The choose to SUBMIT to an agent or publisher, knowing how low the acceptance rates are, and hoping they will win the lottery.


  2. Lily White LeFevre

    I had one comment for early part of narrative, i will try and get it emailed this week so you can have it in your pile. 🙂

    I look forward to the description revision whenever you get it to me. As many as it takes till it’s right 😉


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      No rush! You know how slow I am. Thanks. If it needs incorporating, I’ll put it in whenever I get it.

      I call my research ‘being thorough,’ but it really is wandering about after wills o’ the wisp.

      I meant ‘once it’s published this is going to be harder to fix, guys, so speak your pieces now.’

      Formatting is… INTERESTING. Specially if you want non-standard features, and you want them to look nice, etc., etc.

      I justify taking time to learn it because there are two more bulls in this chute.

      It came together this morning, almost – Progress!


  3. donnainthesouth

    so take it you’ve decided to self-publish; seems I remember that was a big decision for you at one point – glad for the tech background you have; you’re right, if you don’t have any, it’s really a nightmare


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      There was never any real question: traditional publishing is most likely not interested in my kind of stories, and I’m constitutionally incapable of kowtowing to their submission system any more (tried it years ago).

      Since I started reading the blogs in 2011, it has been the main option, and then a certainty.

      I need control, and I don’t need handholding (if I even got it) at the price you pay for it (most of your income).

      SP for me.

      You can still do many of these things if you don’t have a tech background – barter, friends, and beginners are alternate ways to get things done. And most people’s books aren’t as complicated as I’ve made mine.

      I’ll be fine.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Classes also give you a human to ask questions of, but I always recommend reading a lot before you go, so your questions cover the things the books don’t. Take the classes – good luck – try to do the homework assignments. I never learn unless I FOLLOW the instructions.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      As you’ve noticed, I’m incapable of writing a short ANYTHING.

      And thanks again for going along as my guide – or I would have been SIX months at this cover thing.

      One thing that I need to work on is my pronouns – that only comes with revision, as we go back and forth in conversation telling someone, “You should do this,” or “my experience is,” or “we’ve now done…” So the posts are written in a white heat, checked very minimally for coherence, and thrown out.

      I think it is a relief to write fast, without second-guessing myself too much.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      YOU know what it’s like – which is why I don’t put out my experience as anything to go by. I’m having a great deal of fun with all the little extra jobs you get when you DIY.

      Pick and choose, and know you’re the only arbiter at decision time – that’s my style. Makes lots of mistakes, correct as you go.

      And if you have to discuss your publishing woes in public, make it light.

      I love being a junior member of the online writing community. Everyone is so helpful.

      Liked by 1 person


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