Revising Leah

February 23, 2009

Hello!

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 4:56 pm

Welcome to Revising Leah, a blog that was active from April 2008 through February 2009. During that time, I revised a young adult novel titled Leah which I originally published back in the 1990s. I used this blog to record that revising experience for posterity and as a way to keep me motivated to continue working on this revising project.

Happily, I completed this project early in 2009 and republished the novel at that time. If you’re interested, you can download a free copy of the new version of the novel HERE. You can also check out my new blog, Juvenilia, HERE.

Otherwise, feel free to browse Revising Leah. If you’ve ever wondered how much toil and how many tears a writer must endure to see a novel to completion, you might just find this blog an interesting read.

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February 5, 2009

The End

This blog has been an act of redemption.

In the months and years following the publication of the first edition of Leah back in 1996, I found myself increasingly unhappy with the book and the quality of the story I had written. My unhappiness loomed over all of my other writing, eventually paralyzing to me to the point where I stopped writing creatively altogether for a few years. It became a goal of mine to revisit and rewrite the novel someday. I needed to redeem myself as a writer, because I knew I am a better writer than the fool who published that poorly written book in 1996.

And, perhaps more importantly, I wanted to redeem Leah Nells, one of my favorite characters that I’ve ever created. She deserved so much better than to languish in the flawed fictional universe where I abandoned her over a decade ago. This project has been for her as much as it’s been for me.

The project is complete now. The novel has been revised and republished, my sense of myself as a writer has been redeemed, and Leah Nells is at last in the story that I imagined for her so many years ago. With nothing left to do and nothing left to revise, I’m bringing this blog to a close. This will be my last post.

I want to thank everyone who visited this blog, everyone who left comments, and everyone who linked to me from their own blogs. It’s been fun meeting so many different people.

I’ll be starting a new writing project — and a new blog — soon. The new book and the new blog will both be titled Juvenilia (there’s a link in the sidebar). Both the book and the blog will be an ambitious project in which I’ll be collaborating with the two main characters in the creation of the novel. It should be a lot of fun, and I hope everyone who followed this blog will join me for my next one. It will probably launch sometime around the first of March. Until then, I’m going to take a little time off, try to drum up some publicity for the new edition of Leah, and continue to proselytize over at Publishing Renaissance.

Endings are often awkward, but at least this is a happy ending.

February 2, 2009

Revised!

My finished novel arrived today. It looks good, so I’ve approved the book for sale through Lulu and elsewhere. Paperback copies may be purchased here.

I’m also making the ebook version of the novel available for free. The PDF download at Lulu will be free, of course, but I’ll also be offering downloads through my website.  Right now, I only have PDF and ePub versions of Leah available, but I’ll be adding PRC and PDB formatted versions, too, soon.

I hope everyone who stops by this page will check the book out. I’m very happy with it.

January 31, 2009

Asymmetrical

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:40 pm
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This week, I’ve been waiting for the new proof copy of my novel to arrive. I know the book has shipped, and I hoped it would arrive by Saturday (today) . . . but no. Hopefully it will arrive Monday.

It’s too bad it didn’t arrive today because I began this process of publishing the book through Lulu on the first day of January, and it would have been beautifully symmetrical for me to have finished the process on the last day of January.

And the arrival of the new copy should be the end of the process. Last night, I had a dream that the new copy did arrive and the cover image was all messed up (but then, in one of those fun moments of lucid dreaming, I realized that since I was only dreaming, I could use the power of my imagination to fix the cover and make it perfect — which I did). But the real copy should look just fine, and the text of the novel has reached a point where I can call it “finished.”

So I continue to wait.

January 28, 2009

Which Ebook Formats Am I Missing?

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 1:29 pm
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I believe in giving away ebook versions of my books, and I’ve got a special page set up for free downloads at my website. Right now, I have three ebook formats to choose from: PDF, PRC, and PDB. So far, I only have those three because while it seems every ebook reader on the market has its own (sometimes proprietary) format, most ebooks are able to interpret at least one of those three formats.

But just because an ebook reader can display, for example, a PDF file, that doesn’t mean that the PDF file looks good or is easy to read when it’s displayed. Unfortunately, I have no way of testing these formats on ebook devices since I do not yet own any ebook reader (I’d like one, but they’re all still so expensive), and since there are so many different readers and devices (like cell phones) capable of displaying some of these formats, there’s no way I can test each device.

My questions are these: if anyone reading this has an ebook reader or a cell phone that can display formats, is there a particular format that I am missing that I absolutely should offer on my “free ebooks” page? Are there any devices that will not display a PDF, PRC, or PDB file at all?

It’s too bad that there isn’t one format (like the mp3 format for audio) that most devices can use. So many different formats will just make it harder for the ebook market to take off.

January 25, 2009

Publishing Through Lulu: The ISBN Barcode

A year ago, when I first published The Spring through Lulu, I remember that the most difficult and confusing part of the process was generating the ISBN barcode for the back cover of my book.

You would think that there would be a website online in which all you have to do is type in your ISBN number and a program would generate a free, high quality barcode image for you to download and use — all in one easy step. There are sites online that can do this, but they aren’t always free. (Perhaps the best option would be for Lulu itself to offer such a service.)

Instead, Lulu directs you to this site, which will generate a barcode for you for free in either .jpg format or .eps format. You don’t want to try to use the .jpg format because the quality of the image isn’t very high, and you need a high quality image for the barcode. The .eps file is what you want, but the trouble is none of my image editing tools on my computer could open up an .eps file.

So what you have to do is download a separate program which will allow you to view and convert the .eps file to another format. A free program, called GSview, is the recommended program (you also need to make sure you have GhostScript installed). It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. Once that program is installed, you can then open the .eps file and convert it to a .png or some other high quality format which you can then edit in another program. (At the very least, you’ll need to crop the image. The barcode image has a lot of white space around it.)

It sounds simple, and I suppose that it is, but I remember last year it took me days to figure out this process. When The Spring was finally published, I knew I’d be re-publishing Leah this year, so I made sure to save the GSview program on my hard drive. A couple weeks ago, when the time came to generate a barcode for the new novel’s cover, it was a very easy process.

January 22, 2009

Quick Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 3:58 pm
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As I said I would, late last night I logged into Lulu, uploaded the corrected manuscript and the new book cover design, and ordered a copy for myself.

That is to say: the book is done.

Now I wait a few days for the new copy to be manufactured and for the postman to deliver it to me. If everything looks good, then I’ll make the novel available to the public and begin (or perhaps I should say, “continue”) the always exciting “marketing stage” of the publishing process.

January 21, 2009

How Can You Finish a Piece of Writing That Can Never Be Finished?

An update: Last week, I received the proof copy of Leah and I read through it, proofreading and making last minute corrections. I thought that I’d be able to submit the corrected manuscript back to Lulu on Sunday, thus beginning the final phase of this publishing process. However, Sunday evening, I was reading passages of my book at random (a couple pages here, a couple pages there), and stumbled upon a sentence in chapter eight in which I had accidentally italicized half of a sentence that should not have been italicized at all.

The discovery freaked me out because it was an error so glaringly obvious that I should have spotted it last week when I was reading through the novel. I started to wonder, then, Well if I missed that, what other errors have I missed?!

So I decided to delay submitting the supposedly “corrected” manuscript for a couple of days. Since Sunday, I’ve continued to just browse through the book randomly. I have spotted a few more errors, but they’ve all been very minor typos.

But Sunday’s freak-out has rekindled has my obsession with perfection and the idea that whatever I write and publish must be perfect, even though I fully realize that no piece of writing can ever be perfect — something can always be done to improve a written work. I have the urge to hold on to my book and not submit it until I have made every single change that I can. But I could work on my manuscript for another hundred years and it will still not be perfect.

I’ll keep browsing through the text this afternoon and this evening, but unless I find another startling error like I found on Sunday, I think I’ll submit the corrected draft of my manuscript to Lulu before I go to bed tonight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sleep.

January 19, 2009

Blogging here, blogging there . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 2:55 pm

I’m a guest blogger today over at Publishing Renaissance. Check it out.

January 18, 2009

Using “Find” to Proofread

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 3:07 pm
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Proofreading, though crucial to good writing, can sometimes be a tedious process. Fortunately, word processors have a function that can help a writer perform very precise proofreading searches. The “Find” (or “Find & Replace” in OpenOffice) function allows you to search for a specific word or phrase in a document. I spent a couple hours yesterday doing searches for some common typos that I, and many other writers, tend to make: its/it’s, lose/loose, affect/effect, etc. I would type, for example, “effect” into the Find box and the program would take me to each and every instance of that word in the text. Then, it was up to me to read the sentence and make sure I’m using the word correctly. I’m happy to report that most of these searches turned up very few errors.

I also used Find to check my use of the word “seemed”. I already knew that I use that word quite a lot in my novel. It appears often because although the narrative is third person, it is a third person narration which privileges Leah’s perspective. Since she isn’t very experienced socially, she often has to guess at the motives and reasons behind other people’s behavior. For example, I need to use “seemed” in a sentence like this one:

David stayed on the other side of the class and seemed to have forgotten about his group.

Leah can’t enter David’s mind. She doesn’t know why the boy does a lot of the things that he does. So much remains a mystery to her, so I need to use that word “seemed.”

But I discovered that about 20% of the appearances of the word “seemed” were not necessary. For example, I might have written something like,

She looked out the window, and it seemed dark outside.

Well, it’s either dark or it isn’t. “Seemed” would be completely inappropriate in this instance. Find allowed me to inspect each and every appearance of that word in the novel without having to read the entire novel straight through.

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