Formatting Rant

[Another one I did in draft and then forgot to publish, hence it’s absence last week. I need to stop using Save Draft on scheduled posts]

The longest time spent on formatting is for the print version of my work. Most of that time is spent avoiding widows and orphans: single lines from a paragraph that appear on a different page to the rest of the paragraph. While some places suggest expanding or contracting the spacing of certain words to force their paragraph to lose or gain an extra line, I feel they always look odd. Possibly it’s only because I know about them, but it niggles. I prefer doing a round of editing in the print format, forcing me to reword so as to eliminate widows and orphans.

[Whether the time spent is worthwhile is debatable, since I have pitifully few print sales. They’re mainly there in hopes of my work starting to sell, so that they’re available in that format rather than losing out on sales.]

The frustrating part tends to come when I think I’ve got it in a perfect format. Then I load the .doc into Createspace and run through the pdf version they convert it into. I’ve just done so for the print collection of Tales of the Thief-City, and again run into the problem of the converted format not matching the Word version for no discernible reason.

Only one of the stories has the problem. The first four are fine. The subsequent ones are fine. But the fifth one, after the first few pages, starts losing lines, which are slipped on to the next page, building up and gradually adding two pages to the length of the book.

There is no obvious reason in the text, nothing unusual that could cause the lines to require extra space. It’s using the Createspace template document, and the other stories are going in fine. I did a blanket removal of all formatting on the story and redid only what was necessary. No change.

After hours of fruitless messing I gave up and shortened the page height for that section so it has one fewer line, then went through removing widows and orphans again. This time, no problems. The same number of lines in both versions.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened, and won’t be the last.


Cover Rant

That isn’t the end of my frustrations with Createspace. Oh, no.

The next step (and problem) is the cover. Especially if you provide the image for the whole wraparound cover, which I’ve been doing increasingly of late.

The problem comes with working out where the spine will be so I can place the title and back blurb so they appear centred (maybe I should plan covers so the title doesn’t have to be centred).

While one of the views Createspace offers of the cover does mark where the spine appears, it’s only on the pdf proof version, which can be reviewed after the book is compiled, a process that can take up to 24 hours. It usually doesn’t take that long, but I could easily have to wait until the next day to view it and tell how much I need to adjust the text. Or get a vague idea anyway, since it could easily take a few runs through to get it looking right in the pdf.

And once I get the print proof it may look slightly off on that, requiring another round of fiddling.

Story Evolution 4

The first draft of the first part is done. Only 43k, so probably one long book rather than three shorter ones.

Some sections will definitely need more work, and I’m not certain how useful working slower than usual was. Some conversations still feel like they could use more time to breathe, even if I’m not sure what else there is to say in them. Maybe I’m being too concise.

Ideas for what happens next are cohering, but I still need to think some more on the main character arcs. There’ll be more secondary character POVs in the second part, some of them maybe even surviving into the third part (both in terms of POV survival, and character survival, although neither rate may be very high). Some elements are firm, with scenes vivid in my head, but the third part is irritating me. I have only vague ideas of what’ll happen there, which makes it hard to foreshadow.

I’ll let it fester in the back of my mind for a few days as I do more work on other projects that need finishing up.

Flight of Angels

The seventh story in the Tales of the Thief-City series, Flight of Angels, is out today. It’ll be free for this month on Smashwords and associated retailers (but probably not on Amazon).

Flight of Angels smallFlight of Angels

Nexi is in upheaval, tensions escalating among its captive populace. A series of grisly murders doesn’t help matters, but why is an angel interested in them? And does Rax have much to gain from the hunt besides something to do?

Seventh in the Tales of the Thief-City series. A 7,000 word short story.