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Monday, February 28, 2011

Reality's Dawn Ebook is Available

As we land on the March 1st release date, the first phase of that landing has just happened. Ebooks for the new title, Reality's Dawn, are now available in epub, pdb, pdf, and prc formats. To purchase, visit my store.

In the next few days, you'll see ebooks pop up on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble for the Nook, and Amazon for the Kindle. And in less than two weeks, the paperback should be available. Once I have them in my hands, I'll have them for sale, but they will also be showing up on and other on-line retail outlets within the next couple of weeks.

Book Info:

The Reality Chronicals: Book One

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, reality invaded the world.

When the presence of reality emerges from under the façade of perception, lives are changed. Forever.

A mystical ring binds Sisko to bless others with miracles and avoid using its power for himself, which would lead to a curse. With his friends Josh the wizard and Seth the leader of a gang of thieves, Sisko explores the emerging reality through his travels and adventures.

Journey with Sisko as reality’s presence confronts and changes the greedy, the killers, the trapped, the demonic, and Sisko himself.

…Reality has dawned, and no one will be the same.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Look Ma, No Practice!

In the creative arts, practice is the norm. It's expected that a pianist will spend hours and years perfecting their playing ability. Rock bands spend days and months practicing a song before releasing it. Actors attend numerous rehearsals for plays, or do a movie scene numerous times before the director is satisfied. And before that goes years of practice in most every profession before an artist ever gets on stage or in front of a camera.

So why do people who want to become published authors expect their first novel to sell? Why do people think authors don't need to practice before snagging a publishing contract?

I was no exception. In October of 2005, I'd written my first speculative novel. Sort of just happened, really. An idea had crept into my head early that month, and I wrote the first chapter to it. My wife and daughter read it and wanted the next chapter. So the next evening I sat down and wrote it. They read it and wanted the third chapter. And so it went all month until by the end of October I had a 94K novel finished. And when I reached that point, I realized this was what I wanted to do.

My wife was so excited, she was sure I would be a best selling author in the following year. I was a little more conservative. "It will probably take a couple of years for that to happen." I figured I would get it edited and ship it off to a publisher. They'd accept it within three months or so, and within a year it would come out in print. So in November of 2005, I figured the book would appear in print sometime in 2007, and the next J. K. Rowling would be born!

Well, that manuscript is still sitting on my hard drive. A couple years ago, I decided to rewrite it by starting over. Too many things wrong with the original to just fix. I needed to write it fresh. I got halfway done with that project. And since then, I have had two books published, a novella and a novel, and so far the world hasn't rushed to my feet begging for the next installment.

But really, what did I expect? That I would be writing at professional levels on my first book, knowing nothing about how to write good dialog, story pacing, believability, and a host of other issues that require--yes you guessed it--practice.

Yes, there are exceptions. There is always a J. K. Rowlings or Palolini who hit it big with their first book. But the exceptions don't make the rule. Doing what they did is higher odds than hitting the lottery. But generally for a book to make it, it has to first and foremost be entertaining and done by someone who knows what it takes to write a good book, and has the words behind him or her to do it.

I've heard the number of words an author will need to reach the professional levels of writing to be around one million. That is, for most writers, it will take one million practice words before you'll start writing well enough to capture people's attention.

The problem is, few potential authors go into writing a novel thinking its a practice session. They don't see it as something they are going to simply write, edit for typos and grammar, then send out to a publisher (you never know when one will love it and take it), and then start practicing on another story. Keep going that way until you learn enough, have written enough words to get not only a good feel for the writing process that works best for you, but your voice develops enough that it shines.

Rather, what most authors do is write a story, then spend years rewriting it. Unfortunately, rewriting is very limited practice. It tends to not use the creative side of your brain, but focus on the editor side. So words reworked there don't contribute in most cases to practice with your creative brain. Instead of putting in more creative words with a new story, the old story gets more and more passes until years have passed, and it still sits on the hard drive.

This is due to not seeing that book as a practice session. We've invested too much work and emotional sweat. We love the book. It has to be perfect, and it has to work!

"But I do have my life invested in this particular story. It is a story that needs to be told."

There are those stories that are special to you. If you think the story is worth something, after some time has passed, you can always do a full and complete rewrite. That is, start off writing from scratch is if you were writing it for the first time. What you've picked up by practicing your writing will make it a better story, and you'll be writing more, and so practicing more. But to go back over it and edit it, picking at it here and there, is lost practice time. Naturally some of that may need to happen to a degree. But cut it off. Do only the essential things. And if there is too much wrong with it, and you really want that story told, redo the whole thing rather than try to fix what isn't working. You'll learn and get in practice at the same time.

But for new authors, don't think you're going to sit down, crank out a novel, sell it right away, and be a best seller in a couple of years. Plan on putting in a few years of writing, learning, perfecting, practicing, just like any other creative profession you can think of. Don't be fooled by the exceptions. This will take some work before you can make it.

How about it? Are you willing to put in the practice needed to write well?

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Coming! It's Coming! Reality's Coming!

Reality's Dawn Appearing Early March!

Reality's Dawn Front Cover

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, reality invaded the world.

When the presence of reality emerges from under the façade of perception, lives are changed. Forever.

A mystical ring binds Sisko to bless others with miracles and avoid using its power for himself, which would lead to a curse. With his friends Josh the wizard and Seth the leader of a gang of thieves, Sisko explores the emerging reality through his travels and adventures.

Journey with Sisko as reality's presence confronts and changes the greedy, the killers, the trapped, the demonic, and Sisko himself.

...Reality has dawned, and no one will be the same.

The Dawning of my new book, Reality's Dawn, is upon us. Within a week or two, the new title should be appearing on Amazon and other fine online retail establishments. And have we got some fine activities planned for the upcoming release.

For starters, I will be the in the spotlight Monday through Thursday at Encourage an Author Blog. Thanks to Casey Harringshaw for hosting me this week. You'll not only hear news of this book, but other books I've published, and you'll get an excerpt from a new story in this book, never read before by human eyes...except a small handful of dedicated critiquers and proofers.

Monday, March 7th, at 8:00 pm Central Time, will be a chat kick-off party. A chance to ask questions, get to know me better, and who knows what else will happen. Plug the date and time into your reminder calendar so you won't forget. Do it now. I'll wait.

Then one more item. At some point in the coming week, author A . M. Roelke will post an interview of me at her blog. You can watch for it at her blog or watch here as I'll post a note when it goes live.

What? Can't wait until it comes out? Satisfy that craving by pre-ordering directly from the publisher, Splashdown Books.

I'm excited to finally offer this expanded life of Sisko's journey with the ring. The additional ten stories in it really fill out and deepen the original novella, Infinite Realities. I invite you to share the excitement with me, and I pray, grab a paperback or ebook of it when it comes out, which of course I'll be the first to let you know when each one becomes available.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Dark Side of the Moon by Terri Lynn Main

Dark Side of the Moon

ISBN-13: 978-1-926931-19-7

Terri Lynn Main offers up an impressive debut science fiction, mystery novel in Dark Side of the Moon. Carolyn Masters, an ex-FBI profiler, has a history. A history she's trying to forget. In an attempt to distance herself from that past, she takes a teaching position at the lunar university at Armstrong City.

But the manipulated atmosphere of the doomed city creates a mask hiding the less controlled elements of the lunar independence movement. It isn't long before Carolyn's past catches up with her and she finds herself waist-deep in a murder investigation. What at first appears a cut-and-dried case becomes a complex mystery that threatens even Earth.

The mystery is a good, old-fashion who-dun-it. Even a what-dun-it. Carolyn gets saddled with an abrasive ex-cop, Michael. Between the two, peeling back one layer of the mystery leaves them with yet another puzzle to solve. Mystery lovers won't be disappointed in this offering. The only potential downside would be for mystery readers who want quick action. Main focuses on character and world building for the first few chapters. Don't expect the murder in the first chapter or two.

And it really is in the world and characters that Main excelled. Both are not only believable, but have depth and richness usually found in more seasoned authors. There are only two hiccups to that believability factor.

One, Main has obviously done her homework on the science. Much of it follows hard science in potential near-future abilities. But the inclusion of a common myth, that exposure to a vacuum causes one's body to expand and blood to boil in seconds, wiggled its way into the manuscript. Other than that one scientific miss, I found the science very believable, so overall she gets a high score on that account.

Two, there is room for improvement in the dialog. While overall not bad, some of it occasionally didn't ring true in explaining sometimes intimate detail to strangers, or saying things that most people would tend to avoid saying. These instances didn't lessen the richness of the characters, but improvement there could greatly supplement them.

One of the characteristics that impressed me was Main's natural way of integrating her character's faith into the storyline. Main portrayed a Christian character authentically, rather than the caricatures one tends to find on either side of the fence. The reader won't feel preached at, though the character does give her opinion on occasion. Both Christian and secular readers have little to fear here.

Another area that the reader will enjoy in this book is the descriptions. I had no problem seeing in my mind's eye the trip she took from Earth to the Moon, or the domed cities. The beginning has a touch of 2001: A Space Odyssey to it as we follow her on the trip to the Moon.

This is an outstanding first novel, and I would easily recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction and/or mysteries set in an interesting world filled with well drawn characters.

Note: I received an ebook from the author upon which this review is based.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After...

How many stories do you read or watch where the bad guy wins? I'd wager, not very many. I distinctly recall one movie I watched in my teen years where the good guy and the bad guy did the ten paces, turn and shoot duel. It set you up to root for the good guy. But when they swing around and fire, the good guy takes the bullet, falls over and dies, while the bad guy gets away with all his "evil" plans and wins.

I left the theater depressed. I hated that. It was simply all wrong! The good guy isn't supposed to lose! Evil isn't supposed to win out! But in that movie it did. And it sucked.

"But, Rick, that's truer to real life. Sometimes the good guy doesn't win."

That's exactly the point. The story itself is true to life. In such a duel, the good guy wouldn't always prevail because what level of skill a person might have in surviving a duel has nothing to do with whether you are good or bad as a person.

But here's a fact that sometimes authors don't take into account. Fiction isn't real life. If you wrote fiction to exactly mimic real life, it would be the most boring book in the world. For most of us, no one would want to read a book that detailed our day to day lives. They just aren't that interesting, and that's probably about 90% or more of all people. That's not to say that there are not spots in our lives that are interesting, but a good 80% or more of what we do day to day would petrify me bored if we were to read a story that is "real."

I mean, how many of you want to read about me doing data entry for six hours a day? Could I make it interesting as a writer? Sure, but the fact is, it isn't at all interesting. Nothing unusual happens. I don't enter numbers into the accounting system anymore different than the next guy. No one would ooh and aah over my ten-key speed. But if I were to write a story that was "real" about me, that's what you would get. A chapter or more of me describing the keys I'm hitting as I punch numbers in and reconcile bank accounts.

But it goes beyond the fact that writing stories to be "true to life" would be boring if we included every detail of real life. The whole process of writing fiction, or even stories based on true life events, is that we are forced to write in ways that are totally unreal to our real life. I mean, who goes around everyday noticing what everyone is wearing, how the trees are blowing in the wind, the color of someone's eyes they are chatting with? Those are things our brain for the most part takes in subconsciously, and we rarely ever think consciously about them.

Yet we force our characters to notice more detail around them than any of us ever would in a normal day, so that the reader will get a good sense of the place they are in and the characters they talk to. If we wrote it to be more like real life, the stories would be sprinkled with a description of something maybe once a chapter, or depending on the character, once a book. It is this unrealistic and forced perspective on the character point of view that many writers in earlier times used mostly omniscience, because it allowed them to fully describe the scene without forcing a point-of-view character to notice it all.

And it is, or let's say it should be, a well-known fact that when we craft our stories, to have an interesting plot, there needs to be conflict of some type going on. Plot is dependent upon conflict and its resolution. Without that, you don't have a story. You might have some literary piece of work that relies upon poetic feel and breathtaking prose to entrance the reader rather than plot, but you don't have a story that anyone will be interested in reading about. For that to work, it takes conflict. And the bigger the stakes, the more riveting the story will be for the reader.

In my novel about to come out, Reality's Dawn, I have fifteen stories in there of Sisko's adventures between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five. Now if I had gone through half the stuff that I've put poor Sisko through in these stories, I'd be locked up in a metal institution. I've had maybe two events between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five that even get close to the level of something interesting that would make a good story if told as it happened. And like most of life, those didn't have any real "resolution" to the conflicts either. At least none that would satisfy any reader of such a story.

And therein lies the problem. One, if anyone in this life goes through half the things I put Sisko through, they'd be on all the talk shows and numerous magazine interviews. But none of us go through fifteen life-threatening, life shattering events in our teen and young adult life, not to mention our whole lives. Not on the level of what happens to the characters in a standard novel. But even beyond that, in real life those conflicts are rarely tied up at some point. They are usually left as festering wounds that might slowly heal over time, but have become part of who we are for better or for worse.

But that's not what people want to read. When we introduce conflict, it is a given that the reader expects us to resolve that conflict by the end of the story, or at least offer the promise of it in a future novel if a series.

Am I saying all our stories should end with "Happily ever after?" Well, yes and no. Depends on what your definition of "happily" is. If by that you mean the characters never have another problem in their life, and life is perfect from there on, then no. That not only is it not true to life, it is hardly believable.

But if we mean by "happily" that they go on, problems and all, to live a life they are happy with despite encountering some setbacks, problems, hardships here and there, then yes. There are in real life tons of people that fit that description. It is believable that someone could live "happily ever after" in real life with that understanding of "happily." Doesn't mean there are people out there who wish they had a different life, aren't happy with their life, etc. Only that there are a whole lot that are happy with their lives.

But why is that the dominate ending to a story? Because most people don't like a story that ends with an overall depressing ending, where the conflict destroys the protagonist, where he or she doesn't win against all odds. Sure, there are stories like that which work. Often displaying more of a point and frequently use a more omniscient view point so that the reader isn't invested emotionally in one character "winning." And occasionally someone can make a name for themselves doing it simply because it is unusual, if they can handle it in a way and still be entertaining while making their protagonist lose the battle. Some people want to promote that kind of thing not because it is entertaining, but because they think it is more real to life. And they may be right on both accounts, but few writers are going to make it writing such stories. That audience is limited.

Most don't want to see the hero lose. Most expect a resolution, and an overall positive one at that.

I know some are going to disagree with me on that, but note I'm not saying everyone wants that. I'm saying most. If the goal is to reach the widest audience, then a story where the hero loses isn't generally going to do it unless you are making up for it in other areas that attract the general public's attention. Maybe the characters are so riveting themselves that the reader can't help but read on despite the fact he doesn't like what's happening.

That said, there is a way to add some realism into an otherwise happy ending. In most of my stories, they hero "wins" in the end, but usually there's been a cost. Love one lost, or memories of horror, etc. The hero rarely comes out of it unscathed. He's rarely fully "healed."

At the end of Reality's Dawn, the ending can, on the surface, appear to be a "happily ever after" scene. But you learn in the sequel, Reality's Ascent, that what happened toward the end of the first book is still festering inside of Sisko, and that what follows isn't problem-free and everything is happy from that point on. I emphasized that point by adding one line to the end of this new version of the book, "I couldn’t wait to discover what God had planned for us next."

On the surface, that seems like a positive statement. There's expectation, there's a sense of excitement. But he thinks this a few times earlier in the book as well, and what follows? Some pretty awful and heavy stuff. It's the point that even what God has planned for us may not be easy, may not mean some suffering and hardships, but He can bring us through it as well, and that's where the excitement comes into it. But it also says that based on Sisko's history, his excitement at wonder what adventures God has for him next will not mean "happily ever after" other than in the long term view of things, going to Paradise.

What that does is make it more believable. Maybe more like real life, but the signature of writing great fiction isn't to make it more like real life, it is to make it believable. Fiction will never be fully like real life, and if it is, it certainly won't be great fiction. No, great fiction is made more believable, where the reader can suspend disbelief at parts of the story that aren't at all like real life, because it "feels" like real life to them. And most are still looking for a story that isn't like their life. They want to experience a different life. They want to experience an event through a character they would never want to experience themselves.

So while I certainly wouldn't want to write a story where life was perfect and imply there was never another care in the world for our hero(s) by the end of it, the most popular stories contain a certain amount of "happily ever after" in the sense that the main problem has been dealt with, and is over. Maybe the characters will still be dealing with consequences. Maybe they will need some sessions with a psycologist, but they overcame the problem. And that's simply because for most of us, reading about someone who fails is depressing, disappointing, and a real bummer.

Do you like depressing stories of heroic failure more than overcoming? If so, why?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Setting up OO Writer to Write a Novel

I had another post on this topic, but forgot that in that post, I linked to the article of mine on another site. Not knowing when that site will go down and this article is my most popular post, I figured I had better post that article here.

This information is based upon Open Office version 2.3.

Open Office is a suite of software applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, and database. It is an "open source" application which for the end user means it is free to download and use on your computer. It rivals MS Office for ability, and on the whole does a good job of it, actually improving in some areas. You can download and read more about it at:

One of the cool things for authors is the ability to set up Open Office's Writer (the word processor) to accomplish many of the task novel writing software claims to make easier. Task like easily navigating in your document, quickly moving scenes or chapters, automatic renumbering of scenes and chapters, as well as document wide task like saving to a Word doc file, printing, formatting, find/replace, etc.

However, it takes a little setting up to accomplish these task. But it is time well spent before beginning a big project like a novel.

Setting up styles

The first thing to do will be to set up some styles. There are three paragraph styles you will need. Novel Body, Chapter, and Scene.

Novel Body:

This should be the style the body of your text will be in. Naturally, you would want this to be in "Standard Submission" format. Open the "Style and Formatting" box by hitting the F11 button, or in the menu, "Format," "Styles and Formatting." A window box will pop open listing various styles.

  1. Right-click on a default style, like "Text body" and select "New".

  2. Give your new style a name, replacing the "Untitled" name it gives, such as "Novel Body" or whatever you prefer.

  3. Select a font from the "Font" tab like "Courier New" and make it 12 point.

  4. Select the "Indents and Spacing" tab, set the first line indent to "0.5" and the line spacing to "double."

  5. Click "OK" and your new style has been created.


Do the same as above, right-clicking on "Heading 2". Modify this to select the font of your choice, you can left set it or center it. But in the "Organizer" tab, give it the name, "Chapter" and set "Novel Body" (or whatever name you gave it above) to be the next style used after pressing enter. In the "Indents and Spacing" tab make sure all indents are 0.0. Click "OK".


How you set up the scene style depends on how you intend to use it. The most common way would be to set it up as a heading, which will work for most functions.

In the "Styles and Formatting" box, right-click the heading style you would like to show scene headings as (recommend Heading 3), and select "New." Give it the name in the "Organizer" tab as "Scene" and select "Novel Body" in the "Next style" field. Make any other adjustments necessary and then click "OK" to save this style. If scene headings are going to be printed out, you will probably want to set this as italics and centered.

You will be able to show either scene headers you type like, "The beast rips him apart," or you can simply show numbered scenes that will change automatically if you move them. Once you are ready to print, but don't want to print those as headings, you right-click the style in the "Style and Formatting" box, and select "Modify." Then "Font Effects" and click the "hidden" box in the lower-right corner. Once you click "OK" those headers will not print out. Remove that check to once again show them.

If you are going to use the first paragraph of each scene as it's "marker," then right-click the "Novel Body" style we created at the top and select "New." Simply give it the name "Scene" and select "Novel Body" as the "Next" text to pop up. The first paragraph of each scene will have this style.

Setting up Header Hierarchy

Now that the styles are set up, it is time to make them part of the heading outline. Click "Tools" in the menu, and then, "Outline numbering." In the "Level" window on the left, select "1". In the center drop down box, select the "Chapter" paragraph style we created earlier. In the "Number" drop down box, select "1, 2, 3..." from the list. In the "Before" field, enter "Chapter " with the space on the end. Leave it blank if you only want the chapter number to show up, but no additional text.

Now in the "Level" window, click "2". Select "Scene" from the paragraph style drop down list. If you want them automatically numbered, select "1, 2, 3..." in the "Number" drop down box. If you want "Scene" for a title, in the "Before" field enter "Scene " with the space on the end. In the "After" field, enter a ":" or whatever you might want.

You have set up your outline headers so that Chapter and Scene paragraph styles point to a level in the outline and will show up in the Navigator as well as automatically reflect numbering based on what order they are in the document.

Saving for future use:

Naturally, you'll want to save this so you can use it anytime. If you have these styles set up as you want them, and there is no text in the Writer document at the time, save this as a template.

Click in the menu "File," "Templates," and "Save." Click on "My Templates" to save there, and give the new template a name, like "Novels".

When you want to start a new novel file, click on the drop down arrow to the right of the new button and select "Templates and Documents". Select "Novels" from the "My Templates" folder and click "OK" to open a file. Your novel styles will be available for use, without affecting Writer's standard defaults.

Using the styles for writing a novel

To make use of the new setup, open the Navigator window in your document if not already open. This shows up as a compass looking graphic in the tool bar, or you can click "Edit" and "Navigator," or hit F5. If the window is floating, you can dock it by dragging it to a side. If you can't see it, make sure the right side of the Navigator box isn't slid all the way to the left by clicking on a handle and dragging the window open. You should see a list of several items, the first one being "Headings" which we are interested in. Open it up far enough so you can see the four boxes on the far right of the window's toolbar that allow for movement of the pieces. They look like "text" with arrows beside them going up or down, right or left.

Now, you can either begin writing a novel, outlining, or you can take a novel you have already started and prep it.


To outline, start with a synopsis. Type that out first. You can start with a small one, and build to a larger one. You can even detail out characters here if you wish, for easy future reference.

On the first chapter, click F11 and double-click the "Chapter" style. You will see the "Chapter 1" appear, centered and formatted as you set up. You can either leave it at that, or hit enter, then give the chapter a title by using a standard header style, like Header 2. Center if need be.

Below that, summarize the plot point(s) this chapter should fill. Once done, hit enter, and then do this over for the next chapter.

Once done, you can go back to the top to detail out each scene if you so desire. Click under the chapter summary/plot point. Hit F11 and double-click the "Scene" style. Type out any heading desired, or just a summary of that scene's plot point.

Just write it!

If you're the type that just starts writing, when you are ready to begin the first chapter, hit F11, and double-click the "Chapter" style. The Chapter and # will appear automatically. Hit enter.

Then click F11, and double-click "Scene". If set, it will automatically pop in the scene number and text in. You can then enter a header, or if set for it, the first paragraph of your scene. Then type away.

Next scene comes up, do the same thing. Next chapter, double-click on the "Chapter" style. Once used in your document, you can also see them in the style drop down box in the toolbar that is opened by default in Open Office Writer.

As an added tip, you can also set in the "Text Flow" tab of the style, to automatically start a new page at each chapter. Hit F11, right-click "Chapter" style and select "Modify." Select the "Text Flow" tab, and check the "Insert" box in the "Break" section. Make sure "Page" is in the next drop down box, and "Before" in the far right one. Now when you double-click the Chapter style, it will add in a new page as well as the text with automatic number formatting.

Import it:

This is a more tedious process. Open your novel in OO Writer. Hit Ctrl-A to mark all text in the document. Double-click the "Novel Body" style in the style window, and all the text will be changed to the standard submission format.

Now, go through your novel and apply the Chapter and Scene styles to the appropriate spots. You may need to delete chapter number info if you have manually entered it before.

Navigating and Moving Text

Now that you have done this work, you should see in the Navigator, under "Headings" a list of the chapters and scenes in an outline format. If you do not, make sure you have the "Display" set to show at least 2 levels, but safest to set it for all ten.

To go to a scene in the Navigator, double-click on that scene. You are now there.

To move a scene or chapter, select that scene or chapter. Unfortunately, within a document, you cannot use the "drag and drop" method to move things around (even though the help file says you can, you can't, maybe someday). Instead, you must use the buttons at the top of the Navigator window. They are square text boxes with arrows pointing up and down. If you have the tips turned on, it will call them "Promote a chapter" and "Demote a chapter." By clicking on the button with the arrow going down, it moves your scene or chapter one section down. Likewise, the up arrow moves it up. Click on it enough times till it is where you want it.

You will notice that automatic scene or chapter numbers will adjust as you move it around. This effectively allows you to shuffle pieces any way you want within your document.

And since this is all one document (not chapters in individual files), you can easily get a word count for the whole project, or do a find/replace if you need to change something over the whole project, set formatting for printing, etc. Anything you can do in a regular OO Writer document, you can do here because that is what this is.

The down side is if you want a word count of a section in the middle of your novel. Or if your publisher/agent wants one chapter of your novel sent to them. It means first marking the section in question, and then running a word count, or doing a copy/paste into a new document to save separately.

You can get a word count of a chapter fairly easily if it is the last chapter in your document. When ready, double-click on the chapter in the Navigator. Hold down the "Ctrl-Shift" keys and hit "End". It will mark the chapter to the end of the document. Then run the word count.

You can use the master document feature in OO Writer, which has its benefits. You can drag and drop the chapters to move them around, but creating scenes in it becomes cumbersome because you will either have a separate file for each scene or keep the scenes in each chapter file, which means to move scenes between chapters requires a mark, cut and paste operation. If scenes are in each chapter file, it also means you lose the detailed "overview" of your whole project, chapters and scenes, that you get with it all in one document.

However, the automatic numbering will still work for chapters in the master document. Within a chapter file, it will always say "Chapter 1" but in the master document, they will be numbered according to their position.

In the master document, you can also easily edit the chapter file (each chapter is its own separate file) and get a word count of just that chapter, or send the file to someone who wants that one chapter without any fuss. The downside to it, is it is harder to move scenes from one chapter to another, and there are restrictions on what you can do in a master document. (You can't save it to one large file, for instance without the master document "features," but have to copy/paste the whole document into a regular Writer file.)

Some of the duplication here is a bit crude, like story plotting and character notes. You may find it easier to keep track of those either in another Writer file, or other application like Excel or a database. But this can give you a free, novel-writing application with the flexibility of the big boys, but with a full featured word processor (unlike many of them). Just a little time investment to set it up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't-miss-it sale on Infinite Realities!

In anticipation of the new updated and expanded version of Infinite Realities coming out on March 1st, Reality's Dawn, I'm putting my Infinite Realities ebook at the lowest cost possible: FREE! But Amazon won't let me make it any lower than $0.99, so if you want it on that through Amazon, you'll have to cough up a dollar.

You can find it for free through the rest of this month at my two ebook stores:

And at Smashwords

And for $0.99 at Amazon

Reality's Dawn, the new book coming out March 1, 2011, adds ten more outstanding short stories to this collection of five to make a full fifteen-storied, braided novel of Sisko's adventures. I'm really excited about these additional stories because they add in so much more depth to Sisko's life, the characters like Josh, Seth, and Joel who also appear later in the series. And they are just plain fun. If you want to know whether to get the new book when it comes out, now's your chance to get a free taste of five stories that will appear in that book, though I will say that the new stories are even better. Still, you can't beat free if you want to consider the new book, Reality's Dawn, for which Splashdown Books, the publisher, is taking pre-orders.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mothman Rides Again!

A new short story of mine has gone public at ResAliens! Ship to Ship Rumors is a space opera/superhero spoof of an old spoof. I'll say no more than that, you'll have to read it to find out for yourself what it is.

This one has some unique literary tactics, which under normal circumstances I'd not do. But spoofs give you more latitude in that department. See if you can figure out which writing rules I've broken and report back here with your guesses.

This story is also included in my recent anthology release, Ethereal Worlds. If you like this one, you'll enjoy reading more craziness that I've created over the past five years.

Thanks for reading!