Category: Ramblings Page 1 of 4

Kindle Create

Let me explain the process I follow to create a trade paperback version and the Kindle version of my novels for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This may surprise you.

I write with Scrivener 3 (from Literature and Latte). I have been for years now and I LOVE the programme. The new Scrivener 3 boasted an improved compiler from that found in Scrivener 2 and I was excited about it. Excited until I started using it. It is supposed to be more user friendly. It’s not. It’s supposed to allow you to format your novel in whatever manner you wish. I don’t find it does. You need a PhD. It is NOT intuitive. Try something like Vellum and you will immediately see where Scrivener fails to support the author in formatting what should be a simple thing.

So what I do is compile to a Microsoft Word docx format and an ePub3 format. The docx is for the paperback and the epub is for the Kindle. With me so far?

The paperback version of my novels is so easy to do. I open the Word doc and tweak it. I make sure chapters start on the right side page. I add drop caps (where the first letter of the chapter is enlarged), correct fonts, add blank lines, etc. Once I am happy, I export to PDF, upload to KDP, preview how KDP processes it, and nine times out of ten it is perfect and I can publish the paperback. For those in the know, yes, KDP accepts docx. The conversion is poor though and I find PDFs almost are never modified by KDP and come out exactly as you wanted.

The Kindle version is not so easy. First, you need to understand that Kindle publishes eBooks in their MOBI format. KDP will convert your epub to a mobi when you upload it. KDP has been criticised by many for not describing the specific html code it uses to format the Kindle and invariably the mobi will not match what you formatted the epub to look like. It can be quite frustrating.

What I have been doing is the following:

  1. I compile from Scrivener 3 to ePub3.
  2. I open the ePub3 in Sigil (software to format ebooks). I spend around 2-3 hours formatting the epub with html code until it looks right. I save the epub.
  3. I open the epub in Calibre (an ebook library programme) and CONVERT the epub to mobi.
  4. I upload the mobi to KDP and cross my fingers. Nine times out of ten it looks the way I want the mobi to look (with drop caps, etc.)

I just did this with Cill Darae (Volume 5 of the New Druids series, pick up yours on April 30th!). After I was done, I noticed a little hyperlink on KDP introducing Kindle Create. I was like “wuh?”. I downloaded it, opened it, and cried in joy. Now, I know this has been around for a while (now I do, anyway), but to me this was NEW and SHINY! The good news is all I need to do now is load the docx paperback version, tweak the content to my ebook content (i.e. the ISBN for Kindle is different than the paperback), and save the file in the KPF format. I upload the kpf and BAM! I have a perfect mobi version of my novel.

I’m so happy right now. Time for wine.

Get Your Geek On

In Canada, your choices for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are far and few between. Where I am in Ottawa (the nation’s capital dontchaknow)  it really comes down to two: Rogers and Bell Canada. I won’t talk about the rates and how we in Canada are charged amongst the highest for the least in the world (Google it), rather I will talk about my experiences with using Rogers and their Cable Modem.

Rogers uses a Hitron POS. When I lived in Ottawa back in 2006-2010, I used Rogers and returned this POS at least three times. Why? The WiFi portion of the modem would just stop performing. Note that this opinion of the Hitron is mine based on a decade of use.

Now back in Ottawa since 2014, I went back to Rogers (Bell didn’t have the fibre lines in my area of Barrhaven in Nepean at the time). I have since returned the Hitron POS three times (four?). I am on my fourth (fifth?) cable modem. And they don’t give you a new one, you get a refurbished one that someone else returned because it was crap. Add to this that the WiFi signal can barely cover a house of less than 2000 sqft, and that it struggles to support four people, plus I was rebooting the router EVERY DAY, and I simply had enough. When you complain to Rogers you get the literal shrug. They don’t care. They look at you as if this is YOUR fault. If they did care, they would replace the shitty cable modems with ANYTHING, and would lower their rates. They treat ones and zeroes like it’s water or electricity. News Flash: It’s not.

Enter Ubiquiti. A company formed by a former Apple WiFi technician named Robert Pera when he noticed Apple WiFi was underpowered. A co-worker of mine highly (and I mean highly) recommended Ubiquiti and their Unifi products. So, I just went out and bought a complete Unifi solution. I bought the Unifi Security Gateway (router), the Unifi 8 port 150W POE switch, the Unifi AC Lite WAP, and the Unifi Cloud Key. I bridged the Rogers router, connected everything, struggled to understand just what I was doing for about an hour, then had a short chat session with Ubiquiti tech help, and bam! I have a WiFi signal in my house that is probably pissing the neighbours off (by dominating the channels). This thing can handle four users simultaneously with no problem. It uses 2.4GHz ands 5GHz simultaneously allowing maximum throughput. This thing SINGS.

I’m so happy right now!

Beta Readers, Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy

Beta Readers

Cill Darae, Volume 5 of the New Druids Series is almost through the second draft. I have a few beta readers lined up and I am still interested in more. Beta Reading is a task. It requires a critical mind and sense of what good epic fantasy is all about. If you are interested send me an email requested to be considered and why you think you are a good fit.

I’ve had the good and the bad with beta readers. A few I consider exceptional. Their feedback to me was invaluable and I’m so glad to have met these people. Some simply took my novels and that was it. Beta reading is critical to authors; it is through the back and forth that a novel starts to polish. Freamhaigh was the novel that saw the most feedback from beta readers and I find it stands above my other novels. So please, if interested, shoot me an email at donalddallan@gmail.com

Urban Fantasy

I adore urban fantasy. Its my dirty little secret. There is something about reading fantasy in a modern, urban setting that I really, really enjoy. There are some truly talented authors writing urban fantasy today [shoot me an email and I will share with you my list of favourite authors in this genre]. I would love to be one. I’ve wanted to write something in this genre for a while now and I think I have the start of a concept. That’s all: just a concept. The New Druids series was always much more than a concept: I had visualised the entire series, you see, almost in one painful flash of insight.

So, I need to flush out my urban fantasy idea a little (okay, a lot) more. Then I am going to try traditional publishing. I am prepared for rejection. I feel I have already become an accomplished author and have nothing to prove to myself. If it fails the big houses, then I will self-publish, again. The premise, in case you are curious, is a man finds a single torn page hidden inside an old book. It contains a spell for finding things, written in old English. He tries it, and it works. Then he wants more spells. But there is another group(s) looking for the same thing. And another trying to wipe magic from the world. And history, ancient history, from Arthurian legend starts to expose itself [with a nod to Mary Stewart]. Dun dun dun!

Anyway, that’s the premise. It doesn’t sound like much, but with my imagination, I am sure it is going somewhere interesting! I can say that I love my heroes simple: Honest people like you and me that suddenly find themselves having to do something extraordinary. And not knowing why, or how. Not like a certain series where the main characters are all omnipotent demigods. They would have a problem, struggle through chapters and chapters and then suddenly realise: “Hey, we’re gods…” and snap their fingers. Yes, I hated the Belgariad… The struggle is real, dammit!

Science Fiction

I still have a sci-fi novel on the back burner. It is the prequel to the New Druids series, but set in today’s time. Yes. I have a sci-fi novel that prequels my fantasy world.  I had flushed this story out (single novel) a number of years ago. Then I wrote myself into a corner by writing something truly horrible (I had an AI carrying on a conversation with the protagonist’s subconscious…shudder). Happily, the New Druids series sprouted from that seed. But, I need to write it and I will. It’s not a truly happy ending kind of book. It’s a little On The Beach, if you know what I mean. It yells at me for not writing it. It has an attitude. Nasty thing.

New Author Interview

A new author interview with me was just posted. Head over and have a look!

https://allauthor.com/interview/donalddallan/

Donald D. Allan latest interview by AllAuthor Born in Ottawa, Canada, author Donald D. Allen always wanted to write for a living, fantasy always being his go-to genre. He joined the Naval Reserves in 1982 at 17, ignoring the advice of his teacher to become a writer. It was only after he retired from the military that he returned to writing. In his books, the main storyline drives his characters, but his characters always write themselves. Donald’s series explores the church, science, and magic. The names of his books, Duilleog means leaf, Craobh means branch, Stoc means stalk, and Freamhaigh means root. To him, it’s not fantasy unless magic is present and it’s not sci-fi unless the future of mankind is at stake, but he loves both genres. To the rest, he advises writing from your heart because you love to write and don’t worry about what people think. Read full interview…

 

 

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