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ADVENTURES IN SELF PUBLISHING: EDITING AND FORMATTING

 

EDITING

Today we’ll talk about Editing and formatting, two areas that are the most time-consuming. It is said that writing is 10% creation, and 90% rewriting and editing, which in my experience is about right.

There are several programs to help with editing, too numerous to mention, but I prefer Grammarly, even though it does sometimes confuse homonyms. It is up to you to choose which one works best for you. Even with online editing programs, however, it is possible to miss errors, and it pays to have a diligent eye, and a second and third pair as well.

You can pay for an editor if you like; they can get various prices for services, from a couple of cents a word to 20 cents a word, and maybe even more. Or, you could find two random people to read your stories with a copy for free in exchange for their services.  Either way, it is important to get other eyes to view your book; to find possible mistakes, to add insight to the story, and needed changes in the story development.

Many people believe self-published authors are inferior in some way to well known published authors. Part of this belief is due to first-time authors who don’t know enough about grammar to develop a well-written book. This doesn’t make them a bad writer, just an undeveloped author who needs better instruction. It is best to put off the publishing process until the author is sure he can edit properly and has others who can do the same. The author of the Martian, Andy Weir, started out as a relatively unknown self-published author. It wasn’t until a publishing company felt he had sold enough copies to make it with their while to republish his novel.

FORMATTING

Formatting a book is making it available for sale. Depending on what writing program you use, this can be a pretty daunting endeavor. I prefer Microsoft Word, for it is the easiest to use. Just make sure you save all your work to a flash drive so nothing is lost in the process.

With a Kindle book, formatting in Word is easy. You simply select the justification setting on the margin tab and set the margins to 0 for both margins. On the indent, I prefer .03 inches.

With a paperback book, everything changes according to the book’s size, length, and spine width. In the page layout tab, go to custom margins. This will allow you to change the margin settings for the entire document.  It is best not to do this until you’ve found the correct spine width. There are templates on Amazon’s KDP site that match the most popular book sizes. The address is below.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230

After you open the right size for your book from the downloaded zip file, you can adjust the margins. I like to use the 6 x 9 size. I usually set the top, inside, and bottom gutters for .75 and the outside gutter for 1″. The gutter is where you enter the spine width, depending on the size of the book. A guide to spine widths is below. It is important to note when you format the interior of the book, even page margins are set at -.05 left margin and odd pages are set at -.05 right margin.

https://www.diggypod.com/how-to-publish-a-book/book-spine-calculator/

On my next post, I will discuss the cover design and possible options for creation of covers. What if you can’t draw? Well, there are other options and programs you can use to make your book look like a professional did it.

NEW KINDLE DEAL

ADVENTURES IN SELF PUBLISHING

You’ve thought of an idea for a story, but how do you put it all together? Today I’ll be talking about different helpful programs you can use to solidify your manuscript and keep your notes in order.

SCRIVENER-      For about $50, you can own this useful writing program which replaces Word by meeting the author’s needs. It sets goals and targets, such as daily word count, and monthly deadlines, and can be used for scriptwriting as well.  Scrivener uses templates for term papers, dissertations, and essays.  It helps you research a topic, organizes that research into files, and uses a cork board for story building. It also has a special feature that adjusts for formatting for self-publishing needs.

AMAZON STORYBUILDER AND STORY WRITER- Amazon is similar to Scrivener, as it uses a corkboard and a text box for each chapter. It is a free program, and fairly simple to use.  Storywriter is a scriptwriting program that sets up a page exactly the same way it would look as a script, including dialogue, scene breaks,  and act structure.

GOOGLE DOCS-A stripped down version of  Word you can only use online. It is a free writing program that saves all your files online, avoiding the nasty habit of not saving your work.

GRAMMARLY- A  $30 a month editing program that corrects grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage. A useful program for a self-published author who has limited editing sources.                                                                                                                                                                                Which ones do I prefer? I’m partial to Grammarly and use Amazon story builder for my cork board.  They are both simple to use and can be accessed anywhere that has internet.  It might be helpful to mention that you should use whatever best suits your needs; if you like to keep a large database for your characters; their history, family backgrounds, and the such, even a program like Excel or Access could be useful. I mostly use Excel to track my sales, expenses, and upcoming shows, but it can just as easily be used as a database of characters.

The above programs are just a few useful products for writers, but they aren’t the only ones. There are several good programs for organizing your story out there, so make sure you do your homework to make sure they are legitimate and not some site trying to scam you.

In my next post, I’ll be talking about the next step: should you or shouldn’t you hire an editor, and what type of qualifications should they have.

 

ADVENTURES IN SELF PUBLISHING

 

Welcome to the first of a series I will be displaying on my blog for the next few weeks. I will be breaking down my steps to self-publishing, for all those would be authors out there. The process is really not as complicated and daunting as it may seem, and anybody with a little practice, (and a lot of imagination), can become an author.  I, of course, am not a best selling author by any means, and this series is merely my process and my advice.    The first step is perhaps the most important, and the hardest:

      1. Creating the idea-

For any book to be a success, you must first have an idea for the story, and it has to be a damn good one if you want to beat the competition. For every author out there, there are ten who will probably sell more books than he or she will, simply because their idea is better. It all depends on your personal goal; are you selling books for your main income, or just as a hobby or personal goal?

Your idea will, of course, depend on what genre(category) you decide to write in, and what type of story you want to write. Ideas are as varied as the stories themselves.

2. Research and Background-

Even in fiction, you must know your characters; where they’re from, their family history, their childhood and past, their likes and dislikes, their passions and goals.  As an author, you will get to know your characters as well as your self. A good author lets the characters direct the story, not the other way around.

Research is also very important if there is a great detail of description within your book. Historical dates, places, and events all must be researched in order to be accurate. In one of my books, I wrote about the ISS space station. I downloaded a layout of the operating systems and modules to be as accurate as I could be.

In my fantasy novels, a great deal of nautical knowledge was needed. Growing up summers in the St. Lawrence, I already had some, but I researched old clipper ships and terms related to the sea.

3. The First Draft: Getting It Down on Paper-

All I can say about this area is just to write, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent.  It’s more important that you write the story than to correct every little mistake as you go. You’ll have plenty of time to edit later, and you may end up throwing half of what you wrote out anyway.

Too many writers fail in this area, believing their work isn’t good enough, or they have trouble piecing together a story because of writer’s block. I’ve found it’s best to write through the block, and change bad decisions later in the editing process.

Many stories can be structured in different formats and outlines to help the creative process.  In my next blog,  I’ll present some online tools and techniques to structure your ideas for stories.

 

 

LIFE STYLE CHANGES

heart palpitation anatomy concept

It’s been a while since I posted anything on my blog, except for a couple of movie reviews, and there’s a good reason for this. About two months ago, I grew sick with the flu. I had the usual symptoms, chills, fever, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite, and thought I would get better. The pains in my stomach grew worse, however, even after I got over it, and I suspected something more was going on inside my body. I went to the doctor’s and was diagnosed with gastritis, given a prescription of strong Omeprozole, and sent home.

But it didn’t end there. As I stayed away from the foods that were forbidden, I still didn’t notice any change, and I grew increasingly out of breath. Finding unable to do simple things, like grocery shopping without getting winded, I succumbed to using one of the motorized carts the supermarket provided for the handicapped. Even walking thirty feet to the cart was tough without getting out of breath. As time went on, it got worse and worse. I struggled with the decision of going to the Emergency Room, but one day I was fine, and the next day I wasn’t, so I decided to hang in there until my doctor’s appointment.

Once I got there, because I wasn’t doing any better, he decided to do an EKG. Bingo! My heart rate jumped to 145 bpm, and I was more short of breath than ever. He told me,”You need to go to the hospital by ambulance.” So I left my car in the lot, and went up there with my wife in the front. I take care of her due to her mobility issues, and with me in just as bad shape, things weren’t getting done around the house. When they diagnosed that I had gone into AFIB, they decided to pump me up with IVS in both arms and fill me with Lasix, until the next day when they shocked my heart back into rhythm. After the ordeal, I was given a special heart healthy diet and sent on my way. Just two weeks ago, I was released from my two day stay there, and put on blood thinners.

I am grateful to be alive, and thankful for the hospital staff who helped me back to normal. Although I’ve had to drastically modify my diet(no sodas, lean meats only, limited cheese, no fried or processed food, 1 % milk, fruit, etc), I have since lost 27 pounds, and feel much better than I did. Eating was tough for me, considering how much I loved my chicken wings, soda, and chocolate, but it had to be done if I wanted to feel better.

Why am I telling you this? Because I don’t want people to make some of the same mistakes I have made, and I’m not ashamed to say that I was getting extremely heavy. I still have a long way to go, but I made the decision that if I can commit to writing a 90,000 word novel several times, than I can commit myself to making life style changes as well. My goal is 250 lbs, which is still 112 pounds less than what I weigh now. If I can get to that point, than I can get farther than that to my desired weight of 200 lbs. I don’t relish the thought of Bariatric surgery , so I will do my best to avoid it if I can.

This whole situation has also caused my writing to suffer, as many times I didn’t feel like it due to the excruciating pain I was in. It delayed the release of the final book of my fantasy trilogy, and now I’m playing catch up, with five chapters to go, editing, rewriting, and publishing it seems like it will take forever. But now I can focus on it, and I’ve had to delay the release date until May. On a good note, I have started the final installment of Dimension Lapse Multiverse Collection as well, and should have it done by August at the latest.  But like the teeter commercial says,”Nick is back, and there isn’t nothing that can I stop me now!”

GLASS REVIEW

Samuel L. Jackson in Glass (2019)

Anyone who is familiar with M. Night Shyamalan knows that he always add a twist to his movies. In his early work of The Sixth Sense, we’ve seen how reality is not always what it seems to be, and there is always another way of looking at things.

Glass is no different a movie, a bridge between Unbreakable and Split, it blends the sinister Elijah Price,AKA Mr. Glass, (Samuel Jackson), and the multi-confusing personalities(too many to list) of James McAvoy. Bruce Willis reprises his role as security guard David Dunn, who is now operating out of his own security shop along with his son, tracking criminals, in hopes he might capture McAvoy, who has gone on a rampage of kidnapping and killing young girls.

Still of Shannon Destiny Ryan, Bruce Willis, and Nina Wisner in Glass.

When he finally confronts him, the police arrive,  the two of them are captured, and brought to a special security prison where he meets Dr. Ellie Staple(Sarah Paulson), where she is part of a special superhero-super villain experimentation program. The three of them are psychoanalyzed by the doctor, telling them they are not who they really think they are, and are just ordinary people with unusual circumstances. It all leads to sort of a three way war of the titans, with their loved one watching them destroy any hope they may have for the future.

Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Sarah Paulson, and James McAvoy in Glass (2019)

M Night Shyalaman continues to deliver what he does best in this film.  The ending was not quite what I expected, but this is not unusual considering who is directing it. All in all, i’d have to give this one a 4 out 5 stars. Keeping us on the edge of our seat; he’s done it again!

CHECK OUT MY AQUAMAN MOVIE REVIEW

Image result for aquaman

     THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

The DC universe has expanded in the last couple of years, mainly due to keeping up with Marvel’s huge success in the superhero area. We all know Batman’s and Superman’s story, but until recently, Wonder Woman and Aquaman had all but disappeared from the movies and television. We get a glimpse of the Justice league in Batman vs. Superman, and the prelude to Aquaman.

The film begins in 1985 Maine, during a storm, when lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temeura Morrison) rescues Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), princess of the underwater nation of Atlantis. They fall in love, get married, and have a child named Arthur(Jason  Mamoa), who becomes Aquaman, and has the ability to communicate with marine life forms, has incredible strength, and able to breath on land or in water. His mother returns to the sea and her kingdom when they are attacked. The child remains with his father, but is secretly trained by Nuidis Valco (William DeFoe),  when he is young.

Image result for aquaman

Aquaman arrives during a pirate hijacking of a Russian submarine, thwarts the attempt, and the leader, Jesse Kane is killed in the confrontation.  His son David (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), later targets Atlantis at the bequest of Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half brother. King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) declares war on the surface world. Aquaman’s only hope is to find the magical trident of Atlan, which belonged to Atlantis’ first ruler.

I saw this movie as an afterthought, while my wife watched another movie with a friend in the same movieplex. I can honestly say, that although Batman vs. Superman and Wonder Women were entertaining, and special effects were spectacular, DC has yet to live up to the Marvel hype that has taken over the box office. With Infinity Wars coming out recently, DC has fallen way behind the superhero 8 ball.

Image result for aquaman

This one was no different, in my opinion; good, but falling short of the expectations that Marvel set in motion with their series of films. The story lacked the substance of a true superhero movie, and you felt that without the magical trident, the main character was at a huge disadvantage. The villains were predictable and dull, the same type of men you’ve seen in so many films before. 

Image result for aquaman

The special effects, set designs, and mythical creatures were the highlight of the film, and very well done, in my opinion. There were a few inconsistencies in the scientific department, lack of explanation how things work, but this is common in many comic book films. Sound should be an issue underwater, and it wasn’t addressed properly in the film in parts. Over all, it was rather entertaining, but it isn’t one I’d be adding to my collection any time soon.

5 out of 10 stars 

WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN

It was five years ago today that I traveled through the wormhole to never return to my old life. Actually, that’s not exactly true. What is true is that five years ago today I made the decision to become a self-published author.

I’d been toying with the idea of publishing for years, but after receiving rejection letter after rejection letter, felt it was an impossibility; and then self-publishing came along. I carefully researched companies through the Better Business Bureau, and other sources to check the authenticity of the companies, and came up with three that were legitimate-Createspace, which is now Amazon Kindle Publishing, Lulu, and Smashwords, an e-book site. There are of course other legitimate ones as well such as Book Baby, but the choice is up to the author.

I was happy to use Createspace as my main source, but with the phasing out of the British Company and the merge to Amazon, it has made it a little difficult. I remain with Amazon, but the vetting process was a little intricate, as my Lightroom files didn’t resize as they had through Createspace, and I ended up going with Photoshop, which is a little more difficult to use. If not for the help of a good neighbor who knows his tech, I would have trouble getting through it. I was pleased, however, with the final product, as it allowed me to continue the cover continuity of the rest of the series.

Some people may believe you aren’t a good writer if you aren’t accepted by a publisher. This is simply not true, for publishers seeks authors who have a consistent record, and can sell books. Even Steven King, who happens to share my birthday,  was a virtual unknown when “Carrie” came out.  Self-publishing has helped the common author realize his or her dreams without spending thousands of dollars for a “what if” scenario. Success is totally up to the author’s input with editing, marketing, cover design, interior design, the publishing process, and anything else that goes along with writing. Success to me is judged by how others see you-

Do they like your books?                                                                                                   Would they buy more of them?                                                                                     What do they like best about your stories?                                                           If they could help you write it, what would they change in it?                   Are your books historically accurate with the chain of events in the story?                                                                                                                                               Is the technology in the story believable in theory?

Or any other questions that might come from readers minds.

Retribution is my 10th book, and the fifth of the Dimension Lapse Series, and is now available on Amazon. I will be writing the next fantasy book in the Bargo Lynden series over the winter, as well as the final segment of the Dimension Lapse Series. Until my next post, take care, and be happy.

 

EVER WONDER WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO HAVE YOUR OWN ROBOT?

 

I remember watching Lost In Space when I was a kid, and watching  Will Robinson and his robot, and wondering what it would be like having a robot. Like most kids, I would have him do all my chores so I wouldn’t have to do them, and it would give me someone to play with when nobody else was around. But it only went as far as wondering, because I lacked the technical knowledge it took to actually build one.  Which raises the question, if you wanted to build one, how hard would it be?

Well, that all depends on what kind of robot you’re trying to build. If you’re looking to build something basic, it will take about 2 hours and less than $100 worth of supplies. If you’re building something more complex, such as a fully functioning android, costs could run in the millions. It all depends on what applications you the robot need it for,  what electronic systems are needed, and what your budget will be.

NASA’s Mars Rovers were designed so they would be more cost-effective than actually sending a probe or spaceship there, and they have more than proven their worth, as have many of NASA’s deep space satellites such as New Horizon, Voyager I and II, and the Mariner satellites. Ion propulsion and solar systems are much cheaper than liquid fuel rockets and work on gravity to increase the speed throughout their voyage. All of them are controlled remotely from Earth using simple computer systems which have been gradually updated but go back as far as the early sixties.

The rumba is a self-controlled vacuum cleaner which works on sensors that allow it to move by sensing and avoiding objects. It works as a very basic example of a robotic device and has a small microprocessor which allows it to follow simple commands. A very basic robot can be built on the same principle.

If you would like to build a simple robot, this link gives a step by step of the process, and what you’ll need to get started. Good luck!

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/a7388/build-your-first-robot/

 

RETRIBUTION UPDATE

COMING OUT IN SEPTEMBER 2018:

DIMENSION LAPSE V: RETRIBUTION

Join the continuing adventures of Captain Jeff Walker and Major Angelica Avery as they travel through time and space to stop their adversary Varloo from spreading his wrath of destruction across the galaxy. They must apprehend him, despite his unlimited power, and bring him to the Aldronian Council to face justice.