Tag Archives: writer organization

Quality independent literary writing must be nourished

Butterfly on cactus flower. Text: Beauty and quality are fragile. It takes effort to encourage them. Alicia Butcher EhrhardtWANT INDIE STORIES OF GREAT QUALITY TO READ?

Author Jay Lemming, who writes indie literary fiction (among many other things, including a good blog), has taken the lead in finding out how readers of well-written fiction – often categorized as literary fiction online – find their next book, and he’s created a survey for those readers.

Thank goodness for Jay, because this is exactly the kind of thing my energy doesn’t stretch to encompass.

Here’s the beginning of his latest post, making the survey available to readers:

Well, it’s finally here: the 2017 survey for readers of independently published literary fiction.

Click here to participate.

But before you do, you may want to read on for another moment…..

The market for independently published fiction has expanded for several genres: romance, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and all sub-genres therein.

But the market for independently published works of literary fiction has lagged due to the more conservative aspect of its readers…

CLICK HERE to go to Jay’s blog and read about the survey first – it will make great sense that way. Then please take the survey – there is a group of literary indie writers who will be able to use this information, results of which will not be restricted.

Jay will write about the results when the survey is complete; you should bookmark his blog or follow to get these results when they’re available.

Everyone complains that X% of indie work is cr*p – Jay is doing something about that, as are the writers who take the time and make the extra effort.

PLEASE NOTE: there is an amazing amount and variety of indie genre fiction

And plenty of quality work there to read as well – most people can find what they like, and the better writers in their favorite genres.

Literary has become the equivalent of ‘not-genre.’

However, this particular survey is for those who want what we have labeled as ‘literary’ on sites such as Amazon, because ‘mainstream,’ ‘commercial,’ and even ‘big book’ have disappeared as categories, leaving everything not specifically genre as ‘literary.’

The big publishers still have a stranglehold on some of this work – many of their authors (I know several) work very hard, but never see much remuneration except ‘prestige.’ Sometimes that’s because literary work is required for tenure or to maintain employment in an English, Literature, or Creative Writing program.

If indie literary work becomes popular, these authors will take the plunge into indie (as some have done already), and be able to pay for such frills as mortgages and college tuition for their kids.

And some of us, ahem, have started as indies/self-publishers, and have no intention of crawling off to submit our work to agents and traditional publishers big/medium/academic/small.

But if quality writing isn’t rewarded, readers won’t be able to find it.

Go help Jay. Take a few minutes and fill out his survey.


Support indie work in general – don’t forget the Wishing Shelf Awards and the lists of finalists. Children’s books by age groups first, followed by adult fiction and adult non-fiction (scroll down). Look for Pride’s Children – but there are not links to Amazon and other retailers on the Finalists list because it would be too unwieldy; PC is on Amazon here.


My continuing thanks to Stencil for making it easy to create graphics for these posts with a few mouse clicks.


 

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I knew what to do a year ago

SKILLS NOT USED GET RUSTY

I spent my working time today gathering everything I have in the way of text for the short story, a prequel to Pride’s Children, that I’m getting ready to publish on Amazon.

And panicking.

When I did the ebook formatting for PC: PURGATORY, I spent so much time tweaking Scrivener’s Compile function, to get everything to look just right, that I worried I’d never get the details out of my head.

And yet here, a bit over a year later, I can’t remember ANY of it.

Somehow, wisely, I left breadcrumbs for myself

Because it is something I send to people who request it (after they read my post on structure), I took the trouble to clean up the Novel With Parts template that I use, which is just Scrivener’s template of the same name, but with many areas prefilled or suggested.

And with the same Compile setup that I used to produce the novel’s epub file.

But it is not a short story template (reminder to self: produce one), and a 167K novel needs more parts and sections than a 1.5k short story.

But it has been extraordinarily difficult to remember why those parts were there, how I figured out the headers and footers and front and back matter, and making the decisions to delete what I don’t need.

I am nervous because I’ve never published a short story on Amazon

and it is very short.

Even with some fill-in bits, it is very short. Even if I tell people right up front that it’s short, I have this feeling of impostor syndrome.

And yet, there are no words I would add to it. It is the right length for what it tells, and a critical bit to understand Andrew. It took months to get right, to make spare, to give both a flavor of his mind and an account of an important happening which has changed him.

It’s free on Wattpad and on my blog, but some people haven’t read it here (please do so if you like). And I will have the temerity to set its price at 0.99, which, by coincidence, is the amount I’m charging today for the whole of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY.

Pricing messes with my mind. Since I also do it differently from many indies, I can’t follow easy guidelines. I want the story on Amazon for anyone who would like their own copy in a Kindle file with a cover. This authoring thing is weird.

I’ll figure it out. The next short story will be easier. It isn’t brain surgery. It’s just a little story.


Too Late: coming soon. If it hadn’t been for the shenanigans in Washington, I’d be finished.

Will I ever feel as if I know what I’m doing?

Writers: grab YOUR unique promotion opportunities

Woman in fur coat holding sparkler in front of lights. Text: Target Yourself. How are you like your audience?I’M FEATURED TODAY ON BOOMER CAFE!

Hey! That rhymes!

I am a Baby Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964, by the Boomer Café definition.

We are the Post-WWII babies, and there are a lot of us. Many of us are getting to retirement age – and able to do as we darn please.

I’ve been reading Boomer Cafe for a while now (though not since 1999, their founding date!), submitted an article now titled, ‘A baby boomer writes the novel she always planned,’ and they published it today!

There are a lot of hard parts for beginning self-publishing novelists

One of them is the perennial question: who is your target audience?

Because the natural answer for newbies, even if they have written a baby board book, is EVERYONE! Which is not as silly as it sounds, since board books are not bought by babies, but for them, by siblings, parents, and relatives, of all ages.

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, my debut novel, uses every technique I could learn to appeal to men and women of all ages, and teens mature enough to understand adult themes of love, marriage, work, jealousy, obsession (teens = fans?), getting what you want, and sacrifice. The sex and violence and language ‘rating’ is PG-13 (minimal) because I’m interested in story, not mechanics.

But wide POTENTIAL appeal makes it a bear to market: try planning an ad or outreach that will grab the attention of male teens and their grandmothers, and you’ll see what I mean.

Wide appeal for a book means no generic marketing

So you have to look at yourself, see how you are a member of the demographics you are included in, and figure out how to use that to present your book and yourself as author to diverse groups.

If you write straight Science Fiction, for example, there are oodles of promotional opportunities in newsletters, blogs, lists, sites, and at your online retailers. Your only problem (and it is a doozy) is how to make yourself stand out from all the other SF writers and their books).

I read and I learn. What I have learned since PC came out is something I suspected before I published: regular indie marketing strategies aren’t going to work for me and this book.

Which means one thing: diverse marketing, and a different marketing strategy for each group, with the understanding that there is no more homogeneity in the ‘groups’ than there is in my general audience.

Call it ‘trait marketing’: What do I have in common with Baby Boomers?

And that’s where the inspiration for this particular article came from.

First, to clear that away, I have no interest in writing non-fiction articles for magazines, online or in real life. I am a novelist, with books to write and sell, not a free-lancer looking to support herself by writing non-fiction. That’s a different calling, and I don’t have it.

To the extent that I do, this blog and the one for the books (prideschildren.com) are my non-fiction outlet, and I don’t expect them to pay for themselves or my time from what I write there. I get satisfaction from putting my thoughts in order, from the possibility of an eventual book or two if one arises from the posts because a bunch of people seem determined to write the same way I do (it could still happen!), and from the visitors and commenters here and on the blogs I visit.

But it is almost a cliché that many people think that some day they will write a book – and, until I actually finished one and published it, I was in that group. And that was the perfect topic to pitch to Boomer Café, it met with their approval, I wrote it – and it’s here!

Writing for exposure is not NECESSARILY a bad thing, is it?

Boomer Café doesn’t sell ads. The only way I can use their site to get my book in front of the other Boomers who visit there is to write an article which gets published. And provide something of interest for the subgroup of Boomers who might like to at least consider whether they should attempt that novel.

Anyone who writes to me after reading that article will get pointed in the right direction, and that will be a small partial payment for the advice and many kindnesses other more-advanced self-publishers have given me.

If people who read the article want to, Boomer Café has posted my cover, and a link to Pride’s Children: PURGATORY on Amazon, so readers can check it out and purchase if it appeals to them (or they want to see what it looks like).

And I couldn’t hope for any more than that!

I’m exploring myself and Pride’s Children for that kind of publicity opportunities

This past year, I’ve done a lot of hand-selling, to readers and writers I’ve met on Goodreads, Wattpad, Facebook, and via blogs such as ThePassiveVoice and the many others I follow and comment on. That will continue – it is a more personal approach, and has worked well in getting some awesome reviews. It is not a given that I will get a review or a new reader – my success rate there is about 50% for people who will try reading. More importantly I have found almost all of the blurbs for the book that way.

I’m determined to make this a career, rather than a hobby, so I expect PC to pay its own way eventually.

The question to take away is…

What is there in common – and how do I use that to entice people into reading the first few pages, a couple of scenes, or a chapter or two?

BEFORE that, I have the usual: book title, description, cover, editorial reviews, ratings, Look Inside feature, ebook sample, reader reviews, author page, numerical rankings within the various categories and subcategories (if you scroll down far enough on the Amazon product page for the book)…

Even price. Readers have their own opinions about what books are worth; I have priced at the lower range of what traditional publishers charge for ebooks and paper copies, but higher than what indie genre writers charge. And run a sale at least quarterly.

AFTER that, after TRYING, readers know if they might like a book or not. I trust readers as I trust myself to know what they like to read – and whether I’ve done my job to supply that.

I’ve already met some new and interesting people on the Boomer Café site – maybe some will turn into readers.


Thanks to Stencil for the image above and the ability to add my own words.


Readers: how do you like to be appealed to?

Writers: what special niche marketing do you do?

Looking forward to hearing from you (hint, hint)!

If you had only one year, what would you write?

gratitudeA THANKSGIVING REFLECTION

Today is turkey day for many people, including my huge and wonderful extended family in Mexico City, Detroit, and all over the western world. I am so grateful for them. I wish I were with them.

I am grateful for friends.

For self-publishing. Even for Amazon.

I realize how grateful I am for the ability to write, however slowly, but I’ve been feeling lately it is slipping away.

Part of that is the normal losses of life: the last chick has left the nest (we hope, for her sake and happiness, for good). I am in the middle of a huge effort to downsize. And another huge effort to walk properly again. Both these efforts take a lot of energy – and the energy has to come from somewhere.

A big part is chronic illness; it demands more than anyone can afford.

But part is also aging, and the thought that if I slow down much more, I will be at a standstill.

Time is finite – will you be happy what you do with yours?

So this morning I asked myself the title question: If you only had one more year to be a writer, what would you choose to be your legacy?

Many writers have had this question thrust on them. Some have quit writing – they’ve said what they want to say, and the work is getting onerous.

Others, like Sir Terry and Iris Murdoch, were taken from us by the disease no one seems to be able to fix except in mice – Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope AD also removed from them the pain of knowing they were losing it, because it is the most awful feeling.

But still others – and I hope to be in this group – use this question to focus, to re-prioritize and re-aim their writing, and to ask themselves if they really are doing everything they can – and whether the work is important enough to warrant the expenditure of so many chits.

I have a very short professional list:

I have to finish Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, and Book 3, tentatively subtitled LIMBO & PARADISE. Or maybe just PARADISE. And get them both published on Amazon.

I want to put the prequel short story, Too Late, up on Amazon.

I want them read, and I hope they will have an effect on people who consider the disabled ‘other,’ and not worth considering – or reading about.

I think I can accomplish those things IF I focus. Tempus fugit.

It is nice to consider that I have all the time in the world. But nobody ever really does. Life can strike the writer at any age.

Note that I’m also asking this question of people who don’t consider themselves writers – is there someone you should write to, or something you could write, need to write? That letter to your children? The one where you tell someone how much they’ve really meant to you?

What’s on your list?

Temporary halt in writing to catch up

detourTHE VALUE OF MULTIPLYING YOUR REACH WITH PROPER HELP

I have 30 partial posts.

I have bunches more ideas.

I have the Author Photo series halfway done.

I am giving up on promotion for the immediate future – it’s up to those of you who read to poke your friends. I’m mostly hand-selling to people who I meet online who turn out to be copacetic – and that takes a lot of time.

This would be a great time to write the review you always planned to write, to give Pride’s Children to a friend – or to point a friend here for an electronic Review Copy.

The biggest new commitment is long-term dejunking.

Yup, and since I can’t do it, I have to make the decisions for my new assistant, who is vastly over-qualified for the position and a good friend – and this is planned to take 4-9 hours weekly for the indefinite future, or until this house has lost 80% of its current contents, with another 10% clearly labeled as already selected to be given away/junked.

The plan is to just keep doing this until every drawer, shelf, closet, wall unit, and underbed storage box is down to the minimum necessary. And basket. And garage. And basement.

Our plan – should it work out – is to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community in the next couple of years – so we’re not responsible for a house.

Which means settling the last child, taking care of some problems, selling the house, and finding the place to spend the rest of our lives.

The benefits?

Someone else will become responsible for everything.

No stairs.

I’m not getting better or more mobile; I need to make the move before I can’t, or my brain goes even further and I can’t qualify to live in a CCRC.

I don’t want independence – I want convenience, and a pool, and a gym, and dinner, and medical rehab facilities onsite. I want the husband to have plenty of things he wants to do (me, I write), so finding the right place IS critical.

I want to be able to walk out my unit’s door, lock it, have arranged whatever supervision might be necessary with the staff, and go someplace else without worrying about the ice dam or the furnace going out or mildew or the ice maker or…

I loved doing all those homeowner things – when I was younger and not disabled.

What does this mean for the blog and the writing?

Probably not much, except for the first few weeks.

I’m not going to do anything organizing-wise without my assistant, and I’m going to try to be coherent while she’s here. So it should come out of the time I’m currently wasting because I have no energy to use it.

I’ve had assistants before, lovely people. It works.

It has just become completely shortsighted of me to try to force myself to do things the way I’ve been trying to operate.

It will be a bit harder with the husband retired, because he’s not used to having someone around. The benefits – a boost to MY capabilities – should compensate.

I’m the problem here, and the pivot point, and possibly the solution.

Wish me well – expect it will be a couple of weeks of less engagement online while I get the system sorted out.

It has already begun

The first day was last Wednesday. I made about a thousand decisions – but they all got acted on instead of being admired and re-stored. Good intentions get very little actual work accomplished.

Bags of stuff left this house, destined for the trash or recycling. Books went to the Friends of the Library, for their sales.

I have to go take a nap – she’s coming at three.

Remember – if you like the prose…

Try the fiction – written by the same person. See sidebar for link.

I promise – I’m working madly on Book 2, and have some shorter stuff to put up.

Inconvenient ideas for your new novel

inconvenient ideas THEY NEVER COME WHEN YOU NEED THEM

The ones you get when you thought you had everything lined up for the novel, and just needed to write it, and the Muse drops a big What If? in your lap, and you go Hmmm!

And it might be a GOOD IDEA, but it is certainly coming at a BAD TIME.
This happened this morning, and I have to admit it is a) a good idea, and b) fills a small plot hole I had, but hadn’t really thought about much except peripherally.

I think what happened is that as I took care of all the other ideas, assigning them to where they will be developed in the plot line, I cleared up some thinking space, and this little one came out, like Hope from Pandora’s Box, after all the rest had gone.

It provides a nice little conflict, and small but connecting plot line, and fills an empty space on the story’s calendar.

CONFLICT FOR READERS – KEEPS ‘EM HAPPY

On the other hand, it is new, puts things in a different light, and will worry my readers.

THAT was the touchstone.

My motto is ‘Torture Rachel.’

This will nicely torture Rachel.

I hope it will torture other readers, too – making them anxious and slightly unhappy, and annoyed, and…

Sorry, Rachel.

REAL LIFE IS NO DEFENSE

And I have a nice solid example from Real Life where I know exactly how things worked out to use as a template, one I actually understand and liked when it happened.

Not all RL is usable this way: ‘it actually happened’ is a sorry excuse for work that is not also story-true. RL doesn’t have stories that open and close neatly – which is why we crave stories, Lisa Cron of Wired for Story tells us.

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO LISTEN TO YOUR BRAIN?

It DID derail forward progress a bit, while I suss out the implications and the necessary connections, and carve it some space, and make SURE it is justified.

Yes, I think it WILL do.

Brains, even brain-fogged ones, can surprise you when you’re not looking.

Have you been strong-armed by your own ideas lately?

In training for a writing marathon

it takes what it takesFOR THE NTH TIME, I TELL MYSELF THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

The title of this post is meant to be ironic, as writing is a long steady race for me – and many others.

But it isn’t just the revising/editing/polishing of the rough draft that is slow, it is the entire preparation period, now complicated by having to use at least a little time for promotion of the previous book – a process which I assume gets worse as you publish more.

Added to that are the nice conversations (via email) I’ve had with people who’ve read Pride’s Children, some of whom have left lovely reviews.

And wondering about who the people are who’ve left reviews with either ‘Anonymous’ instead of a name, or who are people I’ve never heard of.

The latter kind are more exciting – one out of the first 12 positive reviews came from someone whose name I don’t recognize, who created a profile just to write this review, and vanished. (Thank you, Cris, whoever you are.)

Authors with more experience than I have, expect these. For me, each new oddity gets a tiny bit of attention. I scurry to make a copy of the review for my records when I see them, less Amazon decide for some reason best known to themselves to remove them.

VERBOTEN COMMUNICATION: READERS ARE OFF LIMITS

I’m fascinated by the interdiction on authors communicating with readers OR reviewers – and I can see it could easily become a zoo without the proscription. Half of the commentary I’ve read on Goodreads has to do with people defending or attacking two logical points of view:

  • authors should stay out of reviewer venues such as Goodreads and Amazon – those places are for readers only to express their opinions, except where clearly marked ‘for writers/authors’
  • some authors wanting to say thank you, thinking this will encourage reviewers – and lead to more reviews

I removed ‘desperately’ from the second phrase after I realized you can’t be impartial about these things if you use such adverbs. My opinion is that the first group is safest – if someone writes to me or posts a comment here or on the books’ site, they will get an answer, but I’m staying out of mine fields. Not nearly nimble enough, I’ve discovered, from trying to maintain peace and civil discourse on one of the GR threads.

PROMOTION – AN EFFORT HERE, AN EFFORT THERE

I’m waiting to hear from Ereader News Today whether they will take my money and give me a place on their lists; I’ve decided, after reading lots of things, that my primary category need to be ‘Contemporary Fiction,’ which may be the new ‘mainstream’ for stories set in the real world within recent memory.

There will be a Kindle Countdown Deal to go along with the ENT promotion, if they take me on.

I’m looking into Amazon giveways for ebooks and print books – Chris McMullen’s blog post had lots of details.

And I’m trying to get my brain organized to send a few print copies on walkabout via Book Crossing: you label the book a traveling book, get it a unique ID and register it at the site, and then either release the book into the wild (leave it somewhere, preferably where the cleaning staff won’t dispose of it) or give it a controlled release (ie, hand it to someone). If people keep handing it from person to person, or leaving it where someone can pick it up, AND go to the site to comment that they’ve had it/read it, you can see how far it goes in the world. Sounds a little iffy, but I’ve always wanted to do that.

One other advertising opportunity is to a specific group of people – if that works, I’ll report on it.

PREPARATION IS GOING WELL

I keep saying that – and I keep discovering new little areas of plot and characterization that I really ought to investigate BEFORE getting up to my ears in the writing.

It doesn’t help that I keep having days in which I stare at the wall, so I’m instituting some practices to minimize the effects of leaving the house, namely, much more deliberate resting practices before, after, and the next few days. Oh, and fewer carbs – those kill me.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll notice a lot less angst over the above – I do the best I can, and I don’t worry so much any more (because it never helps). Good days, like today, I try to use my time well. Bad days I try to ignore – but they are scary when my brain refuses to check in for a several days in a row (at which point I get really deliberate with those dratted naps – because, for me, the resting/pacing works).

The hope is that the preparation will mean that I can just write, and not have to stop and do research into obscure points, but I do realize you can’t predict everything you’ll need. It wouldn’t be any fun if you could.

But it doesn’t hurt to take a road map when you travel, does it now? Especially if you know you’re going to need frequent stops along the way.

From PLAN to PUBLISHED, writers make events HAPPEN

well structured fictionPEOPLE FORGET THAT WRITING IS WORK

It’s the most fun work I can think of, being mistress of all I survey, but sometimes it’s still work, and it takes time, and is subject to all the interruptions Life has to offer.

For all that I didn’t start polishing Book 1 (Pride’s Children: PURGATORY) until I had a complete blueprint and a rough draft of the whole story all the way to the end of Book 3, I’m finding that the original blueprint – even the one from the Great Reorganization – is merely a sketch compared to what I need to actually sit down and write every day.

Suppose you’re building a house, and you have this nice little plot of land on a hillside, and you sit out there and draw a few lines of what it might look like when it’s finished, with a porch here, and a big window in the kitchen with a view of that magnificent dogwood tree…

The house is no more real at that point than a dream, and you can’t go into the bedroom which doesn’t even appear on the drawing, and take a nap.

There’s a bit of work to be done first.

The road from dream to reality is a long one

Once the house is built or the book is finished, it has the solidity that belies its complete lack of existence before that sketch, and somehow it doesn’t FEEL any different than the sketch did, but the concept has absorbed an enormous amount of human time and energy (and money or opportunity cost).

In Spanish we say, ‘Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho,’ which means, ‘From words to action is a long way.’

Many books never get written.

Well, the reason I haven’t had much to say lately is that I’m just down in the trenches, doing the work, and it isn’t all that exciting.

But it’s incredibly necessary.

Blueprint/outline/storyform – don’t proceed without it

I’m a structuralist and an extreme plotter, partly by nature, and partly because, working on one tiny piece of the quilt at a time as I do, I have to know the pieces will fit together when I finish them.

Book 1 proved the worth, to me, of my methods: I did it exactly the way I said I was going to do it, and it worked and came together and connected and made sense.

Now for Book 2

The blueprint that I have, my Dramatica storyform and its ‘encodings’ – the sum of everything that I’ve put into the little text boxes which are the result of figuring out the structure behind this WIP, or what you might call events illustrating each structural point – was complete in concept, and even had placeholders for everything.

I had two choices: use the long-ago blueprint, and try polishing the rough draft.

Or go through every single piece and decide if it was still the best way to do that part of the story – or if it needed replacing with something better.

A lot was already good and connected and made sense.

What happens during writing?

But I’m more experienced now, and the first part of the story, a developing friendship that left its characters at a particular point with no obvious way forward, is finished.

The characters – big surprise – grew in the writing. Not changed. Grew. Things only hinted in my rough draft and master plan – happened.

That’s the only way I can describe it: until they are written in their final form, things haven’t ‘happened.’

And the blueprint for the next part needed a thorough going-over before being used to make the next set of things ‘happen.’

The eternal problem: picking up the story in the next book

Instead of choosing to understand and execute what I had planned back then, even if it was somehow part of the whole – which would have meant examining every choice I made in the storyform, and reading every bit of text I put in a text box so that I could write that better, I chose to delete most of it.

Not because it was ‘wrong,’ but because making it mine again as a whole would require that I remember why I put it there in the first place, and then that I take the time to decide if I still wanted it quite that way.

I foresaw that it would actually take me longer to go through the steps, for each entry, of figuring out what I meant back then and then deciding whether I still meant it quite that way and changing it to reflect Book 1 where necessary – than to trust that I have enough of the story encoded in my brain as a whole, and just answer all those prompts again from that gestalt.

This, I hope, will have the side effect of making the ‘new’ more connected when I start, and making the revisions – complete rewrites in most cases (as it was in Book 1) – easier when I’m working on my quilt squares.

I didn’t do that in Book 1, because I was too deep in revision by the time I really needed that one-ness, and so I found myself having to figure out whole sections AS I went.

I think this will be easier in the writing phase because I’m putting so much work into the planning phase.

And since I really need to write faster – and a major part of my time in writing the scenes in Book 1 was spent figuring out what and why – this may help me complete the next two books faster, so we can all have the whole story sooner.

Will this help Book 3?

Yes, this means I’ll have to do the same thing again for Book 3.

I naively thought I could do 2 and 3 simultaneously, and then pick up at the end of revising Book 2, and just move right into writing Book 3.

Until I realized how much work the re-planning is.

Book 3’s will have to wait.

I took extensive notes, and I’m feeling out my whole system (I’m not planning to stop writing after I finish the trilogy), and it shouldn’t be nearly as hard as for Book 2, since I won’t go through most of this questioning again, and just do it.

Learning to write is a process of finding out everything there is, and then selecting YOUR writing best practices, and finally getting practice doing it your way.

Even with refinements, and especially when you start out older, this system, if it works for you, is not going to get a lot of future change. This is one of the benefits of being more mature as a LEARNER. [And if some of you are out there, laughing at me because I’m STILL naive, so be it.]

Progress on preparing for writing again?

Those little text boxes for the Dramatica prompts? There are 71 of them, if you don’t count the character appreciations.

I’m almost finished with re-filling them, and I’m pleased that both nothing has changed – and they are filled better and more consciously and, what’s more important for me, more coherently.

They are forming a better ‘set’ than they would have, had I merely tried to remember what I was doing.

And – phew! – they have not hugely changed anything in the story that I care about.

And I have answered a bunch of niggling questions in my mind that I was putting off until ‘later.’

Character appreciations? What is she talking about?

The remaining ones, the character and character relationship apps? There are a LOT of them, but they tend to be shorter and smaller and more obvious – and require only a bit of thought or dialogue to reveal in the final version. Plus many of them carry over from the first book.

Only a few characters change from book to book. I use the Dramatica technique of handoffs: if character A represents something in Book 1, and then dies or leaves or the story moves elsewhere, then someone else is needed to represent the same thing in Book 2 or 3, and may express the ‘something’ differently.

To put that in more understandable terms: George has to go home at the end of Book 1, which will leave Andrew, just at the point where many things are heating up, without the childhood friend he trusts as a sidekick. Who will his replacement be – and how will the replacement deal with the pressures of the job – and will the replacement have the right stuff – and what will the consequences of the change be to Andrew? All questions important to the final end – and all planned in.

Hint: how is Nahrendra like George – and how is he George’s antithesis?

I’ll stop here, having talked forever about something few people will have any interest in.

But if you wondered why there weren’t more posts in between, when I have so many other things to write about, this is the reason: I’m putting in the work, and I need to stay focused until it’s done.

But trust me. It hasn’t been boring.

And it’s all necessary.

What say you? Does structure bore you or bear you up?

 

2016 and the writing of Pride’s Children

DEAR FOLLOWERS:

I beg your indulgence. I haven’t figured out which posts belong here (probably the general ones NOT about the books), and which on the Pride’s Children temporary blog. (new post over there, too, about the reviews slowly accumulating)

And the permanent site is still tangled in software I did not install myself, and which will have to be uninstalled and reinstalled.

There are a LOT of things on the to do list:

  • Writing Books 2 and 3
  • Fixing websites and blogs
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Audiobooks – should I decide to continue with my mad plan to produce the Read by Author version
  • Getting reviews for Book 1
  • Keeping up with Wattpad and WriteOn and…
  • Life

Unfortunately, there is only one of me, and I seem to be on the critical path in every one of these items, gumming up the works and slowing things down.

So you will have somewhat irregular blog postings, and occasional rants.

I thought writing was hard – but I can’t wait to get back to it – because the marketing, etc., is HARDER.

I have a bent for the writing, interest but little experience in the other, and tech skills to be developed on websites and blogs.

I’ll get there – I’m still enjoying all the bits and pieces, and it has been wonderful getting some feedback from complete strangers – and other feedback from some of the people I’ve been following online for the past four years and am in awe of.

But it may be slower than I’d like, because I want to push to make the writing faster, now that I kind of know what I’m doing in many writing areas. I think I can. I KNOW it won’t be fifteen years again, and I’d like to aim to get Book 2 finished in 2016.

Big goal – but if you don’t write them down, they have a tendency not to happen at all.

Wish me well. And I wish YOU well with your goals for 2016.

Pride’s Children’s first Kindle Countdown Deal

Pride's Children ~ KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL

Pride’s Children ~ KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL

AND LAST MARKETING EFFORT IN 2015

Dec. 15 to Dec. 21. It is live now – and the KINDLE Countdown Deal widget, should you choose to visit, tells you how long you have before the price goes back up to its regular price.

Remember, only the EBOOK edition is on sale. (Amazon may occasionally discount the print edition, but I have no control over that.)

I’m doing the simplest possible sale: 0.99 for a week – if you were planning to get the ebook, now is a good time to grab it.

You can give it as a gift – if you buy during the Kindle Countdown Deal. And you can recommend it to a friend – at the deal price – but only until the timer runs out.

If not (or you already have it), please excuse the marketing overflow – this is the last one for a while. I’m going back to writing.

BACK TO WORK

Book 2 isn’t writing itself.

And I’m a writer, not a graphic designer or a publisher, all the trappings to the contrary.

I’ve had my fun. I never realistically examined how much time all this publishing effort would cost a beginner (or I never would have started). That’s the way of all new things, and I’ve been very glad to challenge the brain with all of them, and manage to learn them.

Did I go WAY overboard? Yup. That’s me.

But I figured if I didn’t do it now, I might never get the chance. And I might always think it was too hard for me.

Being too SLOW for me didn’t occur to my fogged brain, and of course that’s what it turned out to be (though my lovely AND kind mentor, J.M. Ney-Grimm, says I’ve learned quickly).

Will I do additional marketing?

Probably – next year – but I could easily dump all my good time there, every day for the foreseeable future, requesting reviews, looking for every little opportunity to self-promote, being active on the social media where reviewers congregate.

Healthy people can afford to do that and still write (recommendations are to use your ‘less good’ (evening?) time for promoting) – but we all know I can’t.

So I will depend on the kindness of friends and new friends – and go do MY job.

My contract with readers has always been to lure them in – and then finish the story. Right now, I’m the only one who knows it.

My daughter has insisted that I finish it out in summary form, in case something happens to me. That I will do – she can publish it if I get called home, ah, before I planned to go (another thing beyond my control, thank God!).

Those of you who’ve read and said all the lovely words: you don’t want it to stay only in summary, do you?

Encourage the nice lady. Even if you’re an introvert, tell your friends – and tell them while they can grab Pride’s Children: PURGATORY for $0.99.

 

PRIDE’S CHILDREN is live on Amazon

WE HAVE LAUNCHED, PRIDE’S CHILDREN AND I

This is the post I’ve been waiting fifteen years to write.

October 29, 2015 at 1:19 AM
I’m in shock – it went from Pending to Publishing in ten minutes, and I have my ASIN: B017AZLTLG (this is how you know you have the genuine article; if pirates steal a book and put it up, it will not have the same ASIN – just sayin’.)

I also now know why people sit there and watch their Dashboards. It is hypnotic.

October 29, 2015 at 2:32 AM
I bought the first copy – and got it free. Good omen – we had a credit of 0.99.

MARKETING PLAN: 0.99 UNTIL SATURDAY NIGHT, then 8.99 AND KU.

Other than some basic marketing bits (like letting everyone in the whole world know), I will now be sedate, take myself to bed, and get some sleep. It has been a long hard couple of days trying to make my brain wrap itself around arcane Scrivener bits until the formatted ebook looked the way I wanted it to.

KU (Kindle Unlimited) is like Netflix for reading. I believe it is 9.99 for all you can read (of the books enrolled – lots); they may have a month’s free trial, too. It’s a great deal if you like long, expensive books.

I still have to figure out how to make an image on my blog clickable, but the caption is attached to the book page.

NEW PRIDESCHILDREN.COM site

I set this blog/site up until I can regain complete control of my actual domain (long story). If you want to be informed when Book 2 is available, or when the Kindle Countdown Deal (which will have a day or two at 0.99, and happen in about a month) for Book 1 is live, drop by the new site, and Follow.

It will just be for the books, and I hope to put up more content just about the story.

I’ll keep working on it until it’s at least a solid small site, so be prepared for a few orange traffic cones.

FORMATTING WORKED

I’m SO happy I did the one-click Scrivener setup – it allowed me to make changes, and immediately see how they would translate – and, believe me, today I needed all the help I could get.

In addition, I did the CSS work to get my RIGHT INDENTS! This I will only have to do this once (took me less than an hour because I had done shorter versions before – and my method still worked – phew!). If I have to make changes to the text, they would have to be pretty major for me to have to change the CSS files – and then would only be for the chapters which got the changes. So that’s set up – and Book 2 should be able to sail right through the formatting step.

NOW WHAT? Writing, naturally.

Now I just have to take the rough draft to something approaching writing.

A month or so on catching up on household To Do list items (there are, ahem, DUST bunnies from The Night of the Lepus).

And getting the books’ calendar up to date, and hoping against hope the story is still there, and making sure that things like character description stay the same… You know, work.

I’m so EXCITED – I wrote in my notes that now I know why people sit and watch their Amazon Dashboards and hit Refresh repeatedly. It’s addictive.

Thanks for your support, my dearest friends.

What say you?

 

Pride’s Children Cover, Book Description Reveal

PC: Book 1

Pride’s Children: Purgatory — Book One of the Trilogy

~ ~ ~

WHAT YOU DO WITH AN OBSESSION COUNTS

“I, KARENNA ELIZABETH Ashe, being of sound mind, do… But that’s it, isn’t it? Being here proves I am not of sound mind…

So begins Book One of the Pride’s Children trilogy: Kary immediately regrets the misplaced sense of noblesse oblige which compels her to appear, live on national television—at exorbitant personal cost.

What she cannot anticipate is an entanglement with Hollywood that destroys her carefully-constructed solitudinarian life.

A contemporary mainstream love story, in the epic tradition of Jane Eyre, and Dorothy L. Sayers’ four-novel bond between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Pride’s Children starts with a very public chance encounter, and eventually stretches over three separate continents.

~ ~ ~

Colm Herron, Irish author of The Wake (And What Jeremiah Did Next), The Fabricator, and Further Adventures of James Joyce: “I was there, Alicia. THERE, in that sweaty studio, aware of the audience, rooting for Kary, contemptuous of Dana until, well, until I saw for sure that she was more than a plastic chat-show hostess. I wondered what Andrew was thinking. I could guess. I think his snort was involuntary and then thought better of. No better tribute can I pay than all that I’ve written above. I don’t make this comment idly. This to me is top gear.”

Herbert Collins (Saskatchewan), reader: “I feel Andrew’s emotions, and feel for him. You have successfully given your readers a story that appeals to men and women. It is wonderfully written.” and “Pride’s Children has helped me to look inside myself and see many things I need to see and deal with. I have never read a work of fiction that has touched me so powerfully! I love it and will be rereading many times.”

J. E. Hallows, author of Rebellious Rogue: “I’ve just finished reading Pride’s Children [Book 1]. That last chapter was beautiful. Probably the most moving chapter of all, which is a great way to end the story.”

Kevin Gebhard, American actor, screenwriter, and author of The Steeps: “You’re right-on. It’s hard to believe you’re not writing this from [a movie] set.” or “You really know how to write this stuff—like you were tucked in a coffee shop on Rodeo Drive (I lived in L.A. for five years).” and “Oh, to be in a writer’s head. Living amongst imaginary people. What could be better? But then comes the actual writing part. You caught it all.”

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

The above is the description that will accompany the ebook on Amazon (and be the back cover copy for the POD version as soon as I get that ready).

Here is my entire marketing plan (I need to write Books 2-3):

  1. Until publication later this week (I hope before November 1, 2105), if you have been following along and reading as I put Pride’s Children, Book One, up on this blog, and would like an eARC (electronic Advance Reading Copy), email me at abehrhardt [AT] gmail, and I will email you back your preferred format: epub, mobi, or pdf. ARCs are usually sent to reviewers, but I don’t have the energy to do that – and continue writing. IF YOU CHOOSE, you can then write a review (preferably without spoilers) which you can put up on Amazon AFTER I launch (save it until then – I don’t want to even see them until/unless they are officially posted by the reviewer – do not tempt me!). IF you write a review, please include ‘I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion’ in the review, as per Amazon’s requirements, or they may decide to remove your review (as you will not be a ‘verified purchase.’)
  2. As soon as I launch (there will be another post announcing the date and time), Pride’s Children will be on sale for $0.99 for three days. Reviews from ‘verified purchasers’ welcome anytime from here on, too.
  3. After that, I will put it in KDP Select, and enroll PC in Kindle Unlimited AND raise the price to its publication price of $8.99.
  4. When the book has been up long enough (30 days minimum) AND the POD is available for sale (dunno how long that will take me, as it includes mailing proof copies from Createspace to me), I will run a Kindle Countdown Deal, something KDP-Select allows once every 90 days, and you will have a chance to acquire it at 0.99, 1.99, … over a period of 7 days, until it is back at 8.99.
  5. I don’t know when there might be another Countdown Deal; I’m only thinking as far as the first, but wouldn’t be able to do another for several months in any case.

~ ~ ~

Thank you to followers, readers, and commenters – you have kept me sane for the past two years while I posted this, and we are at the starting gate for…?

Wish me luck. Joe Konrath insists there is a huge element of luck involved. I’ve now done all I can do.

I can’t wait to get to polishing Books 2 and 3.

Self-publishing writers have too many choices!

Chapter 1 sampleINTERIOR FORMATTING ALMOST DONE!

It constantly amazes me, this ability the human brain has to make choices – and the vast number of them available to those of us in the developed world.

Professional cover designer Dane Low put up a video of the process of creating a cookbook cover over on Joel Friedlander’s blog today. A billion choices out of a sea of images.

Mine wasn’t that elaborate, and yet it took me three months (and I promise to show it first here when I’m a bit closer to publication – one wants to save the Ta Das! for when they will do some marketing good).

I had several goals for the interior formatting of my first book, Pride’s Children:

  • I wanted to make it as simple as possible to do updates – like fix typos.
  • I wanted to avoid as much hand-coding as possible – because that always takes a lot of time, and sometimes that effort makes me settle for less than I really want. Plus it’s a really great way to introduce typos.
  • I did NOT want to spend a lot of time doing the things Jaye Manus recommends on her blog for writers who work with Word (sorry, Jaye!), as I’d long ago tired of using Word for writing fiction and keeping it looking good, even though I’ve mastered styles, and have used them successfully before to make the manuscript look the way I wanted it to. Note: I still use Word all the time for other stuff, like letters.
  • I wanted to set up a uniform look for the two other books of the Pride’s Children trilogy.
  • I wanted to make the READING experience as transparent as possible for the reader, so I don’t want anything that might get in the way of a reader choosing her font, or font sizes, or other text-flow options.
  • I wanted it to look, as much as possible, like a ‘real’ (ie, ‘printed’) book. You know, like the old ones on my bookshelves?
  • I wanted typographical niceties: indented quotes set in a slightly smaller type-size, navigational headings, ALL CAPS and no indent to start paragraphs, a decent table of contents.
  • And I wanted it to be a good model for the eventual printed version, not a completely different animal.

In other words, my standards have been set by all the books I’ve read in my lifetime, and I want all those features in my books.

Scrivener to the rescue

When I bought Scrivener (several years ago now – where DOES the time go?), I did it partly because of its ability to create an ebook from your text in both .epub and .mobi formats – regardless of how you typed the stuff in.

A look through my source files in my .scriv project file shows a shocking number of different formats. It would have taken me either a lot of paying attention to keep it looking uniform as I wrote in Word, or a lot of processing at the end – a word-processing file per chapter seemed as much as I could manage at a time, and combining files to make a whole book is WORK in Word.

None of this is to say anything at all about other writers’ workflow or software choices.

But with my usually fogged CFS brain, the command to self to KISS was imperative: I can focus on things intensely for a while sometimes, but don’t do nearly as well when I have to keep it up over months and years.

So. I’ve spent the last two weeks learning Compile in Scrivener (the word they’ve selected to mean: put all this junk together into a unified document), feeding it my text, and adjusting the Compile options until it looked the way I wanted it to.

I have it down to the target: I choose Compile, click ONE button, and I have a new ebook instantly, which will open properly in my Kindle viewers or Adobe Digital Editions, and complains not at all when I make it reformat the whole thing for one tiny change. Three chapters takes under 5 SECONDS.

Yesterday, I repeated the process over THIRTY times. It took longer to VIEW my results than to create them, a very welcome reversal of the usual way it goes.

Post-production – refining after using Scrivener

I worked hard at it – you should see my marked-up copy of the Scrivener manual!

But I managed to set up the formatting in all but ONE detail to be automatic. That detail is the RIGHT INDENT.

I want to use right indents paired with left indents to set off sections of the text (a movie, an email, a quotation used for an epigraph). Scrivener (and, to be fair, the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines) does not support a right indent. Per se.

But it occurred to me that changing the MARGIN settings for indented paragraphs (as long as the change is relative from the margins, in ems, and not a hard-coded number such as 0.5″) would serve just fine.

So I set up Scrivener to create paragraph types with LEFT INDENTS.

NOTE: the above sample does NOT show this post-processing step; this is what it looks like straight out of Scrivener.

HTML, CSS, and formatting for ebooks – easy version

I had no real desire to learn HTML, and had no idea what a CSS (cascading style sheet) was, but I plunged into Paul Salvette’s book on formatting (The eBook Design and Development Guide) and Ed Ditto’s (How to format…for Kindle…in one afternoon), both of which I bought ages ago and hadn’t even opened, because I knew this day was coming.

That plus myriad other sources taught me just enough to be dangerous adventurous enough to get the free Mac text editor TextWrangler, and actually look into the files generated by Scrivener, to see if I could find the needed modification

To do this you first Unzip the .epub file (I used a tiny Applescript program ePub Zip/Unzip 3.0 I found online at nyu.edu here from instructor Fred Chasen – anything you have will work as well, I’m sure, but the web makes it appear you need to spend big bucks to get something to unzip and zip your epub files, and you don’t.)

* * * * * * * * * * *

WARNING – It would have saved me a LOT of time had I known the following:

You can examine the files packaged into an .epub, but not into a .mobi produced by Kindlegen.

* * * * * * * * * * *

IN the CSS files, which are quite clean (to my uneducated eye – they didn’t look THAT different to what Paul so carefully constructs in his book), I found the line showing the LEFT INDENT (as a LEFT MARGIN setting ALREADY!), and merely duplicated the number into the slot for the RIGHT MARGIN, replacing the 0.0 that was already there, marking the space for me, and that was my only change (so far).

Put the changed CSS file(s) back into the .epub bundle (ePub Zip/Unzip again – give it the folder, it produces the epub and vice versa), and you are back to where you started, but now the CSS files have the right AND left margins set for those indented paragraphs! And in a way (I think/hope) that will not affect your Kindle and Nook experiences.

I haven’t gotten so far as to test these things on actual ereaders, because that requires the additional step of sideloading the .epub or .mobi files into the devices, which I know how to do, but is not a step you want to do over and over while chasing formatting changes.

IF I have problems after the extensive testing required, I will update this post or write another.

Kindlegen rocks!

Fortunately, this didn’t turn out to actually matter, because, once you have the .epub file doing what you want, you just DRAG IT INTO KINDLEGEN, and Kindlegen turns a perfectly good .epub into a proprietary format which currently packages TWO kinds of Kindle ebooks, one for the newer Fire models (using the latest bells and whistles) plus one for the older models), with absolutely NO effort from you.

I work exclusively on the Mac, and had to start up Terminal, drag Kindlegen’s icon into Terminal, drag the .epub file into Terminal, and voilà, almost instantly a file appears with the same name as the .epub file, but with a .mobi extension, and YOU ARE COMPLETELY DONE.

So, another success for the one-click approach to ebook changes.

And that’s how the rabbit go IN the hat

Note that the file above is NOT EDITED; I just threw in the same beginning of Chapter 1 as is currently on the blog. There are minor formatting changes I’m going to do to it (mostly, reduced the number of sections set in italics, to go with what I have in the later chapters – which were revised more recently).

Comments very welcome on suggested changes, impressions of the results, anything you can think of – I’m getting closer, and the decisions’ surrounding concrete is starting to set. Specific question: I use bold in this version in the SCENE HEADINGS – is it helpful – or annoying?

I can still fix things later (isn’t the modern world fabulous?), but I’d like to go to press (hehe) with as many things finalized as I possibly can AHEAD OF TIME.

And no, I didn’t intend to write such a long post this morning, but it seemed necessary to share the process, which had a few fillips different from what I’ve seen – and gives me a very quick way to change things from now on (IF I actually know what I’m doing). I’ve been VERY busy learning, but didn’t have much new to say until I finished!

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.

 

 

Relative silence doesn’t mean no progress

Skirt scaled blueLACK OF FINISHING DOESN’T MEAN LACK OF PROGRESS

(Fuzzy image of a blue skirt)

I find that, being involved with graphics (learning enough Pixelmator to attempt a cover for Book 1 of Pride’s Children), I am finding myself with nothing to blog about, and I wondered why.

I think it is because I have nothing much to report yet, and the style of my posts has often been ‘reporting back from the trenches.’

When I learn something new that I think might interest or amuse someone else, then I write about it – and share the experience.

I hope there is at least something mildly useful to my readers in what I write about.

And that isn’t true of the graphics because:

Much of what I’m learning is how to achieve specific effects – and my experience of those effects are very much limited to using them for this one particular cover.

The cover isn’t finished – I have nothing to show so that a reader could see what I’m talking about, and graphics should be visual. That, and it takes a lot longer to describe something than to show it.

My level of experience in using graphics software is low and recent – I have nothing to ‘teach’ that a reader can’t figure out more easily than from reading my posts.

Statistically, most indies who design their own covers won’t be using Pixelmator on a Mac.

I read many Photoshop tutorials, but I’d be even lower on the experience ladder in that community, as I don’t have access to the program, have no intention of buying access, and definitely have nothing to add to the knowledge base.

Reading (and writing) are more common activities than doing detailed graphics – so I would expect a lot less interest in a graphics post UNLESS I had something amazing to show, quite unlikely for a beginner.

So I find myself in the position of learning widely and possibly deeply (much more than you would need to enhance photographs), and of keeping thousands of words of detailed notes so I can reproduce effects on a clean copy of everything once I have the ideas worked out, and of having nothing to say.

My notes have pieces such as:

“The shadows are too dark, and I lost the contrast with the arm – so the arm disappeared. Going back to basics I realized the top of the skirt is clumsier than the one I cut from Skirt 5 – but I’ve already put so much work into the skirt I’m hesitant to redo it. The palm of the hand needs some shadow – the reddish glow makes no sense.”

and

“Fix the right foot. Take picture of daughter’s foot at correct angle, and with light coming from the right direction for the figure and the sunset. Blur tool and paintbrush – toes fixed.”

and

“NEW important trick: to make a white-to-fade (transparent) gradient, http://on.aol.com/video/how-to-create-a-shining-orb—-pixelmator-172549845 teaches me how.”

Unavoidable interruptions – we all get them

In addition to all this pixel stuff, real life has taken a turn toward more stuff, and includes things like:

“Find a medical specialist that accepts our insurance, has an appointment within a reasonable time, and handles problem X, and has the right certifications.”

and

“Document EVERYTHING in the process of getting a major corporation to do their job, and send it to them, even though they are being pain about it.”

and

“Figure out how to use the automatic thermostat for the AC in the chinchilla’s room, install said AC, remember how the controls work, and this time WRITE IT ALL DOWN – it will be the same next year, as it was the last three – why don’t I have notes?”

Plus my assistants quit – and I’m non-functional in the areas I was depending on them, plus all their jobs now have to be reassigned to me, or I have to find someone else. Weeds don’t pull themselves (not that I’ve pulled many lately).

Not much to report

So that’s all this is: a post about why I have nothing much to say, all done in my inimitable long-winded style, filled with incomprehensible detail.

I miss having something to blog ABOUT, and chatting with people online when they comment, but I didn’t want you all to think I’d been IDLE.

Very soon this stuff will jell, and I will be moving back to the short path to publication I’m on, with something to show for all this immersion in an area definitely alien but fascinating.

Teach yourself as much as possible, then find mentors

I am immensely grateful to those who have taken the trouble to explain things with posts full of images and with YouTube videos – I wouldn’t be making ANY progress without them: this stuff is so different from the way I normally think and work and the Pixelmator has thousands of useful features – and VERY limited documentation about those features.

Full manuals seem to be a thing of the past, and I never find the coverage deep enough (the lone exception here has been Scrivener, which has a full manual that has almost everything you could ask in it) in programs, and the online ‘documentation’ which supposedly can be updated more easily I find appalling.

Maybe it’s the explosion of knowledge. So many features are being added that the documentation can’t keep up with the changes. Maybe it’s the expectation of new generations, something we already experience a lot of, that the features on a program shouldn’t NEED documentation, but should be intuitive and easy to learn (ha!).

Maybe I’m just too old for this. And I can’t deny the brain fog is a factor in slowing the process.

In any case, that’s what I’ve been up to: learning. Teaching myself (with help from J.M. Ney-Grimm, who has shortened the learning path more times than I care to count). Doing something that is not me, and liking it.

But not writing much about it.

All I can say is, “I’m working on it!” That will have to do.

What y’all been up to?