Holy Smokes

Photo courtesy of Kim Newberg

A former boss of mine used to say, “Busy is good.” I’d roll my eyes, ears deep in paperwork and phone calls and wish him to the bottom of the ocean with an anchor tied around his neck. However, he’s right, as I sit here after one o’clock in the afternoon in my jammies, hair a mess, and missing not only breakfast, but lunch as well and having no clue what’s on the menu for dinner.

What day is it, anyway??

So yes, very busy, and it is a good thing (as I snatch chunks of hair from my head and wish there were just four more hours in the day). In true New Year fashion, I loaded up the Franklin Covey and started filling it up with all the stuff I need to get done, because the Universe knows if I don’t write it down I could possibly forget, and I’m hoping it cuts down on the hamsters running inside my head at night when I’m supposed to be sleeping. Too early to tell if this is going to be success or not. I’m trying to be optimistic.

My Writing News

In new news, I finally got Not Nice and Other Understatements formatted for Smashwords. HUGE YAY! Well, I didn’t format it — I got me a Go-To Guy who did it for me. I had to face the fact that this kind of stuff is just beyond my patience. I could figure it out, but honestly, formatting is on my top ten list of “I’d Rather Poke My Eye Out With A Coat Hanger”, so I invested in the superior Mad Skillz of Todd Macy and he did a fabulous job. If you are in the same boat I am — not enough time or patience to fark around with this shiz-niz — he’s your man. Reasonably priced, very professional and easy to work with, and a great turn-around time. He’s taking new clients, so check him out for your formatting needs. He’s also moving into creating cover art. YAY!

This isn’t really writing news, per se, but the father of my Chinese student of last summer called me to ask me to keep this coming July open for a repeat. I am so happy about this. It really was the highlight of my summer, and I’m honored that he wants me back.

The non-fiction stuff is rolling right along. And as packed as my schedule is, I have also set a goal of writing one flash piece a week, and of course, Pallas is still circling my brain like a shark. I don’t know what to say about that, other than it’s percolating. So, get off my back.

I am also thinking of working on the material I wrote as a back story to “The Blood Is Not Enough”, if that ends up being a favorite story from NN and posting it for free. I also have an ebook I’m working on about the process of self-publishing.

Yeah, I know. It’s a big plate.

Reading News

I have also set myself a goal of reading more this year, because I’m ashamed to say I didn’t read last year near as much as I should and I tended to stick with the old and familiar. This year I aim to branch out, and with my new old Kindle, named George Senior, I think that will be one goal I have a great chance of meeting. To that end, I have joined up with the ABC Indie Reading Challenge. Since there are no gatekeepers in the indie/self-publishing world, I think this is a great way to find new authors and you will see honest reviews here. You can check updates here as they happen.

It’s normal for me to be reading more than one book at a time, and at the moment I’m reading “Dragonriders of Pern” on the Kindle (my comfort reading food. Oh, how I love this book, and it was the inspiration for the one and only tattoo I have), “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving and “Full Dark No Stars” by Stephen King in hardcover. I’ve also just cracked open book one in the Soul Rider series by Jack Chalker.

On deck is “NLP – The New Technology of Achievement” and then whatever catches me fancy. I just finished “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon”. You can find my review here at Goodreads and all I can say is if you only read one biography-type book this year, this is the one. What a story.

Not My Writing News

Okay, here I’m not going to pre-chew your food, to quote Joseph Paul Haines. What I am going to do is throw out a few really interesting links to blogs you should be following if you’re in this business. The publishing business is changing at a rate that makes my loins quiver. Keeping up is imperative. Here are the places I make a point to visit:

Terrible Minds is not only informative, but funnier than hell. Plus, he cusses better than I do.

Ryne Douglas Pearson has some very thought-provoking posts, plus he gives away free fiction, plus THERE’S BACON.

Patti Larsen is not only a Very Interesting Person, she’s so prolific she makes me sick. I read her blog to try to figure out how she does it. She’s an inspiration, and a candidate for the Voodoo Club. Heh.

She doesn’t post near often enough, but at Fermented Fur you will get a dose of teh funneh that will make you wet your pants. She’s crazy and I love her more than ice cream.

Speaking of the funneh — cheezuncrumpets, Hyperbole and a Half is in a class all her own. The post about how Kenny Loggins ruined Christmas had me absolutely screaming with laughter. Brilliant.

Well, that’s enough of my rambling. It’s friggin’ 6pm and I’m still in my jammies, the hair is still unbrushed, and I need food. Can ya help me. O.O

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Self-Publishing: In Which Our Heroine Wrestles With Formatting

I feel like I just ran a 60 mile marathon. Holy shitkes, I’ve been at it since just about 7:30 AM, and except for a couple of breaks to take care of other pressing business, I have finally stepped back for a breather.

My brain feels like oatmeal. Although, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I’ve had a blast. That is, if you ignore the bald patches, the chewed up fingernails, and the list of things that remained undone today because I’ve been totally obsessed with getting this thing just so.

First off, let me say I believe I probably saved myself a major rupture and hemorrhage by working in Open Office rather than in Word. I used to be in love with Word, but Open Office made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. That would be free. Not only free of charge, but free of annoying bugs designed to drive you straight to the looney bin or nearest bar. (Sometimes, they amount to the same thing, heh.) The other reason I chose OO is because it is supposedly much easier to transform to a .PDF file, and this is a requirement for CreateSpace files. Being somewhat technologically challenged, this is definitely a plus for me.

To begin, I had to format my files into something that looks like a book. I had the material chosen — an assortment of 36 short stories and flash fiction. I had them in a line-up with which I was happy — I added a story and flipped the order around a bit. Then, I had to add a title page, choose a publishing name, and type up the copyright page to include the two people working on the cover (more later) and a disclaimer about everything thing being fictitious and one that prohibits people using the material without my express permission.

I figured out how to add a footer containing the page numbers, which thankfully sorts itself out as you format, add, and subtract pages. Go me!

After that came the table of contents, although I don’t have the page numbers entered yet. Next, the acknowledgments, and two pages reserved for the introduction, to be written by a friend of mine.

Then, the stories.

I had to decide on the font for the titles, which I did to match the title page. Then, decide on the spacing for each story. I kept an eye out and adjusted so no widows showed up on the next page (you know, that odd word or sentence that looks all alone and “widowed”) and added blank pages where appropriate. For instance, a 100 word flash fitting all on one page I’d place on an uneven page number with a blank behind it, because that’s how it looked best to me.

I had to ask for some help with setting the margins, as this was a trifle confusing to me — easy to do on my best days, I have to admit. Heh. Then it was endless re-arranging until the text looked even and consistent. I even managed to pick up a typo or two, which is Very Good at this stage, although I face-palmed at how I missed them in the first place. See? I say it over and over, you just don’t ever see all your errors the first, second, or even seventeenth time through.

Insert the after words, the publishing history, and voila.

That sounds easy, right?

What I learned through this part of the process:

1. Patience is definitely a virtue. It’s like putting a puzzle together, and I don’t know if it’s my flash background, editing background, or just plain old anal-itis, but you really do have to be picky and take your time, often going over and over and over yet again to make sure everything is exactly where you want it. I have long believed in flash it matters a great deal to the story how it appears on the page, and I am quite anal about that.

2. Format the page size before you start formatting everything else. I made this a lot more difficult than it had to be because I was working in an 8×11.5 page size when my book is going to be 6×9. Starting at 6×9 means you don’t have to reformat AGAIN once you realize you need to re-size your page.

3. The inside margin corresponds to the “left/right” margins and the outside margins are everything else — namely, “top/bottom”. I didn’t have to worry about inside bleeds because I have no images in my book.

4. Every time you move something, even something as small as a punctuation mark or to add a space, the whole she-bang shifts. That’s just a fact of formatting life, and you’re gonna have to come to terms with it right quick or you’d better hide the sharp implements and flammable materials.

5. Creating a .PDF from Open Office is as easy as falling off a log. One click. That’s it. HALLELUJAH!

6. I have the most patient friends a girl could ask for.

Is the formatting done, you ask? Oh, hell no. But the bulk of it is done, I believe, although I just took another peek at it and I see some minor things that need fixing. However, my eyeballs are bleeding right now and need a break. I have passed the copy on to someone with un-bleeding eyes to take a look and see if I’ve done the majority of items correctly (not fooling myself for one minute I have) and to get back to me regarding any corrections.

The photo I was waiting for arrived, and it has also been forwarded to a volunteer to morph it into a cover. So, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. At least, this particular tunnel. More tunnels ahead, I’m sure, and I’ll let you know all about the next one.

🙂 Yep, still smiling!

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