Sunday, 26 October 2014

Strictly, Lewis, Downton and Createspace

Soon I should be free of the Createspace thing that has dominated my life for the past fortnight. I have just submitted the third, or it might be the fourth attempt at a clean ms. Fingers crossed - I think this is almost it!
It will be a relief to get back to more normal pursuits for a while. Once Amazon has it up for sale I'll have to start the dreaded Promo work, but until then I can relax for a bit and enjoy other things. Such as Strictly Come Dancing, which was on last night. I think it is week five and I'm finding it is not so interesting as it used to be. There may be several reasons for this - one might be that I've had too much of a good thing and am simply bored. It might be that I do not recognise many of the so-called celebrities - that so overworked word these days. I don't want to watch girls - it is usually girls - who look as if they've just stepped out of ballet class. (Pixie Lot, anyone? Who is she?) I want to watch people like Steve Backshall who has a lot to learn and may be good, may be terrific, or maybe will have a disastrous night. The constant clapping, booing and hissing is turning Strictly into a juvenile arena and Tess has to take a lot of the blame for this. She is far too partisan these days - she's on the side of the contestants and appears to dislike the judges and their comments. Craig is the only one who gives an honest assessment. Darcey wants to be fair and encouraging, Bruno is usually fair
unless there is a very pretty girl or a handsome young man who takes his fancy and then he scores them high. Len usually sticks with his trademark seven unless he is in a grumpy mood, which he often is these days.

Lewis seemed a bit odd on Friday, though dh assures me it was me and not the programme. Watch it again, he advises, and you'll catch on. I prefer it in its two hour slots when I could settle down and really concentrate. Having one hour episodes a week apart means I forget all the clues in the previous segment, and then can't join in the detection. Thank goodness there's Downton to watch tonight, and double thank goodness it has found it way again after the first two episodes were fairly lacklustre. I think there will be a glass or two of wine to be had in chez Black this evening. Cheers!

Pictures taken on a walk on Friday. Good weather actually, though I photographed the worrying moments when we thought we were going to have to run for it!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Cobwebs and proof copies

My proof copy of Abduction of the Scots Queen arrived on schedule yesterday. I had such reluctance to open it in case I was going to be disappointed, but when dh opened the parcel, he was complimentary. I looked, and was pleasantly surprised. The glossy cover looks good. The text inside could maybe be a tad darker, but the size is OK.

I didn't start reading it until today. In the first 33 pages there are 7 corrections to make. I thought it was going to be perfect! What worries me now is how many more there will be as I read on - and will it be easy to do them? At least three of the faults are where the font has slipped from Garamond to Times New Roman and that might be difficult to change back.

So it is head down, post-its and orange marker pens to hand. I'm using a ruler to keep my attention on the line in question instead of flicking about. It's all work, work work, this writing game. We wouldn't do it if we didn't love it!

I've been using a pedometer (when I remember) as I walk the dog and keeping a record of the number of steps taken in a day. Soon I'm going to add them all up and frighten myself silly. Already today Tim and I have managed 6,500 steps and it is only midday. He'll want to go out again before nightfall. I feel so much fitter than I did before he came into my life. Another plus is feeling in tune with nature and seeing things I wouldn't have otherwise seen - such as the sun shining through a cobweb. A gorse bush down on the riverside was a network of cobwebs like this one, dotted with dew and shining like silver. Another day, a different time, no sun, and I couldn't see a single one.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Self-publishing and praise

Time to turn my attention to something new - or two things - Promotion and A New Story.

As autumn sets in here in Northumberland, the days are growing shorter and the nights longer. The days are still amazingly warm. Yesterday afternoon was 16.5 C and there are flowers blooming among the berries and fallen leaves. Last night I kept moving to a cool spot on the sheets and we have not had the heating on much at all yet, hence clammy towels in the bathroom, which I hate.

But the weather will change, as it always does, and indoor pursuits will become more important - and the radiators will be hot and towels cuddly and warm when I want them.
Promotion will be a necessity, now that I have a paperback out in public. (I haven't, yet, but it won't be long now, and I'm starting to think about what I should do.)

Some people have said I should have begun already, but there was no time. It seemed silly to put the book aside and work on promoting it! Much better to finish the book and get it published first. This, of course, is where traditional publishing wins out. While someone else worries about editing, covers and proofreading your book, you can be off and away doing other things. What a lovely thought. But I listen to authors saying how wonderful it is to have an editor to discuss things with and decide upon alterations and wonder how much of the story changes in those discussions. How big are the alterations? How much is then down to the author and how much to the editor? At least with my story I can only blame myself if it bombs - but on the other side of the coin,  I can take all the praise - if there should be any!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Createspace covers

Trying to  make a cover for my book in Createspace had me tearing my hair for a day or two because I got absolutely nowhere. I had ignored Cover Creator because I'd read somewhere on the internet that CC was crap and produced lousy covers.So there I was trying to load a PDF file and believe me I'm no computer geek. Nothing worked. I decided it would have to be Cover Creator or nothing, and after all this work I wasn't prepared to give up.

I turned to the Cover Creator Community files, and learned that there were many, many cover designs to choose from, and that everything would be formatted for me.
 I chose my design and hopefully uploaded the front cover. It proved remarkably easy, but the title ran off the very edge of the cover by one letter and guess what? I couldn't change it because the file was saved and locked.

Stalemate again. I contemplated going back to the beginning with my original photograph, and actually did half an hour's work on it before deciding it wasn't working as I wanted. The original cover was so much brighter and  well, just better.

Reading the instruction manual for Photoshop persuaded me I could unlock the file so I looked at it again, and had a bright idea. Carefully matching the background cover colour, I painted out the title and reloaded it at a slightly tighter level. I am pleased to report that it works. I loaded the front cover then the back cover and Cover Creator loaded the spine for me. It all looks fine to me. So now we're
on the last lap - check, check and double check before I click the final button. Moral of the story is - don't believe all you read on the internet - and don't give up!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Struggles with Createspace

They say Createspace is easy - well, I beg to differ.
The interior (ie the words of the story) was not a problem. All it takes is patience, an eagle eye and knowledge of the system. It will go easier next time, now I know what is required.

But the covers - mon Dieu! I don't even understand the instructions! And Amazon instructions are always somewhat odd.

I've found and downloaded the cover template. I have a front cover, a back cover and a spine waiting in Photoshop. How to transfer them to the Createspace template is the problem. I struggled all day yesterday and have nothing to show for it. There must be a set of clear, simple instructions somewhere, but I haven't found them. All this talk of layers, opacity, bleed and trim lines - not to mention 300 dpi and 40MB is too much....!

So I took a day off today, gave Tim a long walk and then went into town and had my hair done. Flicking through a copy of Hello, I saw  photo of Anna Wintour and  golly, she and I have the same hairstyle. She's had hers for years and mine is just reaching the stage of all one layer, but even so, its enough to make me grin.

Not so the thought of going back to Createspace tomorrow. A grimace is more the thing. Perhaps I'll hit lucky and muddle through. Wish me luck!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Editing for Createspace

Still plodding on with editing Matho for Createspace. If I write dialogue with a French accent, I wanted  the character Lennox drop his aitches and I represented this as follows: 'there is nothing 'e will do for you.' Sometime Createspace formatted it perfectly and sometimes it ignored the apostrophe and just printed the letter e. There's probably a reason, but I haven't figured it out. After three tries I rewrote the phrase and did not use a dropped aitch!

Otherwise it seems to be going well. I've removed a lot of unnecessary commas and corrected the occasional missing letter or word, but on the whole things are proceeding well. The trouble with editing is it seems to go on for ever and a day! The book is running out at 104,000 word count and I have the last 60 pages still to do. I've been at it all week, and find I can only do it in relatively short snatches otherwise I start "reading" instead of "checking." Maybe I'll think about paying someone to do it next time. It is not a job I would like to do day in and day out.

The other thing is the temptation to keep on tinkering and phrasing things differently - I hope, in a better and more pleasing way. Once I get this portion of the work done, I will have to think about covers, and for Createspace I need not only a front cover, but a spine and back cover too. Another learning curve to master, and my deadline approaches with a steady beat. I don't think I need a list of chapters formatted for searching, as you do with Kindle, because in a print book that's not possible. I am thinking about including a simple map of the main places. It's OK for me since I live in the area and know where Stirling and Dumbarton, Carlisle and Corbridge are, but  I can't expect everyone else to know.

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...