5 books that Manipulate the English Language – Guest Post – Desiree Villena

Today we welcome Desiree Villena for a guest post.

5 Books That Manipulate the English Language

The scattering of words and phrases in fictional languages is not an unusual concept in fiction. Fantasy worlds, such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth and George R.R. Martin’s The Known World, are so fully realized that they not only come with their own history, topography, and mythology, but their own languages too. And I’m not just talking about the odd memorised Game of Thrones quote; I’m talking 4000 word Dothraki lexicons and university courses in Elvish.

Languages are an exceptional way of capturing the soul of the culture that spawned them — which is why fantasy authors aren’t the only ones to have dabbled in lexical invention. The limited vocabulary and sinister staccato rhythm of ‘Newspeak’ was used in Orwell’s cult classic 1984 to show how the totalitarian state kept original thought at bay. Meanwhile,  Roald Dahl used the ‘frothbuggling’ (silly) but ‘hopscotchy’ (cheerful) language he called ‘Gobblefunk’ to make his exuberant world even more playful.

But what about books that go a step further? Those written entirely in a constructed language or dialect? Though they can initially be a little daunting, these books take the immersive experience of reading to a whole new level. So if you’re up for the challenge, they’re not to be missed!

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Burgess’ dystopian novel is narrated by Alex — a nightmarish teen who thinks and talks in Nadstat. If you’ve never heard of Nadstat, don’t worry, you haven’t fallen behind the times; Burgess constructed it himself by amalgamating Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, and a Russian-English hybrid lingo. Along with white cricket codpieces and dark eye make-up, Nadstat is part of the performance of a violent youth subculture.

For readers, this street-slang acts like a screen, blurring our understanding of the brutal ‘ultraviolence’ they commit. If the words for blade, guts, and scream weren’t shrouded in Nadstat, we’d have to abandon the book within chapters to throw up or find a priest. Instead, a kind of rapport develops.

At first glance, Alex’s narrative may seem incomprehensible, but with a little bit of context, the meaning soon becomes clear. I bet you can figure this sentence out pretty easily (though the squeamish may not want to): “to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood.” If you’re still having trouble, you can check out this dictionary. Before long you’ll be slipping Nadstat into conversation; though don’t let that lead to tolchocking old vecks in alleys!

2. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth doesn’t get on with historical novels written in contemporary language. To travel back in time, he argues, you need to speak the language of the era. You can debate the truth of this among yourselves; but whether or not you agree, The Wake is not to be missed.

It’s composed in what Kingsnorth calls a ‘ghost language’ — a language that aims to reflect a historical setting. In this case, England during the wake of the Norman conquest. As Alex points out in this post, the English language has changed a lot: to reproduce a version of Old English, Kingsnorth had to scrap any words that came over with the French and reintroduce words of Anglo-Saxon origin. The result can be a little disorienting:

“aefry ember of hope gan lic the embers of a fyr brocen in the daegs beginnan brocen by men other than us. hope falls harder when the end is cwic hope falls harder when in the daegs before the storm the stillness of the age was writen in the songs of men”

However, if you persevere (and maybe sound the words out loud), the language will soon come naturally, and you’ll be rewarded with a gripping story.

3. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

The language of Hoban’s dystopian novel, though it’s set in the distant future, is uncannily similar to that of Kingsnorth’s distant past. Riddley Walker imagines a world 2,000 years after nuclear war has obliterated civilisation as we know it. Living in a nuclear wasteland, humanity is more or less transported back to the Iron Age, where the language is as broken as the landscape.

Our narrator is 12-year-old Riddley Walker, who lives in Kent, ‘Inland’ (England). However, it’s not just the regional accent and Riddley’s awkward pre-teen slang that shapes the dialect in which the novel is written — it is also injected with Hoban’s invented post-apocalyptic vernacular. Here’s a little taster: “Every 1 knows about Bad Time and what come after. Bad Time 1st and bad times after. Not many come thru it a live.”

Though that sentence may look like a text message with one too many typos, as the story unfolds, you’ll realize just how important this language is to Hoban’s vision.

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Unlike the other books on this list, Trainspotting isn’t written in a language constructed by the author. Welsh’s novel follows in a noble line of literature (including Wuthering Heights and several works by James Kelman) composed partially in Scots’ dialect — but Welsh takes things one step further.

If you’ve seen the cult movie starring pre-Obi Wan Ewan McGregor, then you might recognize the name Mark “Rent Boy” Renton. Alongside other drug-addled junkies living in Edinburgh’s inhospitable outskirts, Mark narrates Trainspotting in a thick Scottish dialect. The novel is written phonetically, so it can end up looking a little opaque:

“Ah sit frozen for a moment. But only a moment. Ah fall off the pan, ma knees splashing oantae the pishy flair. My jeans crumple tae the deck and greedily absorb the urine, but ah hardly notice. Ah roll up ma shirt sleeve and hesitate only briefly, glancing at ma scabby and occasionally weeping track marks, before plunging ma hands and forearms intae the brown water.”

But, if you start by reading it aloud, it’s much easier to understand; not to mention, you’ll instantly nail an Edinburgh accent.

5. The Policeman’s Beard is Half-Constructed

This collection of prose and poetry is written in a language that is essentially alien. In 1984, William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter created a computer program called raconteur (Racter for short) to answer the question: what kind of language would a machine, with no knowledge of the human experience, come up with?

I suppose getting a computer to do all the work is one way to deal with writer’s block. And honestly, the results could give Anne Carson a run for her money:

BILL. I love a child.
MARCELA. Children are fortunately captivating.
BILL. Yet my love is excellent.
MARCELLA. My love is spooky yet we must have a child, a spooky child.
BILL. Do you follow me?
MARCELLA. Children come from love or desire. We must have love to possess children or a child.
BILL. Do we have love?
MARCELLA. We possess desire, angry desire. But this furious desire may murder a child. It may be killing babies someday.
BILL. Anyway let’s have a child.
MARCELLA. My expectation is children.
BILL. They will whisper of our love.
MARCELLA. And our perpetual, enrapturing, valuable fantasy.

Influenced by technology and the merging of cultures, language is constantly shifting. Maybe one day we’ll all be talking ‘Textspeak’, or regional dialects will die out completely, leaving some standardised form of language. The possibilities are endless. Which is why novels like these, that explore the evolution of language and the effect it has on a consciousness, are so uniquely fascinating. Granted, they aren’t for everyone — some people will simply conclude that these books are in serious need of a professional editor. But, if you have the patience to scramble through a rough few pages, then they’re not to be missed!

NN Light Trick or Treat Bonanza

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Trick or Treat! ‘Tis the month to celebrate all things paranormal, supernatural, suspenseful and mystical. If you’re like me, you’ll want to accept this very special invitation to join the festivities at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s 2nd annual Trick or Treat Book Bonanza. 46 authors share what they’d dress up as for Halloween as well as 53 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My books, Nightly Bites II will be featured on 13th October and The Secret of Blossom Rise on 26th October. Wait until you read what my Halloween costume would be. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this event and tell your friends:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/trick-or-treat-book-bonanza

Featuring

1- Katie O’Sullivan, Marilyn Baron, Kayla Krantz

2- Judith Sterling, Michelle Bryan

5- Debby Grahl, Willa Blair, N. Christine Samuelson (Eternal)

6- Ruthie Marlenee, Nancy E. Polin (Soul)

7- Theresa Dale, Alina K. Field, Paula Benge

8- G.A. Finocchiaro (Knightmares), Charles E. Yallowitz (Ravenous)

9- Nancy Fraser, Dee S. Knight, Lelani Black

12- Maddie James, Robert Herold, P.L. Parker

13- A.L. Butcher (Nightly), D.W. Adler

14- Tena Stetler, S.K. Andrews, Naomi Bellina

15- Regina Jeffers, Karen Michelle Nutt (Two)

16- Randy Overbeck (Blood), Beverley Bateman, Catherine Mesick

19- Helen C. Johannes, Marilyn Barr, Judy Bruce

20- Mary Martinez, Cherie Colyer

21- Karilyn Bentley, Catherine Milos

22- Maureen Bonatch, Aubrey Wynne

23- Elyzabeth M. Valey, Emma Ames

26- Nancy E. Polin (Raven), A.L. Butcher (Blossom)

27- G.A. Finocchiaro (Grace), Charles E. Yallowitz (Eradication), N. Christine Samuelson (Echoes)

28- Roni Denholtz, Mary Morgan

29- Karen Michelle Nutt (Heart), Jana Richards

30- Sharon Buchbinder, Randy Overbeck (Crimson)

Blog Tour – Jack the Ripper Victims Series – Guest Post – Alan M. Clark

Themes in the JTR Victims Series

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 (Although this list is rather dry reading, imagine they are not just themes in a set of novels, but aspects of a reality that had an impact on the lives of real people)

Women’s issues and how they evolved in Victorian England

1)Women as the property of their husbands, having to obey, with little or no recourse against physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.

2)The slow evolution of these issues in Victorian England.

3)The worth of a woman in society having much to do with the worth of the man to whom she is wed.

4)The relative worth to society and employers of single middle-aged women with no family ties.

Poverty and social conscience

1)The relief system—the workhouses, out-relief, casual wards, and infirmaries.

2)Opinions based on social Darwinism that helped maintain a class system. The oppression and suppression of those of a lower station in a class system.

3)The various approaches of the innumerable beggars in the streets.

4)The use of child labor.

5)Scavengers of Victorian London, such as bone grubbers, toshers, pure finders, and mudlarks.

6)The struggle for survival in a time of societal change, great advances in technology, and a rapidly changing economy.

The industrial revolution and unemployment

1)The advantage employers had over workers with high-unemployment during the industrial revolution: low wages, abusive practices.

2)Child labor.

3) Piece work for manufacturers, such as finishing articles of clothing, making small items, adhering labels, or whatever small factory work a laborer might take home to be done in spare time or by children in the evenings. The term “piece work” comes from the fact that the worker is paid by the completed piece.

4)The dangers of the workplace in a society with few industrial and employment safety regulations: exposure to poisonous chemicals, powered equipment, and the stresses of highly repetitive labor over long work shifts with little variety.

Alcoholism/Addiction

1)The availability of drink (considered by many in that time another form of food).

2)Alcohol used to treat water to make it potable. Such water is given to children even at a very early age.

3)The use of alcohol to dampen feeling and the escape intoxication provides.

4)The bargaining alcoholics do with themselves as the disease creates ever more physical and social difficulties for the sufferer.

5)The availability of opium in various forms for children and adults.

Education

The evolution of education for the children of the poor—the slow introduction of mandatory education.

Prostitution

Who engaged in prostitution and why the practice could seem attractive—see all categories above.

Alan M. Clark’s Jack the Ripper Victims Series is comprised of five novels, one for each of the canonical victims of the murderer. These stories are not only meant to appeal to those interested in the horror that was the Autumn of Terror, but also those interested in the struggles of women in the 19th century. They are well-researched, fictional dramatic stories meant to help readers walk in the shoes of the victims and give a sense of the world as each of the women may have experienced it. The timelines for the stories run mostly concurrently, so it doesn’t matter in what order the books in the series are read. They are simultaneously drama, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, and horror. They are novels concerning horror that happened.

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A Brutal Chill in August

The First Victim of Jack the Ripper

by Alan M. Clark

Genre: Crime Horror

Print Length: 348 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: December 7, 2019

We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?

Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstance. Jack the Ripper’s first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings, to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.

With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is horror that happened.

Amazon * Apple * Apple Audiobook * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31683532-a-brutal-chill-in-august

 

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Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man

The Second Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 158 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: June 9, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

Annie Chapman led a hard, lower-class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34862405-apologies-to-the-cat-s-meat-man

 

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Say Anything But Your Prayers

The Third Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 224 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: June 11, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper. The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself–Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hardbitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles ever closer.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22913933-say-anything-but-your-prayers

 

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Of Thimble and Threat

The Fourth Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 168 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: September 28, 2017

In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable squalor and suffering. Filth, decay, danger, sorrow, and death are ever-present in the streets. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the city’s East End. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world. In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death. Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart.

 

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36440709-of-thimble-and-threat

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The Prostitute’s Price

The Fifth Victim of Jack the Ripper

 

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: August 30, 2018

 

A novel that beats back our assumptions about the time of Jack the Ripper. Not the grim story of an unfortunate drunken prostitute killed before her time, but one of a young woman alive with all the emotional complexity of women today. Running from a man wanting her to pay for her crimes against his brother, Mary Jane Kelly must recover a valuable hidden necklace and sell it to gain the funds to leave London and start over elsewhere. Driven by powerful, if at times conflicting emotion, she runs the dystopian labyrinth of the East End, and tries to sneak past the deadly menace that bars her exit.

Although THE PROSTITUTE’S PRICE is a standalone tale, and part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, it is also a companion story to the novel, THE ASSASSIN’S COIN, by John Linwood Grant. The gain a broader experience of each novel, read both.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41796486-the-prostitute-s-price

About the Author

Author and illustrator, Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including twelve novels, a couple of novellas, four collections of fiction, some of them lavishly illustrated, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audiobooks, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. www.alanmclark.com Visit his blog: https://ifdpublishing.com/blog

Website * Blog * Facebook * Facebook * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

Giveaway

 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/jack-the-ripper-victims-series-book-tour-and-giveaway

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Snuggle Up With These Books – November #Books #Prizes #Indiepromo

Calling all readers! Fill your library with N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Snuggle Up With These Books Readathon picks. 56 books from multiple genres featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, The Shining Citadel, will be featured on 14th November. I even talk about what I’m thankful for this year. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this bookish party and tell your friends:

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https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/snuggle-up-readathon

 

Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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The Hypnotist’s Assistant Richard DeVall- Blog Tour

The Hypnotist’s Assistant
by Richard DeVall
Genre: Coming of Age

When 13 year old Gary Crockett hypnotizes Earl Lancaster and Earl stands
from his wheelchair everything changes for both of them. Gary
suspects Earl of lying about his paralysis and Gary’s mom thinks
Earl is sexy and a business genius. Before long all three need to
leave town in a hurry.

 

This coming of age tale is full of surprises and quirky characters,
twisted circumstances and weird resolutions. It’s a breezy look at
race relations, ladyboys, virginity, snake biting churches and meditation.

The novel is a one day read and sprinkled with humor.

The Hypnotist’s Assistant explores healing, romance, religion, deception,
dysfunction, inspiration, gender, addiction and loss.

What begins as an extraordinary event ends with new found love, true
friendship and hope. Bottom line – this book ultimately does what
books do, it brings the reader entertainment and escape.

**Only .99 cents or FREE May 22nd – 26th!!**
Richard DeVall was born in Virginia near the Washington D.C. border. He
worked as a 1st Class Steam Engineer in D.C. and then became a class
A General Contractor. He now lives in Richmond Virginia where he’s
retired and fulfilling a lifetime dream of publishing books. He like
books of all flavors and is always working on at least two novels at
any given time.

 

Brief Guest Post from Richard DeVall:

I hear music type people refer to digital music as cold, vinyl as being warm and tapes having depth. I wouldn’t have a clue. What I’m going to mention is the differences in perceptions of Audio, electronic and paperback books.

Audio is great for busy hands. It lacks intimacy in the area of pause and reflection. That’s because it’s a pace car that’s moving at a constant speed forward. It’s great for folks on the go. It’s actually a book on the go.

Kindle – Nook – Kobo – phone – tablet and desktop reading. I find the difference between those forms of reading and paperback almost, but not quite the same. The difference is familiarity. A book is a little warmer, like meatloaf and potatoes versus a grilled cheese sandwich, a cold pickle and soup.

Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

Guest Post – Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort? – T R Robinson

Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort?

Guest post by T. R. Robinson

I first came across character interviews here in Alex’s Library of Erana blog. There have been a couple elsewhere but the majority have been here. Now for a bit of honesty: My initial thought? ‘Silly and pointless.’ As a consequence, I simply glanced (not even sped read) through a couple and thereafter ignored them. I now feel a little ashamed. It is not usual for me to make such determinations prior to fully investigating the validity and seeking to comprehend people’s motivations. Why I did not do so in this instance I am not sure. I suspect it may have been I was new to authoring and probably, as most when first setting out on a new career, felt under pressure to complete a work and to interact in social media. Time pressure in other words: there never seems to be enough for all we want to do. Of course, this is no excuse but I hope it helps readers understand.

Character interviews appear to remain a rarity. I certainly see few. Nevertheless, I now take more note of them. One question that occurs: Who are these interviews for? The author or the reader? I would say both. I will consider them in reverse order.

The Reader

Of what interest are character interviews to readers?

  • (Perhaps with the exception of some self-help or scientific books, the majority of readers are looking to be entertained.)
  • (Usually provide further idea of the character’s true nature, aims and goals.)
  • (Provide some backstory details which will enhance the eventual read. Assuming they do go on to read the book the character is in.)
  • (Build interest in and expectations for a story.)

 

The Author

What benefits do character interviews provide for authors?

  • Display writing skill. (Readers do not readily pick up books by unknown authors. These free interviews provide them with an idea of what they could expect from the author’s books.)
  • Avoid ‘padding’. (Able to fill-out character personalities with additional information that would not fit or be appropriate to include in the primary manuscript.)
  • Know characters. (Authors are advised, for best results, to fully know their charters by writing biographies. Interviews go part way, probably a long way, toward this aim.)
  • Refreshed mind. (Continuous writing on the same theme can lead to fatigue and some degree of stagnation. Writing something different usually breaks the trend.)
  • Marketing/Publicity. (Done right, interviews may set a story’s scene and create intrigue and interest in it.)

Of course, the above are by no means the full extent of what readers and authors may gain from these interviews. Everyone is different.

Worth the Effort?

Back to the original question.

Having now admonished and corrected myself, I may unequivocally state, as far as I am concerned, character interviews do have their place in the reading and authoring world. Now, with respect to Alex’s own books: Fantasy is not a genre I usually read, or if I am honest, really enjoy, at least that has generally tended to be my past experience. Nevertheless, I have read and reviewed Alex’s Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends and have to say I enjoyed it. That was in December 2017. I have not read any others since but admit some of the character interviews here have intrigued and inspired me to contemplate reading more in the genre.

So far I have not undertaken interviews for any of my own characters. This is primarily due to the fact I write in the memoir and biographical fiction genre where, most frequently, who the person is forms an integral part of the tale. However, in view of how much I have enjoyed Alex’s character interviews, I may consider undertaking a few for some of the fictional charters I have utilised to enhance the real events within the biographical fiction and short story collections. There, see, I have been inspired. From sceptic I am now a believer.

Thank you Alexandra for giving me this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with your readers.

 

*********************

 

In addition to authoring T. R. Robinson provides free guidance, tips and ideas for both authors and readers.

T. R.’s Primary Website and Blog: https://trrobinsonpublications.com

T. R.’s More Personal Blog: https://trmemoirs.wordpress.com

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Guest Post – Self Publishing Platforms and Accessibility – by Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a prolific author, mostly of books for children and poetry. She has an impressive catalogue. She is also blind – and has visited the Library Of Erana in the past to discuss the accessibility (or otherwise) of publishing, reading and enjoying books. I’m pleased to welcome Tori back, where she discusses the issues of self-publishing on Amazon vs Smashwords.

Tori – over to you

“Which platform is best for self-publishing?”

It’s a question you’ve likely heard many, many times – one especially popular with people comparing Smashwords to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – and one that will have a different answer, depending on who you ask, and what experiences they’ve had using one platform or the other.

Here’s another question for you though:

“Which platform is more accessible for visually impaired authors who rely on screen readers?”

This one may also come with different answers, depending on who you ask, and their personal experiences.  The screen reader and browser you use may make a difference too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.

I’ve only ever used JAWS (Java Access With Speach) so can’t compare screen readers for you.  But I’m going to give you my opinion on which platform is more accessible if you use JAWS and Firefox, which is what I use.

Although, I can only answer it using a comparison of Smashwords and KDP, because I actually haven’t dealt directly with the other platforms.  My books may be on other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, but it’s because of distribution.  Something I’m very grateful exists, since it makes my life easier.  Actually, it makes things easier for a lot of people, and not just screen reader users.  But this post isn’t about distribution.  This post is about which publishing platform is more accessible for screen reader users using JAWS and Firefox.

So, what’s the answer?

The short answer is Smashwords.  They’re easier to navigate, having a less cluttered page.

Although, in all fairness to them, KDP do appear to have improved their accessibility a little.  So at least they aren’t as much of a headache to use as they were when I first started publishing, which was almost seven years ago now.  Navigation is still a little more difficult on KDP than it is on Smashwords though.  Still, any improvement helps.

Of course, there’s room for improvement on both.  There’s always room for improvement, no matter what we’re talking about.  Especially since whoever invented drop-down menus obviously hasn’t had to use a screen reader.  Then there’s how graphics happy everyone is these days…

You know, I think we should make it essential for every company’s technical department to have a team of visually impaired people whose jobs are just to check the accessibility of websites using different screen readers and browsers.  It would create more jobs, and improve accessibility for screen reader users at the same time.  It’s a win- win situation!

But, in the meantime, if I had to recommend either Smashwords or Amazon to someone, based on accessibility alone, I’d recommend Smashwords.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still prefer to go directly to Amazon for their eBooks, and you have to sell a lot of books to have your Smashwords books distributed to Amazon.  Something very few authors actually achieve.  That means your best chance of having your books listed on Amazon is to put them on there yourself.  So, as I’ve recently realized and accepted, you’re going to want to deal with both platforms.  At least, you are if you want all those people with Kindles to buy copies of your books.

***~~~***

About the author:

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Blog: https://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

 

Find Tori’s books on…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6/

…Along with a variety of other online retailers.

 

NN Light’ s December Giveaway

Having a hard time choosing what to read this month? While there’s so many wonderful authors and books available, it’s imperative to have a dependable and responsible place that can help you choose what to read. It’s even better when you get a chance to win free books! Every month, you can win free books from multiple authors hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Numerous authors are offering their books in this collaborative group entitled Literary Giveaway Portal.

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Curl Up With a Book Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775022

Literary Giveaway Portal:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal

December 2018 Giveaway Prizes

e-copy of Tied Up With Strings by Madeline McEwan

e-copy of Three Lessons in Seduction by Sofie Darling

e-copy of Too Good to be True by Livia Quinn

e-copy of Debriefing the Dead (Book 1 of The Dead Series) by Kerry Blaisdell

e-copy of The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin Book 1) by Judith Sterling

e-copy of Arresting Mason by Amber Daulton

e-copy of The Queen of Paradise Valley by Cat Dubie

e-copy of The Mystery of Flight 2222 by Thomas Neviaser

e-copy of Once Broken by D. M. Hamblin

e-copy of A Debt to the Devil by D. M. Hamblin

e-copy of The Kitchen Imps by A. L. Butcher (Smashwords voucher)

e-copy of The Colony and The Last City by RM Gilmour

5 e-copy of Angelica by Clabe Polk

2 autographed print copy of Erin’s Gift plus swag generously donated by Nancy Fraser (US/Canada only)

e-copy of Life Sucks After You Die by Crystal-Rain Love

e-copy of Dickensen Academy by Christine Grabowski

audiobook copy of Rescue Love by Melissa Keir (US/Canada only)

e-copy of To Save a Lady by Patricia Preston (US only)

2 e-copy of Cinderella Busted by Petie McCarty

print copy of Sweet Seduction by Janet Lane Walters (US/Canada only)

autographed print copy of Seventeen Days by Linda Griffin

e-copy of It Happened on Dufferin Terrace by Melanie Robertson-King

e-copy of Dreamtime Sensuality by David Russell

e-copy of Romeo Vs. Juliet (Descendants of Time Book 1) by Laura Hogg (US only)

December Giveaway 2

Reading for the Blind – Interview with Matt Jenkins

Reading for the Blind interview

Name: Matt Jenkins

I understand you are involved with one of the services providing spoken word material for the visually impaired – tell us a bit more about this work.

Yes. I am the “technical editor” for the local Talking Newspaper charity.  Every two weeks we take the local newspapers from the past fortnight, pick out the 30-or-so most interesting and relevant pieces, and record them to audio CD. My job involves the technical aspects of the work – the recording, editing and mixing of the audio.  I rarely get to do the actual reading – there is usually a team of 4 or 5 readers that do the reading – although we do also provide audio recording facilities to a couple of other local services – the local housing association and the support services for carers – and I get to read on those, which is nice.

How did you become involved with this?

A friend of the family is one of the trustees of the charity. She heard me reading at my parents’ church one christmas (yes, I sometimes get roped in for that kind of thing…) and said “We need you!” so I went along.  I rapidly progressed from reading to editing (by rapidly I mean instantly) since they had a lack of anyone with any skills whatsoever in that regard. Now I’m in charge of that side of the operation.

Why is this an important part of your work?

It’s what got me into audiobook reading. A friend at the charity mentioned ACX one day and said I should read audiobooks – so I did. And now here I am. Without the talking newspaper I’d never have heard of ACX and never got into reading audiobooks.

Do you think there are enough resources available to support those who are visually impaired enjoy books, newspapers and magazine? What more can be done?

Yes, I think there probably is enough. With the likes of Audible and iTunes making it easy and cost effective to get audiobooks while at the same time always increasing the library of available books, enjoying books has never been easier.  Magazines and newspapers, on the other hand, are a different matter. Most areas in the UK have a talking newspaper service, but certainly, more rural areas are somewhat lacking. Magazines, however – I am unaware of any commercial publications that provide any audio formats for their magazines, but RNIB do provide some of them with thanks to third-party readers. But, with the advances in speech synthesis and screen reading, if you’re online you can get most articles read for you by your computer. It’s not quite the same as a real human voice, but technology is going a long way to filling the gap.

If a person wanted to become involved with this kind of work how would they go about it?

There is a good chance there is a talking newspaper in your area. The best places to go to find out about it would be your local newspaper (all the papers we read from are donated by the local newspaper), or speak to someone at your local council services offices or library.  If there are any local visual impairment charities they may also know of (or be instrumental) in your local talking newspaper.

The RNIB also provide a service for national publications (http://www.tnauk.org.uk/) if you want to get more involved at a national level.

How does this differ to narrating an audiobook?

It’s a lot more rough-and-ready. We have limited time between the papers being published on Thursday and the CDs being dispatched on Friday. We get about 3 hours to do all the recording and editing. It’s more important to get the news out on time than to make it sound studio-quality perfect. Although we do strive to get it as good as possible, we don’t mind the odd mistake and stumble over words – to edit out and re-take all that would take longer than we have available (we rent a room from the local Royal Volunteer Service to do all our work).

Anything else you wish to add?

Talking Newspaper societies are always looking for more readers. And if our society is anything to go by they’re crying out for people with technical audio production skills.

But thanks to the internet and technology our listenership has dwindled away to a fraction of what it was. There is still a demand for our services, and we will keep going until the last subscriber cancels.

Where can we find your work?

The Talking Newspaper is not publically accessible – it’s a subscription service. And unless you’re a carer in my local area (and it’s not just people that with visual impairment that like audio versions of documents – there are those that can’t, or have difficulty, reading, or don’t read English well enough) you won’t have access to the material we record.