Revising Leah

January 31, 2009

Asymmetrical

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

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
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , , , ,

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.

January 16, 2009

Almost

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 12:36 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, I finished reading through the proof copy of my novel today. I had thought that I would today be ready to submit the revised manuscript and book cover back to Lulu, but I’ve decided to sit on the book for the weekend and think about it some more. In the second half of the novel, I noticed a couple of potential continuity errors, so I want to make sure those are taken care of. Plus, I feel like I read through the novel so quickly (40-50 pages a day) that I just want to pause and catch my breath. Hopefully, on Monday, everything will be ready to go, and I’ll submit the revised documents then.

January 14, 2009

A Dream Deferred (and Deleted)

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 4:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

At the beginning of chapter fourteen, I had a paragraph-length description of a dream that Leah experiences a couple days after her school’s Homecoming Dance. The dream has long been a source of indecision for me because I always thought that the dream I described here was more than a little cheesy. In previous revision cycles, I considered cutting it from the story, but I chose instead to compromise: I left it in but tried to sweep the cheesiness out of the scene. I think I did a pretty good job.

But yesterday, when I was reading the passage again, it occurred to me that it might conflict with the scene at the end of chapter thirteen. At the end of chapter thirteen, in one of my favorite moments in the novel, Leah unhappily accepts the fact that she isn’t going to the Homecoming Dance with David or anyone else.

Apparently, in previous revision cycles I must have always taken a break from reading once I finished chapter thirteen, because this time, when I read the dream sequence at the start of chapter fourteen just seconds after reading the end of chapter fourteen, it suddenly occurred to me that the dream sequence completely contradicts and undermines the emotional impact of that final scene in chapter thirteen. I have never noticed this until now, and it alarmed me when I realized what I had done.

It’s too late for me to cut the plan for a dream sequence out of chapter fourteen since it is woven tightly into the start of chapter fourteen. I’d have to completely rewrite the first couple of pages of the chapter.

So what I’ve decided to do here is replace the Leah’s dream with another dream. It was the setting of the dream (a formal dance that was like something out of Cinderella) that caused the trouble. I changed the setting of the dream but not what made the dream so appealing to Leah: it was about she and David spending time together, alone — and talking to each other.

I think that has solved the problem, and it’s a lucky thing I caught it. The transitions between chapters has been something that I’ve been worried about. Because I can’t read the whole novel in one sitting, I have to stop some time. A new chapter is always a logical place to take a break, but taking a break disrupts the flow of reading, and when I stop I risk missing a transition problem like this one.

January 13, 2009

The Final Edits

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As I read through the proof copy of the novel, making the final set of changes and edits, I find myself reading through the book rapidly — I’ve been reading at least fifty pages a day. That’s good, because it means I’m finding few mistakes. Each sentence and each idea is flowing smoothly into the next. When I feel tripped up, when I have to stop and re-read a sentence or a paragraph, that’s usually an occasion to fix something, but I haven’t experienced very many of those moments.

The biggest change that I’ve made to the text so far is to delete an entire paragraph from chapter two. The paragraph just seemed superfluous, and when I read the passage without the paragraph, it sounds better.

But most of the edits that I’ve made have been little changes. As I thought I might, I have found some lines of dialogue that aren’t punctuated just right. Many of the edits, though, have been the usual word choice errors that always plague me. For example, in chapter six, I wrote this sentence:

Instead, her eyes darted to each of the boys’ laughing faces, and then they took a quick glance out the window at her table on the patio.

The problem here is the pronoun “they”. It isn’t clear what its antecedent is. It is supposed to refer to “her eyes,” but given this sentence construction, it appears to refer to “the boys”. I fixed this problem simply by changing “they” to “she”.

I’ve also found a couple of continuity errors. In chapter ten, I write,

David handed the piece of paper to Heather and said, as he sat down . . .

but then a few lines later, I write,

“And they lived in Egypt,” David laughed as he sat down.

So here I have a character performing the incredible act of sitting down twice in the same desk. That’s gotta break some law of physics or another! In this case, I decided that the first time David sat down was sufficient, and deleted his second occasion of sitting.

I don’t expect that I’ll ever be able to change every single thing that I might want to fix, but I know that every correction I make brings the novel just a little bit closer to a state of perfection. Overall, though, I’ve been quite happy with the book.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.