Monthly Archives: August 2012

“The Plane of Dreams” in One Week!

Whenever I start thinking about a book cover, I get depressed. But so far, every time the cover is ready I’ve become elated. And that’s a testimony to the great Beatles song “I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends”. OK, in my case, a LOT of help.

With this book, my first published novel-length tale, I knew pretty well what I wanted, I just didn’t think it was possible. After all, we’re talking about the Plane of Dreams here!  But my good friends Krisz Moctezuma and Katharina Gerlach, as usual, came to my rescue. Check it out:

 I think this beautifully captures the sense of an unearthly place where the land and sky are infinitely malleable. It’s a world that used to be a lot less threatening, but now that Nightmare has taken over… well, if you read it you’ll understand!

The greatest tales begin when the adventure ends. The Tributarians have won fame across the Empire, but one of their plundered relics triggers a threat from beyond the bounds of reason to tear the waking world apart. Will newfound wealth sunder the company and destroy their last chance? Or will they sacrifice fame and fortune, and risk their lives, to become the unknown saviors of the Lands. To find how far beyond the adventurer lies the hero, each of them must enter The Plane of Dreams.

The novel will be available in the first week of September, on Smashwords, Apple, and Amazon.

To support the new novel I’ve added several pages to the Compendium here on IB- check out The Hero Lists, plus a number of pages on the Foef of Mon-Crulbagh (part of the Empire of Argens section). And let me know if there’s other material you would like to see there, I’m happy to look around the world to see if I can find it!

Bad Time for a “Leaf by Niggle” Moment!

I am trying, really I am, trying like anything to finish my novel. I’ve set my foot down that The Plane of Dreams comes out on Labor Day and I want to stick with it. But I keep having what I call “Leaf by Niggle” moments- a clumsy phrase for an astounding phenomenon I bet you have experienced too. I ask you, what can you do?

You are NEVER doneIf you’ve read the classic short story by J.R.R. Tolkein, you can skip this paragraph. If you haven’t, believe me, nothing I say here is as good as that story. I had it, gave the book away, searched until I found it again, gave it away AGAIN, etc. Finally found it up in Montreal back in May and this time I intend to hang onto my copy. Get your own. It is (mostly) an everyday, modern-day story about a small farmer named Niggle who has no huge ambitions, but would like to paint. A little. Through all the interruptions of his “real” life, he perseveres, and he sets a modest goal- just paint a single leaf. But of course, he finds he can’t really get the leaf right until he’s done the twig it’s on- and then the branch and the leaves behind it. Soon he has a stitched-together canvas that covers the inside of his barn and shows an entire landscape, mountains, forest, the whole nine yards. Then things get interesting…

Got the idea? So, my stories are all EXACTLY like that. I have about 10,000 words to go. Back in July I had… about 10,000 words to go. I’ve written 20,000 words since then, but it’s mostly stuff that isn’t in the novel! This is not work avoidance, it’s just… what I have to do next. And it’s going to kill me.

Right this moment, I’m watching my bard, Salinj’r tell his party the tale of the curse that he believes hangs over this abandoned castle they’re in. I know the story- but you can’t have the bard start with “once there was a famous keep” and go on for pages. The adventurers NEVER let the bard do that. He’s being heckled all throughout, told to get to the point, interrupted with questions, and so on. So I’ve gone and put down the first tale (the clock for Labor Day going tick-tick-tick in the back of my mind) and now I’m going to have to write out the second one (tick-tick). THEN maybe I can get back to the actual story.

It’s the wonder of chronicling another world. The thing about the Lands of Hope, as I’ve said before, is that it’s absolutely REAL. As real as Niggle’s painting (go and read the story, you won’t believe how real it is). It calls, which is why I write, and it demands, which is why I can’t write what I want.

That number has shrunk a little: I’m actually at an estimated 8,100 words to go. But I usually underestimate! And that’s tight in less than a month for someone who’s not named Robert B. Parker (RIP), who can’t lock the door to his office (don’t have a door!), and settle in and whack away until 2,000 words are done. A paying job, just to name one thing…

I still think I can make it. After all, this is the Lands of Hope.

Just this one more thing first… hey, what can you do?

Adventures in Print!

Last week was full of learning experiences. I’m venturing into print with my middle grade and young adult fiction. A terrifying and exciting step in my publishing career. I’m working with CreateSpace, which is Amazon’s POD arm, and I just ordered the proof copy of Thunderbird *happy dancing*

I’m really proud of myself because I’ve done all the work with open source software. I’d love to work with InDesign, but it’s just not in the budget at this point in my career. Instead, I used Scribus, and it seems to have done the job. My initial review of the two required pdf files (interior and cover) came back that the book was printable, but that there were a couple of problems I should look at…

  1. On the interior layout, I needed an extra blank page, because the text of the story was starting on a left-hand page instead of the right. Now that was downright weird since I’d carefully proofed my pdf to make sure the pages were in the correct layout, but evidently something changes when it goes through CreateSpace’s process. So, I redid the interior file, making sure ALL of my chapters started on the right-hand page. Which meant that in Word and the pdf, they all showed on the LEFT-hand page. Talk about counter-intuitive! But it worked. When I uploaded the revised file, everything lined up perfectly 😀
  2. My cover was a total disaster! Yep. It met their printing standards, but the font had morphed and looked like some Cyrillic alphabet. Totally unreadable *sigh* Also, it warned that the images weren’t high enough DPI and might pixilate when printed. So…back to the drawing board on the cover. Except, I had to recalculate the size because I’d added pages to the interior layout, and while the numbers hadn’t changed a lot, they had changed. The domino effect was at work. I did the new math (thank heavens for a little ebook I bought… Create Book Covers with Scribus …it has a website that does all those calculations for you :D), changed my fonts to Arial (because it’s so standard) and uploaded the new pdf for review.

This morning the book passed review, and this time it looks great on their digital reviewer. Now to see what it looks like when I hold it in my hot little hands!

If the proof looks good, Thunderbird will be available in print in the near future! If not…well, this first book is all about the learning curve 😀

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