After more than two years of slog, effort and redrafting (not to mention breaking three computers), 'The Secret Angels' has finally gone on sale. It was begun in Nisus Writer Pro on a Mac - until that died. It was continued in Libre Office Writer (in Linux) - until that also died. Then it was continued in WPS Writer on a third computer, running Linux. That machine is still alive. It was replaced, however, by a super fast Windows 10 machine, also running WPS Writer - until that gave up the ghost, temporarily. I will be able to fix it. Finally the book was finished and edited on the third computer, but using its Windows 7 side, and in WPS Writer.
Needless to say, none of this will be apparent to the reader, for the book is seamless and gives every impression of having been created on just one machine, using just one program - which it would have been, had my Mac not died on me.
Am I happy with it? Yes, I am. All the toil,sweat and frustration was worth it in the end. The Kindle edition went on sale, at least in the UK, this morning. For some reason, it has not yet appeared on Amazon.com, but that should be rectified by the time you read this. The paperback edition has also be submitted, but that takes a bit longer. It should be on sale early next week.
'The Secret Angels' is back from Cuzzie, and it is still a work in progress. She pointed out a few flaws in the manuscript that need my attention. This is the purpose of a proofreader. These people spot the shortcomings that pass the writer by because we become so used to seeing them that we no longer notice. Anyway, the bulk of the book is fine. There is nothing wrong with it that a good re-edit cannot put right, so that is the next step. I still have a couple of weeks before exam marking takes over my life (my annual penance for my sins). All being well, it should be on sale before then.
The manuscript is still with Cuzzie. She told me last weekend that she had been having a bit of trouble with her eyes. Nothing to worry about, but it has delayed matters a bit. Hopefully, |I should get it back by the weekend.
In the meantime, I have been preparing for my annual penance by downloading the Emarker to mark GCSE English Language papers, as I have done every summer since 2007. That can only be done in Windows, so it was back to the other half of the hard drive to work in Windows 7.
The main reason why I installed Linux on the old machine was to breathe a bit of life into it. I have since made the discovery that its woeful Chrome performance was really down to an excess of cookies. Once these were cleared out, it began to perform more like it should.
That prompted me to experiment with a new browser that I have heard of recently. It is called 'Brave'. Its claim to fame is that it blocks all adverts and doesn't track your activities. I downloaded it, installed it, and am immediately impressed. It is hugely fast on even this old slug of a machine. Needless to say, it is now my default browser and the need to switch between Linux and Windows is greatly reduced. In the near future, I will have the monbey to get my proper PC repaired, and then I will be installing Brave in Windows 10. Recommended.
The last post about how my PC had recovered turned out to be premature. Shortly after I uploaded it, it started misbehaving again, and has continued to do so ever since. That forced me back onto Linux to complete the editing process, which I have now done. This book has seen off three computers since I began it two years ago. It has been written, using three different word processors (Nisus Writer Pro - Mac only, Libre Office Writer - Linux version, and WPS Writer - Windows and Linux). It has also been written under three operating systems: Mac-OS (called OS-X El Capitan at the time), Windows 10 and Linux Mint.
Looked at with hindsight, it is a miracle that it was ever finished at all. Yet it is finished - subject to Cuzzie's approval. I delivered it to her on Wednesday, and she has promised to have her appraisal ready for next weekend. Phew! The final version - the one that goes on sale, that is - was done in WPS Writer, my word processor of choice these days. None of that should be apparent to the reader. I take care over these matters.
Despite its distended gestation period, and all the technical problems that dogged it, I am happy with the result, and I hope you will be too. All being well, it should be on sale within weeks, after Cuzzie's appraisal and final checks.
Then I must turn my attention to my next book. I have another four stacked up in my head, one of them a commission from another person, one an idea from a friend, and two extensions of existing series. I won't be stopping any time soon. Exam marking will rear its ugly head before much longer, which will interfere heavily with writing for about a month. Before any of that, though, I need to get my proper PC fixed.
The PC is working again! My friend, Mark (who knows a thing or two about computers) suspected a faulty lead inside the machine. We got it going last night, but it relapsed overnight and further investigation was required today. Finally, I tracked it down to one of the fans and disconnected it. Problem solved. It is working reliably again. No need to worry about cooling. The machine was designed for gaming, so it is chock full of fans. The most graphically demanding use I ever put it to is watching YouTube videos, so it is more than sufficiently equipped to do that.
Now I can get back on with editing. Hopefully, I will be contacting Cuzzie for a proofread within a few days.
I ask you. Would you Adam and Eve it? My new PC has just gone and died on me. Well, perhaps not as draconian as that, but it will need to be fixed, and I can't do that right now because there are other things that I need to attend to.
Do not concern yourselves, however. The edit of 'The Secret Angels' continues unabated. The work is being carried on, in Linux, on the back-up PC that I bought to do exam marking a few years ago. That one, at least, still works - even if it does run Windows 7 at the pace of an arthritic slug (it's faster in Linux, though.) Fortunately, two of my previous actions worked in my favour here. Firstly, after the Mac died and the other PC followed it, I installed the Linux version of WPS Office on the machine so that I could continue writing. I have always made back-up copies of my work, for obvious reasons. The last thing you want is for your machine to go belly-up and take your almost completed book with it. In addition to the master copy on the computer's hard drive, I also made one back-up on on an external hard drive and another in Cloud storage. Because of that, I was able to download the latest version of 'Angels' to the Linux machine and continue working. Phew!
So, the actual editing is going very well. It shouldn't be long before it goes to Cuzzie for the proofread. Then come final checks and publication. If my main PC is up and running again by then, it will do the job, using Kindle Create. If not, I will make an ePub and upload that (Kindle Create doesn't work in Linux). The two methods produce very similar results, so I doubt whether a reader would notice the difference.
Most of the writers I know hate editing, but I don't mind it at all. There is a certain satisfaction in polishing your text until it is as good as you can make it.
New writers make the mistake of thinking that the purpose of the edit is to get rid of the errors. That is not true at all. Modern word processors check your spelling (and sometimes your grammar) as you type. In an ideal world, there wouldn't be any errors at all. It isn't an ideal world, however, and the odd one will always slip through. Those do need to be edited out, of course, but it is not the main function of the edit.
I go through my text onscreen once, improving the text as I go. Then I print it out and go through it with a fine tooth comb, using coloured highlighters. You would be amazed at how much text I discover that looked perfectly good on screen, only to be revealed as not cutting the mustard on paper. The reason for this is that you read much faster on screen, so you can miss stuff that isn't quite good enough easily. The process involves multiple passes in both directions until almost every page in the whole document (over 500 of them in this instance) has been altered for the better. The final book won't have 500+ pages - more like 400+ of them. This is because the first draft is double-spaced, which leaves room to pen annotations between the lines when editing.
Back to work. Still a lot of editing to do before it goes to Cuzzie for the proofread.
And the magic words are... THE END.
There have been times over the past two and a bit years when it felt like this book would never be finished, but it is at last - well, the first draft at any rate.
Since 2013, I have been turning out two books a year consistently. I even once attempted to write two books at the same time, but gave up on that particular enterprise quite quickly because it doesn't really work. I don't have a female mind, so multi-tasking doesn't come naturally.
'The Secret Angels' seems to have taken forever, but it isn't my longest gestation period. My first ever book, 'Usurper' was begun in 1972, but not completed until 2011! The difference was that I spent the vast majority of that time doing other things.
'Angels' has been different. It was begun in January of 2016, so it has taken more than two years to complete. In its distended development, it has been through four computers, three word processors and four different operating systems. It was begun on my old iMac, running OS X El Capitan, with an excellent Mac-only word processor, called Nisus Writer Pro. That didn't last long, though. The Mac died on me and I couldn't afford a replacement. That moved me onto my venerable old back-up PC, running Linux Mint Serena, and Libre Office Writer. Then that one died too, just before Christmas of 2016. That put me onto my second back-up machine - a refurbished PC that I had bought to do exam marking (my annual penance for being a former teacher). It was running Windows 7 with Libre Office Writer, but it soon became apparent that it had been originally designed for Windows XP and was hopelessly underpowered to deal with 7. As a short term fix, I breathed a bit of life into it by installing Linux Mint and a new word processor that I liked much more than Libre: WPS Writer.
Last summer, I got my current computer, a really fast quad-core PC, running Windows 10. I installed the Windows version of WPS and have finally finished the book with that.
The next book (fingers crossed) will be done from start to finish on that machine in WPS.
Coupled with all that, I suffered the worst case of writer's block that I had experienced in years. The only way to get rid of that is to work through it. Much of what you write is, inevitably, not very good when you are blocked - but bits of quality do seep through from time to time. The poor stuff, of course, is edited out and replaced on redrafting, and 'Angels' was redrafted again and again. So much so, in fact, that I don't expect the editing stage to last that long. Two weeks, perhaps, after which it will go to Cuzzie for proofreading.
Fortunately, I enjoy editing, so I am looking forward to the next stage. It involves printing out the entire text and going through it ruthlessly with highlighters, cutting, adding and replacing text as necessary - redrafting the whole book yet again. Then I do it backwards, meaning that I start at the last page and work my way forwards. Each paragraph is read the right way round, of course, but in reverse order. That breaks up the flow of the text and makes mistakes and poor style easier to spot.
Now that the donkey work is almost done, I am pleased with the result. There were times when I didn't think I would be able to complete it, but now I will, and that is a promise. The final product will be a book that I am proud of. Look to see it published in late May or early June.
I'm back. As things turned out, I didn't take the laptop. Decided to have a few days off writing for a change. It's just as well because, on my return, I realised that the book, as it stood, was really a bit too long for its own good. I am up to the climax, but it dawned on me that the road there could be slimmed down and sharpened a touch. That is what I have been doing for the past few days. It is already feeling the benefit.
A memento of our little trip north of the border. This is the view from the Mull of Galloway, Scotland's most southerly point. The sea is the North Channel, which connects the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The hills on the horizon are the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland.
Happy April Fool's Day, but this is not an April Fool, I promise. If it was, it would be something altogether more memorable.
I am now tantalisingly close to completing the first draft of 'The Secret Angels'. The climax is well under way and the end is in sight - at long last.
On an entirely different note, Helen and I are going away on holiday for a week, starting this afternoon. We are not going particularly far -163 miles, to be precise. We are taking our caravan for its first outing of the year to Cairnryan in southeast Scotland. One of Helen's closest friends gave her a Christmas present of afternoon tea in a Scottish castle, which also happens to be a 5 star hotel. That will be the highlight of this little trip. It is Glenapp Castle in Ayreshire.
Happy Easter, everyone, by the way. The weather forecast for the entire week is dreadful, so it may be that we spend much of it sheltering in the van (which is warm, dry and comfortable, fortunately). I am taking my Kindle (Amazon Fire 8HD, to be precise, which costs less than a Kindle, seems more durable and has a colour screen that can be dimmed for reading in poor light). Helen is taking a selection of books to read. We are also taking the laptop, so it is entirely possible that the first draft of the book may be completed while we are away.
Should the forecast prove inaccurate, we are also taking our cameras. The area is the setting of Robert Louis Stephenson's classic, 'The Master of Ballantrae'. I have just downloaded it to my Kindle, but I must finish reading 'Red Sparrow' before I start it.
Helen also has ancestral roots in the area, so we will also be checking them out.
All being well, I may be onto editing when we get back, so look to publication round about whitsuntide.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.