On Writing Groups

The beginning of autumn heralds the return of college based writing groups. This year I have decided that interrupting my Saturday writing sprints to travel in to London for a writing group is not going to work so I have searched out a new group.

The new group I have joined is based at the Mary Ward Centre in Central London. The group meets weekly and it is clear from session one that there are several people who have been in the group a while. I was rather concerned at the size of the group but the tutor asked us all to sign up for a reading slot. This means everyone has around 30 minutes to read their work and get criticism back. This worked well on session one.

Only having a couple of slots a term to fill, rather than having to produce something every week, should mean that people have the time to real work on their writing before presenting it.

I learnt a lot from the previous two courses. On the Crime Writing course I learnt all about character and plot development. On the Saturday Workshop I improved my writing at sentence level. On this workshop, I am hoping to improve the flow and direction of my writing. First impressions are positive.

In print

I thought the worst part of preparing my novel Jam, Jerusalem and Java for publication was the endless editing and proofreading. Not so. I have spent most of today fighting with Blurb’s Book Wright program to create a print edition of the novel.

I can hear you asking why I would want a print version when it is available for Kindle. The simple answer is that not everyone has an eReader. In fact, lots of people I know don’t have eReaders or tablet PCs. Indeed, some of the people who own mobile gadgets have little idea of how to use them. Being extremely tech savvy myself, I find this hard to comprehend and a little worrying. I have even downsized my iPad to make it even more mobile and, therefore, useful.

Having noted that some people are missing out on the reading experience, and spotting a chance to start early on the Christmas present list, I have gone into print. That is, to say, I have formatted my manuscript to fit a trade format paperback and put it up for sale on Blurb.

The formatting and uploading did not go without problems. As I said at the beginning, the process has taken a good part of a day. The first issue was the cover size. The image resolution for an eBook is vastly different from that for a print book. I spent many hours in Photoshop resizing the cover. I lost count of the number of times I did this before I got an image the software liked. I have to say, that I gave up and walked away several times during the process in order to save my sanity.

Having got the cover sorted then I had to write the blurb. After writing, and losing, several versions I opted to copy and paste the blurb from my website.

The next task was to import the text. The text as is was formatted for the Kindle and it looks good on a Kindle. It did not, however, look so neat on print preview for the Blurb book. The chapter headings for chapter 6 and chapter 13 had an extra line space. I have no idea why. I had to go back to the editing page of Book Wright in order to correct this. Then the formatting went totally bizarre and I lost a whole page. I got the page back but the software insisted on having an even number of pages as it is better for printing. I uploaded and removed the text several times before I was able to get the software to respond appropriately and add two more pages. Then the uploading failed.

At this point I was losing the will to continue. Suddenly, the program decided to let me upload the book, set a price and process the book. Now my eBook was in the process of becoming a print book. I ordered six copies.

Having succeeded in creating a print version of my novel I am not sure how I feel about it. The book was conceived as a digital book and its length reflects the platform on which I originally published it. How it will fare as a print book I do not know but I decided to make it publicly available so as not to discriminate again people who do not have the means to read a Kindle book.

Then I started on a photobook, 24 hours in Oslo, but the program crashed and I decided to call it a day.


one book in Panos

The joys of editing

At the weekend I launched my short novel Jam, Jerusalem and Java on its own independent journey. Or so I thought. Despite weeks of editing and proofreading, it seems that a few errors still managed to escape me. A friend read it and some errors. I corrected them and launched my book on Amazon. Then , another friend texted that she had read it and, while it was well-written, it still had some errors.

There was nothing for it. I launched the book on my Kindle and started reading. A couple of commas were missing in the first chapter. I was sure I had dealt with them. Was it me? Was Word playing games with me? Who knows. I went back into my original version and put the commas in. Then I  went through the text line by line. I found a few missing words and more missing commas. I used the opportunity to change the phrase “mobile coffee bar” to “mobile coffee van.” For some reason I had started calling the baker, Robert. I checked my Scrivener notes. I had forgotten to change his name to Paul. In the new novel, he is called Paul, so to be consistent I had to do a search for both Paul and Robert in the Word document.Then I found a reference to Graham. Who the heck was Graham? According to my Scrivener character cards, he is the butcher. I need to remember this.

Luckily, my novel is only around 100 pages long and I was able to do the proofreading and corrections in under 5 hours. Imagine if I had listened to friends who had wanted me to write more. I would be despairing. There could still be some typos left, but for the Love of God, I hope they are minor ones.

I think editing my short novel has been more frustrating and painful than writing it. Next time round, I am going to type slower and check every sentence after I have written it. Maybe then, I’ll reduce the pain.