Done!

Well, not really, but the introduction through conclusion are done and sent to my editor for the next step. What a huge relief. Still a lot of work to do though. I have the dedication, acknowledgements, appendix, bibliography, and resources to work on, so I’ll be plenty busy until it’s time to make corrections on the main text.

The Deadline Loometh

February 1st is approaching and there’s no way to stop it! But I’m making good progress and hope to be going back through my manuscript soon to work on continuity and whatever I left blank in hopes of better inspiration at a later date.

I have to say I am so glad that I asked for an extension on the manuscript deadline. The original deadline was December 1st, which has come and gone. Even though I thought I could meet it, I figured I’d better give myself a little more time and so asked for February 1st just in case. The homesteading life isn’t one that can often be put on hold until a future date. When it’s time to harvest, it’s time to go pick fruits or vegetables before they fall to the ground and rot. Then it’s time to preserve the heaps and mounds accumulating on the countertop! When it’s time to plant for fall pasture and a winter garden, then it must be done or there will be none until next year! And then sometimes I just have to get up and walk away from the computer.

As much as I don’t like the pressure of a deadline, I have to say that having it has helped me establish a more steady routine with my writing. Now after morning chores, I head to the computer and start writing. At lunchtime I take a break and then switch gears for the afternoon because I’m ready for it. This has established a habit that I hope will serve me well once Prepper’s Livestock Handbook is finally put to press. (They changed the title after reading my first 5,000 words.) Maybe I’ll be able to be more diligent on my self-published projects! At least I’m hoping so.

Now back to work.

It Helps to Check Your Outline

I’m still working on Chapter 4, “Forage and Feed.” It seems to be taking forever, but on the other hand, it is the longest and most information packed chapter in the book. I was thinking it was almost done, but then I checked my outline. Good thing I did because the outline is a record of notes, ideas, and things I wanted to remember to include. I’m not far off base, but am glad I looked at it. If the details and ideas can help someone else become more self-sufficient, then they need to be there.

Rereading helps too. I’ve found that I’ve been a bit redundant here and there. So a few more paragraphs and a bit of tiding up and I should be able to move on.

 

 

Writing By A Schedule

So having a deadline has been a new experience for this previously Indie author. Anything self-published has always had a vague time frame in the back of my mind, but I never had to take it seriously because I was doing it all for myself. Writing under a contract is different, because I have agreed to a specific deadline and must write to meet it.

In trying to figure out how to do that, I initially looked at words per day. When I calculated how many days it would take under a five day workweek and how many words per day that would be, it was a very reasonable task. But that didn’t take into account the time spent on research.

I’m very comfortable with the topic (prepping for livestock) and feel qualified on the subject. But knowing what I know from my previous research and experience, and putting this down in a somewhat authoritative way creates a need in me to make sure I’ve got the details right. And to make sure that the information is comprehensive enough to cover others’ needs and choices as well. I don’t mean it will be an encyclopedic how-to, but it needs to give readers enough information to know what their options are and be able to ask intelligent questions as they explore their choices further. Hence the research.

Since words per day didn’t seem to be going very well, I decided to try a chapter per week. If I am able to write a first draft of each chapter in one week, I figured that would give me plenty of time to go back and begin polishing the whole thing into an acceptable manuscript to submit. That hasn’t quite gone according to plan either. Admittedly I’m in some of the more information heavy chapters at the moment, but some days the work of the homestead is too demanding and calls too loudly for me to ignore. Planting, harvesting, and food preservation, for example, need to be done when it’s time to do them. Too often I feel caught between a rock and a hard place as I try to divide my time to get everything done. I lament the things that get neglected, but right now that’s just the way things are.

Is it worth it? I contemplate that sometimes. The one thing I am glad of, is that when we worked through the specifics of the contract I asked to add a couple of months to the deadline. I understand the publishing schedule and definitely don’t want to drag this out, so mentally I keep the original deadline in mind and aim for that, thankful that I have some leeway just in case.

Am I dissatisfied with my progress? No, not really. It just weighs on me a bit, but I use that to keep me motivated, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

 

Deadlines and Word Counts

Being an Indie author pretty much means that there are no deadlines, except the ones I create for myself. I have no schedule to follow so when I’m done, I’m done! Writing under a contract, however, means others set the deadlines and not meeting them could result in a voided contract (and giving back my advance.)

I don’t think that’s a bad thing, however, just different for me. I can’t procrastinate nor let too many things crowd my time; things like the mounds of figs and tomatoes which need to be frozen or canned. I have to make sure that I set aside the time to write.

Word count is a new thought in my head as well. Again, not a bad thing, because it sets parameters for the book. with my “when I’m done, I’m done” mindset, however, I never gave them a thought. Now I’m curious as to how easy it will be to hit the mark. Once I finish my first draft, will I be trying to figure out what to cut? Or will I be looking for examples to add? We’ll see!

August is a busy month on the homestead, with the garden peaking and a number of fruits needing to be picked and processed. Once I get most of that behind me I’ll have a little breathing room. The words are flowing well, however, and I’m highly motivated. Both good things for any writer.

A New Direction

Over the past several months I’ve been asked to do a series of book reviews for Ulysses Press’s prepper series. I enjoy books and enjoy doing book reviews, so I was happy to oblige. And what a great way to add new books to my own home library!

Then I received an email from Ulysses’ senior acquisitions editor. She asked if I would be willing to write a book on livestock for their prepper series. Never in a million years did I expect to see myself being professionally published.  Yet everything my husband and I have been doing for the past eight years has been working toward that very end, so how could I not accept?

Indie publishing has been good to me, but I have to confess that this is an exciting new direction for me, and I’m glad for the opportunity to experience the traditional side of the publishing world. Negotiations are behind us, the contract is signed, and for the first time I have a deadline.

The Prepper’s Livestock Guide will be out sometime early next year.

Kindle to Paperback, And Why I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Kindle Direct Publishing has added a new option to its publishing services, that of turning eBooks into paperbacks. I found this pretty interesting, considering how popular electronic books were when they first appeared, and how many self-proclaimed prophets declared print books dead. So much easier and economical to carry an entire library on one small, lightweight device than to buy expensive, burdensome hard-copy books, right? I confess that I never bought into this (see “Why A Print Book?“). Even though I’ll acknowledge that eBooks are convenient for fiction, I have remained staunchly in the print book camp for everything else. With KDP now offering the paperback option, I can’t help but wonder if the electronic fad, er, trend is fading.

So, being the champion of print that I am, why wouldn’t I recommend clicking on that “Create Paperback” button? For several reasons: page numbering, images, indexing, and formatting options such as charts and tables.

Electronic books are formatted differently than print books. Pages in print books have a fixed design that the content fits a particular page size, including images, text placement, white space, and page numbering. To someone with an eye for aesthetic design, the placement of these elements is important. Because of the variety of eBook reading devices, however, eBooks are formatted so that the text is flowable, i.e. not fixed in terms of page placement. This is to accommodate any brand of eReader on the market. In the printed eBooks that I’ve read, I’ve found the formatting is often too haphazard to be professional looking. Depending on how the author formatted their original file, the print version can be distractingly “off.”

Images, if you include them, are formatted differently for electronic versus print books. Electronic devices render images small enough to fit the screen. Because of file size limitations, low resolution and low DPI (dots per inch, usually 72 DPI for electronic rendering) images are recommended. Most of us probably know how pixelized an enlarged jpg image can become, but smaller looks crisper and cleaner. Images formatted for an eBook will often have that same pixelized look in print. Recommendations for print images are 300 DPI and the specific physical measurements you want on the printed page. In addition, tall, narrow images can be offset side-by-side with text in a print book. This can’t be done with an eBook.

If images include maps, such as I did in 5 Acres & a Dream The Book, then size becomes important for readability. My Master Plans are barely legible in the 6-inch by 9-inch paperback. A reader wouldn’t be able to make them out on a smaller electronic device.

eReaders all sport search functions, just like a search engine does on the internet. Obviously a print book can’t do this, which is why a good index is important, especially for nonfiction. At least it is important to me, although considering how many poorly constructed indexes there are out there, it apparently isn’t as important to everyone else. A paperback from a Kindle version will have no index, so there would be no way to search for specific topics and text.

Another consideration for nonfiction books is tables. I used quite a few charts in the paperback version of my How To Bake Without Baking Powder, whereas in the eBook version, the charts had to be lists. Why? Because charts are usually created in a word processor as tables, and eReaders can’t support tables. Yes, a chart could be supplied as an image, but remember what I said about image size on an eReader? You’d have to make sure that chart is legible in a two or three inch width, which is what an eReader will likely do with it. On the one hand, I agree that charts aren’t absolutely necessary, but on the other, I think they make information visually more accessible to the reader. If I feel I have information that is useful to my reader, then making that information easy to find and access is important to me.

I’ve already mentioned some issues with formatting. One other to be aware of is that eReaders can only read a limited number of fonts. In the professional publishing world of print books, there is quite some snobbishness about fonts (not that I can personally tell muc difference) as though this divides the masters from the novices. Or in my case, the Lobster 2 font for my 5 Acres blog and book title are sort of trademark, i.e. part of my brand. For a print book file, I can use any font I please, as long as I embed it in my desktop publisher. For an eBook, the title would have to be an image.

So, off the top of my head this is why I would recommend not simply opting to print a nonfiction book from an eBook file. It would certainly be the easiest route, but if the author things her or his book has quality and worth, then it makes sense to take the time and give it the respect it deserves.

 

 

 

Finding the Time

Traditionally, winter has been my writing season. The days are cold and rainy, with not so much to do outdoors. This winter has been different! After a blazingly hot and dry summer, winter has been what I wish summer was – mild days with just the right amount of rainfall for things to grow. It’s meant feeling the need to be outside working, however. Getting caught up on everything I couldn’t do in summer because conditions didn’t cooperate. Trouble is, I’m getting nothing done book-wise. And when I let my writing sit unattended for days or weeks, I’ve lose my train of thought. When I get back to it again I almost feel like I’m starting over. No good. I need to carve out some time every day and stick to it.

Another Look at Zim: How To Make an Outline

I’ve blogged about the Zim Desktop Wiki before. It has some really nice features, things like hyperlinking to other pages in my work, hyperlinking to other sources (either on my computer or the internet), checkboxes to help keep track what’s completed and what’s not, and a spell checker. What I’ve had trouble with, is organizing. I haven’t been able to make the outline in my head a reality in the index pane on the left. I’ve looked at the documentation, but it’s pretty slim in the explanation department. Tutorials on the web seem nonexistent, and YouTube videos show more about what it can do than how to do it.

In a huge “duh” moment, I finally realized that Zim’s index categorizes everything alphabetically. For some projects this would be useful, but for an outline, not so much. especially if there are a lot of points on that outline and therefore a lot of categories and subcateories. To get the outline I want, I simply prefixed the pages and subpages so that they would stay in my outline order.

Zim will arrange things according to the letter (A., B, a., b., c., etc) or number (1., 2., 3., etc.). This way I can keep my outline points and subpoints to stay where I want them on Zim’s index.

There are a number of ways to create new linked pages in Zim. The challenge was trying to link pages in my text to the same location as those listed in my index pane. If I created a new page page from the text itself, it popped up in the index as a new and separate page. I finally figured out to copy the link location in the index and link the text to it.

Once I copied the link location I could highlight “Bibliography” in the text pane and select “link”. I pasted the link location in the “Link to:” field, hit “link,” and the job was done.

I tried browse button as well, but it would link me to the text files that Zim had created, not to the Zim page itself.

In the above example, I can now access my Bibliography page from either the index or the “7. End Matter” page.

Figuring out how to use Zim to meet my personal writing needs took quite a bit of trial and error, but – I think I’ve got it. I can write my entire text in Zim, enjoying the organization of it, and not have to bother with LibreOffice Writer at all. Zim will export each page as a text file, which makes it perfect for importing into Scribus.

Maybe I can now get down to some serious work.

Outlining and Organizing

I am having one heck of a time getting my ideas organized and written down in a logical flow of thought. I think it’s because I have too many of them. I have dozens of bits of papers with scribbles on them of things I want to remember. I thought I knew where they belonged when I wrote them, but when I try to sit down and organize them, their fit together becomes more illusive.

Seems like word flow for me comes best in the morning (after I get that first cup of coffee in me) and continues on after my alloted computer/writing time. How many times do I have to run back to the house to type or write something down in the middle of feeding the chickens, before I’ll think to take pad and pen with me.

Husband says I need to carry a mini-tape recorder around. Sounds like a good idea but I can’t see myself doing that. If my written words get scattered about, what will happen with words that float around in the air?