Monthly Archives: November 2015

New post: Pride’s Children’s Spiritual Roots

New posts which are about the books will be posted on Pride’s Children’s site, rather than at my writing site. If you have any questions for me about what you’ve read, please let me know there or at the address on the contact page (About) here.

Pride’s Children’s spiritual roots are many; I will post about them as I have time (or someone asks!).

There are now two reviews on the book’s Amazon page, and two on Goodreads.

Formatting with Word following Scrivener requires nerves of steel

Chapter One sample pageIT’S LATE, BUT I’M WINNING THE PAPER WAR!

Here I am, 2:20 A.M. the night before Thanksgiving (a holiday we celebrate by making homemade pizza, one per customer, exactly as required – and which will not be shared), having reached a good place in the battle to turn Scrivener’s .doc output into a pdf for a POD at CreateSpace, the next step in the publishing journey.

Software Tools determine workflow

I HAVE Scrivener, and I HAVE Word. I know how to use them, more or less, and I am still hooked on the general plan of keeping only ONE master file in Scrivener, and producing the various output formats from there WITHOUT changing anything but the front and back matter (ebooks generally get a shorter version, print books get the full glorious everything).

[That reminds me – don’t forget the ISBN – it has to go on the back cover and the Copyright page.]

Anyhoo, Scrivener, plus a tiny bit of assistance from TextWrangler and an epub unzip/zip Applescript (in my one-click method of producing epubs, which then get folded into mobi files by Amazon), was perfectly adequate, nay wonderful, for the ebook.

But print books are made of sterner stuff.

Scrivener is NOT a word-processor

It comes pretty darn close if you have a simple book, and will go straight to pdf if you want it to.

But, since it isn’t a word-processor, it won’t do widow and orphan control, and it won’t do hyphenation, and they tell you that right up front. Neither of these things were important for the ebook, which was lucky for me: I get to learn these things in stages.

But Scrivener produces the .doc file for Word to work on

And this is where my cunning methods came as close as I could manage to having Scrivener pass almost-finished work to the next stage of processing.

This is the stage at which the Compile pane shines.

Set up for .doc output, and then remember to save your changes (update the preset) every single time you put some work into the Compile selections, or you will remember I said this: the minute you finish a Compile, Scrivener forgets anything you didn’t save.

This ‘feature’ allows you to make a change and try it out with no effect beyond a new version of the exported file, but I don’t tend to make versions: I know what I want, and I keep twitching the little switches until I have what I want, and then I save and back that one up compulsively.

What choices do you make in Scrivener BEFORE compiling?

Every single one you can.

Fonts: if you want, as I did, Goudy Serial Xbold 24, for your book title, it is far easier to pick it in the Compile Formatting pane, than to go into a nice fresh Word doc and start from scratch, EVEN IF you remembered to create a Style to save that font selection.

Vertical spacing: if you look at the little editor pane that comes up in Formatting, you will notice that over on the right side there is a line-spacing widget on the ruler. That holds the key to making headers like mine with several parts (Kary, Sanctuary, 8 PM) look exactly the way you want them. Do NOT do vertical line spacing with returns! You are not a typist any more. Use your paragraph spacing, cleverly labeled ‘other.’ You will thank me.

Keep with: Another wonderful little doohickey. It’s under the Format>formatting tab in Scrivener, and, if you use it on both parts of the header, you are telling it to keep the header line with the date/time/place line, and that one with the first paragraph of the scene. Which entirely removes the problem of header separated from their subheading and/or text.

Margins, and facing pages: I tried doing this in Word. It bit me. It was much easier to set it up in Scrivener and pass it on. This is the dialogue in the Compile page setup. I’m using a left and right margin of 0.5″, PLUS .25″ for the gutter margin. The image below shows the way the page will be laid out if there is only one page, with the extra margin on the left; if you choose the ‘facing pages’ option, you will get the mirror page on the left, with the extra gutter margin on its right.

Gutter margin setupThis is backward in my mind, but that’s how it works. YOU don’t do that part, Scrivener does after you check ‘facing pages.’ Which means in a standard book, you create the right hand side page of a two-page spread BEFORE the left hand page.

The page at the top of this post IS a right hand page. If you look, you can see the gutter margin extra space on its LEFT side. I prefer all my chapter to start on the right – I think it looks nicer, even though it wastes a few pages where you need a blank page on the left.

Table of contents: to do that in Word, you have to select each piece you want to be in it (front matter, chapter headings), apply a heading Style, and then use Word’s elaborate setup. Or you can use Scrivener, get the Binder to look the way you want the ToC to look, Copy Special (as ToC), and paste it where you want it. Then, as you compile, somewhere between the two programs they put the page numbers in. If you do it that way, you may have to update page numbers manually; and Word will fight you like a possessed man for control, but that’s what delete buttons are for. And Undo. Scrivener was easier. Neither was easy. I have one.

Justification: left, right, ragged, justified – but not right indent. Sigh. After the ebooks wouldn’t, I was hoping Scrivener could pass a right indent on to Word. Nope. So I generated a Style in Word which will indent anything I apply it to equally on BOTH sides, and that is now done.

Paper size and pdf size: Scrivener for the win. Once set up though, Word keeps trying to put you back on 8.5 x 11 paper; keep and eye on it when you create your 6 x 9 pdf.

Choices to make in Word

Formatting of headers and footers beyond the basics you get from Scrivener with the content and the page numbers; restart at number 1 on the first page of the story.

I also formatted the footers with a paragraph style which put a few points of space above them – otherwise it looked as if the text were sitting on the footer. Ditto for the headers: 4 pts of space after the paragraph with the name of the book and the chapter on alternating sides – and it didn’t look as if the header was sitting on the text.

Sections: I wanted my prologue AND my chapters, my Title page, and my Part page (Book 1 of the trilogy), to be right hand pages; I put my cursor on each page, chose Format Document, selected ‘odd page’ for them, and let it apply just to the section. Voila – everything tidy on the right, and the gutter margins in the right places.

Widows and orphans: Finally – Word does a magnificent job on its own (though, as you would suppose, it is hard to handle a lot of short paragraphs – dialogue – and not end up with parts of paragraphs: a 3 line paragraph at the end of a page can end up with two of its lines on one page, and the other on the next. If you REALLY want to keep lines together, you will have to do manual control with Keep together, or use my backup trick: there are 8 lines of padding at the beginning of each chapter (from the top of the page to the first line), but it one goes missing or I add one, you’d never know.

Right indent/margin: I WILL have my epigraphs indented on both sides, or die trying! They just LOOK wrong indented only on one side.

FONTS: There’s a reason God invented fonts. Because sometimes you just need to make things stand out, such as your name at the bottom of the title page, or the chapter title. These are aesthetic choices, and if you are designing your own interior, you get to make them. I hope it’s not a horror show when I get the proof copy back. My one little excursion into the fun of fonts is the Prothalamion/prologue, which I had great fun making look like The New Yorker at quick glance.

I’ve gotten far enough to have solved all the problems

Good for the brain, and slow with brain fog.

Front matter, back matter, the prologue, title, and part pages – and ONE chapter complete with headers and footers, and my methods are done.

All I have to do is finish the remaining 19 chapters, update the page numbers for the chapters in the table of contents, check everything – and upload.

Methodology is hard – this part is just work. And it shall be done soon, and I can go back to writing, with the paper version of Pride’s Children sitting on Amazon’s shelves.

By the way – all this fuss, and it doesn’t look that different from the ebook. Sigh.

Now aren’t you glad you asked?



The self-published writer takes pleasure in interior layout


Have you ever held a hardcover book in your hands, one produced in the traditional way on an offset press by a publisher, and been very unhappy about the choices made by whoever designed the interior layout of the book?

Easy to criticize:

The gutter margin is so narrow that you are fighting the spine all the time you’re trying to read – or breaking the spine so it will lie a bit flatter.

The part of the page with words on it seems surrounded by a huge amount of white space: the outside margins are huge.

With all that space, they really should have made the letters bigger – so that you could read them.

The running headers and footers are absolutely useless for navigating the book – there is no information there beyond the name of the book and a page number.

The font is so light it is hard to read.

The font is thick and dark and hard to read.

The italics seem provided by a different alien species: smaller, much thinner, and with an entirely different appearance to them.

The italics are almost indistinguishable from the regular font – except that they are slightly tilted, and maybe the lower-case ‘a’ is different.

The script used for Chapter headings and other niceties is not legible.

There is too much use of bold and underline and italics and numbers (usually this is from non-fiction) and bullets and…

There are simply too many typefaces to the page.

The fonts fight.

Have I missed your pet peeve? Drop it in the comments.

But it isn’t easy to do this whole design thing, as you learn when you set out to lay out the chapters, scenes, headers, and text for your own book.

I have 7000+ fonts acquired from Summitsoft. I have purchased the license to a few more fonts, and I have downloaded a few free ones to use. There are a LOT of fonts out there, in the same amazing variety as tropical birds. Feathers and foofaraws everywhere in sight, some mightily interfering with the readability of the font face, others (like the dyslexia font) designed to guide you gently to understanding.

Add bold, italic, extra-expanded regular, xbold (extra bold), heavy, light… and you have enough choices to seriously shoot yourself in the foot.

Font use simplified?

They have to play nice. Two or three COMPLEMENTARY fonts should do it on a page.

Here the EDUCATED eye is the final arbiter, so go look at a lot of fonts and layouts, including nice templates sold on many helpful sites.

If you find one you REALLY like, it may be easier – and cheaper (in time) in the long run – to purchase the rights to use one for your books. Or this series of books.

If, on the other hand, you’re going to have to do a lot of customizing to get what you want, templates limit you.

How often do you get to design a book?

I don’t know about you, but it will be a rare occurrence for me, so, natch, I want to dig in to see if I can learn enough for basic competence.

Plus add a few fillips I’ve always wanted. To make it beautiful to me.

Now we come to the part about prologues:

I wrote Pride’s Children a prologue (labeled it Prothalamion after the prologue in Dorothy Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon, one of my favorite books, and a spiritual ancestor to Pride’s Children).

It is 145 words long (very short as prologues go), set AFTER the story that will occur in this book (note dates), and has caused a significant split among readers – some who loved the taste of the future, and others who thought I give away too much information.

From the very beginning, when I added it about two years ago as I started serializing Pride’s Children on this blog, it was intended to be a fictional beginning to an article in The New Yorker.

NOTE: the disclaimer reminding you this is a work of FICTION immediately precedes the Prothalamion in the ebook – and was COMPLETELY missed by my first reader even when printed at the top of the page containing the prologue, who looked up at me after she read the page and asked, “Is this true?”

So when it came time to ask myself how it should LOOK, I repeated my pilgrimage to the august magazine’s website (the eye doctor’s office is where I normally read it in paper form – a subscription would bring me to a complete halt once a week), to get serious about the details.

I took screenshots of everything from the masthead to the beginning drop caps on a few articles (nice big fat sans serif font, single capital, in a space to the left of the top three lines, its top slightly below the ascenders of that top line, and its bottom roughly level with the bottom of the third line) to how the articles are dated, titled, and attributed.

I printed out the fonts that had potential from the Collection labeled Windows Office Compatible in my copy of Word 2011 for Mac, and started writing the same chunk of text in different fonts and strengths.

And quickly ran into the uniqueness of the New Yorker’s font, Irvin. I didn’t need a LOT of the font – if you look at the image above, only a one-line phrase is in the special font – so I went looking for a proper license to use it – and discovered that there are several similar fonts out there, and a commercial license was $55 – per weight.

It seemed too much for the one line, so I went digging, and found a lovely re-drawn New Yorker-type font – completely free, from Allen R. Walden, at Software Friends, Inc. He has a number of fonts similar to those of TV shows and movies. It is not THE New Yorker font, it is a similar one that gives, as we say in Spanish, ‘el tacazo’ – literally, the big taco hit; figuratively, the same impression. It comes in far fewer faces and weights, but for my purposes, it is perfect. I downloaded the font, the font page, and the license page for future reference, and proceeded to format the one line in the faux New Yorker font that no one will ever look that closely at!

Word gave me a nice drop cap with Arial Black (a native font), and I chose Cambria for the body text of the ‘quote’, and several different weights of Arial and Arial bold.

I gave the New Yorker a Department of Celebrities, and I think it will do – the purpose is not to distract you from the content (imagine how you would feel if it were in Courier 12?), but to subtly emphasize the illusion of verisimilitude that fiction depends on so as not to suspend the reader’s disbelief.

What next? Is it all this complicated?

Thank goodness, no. I managed the ebook with NO fonts, using only the size of the font to set things off, and emphasizing with bold and italics. The user even gets to pick the actual font to read in.

But there will be echoes of the Goudy Serial font I used for the cover in the Chapter headings, and the interior layout uses a lovely little font called Alido that I was fortunate enough to find in my Summitsoft package, and which comes in 7 different weights.

This was my one hoped-for excursion into fancy fonts (we of my generation remember the craziness in printed materials when fonts were first made available to computer enthusiasts with things such as MacPaint); it would be tedious in the extreme to have to fight fonts all book long.

I will play a tiny bit with fonts for the title page, etc., but I have had my fun, and now I have to go in, and format everything else for your reading ease and convenience.

As we say, Your Mileage May Vary. If you recoil in horror, hand it all over to the pros. Me, I play.

While we are playing, did you notice who wrote the article in the image?

Just published? Shark-infested waters lie ahead


I’m new at this. Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I’ve been reading the self-publishing blogs too long, but it bothers me that I’m being circled by sharks before the ink is dry on my copyright notice (which led to a flurry of emails from a company offering to ‘publish me’) and the fifth and sixth ‘friend request’ on Goodreads come from 1) an ad agency wanting to ‘talk books’ pretending to be an actual person, and 2) someone offering me a long list of paid review services (for the uninitiated reader, paid reviews are unethical. Period).

I believe people who have used paid commercial reviewers (Kirkus, if I recall correctly, offers such a service to indies: we’ll review your book for $495, but won’t guarantee we’ll print it or that it will be positive) have been unhappy with the results: expensive, and not resulting in sales. If you have any interest in those kinds of reviews, read a bunch of them and compare to the book/book sample – see if you agree with the reviewers – before you cough up cash.

Other places advertise books – BookBub is one – and claim great results for additional readers AND reviews. Supposedly they’re worth the money – but they don’t solicit the writer; the writer goes to them.

Readers and reviews have to be EARNED – it is a frustrating and time-consuming proposition.

Here you thought writing a book was hard!

Writing new content takes back seat to chores

Pride's Children business card 1


I am acutely conscious that I am not producing blog content – or updating the look of the blogs – very frequently.

I won’t say I’m sorry – that is lame. Or I am, but in a vague background way moderated by PRIORITIES.

The current priority? Getting the POD out of my new process (which involves going from Scrivener, to Word, to a pdf, to CreateSpace – with a stop at Pixelmator for a full front-and-back cover).

Why? Because then I will have some time during which I hope a proof copy will be winging its way to me – time I can use to fill some of the other holes in the process.

Jumping the priority queue: new business cards?

Today I will see someone who MAY be interested – and all of a sudden I realized I have nothing to leave with him. My old business cards are not suitable AND I’m out of them.

I figured if I’m going to go to the trouble of printing new ones, I should take a few minutes (I can hear the laughing starting up already – cut it out!) and make a new one.

After all, how hard can it be?

Whip out Pixelmator. Oops. Not sure I remember how to do this.

Whip out Word – the file where I have the old ones.

Spend a frustrating hour remembering my Pixelmator tools, and fighting against the fact that what I know about HOW to do things is woefully and intrinsically opposite to what graphic artists live with daily (don’t get me started on how masks work – backward and counterintuitive).

I manage to start regaining control when the file I change finally settles down at the size of a standard business card – 3.5 x 2 inches. The trick: store the canvas size you set FIRST – otherwise it assumes what you’re pasting in – the image of the book cover which will be a small part of the finished product – is the size you want, and your business card is now about an inch tall – and proportionately wide.

I won’t bore you with the details – it wasn’t really hard, just counterintuitive because computers do what you tell them to do, not what you WANT them to do.

It’s done.

Now I just have to remember my instructions to myself about where to cut these babies out of the page – so the finished product looks properly centered.

And then get back to whatever was next in the queue before this little project took over.

Next? Oh, yes.

Nap! And lunch! And then the appointment for which I did this.

You are now updated. I’m not lazy – just tired and massively overwhelmed by the delightful but unending learning opportunities that present themselves.


Prime? Own a Kindle? Borrow Pride’s Children FREE

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY: Kindle Owner’s Lending Library

And a PRIME membership.

Just figured this out (we’ve had a Prime membership for years):

Go to the product page (link above). IF you have a Prime membership AND own an actual Kindle device, you may borrow a Kindle edition book for FREE every month – and Pride’s Children qualifies. Just select borrow for free next to the Prime symbol to the right of the book cover. Duh, Alicia!

Rankings for books and authors INCLUDE borrows, so if you like, you can read the final, cleaned up published version of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY (Book 1) at no cost to you! And I get credit.

I’m sure everybody else but me knows this, and I probably did at one point (when I was just a reader), but it NEVER OCCURRED TO ME that MY book would qualify.

Did you know this about Prime? Do you use it? You can borrow, yup, do the math, twelve books a year. IF they are available in KOLL and you own a Kindle device. And the publisher has made the book available.

My excuse: brain fog. Ay, ay, ay – what a head! ¡Qué cabeza!

Cross-posted at