Archives for February 2014

Ants in My Pants

Do people even say that anymore? I don’t, but I’m aware of the phrase. Maybe it’s only appropriate to say it to children. That’s probably where I heard it, when I was a child, in the middle of the last century… Whatever.

I’d planned to take today off. Nothing but formatting work and a final readthrough to go with Bandit’s Moon. Then out the door Wednesday, and into Blood for Blood.

Did some shopping this morning. Got a haircut.

Haircut

(and boy did I need it…now I’m good till June, when Blood for Blood comes out…). Paid some bills. Changed my cellphone plan. Did a little of this, a little of that.

Tonight, I planned to watch the director’s cut of Das Boot, which I haven’t seen in a while. Tedium with moments of sheer terror. Much like Charlie Welles’s life. The director’s cut is three and a half hours long, which I figured would take me to bedtime.

But 45 minutes into the movie, I got ants in my pants. I felt compelled to start formatting Bandit’s Moon.

It has nothing to do with some kind of imaginary work ethic. I’m the laziest bastard I know. But not so much with creative projects. There was a tiny irritation somewhere in my head. Work to be done, and you’re watching a movie.

I could have ignored it. But I’m weak.

So I went ahead and assembled the main body of the Kindle version of Bandit’s Moon. I didn’t go nuts and add the title page and the other front matter, as they call it – nor did I actually export the .mobi file. I know when I do all that, I’ll have to do a couple of hours cleaning up small issues, going through it 10 times, first with the Kindle for PC program to find the places where it likes to specifically change the text color, which gives me an invisible black-on-black screen and get a general idea of how it looks. Editing the HTML by hand to fix to the problems.

Then half a dozen times with the Kindle previewer, checking out how it will look on Paperwhite, Fire, etc. I am kind of…well, obsessive about the formatting. I’ve done a “look inside” on too many indie Kindle books to find something that looked like it was formatted by a drunken chimp to let that slide. A reader might think the book sucks, but by God, it will look good.

And then I’ll put the paperback version together, which is usually pretty quick – mostly setting margins to account for gutters and getting the page numbers right and in the right places. That’s not especially difficult.

But I had to do something to move the process along tonight. And I did. So I’m happy. And I can go back to my movie…

Factual Continuity

As my time with Bandit’s Moon grows short, (second runthrough is done, 96,431 words – I’ll be doing a final readthrough once I get it into ebook format tomorrow or Saturday, since the random missing comma, quotes, or other things like that tend to jump out in that version – and then it hits the street next week) I’m running into a slight problem.

Factual continuity within the Night and Day series.

In the series, I have a lot of things that are thrown in there to enhance the reality of the world. Most of it is meaningless, on the face of it.

Welles drives two blocks west on Fowler, turns left on 47th Street, then after a couple of blocks makes the left turn onto Tuxedo. Do I expect the reader to be following along with some kind of mental map? Not really. Street names, locations of things, characters you hear about in conversation but never meet…they’re not there to be cataloged in the reader’s mind. They’re there to make the city and the world seem real.

Let’s face it, it’s an unnamed city. You’re never going to visit it, or stand at Hennessy and Second Street, looking up at the Triangle Building where Night and Day Investigations is located. But Welles lives there. The other characters live or visit there. For them it has to be real, and through their perceived reality, the reader’s acceptance of the realness of it all.

But for me, the man behind the curtain, I must say that it can be a real pain in the ass to keep it all straight.

What’s the address of the Triangle Building? Well, I know it’s 198 Hennessy. The last address on Hennessy before Second Street. I know that now. I made it up and wrote it down in the latter part of Bandit’s Moon. I believe that’s the only place I mentioned the address. It’s not mentioned in Night and Day or Bleeding Sky. But there’s something in my head that says I mentioned it earlier in Bandit’s Moon and I used the address 201 Hennessy.

I’ll be able to easily check once I combine the 26 chapters and epilogue into one file, rather than 27 separate files, and I will. And fix it.

But that’s just an example. All these little facts. Character names. Places. Addresses. In Night and Day, the Uptown District police station was formerly the Liberty Avenue station. In Bandit’s Moon, I want it to have been the Tremont Avenue station, where Welles worked when he worked as a uniform officer uptown. I put some stuff in Bandit’s Moon based on the idea that it already WAS the Tremont Avenue station. So since it’s only mentioned once in Night and Day, just in passing, I’ll probably go and make the change there tomorrow or over the weekend. It matters in Bandit’s Moon, not so much in Night and Day.

But that’s the problem. If I’d known that it was formerly Liberty Avenue station, I could have worked with that. But I thought it was Tremont Avenue (and btw, Tremont Avenue is a street in the Bronx where my parents lived, and I lived after I was born…so that’s where THAT came from…).

I find myself going back, to earlier books or hunting through random chapters of the work in progress, looking for that kind of thing. And I need to change that.

So I’m thinking of making a new Evernote notebook just for that kind of thing. Specifics. Facts. Addresses. Characters. Who’s the Police Commissioner? What are the former names of the city police stations? It’ll be my Encyclopedia NightandDayica.

And with God as my witness, I’ll never be factless again!

If You Want A Doctor…

…go where the doctors are. In my mind, that’s a hospital. Lots of doctors in a hospital.

So I didn’t get any work done yesterday on the rewrite/edit/polish of Bandit’s Moon. It wasn’t intentional. I fully planned to spend the afternoon doing it after I spent the morning at the University of Alabama (UAB) hospital a couple of miles away from here.

I’ve been physically problematic since the beginning of February. The primary result is that it’s been difficult to sit for long periods of time. Unfortunately, I’m not really set up to write standing up, and I had a book to finish, polish, and get out the door by the middle of next week.

I suffered. Oh, did I suffer. And finally, when it started affecting my ability to fall asleep in less than 3–4 hours, I decided enough was enough. Time to see a medical professional.

Now, understand that I’ve not been to a doctor in 25+ years. Because I’m disgustingly healthy. I might get a cold or the flu every 4–5 years, if that, but nothing more. No headaches. Very few aches and pains. Going to a doctor is a big deal for me, and not something I take lightly. But I have work to do, and much of that work comes from sitting on my ass. Some even believe that’s where my work comes from, but that’s another blog post…

So I headed over to the hospital yesterday morning – figured I’d get in on a Tuesday morning (how busy could they be?), see somebody, get checked out, get something to fix my discomfort, and be on my way.

I did get through the triage nurse in the emergency room in about five minutes. I thought I was set. I thought I’d easily be home by noon.

No.

I sat in the ER waiting room for almost four hours. Well, sat isn’t exactly correct. I’d sit for 10 minutes, stand for 20, walk around for 10, sit for another 10, and so on. The morning melted into early afternoon.

Finally as I neared the four hour mark, I was ushered back to a treatment room. Blood pressure, heart, oxygen in my blood. All fine. Put on the stupid robe thing. Fine. Physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner or whatever comes in. Seems shocked that I haven’t seen a doctor in 25+ years. Seems shocked that I’m actually alive and healthy without having had regular medical attention. I think it perhaps devalued her services in her own eyes. Yes, ma’am, some people don’t need regular medical attention. I haven’t felt I needed it for 25+ years, so why seek it?

After some talk, some listening with a stethoscope, and a urine sample, she and a nurse proceeded to put their fingers into an orifice that, until now, I’d always considered, as the signs say, EXIT ONLY. Actually, the nurse practitioner or whatever did it, and then asked if I minded if the nurse did too. Whatever. Knock yourself out. As somebody mentioned last night, some men have to pay extra for that. Let’s not go there.

Then she gave me a prescription for three different medications. And that was that. Four hours in the waiting room, two and a half in the treatment room. When I came home, I was in no mood to settle in for a session of rewriting Bandit’s Moon.

On the other hand, I slept well and I’ve been feeling pretty good today. Sitting for hours. So there is something to be said for going to the doctor WHEN YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO.

And how I have I celebrated?

By polishing 14 chapters of Bandit’s Moon today. Twelve and the epilogue to do tomorrow. Then Friday, conversion and a final pass in the Kindle edition, where any final typos and missed quotes usually pop out at me.

All that should be done by Monday. Then I relax till Bandit’s Moon goes live Wednesday, and shortly thereafter (like Thursday) start Blood for Blood. Which will hopefully be a painless experience. In more ways than one.

Fun with Formatting

I spent the morning and early afternoon today making revisions to the Kindle versions of both Night and Day and Bleeding Sky in preparation for the release of Bandit’s Moon next week.

What does that mean, exactly?

Well, let’s see:

Night and Day – Put a little “Also by Ken White” thing in the beginning – so those coming into the series at the beginning (like, when the big Countdown Promo thing starts next week…) can see that there’s already a second book, that a third book will be out on March 5th, and that a fourth book will be out in June. Trimmed the long and boring Note at the beginning, where I went on and on about the genesis of the project, about Poison Blood, and blah blah blah. Who cares about that crap. You bought the book, you WANT TO READ THE BOOK, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! All that’s left is a request for an honest review, and links to this blog, and the Facebook/Twitter accounts for the series. Added covers and blurbs for Bleeding Sky and Bandit’s Moon in the back.

Bleeding Sky – “Also by Ken White” thing at the beginning. Request for reviews and links to blog, Facebook, Twitter in the beginning (there’s also one at the end that was there already…I left it). Cover and blurb for Bandit’s Moon and first chapter of Bandit’s Moon in the back. Have a taste. Then go buy the book.

I also fixed something that might or might not have shown up in the final version that Amazon was selling – Right about the time Welles reaches the Area Operations Center, for some reason a tag for a 12 pt font went into every paragraph – didn’t make any difference with some versions of the Kindle (according to the previewer), but the Kindle Fire HD took it to heart and suddenly the text became VERY BIG from there to the end. I tracked the problem down and fixed it. My guess (since nobody mentioned it in reviews, etc.) is that Amazon fixes that kind of thing when it does the conversion from my version of the .mobi file to theirs. Anyway, it’s fixed now at the source.

I haven’t messed with the paperback versions of the two books yet – that will be fairly simple, since I have the WordPerfect files there, and that’s a lot easier to work with than raw HTML in Notepad ++. I may do that tomorrow morning before I dive into the next run through Bandit’s Moon.

What else have I got for you today?

The Kindle Countdown Deal next week will be on Amazon.com only. Right now, you can do them there and on the UK Amazon…but…when I was setting up the US version, it told me that the UK price had to be 1.93 pounds to be eligible. I had the price in the UK tagged (as I do with all the international Amazons) to the US price. Which fluctuates as the relative value of the currencies fluctuate. It was 1.91 pounds. So I changed the price to 1.93. WHICH MADE IT INELIGIBLE FOR A KINDLE COUNTDOWN BECAUSE THE PRICE CAN’T HAVE CHANGED IN 30 DAYS BEFORE THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS! Yes, it’s stupidity on an almost-unimaginable scale, but what can ya do? Sorry, UK folks, no Countdown for you.

Anything else?

One more thing that I’ll probably talk about more down the road. I was browsing the kboards(probably the largest Kindle community on the web), and somebody was talking about the luck she’d been having selling books at the Google Play store. Because there are fewer books, you get more visibility, and sales really push you up the charts there.

With the Night and Day series, I’ve stayed in the Kindle Select program. It gives me higher royalties at the usual $2.99 price for the books, and I get the ability to do freebies and the Kindle Countdown thing. I’ll probably stay in Kindle Select for the foreseeable future with the series, even though it limits me to selling exclusively on Amazon.

But what about the upcoming Last Rites book or series of novellas? Right now I’m pondering whether to not put that into Select (though I’ll still sell on Amazon, just at a lower royalty rate) and put it on Play, the Apple iBooks store, the Nook store, etc. etc. Just as an experiment. If it works, great – then I’ll consider doing the same with the Night and Day series and future books/series. If it doesn’t, I can always remove it from the other online stores and make it a Select title.

Just something I’m thinking about (and not actively at this point since I won’t even be starting it till June or so).

And now it’s time to take the rest of the day off, cause tomorrow it’s back to the rewrite/edit/polish grind with Bandit’s Moon.

Short

No, not me. I’m plenty tall enough, thank you very much.

I’ve been thinking about the Night and Day short that I mentioned here. I also talked about it a little on the 24–Hour Show when chatting with rgr.

What’s it going to be?

It’s a look at a couple of parts of Charlie Welles’s life from before the beginning of Night and Day. Parts that I have mentioned, in passing, in the first three books in the series, but haven’t gone into in any great detail because, hey, who wants to go off on some walk down memory lane right in the middle of story – you (and I) want to know what happens next, not what happened years ago.

The two parts that I will focus on are the last few days before Welles was scooped up and dropped into an internment camp, and the last few days of internment before he was dropped back in the city.

I’ve talked some about both – about the good old days in 83rd Street Robbery-Homicide in Night and Day and Bandit’s Moon, and how Charlie hooked up with Joshua Thomas in Camp Delta-5 in Bleeding Sky. This unnamed short would go into both periods in more detail, with more immediacy. Everything is as it was, except You Are There!

So in the first part, we’ll see Charlie as he was – a plainclothes officer in Robbery-Homicide, as things rapidly begin to fall apart in the city. The war between humans and vampires only lasted about 5 weeks – December 24th to February 1st. And probably only four weeks of that was actual conflict. As I see it, No-Name City fell somewhere in the second week or third week, and it was quick. So those last 3–4 days will be a hellish downhill ride, for Welles and his compatriots at the 83rd Street station. It’ll give me a chance to show some characters you already know (Ray Holstein, for example), characters like Becca James (who you’ll meet in Bandit’s Moon) and some that have been talked about, like Vince Cunningham, the Robbery-Homicide skipper – all as they were, not as they are in the series. And we’ll also get a look at the city as it fell, what that was like. (Here’s a hint – it wasn’t pretty…)

In the second part, we’ll see Charlie as he was after two and a half years of internment, along with a general look at what it was like in Camp Delta-5 – there were almost half a million people in the camp – what was that like? (Another hint – bad…) More importantly, we’ll see Charlie’s relationship with Joshua Thomas, how they interacted, how and why they became partners in Night and Day Investigations afterwards. Joshua is an interesting character to me (a lot more interesting than Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, in The Maltese Falcon, which provided the situational inspiration), and you really don’t get to see a lot of him in Night and Day before he’s murdered. So we’ll get to know Joshua a bit more (and if I ultimately decide to do Poison Blood, even more – the Joshua before he was a vampire, since he’s one of the few characters from the Night and Day series who is in both).

As I see the short at this point, it will be four chapters or so in each part – so roughly 12,000–15,000 words in each part, and around 30,000 words total. A short. A novella of sorts. (I continue to be horrified by people who put out 25,000 words, call it a novel, and sell it for $2.99. I guess I’m just old-fashioned that way…)

Why do this?

First and foremost, because I want to explore these things – as anyone who’s read this blog knows, each book is a journey of exploration for me as well as the reader. I often only vaguely know where things are going. That’s part of the fun for me.

Second…well, it’s promotional. As I mentioned in that previous post, this isn’t something that I plan to actually sell as a standalone. I could, but I’d rather go another way. So the first way to get it, the best way for those who’ve been already buying the series (bless you!) is to sign up for the mailing list. There’s a form in the sidebar. I haven’t done much with the mailing list, and I don’t intend for it to become a spammy “buy my books” thing. Contact will be infrequent, and hopefully will have interesting or fun things that you can’t get anywhere else. Like this short. Those on the mailing list will get a link to the short in mobi (Kindle), epub (Nook and others) or pdf format. I may even do a limited edition paperback version and give away a couple of copies to mailing list people.

The second way to get it will be through the boxed set that I’ll be releasing in June when Blood for Blood comes out. It’ll be the first three Night and Day books as a boxed set, and I’ll include the short in that as something you can’t get any other way (well, you could join the mailing list, but there’s no point in getting the short if you haven’t read the books).  The box set, which will sadly be electronic only, will go for $6.99 or $7.49 or something in that range – a little cheaper than buying the individual books, and hey, you get the free short too!

So that’s where my head is at now. The rest of me is there too, but you don’t need to know about that.