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Shades of things to come… Chapter One

So I looked back today and realized it has been almost a month since I have posted anything. With the day job and working on some of the projects that had been back burnered during the month of November I have not taken much time to post anything. I decided I would do something different. The entire point of this blog was to document my experiences of working towards the publication of my first novel ‘The Lost Prophet’ I am have detailed the history of it how my inspirations have come about and the things that have motivated me, in the past I have posted on my personal facebook page the first draft of the first chapter and got some feedback from friends in regards to it. Once I finished the first draft I had close friends give me notes and the second draft of the book was started. So I will now reveal the second draft of the first chapter. Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments.

 Chapter One

Tragedy

The carriage crunched across the fresh snow as it neared the heavy iron gates to Wrexford Castle. James had been lost in the medical files he had been reviewing for the last two hours and did not notice the noise that Arthur and Cecelia made as the house came into view. The two-day trip by coach from London was coming to a close. The Burke Family was one of the oldest and proudest in England. James’ grandfather, The Eleventh Earl of Wrexford, had built his home here on the site of the first Wrexford Castle. The place from which the Burke family had ruled this land hundreds of years earlier. As their coach drove up the main drive to the front entrance James looked up at the towering stonewalls to the multiple gables topped by flechets. James did not have too many good memories of his boyhood home; his mother had been sweet, but it was his father who James feared. Lord Wrexford was a strong man, like his home, imposing both physically and in attitude. James tried his best to distract himself from the memories that swirled up around him as he read. His mother had been pressuring he and his wife to visit for the holidays for several years now and James could no longer blame his wife’s poor health for their absence. His Mother lectured him of the inappropriateness of he and his wife staying away for so long now that Cecilia was well enough to travel. Especially as they lived in London where all of his father’s peers could clearly tell that they would remain in town instead of heading north to visiting the family. It was not that his father was a bad man; that could not be farther from the truth. His father was the most progressive member of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords. He had done much in his time there to advance the position of the lower classes, more then possibly any other member. However his great accomplishments were a constant reminder of what was expected of James and his brother Martin.

As the coach settled to a halt at the front of the Castle’s expansive front entrance way Lord Wrexford’s Porter rushed forth to open the door and assist them.

“Greeting Master James. I hope the trip home was peaceful for you and your family.”

“Thank you, Warren. The weather, while brisk, has not been unbearable considering the time of year. Could you tell Mother and Father that we have arrived?”

“Lady Wrexford is aware of your arrival; Master George has gone to advise her. As to the Lord, he has not returned from his business in London as of yet. I was dispatched to inform Lady Wrexford of the delay in his return and assure her he will arrive in time for dinner on Christmas Night. I arrived not two hours ago myself.”

“You must be exhausted. Go and tend to yourself.” James insisted. “Our driver will be sufficient assistance to aid with our things”

“My thanks for your concern; I will make sure your mother has no need for my assistance. She has had the maids prepare the suite at the end of the south wing for your family.”

“That should be fine. Now go. I will give instructions to my driver and join the rest of the family inside.”

James turned and spoke to the driver quickly, then escorted his family up the steps to the main entrance to the house. Climbing the steps had always intimidated him. He could feel himself tensing at the anticipation. His father’s stern judgment of the way James was living his life and the possibilities of what it would mean to the legacy of the Burke family. The first thing every visitor learned on arriving was the history of the steps. His father would lecture of the placement of the stones that had been the only surviving pieces of the original castle that was destroy in the Norwegian Invasion of 1066. He glanced over to his wife and son. Cecelia had always been enamored of the grandeur of the estate. Like every time before that they visited she was struck speechless by the intense scope of the building. What worried him was the quiet that had settled over his son. Arthur was an enthusiastic, if frail child and to see his normal energy overpowered by the dominance of the estate bothered James greatly.

James older brother Martin and Martin’s adult son George met him in the library.

“Good to see that you have finally the pilgrimage north.” Martin teased as James entered the room.

“I’m sure you understand that my patients do not allow as free a break for the holidays as the Governors of Inner Temple.” James retorted. “George, mother informed me in her last letter that you have been made a full professor at Oxford. Congratulations are in order.”

“Thank you Uncle James. Grandfather was concern with the decision to remain at Oxford and not join father at the bar, but I have a great future and expect to be chair one day.” George responded.

“The only reason that Father was concerned with you teaching at Oxford was your relationship with Dicey.” Martin explained.

“I have informed Chair Dicey that while I respect his opinions, I will not be involving myself in the issue of Irish Home Rule that he and grand-father insist on sparring over.” George asserted.

“My boy you may have no other options. I was reticent to mention it, but this business that has delayed father in London. He has been asked by the Prime-Minister to meet with Derby, Granville and a man named Peters to lay down a framework for a Bill regarding Home Rule.” Martin stated.

“How does Gladstone expect to convince the House of Commons to vote on such a bill?” George challenged.

“Father feels that now is the perfect time, with the death of Disraeli, Salisbury will not be able to marshal the Conservative Party with enough strength to block passage of the bill.” Martin said, “James, where are you off to? Are you not going to join us?”

“My apologies gentlemen, a colleague of mine has requested that I review the records of a patient and provide him my opinion with the most haste.” James explained as he attempted to retire to his suite to complete his work.

“You will be joining us for dinner this evening James.” Lady Wrexford advised her son as she entered the room.

“Of course Mother, I do have to complete my work however before I might join the rest of you in the holiday merriment.” James said.

“Well once you have completed your tasks I will have Cecelia and Arthur in the study. We will be having tea with Sally and Margaret.” Lady Wrexford turned her attention to Cecelia. “Margaret has been excited that you have final arrived so that you might meet the newest member of the Burke family.”

As much as James was bored with the posing and preening that his brother and nephew were engaged in, his son Arthur had it worse. Due to his age Arthur was relegated to playing in the nursery as the ladies drank tea and talked of the precious baby Ester. Arthur was used to having the full attention of his father and mother at home. He was used to being treated as the center of the household. Sitting back and being treated like a baby and forced to find amusement in baby things frustrate Arthur to no end.

Dinner that night was an amazing affair, full of laughter and good cheer. James was once again amazed with his wife’s ability to charm the people around her.

“Martin am I mistaken or did you serve with this Gordon fellow that is in all of the newspapers of late?” Cecelia asked.

“Yes, I served with him in China many years ago. I am concerned with the situation that he has been involved in as of late.” Martin responded.

“What do you mean?”

“These reports regarding the stand off he is involved in for the last several months. The unit that he has been leading was much farther south that would seem necessary to accomplish their mission. He has shown in the past a clear tendency to extend a mission beyond safe grounds to the detriment of his troops.” Martin replied.

Cecelia could see that Martin’s grave assessment of the situation in Egypt placed a sour mood over the dinner and quickly turned to his daughter-in-law, “So Margaret, have you and George made plans for any additional children yet?”

With the mood saved the remainder of dinner was lit up by talk of family and the future.

The next morning James begged off spending time with his brother and nephew explaining that he had additional records to review for a colleagues that could not wait until after the holiday, he reasoned that to hold up in the study for the rest of the day would make things go faster until Christmas Eve dinner that night.

Arthur was once again trapped with the women of the house and the baby Ester. This did not sit well with Arthur, and several times during the day he tried to convince his Uncles to let him spend time with them. Repeatedly Arthur was informed that the men of the house were involved in important affairs and did not wish to be bothered.

Once again at dinner Arthur was relegated to the small side table that had been set up for him and his baby Cousin. Arthur was convinced that if he could just talk about important things then he would not be stuck with the baby all the time. He could be one of the men of the house.

Arthur slowly worked his way through the dark halls in the middle of the night, but it was not the expansive tree and presents in the drawing room that pulled his attention. Once he was able to sneak down to the main corridor he went to the room directly under the grand staircase, His grandfather’s office. Creeping into the room with a candle clutched tightly in his small hands; it was obvious to him from watching his father at home that the most important things would be in the large desk in the back of the room. Opening the first drawer he saw stacks of neatly organized papers. While his father and mother had educated him well and he could read much better than children two or three years older, the papers and letters that he found in his grandfather’s desk made no sense to him. Over and over again he search through each of the drawer to find something he could understand and talk about to the men in the household so as not be stuck spending any more time with the little baby during the day. Finally all that was left was the large bottom drawer on the right side. Try as he might he could not get it to open. Then he remembered when his father had been unable to open one of his desk drawers at home, he had used a letter opener and pried the lock open. Setting his candle-holder down on the desk he grabbed the ivory handled letter opener. He slid the narrow end in between the desk and the lock of the drawer; he knew from watching his father that it would require a lot of force to open the drawer this way and shoved as hard as he could. The letter opener would not budge. Taking a deep breather he braced himself and again pushed with all his might. Suddenly the letter opener came loose from the lock and Arthur fell sideways, reaching out with his right hand he grabbed at the drawer above to balance himself. The draw opened for a second and suddenly the room was pitched into blackness. His candle had gone out and he was not sure where it was.

With all of the noise he had made, he knew someone would be coming to check soon, so feeling his way as quickly as possible he made his way back to the door and up the stairs to his small room.

Sitting snug inside the drawer of papers the little candle that Arthur had left behind burned slowly; by the time it burned through to the locked drawer below where Richard Burke kept a prized bottle of Whiskey, Arthur was once again fast asleep.

George Burke burst into James and Cecelia’s room almost two hours later.

“Uncle there is a fire on the stairs!”

James and Cecelia quickly roused themselves. Cecelia dashed from the room. James and George moved quickly to round up all of the family members. The fire had already engulfed the main stairs and the back stairs to the kitchens and the servants quarters was filled with smoke to the point of impassibility. The family started gathered in the study by James room as it was farthest from the fire. The large ceilings of the first floor made jumping almost impossibility. As the fire started to engulf the hall cutting them off from the rest of the building, Cecelia came bursting in carrying the baby Ester and followed closely by Arthur, both rapped in heavy travel coats. Stopping for only a moment to place the baby in her mother’s arms. Wielding strength she had never exhibited before Cecilia grabbed one of the small chairs from the writing desk and hurled it through the great stained glass window.

“Warren,” She cried out “Come quickly.”

Looking out at the snow covered lawn below; her cries seemed to be lost in the night air. Suddenly the porter led the staff around the corner of the house and stopped below them.

“The fire brigade has been summoned, My Lady, but the ice on the hill is too thick for the horses to make their way up.” He shouted up at them.

“Warren, the children.” She shouted back.

Turning back into the room Cecelia grabbed Ester from her mother and quickly dropped the child down to the porter standing below her. She turned back to find Arthur scared and crying.

“Mummy, I….I” he sobbed.

“Quiet little one.” She soothed, “You need to remember that every day of your life I have loved you.” Without a second though she wrapped her arms around him and hoisted him out the broken window. Her strength was fading fast and as Warren ran below him she dropped Arthur down. The old Porter tried his best to catch the boy but in the confusion he slipped and Arthur’s right ankle struck a paving stone in the garden with a sickening crack.

“Please hold on.” Warren yelled from below. Turning to his frantic wife Warren instructed. “You and Molly need to take the children and get them to the doctor in town. I don’t want them here for this. I worry there is little left that we can do.”

In the excitement of getting the children out none of them realized how much smoke had filled the room. Trying to catch her breath Cecelia suddenly doubled over coughing.

Slowly the fire caved in one room after another of the upper floors, as the beams below them gave way. It was over two hours when the study in the southeast corner finally collapsed into the inferno. By that time the smoke had long overcome the remaining family member.

     Lord Richard Burke had made a later start back from London than he expected and was not looking forward to the lecture from his wife for spoiling the first family Christmas diner in years. When the messenger found his carriage they were already making their way back as quickly as possible. By the time the sun had reached its peak that cold Christmas day Lord Burke finally arrived home to find his only two surviving relations, his grandson Arthur and Great-granddaughter Ester had already been sent to the hospital to recover from their injuries.

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Your moment of truth is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

So this is going to be connected to my last post, my neurotic rant, a little bit. I have been a little stressed about the solitary aspect of writing and how it does not feed my need for connections with others.  That being said I also have another influence that has been rolling around in my head for the last couple of day. Another blog that I read, Xenogirl, talked about judging your own work not based on how old you are, but how long you have been writing fiction. Now if anyone has been reading my blog from the beginning they will be aware of the fact that while I have been writing fiction since my early twenties, I had a large section of time in my late twenties and early thirties that I was not writing on a regular basis.

I realize that I am too hard on myself a lot of the time and I expect more from myself than I am able to deliver at this point in my life. Does that mean I should stop trying or reaching for the stars. No, but it does mean that I should cut myself a little slack and remember why I love to write and the fun of it. I know that as long as I keep pushing forward and refining my skills as a writer them I will reach my goals in time. Maybe not tomorrow or the day after but I will reach my goal because I will accept no other outcome.

This brings me to my latest decision and the subject of this post. After telling myself that I am already overloading myself and that I don’t have the time to do it, I decided that I am going to give NaNoWriMo a try.

Those of you who are not aware are probably sitting there saying “He is doing what?” NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It is every year during the month of November. Participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This requires averaging 1,667 words a day everyday for the entire month. No editing, no changing just writing a novel in 30 days. So now I am going to be editing ‘Lost Prophet’ (second draft is half done), starting up a web-magazine, starting a new full-time job in the next couple of weeks and I am writing a third novel.

I am hoping that by putting no constraints on this new novel I will be able to recapture the love of writing. I am going to try and channel my goofy and silly side, and hopefully find something that reflects the qualities of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.  I have decided on the Title of Adventures of Eunice, the main character is going to be Eunice a hapless looser who falls in and out of trouble. I am not doing any outline or character developement before Nov, but I know a lot of planning will be rolling around in my head.

So feel free to follow along, I will probably be doing updates on here, but I can be found on the site here. And as for the status of Trilith I have posted the second part of the Fey Fyre series. Please any comments are greatly appreciated and if anyone wants to follow-up and ask how I am doing on the word count please let me know.

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A little bit of course correction….

Today is going to be different from anything else I have done before, why you ask. Because prior to today everything has been centered around the progress I have been making towards the publication of ‘The Lost Prophet’ and while I am still working on that I have undergone a little course correction this week and I think a little details are in order. For those who are not aware I was laid off from my day job back in May of this year, and while I have been looking for work I have also been devoting time to making progress with getting my book ready for publication.  However I have run into a little snag in that I am almost done with the second draft of the book, not sure if I want to go ahead with feedback from friends or hiring a professional editor, at the same time I am thinking about the costs of design and cover work on the book. All of which I have no money to spare for at the moment.

At the same time as all of this has been going on, an idea that I originally came up with about a year ago was tapping at the back of my head. When I read a blog post about software that could be used to organize your writing, I decided to give it a try. I was not significantly impressed with it to give a ringing endorsement, but since I needed a project that I had not done much work on to try it out with, I figured let me work on this story. Well the software was abandoned, but I have been building the story more and more. I plan at this point to write it out as a serial, with each installment building more and more on the story. Not sure how big it will get in the end but I think I will let the story decide where it wants to go.

Now I was faced with the problem that I needed a place to publish my story, and I imagined the perfect place would be a literary magazine that focused on Geek culture. But to the best of my knowledge no one does that sort of magazine and the more that I thought about it the more it came into focus.

A multimedia e-magazine that focused on geek culture, specifically cosplay and the movie, music, art and poetry that  inspire it and are inspired by it. A place where fantasy and reality mix and mingle.

And I said to myself if no one else has made a magazine like this, then I need to be the person to do it.

As of now I have already begun assembling my creative team and drawing up plans and specification for what we can do right now with this format, and how we can make it like nothing that has ever been seen before.

Trilith – a prehistoric structure consisting of two upright stones supporting a horizontal stone. An archway or portal to somewhere else.

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Straight from the Dragon’s Mouth (Interview with James A Owen)

When I first decided to do a blog my original idea was inspired by well known artists who had gone outside of the usual channels of their respective fields, and tried to bring out pieces in collaboration directly with the audience that was consuming it.

Comedians, Writers, Musicians and Film Makers all of them looking to talk directly to their audience and skip the establishment.  Each had their own reasons and methods to accomplish their ends, but all were blazing their own trail.

I then realized that this was only a small amount of information to be putting in a blog that was going to be going out on a regular basis.  what else could I write about, well the only other thing I have to talk about is myself.  And only my readers can be a judge of whether I am of any interest.  So I set out to contact several named creators in order to get them to agree to work with me on this project.  To say the least I have not received a huge swelling of support.  Being an unknown blogger and indie author does not put you high on many a publicist list of important people.  I don’t blame them, however I was thrilled to have one of my personal heroes, James A Owen agree to give me an interview in regards to his experiences.

I first encountered James Owen’s work back in the early nineties when he was doing his Starchild series, His work was one of the things that challenged me to expand my writing beyond the boundaries I had placed on myself.  He followed up his comics with some short prose work with the limited edition Tales from the Two Penny Inn collections of short stories.

After being out of the Storytelling business for several years he seized on an opportunity to work with a German publisher on a series that they were embarking upon. So he branched out into full length novels with the Mythworld series which were released primarily in Germany.  In 2006 he released his first novel in the US through Simon & Schuster, his YA book ‘Here there be Dragons’.  He has since released five additional books in his Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, with the Seventh book due next year.  In 2011 he release the first book from his meditations series. Based on the motivational presentation that he gives to schools and libraries.  It was released as a self published eBook through the same imprint that had originally used for his Starchild comics, Coppervale Press.  The book was called ‘Drawing out the Dragons’  he has since done a kickstarter project to finance the hardcover edition of ‘Drawing out the Dragons’ and released a follow up ‘The Barbizon Diaries’ and he will soon release the third book in the series ‘The Grand Design’.

What made you decide to self-publish your meditation books?

Initially, it was because we’d just pulled out of a possible deal with a potential producer on the HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS movie project.

She tried to pull some pretty hardball stuff at the last minute, and I simply walked away from the table. BUT… we’d been counting on that deal going through, so money was tight. I’d been doing the DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS presentation for a couple of years, and there was a good recording of one of them. I thought if it was transcribed and cleaned up a bit, it would make a fine eBook. I was right. The requests for print editions followed, and so we did the Kickstarter which worked REALLY well. Then I followed up with the eBook for THE BARBIZON DIARIES, and both books have gotten such glowing reviews that I’m now being offered all kinds of deals from publishers. We’ll see what happens.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what was the most unexpected reward?

Biggest hurdle? Hmm… that HAD to be the car accident (editors note: for the full story of the accident see Owen’s ‘Drawing out the Dragons’) – because I didn’t even have a name, then. No track record. And to seemingly lose my ability to draw, too, meant that almost NO ONE believed I could build a career. The most unexpected reward was discovering how many comics greats like Will Eisner and Colleen Doran and Craig Russell believed enough in me to help me get on my feet again.

With your prior experience self-publishing the Starchild Comics what was the biggest difference with producing the meditation books?
The availability of Kickstarter to finance the publication, and the fact it was reader-funded. If we had had a mechanism like that in the 90’s, Jeff Smith, Colleen and I would own Mars by now.

You used Kickstarter to finance the hard-copies of the Drawing out the Dragon do you see this as a valid avenue for less known creative types.

Not really, not at first – because it’s not just the cool factor of the project that draws support and money, as much as it is pitching something to the Tribe you already have. If you haven’t already started to build a name and a reputation, then Kickstarter will be harder. But even if you start small, you can build up to it – and it could be part of the expansion plan farther down the road.

 

What advise would you give to someone who was just starting out as a self-publisher?

Get the book done. Then do another. Then another. Do prints. Do postcards. Create your identity, so that you can start to build your Tribe.

Do you think that the advent of eBooks will make a change in the way books get published?

Absolutely. It let me test DotD for basically no cost – and then start getting income again at no cost. It let me build up a market and interest for the book before I had to risk a penny on print. Basically, with webcomics and eBooks, you can start building an audience with a fraction of the expense that it used to take. And you can find out faster if a project has legs, or is simply going to just sit there. And I think a LOT more changes are coming.

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What has happened to this world

Okay I know that I made an extra post this week in order to vent about something that has been bothering me.  And if you want my opinion of the responsibility of self-publishers when it come to their work read here.  I had planned out a lot of things that I wanted to do with this blog before I started.  None of my ideas included venting my frustrations.  However in this case my frustration connects directly with what this blog is about.  Books.

Earlier this week a friend had mentioned online that his new book will be out at the end of the month.  It is the sixth book in a series and I have only had the chance to read the first three.  I decided since I needed to get out of the house I would go over to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of the forth book.  Now to clarify this is an author who is being published by one of the major publishing houses.  In the past I have had no trouble locating his books in bookstores, although sometimes they don’t have the one I am looking to pick up available.  I stopped off at the local Barnes & Nobles, and immediately went to the section the book should have been in.  Scanning to his name in the alphabet I could not locate any of his books.  So I checked an other section that it might have been in.  No sign of any of his books.  I went to Customer Service and checked.  They did not have a copy of the book I was looking for in stock at that or any other of their stores in the area.  The nice young lady that helped me offered to order it for me.  I declined and told her I would check elsewhere and if I could not find it would let her know.  Up until this point I was not bothered or annoyed

I headed out and tried to think of where the nearest other bookstore was located.  I was not sure so I decided to just head over to the nearest mall and see if the bookstore there carrier what I wanted.  I made my way over and found a good parking space, went inside and located a directory of the mall.  Bookstores were listed in the section with gifts & accessories.    Brookstones, Spencer’s, and two different tobacco shops, but no bookstore.

Anyone who knew my brother and I growing up will understand  We were always stopping off at the local bookstore.  Whether it was the one downtown or at the local mall.  I remember days spent after high school sitting on the floor in the back of the
store reading the first chapter of a book before I purchased it.  To this day I can tell you the exact location of the bookstore in three different malls that I have not been in for twenty years.  Of course they probably aren’t there any more.  What will surprise more people probably is that I am writing this at all.  I am the one who for years has screamed the virtue of ebooks.  I have owned a kindle since before most people knew what they were, and yes I did end up buying the book on my kindle.

This is not a rant about the loss of books to ebook, and it is not about the lack of competition in bookstores.  The market has not changed enough that it has caused what I am talking about.  A mall is the first place that many people in this country go to shop.
I lament the fact that it is not a higher priority for a mall to have a bookstore to service it’s customers.  Their are several different Movie theaters in most towns in this country.  Hollywood puts out enough movies to have dozens of screens per cinema, but the people are not clamoring to have more bookstores.  I makes me doubt the times we are living in.

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I say that any boob can take and shove a ball in a pocket

Alright, I knew sooner or later I was going to feel like saying something that will rustle a few feathers.  I think that today might be the day.  So what is it that I have to say that is going to offend people.  I try to not speak in generalizations, but I have been noticing an unfortunate trend.

A lot of my time while I have been reading blogs and websites by writers who have decided to self-publish I have notice that very few of these authors are willing to seize the reigns when the options present themselves.

Control.  I have a need to control my work.  This is why I have become a novelist.  I have had opportunities in the past to work on comic books, plays and movies, and I have dabbled in all of these in the past and will probably work in each of these sometime in the future.  The reason that these are not the primary focus of my writing is that they all require that the vision of the final product is a collaboration of myself and others.  I am not willing to accept that.  I want to be able to control the product that I am putting out.  I want the reader of my books to experience the best product that I can produce.  I want to make my books that I can be proud of with not having to rely on anyone else.

The current market for self-publishing assumes that as the writer I am going to write the book and just upload it to some site that will handle formatting the work into an ebook.  That places my work in the hands of someone whose name will never appear in any connect to my work, who will still have a job regardless of the quality of the final product.

I am not a graphic designer, I am not an artist.  But I will promise anyone who purchases one of my books be it ebook, hardcover or softbound,  it will always represent the best that I can offer.  I will edit and design my books to the best of my ability, hiring people to help me where I can afford it.

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A little bit of nuts and bolts (part 2)

This week I wanted to go over a little more of the practical end of book publishing.  This time I am going to go over my choices for one of the earliest tools that is needed in preparing a book for publication, The Style Guide.

First lets discuss what the Style Guide is.  Not all books are set up the same, but the Publisher needs to make choices about how you are going to do certain things in a book, Font, margins, spacing, indents, how numbers are presented, how chapters are numbered and broken up.  All of these are choices that need to be made in order to determine how the book will look.  And as a self-publisher what you feel will be the easiest way for your reader to understand your work.  I am going to go over not only my choices for some of the most important things in a style guide, but I will also compare them to four of my favorite authors from their works. The four books I am going to reference to are 1. Stephen King ‘Four Past Midnight’, 2. Robert B Parker ‘Double Play’, 3. Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars Novel ‘Dark Force Rising’ and 4. Harlen Coben ‘Hold Tight’.  All fours books are the hardcover editions.  Is this a definitive list of everything.  No it is not, but this will give you a good idea about the things that the publisher has to think about.

First choice: Font.  I am not going to try to verify the exact font used in each of the books mention.  I will point out that all four of them use a serif font.  So while personally I use Comic San Serif 10 point for most of the first draft or outline work I do, for my novel I have been working with Dark Courier 11 point.

Second choice: Margins.  All four books use a standard 7/8 inch margin.  So I will be matching that in my book.

Third choice: Spacing.  Here we start to see some differences in the published works and I will hazard a guess to the reasons. Both King and Zahn’s book have single line spacing.  This makes sense based on the fact that both writer styles lean heavy on large paragraph of descriptions and exposition.  Parker and Coben both use a one and a half line spacing.  Both of them lean heavily on short descriptions and dialogue, and the broader line spacing and lighter pages makes for faster reading.  With the amount of dialogue that I have found myself using in my book I am going to work with a one and half line spacing on my final manuscript.

Forth choice: Indents.  All of the books I have mentioned use a 1/8 of an inch indent, except Zahn who uses a 1/4 inch indent.  For my purposes I will be using a 1/4 inch indent.  Because I find it easier to read with the more distinct difference in starting the paragraph.

Fifth choice: Numbering.  lets just go over the choices I have made in the use of numbers in this blog.  you will notice if you look back that any number that is part of a sentence has been typed out, also the numbering for the choices were typed out, but when I numbered the books I used the numerals.  Also my measurements for the fonts and margins used numerals.  Since most of the numbers in my book will be in the sentence structure of narration or dialogue I will be writing them out in words.

Sixth choice: Chapter numbering and breaks.  King uses only three-line spacing followed by the number of the chapter written out preceded by the word chapter.  Parker has the numeral by itself one-third of the way down the page and then starts the
first paragraph another third of the page down.  Zahn has the word chapter with the numeral beneath it and starts the first paragraph one-third of the way down the page.  Coben has the number and starts the paragraph one-third of the way down the page.  I will be setting it up with two inches down the page the word chapter with the written number in Dark Courier 22 point, the line beneath it would be the name of the chapter in Dark Courier 16 point.  both centered on the page. skip three lines and begin chapter.

From all of these examples you can see that a lot of the small details that you never think about when reading a book have to be taken into consideration when you are publishing a book.

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Do I Really Have To? (the worst part of writing)

So today I am going to discuss two of the hardest things about writing anything.  The second, yes I like to do things out-of-order, is re-writes.  You have worked on your story and have what you consider a brilliant piece of writing.  So what to do next is take it apart and completely change it.  This leads us, in my opinion, to the hardest thing about writing.  Because in order to do re-writes you must have feedback.  The dreaded constructive criticism.

Let me explain for anyone who has not had to provide me with criticism how my process works.  You read something I wrote and give it the full weight or your attention.  You carefully consider exactly what your reaction is and how you think I can make the writing better.  You write-up clear and concise notes for me to work from.  I receive your notes, avoid them for a day or two and once I get to reading them I refer to you in terms that would make a sailor blush.  I call you names, I call your mother names, I scream about how stupid you are and everyone you have ever met in your entire life.  I storm off in a huff vowing to never speak to you again.

The next day I sit down and look at your notes again, from experience about sixty to eighty percent will be good notes that help me refine what I have written.  The other twenty to forty percent will be notes that show you didn’t understand what I was saying.  I my opinion the twenty to forty percent are the more important notes.  Everybody will have different like and dislike in the way a story is written.  On this novel alone I have been told by two different first readers, both of whom I respect, that one I should include more descriptions of the places and people, setting the scene more.  The other told me they loved the fact that I was focused on the relationships between the characters and not where they were.  But the notes that show me you did not get what I was trying to convey with the writing are the ones that I want to focus on the most.  I don’t care if all of my readers agree with me, but I am not doing my job if the majority of my readers do not understand what I am saying.

Bringing this back to my work.  Last night my friend and fellow traveler Lauren who is one of my first readers gave me back the fully noted copy of my manuscript.  At one hundred forty pages with an estimated five notes average per page.  So I have about seven hundred notes to go through.  At this point I am staring at the pages and trying to ignore it like an elephant in the room.   Some time tomorrow I will go through the notes and get really pissed off.  By middle of this week I will go back through them and figure out which category each note falls into, and then by this time next week I will be ready to sit back with Lauren and go over all the notes over a few drinks.

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A little bit of Nuts and Bolts

So a lot of what I have been writing for this blog has been regarding the inspiration, and not with the process that I am going through in order to get my books published.

This week I want go over a consideration regarding getting the book ready for printing.  I need to look at getting ISBN so that Monolith can list each of the books for purchase by bookstores and libraries.

For those that do not know the ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, it signifies what country the book is published in, who the publisher is, and which version of the book it is.  Because each version of the book would have a distinct ISBN, then for PDF, ePUB, MOBI, Hard Cover & Soft Cover I would need five differant ISBN just for one book.  With a series of five books we are looking a minimum of twenty-five ISBN.  So at this point I have to consider if I will be better of buying three blocks of ten as I need them or investing in a block of one hundred in advance to publishing any books.

I won’t go through the exact math involved but just let you know it would be two hundred and fifty dollars per each ten block and for a full one hundred it would be five hundred and seventy-five dollars.  If you assume that I do print all five books in five differant version and no other books.  With three blocks of ten I can buy each of the ten as needed, so that up front cost before the first book is published is redused and allows me to move some of the expense from the begining when I haven’t sold any books to later when I have sold books to pay for expense for later books, but the per version cost will drop from thirty dollars with three blocks of ten to twenty-three dollars if I buy one hundred.  Since I want to minimize the up front cost before I release the ebook versions of the first book, I will be purchasing the ISBN in three different blocks of ten as they are needed.

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