Category Archives: Professional

Weekend Doings

Greetings all

Been a busy weekend here in Rob-ville, though much of the work was done weeks ago.

First, Where Now the Rider is live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rider-Adventures-Edward-Book-ebook/dp/B071462WXM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

In honor of the release of Where Now the Rider, the e-book version of A Lake Most Deep is free on Amazon starting tomorrow and running all week long. If you have been wanting to tell your friends about my books, now’s the perfect time.

If you want to hear about my writing philosophies, you can check out Write Pack Radio today.  This week’s podcast talks about Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction.

I’ll also be featured next week when we talk about working with an editor.

For me, I’ve spent this weekend packing and plotting several things.

Plot. Plot. Plot.

Bwa ha, bwa ha ha.

Weekend Notes

The basis of my plans most weekends involve either doing something with my writing, like a con or event, or spending time with my sweetie. This weekend I got to do both.

We had planned to go to an SCA event on Saturday, but the weather literally put a damper on that. Plus, I couldn’t sleep for some reason on Friday night. So we ended up going to Ikea and getting barbeque.

I don’t buy much from Ikea for two reasons. One, their modern style simply isn’t to my taste. Give me Victorian, Edwardian, or medieval and I’m happy. Two, as a non-svelte man I find much of Ikea’s stuff terrifyingly light. My big butt needs a big chair.

However, I do like going to the store because they often have interesting ideas and cunning ways to arrange things. They’re really innovative, even if they don’t fit me. I got some ideas for my next house.

Plus, my sweetie really enjoys shopping there, even if her tastes match mine to a great degree. We’ll be moving in together at some point in 2017 and had a great time talking about how we would prefer things in our house arranged.

We went to Joe’s KC initially for barbecue. When we got there, the line was hugemongous, out the door, and around the building. I don’t blame them. Joe’s KC is my favorite KC barbecue place. However, I didn’t want to wait that long so we went to another barbecue place I had heard good things about: Q39.

The reviews were correct. Not quite as good as Joe’s, in my mind, but still very tasty. The pork belly, white bean cassoulet, onion string appetizer was fantastic.

However, they did something that I hate hate hate. Did I mention hate?

For all that is holy, barbecue restaurants should never serve their meat with sauce already on it! Anybody can make a sauce, but it takes real skill to make great meat.

Yes, I know I could order it dry. Yes, I normally do so. However, Saturday, I was tired and forgot. And I want my meat without sauce!

What? Oh, yes, that’s a pet peeve, why do you ask?

Anyway, I’d still recommend going there. It’s not quite as good as Joe’s KC, but still very good. Just remember to order it dry.

Yesterday, I drove around 550 miles to St. Louis and back to record two episodes of the Write Pack radio podcast. One episode focused on Plutarch and writing non-fiction. Obviously, as a historian I was able to use my academic experience here. My big point of emphasis was to constantly critically examine your sources and to get as many different sources as possible.

I suspect most of you reading my blog already know this, but it is important enough to mention again. Every source is biased. You need a bunch of sources from different points of view so you can reduce the overall effect of those biases. The most biased source you will ever deal with is yourself, so always try and account for it. You’ll fail to do so completely, but it is a windmill that one must always tilt at.

I believe this episode will air on Sunday, 4 June.

The other episode we recorded involved how to use editors and criticism. Among the things I talked about is creating a team of people around you, like a race car driver does, and trusting them to do their job.

I also talked about how Kellie has improved my writing by telling me some of the mistakes I’ve made time and again, so I can eliminate them in the future.

This episode should air on Sunday, 11 June.

You can find Write Pack Radio and all their podcasts in a number of places, depending upon how you like to listen:

All in all, a fun, productive, and tiring weekend. The way they oughta be.

Write Pack Radio

Greetings all

I think I mentioned last week that I would be recording with the Write Pack Radio broadcast last Sunday. I got my dates confused, I’ll actually be recording with them this Sunday.

We’ll actually be recording two separate shows. The first will be Reacting to Criticism and Editor Comments. I’ve been blessed with a lot of good help to make my novels and I can’t wait to talk about how I rely on them.

The second is a little more tricky,  Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction. Tricky only in that I haven’t written non-fiction since the last time I really put anything into my dissertation, which has been a few years. Still, I think I can contribute here.

I don’t have the exact dates when the podcasts will be put online, but of course, I’ll post those.

You can find Write Pack Radio and all their podcasts in a number of places, depending upon how you like to listen:

They have graciously invited me not only this week, but a couple more times this year. I really appreciate their kindness and their patience with this podcast newbie.

 

Preproduction Thoughts

The last few days, I’ve been in final preproduction mode for Where Now the Rider. Right now, I’m close to complete because I had a very productive weekend.

At Comicon I mentioned that was my plan and someone I talked to asked what I meant, so I thought I’d write a blog post for what I do. It’s easy to say that preproduction is doing all the things that turn a manuscript into a publishable novel, but what does that entail. Here’s a sort of checklist for me.

  1. Create a title page and colophon. This is the basic stuff that says who is involved in the copyright, like the artists and editors, and the normal copyright disclaimers. This page is in every book, so this part is easy for me as I have one written already and I cut and paste, changing the relevant information.
  2. ISBN Numbers: I assign an ISBN three numbers to each book, one for the electronic version, paperback version, and audiobook version. I don’t necessarily have to assign one to the electronic version, but I think there’s an advantage and since I buy the numbers in bulk, it costs me very little. In any case, this is generally a tedious but fairly quick process. I then add these numbers to the colophon.
  3. Dedication and Foreword. I often do these ahead of time when I feel motivated. They need editing, after all, though I’ll admit I don’t worry about editing these as much as I do the text.
  4. Double-check the map. Make sure it’s only 300dpi and fits in the space. At this point, it’s a standard thing and all I’m doing is making sure nothing’s gone wrong.
  5. Adding the people, places, and glossary. This is the longest part of preproduction. I could cut a bunch of hours if I didn’t do this, however, I think it’s important to make things easier for my readers. Also, I find it extremely helpful to me to keep the online wiki at www.shijuren.org updated. I’ve done many of the entries while I’m writing the book, but this makes sure I haven’t missed any. I’ll discuss this section more in a moment.
  6. Adding the world-building appendices: the calendar, magic, and religion of Shijuren. These are written and I think they’re pretty good as the stand, so this is just cut and paste right now.
  7. Adding extra pages. I’ve discovered that if I need to make an edit, I want to have some extra pages at the end. Not many, say 5-6. However, when Patrick McEvoy makes the cover, he has to know how many pages wide to make the spine. This is tricky. If I add any pages, he has to make the spine wider. Rather than risk this, I add some ahead of time so if I need to make an addition to the book at the next printing, I can do so without bothering him. What if, for example, I want to put a snippet of Edward, Book IV in the end? I’ve started adding a snippet of the book immediately following to A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll, by the way.
  8. Cover blurb. I hate this part. How can it be so hard to write a cover blurb when you have written a 100k-word novel? For whatever reason, this is incredibly difficult to me. I suppose I’m getting better, but it’s still tough.
  9. Double-check all the other cover items. this really isn’t much, actually, since we’ve done this before. I like my author description so I’m not changing it right now.
  10. Look for orphans. Theoretically, Word is supposed to do that, however, I’ve seen a few of them appear. It’s less of a problem since I started writing in the format I end up printing in (6×9, half-inch margins plus an extra half in for gutter, Garamond 12pt font). If I find any, I see if I can cut a line or two somewhere in the chapter. Usually I can.
  11. The last, absolute last, thing is creating a Table of Contents. Fortunately, Word does most of the work for me however if you make any changes to the text that might add or subtract a page messes things up. I do it last, then clean it up a little to look like how I want it.

That’s basically it. There’s probably more I’m not thinking of right now, but that’ll do except for more on the people, places, glossary, and wiki.

I enjoy working on the wiki. It’s usually a relaxing way to spend time because worldbuilding is my favorite part of this. Part of the adding the list of people and places is to add links to the main copy of the text. I always work with what will be the electronic copy as shifting to a print version is much easier than vice versa. Thank you, CTRL-SHIFT-F9, which removes every hyperlink in a selection, when combined with CTRL-A, I can eliminate all the hyperlinks in two keystrokes. The print version does not need them, after all.

Anyway, I get the electronic version done and updated, mashing every mistake I can find. I then upload it to Amazon. Only then do I convert to the print version and send to CreateSpace.

And that’s it. It’s a lot of detail work that takes me days because I need to be focused for it to work, and of course I still make mistakes. Fewer now than when I started, though.

Now it’s time for me to go write that blurb.

Patreon Idea

Greetings all

I’d really love to hear some feedback on this, so please send me an email to rob@robhowell.org if you have any thoughts about this.

I want to set up a Patreon. I don’t really know what I’m doing so I’m asking for guidance.

My thought is to send fairly large snippets of work that has yet to be released, like a chapter or two a week.

However, much of this will be raw, unedited stuff. It won’t even be to the Advance Reader Copy level, usually. It will be the first draft, often enough, with all the mistakes and inconsistencies with the final product that entails. I’m a little concerned about that, though I’m sure it will actually help the final product, because I hate shoddy work. Unedited stuff is, by definition, shoddy.

Still, it will have the bones of the upcoming stories. As a reader myself, for the authors I like I personally want to see that sort of thing. I may be weird though.

The Patreon model, as I understand it, is that a subscriber pays a set amount each time I add content. If that’s correct, then I would set it at $1 per time at the basic level. I would also create a $2 per time level that would include a copy of the paperback, when it is released, signed and shipped / delivered. This second option would force me to put out chunks regularly, else by the time I send out copies I haven’t earned enough to pay for the book and the shipping.

What do you all think of this plan? Is it interesting to readers? Is it about right moneywise? What can I do to improve it?

Thanks much.