Simple Tools For Writing Books

I was perusing the Ubuntu Forums awhile back and stumbled upon a couple of threads (one here and one here) discussing writing software for writers. At the time I was using the preinstalled LibreOffice and was quite happy with it. It could do everything I wanted including formatting and interior design. I ran into problems when I had to convert it to a PDF/X-1a for printing; something LibreOffice cannot do. I found I could not simply import it into my desktop publisher (Scribus). I ended up re-doing the entire interior.

As I look to start on a second writing project, I find myself wondering how to make things easier for myself. My problem with LibreOffice is that it does a lot of automatic formatting I don’t want. It gets in my way and becomes a nuisance. I suppose all this could be changed, but that’s a hassle as well, and all these things are obstacles when one is in the midst of a creative flow of thought.

I recently tried a couple of the suggestions from these threads, particularly for writing. PyRoom and FocusWriter both come highly recommended, although it appears PyRoom hasn’t been updated in awhile. They are full screen text editors, but since I often have several programs open at the same time for any given chapter, the full screen only doesn’t appeal to me. Ditto for BookWrite. LaTeX is a document preparation program that many folks seem to like, but it requires having to learn a mark-up language best suited for technical documents. I just want to keep things simple.

Since all my formatting is done with a DTP, all I need is a text editor with spell check! And that’s what I found, Gedit. Besides the spell checker it allows cut, copy, paste, and undo, redo.

I also learned about Zim, which is a text editor style desktop wiki, perfect for outlining and organizing sections, chapters, and ideas. Linking allows me to switch between pages easily, plus it will do basic formatting, which helps me organize ideas. I just read it even supports images!

So, for this next project I plan to do all the writing with Gedit and Zim, photo editing with Gimp, design and formatting with Scribus 1.4 (stable), and PDF prep with Scribus 1.5 (developmental but so far the only Linux friendly program that creates PDF/X-1a documents.) Simple, but that’s how I like it!

What Readers Are Saying

I’ve added a new page to my publishing website, “What Readers Are Saying.” As consumers, much of the way we evaluate potential purchases is through the experience and opinions of others. I know I personally trust these more than I do an advertisement.

Since so many purchases are made through Amazon, the reviews here are key, I’m told. I have ten so far (here), and am grateful for each one. I even have one on Amazon UK! (Here). Other book selling websites also have places for reviews, but as far as I know, I have none anywhere else. There are also a number of book reader oriented websites, such as Goodreads, which I did sign up for. Trouble is, keeping up with all of them could turn into a full time job itself and I simply don’t have the time.

Many people do book reviews on their blogs or websites, and these seemed too valuable a resource to be lost in cyber infinity. So I created the “What Readers Are Saying” page. With everyone’s permission (of course) I’m collecting quotes from emails and blog reviews as I find them, with links back to the blog reviews.  I’m still doodling with it, so comments on it or suggestions are welcome.

Radio Interview for 5 Acres & A Dream The Book

Shortly after 5 Acres & A Dream The Book came out I was contacted by Scott Terry, who hosts Christian Farm and Homestead on He invited me to do an interview on his show about my book. What an honor! If you’d like to hear the show live over your computer, mark your calendars for Friday, January 17 at 8 pm EST and save the following link –

If you can’t make it for that date and time, you’ll be able to find the podcast in the Christian Farm and Homestead archives via the same link.


200th Copy Sold

This morning when I checked my CreateSpace account I was excited to see that I just sold my 200th copy of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. In the larger context of books and book selling, I realize that may not seem like a lot. For a self-published author, that’s a milestone because the average sales for self-published books are less than 200 copies over the course of the book’s life.

Good reviews are coming in on, also I’m currently working on a “What readers are saying” page for And I’m starting to look ahead at my next book, possibly Critter Tales from 5 Acres & A Dream.

Also upcoming will be an online radio interview next Friday! More on that soon.