Sunday, 30 December 2012

On the right track

Now I know why I used to hate track changes. It was just an excuse for everyone contributing to have a good whinge.

Just had an enlightening experience editing Ice Trekker. Lots of editorial suggestions, style issues, Britishisms ... yeah, yeah. No probs. Then a compliment! I nearly fell off my ergonomic chair.

Comments can be positive.

I'm already editing the sequel in my head before I've even written it.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Beyond the grave

I seem to have touched an editorial nerve with writers at Muse. I just posted a small thing about not being able to add a ‘grave’ accent to the word ‘frontières’ in a dialogue box, and bam! Writers around the globe struggle to get these right. The first reply made me chuckle: ‘That's funny, I thought a grave accent was what you used to narrate Vampire stories.’ Very good. Ha, ha.

Then more frustrated people poured out of the woodwork. The most popular system was to set up a buffer filled with letters with accents and then cut-and-paste as necessary. I prefer key strokes, personally, and I’m quite au fait with cedilla, n tilde and all the French circumflexes and so forth. One book set in the mythical land of Krønagar was filled with Danish-style words using the minuscule, or ø. I found you could type it by hitting control, then forward slash, the hitting an ‘o’.

One Maltese author pitched in and made my head spin, explaining how they have one which is an ‘h’ with a dash across the bar and g, c and z with a dot on top. Apparently, you can’t do them in emails, but you can fix your keyboard to get them in text.

Many moons ago I remember typing up my thesis using two daisy wheels, which I had to swap every time I needed an accent. And these were considered better technology than the old ‘golf balls’ I used before. *!<>£/!

Friday, 14 December 2012

X marks the spot?

I love maps. Here's a diversion: http://crookedcatpublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/crookedcatauthors1.jpg A digital example of why epublishing is so globally interesting. Cheers, Tom

Monday, 10 December 2012

I’ll give you the tip …

Kenilworth is the epitome of middle England. The geographical centre, Meriden, is only down the road from us. As part of its Kenilworthiness, it has a great tip. I know it well, having spent the past few months de-jungling our garden. Eighty bags of clippings, give or take a hernia.

Where is this all leading? Well, not only do I recycle trees, I’m starting to thin down the numbers of books in the house. We can’t move for them! I can’t face selling them, but I thought I’d donate a boxful to charity. Hence, another trip to the tip, where there’s an excellent junkyard shop which raises cash for good causes.

Problem is, they don’t take books any more! Sign of the times.

So, off I went to a charity shop down the road, and they did take books. The customers were genuinely surprised, too. It seems that real books have no resale value, which is sad.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Code: FI

It takes a strong stomach to sort a formatting incident at this time of night. In the biz, it’s ‘Code: FI. Do not alert family members. Even if they understand, they really won’t care.’ I did 17th-century Spanish satire at uni, so I can handle weird stuff. I once read a book that was sooooo long (700 pages) that my supervisor asked me what happened at the end. So formatting? Surely I can deal with formatting. But paragraph marks suddenly appeared when my fingers went too fast - in an email! I don't know what the key stroke shortcut was, but something horrible happened. The paragraph marks were in Italic, too. What can I say? I’m special. SO. I reply to my editor who asks: can you do track changes? Yay. Course I can. Pretending the evil paragraph symbols (in Italics) were invisible. Molto sinistro. It Italic, you'll notice. But now, all is now fixed, courtesy of late-night internet search. I’m exhausted. But I can now fix another editorial thingy. Can’t be bad. I’d rather be buying a faux fur frow for daughter in Edinburgh. Lord. Shopping is easy.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

You can quote me

I’m just signing my fourth contract. First Dark Interlude, then Ice Trekker. Last week hubby and I were proper chuffed to get a deal for Half Life, an adventure in Norway in the late 1930s. Think Fascists, fission and film noir.

Then yesterday, imagine my surprise when I received a deal for The Lost Orchid. I have a soft spot for this one – my first completed book.

Now seeing a little cross-eyed, as I’ve just been working out how to replace single quotations with double (and vice versa), without corrupting your regular, common or garden apostrophe. My checklist of ‘search and replace’ looks like some mysterious Holmesian code.

In the end, I used a system I’d devised when working at the West Australian in Perth many moons ago.

The trick is to camouflage all the actual apostrophes by converting every single apostrophe into a dollar sign to get them out of the equation. (’ll, ’d, ’r, ’s etc.)

Next, tackle the opening quotes:  replace ^p‘ with ^p“, and so on. Plus other combinations of [space]‘

Then change the closing quotations, including punctuation combos: ?’ for ?”; !’ for !”  and … ’ for … ” and so on.

Finally, do a one mass reconversion of $ back to the apostrophe, and you’re done. You can quote me.

Simples.