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Monthly Archives: July 2016

In the past couple of days I’ve had certain important victories.

From the beginning I assumed I’d have to get a professional to format my book, in both digital and print.  I’d heard reports of, and seen for myself, some amateur Kindle books which didn’t inspire much hope for the inexperienced DIY-formatter.  I’d tinkered a bit with running my book through a free online mobi converter, and it always ended up very very wrong.

However, I’m at a very unique point in this book’s progress.  I’ve finalized the manuscript, done all my front/back matter, but not yet ready to publish as my glorious cover art is still in the making.  (I’m very excited about this artwork, and plan to devote an entire blog post to it in due course.)  I just recognized, this week, what an opportunity this is.  I have time to play around, see what I can do for myself, but still have the back up plan of hiring a professional should it become clear that I need one.

And it turns out I don’t.

It took a couple days to wade through various helpful websites and how-to guides on the subject, and then to download certain useful free software, but I managed to format the e-book into a working Kindle mobi file.  It retains my images right where I want them, has a working table of contents, retains my text formatting and generally appears to be the real deal.

I’m now working on the print book format, using the same formula as the above.

There have been points during both of these explorations where I feel like my brain is breaking, and I have this overwhelming frustration that I know what I need to do but don’t have the tools to do it.  I’m now recognizing that this feeling tends to prelude a breakthrough, so I just need to take a deep breath, walk away for a moment, and then come back to it with a clearer head and more specific search terms.  Self-publishing is enough of a well-trodden path these days that there are plenty of resources out there if you know how to look for them.

Tonight I’ve been celebrating these victories, and the new-found knowledge that’s come with them.  I’ve been on such a kick that I even decided to fix our broken toilet this morning!  So if anyone needs any information on the subjects of turning a Word document into a mobi file, or how to create print page templates, or anything about the inner workings of a modern low flush toilet, I’m your girl.

I’m both excited and terrified to shortly release this novel into the world.  What started out as an interesting exploration into one of the archetypes of fairy tale relationships, which requires that one or both of the characters must undergo a crucial transformation before its actualization, became something significantly more personal over time.

When we write what we know it becomes inevitably personal.  When what we know is pain and heartbreak, that thing which is personal becomes harrowing.  This book has been a trial and a catharsis.  I don’t believe I’ll ever read it again once it’s been published.

However, as a writer of non-fiction, and fantasy in particular, you can’t stop at writing what you know.  You have to engage with the unknown, to open your mind to encounters with unreality, with what-ifs and possibilities.  This is an indescribable freedom.  It was said best by Ursula Le Guin, a woman for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration:

Only the imagination can get us out of the bind of the eternal present, inventing or hypothesizing or pretending or discovering a way that reason can then follow into the infinity of options, a clue through the labyrinths of choice, a golden string, the story, leading us to the freedom that is properly human, the freedom open to those whose minds can accept unreality.

(From Some Thoughts on Narrative, 1980)

For many, accepting unreality is a blessing.  Most people come to read fantasy to escape their reality and that’s certainly what attracted me as an over-dramatic pre-teen, when my love of the genre began.

So there’s an element of irony to the fact that my first published work of fantasy has forced me to confront my own reality rather than provide escapism from it.