Tag Archives: writing

Scrivener! The Writer’s Best Friend

17 Apr

I suppose one of the advantages to the new reality of first-time authors having to self-publish is that it forces us to learn so much about writing and publishing in general. For example, to learn more about marketing self-published books, I turned to Michael Hyatt’s modern classic PLATFORM – Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I learned that Mr. Hyatt uses Scrivener as his exclusive writing software / app.

Mr. Hyatt lists five reasons as to why he made the switch to Scrivener:

1. It provides a hierarchical file structure. I like this aspect of Scrivener, too, as I naturally tend to organize documents this way. For a simple example, think of a book, with its underlying chapters forming a hierarchy. The file structure of Scrivener can be exactly matched to your book’s structure, which, hopefully, has already been flushed out in the process of writing your book proposal. I’ve done this with Scrivener for my nascent Book Two:

My 2nd "child," in utereo

My 2nd “child,” in utereo

2. It has a distraction-free composition mode. Ultimately, a writer has to write. Scrivener’s composition mode is about as close to having nothing but a blank sheet of paper in front of you as you can get:

No distractions, so just write

No distractions, so just write

3. It was created with writers in mind. Scrivener has so many useful features, and you can use as few or as many as you would like. Some of these are:

– It organizes each project (i.e., a book) as a separate binder.
– It has helpful views besides basic writing, such as a cork board with file summary notes or an outline view.
– You can keep research articles (text, photos, etc.) together in a binder. For a non-fiction writer such as I, this is a significant feature.
– You can split your screen. Thus, I can view a research article (maybe a newspaper article, for example) while I am writing about it in the other half of the screen. Or, I can view footnotes in the 2nd screen as I peruse the main document.
– It has the stats a writer would want access to (e.g., word counts).
– It has an “inspector window where I can keep notes, track status, link to articles, or even create custom meta data.” (Hyatt)

What a great way to organize your writing

What a great way to organize your writing

4. It supports multi-markdown. According to Hyatt, this feature allows us as writers to separate the content creation phase (i.e., the writing) from the formatting, with Scrivener doing much of the work for us.

5. It allows for a variety of export options. This is potentially exciting for self-published authors, as Scrivener allows you to export directly to Kindle, iBooks Author, ePub, or PDF formats. This alone might make Scrivener worth its price of admission.

Hyatt mentions that he still uses Evernote as his main information warehouse, but that he does all his writing with Scrivener. I use both Evernote and Pocket for writing-relating information storage, and, as I am still relatively new to Scrivener, I am going to have to see how to work the relationship between these apps.

Think you might be interested in Scrivener? Check out the 10 minute An Introduction To Scrivener video.

If you’re interested, also note that Hyatt’s article says you can get a 20% discount by using his affiliate code MICHAELHYATT when purchasing it. Since it is now on sale for $45, the MICHAELHYATT discount code would reduce the price by $9, for a cost of $36. My preliminary use of Scrivener suggests that it is the real deal for serious writers, and I think that $36 is a fair price for a useful piece of software.

I’ve heard of other writings apps, such as the $100 Snowflake for the Snowflake Method, but have not used them.

From what I’ve seen so far, I wish I had had Scrivener to write Book One with, and I am certainly glad that I have it for Book Two. I’ll keep you updated as I get more familiar with Scrivener. For the record, I have no commercial interest with Scrivener; I bought my copy. (Scrivener is available for both Mac and Windows.)

On Writing A Book

9 Feb
If I can do it, so can you.(Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman, Wikipedia)

If I can do it, so can you.(Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman, Wikipedia)

As with many people, I aspired to write a book one day. Now that I have done it—book should be out in a month or so—, I thought I might write on writing. A book, that is.

I don’t know if there is a right way or a universal formula, so I’ll just describe what I did. It may or may not apply to you.

While I do love fiction, I’ve always wanted to write non-fiction. The problem was, I never really had anything substantive enough to write about. Plus, those married-with-children years didn’t actually leave me with a lot of spare time, either.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t write—I did. Mostly shorter professional writing, though. (If you blog, you’re writing too.) But not the book or books that I had wanted to do.

Then something “good” happened. I had a divorce from hell starting in 2008. Every feminist within reach seemed to line up to put the boots to me. I finally had something to write about.

I did plenty of research. It’s so easy in today’s internet age. I checked all the applicable laws and regulations. As it turned out, I discovered that what some of the feminist social workers, lawyers, and judge did to my kids had a name: abduction, as defined in the Criminal Code. When I brought this to the attention of the authorities (everyone that I could think of), it was covered up.

I had a couple of false starts in writing the book. It really got going once I learned about writing a book proposal, as this allowed me to wrap my head around the project. With a planned structure in place, the writing had a framework to hang itself upon.

This is the last post on my series on book proposals. It has links to all the instalments.

It took me about five months, working vacations, evenings, and weekends, to write the first draft. It was in rough shape in terms of typos and errors, but there it was. This was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve been doing a sequence of test readers. Get the feedback, check my emotions and ego, and think about it. Make enhancements. Another test reader. Repeat. Repeat again.

Around two dozen test readers later…

It appears that the trend for new authors is definitely to self publish their first book(s), and hopefully to get noticed and then signed by a traditional publisher. So, I began the self-publishing stuff in earnest last fall, while continuing with the test readers. I chose FriesenPress.com, as they offered a fairly comprehensive package. I have to do most of my own marketing, but that’s par for the course.

The beauty of test readers is fourfold, as I see it. First, they can give you the unbiased advice that you might be incapable of giving yourself. Second, they read what you actually have written, whereas you tend to read what you think you have written. Third, with enough eventual positive feedback, you gain confidence in both your manuscript and your ability to write. Fourth, if you work at it long enough, are personable enough, and are grateful enough, you just might build a humble PLATFORM that is said to be essential these days.

I’ve reviewed the galley proofs for my book and sent them back for correction. I should be receiving the revised galleys any day. The cover design, which I have deliberately not revealed yet, is finished, and people say that it is striking. I am getting so close.

This started five and a half years ago. Obviously, perseverance is a virtue as a general rule, and this applies to writing books as well. There is a message that everyone should take from this.

If I can do it, so can you.

* * * * *

I blog as navigator1965. My blog The Mirror is a reflection upon life, and covers different topics. I can be reached at themirrorbooks@gmail.com, and I do thank you for your kind interest in this guest post. Note that test readers are also referred to as beta readers.

[EDITORIAL Note: This has been simultaneously posted at A GOOD BLOG IS HARD TO FIND and HarsH ReaLiTy.

The Yogateria Chronicles: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

1 Feb
Nav was not always this svelte and handsome. Credit: Deepak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yogisculpture.JPG

Nav was not always this svelte and handsome.
Credit: Deepak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yogisculpture.JPG

It was, as evenings go, a cold and snowy one. We were late, and The Nameless One, so named as she must not be named, was slightly vexed. We could not permit ourselves to be one of THOSE inconsiderate people who arrived late to yoga.

Were we to permit this to happen to us, we would be bad.

Through a hazardously blinding snowstorm, we raced to the Yogateria, that hallowed hall of harrowing contortions. We entered the main cavern silently, for one is better advised to make noise in a public library than in a yoga chamber of silent horrors. To our surprise, there were only a couple of penitents laying prostrate on the floor, whose hidden sins surely weighed mightily upon their dark souls.

I lay down, oblivious to the peril into which we had placed ourselves. Thankfully, The Nameless One was not so naive and innocent. She, scarcely to be heard above a silent breath, whispered to me, “We may be in a dirty studio.”

Good heavens.

A dirty studio is good if one is dirty dancing or partaking in other forms of debauchery. On the other hand, a dirty studio is bad if one indulges in the yogic arts of contortion and twisted self-suffering in recompense for one’s evil masculine existence. I was bathing on a floor coated with the wicked perspiration of sin that had been sweated out of the previous collection of spandex clad convicts of conscience. I was unclean, only more so, a lost moral leper looking for his colony of sin and suffering.

As the yoga janitor came in, we rolled up our mats and headed to the other, smaller cavern of yogic contortions. We were almost late – perish the thought! There were but two spots left for us two sinners at the front of the dark and somber room, spots which were right in front of The Wall of The Mirrors of Shame. The two spots were separated by two spots in between, and in the darkness I spied the silhouette of the two lithe spandex clad penitents on those two spots awaiting their torturous absolution.

As I drew near to my spot, the place of my soon-to-be future trial by agony, my eyes discerned the nature of the two spandex yoga warrior princesses frozen prone in anticipation of what was to come. Next to me was Muffy the High School Cheerleader. Sans pom poms, no less. Perhaps one day she would be old enough to get her driver’s licence.

Next to The Nameless One was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And Sweet Mother of our Blessed Redeemer, what a tattoo it was! It was a sultry tattoo. It was an evil tattoo. The wicked worm’s wanton head was worn clearly visible between shoulder blades laid bare by the heathen and slightly open-back Lulu Lemon spandex top of sin that its malevolent mistress wore, which should have been a size two, but was a size four, as this apparently is how one sizes said sinful Lulu Lemon tops, not that I would know. Where the dragon’s tail ended, I could not see and did not want to know for fear of my sinful soul’s lost salvation.

Close enough

Close enough

I sensed I was in immediate danger. Surely I could be sent to prison for doing yoga next to one so young. I gazed about the room, nonchalantly, innocently surveying the male yogateers. Perhaps one of them was an undercover cop. Were those guns in their pockets, or were they just happy to see me?

I wondered.

I did not wonder for long, as the High Priestess of Yoga entered the room and began the incantations to initiate the solemn rite of demonstrating excruciating male inflexibility. Upward dog, downward facing dog, chatterungha, cobra, and other names too horrible to mention, names known to strike fear into even the stoutest of male hearts.

I was no stranger to pain that evening. Nor was I to fear.

At one point we, for sins that must have been so great in some former life that they beggar the imagination, were in a contortion that mimicked Superman in full flight parallel to the ground and a stork standing on one leg in silent contemplation of its place in the universal scheme of things. In response to the unrelenting horror, my mind has thankfully forgotten the name of this pose, or at least it is very good at pretending it can’t remember. It was in this Superman-stork-from-hell position that my head was twisted to the right, towards Muffy the High School Cheerleader. God please, let there be police, no sirens, and no billy clubs!

As my gaze swept past Muffy the High School Cheerleader in the valiant but doomed attempt to preserve what little innocence I still possessed, whom did my eyes fall upon but The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

OMG.

Whereas I was a bulbous flying one-legged pickle barely leaned over from standing vertical in a mockery of the Superman-stork-from-hell position, she was herself vertical, but in the other direction. In the most unnatural and demonic act yet witnessed in the Yogateria, she, standing on her left leg, had her head on her left foot and her right leg extending straight to heaven in a flagrant act of inhuman heretical flexibility.

It did not go unnoticed.

I have spent many years on this Earth. And in these many years, I have gained insight into the mysterious ways of wily women. Women can have raging battles in plain sight, terrible battles, horrific battles, and all that men see are sweet smiles and innocent gestures and meaningless words. And so I recognized, to my horror, that what The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo had done was not just to offend decency, Heaven, and Earth with her display of spandex clad hubris.

No. What she had also done was thrown down the womanly gauntlet of yogic flexibility right in front of The Nameless One. It was more than a challenge.

It was a declaration of yoga war.

One challenges The Nameless One at one’s peril, and so did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that horrible evening. The Nameless One may be ever-so-slightly past her glory years in terms of absolute yogic flexibility, but she is not helpless. She is the veteran of P-90x commando fitness bootcamp. She is a devoted acolyte of psychopath fitness warrior empress Betty Rocker. She is a veteran of the Toronto marathon. She cross country skis. And she does not fear girls with dragon tattoos.

It was a battle of unsurpassed violence, a battle replete with victories and defeats, a battle of wounds inflicted and sustained, a battle of grim determination and grim resolve beyond that of any male contest of arms.

And the men were oblivious to a man, with me the sole exception. They remained just happy to see me. Either that, or they really were police; one can never be certain of these sorts of things.

It was during the Sideways Starfish of Supreme Suppine Sorrow position that The Nameless One struck a telling blow, a mighty blow, a devastating blow, and the hubris of The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo was exposed in all of its fickle fragility, only then to be dealt the truly horrific mortal strike of the v-sit, as NO ONE out v-sits The Nameless One.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lay broken on the yoga floor, and the men were none the wiser. I was. I was a survivor of the Great Yoga War, my scars visible to no man but myself.

And with her lawful foe laying vanquished beside her, The Nameless One joined me in celebrating our emancipation from that hot and sweaty twisted Purgatory as the High Yoga Priestess spoke the long awaiting incantation of freedom.

Namaste.

* * * * *

Thus ends the Yogateria Chronicles saga. For the time being, anyways. The instalments are:

 Nav in Dante’s Yogateria

The Yogateria Chronicles: A Sinister Danger

The Yogateria Chronicles: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Guiding the way through the horrors of hot yoga

Book Proposal – Part Seven “List of Book’s Chapters”

12 Jan
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

We now get to the part of the book proposal where we start to do some hard planning as to the book’s actual structure. This is where the basic blueprint starts to outline the framework against which we will write.

Bear in mind that I: a) had never written a book before; and b) had never written a proposal before.

My internet research suggested that publishers generally want a book no longer than 300 pages / 60,000 words from an unknown, first time author. Perhaps this only applies to fiction; I don’t know. Regardless, I imposed this artificial constraint upon myself for this part of my proposal. As it turned out, it was completely unrealistic for what I was trying to accomplish, but I didn’t have the experience with longer written works to appreciate this.

What I will is show what I originally wrote in this part of my proposal for the stillborn book concept of ONE, which included the word counts that added up to slightly less than the 60,000 word constraint. Afterwards, I’ll show what I actually came up with for the current book The Mirror, Book One – Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood. Note that I tried to make the chapter titles as interesting as possible, and that they betray a sense of humour:

* * * * *
[ONE]

List of Book’s Chapters

1. Was Someone Trying to Tell Me Something? (4,000 words)

2. Glancing in the Rear View Mirror (3,000 words)

3. Living a Myth Isn’t Living the Dream (5,000 words)

4. A Maelstrom Is a Poor Place for Swimming Lessons (10,000 words)

5. Thanks for Planning my Funeral – How Rude of Me Not to Die (10,000 words)

6. Sigmund Freud Sipping Coffee at a Paris Café (6,000 words)

7. When an English Monk Serves Duck for Geometry Class (6,000 words)

8. What Mrs. Crocodile Thinks Every Good Mother Should Know (6,000 words)

9. What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose, so Long as Mine Doesn’t Get Cooked (6,000 words)

* * * * *

Book One of my magnum opus

Book One of my magnum opus

[The Mirror, Book One]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BOOK ONE: Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood (94,000 words)

Introduction

PART I: Narcissus’ Sister
1. Genesis
2. Life
3. Decline & Fall
4. Mirror

PART II: Courts of InJustice
5. Maelstrom
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes
7. Something Wicked This Place Stays
8. Vive la Revolution!

Intermission – Act I

BOOK TWO: Harbinger of a Dark Age

(Tentative)

Intermission – Act II

9. Slavery

PART III: Matriarchy
10. (Swastika in the) Mirror
11. Prime Time
12. La Cage aux Folles
13. Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
14. The 2nd Library of Alexandria
15. CAIO Feminazis

Post Script

* * * * *

As we say in the military, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. There has been a substantial evolution from the plan for ONE to the resultant The Mirror. Going the self-published route liberated me from the artificial 60,000 word constraint, and now one book will be two.

I started research for what would ultimately become The Mirror back in the summer of 2008, and under dire family circumstances. Roughly two years later, I wrote this proposal for the concept book ONE. Roughly another three and a half years, and I am on the verge of publishing The Mirror.

I suppose this rather makes me a Terminator when it comes to feminism. They messed with the wrong Dad’s kids.

Mine.

Always ride with two hands unless it's to use your shotgun

Always ride with two hands unless it’s to use your shotgun

The Versatile Blogger Award

11 Jan

image

Now that I’ve finally gotten smart enough with WordPress to figure out how to process an award, I have to thank blogger Kim Saeed of Let me Reach with Kim Saeed fame for the Versatile Blogger Award.

While I’ve yet to get proficient enough (and have enough spare time!) to pass all of these awards along, I do want to answer the questions. For this award, I have to write seven things about myself. Here goes:

1. I used to practice Yang style tai chi, and loved it. I will get back into it again some day.

Stop! You haven't used deodorant.

Stop! You haven’t used deodorant.

2. I’d love to own an English bulldog.

Credit: Quizillafreak, wikipedia.org

Credit: Quizillafreak, wikipedia.org

3. Lagavulin is my favourite whiskey.

The elixir of life

The elixir of life

4. My favourite audiophile website is Arthur Salvatore’s.

5. I curse the Swedes whenever I have to assemble Ikea furniture. Lucky for me, the Swedish Ambassador hasn’t been around. Would have caused a major diplomatic incident if he had been.

1st Ikea store, or "hell" as I like call it

1st Ikea store, or “hell” as I like call it

6. I love music on vinyl. I have a basic used Lenco turntable by Jean Nantais. Those “in the know” say they are by far the best turntables in existence, bar none. Here is mine with a friend’s $15,000 dollar custom tube amp (I wish!).

image

7. I will likely take up writing as a full time endeavour by March as part of a major life change (read: can’t find a real job).

Book Proposal – Part Six “About the Author”

11 Jan
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Of all the parts of a book proposal, this is the one that I am least comfortable with. I could never be a salesman, or at best a poor one. This is even true when it comes to selling myself.

Yet I had to write something, and in this I defaulted to my military frame of reference. Officers are expected to be highly dedicated, hard working, always showing initiative in solving problems, etc. The sorts who walk on water, a little bit.

Often when it comes time for a superior to write our annual performance reports, we’re asked to write a “brag sheet” to list our accomplishments for the past 12 months, to ensure that nothing significant is missed. As my father, who was also a RCAF navigator, is fond of saying, writing a brag sheet is not the time to be bashful.

I don’t know if taking this approach would read well to a publisher or if it would be construed as hubris. I’d love to hear peoples’ thoughts on the question. Regardless, for better or for worse, here is what I wrote about myself:

* * * * *

About the Author

The author is a 3rd generation Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Navigator with nearly 27 [now 30] years of service. He specialized in the secretive world of anti-submarine warfare, with operational, instructional, staff, and Test & Evaluation experience. An honours graduate of the prestigious year-long Aerospace Systems Course, he was hand-selected to be part of the team which created the RCAF’s applied think tank, of which he was then a founding member. He has written for professional military periodicals and doctrine publications. He is a Member of the Order of Military Merit.

The author has been noted through his career as an effective thinker and writer. His forte in writing is an innate appreciation of the impact of nuance: he intuitively comprehends the subtle differences in interpretation that result from even the most minor changes, and as such he can reach into a reader’s mind with words to re-align it as necessary to achieve the reader-book communion. He is somewhat of a perfectionist with his writing in this regard. At a more abstract level, the author informally articulates an emotional effect upon the reader that he wishes to achieve and then writes to achieve this effect.

The author is highly motivated to ensure that ONE is a commercial success, and he is confident of his ability to communicate it to the broadest of audiences in a uniquely engaging way. He is excited in having had a profoundly original idea in the sense of the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” and he is determined to ensure that ONE becomes a life-changing work for all readers, from housewife to philosopher, from gardener to king and queen, for generations to come.

Have to love a beautiful mind

Have to love a beautiful mind

The author loves jazz and other genres of music, he prefers turntables to CD players and tubes to solid state, and his watch has hands; he is an analogue man. Unbeknownst to his military peers, he also writes poetry for pleasure. He is the father of three alienated children, two of whom are seriously maimed in self by what is now fourth generation maternal narcissism.

* * * * *

I didn’t have the movie poster image in my original proposal.

How does this read? Do I distinguish myself “from the herd” of aspiring writers, or does it seem a bit too full of myself? Maybe I’ll try my first poll to answer the question.

Nav in Dante’s Yogateria

6 Jan
Actual unretouched photo of Yogi Nav. Credit: Deepak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yogisculpture.JPG

Actual unretouched photo of Yogi Nav.
Credit: Deepak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yogisculpture.JPG

Someone who shall remain nameless, and hence shall henceforth be named The Nameless One, convinced me to go with her to hot yoga. “In the middle of winter?” I guess, why not? Although I was a little confused upon learning that it was hot yoga.

When I was a kid, it only came in plain and vanilla.

Off we go in what was only a minor snowstorm. After a lovely drive, we arrived at what I thought was the yogateria. Little did I know. For some strange reason, I was bid to enter the men’s change room and don my black non-speedo swim trunks and a black tee shirt.

Black is slimming. This proved to be a good thing.

I was led to a room. It was no ordinary room. It was a sultry room, a dim room save for a few candles along a distant back wall, candles whose faint, flickering light cast haunting shadows across the bodies laying on the floor, so still in their repose that they seemed to await a quiet judgement that spoke of a pending agony, a deep agony, a complete agony.

Vanilla?

And then a man entered. Not a large man, as the largeness of men is reckoned, nor a small man, as the smallness of men is reckoned, but a man in between a large man and a small man. He spoke. He spoke in a serene voice, a voice not lacking in confidence, a voice devoid of hubris or any other human failing, a voice that seduced me into yearning for the torture that was about to be inflicted upon my unsuspecting body, a body made not small by weeks of Christmas revelry and a lifetime of practice before, a body never intended by God or nature to bend at the joints, let alone anywhere else.

But it did. Oh, how it did.

As my eyes adjusted to the sultry gloom, a gloom better suited for a grim and swarthy tropical dockyard after sunset than a New Age nordic yoga torture chamber, I could make out the penitent bodies that surrounded me on the floor, bodies contorted in a macabre synchronized ballet of unnatural pose and pain so perversely profound that they formed, in unison, a dark angelic choir exalting in unholy silent scream.

I was surrounded by these dark spandex-clad and disturbingly lithe twenty year old Luly Lemon Amazon warrior princesses of unnatural flexibility. And as we contorted ourselves in a slow and silent tribute to self-flagellation, the air filled with a thousand musks in that dark and sultry room, a room closer to Hell than to Heaven, my very sinews crying in the agony of a thousand endless deaths, I came face to face with a realization that had only ever hovered at the recesses of my awareness, a realization that could only prove to be my complete and utter undoing.

Downward dog leading to the evil cobra reveals if the body in front of you is wearing a thong. Luckily for me, I wasn’t.

Then came other insights, in rapid succession, each one striking my mind as an innocent child striking its first match, awareness erupting from the dark into a brief consuming flame. There was a wall of mirrors in the front of the dark, sultry room, an unfeeling mockery of the torturous scene displayed before it, mirrors laughing silently at the writhing of the musky, sweat-drenched damned, mirrors that could betray the innocent eyes of one who, upon completing downward dog and then the evil cobra, that cold and heartless serpent whose venom coursed along my spine, through no volition of his own, beheld the wholly unsolicited yet inescapable display of the thong so cruelly thrust upon him.

It was a good thing that the dungeon of the distorted damned into which I had been deposited was dark, lest the mirrors betray the wanderings of my innocent eyes which were innocent no longer.

Then the man, who was neither a large man nor a small man, released us from our torment with but a single word, a simple word, a spiritual word. Namaste. There may be many responses to Namaste, or there may only be one. Whatever the response or responses to this word of subtle and sublime meaning may be, there is a response that is not that response or of those responses.

One is not to reply with “butter chicken,” however good an idea it may have seemed at the time.

Despite this and everything else, I survived Dante’s yogateria. I lived to tell the tale. I am older. I am wiser. And almost certainly more flexible.

compass rose

Book Proposal – Part Two “Overview”

2 Jan
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

The overview is, apparently, where you either grab the publisher’s attention or lose it, all in the space of the first few sentences. When I wrote this proposal, I was a bit of a newbie. Not only had I never written a proposal before, I had never written a book before, nor had I published commercially. I had some relevant internet articles to help guide me, but no direct experience with commercial publishing.

I was trying for a very positive, fascinating, and even spiritual approach to the book. As discussed in my last post, this perspective was reflected in the title One. It was also an approach that I couldn’t make work, and I ultimately moved on to a more intellectually honest, less idealistic, and less naive approach.

Thus, the proposal I wrote should reflect this inexperience, naiveté, and idealism to some extent. Still, one has to start somewhere, and there is no better way to learn than by doing. Here’s the overview:

* * * * *

Overview

What if a single book successfully combined attributes from three bestsellers? MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS resonated with readers as it revealed inherent truths about the genders; THE TIPPING POINT fascinated readers with a truly original insight into ourselves; and THE CELESTINE PROPHESY seduced readers with the promise of a spiritual awakening. What if a single book resonated with, fascinated, and seduced its readers?

ONE is the true story of the author’s spiritual journey of discovery and understanding. When the author’s wife abuses their three children, the combined efforts of child protection workers, lawyers, judges, and senior elected officials to assist her provides a shocking catalyst for him to understand why. Against all odds, he does.

ONE will be written in three parts:

– Part One will chronicle the author’s life of living in a narcissistic relationship.
– Part Two will describe how the author’s complaint to a child protection agency against his wife resulted in an obsessed and criminal systemic response to excommunicate him from his children’s lives.
– Part Three will detail what the author discovered in terms of why individuals and entities that are entrusted to protect children became party to something terrible, and how this journey of discovery led him through his angst to a peace based on understanding and acceptance.

The book will be approximately 60,000 words. The manuscript will be completed twelve months after receipt of the advance. It will be written under the pseudonym of Matthew M. McConaughey.

* * * * *

I should point out that the 60,000 word figure was arbitrary. I’d read on the internet that publishers prefer shorter books from first time authors, and tend to set a limit of 60,000 as a preferred cutoff.

As I was to discover, One transformed into The Mirror, which has Book One and the planned Book Two. The manuscript below for Book One weighs in at 94,000 words. Perhaps I should have written under the pseudonym of Bob Loblaw (blah blah blah).

You’ll note that I emphasized the business aspect of this. I was trying to emulate the success of three major best sellers. Talk about big game hunting! It wasn’t the $$$ that I was interested in so much as the number of sales. I wanted to have a significant and positive social impact, and I still do. Also note how I kept it concise. It is, after all, an overview, and an overview is a place where less is more. (Or so I think.)

In retrospect, I am glad that this proposal was summarily dismissed on the one occasion that it was looked at (or perhaps wasn’t looked at). It led to me ultimately writing my own book instead of trying to emulate the works of others. I don’t believe that there’s ever been anything quite like The Mirror before. As to whether or not my having selected three big game targets in terms of sales was prophetic or not, time will tell.

From proposal to manuscript

From proposal to manuscript

Book Proposal – Part One

31 Dec
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Right. We’re in a period of profound change in the publishing industry. Self-publishing and easy e-book creation have changed the landscape. Yet traditional publishing still exists, and so the book proposal remains a valuable device. It is both a business proposal to a publisher to consider your book AND a means for you to take a disciplined approach to planning your book before you ever start writing.

The image is the rudimentary cover for the advanced version of my original proposal. It proved to be a bit of a false start, but was a valuable learning experience nonetheless. The title of ONE was intended to reflect the concept that men and women have grown apart from one another in modern society. I thought I could write from the primary theme that we needed to collectively come together in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. A positive perspective, but one which I ultimately couldn’t make work. The image was intended to reflect this image of gender narcissism traits that I use in the current book:

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

From what I could learn on the internet, book proposals generally range between 20 to 50 pages in length, and typically are around 25-30 pages. Now imagine that you are a traditional publisher. How much would you appreciate a writer who sent you 30 pages as opposed to one who sent you a 300 page manuscript? Your reading has been reduced by an order of magnitude, and, as we will see, you get far more useful information.

The format that I used (I suppose this can vary a bit, depending upon whose advice you read) was simple:

1. Overview (If you don’t hook them in the 1st 3 sentences, forget it.)
2. Sales Objective (If you aren’t going to make them money, why would they publish you?)
3. Marketing/Promotion/Platform (It takes far more work to sell a book than it does to write it. You have to show that you know this and are committed.)
4. About the Author (Who are you? What sort of person are you? Will readers find you interesting, even if you’re “ordinary”?)
5. List of Book’s Chapters (You have to have a plan, and it had better be a good one! Here you show your word budget for each chapter as well.)
6. Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries (A Readers’ Digest version of your planned or written book. Show that you have A PLAN and are a disciplined thinker and writer.)
7. Sample Chapter (If they like what they have see so far, now they get to see if they like your writing. Typically not the introduction or the first chapter.)

I intend to do a post for each part of the proposal using what I actually wrote for ONE, except the sample chapter.

You’ll note that I wrote this proposal in 2010. The filename shows that it was version 4.5. I actually didn’t start the first functional draft of my current book until August 2012. It took me two years-plus to wrap my head around exactly how to go about writing what eventually will become the two books of The Mirror. By the end of Book Two, I will have developed a sort of social theory of everything, which will be written so that anyone who can read Harry Potter can understand it.

Obviously, this is a rather tall order. I never could have come to where I am now had I not first started with this proposal. It was worth the time and effort, even though it was only ever seen by one senior publishing individual, and was rejected outright. From this to a soon-to-be published 1st book that my test readers are suggesting is something very special, indeed.

From the most humble of beginnings…

Poem: The Castaway

17 Nov

He stood on his deserted isle
And gazed across an endless sea
From harrow’d eyes came a silent plea
He had been there, it seemed, for quite a while

He took out berry’d ink and quill
And pondered what he’d try to say
Regardless, words would his thoughts betray
So upon the parchment course they spill’d

That text into a bottle went
A stout, firm cork secured it there
A heave! He sent it through the air
And for some time was quite content

Then, one morning, he awoke
A bottle rested on the sand
But its authors didn’t understand
To their deafness their reply bespoke

So it went on for many a day
To find an ear the castaway tried
Occasionally, the sea replied
But with words so far away

The castaway never abandoned hope
He never ceased his toil of quill
Never an anguished heart is still
Across the sea he blindly groped

Then, one day, the sea atoned
A bottle bobbed in the shallow sea
Its contents that which set him free
For no longer was I so alone