Tollard’s Peak – LIVE!

Ok, it actually went live yesterday, and I neglected to to you about it.  Sorry about that.  But it’s true: Tollard’s Peak (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #3) is now live for sale.

Tollard's Peak Ebook Cover - 600x900

Winter in Glimmer Vale – a time to remain close to shelter or, preferably, indoors. Most definitely not a time to brave the mountain peaks surrounding the valley. Raedrick and Julian certainly have no intention of doing so until a man from their past, nearly dead from exposure, appears at the outskirts of Lydelton. Once recovered, he tells them of his friend who lies injured on the flank of Tollard’s Peak, the tallest mountain in the region. Unable to ignore the stranded fellow’s need, the two Constables form a party to rescue him.

But there is more to the story than it first appeared, and very soon Raedrick and Julian find themselves struggling against far more than the elements as they brave the perilous peak. It will take all of their strength and resolve to survive their quest and get to the bottom of the mystery that drew these men into the bleak cold of the mountainside. And they are not the only ones who are searching.

It’s priced at $2.99, and you can find it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play.  It’s not live on iTunes yet because Apple is still processing it.

You can also obtain it in trade paperback for $15.95.  At the moment the only place to get it is through the Createspace e-store, but it will show up on all the usual print channels shortly.

 

And don’t forget, Glimmer Vale is now free on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords, in case you’d rather begin at the start of the series.  All I ask is you leave a (glowing) review on Amazon and Goodreads, and anywhere else you care to.

 

So that’s the big exciting news.  I know I owe you a chapter.  I’ll give it to you tomorrow.  🙂

For now, go.  Read.  Enjoy!

Proofing the Peak

Yeah, that’s right.  The paperback proof of Tollard’s Peak arrived yesterday.  Observe.

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The front. Duh.

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The Back. Duh. Duh.

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The Spine. Triple Duh.

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Here’s the map Jared Blando made for Glimmer Vale a couple years ago.  It works for the entire series, of course. Awesome isn’t it?

Looks pretty great doesn’t it?  When I opened the box and pulled it out, the Admiral immediately sighed, “Oooooo,” and swiped it out of my hands.  And then proclaimed that this is the best cover I’ve ever had.  Hard to argue with that.  It looks great on screen.  It looks even better in real life, let me tell you.

I’m really happy with how this book has turned out.  Now there only remains to give it one last proofread and we’ll be ready for release on the 31st.

I’m pretty psyched.

🙂

Editing and Formatting

Not a lot of writing the last couple weeks.

As I said before, I got comments back on The Pericles Conspiracy from a bunch of beta readers, and I’ve spent the last couple weeks just going over them and making a few changes and additions to the story after mulling the comments over.  That’s all done now.  The final word count came to a little over 121,000 words, so I guess I added 1,000 words or so.  But I didn’t count them as new words.  Maybe I should have, since many of them are new, but I didn’t so that’s that.

🙂

That got me through last week.  THIS week I’ve been focused on getting Pericles ready to go.  And in particular, getting the paperback edition squared away.  EBook is easy.  It literally takes about a dozen clicks in Scrivener to get nice, clean .mobi and .epub files.  Paperback…

In previous books, I used Word templates I downloaded from Createspace to create the paperback editions.  But I never liked doing it that way.  It was clunky, one change in one place caused any number of squirrelly changes elsewhere in the document (we are talking about Word here), and it just seemed inefficient.  Ideally, I wanted to get InDesign, but I don’t have $600 lying around that I feel like spending on new software right now.  And no, I’m not going to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud.  $50/month in order to not actually own the software?  No thanks.

I made a print version of Passing In The Night (the novelette that birthed Pericles, in case anyone’s forgotten) a few weeks back, and used Scribus to format it.  It was my first experience with Scribus.  I liked it.  It has a lot of the features that I heard about from talking with people about InDesign, and the price is right ($0).  I guess you could say Scribus is to InDesign as GIMP is to Photoshop and you wouldn’t be too far off base.

I used Scribus again for Pericles, and again got good results.  But I have two quibbles.

1) Paragraph Styles

You can set up styles that make it really easy to format the text portions of the document.  Oh, that’s the first paragraph in the chapter and you want Drop Caps?  Just select First Paragraph style (which you previously created) and viola, it does it for you.

The problem is these are styles for the ENTIRE PARAGRAPH.  Consequently, I’ve had to deal with things like the final line of a paragraph, which isn’t a full line, yet the style tries to justify it along with the rest of the paragraph.  Here’s where Word is actually better: if you hit enter at the end of a line like that, it’ll not justify that line.  But in Scribus, hitting enter just starts a new paragraph.  I have not been able to figure out how to overcome this, except by just going in and manually adding a lot of spaces until the last line looks the way it should.  This is far from optimal, as I’ll discuss in a minute.

2) Master Pages and Text Boxes

I love Master Pages.  You can set up your header and footer, the size of the borders, everything you want.  Except for the text box on the page.  If you try to set that up, it just becomes background.  So when you create a new page and apply a Master Page to it, you still have to create a text box to put text into.  And then you have to tweak the size of the box to make sure it aligns with the borders correctly, etc.  Annoying, but it’s easy to overcome by just adjusting the text box size once and then cutting and pasting it onto subsequent pages.  Which is fine….until you have a document with nearly 500 pages in it.  Like, say, Pericles.  Then that gets tiring.

It would be really nice if you could set up Master Pages so new pages would come up with a text box already created and sized.

And that leaves aside the issue of what happens if you messed something up.  It would also be really nice if there was a universal control you could use to modify text boxes throughout the document instead of one at a time.

These quibbles caused me no end of hardship.  Because after cutting and pasting my text from Scrivener, I still had to go through and manually align the final lines of each and every paragraph in the book.  It literally took all week, and I finally got it done the middle of the afternoon yesterday, Saturday, after I worked most of the day on finishing it up.  Smiling, I saved the doc as a pdf and uploaded it to Createspace.

And got error messages.  Although I had set the border sizes to the tolerances they advertised, some of my text (the drop caps) extended beyond and took up too much space.  And the header was too high on the page, violating the minimum gutter requirement for the document.  Ok so I’ll just move the header down.  Alas, no.  The text box for the main body text was tall enough that there was no room to move the header down.

So I had to adjust the document border settings and the text box size.

You see where this is going.

The borders modified easily, just with a global command.  The text boxes?  Nope.  No global command for them.  I had to go back and manually change the size of the text boxes on all 492 (the final page count) pages of the book.  The first several I tried to do by eye and with my trackpad, but that took forever.  Then I got smart and wrote down the dimensions of the boxes I’d made that looked good, and just typed the dimensions into the properties box of the subsequent boxes.  It still sucked.

But wait, there’s more.

Guess what happened when I did that?

Yup.  All those manual spaces to make the paragraphs’ final lines look right now made many of the paragraphs look completely jacked up.  So I had to go back through the book….again, except this time I was removing spaces instead of adding them in.  Can you say frustrating?  Yeah, I thought you could.

I finally re-finished this evening.  I uploaded to Createspace and a couple of my drop caps go slightly over the line.  VERY slightly.  But the hell with it, I am NOT going through that revision process again.  It’ll be fine.  Or if not it’ll show up in the proof and I’ll have no choice but the make a change.

On the bright side, going back through the book…again…while re-formatting found a few typos that neither I nor my editorial readers found during the multitude of other passes we made earlier.  So I guess that’s good.

So I’m now not so sure about Scribus anymore.  I’m not entirely sure that I actually saved any time by using it for this project.  As my wife said multiple times as I explained what I had to do to a) make it look right to begin with and b) fix it once I discovered the error, there has to be a better way to do this.  And maybe I’m just missing it.  Anyone out there savvy Scribus and want to correct the error of my ways?  I’ve found a fair amount of documentation online but so far no solution to my frustrations, so if all y’all have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

 

So anyway, tonight registered the copyright for Pericles with the copyright office.  Now I’m just waiting for initial approval and I’ll order a proof copy, which should get here I figure by the weekend.   Assuming no other boogers emerge from the proof copy, I figure Pericles should be ready for full release by 23 August.  More on the strategery for that release later.  For now, this is quite a long enough blog post as it is.

Cheers.  🙂

Oh, SNAP!

It’s been a mixed couple of days.

First…the good news.  🙂

Yesterday evening, I approved the print proof of Glimmer Vale.  Y’all know how nice the cover art is, but check out how beautiful the printed version is!

    

Pretty nice, huh?

Just for kicks, I decided to compare it to a book from my favorite fantasy series, The Wheel Of Time.  Observe:

Yes, that’s my toe.  Alas, the front cover of Glimmer Vale would not stay shut for the picture, so, since I was pressed for time when I took the picture, I used my big toe to hold it in place.

I’m silly, I know.

In all seriousness, though, if you ask me, I’d say that GV’s cover art holds up pretty well against Crossroads of Twilight’s.  Considering they’re the same genre, and Jordan is an icon in Fantasy, I think that’s pretty awesome.  🙂

Anyway, Glimmer Vale is now available in Trade Paperback.  If any of y’all want to buy a copy, go here, where I get the best royalty rate.

 

That’s the good news.

 

And now for the bad.

I was leafing through one of my proof copies of Masters of the Sun today, and pondering how I can improve the presentation (because I’ve learned A LOT since I made that book).  And then I noticed it: an ENTIRE SCENE is missing from the book.

How in THE HELL did that happen????

I am, to say the least, flummoxed and embarrassed.  And strangely thankful that so few people have purchased copies of the print version.  Because….damn.  That.  Is.  Bad.

I’ve already fixed that particular issue in the paperback file.  But now I’m moving on to fix other things, namely paragraph breaks.  I did NOT do a good job in splitting paragraphs in the initial version.  Since I’m going through to fix one error, I might as well fix them all.

So that’s what I’m up for over the next couple days.  *sigh*

 

Oh well.  Could be worse.

I could still be in New York.  😉  Yeah, San Diego rocks.

 

Glimmer Vale Cover Art

Hi everyone.

So I’ve been anxiously awaiting the cover art for Glimmer Vale, as I think I’ve mentioned before.  I contracted with Lucky Bat Books for the art, and Cindie, who runs the show over there, hooked me up with Jim Beveridge.  Dude is AWESOME!  It took him a little while to complete the job, but the results are well worth the wait.  Observe…

The ebook cover:

And the wraparound cover for the trade paperback:

Go ahead.  Tell me that isn’t FREAKING AWESOME!

I dare you.

That’s right.  You can’t.  Because that artwork rocks!

That said, I do have a couple TINY nits to pick.  I expect those will be cleared up in the next couple days though, and Glimmer Vale will be up electronically by week’s end, with the trade paperback edition following quickly on its heels.  Stay tuned.

Print Is Dead

…at least to me.

I’ve long been saying, since I started reading in ebook format, that I was done with print books.  Ebooks are more convenient, less expensive (or at least they should be – peering at Big Publishers with their stupid Agency pricing), more convenient, and hell just plain lighter.  And, especially since I got my Kindle for Christmas (I had done some ebook reading, quite a bit in fact, on my iPhone or iPad before then), I have not touched a print book at all.

Seriously, I’ve got a number of titles that I was in the middle of, or wanted to start, in print, but they’re just sitting there on the shelf while I zoom through ebook after ebook.

Fast forward to now.

Like I mentioned the other day, I just got eight Writers of the Future anthologies in the mail.  I’m eager to read them.  There’s just one problem: they’re in print.

I’ve tried.  I have.  I sat down with Volume 28, the one that just came out, and started reading it.  And man, I gotta tell you, print books suck.  Or at least, print mass market paperbacks suck.  They’re stiff, turning pages is annoying, the text is small.  Plus it’s hard to read the text near the spine without bending the spine all out of whack (and I don’t want to do that because these books look really nice and I don’t want to ruin them).  And then there’s the smell!  I’ve read all kinds of peudo-intellectual diatribes from people about how they’ll never leave print books, and how ebooks are such a tragedy, because of the look, the feel, and the smell of print books.  The smell, that glorious smell, bring a tingle up these people’s spine.  Or something.

Bollox.

That print smell is just…icky.  And the feel?  The damn thing’s too big in my hands, too stiff to open fully, annoying to turn the pages…

So I’ve come full circle it seems.  I’m beginning to think I may have to buy these WotF anthologies in ebook and just set the print up of the shelves.  They do look nice, for certain.  We’ll see.  I’m going to try again on them, but 8 books times 500-600 pages each is a lot of reading.  Not sure how long I’ll be able to stand it.  😛

I suspect my growing dislike for print will be tempered somewhat in the trade paperback and hard cover formats.  But still, there will be the sheer size and weight issue to cope with.  Overall, ebooks provide such an easier, more naturally flowing (if that makes any sense) experience.  Print just doesn’t compete.

IMHO.

Your mileage may vary.

A Paperback Jar

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on a Trade Paperback version of my short story collection, A Jar Of Mixed Treats.

I got the initial proof last week, and naturally found a couple typos that I’d missed before.  And, once again, I found I had stretched the back cover text a bit too far, so it slipped over the seam at the binding, which looks a bit ghetto if you ask me.

So I changed it.  Made it better.  Check it out:

     

The only problem, which you may have noticed, is that, though I tried to put some cool text on the spine, it ended up being too thin for Createspace to make it happen.  Their guidelines won’t allow spine text for less than 108 pages, and A Jar Of Mixed Treats comes in at 76.

(sigh)

Oh well.  You can’t have it all.  Where would you put it?

So yeah, it’s now approved and up for sale, for $7.99.  It’s live now on the Createspace e-store.  It’ll populate in Amazon in a few days, and to Barnes and Noble and the rest in a couple weeks.  Pretty sweet.  🙂