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Inside “It Gets Darker”

Guest Blog Post

Today is kind of a special day. I get to post my first guest blog post! My post last month was all about how I designed the cover for It Gets Darker. This month, Lorna M. Hartman is talking about how she laid out the book interior. It’s a great post, and I definitely learned a thing or two just from reading it. Here are a couple pictures I took of the interior layout of the book. (I was not at all biased in which story I decided to post a picture of… hint, hint, L.P. Masters is the best.)

ItGetsDarker

Front page of a story

ItGetsDarker2

Author Bio of one story, and front page of another

So now that you know what the inside looks like, and without further distractions from me, I’ll let you get to Lorna’s post.


Inside It Gets Darker: Laying Out the Book Interior

Lorna M. Hartman (www.LornaHartman.com)

To lay out the interior of a book appears straightforward. Drop in the text, some page numbers, add chapter titles and a table of contents. Piece of cake.

Here’s where I (obviously) say it’s not as easy as it looks. This shortened version of the process gives you a bird’s-eye view of a book layout project.

To prepare for It Gets Darker’s print layout, I read the entire book. There’s no other way to get the feel and flavor of the book, and the layout must reflect that as well as harmonize with the book’s cover. Emails flew back and forth as the group decided on their story order and sent me their author bios.

I’d originally received the chapters in separate Word files from the members of Spokane Fiction Writers Group who wrote for this anthology, but It Gets Darker author Erik Schubach (www.ErikSchubach.com) later sent me a single long text file he’d created to use in his design of the e-book.

Since e-books start with a fully stripped-down file, this was helpful. When starting the print book layout with this file, I didn’t have to deal with variations in font sizes, random indents, and other surprises.

While the others worked on their parts of the book, I laid out a single chapter in Adobe InDesign and tried out different fonts and artwork. I chose to use spiky artwork to go with the book cover font, which is called Dark11 (find it at UrbanFonts). The spiky circular swirl art at the beginning of each chapter worked better than any other option.

After I landed on a good visual look for the chapter, I used the pieces of that chapter to set up Styles for the whole book. A single Style is a set of formatting details used for a specific recurring piece of the book, such as a chapter title: the font, font size, alignment, and so on.

For example, the Body Text style for It Gets Darker is 12-point Minion Pro, left-aligned, with a first-line indent of 1p6, and so on. Readers of the book will remember that there are sections of radio commentary in one chapter, and the Radio Dialogue style was 12-point Corbel with indents on both left and right to set it off visually from the body text.

Want to know what’s fun? Getting your drop cap (that big first letter) at the beginning of each chapter to left-align, which ignores your first-line indent—but keeping the indent for the rest of the chapter. I’ve long ago learned this trick, but I haven’t forgotten the entertaining experience of figuring it out for the first time. Good thing no one was around to overhear that.

Even a straightforward book like It Gets Darker, with no footnotes, illustrations, or index, took well over a dozen styles to lay out.

I also created Master Pages. Each chapter’s first page contains the chapter title plus the swirl art, the author’s name, and the beginning of the body text for that chapter. To make sure each such page was laid out identically, I created a Master Page with alignment guides. These guides show up in the on-screen layout but don’t print.

Chapter titles and automatic page numbers can also be added to Master Pages, which saves considerable wear and tear on the layout editor.

(“Wear and tear” is a technical term. “Wear” refers to the way the seat of the pants wears thin over a long project; and “tear,” of course, refers to the customary tearing out of hair as part of the layout process. Possibly “tear” also refers to the tearing of clothes in frustration, but I couldn’t verify that. It is lost to history.)

I applied this Master Page to each chapter’s first page so the guides would show up on that page. I used a different Master Page with different guides for each different type of page.

I also added the spiky swirl art to my Library tab in InDesign because it appears in two different sizes in each chapter. With both sizes available in the Library, I was able to easily drop the right swirl in the right place.

InDesign has a Table of Contents tool that uses Styles to pull out chapter titles and whatever else is to be included in the TOC. It’s not the easiest tool in the toolbox, and it doesn’t cover all the bases, but once you learn it, it does save time for straightforward TOCs.

After completing the full book layout I sent it to several sharp-eyed editor types. They sent their feedback and I incorporated it into the book–there’s no such thing as too many eyes on a book when it comes to proofreading.

Finally, I saved the file in the proper format for the publisher and submitted it. The publisher ran it through an analysis to make sure it would print properly, checking for common layout problems. Last, it went to print, and now you can buy it in paperback as well as e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

To keep in touch with Spokane Fiction Writers Group, follow @It_Gets_Darker on Twitter, check us out on Meetup, or visit the It Gets Darker landing page. We’ve got someone working on a new website right now, and we’re in process of setting up a new Facebook Page.

Our Twitter account is active, so if you would like to be notified when the Facebook Page is up, message us there.

Most importantly, if you write or want to write, we welcome you to a monthly Meetup group meeting. We don’t just talk about writing—we write. Thanks for your interest.


What a great post from Lorna M. Hartman.

Here’s a little more about Lorna, she writes fiction from the scenic Pacific Northwest. She’s two-thirds done writing a feature-length action/adventure screenplay. See more of her varied careers at http://www.LornaHartman.com and connect with her on Twitter (@Maro_Virino).

LornaHartman

Lorna M. Hartman

 

Afterdeaths, Audios, and Anthologies

All right. It’s alliteration time already. Although all I want is to advise you about the amazing events approaching in my author life, I also want to attempt to do a little exercise in alliteration.

As you know, the Afterdeath series has an audience that is aching for another novel.  Believe the author when she says she’s addressing that very need. Turning Point, with its alternating point of view chapters, has afforded itself the admirable station of being over halfway done with edits. Anyone who is following my publishing tendencies may already have noticed a lack of publication in February. Let me assure you, this was not an accident. I decided to focus my actions on accomplishing a fully edited Afterdeath Book 2 before attempting another short story for publication. And not to fret. An audiobook is in the near future.

Audiobooks are amazing. Anyone can sit and listen, and they don’t have to stress their eyes at all. Now, Weights is almost finished as an audiobook format, and will be available sometime in early march! I’ll be sure to announce its arrival on my blog and all other social media I attend to. And if you want an email sent straight to you when it’s available, by all means, sign up for my email list. You’ll attain my short story, “See You Tomorrow” for free when you do.

And don’t think Afterdeath and audiobooks are my only accomplishments. An anthology is in the near future as well. Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group is planning to publish a collection of paranormal short stories. I’ve already read 5 of them, and have heard about all of them, and all I can say is the stories are astounding!

As a final note, I have to bring this up now, simply because I attempted this, (probably annoying) tactic of alliteration today. Another short story that I am announcing soon is titled, “An Acceptable Future.” This story is exciting because it’s the first in a series of Adult Scifi “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories and novellas. Although “An Acceptable Future” doesn’t allow readers to “choose” yet, it is actually based in the same universe as other soon to be written “Dark Tales” are in, a great many of which shall have a choice associated with them.

And with all that, I’ll at last let you free from my mind-numbing yet–yes–amazing alliterating blog post.

Have adventures. And appreciate all authors.

Be…Her…Guest

Today I had the honor of being a guest on DeAnna Browne’s blog. She posted about my upcoming release of Love is Death. She also has an exclusive inside look that will give you a little insight into the world of the Afterdeath.

I’m so excited about my upcoming novel that I can’t help but share my cover here on my blog as well.

LoveIsDeath

Regardless of where you’ll be reading this, either on your phone, computer or in the comfy pages of a paperback book, it looks gorgeous!

What a rush it is for me to be here, only a few weeks away from publishing my first novel. If you would like to receive an email on the release date, sign up on my mailing list.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to hop on over to DeAnna Brown’s blog to read that excerpt!

Have fun, and enjoy the writing, (and the reading.)

Publish this, Publish that.

I’ve been writing this blog for a few months now, and as you may have noticed one of the themes that comes up in my posts quite often is perfection, (or the lack thereof.) Mostly I’ve been writing about perfection because I need to come to terms with my realization that I’m not, and I won’t be perfect, and that’s okay.

So a lot of my posts have helped prepare me for publishing my upcoming novel by letting me work out the thoughts and worries I have about publishing, but they’ve also helped in a much more practical way.

They’ve helped because I’ve been publishing them.

I write my posts. I read them, (probably two or three…or eight times) and then I click on the little blue button that says “Publish.”

I love that it says publish, because it’s giving me practice for that moment when I click my own “Publish” button on my novel. Just like my blog posts, it will not be perfect. it won’t be interesting to everyone. Some people might read the first few paragraphs. Some might get halfway through and then get struck with an acute case of boredom. While yet others might get all the way through and rave about how wonderful it was. (By the way, if you’d like to rave about how wonderful this post is in the comments, I wouldn’t mind. 😉

The fact is, though, that I’m publishing it. I’m putting it out there for others to see. I’m talking about it and sharing it, and giving other people the opportunity to like it or to hate it. Because writing is meant to be read. Ideas are meant to be shared, be they the small ideas expressed in a few hundred-word blog post, or the big ideas expressed in a 60,000 word novel.

So now that I’ve finished writing this blog post, I’m going to read through it a few times, and then I’m going to push that pretty blue “Publish” button. And in one month and eight days, I will click the Publish button on a different website, the one that will make my debut novel available to anyone who wants to read it.

I love it.

So have fun. And enjoy the writing.

 

Technically Broken

SpaceLaptopI thought my debut blog post would be all about writing or kids or my plans for the future, but after the experience I just had setting up my blog I decided that was what I needed to write about first. This post will be all about ignoring things and broken things, and ignoring broken things—still appropriate as a mother of two.

It all started three years ago when I set up my website. I made it look all pretty, added some content and then…kind of just ignored it. Which in turn broke it.

Yes. It broke my website. I ignored updates, I ignored plugins, I ignored everything related to that beautiful little website, until one day I logged into my admin account and the thing was broken. So what did I do?

I ignored my broken website.

Fast forward a year or so and I decided that maybe I should actually use my website for something more. I really wanted to try blogging, which meant I had to stop ignoring things and actually try to make the website work.
Only problem? I had no idea how to do so. I spent my entire day doing something I had a lot of practice with: ignoring. This time, though, it was my poor children I ignored. I probably spent five hours on the internet, trying to understand things like FTP and PHP and CPanel…trying to remember passwords that had been invented three years ago, and then trying to fix things I didn’t understand. In the end I got on a live chat with someone and hoped they could help me fix it.

Oh, I love Tech Support!

Of course, they told me that I had to do it all myself, so what happened? I broke it worse.

Man. I hate Tech Support.

After hours of trying to fix it and asking about the problem on a support forum where the responses told me to do exactly what I’d done, I decided to hand it over to someone who actually knew what they were doing. So I went to Fiverr and paid fifteen bucks for someone to fix it for me. It was done in less than two hours. Best fifteen bucks I’ve ever spent.

We made an excellent dinner to celebrate my working website, but we thoughtlessly put a bowl of boiled eggs on the table, right above my laptop. Fate would have it, the eggs fell off, the water in the bowl landed right on top of my keyboard, and now I’m writing this paragraph without the use of the letters i, r, s, u, w, a bunch of numbers, and no delete button or left arrow. I get to copy and paste all the letters I’m missing, which is incredibly difficult and annoying, so I’ll simply finish this on another computer.

Ah. That’s better. It took me about half an hour to write that darn paragraph. You don’t realize how much you use a few letters until they’re missing. Of course, if I had a brain like Mark Dunn (Author of Ella Minnow Pea) I could have simply written that paragraph without the use of any of those letters. I was simply amazed that anyone could write a book like that, however, so I don’t think I’ll give it a try right now. (Never read Ella Minnow Pea? Perhaps I will write a book review of it soon. It was a wonderful novel where each chapter uses progressively less and less letters in the alphabet. An excellent read.)

Oh yes. That’s another thing about my blog posts. I will probably–actually, most likely–ramble.

That said, I hope you’ll join me on this adventure…and I hope a miracle will happen and my laptop’s keyboard will somehow be resurrected.

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.