Still in a writing rut

I haven’t done any work on the novel. I considered working on another idea, a horror novella, something lean and mean. Different. I made some notes one day, but I didn’t like the direction it was going. I need to think about it some more. I did, however, mock up a fairly decent cover that conveys horror/suspense. That counts for something, right?

I finally managed to get another book review out. It’s posted to my YouTube channel or you can find it here on the website under Podcasts.

“Whatever happened to that Silver Brook redevelopment plan? Wasn’t someone going to revitalize the resort, make the area shine again?” Connie asked.

“It was a disaster before it started. Herb Fenley and Lou Klaussen approached me about it. They were looking for investors. I turned them down, I know a dog when I see one. Then they promised me the moon and the MIlky Way. Exclusive listings of luxury condos and a handful of mansions they had planned. I told them Silver Brook is a limbo, a no-man’s land. Nobody would willingly live there, at least, nothing human.”

“Rob, don’t start that shit —”

“I’m not starting anything,” he soberly replied, and she thought he paled slightly. “The whole project fell through when Herb Fenley disappeared…during an excursion to Silver Brook.”

 

Books and non-books

Checking in with a quick update. With the reissues out of the way, I have some time I can devote to other things. One of them is reading, something I haven’t done much of over the years. Yes, years. The problem was I couldn’t find books I liked. Except for horror, I’m not much of a genre reader, and I gave up on contemporary fiction somewhere around 1992 (literary fiction that seemed only to meander and thrillers that were too formulaic). I read some 18th century plays, a penny dreadful or two, then basically gave up reading altogether.

But I wanted to read. Something new, different, that I would potentially like, rather than something I’d want to throw across the room or complain about wasting my money on. I finally found some authors that filled the void, Ray Russell and Charles Beaumont. Both 20th century authors and Chicago natives (curious, that), who wrote horror and weird fiction. Russell’s works tend to have invisible layers. When I’m finished reading, I find myself sitting and thinking and those layers slowly start to become visible. Many stories are like little puzzle boxes that, surprisingly, can have more than one resolution.

I’ve started to read the first of three Beaumont collections. I’ve read three distinctly different short stories and they were all good, ranging from horrific, to fantastically whimsical, to slightly gritty and depressing. An interesting observation I’ve made is that Russell tends to be careful with language, meaning he doesn’t usually use curses or obscenities. If he does, it’s rare and rather mild. Beaumont will use expletives more liberally, but not gratuitously, they feel right for the situation. I really want to savor these Beaumont stories, so I’m only reading a few at a time, and I have one other Russell book to read. Reviews will be forthcoming. Russell’s tend to take more time to review because I have to think about them more, and oftentimes, as I’m thinking, I hit on another aspect I hadn’t considered before. Those invisible layers again.

That’s the good news. The bad…I haven’t been motivated to write. I have ideas, I have notes, I have a pile of things that need to be addressed. But, damn it, the motivation isn’t there. I’m considering making some changes. Handwriting some things, moving to a different work area, something, anything, to jump start the process. Maybe I’ll become so frustrated and angry with myself, I’ll start working again out of sheer spite. Here’s hoping.

Hyperlink ToC bookmarks in LibreOffice that don’t fight with Calibre

If you read e-books, you’ve seen it. The Table of Contents at the beginning of a book, listed in blue. Tap or double-click a chapter name and voilà, you’re there. Nifty, huh? If you use Word, you know how to create that ToC, or can readily find out how, because instructions abound on the web. Heck, even KDP explains it somewhere. But what if you use a Mac and LibreOffice? You’ll find nothing helpful on Amazon’s KDP site because a) they’re indifferent to Mac users, b) they’re indifferent to LibreOffice users, and c) they’re indifferent to Mac users who utilize LibreOffice. What to do?

You could save your ODT file as a DOC or DOCX, which kind of defeats the purpose of using Libre if you ask me. Not so very long ago, KDP used to tell Mac users to hand code all the HTML, good luck! Now their not-so-helpful help entry merely says to use hyperlinks and bookmarks. Which brings me to the crux of the matter.

I use Calibre to create an EPUB from an ODT file. I never created that active ToC because I didn’t know how, didn’t have time to learn, and didn’t have the inclination to wander the web trying to find out how. Yesterday, however, through some semi-useful information found on the internet and a lot of trial and error, I figured it out. There may be a better and faster way, but this seems to work and is fairly simple. Continue reading

Parted ways with CreateSpace

I’ve been busy of late, so I haven’t had time to blog much. I did want to say that as of a couple of weeks ago, I’ve officially parted ways with CreateSpace. I’ve mentioned my reasons in other posts; title suppression, delays in customer service responses, and weak site security. It was unfortunate, because I really liked the swift turn-around when it came to ordering proofs and their end product. My understanding is KDP Print books are of the same quality, so, fingers crossed.

If truth be told, CreateSpace’s website was a bit old fashioned looking and will bounce you to sections you’ve already completed. KDP is streamlined and quick, I’ll give them that. I only wish I had more control over how things list on the dashboard and could set preferences. I’ll be able to test the entire KDP Print process, including ordering, in the next few weeks with the last guide re-issue. From what I’ve read, the method for ordering proofs from KDP seems unnecessarily complicated. Place order, receive an e-mail, order within a set window on Amazon…odd.

I’m still not sold on IngramSpark books. I dislike the thinner paper stock and heavy black of the text. I’ve seen others say they like the crisp, dark ink coverage, but I think it makes the book look cheap. That’s just me, of course, although I just recently read a traditionally published book and the ink was no where near as heavy, it was more in line with a CreateSpace book. I do like having IngramSpark for wide distribution. I’m planning on a hardcover edition for the novel and their pricing isn’t bad, all things considered.

I updated all files and metadata for the first five episode guide e-books and the print re-issues are out for them as well. I’m cruising through the changes for volume six and will release both editions around the end of June. I’ll say here, I won’t be continuing the project. It’s incredibly time consuming and there’s little to no interest. There are other things that need my attention. I’ve had some great ideas for the novel the last couple of nights while shaping late chapters. I’m looking forward to diving back in.

I need to focus

I finally got the third edition print versions of the episode guides out in the retail wilds. I was really just procrastinating, but the KDP Print uploads went off without a hitch. Received the IngramSpark proofs yesterday and, no surprise, I’m less than impressed with the quality. I considered a podcast/video about it, but deleted what I recorded. Maybe I’ll do one in future. I’d like to get the last available guide re-issued but can’t quite muster the enthusiasm to make those changes.

Since the guide project became a black hole that merely sucked my time and resources into a void of nothingness, I’m not continuing. Energy could be better spent on the backlog of novels and novellas I have.

I bought a microphone for audio recordings and think I’ve found the best settings and set-up. Still need a windscreen, but I’m making due for now. I rambled on for quite a bit last night on a new book review and still need to do a bit of editing.

More importantly, I need to focus on my novel. I kept telling myself if I just got those re-issues out of my way, I could dive back into it. Truth is, I find more distractions so I can continue procrastinating, like doing book reviews or anecdotal videos about writing.

So here’s my plan: get the last completed guide out by the end of June. The book review I mentioned is almost done, so I’ll post that in the next week or so. Another book I wanted to review I need to re-read. Since it’s a horror novel, I can always aim for a Halloween timed review. What’s that leave? Work on the damn novel. Here’s hoping.

 

Stuff and more stuff

I’ve been remiss with blog posts, I know. I was focused on updated editions of the guides. I have one more to go, but I’m not rushing it. I don’t know when I’ll get to it. For all intents and purposes, I’m burned out. Too much work, no real reward.

I’ve started doing some podcast videos on writing (using anecdotes of my own positive and negative experiences) and book reviews. I have two reviews on deck, so to speak (it is baseball season after all), and another review I’d like to do, but I need to re-read the book again. I’m holding off on recording the two because I’m waiting for a new microphone which I’m sure will make a big difference in audio quality. And it’s audio only, cameras don’t like me (not anymore anyway, time and age is a cruel bitch).  I have a face for radio, as the saying goes. And possibly a voice for silent movies.

Anyway, that’s where things stand at the moment. I’m Just trying to clear things off the over-filled plate and reclaim a bit of sanity. I’ll add a link to my pitiful fledgling YouTube channel in the sidebar. Below is the podcast (audio only) version of my latest YT post.

 

Getting closer

I’m finally nearing the end of this re-issuing business of the episode guides. I’m in the process of making changes to the manuscript for number five and am over the half-way point in re-proofing volume six. Things seem to be on schedule and it’s looking like I’ll finish around the time I expected. Then I can finally get back to the novel.

There’s still so much that needs to be done. I may have to start listening to my files again to fully immerse myself in that world and the characters’ lives. A thought recently occurred to me though; why is it, when I envision a certain character’s home, I always see it in very dim lighting? Always. Then I thought, I see a lot of this story that way. Maybe because of its setting, my mind is ascribing an appropriate sepia tint to things.

Well, onward. The sooner I get these last books re-issued, the sooner I can dive back into it. I’ve been pulled in so many different directions of late; resolving the CreateSpace issues, transferring to KDP, learning the IngramSpark curve, adjusting to Photoshop, using D2D, creating a Twitter presence, fine-tuning this site. I’m exhausted just reading about all that.

Took long enough

I got the CreateSpace issue sorted out earlier this week (I think it was this week, the days have become a blur of late). Anyway, volume 3 is live, finally.

Last night, albeit through very heavy-lidded eyes (I almost fell asleep at one point), I completed the re-proofing for volume 5. And today, I finished making changes to volume 4. Volume 6 awaits, but I haven’t read it in a while, so it’ll seem fresh in places.

I was thinking the other night about a story I’ve long since written in my head (I have several like that; it’s a blessing and a curse), but have precious little in a tangible form. Anyway, some time ago I had considered making a change, adding something to the beginning. I liked it, and yet I didn’t. Any time I think about this work, I go back and forth over that possible addition. I’ve finally decided; it doesn’t belong. Although I liked a lot of what I came up with, it’s not right for that story. That particular work is a solid three act piece, it doesn’t need anything else. Now if only I could find the time to write it.

 

 

 

Head ’em up, move ’em out

CreateSpace still can’t get their act together. In fact, they’ve taken a step backward. I had retired a title in order to replace it with the new edition published under my imprint, Abstruse & Louche. I received a confirmation Wednesday that the title was retired, and it said as much on the dashboard. Great. Today, the book is listed as available (not, however, on Amazon, I had removed the book from all sales channels). The third edition remains suppressed, because, idiots. That requires another round of e-mails that will most likely go unanswered and pull me away from doing the work I need (and want) to do. Can I bill them for my time?

In light of that idiocy, I ran a test earlier this evening. I moved an old title (the never-sells play) from CreateSpace to KDP Print, to test the waters. It’s a simple process, KDP will import your files after confirming/verifying the ISBN through your CreateSpace account. I’m not crazy about their previewer, especially for the cover. However, if need be, I can always redo it with a new template from KDP. The interior looked fine. I’ve pretty much decided to move everything over within the next week or two. Perhaps even this weekend.

On another front, I finally caught up with the backlog of volume 7 transcribing. I’m still re-proofing volume 5, and making changes to volume 4 in preparation for their relaunch. It occurred to me last night that I hadn’t been working on the volume 4 changes this week because of the CS problems. Problems that eat away at my time, thoughts, and motivation.

Intentionally messing with me

Remember that in-limbo proof copy I’ve been talking about? You know, the one that’s still suppressed even as I type this? Yeah, that one. I received the proof. No notification from CreateSpace that it shipped, it just showed up unexpectedly. Communication from them, on most fronts, seems to be non-existent. Unless you retire a title, then they’re right on top of it. Read into that what you will. As for the proof, I’m not digging the color, I need to make a small change…except I can’t because the title is still inaccessible. Isn’t this a wonderful merry-go-round of idiocy?

The longer this continues, the more I’m edging toward KDP Print. I know that’s exactly what Amazon wants and will probably be the source of other headaches at some point. Recall, if you will, the KDP reporting problems earlier this year. The only reason I need an Amazon POD company is to avoid the 1-2 day delay if I strictly use IngramSpark. Immediate gratification for the shopper. The great thing about using IS though, in addition to better distribution to other retailers, is the title will stay on Amazon, even if CS or KDP suppresses it.

CreateSpace, it’s not me. It’s you.