The Quick and Dirty

So where have I been and where’s that book I promised you – a year ago?

Truth of the matter is, my dear dedicated reader, that it’s been a long nasty road that I’m not done traveling yet and I can confirm has been seeded liberally with landmines.¬† The gist of it? I picked up a part time job because editing is expensive. Various important appliances (computers, cars, you know the things I need to live) have broken down and been jury rigged into a state of “please don’t die just yet.” My grandmother has had a stroke, recovered and gone home, had another and resigned herself to hospice care for what will very possibly be the rest of her life. Mom made great strides in her own health that all came crashing down like a castle of cards as soon as her mother got sick and I didn’t help matters much by immediately catching a flu so bad it reminded us both that people can still die from the common cold.

It’s been bad, dear dedicated, and it’s likely nowhere near done being bad just yet. While I’ve been occupied with all of that I’ve gone and let this vital lifeline grow dangerously thin and that’s not helped matters one bit. A writer that isn’t writing is a very unstable and hazardous person indeed. So in the interest of getting healthier (while still recovering from that monster flu) I’m preping “Toxic Ash” for paperback release and working on the rewrites of “Tasting Ash.” It’s slow going, a little like an athlete that’s been out of competition for a long while, gained a bit of a gut and a lot of self hate, before finally starting to train again more for their sanity than for any love of the game itself.

I don’t love editing. Editing is a very special kind of hell that’s only true competition is the dreaded formatting for paperback publication that will come next. But there’s a very special kind of healing magic to be found in reading your old work over again. A kind of wonder and ego boosting pride to read a few pages that aren’t half bad and realize that maybe you don’t suck half as bad as the mangled manuscript you’ve been wrestling with off and on for a year has led you to believe. That maybe, just maybe, you can polish this old turd into a diamond after all. You’re not entirely sure of the exact alchemy you’ll have to perform, to transform turds to diamonds, but there before you is the proof that you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again and again and again.

Probably.

So long as you can just keep with it long enough.

A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

Been Awhile

I know, I’ve been dang nigh nonexistent in the blog for–a very, very, long time. I decided to put my all into finishing the outline for the new book, “Tasting Ash,” which is finally done. I’m neck deep in writing the novel now and already turning my eyes to the outline of the next book and thinking about releases and covers and all kinds of backend bullshit no one wants to hear about really.

As things keep moving right along I’ll try to finish up my series on using Scivener to write work with serial novels instead of single edition works. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on those so I’ll definitely keep putting them up till I feel like I’ve covered all the basis.

But for right now, since it’s been so long in coming and so difficult to get back to, I really just want to concentrate on writing the books themselves and getting them out the door in as timely a manor as possible.

Two Steps Forward and Three Back

So my monitor died some time ago and I didn’t realize how much of a ginormous hit that was to my productivity until I got it replaced and immediately felt like a weight was lifted from my writing that I’d never even dared contemplate was there before. Which should mean that I’m cranking out chapters like no one’s business – but. There’s always a but isn’t there? Just as I got close to replacing my monitor I lost large chunks of my Scivener project for the Eldritch Elysium series.

As in giant chunks of my manuscript for “Tasting Ash” were gone. Poof. Vanished into the aether.

Again.

This is the second time I’ve lost work thanks to using Dropbox coupled with Scrivener. Every now and again giant chunks of text just seem to vanish no matter what I do. Yes I was working on a different computer but I wasn’t opening the project on them both at the same time – at all – plus I lost bits of my notes from much older sections of the project (book 2 level old) which was both frustrating and utterly unacceptable.

Thankfully I have backups of my backups and now that I’m able to use the desktop again it wasn’t too hard for me to dig them out and get everything recovered. Unfortunately so frelling much was lost (that I really need) that instead of writing all kinds of awesome new stuff, I’m sitting around reentering old stuff.

Good news though, going through so many vital character notes has really helped clear away lots of my previous confusion with the manuscript for “Tasting Ash” bad new is I have parts of that to recover too and I’ve not gotten there yet.

Scrivener Series: Export Draft

Scrivener-LogoThis is the sixth installment in my Scrivener Series, which showcases how I use Scrivener¬† write entire novel series. Be sure to check out my writing process post for quick links to the currently published posts and a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

In a perfect world (but unfortunately not the current reality) the novel in it’s umpteenth draft is finally complete and I’m ready to move it out of Scrivener for final edits prior to formatting. Why export now and not after the final edits? Two reasons.

Formatting

Ebooks have different formatting needs depending on your method of distribution and print on demand books have even more formatting hells to go through before you can hold your book in your hands. Scrivener is awesome in so very many ways but when it comes to the down and dirty of formatting the ‘nuclear’ option is usually the best possible starting point.

The ‘nuclear’ option is where you take your completed edited and beautiful novel in all it’s glory and strip it of all formatting, before painstakingly reapplying it all in a pre-approved method that works with the distributors guidelines.

Scrivener is an awesome tool and it’ll allow you to customize your formatting as you go and export just as you tell it to – but it only takes one little squiggle of errant coding to get your novel rejected by the distributor for puzzling and seemingly invisible reasons. To cut that headache out before it can grow roots deep into your precious gray matter, a preemptive strike is necessary.

A Different Perspective

It’s the second reason you’re going to export before you edit. Everyone’s editing process is different but many can agree that seeing your novel in a different way really helps you to find those stubborn errors and weed them out before sending things out to your editor. Some prefer to print the novel out in it’s entirety and work with a red pen directly on paper.

I on the other hand, find that a staggering waste of paper and ink. Simply exporting the novel into a different program is usually enough of a fresh view for me.

How To?

This is so wonderfully simple it makes all the formatting to come look like exactly what it is, a rather annoying uphill slog that takes lots and lots of time away from your writing your next novel (so if you’ve got the cash to spend you should totally have someone else do the final formatting for you but you’ll still need to export from Scrivener first).

In your Scrivener document, go to the first scene of the first chapter and look in the general metadata tab. Click the “Inlcude in Compile” option. You’ll have to do that for every scene in your novel. You can do it for every chapter as well but I find that the extra break was not actually useful in the final Word doc.

Once you’ve checked all the scenes in your novel go up to File->Compile. A window will pop up and you’ll have a chance to look over your entire Scrivener project file and make sure you’ve included everything you wanted to in the new document. You’ll see you can also fiddle with formatting and page layout but again I’d just ignore those options at this point. Compile as .doc for a Word compatible document and then hit “compile.”

Easy peasy.

So… I’m Still Here

My birthday has come, passed, and for the first time in five years it’s done so without the release of a new novel or even the paperback release of an old novel. The world didn’t collapse in a sea of angst and fire, in fact the day was quite nice. Warm and quite, with a visit from a neighbor’s kitty and lots of love sent my way. Just no new novel.

Just.

Inside it hurts but outside it’s nothing, like so much of a writer’s life, the giant internal shakeups go quietly unremarked by those around me. There’s a world altering storm beneath the surface but outside it’s a rather pleasant day.

Nothing for it but to turn away from the outside, turn inward and begin to calm that storm with the only thing that can – the steady click click click of my keyboard in use.

An outline has been crafted, deemed utter rubbish and all but thrown out. Hopefully more substantial news soon.

Happy New Year!

It’s 2015 already so I suppose you guys deserve an update.

Laptop has been repaired, my work on “Tasting Ash” has finally resumed (slowly with many false starts and general malaise) and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to release the novel sometime this year. My main workhorse computer is still down for the current count though so I’m not at all sure what I’ll be doing when it comes time for me to do the book covers, hopefully by then I’ll have the desktop back up to speed.

I’ll get back to finishing my series on using Scrivener to write series as soon as I’ve gotten my word count up to satisfactory levels. Stay tuned.

Alright, update complete. Back to work!