Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fourth time's the charm?

I've uploaded another PDF of OT to Spark, this time making sure everything was in order before I did it. And I've ordered my 4th hard copy proof; I don't even begin to trust the pdf proof they send out. Guess we'll see how it goes, this time around.

While updating the info on my ebooks already available through Smashwords I found out Rape In Holding Cell 6 had a problem. The way Smashwords works, you prep your book in a Word Doc (not docx) and upload it. They strongly encourage having a Table of Contents that links to chapters or headings in the book, which you can do in Word. But apparently if it's broken up too much, it becomes difficult to transition into mobi and such.

So I got a message that the file suddenly had multiple Tables of Contents and that needed to be addressed. That's where today went, and I've just uploaded it to replace the old version. If anyone out there has bought the ebook and had problems with it, let me know and I'll get you a clean copy via a coupon with Smashwords.

It would have been nice to know this two years ago, when I set the book up. But apparently the Auto-vetter that makes sure everything's in order didn't notice or doesn't notice such things. So now I'm waiting to see what happens, and I'll get a proof of this, as well. Guess I'd better check the others, too.

Just another way for me to have fucked up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I am my own worst enemy...

After a lot of back and forth with Ingram Spark, the people who are providing the Print On Demand services for OT, with me close to yelling at them over how crappy the proof copies were coming out, someone finally went into the files I uploaded and found that one part of my PDF was saved as 6x9 instead of 5.5x8.5. That's what was screwing everything up. Seems the first 12 pages of the book -- the opening section with the title, copyright page, Table of Contents and such -- got saved as the larger size when I shifted it to PDF...even though, when I looked at the Word Document and printer settings, it was all the smaller size. Then I merged that with the text, which was the correct size...and it all got saved wrong.

I have no idea how this happened, but now have to upload a new PDF of the text and start over. Meaning I'll miss my deadline of April 30th for the paperback. Dammit. I had planned to submit the book to Writers' Digest's Self-Published book competition, but the deadline is May 2nd and you have to send them a hard copy of the book. They want to see it, feel it, check it out all over the place. No way I can make it in time.

Shit. I can't seem to do anything right, the first...or second...or tenth time through. There's always some fucking mistake, somewhere, that makes me look like an idiot. Doesn't matter what I do to try and make it work right, somewhere, someplace there's an error...and I won't find it till the worst possible moment. Typos are nothing; everybody's got those. I see them consistently in my co-workers' emails. Bad grammar, missing words -- those are not unique to me. I go deep.

Half the reason OT took so damned long to finish is I kept finding logical flaws in the story. Inconsistencies. Bits that raised more questions than were answered. There are still aspects of the story I don't answer, directly; I leave it to the reader to work them out, if they feel like it. But bits I think I have explained suddenly don't make any sense because they contradict other parts of the story or character. I got damn near paranoid about it...and still am, a bit.

Dammit, if there was anything my masochistic psychoses didn't need, it was another excuse to beat myself up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Still marching forward

I'm now working on the dust jacket for the hardcover edition of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. I'm not sure about this one, however, because it's looking just like the paperback and I think they should be dissimilar. At least, that's what my gut's saying. It's just, I really like the way the paperback's cover turned out...if Ingram Spark will print it right. I should have the third proof, tomorrow, to see.

It's not like I'm in any rush on the hardcover, right now. I just want it available, but in order to set it up with Ingram I have to put a price of $29.95 on it. After the printing costs and discounts for the trade, if I go any lower I would make no money on it...and would actually be paying.

I had that problem when I did the paperback for Bobby Carapisi. I put a price of $15.95 on the book but discovered that normal trade discount is 55%, and if I offered anything higher than a 40% discount, I'd go into negative territory. What the heck...the e-books sell better, anyway, and I make as much on them as I do the higher-priced paperbacks. Maybe I'll let it go...

Or I can buy them in bulk and get a good price, then resell them...but I dunno about that. Seems a bit cheesy and desperate. I might get a few just to send off and ask for reviews from magazines and such. And I guess I could haunt the modern market trade fairs to set up a booth and say, Look at me, I'm writing!

That and a bowl of Hershey's Kisses might get passersby to pay attention...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's official...

The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is now available on Smashwords for $1.99. They say. It's available in mobi, epub, lrf, pdb, and online I guess that mean's it's officially published. Finally. This hasn't been a long, hard road, no...and truth is, it's still not over. I'm still working on the paperback edition and contemplating the possibility of a hardcover one. But now I have a place to send people if they want to read it now.

It's still a fairly complex story. And, again, I'll be lucky if I make back what it cost me to put it out there. I don't do well with the salesmanship stuff. That I've gone so far as to link it to my website and on Facebook is more than I'd ever done prior to publishing myself.

Maybe I should Twitter...

My brain is now casting about for the next project to take on, since I'm so close to the end of OT. Is it reworking Mine To Kill? Is it completing Underground Guy? Is it finally getting back to Place of Safety? Is it a page one rewrite of The Alice 65? I got no idea. My head hurts and my eyes ache, so any thought of what's next is pretty much carved in shifting sand. All I do know is, Carli's Kills is set, as are Marked For Death and Find Ray T.

I do want to make at least a small change to Adam in A65 -- putting in a couple more instances where he talks in Latin and German and sings a book into the staging room, where it will be photographed. Quirky stuff.

I guess that's my middle name -- quirky.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Brain been Frankensteined...

As in, "It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" once more. This was one long, tiring, kick-me-in-the-balls week where everything seemed determined to run me into the ground. After that ludicrously long drive down to DC, I packed 2500 books of photography into 63 boxes that weighed an average of 50 lbs each. Shifted them all around this tiny room so I could keep going. Didn't do too bad, but my back, legs, and feet were not happy...and I just could not concentrate on getting the ebook for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor done.

So I hired a couple guys to come load the boxes into the van...neither of them over 30 and so damned spry and easy about those heavy boxes, I felt a hundred years old. Then came a 300 mile drive that ran into a backup that would do the 405 at rush hour proud. No reason, just...10 miles an hour for 28 miles. I left DC with more than enough gas to get me to my destination; I had to stop and fill up.

Then came unloading the van...which I had to assist in because the people taking delivery didn't get any help from the union guys. So I got nice and beat from that. Then I had to do a run into Manhattan so I could pick up some things to pack for shipment...and it seems half of NYC's streets are under construction, and just try to find parking, even commercial (the van had commercial plates). I'd planned to grab a bite to eat after I did the pick-up; instead, I wound up doing the illegal thing and rushing in and rushing out before parking enforcement could catch me.

What capped it off was, as I was backing up to get out of the parking spot, a woman walked behind me then screamed at me for backing up. Bitch saw what I was doing...hell, I was already in motion...but she still got snarly. And I got snarly right back. So VERY NYC.

Getting out of the city was no problem, but it was closing in on 2pm and I still hadn't eaten, so I pulled off the freeway into Parsipanny, NJ to have a burger at a 5 Guys. What they don't tell you in New Jersey is, once you get off the freeway, you can't get back on. I should say, there are ways to reconnect with it...if you go down this road then left on that avenue and circle around this spot and hit a completely different freeway that will take you back where you need to be. Thank God I had GPS on my phone; I'd still be there.

Of course, during a job like this I eat like crap and it caught up with me, so by the time I got home at 10pm, I was sliding into a nice depression. I thought a late-night breakfast at a diner wold help, like I'd do in LA, at Norm's. Couple eggs over easy, hash-browns, bacon, pancakes, toast...about 1500 calories but comfort food's always perfect at mindnight. Problem is, the only 24 hour diner in Buffalo is Denny's. Okay, I can live with that.

Wrong. It was in chaos. Took me 10 minutes to get seated. I got a pot of tea...and then I got ignored by every waiter in the restaurant. No, not ignored, looked at and ignored. No one would take my order. Even the manager said, "Someone'll be with you"...and no one came. I finally went to the register and said I'd like to pay for the tea...and it hadn't even been input. They let me have it for free. How nice.

Well...I did a total crash and burn, and would have slept till noon but I had a dental appointment at 10, this morning, so had to get up for that. And I got the most sadistic bitch of an assistant. Lectured me non-stop about flossing daily, dug under my gums to clean, kept putting my head in very uncomfortable positions so she could dig deeper, and I came damn close to hitting her, once. By the time she was done, I had splatters of blood all over my bib. I mentioned how rough she was to the dentist and got the "It's tough love, to make you floss" crap. My mouth still aches. I think I'm looking for a new dentist.

Then I picked up my mail and saw the proof I'd ordered of OT...and went into crash and burn, again. The printed version does not resemble the PDF proof I got. The cover image is just crooked enough to notice, as is the interior text. I wrote them an e-mail asking about this then ordered another proof, to see if this was just a one-time thing. But it's not the capper I wanted for the week.

The one positive thing was I got a decent restructure of Mine To Kill worked out, along with the reason for the script and why it's important for Martha and (now) Matt to have their conflict. It's all about control and how sometimes that can be very, very bad. I did it as I drove, since there were many occasions where I was only piddling along.

I'll discuss the script (or story) more later. Right now I just needed to vent my frustration with a week that seemed insistent on making my life as hard as possible. And I do feel better.

Except for my mouth...which still fucking hurts...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Oddities occur...

Google Maps likes to play with you. I had to drive down to Washington, DC today to get ready for a packing job, tomorrow, so I checked to see how long the drive would be. It suggested I take a route that's fairly direct -- just 395 miles as opposed to 460, and would be 15 minutes faster...and it took me through the Allegheny National Forest (which would have been lovely if the trees were in bloom). So I figured, Why not?

Well...the reason is -- 1/3 of the roads Google had me go down were two-lane blacktops with lower speed limits, no-passing zones, lots of little towns where you suddenly had to go 25mph, and Sunday drivers. Next time I go to DC, I'm taking the Interstate the whole damned way. It may be 65 miles longer but it would have taken an hour less.

Still...that's just nonsense stuff you'll never know about until you try, and at least I let myself have a long, long adventure behind the wheel. What made this odd was, while I'm riding down the road, I'm also riding high on Carli's Kills, a low-budget horror-thriller I wrote, making it to semi-finalist in the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship. Not exactly the Nicholl, but still a solid reaffirmation of my abilities.

Which, for some reason, led me to having ideas on how to rewrite a little psychological horror script I hadn't done anything with in years; why it came up, I have no idea. It's called Mine To Kill and is about the collision between an empathic-intuitive ER intern who can see the evil in men's souls and a brilliant woman who's obsessed with her cheating husband. He dies in a car wreck and she tries to bring him back to they can kill the intern for letting him die.

I never could get it really come together. Parts are really good; parts are just slapped in place to make things happen. It's sort of been my step-child of a I like but not my favorite...until this drive. Since I had so much leisurely time behind the wheel, my mind wandered into the story and I finally saw the problem -- I was trying to reconcile a very off-beat story about two wounded people who wind up as enemies with what I'd been told has to happen according to Syd Field and Save The Cat and all those crappy how-to books on screenwriting.

To start with, it's not a 3-act script; it's a 5-act. Which breaks the rules, just from the outset. I wrote Wide New World as a 5 act and people kept telling me it was all wrong, but with that one I could say I just didn't care. I accepted it for what it is, and for me to have forced it into a 3-act structure would have killed the story. I learned that from bad experience.

I also wrote a 2-act script and people said that was preposterous, that there is no such thing. Well, there is -- Psycho. The first act is Marion stealing the money to help Sam, in 3 movements; the second act is Lila and Sam trying to find out what happened to her, in 2 movements. People's dismissal of that is just a refusal to accept that not everything fits into a pre-cast formula. So I'm going to rework MTK in the way it wants to be and see what happens. I acknowledge that means most of the film industry will not consider the script worthy of attention...and maybe that's just me being arrogant or self-indulgent, I don't know.

I just know, when the story finally settles into its length and structure, I risk destroying it if I don't along...and I think MTK has finally decided what it wants to do.

Friday, April 15, 2016

I dood it...

Well...after much deliberating and non-stop head-banging, I found a link to a video that actually helped me do what too many people were telling me could not be done -- shift a document from Word for Mac to a PDF with embedded fonts and still have its headers show. My savior is from Sweden, it seems.

Anyway, since I'm doing this in a 5.5x8.5 inch, first I had to set the document size to that, input the margins I wanted, make sure it was applied to ALL the document and not just one section, then go into Page Setup, Manage Custom Sizes and build and name a new setting.

Click the + to add a new setting, input the size you want -- like 5.5 by 8.5 -- then in the Non-Printable area make sure it's User Defined and everything is set to 0. Finally, click OK. Then open your printer and set the Default Paper Size to the same size paper. If you don't, it will put your 5.5x8.5 inch document into the middle of an 8.5x11 size PDF page.

Then you Save to PDF...and it comes out looking exactly like you want...after a half-dozen false starts. Except...for some reason mine's been saved in 2 parts -- the first 12 pages (being section 1) and the rest of the document. That isn't such a big deal for me; I can use the shop's Adobe setup to combine them...but I won't have that forever so I need to find a way around it. I can sort of do it and it looks good.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

It's still going on...

I was working on the ebook for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and found a typo. A friggin' typo! I put do instead of so in a sentence and just happened to notice it. Which has now jolted my paranoid side and will slow down the print edition because now I need to go through the full thing and see if I can find any others. That or pay a couple hundred bucks that I don't have for another proofing.

Of course, that led to other changes I wanted to I figured,Why not? I guess I won't stop working on this book until it's sold come copies; then I'll have to let go or make it a new edition and I've got too many other projects to chase for that to happen.

This means I'm resubmitting the text for the paperback. Which is irritating, but not doing it will drive me nuts so it's the better option. At least all three editions have the same changes, and the ebook is close to being ready to submit. I just need to link the Table of Contents to the chapters. I hope.

I'm off to DC on Sunday and another big packing job that people seem to think can be done in one day. Maybe it could if I worked with a couple guys and just slammed books into the boxes. But I don't treat books that way. And if they don't like it, too bad.

Then there's another possible job in Berkeley, next month. That's still very much up in the air, so it could fall apart. But it would be interesting. I've never actually been to Berkeley; the closest was Oakland. I'm not crazy about the trucking company we use, there...if it's big enough to actually need them. Maybe I'll talk everyone concerned into letting me drive the shipment down to LA.

Yeah, and maybe pigs will roost in the trees, tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2016

First part done...

The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is now in the process of being set up for publishing in paperback. It's $15.99, which I think is pricey...but I can't lower it. After printing fees and trade discounts, that would put me into negative-income territory, and Ingram won't allow that. At least the e-book will be inexpensive, once I get that done. I'll start on that tomorrow or the next day; right now I'm wiped.

Of course, there were hiccups. The PDF wasn't embedding the fonts when I shifted from Word. I fiddled with it a bit and I'm still not sure exactly what I did, but it worked. Then when I tried to upload the cover, they rejected the form they sent me to use. Said it wasn't in CMYK. Fortunately, I'd also done a cover without using the form, and that one got accepted.

I'm going to buy a physical proof, once it's ready. I need that to make sure it's really going to look right when it's printed. Sort of a tactile thing...and I found out when I did Bobby Carapisi it's a good thing to do; the first proof of that book had the cover misaligned due to my errors.

Now I need to re-familiarize myself with how Smashwords works. It's been 2 years since I last self-published and I've forgotten most of how to link up the table of contents with the chapter headings so the reader can shift to them, easily.

The hardcover's going to be last, and it's only because I want to do it just to see how it turns out. And have one of my books in hardcover. I doubt I'll sell any because to work that, I'll have to price it at $29.99.

Now I look around and my workspace is a usual after a project like this.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What could go wrong?

So...I spend all weekend getting ready to submit The Vanishing of Owen Taylor to Ingram to be published...and just as I'm loading it up...I find I misspelled the photographer's name. The man who's letting me use his work. NOT cool.

Thing is, I can't do anything about it, tonight. I'll have to wait till I'm at the office, tomorrow, and re-save the Word docs as PDFs once I've corrected that. Sooooooo irritating.

Here's how the cover finally wound up. I wasn't having much luck with the red when I shifted from RGB to CMYK -- it kept going orange until I removed a mask on the lettering. Still not great, so I went into heighten the red hues. It's better, but when I submit I'm going to ask if they can do anything about that. I want it red, not sort-of-kind-of reddish.

I guess if I'm going to be doing this, I'll need to upgrade my Photoshop and look into other formats to do the publishing text in. And get a better website. Meaning, I'll also need to upgrade my computer...or maybe get a tablet. I dunno. I better find out how much this book is costing, once it's done.

Self-publishing is such a pain...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

First pass at a full cover...

Still not 100% on it but it's a good place to start. I need to justify the text on the back...and maybe reword it and...oh, hell, I'll deal with that, tomorrow.

I also finished the pdfs of the hardcover and paperbacks. At least until Lightning Source says they won't work or something. It wasn't easy...

...and right now, I'm brain dead...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Which blurb is better?

I need some feedback. I finished listening to a seminar on writing a better book blurb and have tried a couple of possibilities. Any feedback is appreciated.

Jacob Blaine was being torn apart.

On one side -- his lover, Antony, was pushing him away; on the other side -- his uncle Owen had vanished and Jake needed to find out why. It didn't help that his anti-gay mother was now dying from cancer and his step-mother wanted him to leave Antony, too.

Then it turned out other men had vanished in Palm Springs, and a group named PSALMS was spreading hate and distrust of the gay community in hopes of turning back gay rights.

Before he knew it, Jake was caught up in a vicious web of lies, fear, distrust, betrayal, intimidation and manipulation woven by people who would stop at nothing to achieve their goal of ridding the city of its gay population.

Not even if it meant killing Jake.

Murder is murder, no matter how good your reasons.

Jacob Blaine was a graphic artist working for an advertising agency in Denmark, who was stuck in Texas thanks to the legal issues of his lover, Antony St. Lazarre. But then Jake's uncle, Owen Taylor, vanished after mailing two cryptic notes and a key to his old address in Copenhagen. It was like the man wanted his nephew to do something ... even though he didn't bother explaining what.

So Jake set up a quick trip to Palm Springs to find out what was going on, thinking it would only take a few days. To his shock, he learned the District Attorney's office had filed charges against Owen for sex with an underage male, and that his friends blithely assumed he had fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution. But it was obvious the accusations were a lie, and then there were Owen's battles with an anti-gay group named PSALMS, who were out to rid the city of its gay population, and Jake's own confrontations with the Palm Springs police.Things were spiraling out of control.

Soon, Jake found himself trapped in a vicious web of lies, fear, distrust, betrayal, intimidation and manipulation woven by people who would stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

Not even if it meant the death of Jake. the fuller explanation better than the taut general one? Do either of them make you want to read the book? Does anyone have any idea how to work it better? I'm open to anything, because once' it's published, that's like being carved in stone.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It's the little things...

Well...I had a chance to use my PC at work to shift OT from Word to a PDF...and it totally screwed me over. Oh, the headers came out nice. But all of a sudden the book was nearly 100 pages longer and my Table of Contents no longer matched anything. I shifted from Palatino to Times New Roman, which dropped the page count to 360 in the paperback, and I found I also had to change all the headers' fonts because Adobe didn't recognize Calibri. Once I did all of came out lovely.

Except...some of the headers are a bit out of line, again, so I have to work on it, some more. Grr. I think I need to look at a different program to publish my books. That or just do e-books. I dunno. It's brain-numbing getting everything to look right and proper, and I'm trying so hard to make this one look like a professionally published work than a self-published one, I think I've veered into obsessive-compulsive-ville.

I got the template from Ingram Spark to use for my cover, and realized what my mistakes were on the previous covers -- not allowing enough space between the crop lines and the bleed areas. So I've already adjusted the front cover. I'm now going to listen to a seminar on writing book blurbs that sell. See if I can make this one really rock.

I no longer have an ego about my writing -- I know I'm good, but there's always room for improvement.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The beginning of the end...

I hope. I ran into a lovely limitation with my version of Word -- it will not translate headers into a pdf file with the rest of the document. They're outside the printable area, apparently, and there is nothing you can do to make it work, according to a dozen different sites I went to. I'm taking the manuscript in to work to see if I fare better on a PC as opposed to a Mac...but I seem to recall I did that with another book and it reworked my pages a little.

The paperback's going to be $15.99; any lower on the price and I'm into negative territory, thanks to printing costs and discounts to retailers. Meaning I won't make a lot per book, but I'm okay with that.

This is the beginning of the cover for the paperback edition. I brightened the title a bit, removed some extra wordage, and blacked out the model's knee to give it a more...I dunno...almost reverent feel, to me. I came close to talking myself into putting the knee back in and just making it more obvious as to what it is...but when I started to, it felt wrong. So...Jordan (the model) not only gets his beard trimmed down to a goatee, but he also loses some nudity.

The title's still on the dark side, but I like it. This almost feels elegant. Once I have the rest of the wordage in -- synopsis, bio, that kind of stuff -- it may look better or I may brighten it, some more.

The cover is a bit off because I'm allowing for trim and bleed. I tried to get it to save with the guide lines, to show the actual configuration, but it didn't work. It's a non-stop fight to get anything done with my old programs.

Maybe I should start playing the lottery to see if I can win at least enough to upgrade my computer and programs.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Joy Of Word...

Sometimes I hate computers. Their programs seem designed to drive you mad and remind you that even as they lessen some of the effort you have to put into a manuscript, they increase it in ways unknowable...till the time comes when you have to use them.

After a nice long search on Google and through YouTube I have come to the conclusion the only way to get a uniform number of lines on a full book is to do every two pages as a section and then cut and paste to force it on the damned format. Meaning...since the hardcover wound up being 320 pages long...I'd have to set up 160 separate sections. And that's with me not even knowing if that would work with Ingram Spark.

So...the book's got everything it needs but that. Well...that and the irritating way it keeps adjusting my headers in spots so that the numbers are out of line by a half-point. And not consistently. The good thing is, I don't submit a Word doc for publishing; I send in a PDF. Which may mean my worry about 160 sections might be meaningless.

But here it is -- the paperback is 376 pages, front to back, while the hardcover is 320. And I'm still finessing the story. I just rewrote the last few paragraphs to better suit Jake's growing self-awareness, and I decided a couple of lines at one point were not really right for Jake, so out they came. Meaning I had to update both editions.

Jeez...maybe I better set up the e-book format and see if I have any adjustments to make with that before I send the final manuscript off.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Proofing done on OT

I'm finally finished with the page by page proofing I was doing, backwards. Now comes polishing the layout so it looks good. Word has its limits when it comes to that. Sometimes it forgets where I've set margins for the headers, by maybe 1/4 of an inch. Sometimes it reworks the spacing between lines. I have yet to figure out how to get a consistent number of lines per page; I'll hit YouTube about that, tomorrow.

I'm working the layout for both the hardcover and paperback at the same time, so if any changes get made they're consistent between the two formats. And I need to write up a nice biography and get a photo of me to put in the back of the books. I've also got to finalize the number of pages so I can inform Bowker and get the Library of Congress card set up, not to mention the Table of Contents for each version. Lots of detail, still, that's fer dang sure.

The hardcover edition, which will be 6x9 inches, is about 300 pages of story; the paperback is about 365; it's 5.5x8.5.  I have the front cover of the paperback all set; I just need to work out the spine and back cover. After that come the proofs of each version; that is all but a requirement if you want to make certain the books will look right. Then will come the e-book, which is a completely different format. No pagination, for example, and only a front cover.

I had hot cocoa to celebrate getting to the end of this. Yeah, really exciting...and a bit of a mistake. The mix I used was really sweet and my stomach is not happy with it. So in a way...I lived dangerously.

It's April 2nd and my car has 1/4 inch of snow on it, right now. It's the end of the world.