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.

 

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.

 

 

 

First published work

“You’re talking as if you’re Methuselah, falsely presenting yourself as an ancient and decrepit nag. It’s true, you’re no dewy-eyed colt, but you know, as well as I, that there’s many a woman who prefer to mount a seasoned, proven stallion when overcome with the urge to go riding.”

I thought I’d write a post about the first thing I ever published. It was a play, The Lovers’ Ruse, a bedroom farce, or what I suppose would be considered a romantic-comedy in today’s terms. Due to life getting in the way and several hiatuses from writing altogether, it took eight years for me to complete and publish it in 2015.

Between 2005 and 2007, I had a good run at writing. I couldn’t stop. But I was starting to burn out, especially on prose. As an exercise, I thought I’d try writing dialogue only, and how better to do it than as a play? I was influenced at the time by several opera buffa, the plays that inspired them, and the works of Molière. Specifically, The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais (opera by Rossini), Il Matrimonio Segreto, an opera by Italian composer Cimarosa (a vast improvement over the English source material, The Clandestine Marriage), and Molière’s The School for Husbands, along with other various French plays of the 18th century.

The Lovers’ Ruse is a basic set-up with stock characters. Young lovers facing obstacles, a scheming servant, a well-meaning but old-fashioned parent, a helpful acquaintance, etc. Initially, the dialogue was very stiff, very formal, and very stylized. I realized I had to loosen it up some to make it more accessible. It was the right choice. It’s still stylized, but not nearly as much. Rhythm is also incredibly important and overall, it flows quite well. There’s also a great deal of wordplay, the piece wouldn’t work without it. At times, I don’t even know where some of that repartee came from. I credit that to those carefree and sometimes elusive muses.

A curious thing happened while writing that had a positive impact. I had a character that was mentioned a few times early in the play. He doesn’t make an appearance until the end. It occurred to me; why not have every character talk about him at some point, but each with a different perspective? He’s obnoxious, he’s a rogue, he’s witty, he’s industrious, and so forth. When he finally appears, the audience (or reader) can decide the kind of man he is for themselves. Is he some, none, or all of the things he’s purported to be? What made that decision even better, was it allowed me to get out of a bit of a bind in a particular scene.

What makes The Lovers’ Ruse so different is that it’s so unlike what I usually write. I tend to skew toward darker, psychological character studies or horror, suspense, occult. It’s like coming across a moon garden of white blooms at midnight; light, charming, and wholly unexpected.