Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grammar Daze - Formatting Tips Edition

Hi, everyone! It's been ages since I did a Grammar Daze post, and granted, this isn't really grammar, but it can really help clean up your manuscript, and I use it all the time in editing. Whether you're preparing a book for querying or getting it ready to self-publish, these quick tips can help make your manuscript be neater and in better order.

*Note that all of this works in Word on a PC, but some of these tips were tested on a Mac and didn't work with the Pages program on that system.

*EDIT: One of my friends knows how to do a lot of these in Pages, and she left her tips about how in the comments. :D  I would advise, though, that if you're going to attempt removal of paragraph spaces in Pages, you make a copy of your document and set it aside. Another of my friends had her story deleted when trying to remove paragraph spaces, and Pages wouldn't let her undo it. Having a back-up copy is always a good idea, even when you're not formatting.

Today, I'm going to walk you through how to quickly get rid of double spaces, spaces around paragraphs returns, and tabs. I'll show you how to quickly create paragraph indents so you don't have to use tabs, and as a bonus, if you're formatting a novel for self-publication for paperback, I'll tell you how to get the lines even at the bottom of the pages.

Okay, first of all, let me introduce you to the "show formatting" button. If you click on it, it will show you all of the invisible marks in your manuscript.

If you turn that on, you'll see a dot between each word. Those just represent spaces. But spaces are important! In today's manuscripts, the norm is to have only a single space between each sentence. Some people are used to double spacing, but that comes from back in the days of typerwiters. A super easy way to get rid of double spaces is by using your "find and replace box."

In the "find" box, simply enter two spaces using your space bar. You won't see the spaces, but they will be there. In the "replace" box, enter a single space with your space bar. Then hit "replace all". Hit it again and again until it comes back to tell you it had "0 items found."

Tada! You now have single spaces throughout your document!

There are two other things that are very important when it comes to formatting. First, if you have your "show formatting" button turned on, you'll see a paragraph mark all over the place--this mark just means that you've ended one paragraph and started another.

Now, in every single manuscript I've ever edited or written, there are always, always instances where there are spaces before or after some of the paragraph returns. This can apparently cause issues when you're trying to create an ebook, and they need to be fixed before publication. Fortunately, there's a super easy way to fix these. I recommend fixing the paragraph returns after you're finished with the whole book, once it's been through any edits and changes you want to make. When you're ready to query it, send it to your publisher, or self-publish, then go through these next steps.

First, open your "find and replace box." Then, in the "find" box, you're going to type a space, and then ^p

The ^ can be found on the number 6 of your keypad.

So it will have SPACE^p

In the "replace" box, you're going to type ^p without any spaces. So it will look like this:

Then hit "replace all." Hit it again, and again--you want to hit "replace all" until it tells you "0 items found."

Great! Now you've removed extra spaces in front of a paragraph mark. But, sometimes they also come after a paragraph mark, so you're going to repeat what you did above, but instead of having SPACE^p in the "find" box, you're going to have ^pSPACE in the find box. In the replace box, you will still want just ^p without any spaces.

You'll want to repeat the "replace all" over and over until you have zero items found.

You're almost finished with formatting the extra spaces around paragraph returns! The last thing to do is to put a space before and also a space after the ^p in the "find" box. So it would be SPACE^pSPACE while the "replace" box would still be simply ^p without any spaces.

Repeat, again, doing "replace all" until you get "0" left in the document.

Congratulations, your paragraph returns are as they should be!

Let's move on to tabs. Tabs are a big thing. Whenever you hit the "tab" button on your keyboard, it makes a big space, right? Quite a lot of writers will start a paragraph with a tab mark, and when you have your formatting button turned on, the tabs will look like an arrow every time you use one, like this:

Now, here's the thing about tab marks. If you try to format an ebook--or if your publisher wants to format an ebook--all of the tabs are going to have to go. They can really mess with formatting and publication. You want to get in the habit of not using tab marks. You want to set up your document so it will automatically create a new paragraph every time you hit "enter" on your keyboard. It's best to get used to using indents, not tabs, so you can start new novels by setting up indents and avoid tabs altogether.

However, there's a super fast way to get rid of tabs.

First, open up your "find and replace" box. Then, in the "Find" box, you're going to simply type ^t

In the replace box, you're going to do absolutely nothing. Leave it blank. No spaces, no marks, nothing.

Then hit "replace all." Hit it again, and again--you want to hit "replace all" until it tells you "0 items found." Your tabs are now gone.

Now, if you've used tabs to start new paragraphs, you'll notice that you have no paragraph indents! I'm borrowing the first few paragraphs from my Rising Book 1 novel to show you how this works. Here, we have no paragraph indents.

This is easily fixed. All I'm going to do now is "Select All" of my entire book. (I can push CTRL + A to achieve this.)

So I select all, and then I right click on the document. A box will pop up, and I'll click on "paragraph."

It will open a new box, wherein there will be a tab at the top that says "Indents and Spacing." Underneath that, I'll see something that says "indentation." I ignore the boxes that say "Left, Right, and Special" and focus on the box that says "By". I'll click the arrow up until I get to .3 or .4. I usually opt for .3. Then I'll click "OK" at the bottom.

Voila! Indents have been created, and now every time I hit "enter" to start a new paragraph, it will automatically indent the paragraph, so no tabs are necessary! This is how it will look now:

 *Note: The only problem with this is that in "selecting all", every chapter heading and every time I use *** to indicate a scene break, those chapter headings and scene breaks are also indented to .3. If it's supposed to be centered, it's now off center slightly. This will have to be fixed manually. I'll have to go to each chapter heading, click on it, and manually drag the indent arrow over so the chapter heading moves back to the center. See the next few pictures for demonstration.

There! Now there are proper indents!

Bonus tip for formatting for a self-published paperback novel: If you're planning to self-publish a paperback, there's something you can do to your manuscript to make sure that your pages are all perfectly even at the bottom. You just have to turn off the widow/orphan control in your manuscript. To accomplish this, Select All of your manuscript again. Then right click on your text, just like you did above, and once more open the "paragraph" box.

This time, however, you're going to click on the tab at the top that says "Line and Page Breaks."

You'll see some boxes that you can check or uncheck. What you want to do is to check the box that says "widow/orphan control" and the box that says "keep lines together". Then you want to immediately uncheck the boxes so they are blank. No checkmarks in them, no little squares, just empty white boxes. The only reason you want to check them in the first place is to make sure you can see that both boxes are absolutely unselected. It can be hard to tell if you've got all the boxes selected--sometimes they look shaded. So, once you make sure they are completely blank, then click "OK," and your pages should be even along the bottom.

I know it might seem overwhelming, but these tips can help make your manuscript much neater and prep it for beginning stages of publication! I hope you find these tips helpful. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Writing with a co-author

I've had people ask me before how writing with a co-author works. Well, today, my co-author, Faith King, posted all about it. :) (We've been writing together for over ten years.) You can check that out here: Collaboration

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest

Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting a blogfest today, and I actually had time to sign up for it! Last minute, but still. ;)

My top ten movies:

10. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was a movie I picked up years ago and watched, and I loved it, but I realized it was part of a bigger story--and it is, but it was a movie made to continue a video game's story. This is the movie that got me into the big, wide world of Final Fantasy video games--each one different and unique, with some of the best characters and most intricate stories ever. The "Complete" version added new scenes and made the story even better. I've been a gamer since I was playing Mario and Zelda on the NES when I was five years old, and fantasy worlds have always been my favorite. The characters in Final Fantasy VII are some of the most intricate I've ever encountered anywhere, and I loved this movie for exploring them further.

9. Spirited Away

I love anime, and I love Miyazaki's anime. Spirited Away has some of the most gorgeous, detailed animation that I've ever seen--and that's normal for Miyazaki's films.

8. The Dark Crystal

I grew up watching this one, and I still love it. Prophecy, destiny, two people who are the last of their kind trying to save the world. I always think of this as Jim Henson's dark side to the Muppets.

7. Kung Fu Panda

This movie makes me laugh and it's just fabulous for showing that the least expected people can become heroes--and they'll do it in ways people might not always expect.

6. How to Train Your Dragon

One of the most gorgeous movies I've ever seen, period. The story is wonderful, the music is fantastic, the characters are so great--it would probably be closer to my favorite movie if other movies didn't hold a longer place in that position. ;)

5. Serenity

This is the conclusion to the fourteen-episode show "Firefly." I adore Firefly, and Serenity was just amazing. I can't even tell you how many times I've watched this film. It has everything I love about sci-fi and it's just perfect.

4. Galaxy Quest

One of the most quotable movies ever. This hilarious sci-fi spoof is one that I have never tired of watching--it makes me laugh ever single time.

3. Star Wars (original trilogy)

One of the best stories of all time. ALL TIME. The underdogs winning, redemption, snarkiness, space battles, awesome characters.

2. Lord of the Rings

Best. Fantasy. Ever.

1. Beauty and the Beast

Yes, a Disney cartoon still holds the place of my top favorite movie. I loved from the first time I saw it. Belle was a bookworm who didn't take any crap from anybody, not even a giant, raging beast. And it had an impact on me that she had brown hair and brown eyes, like I did. I think she was the first Disney "princess" to have that combination. (Snow White had black hair, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were blonde, Ariel was a redhead...)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rising Book 2: Rebellion Ebooks Now Available!

Rising Book 2: Rebellion is now available in ebook formats. :D Paperback will be coming soon.

Barnes and Noble

Lachlan's had a rough summer. First, the girl he shares a painful history with didn't remember him. Then Brenna, the woman he loves, showed up after seven years away and wants nothing to do with him. To top it all off, he almost died with the rest of his people when soldiers invaded his country.

Now the enemy could be using Lachlan's people as assassins. When Brenna leaves to find the truth, Lachlan invites himself along.

As Lachlan struggles to rebuild the trust he lost with Brenna, they unravel the dark secret their enemy has worked long and hard to hide—and its consequences for them are greater than they could have known.

(Book 2 of 2)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Introducing Wendy Knight and her debut novel, "Feudlings"

Today, it is my extreme pleasure to participate in Wendy Knight's blog tour for her book, FEUDLINGS.

I had a chance to ask Wendy some questions, so let's get to know her a bit. :D

Please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? When did you start writing?

I am from Utah, but I’m sort of a half-breed. Until I was twelve we spent summers in Arizona and winters in Utah. I started writing as soon as I could write. I was such a little daydreamer, I lived more in my own head than I did in the real world. So as soon as I learned how to write, I started putting all my daydreams down on paper. It made them more real to me.

If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Faust. Mostly because I want to ask him if he’s completely insane or just a little bit. Since he’ll probably lie and say he’s not crazy, I’m hoping his eyes will tell the truth. The eyes never lie!

Who is your favorite character out of any you’ve created?

My favorite character is actually a wolf in my Shattered Assassin story I’m editing now. I have always loved animals, and my wolf – Nakomi, is huge and tough and super-awesome. I love her oh so much!

What are your hopes for this book?

Just being able to share it with others is everything I could ever hope for! I love this story and the characters soo much. I want everyone to know them and see how incredible they are!

Do you listen to music when you write or do you need quiet? Do you have a theme song for your book?

It depends. For fight/battle scenes, I like music. Metallica, ACDC, and St. Elmos Fire (I’m an 80s baby). For everything else I want absolute silence.

The theme song for this is Glee’s Here’s to Us. It’s originally by Halestorm, but Glee doesn’t have massive swearing!

What’s one quirk of yours?

Oh dear. There are so many, which one to choose? I’m afraid of phones, grocery stores, bills, knives, spiders, and water after five p.m. I start kitchen fires on an almost regular basis (worst cook EVER). I have to lay on the opposite side of whichever side I laid on last…Do you feel sorry for my husband yet?

What’s your favorite book and why?

Harry Potter! I love the world she created, I love the way I feel when I read them and the daydreams that come with. So I’m not a kid…but I will always love these books.

What’s the farthest from your current home you’ve ever visited? Could you picture your favorite character there?

I lived in Alaska for two years, and I visited Florida once. I’m not sure which is farther from Utah. I could picture Ari (the main character in Feudlings) in Alaska, but I don’t think she’d do well in Orlando. She doesn’t do well in crowds.

Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Twitter: @wjk8099
Thank you, Wendy! Now let's find out some more about her book, FEUDLINGS.
Back Cover Blurb
Nothing makes a new school suck worse than discovering the guy you’re in love with is your prophesied nemesis.

Ari is the most powerful flame-throwing sorceress ever, and her people’s last hope in an ancient war. But she’s also a seventeen-year-old girl, and in her free, not-hunting-nemesis times, she jumps from school to school, trying to figure out regular people her own age and pretending she’ll get the chance to graduate.

Shane lives a double life. He goes to school and masters the art of popularity, hiding the fact that he has a fate with a slim chance of his survival. He’s destined to end a 300 year-old war by killing or being killed. He knows he’s hunted by a powerful enemy who’s not afraid to die. Only problem? He has no idea who that enemy is.

When Ari shows up at Shane’s school, angry and sullen and determined to keep him at arm’s reach, neither of them realize they are supposed to be killing each other, not falling in love. Until Ari does realize it, and she almost dies – by Shane’s hand.
“Shane, I’m tougher than I look. I can handle it,” she said, although she wasn’t sure she wanted to know any more about his magic than she already did. It could get him in trouble. But she couldn’t just leave it alone. Part of her wanted to know. Maybe the monster-killer part of her.
She squashed that thought.
Shane stopped, studied her. Under his intense blue gaze her heart started to pound and she thought giddily that her favorite color just happened to be the exact color of his eyes. What were the odds? “I’m serious, Ari. There’s this war going on, and knowing anything about it could get you killed.”
“Killed?” Ari tried to look dubious.
Shane glanced around and grabbed her hand, pulling her with him out the front doors. The air was crisp and cool; Ari could see traces of her breath. If Shane was aware that half the student population was watching them speed-walk into the woods, he didn’t show it, and after a final glance back Ari ignored them too.
When the school was out of sight, she stopped and pulled her hand away. “Okay Shane. Spill,” she commanded. She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to look cold. Normals would be cold right now, but because of the flames flowing through their blood, neither she nor Shane could feel it.
Shane sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Where to start? Even the short version is long. We’re sorcerers, and there are two sides to this war… of course, because that’s what makes a war, right?” he rambled. Ari raised an eyebrow at him as she tried to shiver. “I’m a Carules. I have magic that stems from these blue flames that, well, they’re in my blood. Hunter, too. And all other Carules. The other side is Edren, and their magic comes from red flames. Basically, we spend all our time trying to kill each other. It’s a lot of fun,” he said with a bitter frown at the ground.
“So you hide your magic because if an Edren found you...”
“They’d kill me. Or try to, anyway,” Shane finished for her.
Ari flinched at his words, and she knew right then that if she had seen him on that battle field in Adlington, she wouldn’t have been able to kill him. Her eyes widened in shock, her mouth opened into a silent “Oh”, and her heart started to pound. This was a very, very dangerous revelation she’d just made to herself.
She had a weakness. And it was Shane.