Monday, February 17, 2014

Progress with "Too Cold for Alligators"

I am really trying to buckle down and get the book finished. I keep thinking of things needing to be checked which means I return to Day 1 and go through again. It’s tedious and time consuming. The original manuscript was with color photos and I’m afraid the printing will be too expensive with the number of photos I want to include. Therefore, I am converting photos to grayscale and some do not do well in black and white. I have to do away with the ones that don’t work and either replace with another photo or make sure I have an appropriate written description in the text.

I have been working with two formats, one with text only and one with photos. That means that every change I make in one copy, I have to make sure is done to the other. No matter how, where I publish or print, whether I use a template or not, the text copy is the one that will be submitted. Photos need to be separate submission. Even if I copy and paste to a template, photos need to be inserted separately. That also means that I have to make notations in the text only copy where to insert the photos. The copy with the photos already inserted is just so I can see how they will look. (Sometimes I feel I make too much extra work for myself.)

Doing the final editing and proofreading is tough as I’ve read through the text over and over. In my work with the newspaper, I am always told a writer should not do their own proofreading. My mind starts to blank out after awhile. I find things to delete to “tighten up” the story and I also add more descriptions. It’s been hard to describe things, scenes, and situations when I don’t have the correct terminology. It’s not easy to edit your own work. I want to tell everything, but there may be sections that are not interesting enough for readers. Self-doubt doesn’t help and can be a roadblock.
For instance, I still can’t make up my mind to print in 7 x 10 or 6 x 9. The first would be nice as I plan on doing a color picture book as a companion to “Too Cold for Alligators.” On the other hand, most reading books are printed in a 6 x 9 size. Would the size make a difference in a sale?
Yesterday was a full day of working on this one project getting me from Day 9 through Day 12 and starting Day 13. (Only 20 more days to go.) One challenge is that I sometimes edit a photo, save it to a folder then when I got to insert it into the chapter, the photo isn’t in the folder. I go back and re-edit and when I go to save, I’m told it’s already in the folder. I can re-save and it will show up… sometimes. Sometimes I have to shut down and re-open the programs. There’s one photo that I’ve re-edited four times and it still won’t show up in the folder. Where does it go? I finally took it as a sign not to use that photo in the book… unless it’s in the folder this morning.

The question I am asked the most is “How many pages is your book?” I don’t know. I’ve written each section as its own Word document. As I am working in Word, I am working at a size of 8 ½ x 11. When I copy and paste to a smaller template, the page numbers will change. Also, until I finish, I don’t know how many pages the Table of Contents or List of Photographs will take up.

I have worked with a couple of different templates. One was from Amazon’s Createspace, but when MS Word slowed down and kept (and keeps) going into Auto Recovery making me wait and wait before I can move on, it was suggested I switch to Open Office. Open Office is similar, but there was still a learning curve. I made progress. I was trying to finalize editing, make adjustments, and copy and paste the sections into the template. I had to adjust margins because they were not the same as in Word. I inserted photos and had to work with text wrapping. The progress was very slow.

Back in July when I finished the first draft, I thought I was close to finishing. I thought I was ahead of schedule. I thought all I had to do was a final edit and copy and paste to a template. Then I ran into issues with the templates, there was a major life upset, and other projects needing to be done. I took a break from the book for a few of months. I even worked on another book.

With the new year, I was determined to get back to “Too Cold for Alligators.” It’s imperative that I finish this book. It’s important for my… soul… to get this accomplished. A couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that I need to finish the manuscript itself, that I need the finished product. It’s taking too much time to work with a template. The finished manuscript will give me a better handle on where I am and that feeling of accomplishment. Then I can just go and copy and paste to the template without having to worry about editing.

So, this is where I am. I’m doing that final edit, making sure headings are consistent, and the photos and maps are chosen and saved to the specific folders. Of course, this morning I realized that I had been using the photo title in the “insert photo___” in the text only copy and the photos are listed in the folder under a number. Now I have to go back through the previous chapters and change the photo title to the image number and add a caption.

I’m getting there.

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