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jParnell

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Bob, is there anything you can't do? Farmer, author, whittler, blender, builder, and don't try to deny talking quantum physics in the general forum :ROFLMAO:

Congrats! I hope one day to be half as well rounded as you at least appear from my perspective.

Actually, come to think of it, I am pretty well rounded when it comes to shape. I need to get to a gym.
 

deluxestogie

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A Fun Delivery in the Mail



This is the completed "first draft" of my new fantasy novel. I'm embarrassed to admit that I began it almost 20 years ago. The second volume, that is. The first (Counterspell: Guardian of the Ruins) was begun in about 1994. My son, Micah, was a high school student when he helped co-author that first volume. He and I have both struggled to complete the second volume ever since.



380 pages doesn't seem like quite enough for two decades of work. But it does have a nice heft to it. [I suppose I could have enlarged the page margins a smidgen, to take it up to about 425.]

It's not published yet! Micah and I, as well as a third victim, still need to sweep through it for a final edit. Then I will inspect each of my edits and each of theirs, and update the final version. I'm expecting to have it available for sale by May of this year.

A curious impact of current, on-demand publishing, is that it is actually less expensive to produce three copies of this lovely, fully bound draft--and have them (lulu.com) ship them to each of the three destinations--than it would be for me to print three copies of the typed manuscript (598 typed pages), and then mail over a ream of paper each to Micah and to the third reader.

Imagine turning in a term paper or a graduate thesis as a fully finished, formatted and bound paperback book.

In addition to the joy of actually holding a real book before it is published, it also gives me the opportunity to inspect the appearance of my cover images, the cover font clarity, and the critical alignment of the vertical text on the spine. The cover was created with Adobe Illustrator. The images are from a host of other graphics applications. [I've already designed the cover for volume three. Counterspell: Age of Fools.]

For this draft version, I replaced the barcode on the back cover with the large word, "DRAFT", and removed the ISBN and LCCN numbers from the copyright page. The bullet at the top of each odd-numbered page includes DRAFT in all caps, following the book title. No chance of confusion here.

Of course, "first draft" is a relative thing. Many of the early chapters have been carefully copy-edited numerous times over the years. The greatest challenge for finishing it, after so drawn-out a process, has been tracking all the nit-picky details. What was so-and-so wearing when he boarded the ship? What items was he still carrying at that point in the story? Is this minor character's name Bahsa or Bhasa? Since there is a large cast of characters, and nearly every proper name is invented (i.e. spell checkers don't know how it is spelled), it's been a tedious few months straightening it all out.

So, there it almost is.

Bob
 

Charly

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Congratulations, your son and you can really be proud !
It must be hard to maintain the same writing style while writing a book for two decades !
 

deluxestogie

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The general tone of the narrative is fairly stable, despite the time. The problem I found was in maintaining the unique conversational style of each of the many characters. Also, merging my son's writing with my own, in a way that makes it difficult to identify which of us wrote which sections--that has always been a challenge.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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Ah! The joys of formatting and editing your own book. Because the various chapters and assorted revisions were typed (over a span of decades) into differing text applications (e.g. MS Word vs. Libre Office Writer), I discovered an issue yesterday in the draft copy. The earlier text uses standard quotes, standard single quotes and apostrophes, and standard commas. BUT the newer stuff automatically changed quotes, etc. into fancy, opening and closing quotes, as well as fancy commas. So standard marks and fancy marks are sprinkled randomly through the 380 pages.

“Fancy quotes.” "Standard quotes."
Fancy comma
, here. Standard comma, here.
‘Fancy single quotes and apostrophe.’ 'Standard single quotes and apostrophe.'


I've figured out the Alt codes to switch them, but I can't do sweeping "replace all" commands to fix it, since the standard characters, both opening and closing, are identical. I was able to do that with the commas. Now...sigh...I'm in the process of going through the entire novel, line by line, and updating the opening quotes and opening single quotes. Then (dozens of hours from now), I can do a global "replace all" for the closing quotes and closing single quotes.

Bob
 
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Moth

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Now...sigh...I'm in the process of going through the entire novel, line by line, and updating the opening quotes and opening single quotes. Then (dozens of hours from now), I can do a global "replace all" for the closing quotes and closing single quotes.
I'm a software developer by trade. I can do this for you, if you'd like? Seems like a Fair Trade for the things I've learned reading the the forum...

[Edit] I can write a script to automate it. I won't don't by hand...
 

deluxestogie

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Thank you for your offer. I too have been a software developer (from 1977 to about 5 years ago). The underlying issue is the ton of mystery content that is embedded within Word and presently Libre Office files that offer no direct viewing or intended programmatic access. There are, for example, hidden, active scripts that adjust widow and orphan lines when a paragraph encounters a new page--and are applied individually to each paragraph. With Libre Office, if I fart sideways, the page numbering goes out of sync. It would scare me to death to run a script against it. And afterwards, I would have to carefully re-read all 112,000 words, to be comfortable that no further oddities were introduced. At least with real code or HTML or ASP, you can easily inspect what's already there, and run a debugger.

Libre Office is "open source", but holy crap, is it a mega-patchwork quilt. It's a wonderful office suite to use for everyday things, but becomes hinky when you get into complex tasks, like auto-indexing, alternating page headers, auto-table of contents generation, etc. With MS Word in the past, I've utilized their master document feature to assemble chapters of long works. When I attempt it with Libre Office, it leaves a mushroom cloud, and fallout everywhere.

In the distant past, I've written VBA code against Word, Excel and Access. Microsoft never got all the bugs out of it. For one nearly completed project written in VBA on an Access database, I was forced to abandon the project, and start from scratch against SQL Server, using real VB/C# code, rather than the lame VBA.

At present, I've completed about 1/3 of the manual edits. And it's only the oldest chapters (originally created in MS Word) that are affected. Those that originated in Libre Office are fine.

Manual editing is a pain in the butt, but not nearly as stressful as tinkering with hidden "features".

Bob
 
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Moth

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Libre office. Ouch. I've worked with the ooxml format (ISO/IEC 29500 standard) that libreoffice can import/export to, although, I've not touched the native odf format it uses.
I understand your caution and understand your caution!
 
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