Author Archive: seabrass

Blowing off the dust…

October 7, 2014.

That’s the date of my last post. Yeesh! Talk about neglect! It’s not that I didn’t have anything to blog about. I guess it was entirely a lack of motivation.

I did pop in from time to time, to see if anyone left any comment worth a look. Nothing but spam. And spam comments waiting for moderation. Those numbers ballooned out of control surprisingly quick. That kind of scared me from coming back. But I braced myself, returned with the intent of reviving things a bit, and called up a plug-in that let me mass-delete all the crap that accumulated. So, well, one big fat mess cleaned up. Took less time than I anticipated (had to put the right terms into the plug-in search box to find exactly what I needed) and I feel like I’m back to square one. Now I just need to pop in and post on a regular schedule.

The big thing I want to drop into this post is I am posting the Prologue of my work in progress, Dew Drops. It’s been re-thought, revised, tweaked, workshopped, tweaked some more, and has rounded itself into the shape I think I’m aiming for. For a dinky little opening, it’s absorbed a lot of attention. Guess it has to be sharp, as it opens things for the dear reader. I want it to reach out, grab the reader, and carry him or her along for the four-page (or 2200 word, if you so prefer) ride. Been tinkering with it for a while now, and decided during my bath tonight to post it and see what comments I can garner.

So, Seabrass Productions has had the dust blown off, a new story page added, a bit of fresh writing uploaded, and a spanking new post! What more could a fan ask for (other than the obvious of a bit more attention)?

Why? Why is this happening?

Nothing is more frustrating than software that doesn’t work right all the sudden.

I’ve used WordPerfect, Word, and MobiPocket Creator to successfully make several Kindle-ready products. I personally put together all my novels from Terrorcruise to my latest, Witch Warden: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book III, into Kindle format. Most of these titles included links within the pages to the various chapters and such. And through them all, I had pretty much no problems. It’s not an easy thing, but the software made it less complicated.

Then today happened.

I decided to put together a small collection of short stories. Call it A Brass Quartet, because, you know, there’s four stories. Beginning at around 3:00am Tuesday morning, I went through, proofed everything, made them all look pretty. Made a Word document using nothing but styles to do the formatting as I have done many times before. Even spent a goodly amount of time throwing together a cover (which I’m not much liking now, several hours after the fact and may change, because I can). Everything looked to be on course. My last such project, Chainsaw, went off pretty much without a hitch.

Then I used MobiPocket Creator to create the file I needed for my Kindle, the .prc file. I have another program that can do that, Calibre, but it’s confusing and something of a mess. I guess maybe I need to use it more. Anyhoo, I created the .prc file I needed to throw up to Amazon to have my little Kindle book. Before I did so, I plugged my Kindle Paperwhite into my computer to check the supposed final product. And wouldn’t you know, there’s a big issue: the second story opened as a footnote when I clicked on the link in the table of contents. It looked fine when I scrolled to it. Just when I used the table of contents to jump to it.

Huh. Real strange. So I opened the html file MobiPocket creates in the process of making the .prc file. I know html pretty good, as demonstrated by my Russia Trip pages here on my blog site. Those pages were raw html pages I stitched together in Dreamweaver CS5. I looked through my new book’s html file, found a few minor things to fix, but nothing that might have told the Kindle to open the second story as a footnote.

Now, I refer to the problem child as the second story, because after much tinkering, deleting files, recreating the entire Word document, and changing the order of the four stories so a new story stood as the second one, the second story continually opened as a footnote when the link in the table of contents was used to jump there in the .prc file. Didn’t matter what the story was, if it was second, it opened as a footnote. Utterly ridiculous. Very rage inducing. Pretty much a whole day wasted trying to figure it out. Seems the MobiPocket Creator just wasn’t working.

I cannot express to you my anger and frustration. Why this? Why now? I should have been done with this spur-of-the-moment project hours ago. Should have finished it by sunrise. Instead, I was continually stymied by some little program that until now had worked just fine.

Eventually I decided to just use Amazon’s KDP to publish my little collection of short stories. As of right now, it’s still in the process of being published, but all indications are it’s looking good. I won’t know until I buy a copy and test the link to the second story myself. If it doesn’t work, I’ll know then the problem is with the Word document (which wouldn’t be a f**king surprise, given how suck-ass Word is). If it does work, I’ll have to assume MobiPocket Creator is the problem. If that’s the case, I think I’ll be learning more how Calibre works.

Right now I’ve calmed down. No longer feel like doing the Hulk smash thing. But for Christ’s sake! What an odd problem to run into trying to do something plain and simple using software I’ve used plenty of times without fail in the past. All I can say is what the hell? Really! What the ever-loving hell!

UPDATE: I was just able to purchase a copy from Amazon. It’s not all the way up, but as the author I had access to a link allowing me to do so. The book looks good! All of the styles I used in Word to streamline the appearance appear to be working as intended, with all the right indents, spacing, alignment, and bolding. Fabulous. What’s more, all of the links in the table of contents work as specified. That tells me with utter certainty the problem was not with the Word document, but with MobiPocket Creator. (There’s an outside chance it could be with the html file, but I have my doubts as I scoured the code and found nothing amiss in the tags.) I still think Word is suck-ass, but this time is performed as intended. So, I may be switching to Calibre down the road. Ugh. I’m too old to be learning new software. I suppose I could use the KDP functionality again for the next Kindle upload. That might be Dew Drops, unless I get a professional publisher working with me on that one. We’ll see. But anyway, I’ll soon have a blog post about my latest publication. Stay tuned!

Dew Drops is now official

As planned, today I hammered out the first chapter of my next manuscript, Dew Drops. 1100 words. Fewer than what I set for my daily minimum, but it’s a complete chapter, so I thought I’d stop there and bask in the warm afterglow.

I did anticipate this. Back in August I knew I’d be working on this new manuscript by now. I had planned to begin writing on the first of September, but the planning stage took a bit longer than I expected. (And honestly, it’s still not done, but I have enough in place to begin the actual writing.) If things continue to go well, I hope to have a finished first draft by the end of the year. Having mapped out the plot and identified how the main characters feel along the way (and more importantly, why) I think the writing of my story should go fairly smoothly. I’m still getting ideas on how to enhance the story as a whole, and small details that should really give this some sparkle−which is why I’m still planning things out. I’m putting Throughline, the index card software program I bought recently, to good use. And I’m still adding stuff to my OneNote story notebook. Ultimately, I think this should all mesh well, and give me a pretty decent little story. (Well, might not be so little. Not sure of what the final word count will be, but I expect close to 100,000 words. And I usually underestimate that.)

I’ve set up WordPerfect to make typing my main character’s name a bit easier. I type ‘LE’, hit the spacebar, and WordPerfect auto-corrects it to Lake-Ellen. ‘LEs’ gets me Lake-Ellen’s. And that works for me. Just have to add those two auto-corrects to my laptop, which I will at work tomorrow night, no doubt. The other character names are simple enough: Tammon Grells, Abbix, Uncle Fross, Mawk. Lake-Ellen has a brother and a sister, but they’re not mentioned enough for me to add them in auto-correct at this point. Maybe by the story’s end, when the brother pays a visit. Anyway, WordPerfect will make this even easier to hammer out. (And I have the latest, WordPerfect X7, of course.)

I’m pleased as punch to have finally started. I put most writing aside a few months ago when I stopped work on A Ghastly Gillion Stars, with my only new writing being what I typed out for my Russia Trip, found here on this blog. I decided that story needed a complete revision from the original concept, and having gotten deep into a second draft (which was also a near complete revision of the first draft), I simply got tired of the whole thing. Don’t fret, fans of my Ux-Blood universe; I do plan to get it out, possible right after Dew Drops is in the bag. I see now the story I mean to tell, between the main character Kreek, her enemy Ugnalith, and poor little Tybis caught in between. If I get it right, it should be a very cool addition to my Ux-Blood stories. But that’s for much later. Right now my devotion and focus is on Dew Drops. And I think I have a right to be excited.

 

Wow. Neglectful much?

So… it’s been over a month since I done posted up anything. Not that the old blog here has been out of my thoughts. Just… I guess the best way to say it is I put the ‘pro’ in procrastination. Where the blog is concerned, anyway.

Still working on getting Dew Drops through the planning stages. Bought a simple little program called Throughline from storymind.com. Just basically re-arrangeable index cards. I’m laying out the plot in a linear fashion. Right now I have it set up according to each of the POV characters−there’s actually only two, the main character and the man hunting her down. I’m putting it all together to see if their stories fit, where there might be a lag, making sure everything meshes. I think I got it down, but it’s good to check. Interestingly, I think the way I have it now, I can actually move whole chapters without much affecting the flow. So we’ll see. I don’t think I’ll know for sure until I have a finished first draft. Then I’ll be able to see the pacing a lot better.

I do still plan to begin writing October 1st. May not have all the plot cards done by then, but I’m at the point now where I want to start things rolling. The good thing is the chapters will be short−shorter than my ginormous chapters in my Ux-Blood trilogy, anyway. I don’t plan to hammer out a chapter a day, but a chapter a week is very doable. Since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner in November, I may apply those disciplines a month early and shoot for a reasonable daily word count. If I stick to that, I should actually have a finished first draft by the end of November. But for this one I’m not in a real hurry. The way I tend to write, my first drafts usually come out pretty clean. And since I’m mapping the plot on this one in some detail, rather than winging it for most of my Ux-Blood trilogy, this should be an even easier write. Not that writing is easy, mind you, but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, I figured it was time I dropped a post. Been a month. Almost seems like I’m just coasting at this point. But I’m not, I swear. Just getting all my ducks in a row for my next big project. And it’s getting me excited.

Oh, I almost forgot! I’ve also been proofing my Ux-Blood stories again. Made a few corrections, cleaned stuff up. The latest, A Child of Byne, has just been loaded to Kindle and sent to my publisher for updating. I’ll let you know when they’re available. Shouldn’t be too long. And remember! The first novel, Earth Cell: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book I, is still available free in PDF format!

Microsoft’s OneNote

As some of you might know, I’m a huge user of WordPerfect. It blows Word out of the water on practically all accounts. I would grudgingly say the only thing Word has going for it is its review capabilities, but that’s it. Everything else in Word is unnecessarily difficult. Try to put a graphic image in a certain position lately? With WordPerfect, you can specify exactly where it goes. If you’ve never used WordPerfect, and stuck with Word because it’s what the office computer has, trust me, you’re missing out on the word processor that professional word processors use.

Anyway, I will give kudos to Microsoft for one really cool Office product. OneNote. (And yes, they’ve made it one word.) Right now I’m putting together my next novel, a fantasy entitled Dew Drops. I plan to really dig deep with this one, go more into the characters than I have before. I ultimately intend to map the story out scene by scene. I think I may do more preparatory work than I will writing the book. But that’s how it should be sometimes.

So, OneNote lets me create folders and pages for everything! I have several characters named and identified their place in the story. I’ve jotted down notes on the taglines, the synopsis, the setting, and right now I’m going through the most detailed description of the plot that I’ve done so far. (I’m getting things straight in my head, and I’m coming up with a pretty smooth flow to the story.) I can even list off to the side all the characters that come into play at certain point. I still plan to draw a map of the land in Sketchbook Pro 7 (yeah, I upgraded a couple days ago) and add that to OneNote. What’s even more cool is I can add links to the various parts, so if I need to remind myself how a character thinks, I can link to their description, and Alt-left arrow right back to where I was. At its most basic, though,. OneNote is exceptional in allowing me to keep everything nice and tidy. And that inherent feature is greatly appreciated.

I became aware of OneNote when I went through a three-year online animation program through Westwood College. While I don’t think I actually used OneNote for anything school-related, I did tinker with it one a story or two. But I didn’t really get into it the way I am with Dew Drops. Probably because Dew Drops is my first new novel in a long time (what’s been published has all been heavy revisions of previous manuscripts). So far this experience is turning out to be satisfactory. We’ll see how it goes as I get deeper in.

Corel, the makers of WordPerfect, have a similar program called WordPerfect Lightning. I have it installed on my home computer but not my laptop. Since my laptop is dying and I’ve already ordered a new one (should be here next week-or, well, this week since it’s Sunday morning right now) I plan to install Lightning on the new toy. I won’t use it for Dew Drops but the next one I’ll take it for a spin. Compare it to OneNote. The one huge potential plus for Lightning is I could very easily copy stuff into WordPerfect itself if I need to. Copying stuff from anything Microsoft always involves an extra step- copying without formatting, and letting WordPerfect handle it. Lightning would probably allow me to skip that step.

Been a while since I blogged, so I thought I would drop one in about how I go about doing this writing thing I do. I welcome your comments!

And the rest of my Russia Trip is now live!

Greetings! So, if any of you have been waiting, here are the final three days of my trip to Russia! Not as many pics during my visit to the Hermitage, but got some good ones a day later at Peterhof. And wait until you see the Night River Boat Tour! (Just don’t get your expectations up.)

Here’s the direct link to the Russia Trip Home Page, or you can use the menu button just above this post.

Enjoy! And if you do like what you see, please drop me a comment! I would love to hear what you think!

More Russia Trip material posted

So, it’s been something of a busy week. Started a new novel. In the planning stages. Going to spend most of August getting the plot and characters all drawn up, so the actual writing will hopefully go smooth. The name is Dew Drops. It’s a fantasy about a young woman banished from her home because she might be possessed by an ancient spirit. If you’re interested in being a beta reader, please leave me a comment. I would welcome everyone’s input while it’s a work in progress. Helps me see the mistakes I’ll more than likely make. And you’ll get your name on the Acknowledgements page!

I’ve also been working on my Russia Trip posts. Got two more days up and ready for viewing. One day doesn’t have any pics-boo! It was the Kremlin tour. I just… didn’t feel like taking any pictures. Can’t explain why. I got most of Day 4 done. All that’s left is a recounting of the Russian folk show I went to after dinner. Don’t have any pics of that, either, but I have my ticket. Thought I would scan that in before I post. Then there’s only two days left, and the flight home. More material to scan in for those, in addition to the pics.

You can visit the Russia Trip Home Page here. Please leave me a comment if you like what you see!