Stop Pulling Your Hair Out – Steps to Easy E-formatting

Distressed Woman FreeDigital Photos Dot NetSome authors I have come to know are having some issues formatting their novels for ebooks. I can help with that.

If you are not an author, this post will probably not be interesting to you. You can stop right here. Maybe you missed last week’s post on Fifty Shades? Here it is.

Okay, so the rest of you still reading are interested in ebook formatting.

This discussion will not involve anything too fancy, I have never embedded pictures, for example, so the following instructions will not include that.

For those who want to include charts, graphs, pictures and other neat stuff, you might want to leave too. But what about this cool post on aphorisms? The French particularly liked them, as pointed out by one very dapper Frenchman. Here it is.

More disclaimer. These instructions are for Kindle only. They will show you how to prepare a file that can be uploaded directly to Amazon. If you are interested in some other ebook venue, such as Smashwords, don’t read any further. Although I am going to prepare a post on my findings about how easy (or not) that is, when I actually attempt to do it for Perigee Moon. For you folks, how about a fun post on malapropisms? Here it is.

These instructions are for Microsoft Word only. I don’t use anything else, and I don’t know anything else. So if you don’t use MS Word, stop here. You might want to visit another popular post. Why not take a look at my most popular post ever, about euphemisms? Here it is.

All-righty then. The rest of you must be authors, interested in easy eformatting your MS Word manuscript for the Amazon Kindle.

Clicking right here will bring up a conveniently already formatted short novel in Microsoft Word, which is installed on your computer, or you would not still be here (see above). Note that it contains a version of filler text called “Cupcake“, a much more appealing Lorem Ipsum. Fun-filled with treats to brighten your day, instead of boring Latin.

Here’s what you need to do with the document you’ve just opened.

Change the first page, for your title and author name.

Next is the copyright page Insert your name here and ISBN.

The optional Thank You page is next.

I have also included another page for miscellany, sometimes a quote, a snippet of text, a poem is nice. Or it can be a subtitle. It can be anything you want.

If you need more pages, simply copy/paste this last page. Or delete as needed. There is already a Page Break inserted after each of the four pages, but if you add pages, make sure there is a Page Break immediately following the last word on the page. It must be a page break, which is on the Insert tab. On my system it is the third icon from the left.

The Table of Contents is next but leave this alone for now, until all your chapters have been formatted. Click on the Word Insert tab and then the Bookmark icon and note that there are two bookmarks set up. One for “toc” and one for “start”. These are recommended by the Kindle people. Readers will be able to use the “Go to” features and jump to a chapter or go to the beginning because of these bookmarks. You don’t have to do anything with them.

Bookmarks

I have included three chapters. Duplicate for as many chapters as you have.

Label each chapter heading with your chapter title.

Insert your chapter text.

A bit about Styles. You can create a Style in word and apply it to a paragraph or a block of text. I have created three styles that make up the chapters and they are included in this template.

  • First paragraph (leaves a large space between the chapter title and the first paragraph, .5 in. indent).
  • New Section (leaves one blank line between paragraphs, .5 indent).
  • Normal with Indent (.5 indent with no special spacing).

These three are all you need, but you can add more if desired.

Click on the Change Styles down arrow. It is quite tiny (thanks Microsoft for being so intuitive) but here is where you click, by the red and yellow arrow I have inserted. This will bring up the Styles window in the sidebar.

Styles

Select the first paragraph of your first chapter and apply the First Paragraph style.

Select all remaining paragraphs in the first chapter and apply the Normal with Indent style.

Go back through the chapter and replace any paragraphs that start a new section with the New Section style. This is not required. Note: Instead of a separate style, you can also use symbols (such as ***) between paragraphs to denote a new section but make sure that this is center-justified to ensure that it appears in the center of the Kindle page.

Repeat for all the chapters.

There is a Disclaimer page at the end with the usual blah-blah.

Now return to the Table of Contents, place your cursor anywhere inside it and hit F9. This updates the Table of Contents with your chapters.

That’s pretty much it. You can either upload the Microsoft Word .docx file directly to Kindle or save it as Web Page, Filtered (which creates an .html file) and upload to www.kdp.amazon.com.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Things Not to Like About Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of GreyRated M for Mature Audiences.

What’s wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey? What’s right with it? Read on, to find out!

Yet another blogger is taking it upon herself to critique Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Moi! This is not a review of the novel exactly. Because Ms. James needs no review from me. On Amazon alone, at the time of this writing, over 16,000 reviews were in place for her novel, the first in the Fifty Shades trilogy. The average rating is a little over 3 stars which is mediocre, so apparently a lot of the reviewers feel the same way I do. I’m not reading all 16,000 to find out though.

Like many others, I had to find out what all the excitement was about. I had started this tome before, and got half through, and was thoroughly not captivated, not amused, not titillated, and not interested in what became of Anastasia Steele and her ill-fated tryst with Christian Grey. But I decided to try again and this time, I would note all the things that drove me bug-nuts and then blog about it.

A handy itemized list of complaints for your easy consumption:

1. Repeating actions. Anastasia does the same things over and over, ad nauseum. Eye rolling and lip biting does get tedious. Maybe try some other quirky, I-am-so-lovely-yet-without-a-clue-how-lovely-that-is, twenty-something, amusing facial expressions. It would be appreciated by the reader. The wonderful, virginous, cutsily clumsy Ms. Steele even rolls her eyes at herself! Oh Ms. Steele, you minx, you.

2. Cliches. Pedal to the metal? Are we serious here, Ms. James? Your picture shows a woman so young as to not even have heard this particular phrase used in conversation. Do people still say this? When I think of it, I think of some of the guys I used to know with their primer-painted, fixed up ’57 Chevies. And Monkey’s Uncle? Please tell me this one got by your editor. Or maybe she was rolling her eyes at the time and missed it?

3. Stereotypes. Ms. Steele never knows how off-the-charts gorgeous she is, of course, in a messily, plump-lipped, doe-eyed way and so she falls into Mr. Grey’s office the first time she meets him. That’s right. She trips over her own feet and falls down, and he has to help her up. This sounds like a really bad chick flick to me, and we’re still in Chapter One. And she’s a virgin, at what, twenty-two? And the time frame is, uh, now? This is a rare situation indeed.

4. Overused craps. Enough with the crap, double crap and the occasional triple crap.

5. Wow-did-she-really-write-that phrases. Here’s three that made my eyes roll:

  • …tossing her silken reddish-blond hair over her shoulder.” I don’t know what is most annoying; the tossing, the silken or the reddish-blond.
  • …gasping out my name in desperate wonder.Wha-att? I didn’t really read that, did I?
  • He gives me a wolfish grin.Pa-lease, I’m biting my lip here.

6. Too-often-used physical reactions. Ms. Steele flushes and blushes and goes crimson so often I think she may need to consult someone who specializes in blood pressure issues.

7. Holy Repeating Phrase, Batman! Here’s where it really gets tedious. The holy craps, holy shits, holy fucks, holy cows, holy hells and even an occasional holy Moses became so repetitive and annoying that I decided to count them. The Grand Total is 139 instances of these various Holy phrases. Everyone must have noticed this. I’m not the only one. Why is Anastasia in awe or in shock so often?

  • Holy shit (50)
  • Holy crap (38)
  • Holy fuck (19)
  • Holy cow (18)
  • Holy hell (9)
  • Holy Moses (5)

8. Writing style. It was not beautifully written.

9. The subject matter. Surprising how many people don’t have a problem with it.

10.Miscellaneous. Charlie Tango is a dumb name for a helicopter.

Shocked Woman

Holy crap! That’s right, holy crap!

Lest this be considered yet another sour grapes epistle, let me congratulate Ms. James on being the first at something. She brought erotica mainstream and her trilogy was newly a phenomenon when the copycats were popping up as fast as Viagra ads in the spam folder.

Here’s what I liked about Fifty Shades:

1. Writing style. It was not horribly written.

2. Music. The references to music  (and when I looked up some of the pieces I found a Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack!) There’s going to be a movie! Of course, Hollywood has to get in on the action. How are they going to get that rated R, I wonder?

3. The ending. Probably some of the best writing in the whole book and I had to wait until the last few pages to read it. And it’s a hook to get you to go on to the second in the trilogy.

4. The cover. The tie has a special significance in the story, and what could be more a symbol of power than an understated, expensive tie?

I am going to pass on any more Fifty Shades. I found it to be tedious, and I was uncomfortable reading some of it. The writing was mediocre, but it wasn’t terrible. I’ve read a lot worse. But I guess with what this book is selling, the quality of the writing is not too important.

What do you think about it? Or are you tired of the whole subject?

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Makes a Stop Here

3D Man Holding Perigee MoonThanks to Carol Fragale Brill of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Carol’s new novel, Piece by Peace is coming out very soon and I am excited to read it. I have read all of Carol’s thoughtful reviews of other books, and I have a feeling her novel is going to be a good reading experience.

As part of this exercise, I am to answer 10 questions about my latest work:

  1. What is the working title of your book? Perigee Moon (Just typed “perogee”, isn’t that some sort of Polish potato treat?) But a definite maybe for the title of an oncoming new novel. Perogees at Noon.
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? One night, in Clearwater FL, I was awakened by the full moon shining in the window. I got up to go outside and look, and take pictures of it. It was so bright that the sky appeared burnished, more brown than black, and the moon glowed a bright gold and little wispy clouds floated past it. Later, I learned the reason it seemed so ethereal (fancy-schmancy word which means “real purty”) was because it was one month before the Perigee Moon, when the moon appears much larger to us earthlings. It was a nature phenomenon when one thinks about how we are all pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of the solar systems. I got the idea of a character feeling that same way. Later it evolved into him having an “oh I get it now” moment when he views the Perigee Moon. Then the idea of the controlling woman, the bad marriage, the change in lifestyle the character wants to make and finally, the reconnection with a woman from his past.
  3. What is the genre of the book? It is women’s fiction, and as a sub-genre it is baby boomer lit, since the character grew up in the fifties/sixties. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Big boom in boomer lit these days!
  4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition? For the main character, Bradley Cooper. Demi Moore for Kate,  since she did such a good job of sexually harassing Michael Douglas in Disclosure. Perhaps Diane Keaton for Abby. Think these actors are up for this challenge?
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the “should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? Self-published. I have neither the time nor the patience to do otherwise.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? About one year.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My other two, Second Stories and Whatever Happened to Lily? No really, I’d like to say works by Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler but that is a privileged society of which I am merely one of the unwashed who elbows her way to the front of the line in order to get a closer look at the limo.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to try humor. I tried to inject it in certain places, although to say it’s a real thigh-slapper would be frugal with the truth. Whether the attempts at humor worked or not, I am not sure. Like everything else, humor is personal. What’s funny to one is inane or misunderstood by another. There are a lot of my own reflections in it, especially the “workspeak” where Luke has his second epiphany about where he should direct the rest of his career. Things that became intolerable to me, found their way into this novel. Sometimes we need to step back, take a look at what we’re doing, decide if it is providing the satisfaction we crave, or whether we’re like the proverbial hamsters, doing what we do because it’s what we do and what we’ve always done.
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s a nice story. It’s a character-driven novel, and those characters are, I think, believable. And everyone can relate to what happens to Luke. We make choices when we’re young and sometimes they aren’t the correct ones. We turn left, but a right turn would have been better. (No pun intended. Ah. The English language, so ripe for punnery.) We can watch a character become true to himself, and instead of doing what others want, he learns to do what he wants.

Now it’s my turn to tag three great authors. I’d like to pass this opportunity on to Jenny Gill, Johanna Van Zanten and June Collins. These women have become good cyber-friends of mine and I have read an reviewed all their books.

 

 

Unknown Blogger Ages Ten Years After Receiving Negative Comment!

lovehateHow I love getting those emails from WordPress which announce a new comment! Maybe, in time, I will choose not to receive a notification for each and every comment, but for now, they aren’t so much in abundance that they are annoying. In fact, they pretty much make my day, they make my world a little brighter, they are my walk on the beach, my birdsong in morning, my wine after sunset… okay, enough with the mundane metaphors.

So imagine my surprise, nay, utter humiliation, when I received a very negative comment, which critiqued not only my post, but slandered my very character, and hurt me deeply, a cut to the bone.

Doctors Amazed by Premature Aging!

Doctors Amazed by Premature Aging!

In September 2011 I published a post, Writing With Music, about listening to music while writing. There is a particularly haunting piece that I played over and over and it worked so well for me that I thought I’d pass it on to fellow writers, or maybe just alert some people to a great audio experience. It wasn’t a successful post. No one appeared to care much about it. I don’t believe anyone even clicked on the YouTube video provided within the post.

But fifteen months later, I received notification from WordPress that I had a comment on the Writing With Music post. It was from someone named “Anonymous”:

I find it amazingly careless, ignorant and unprofessional for someone
who claims to (and may very well) be an author and reviewer of fiction to not research first, something they’ve chosen to write about, with the intention of presenting it to an audience of their readers.

It diminishes the credibility of the writer and the trust a reader invests in them:

ADAGIO – is an italian musical term that marks the tempo in which a piece of music is to be played as “slow and stately.” It means literally, “at ease.” An antonym would be ALLEGRO, meaning “fast and lively.”

Op. or OPUS – is a composition, piece of work, work of art or creation.

Holy crap. My life is over. I am shutting down this blog. Right now. I’ve been found out. Not only am I careless, I am amazingly careless. And ignorant too? Isn’t it enough that I’m just amazingly careless? So, I picture it this way: Amazingly careless is the Hostess cupcake, ignorant is the chocolate frosting, and since that is never quite enough, unprofessional is that white curly thing on top.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Really?

I “claim to be an author and reviewer of fiction”. Well, sir, I can’t make that claim any longer since I have acted in such a lowly and reprehensible way.

And I’m not sure why I believe this commenter to be a male, it’s just a gut feeling I have. I could be wrong about this. God knows, I’ve been wrong about a shitload of other stuff in my life.

After rereading the post again, though, I found that what Mr. Anonymous most likely had taken it upon himself to object to was the following:

“I’m not sure of the meaning of “Adagio” nor what “Op.” stands for…”

That was the only thing I could find.

What?

Dude. Mr. Anonymous. This is a writing blog. Not a music blog. Why all the blow-it-all-out-of-proportion nastiness on your part here? Couldn’t you have worded it a little nicer? Maybe just implied that I might have my head you-know-where, rather than pointing out for all the WWW to see? A little subtlety would have been most appreciated.

Then I thought: But wait! I have no idea what was going on in Mr. Anonymous’ life when he decided to expose me for the ignorant, music-illiterate that I am.

  • Maybe his Significant Other of n number of years just called him a Music Bigot and walked out on him?
  • Maybe he’s writing a music blog and no one is commenting and/or even reading and he’s getting damn tired of it?
  • Maybe he’s just in a really rotten mood, and he’s annoyed that someone with no music clue would deign to comment on Vaughn Williams?

Any or all of these things could be true. So, I’m giving the benefit of a lot of doubt here and accepting Mr. Anonymous’ critique with the dignity it deserves.

Here’s my response:

You are so right! I am careless, unprofessional and certainly ignorant. As a “maybe” author, these are traits that will affect my career — and ultimately render whatever life I have left — worthless. A broken woman, that’s what I am. Finally found out.

The only argument I have, the only trivial little thing I can conjure up as even a hint of an explanation is this: It’s a writing blog, not a music blog. I was trying to give my readers some ideas about what types of music might inspire them while writing, but unless I can define Adagio, I suppose that information is meaningless.

I may never blog again. But wait! I should blog about this very thing. Look for your comment, blown up out of all proportion in a post January, 2013.

Again, thanks so much for setting me straight. Consider my credibility duly diminished and I’m sure there isn’t a reader out there whose trust I can safely say I still have.

(And, Mr. Anonymous, I don’t mean to be picky here, but “italian” should be capitalized.)

On the other hand, could this be a positive thing? Is the fact that I have received such negativity a sign that I have arrived in the World of Bloggery? Can I compare it to Amazon reviews of Jonathan Franzen novels? He gets as many one-star reviews as five-star! And wow, we know what a successful author he is, so can this be a step up for me, from total obscurity to relative obscurity?

That would be, well, amazingly spectacular.

Love/Hate Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Crying Old Lady Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net