Category Archives: Blood Lies

The Story Question is Vital

This article addresses what I find is the most pressing issue in developing a novel. It’s the one I come back to again and again, hoping I’ve made it work and struggling if I think I haven’t.

In some ways, I think this article may distill the question down a bit more than I like; sometimes there’s a story question embedded in another story question, and both have to be answered. In Blood Lies, the obvious story question is whether Ted will find out who murdered Alejo. But the larger question that drives and even overrides this one is whether, in the process, Ted will become the man he needs to be to respect himself. So a corollary question to ask in working on story questions is whether the two (or more) questions serve each other. Does finding his best self help Ted find the murderer? Does finding the murderer help Ted find his best self?

In any case, in many unpublished novels I read, it’s the story question that’s missing–or just isn’t compelling. So this article is an excellent primer on this central issue in fiction.

Both the story question and the story problem are vital for crafting cohesive stories and strong fiction. A discussion of the story question in fiction.

Source: The Story Question is Vital

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Filed under Blood Lies, ebooks, Editing, indie publishing, Learning to write, novels, Plot Development, self editing, Self-publishing, Writing

My Inerview is up at Don Massenzio’s site. Go admire my sweet Paddy!

Paddy, my horse.Check out my writer’s interview, now available at Don Massenzio’s site! This was a lot of fun to write.

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Filed under blogging, Blood Lies, ebooks, indie publishing, Interviews, King of the Roses, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, style, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, Writing

InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finishing Up, Part I

This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

In this post: Part 1 of some follow-up moves you can and should make in InDesign as you format your POD book interior.

***CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE FULL-SIZED VERSIONS***

Creating Additional Styles for Chapter Titles and Numbers

Just like Word, InDesign works best if you create a style for each element you use often and apply that style consistently across chapters. So you need a style for whatever elements—for example, chapter names—that you plan to include.

Create these additional styles exactly as you created your original main body style.

  • Select the text you want to style, for example a chapter title.
  • Format it to look the way you want.
  • Click “Create New Style” in the Paragraph Styles panel.

The new style, called “Paragraph Style 1” (or “2” if there’s already a “1” in the list, possibly for a style you never developed) will appear in the panel. In the figure below, I’ve created several new styles, renaming “Paragraph Style 1,” for example, “Chapter nos.” for chapter names.

InDesign page with Paragraph Styles Panel open

I created additional styles for my “Part” and “Chapter names,” as well as for the numbers of sections within chapters.

  • Double-click this new style in the Panel list to open the Paragraph Styles Option dialogue, where you will see the features you’ve selected, such as font, font size, and justification.
  • Make any adjustments using the menu on the left of this box.
InDesign Workspace with Paragraph Styles Options open.

In this example, I formatted a style I’ve called “Experiment,” clicked “Create New Style” in the Paragraph Styles box, renamed the style “Experiment,” and double-clicked to open the Paragraph Styles Options box, where I can see the Style Settings I’ve chosen.

A Consideration in Creating Additional Styles: “Before” and “After.”

When formatting elements like chapter titles, you will need to decide how much space to require “before” and “after.” Just as when formatting an ebook, say, for Kindle, you want to avoid long stretches of returns.

Creating a specific style with appropriate “before/after” attributes is optimal.

  • Double-click on the style name to open the Paragraph Styles Options dialogue.
  • From the menu on the left, choose “Indents and Spacing.”
  • Locate the fields for “Space Before” and “Space After.”
  • Use the fields to indicate the spacing you want.

It appears that your choices here are limited by defaults that you access by clicking the up and down arrows. I’m not sure why you can’t type in any value, but I’ve never been able to do so.

InDesign

Set “before” and “after” using the small arrows to the left of each field. Your choices seem to be limited to preset distances.

For your main body styles, by the way, you generally want these fields to be set to zero—no extra spacing between paragraphs. (This is one of the annoyances of recent versions of Word: extra space between paragraphs seems to be the default, and people often do not know to go to “Format>Paragraph” and turn this default off.)

For the book I’m currently formatting, Blood Lies, I have a style for “Chapter nos.” or names, and one for “subset numbers,” or the little numbers between sections in each chapter. Because I place the text chapter by chapter, I can then “Select All” (CTRL/COMMSND + A) and apply my main body style. I then do have to change the style of the chapter title and go through the chapter to find the “subset numbers,” select them, and apply the style. You may find a much faster way to apply your styles. If so, please let us all know!

Creating Character Styles

I discovered that if I wanted to italicize a single word in a paragraph, I couldn’t do so—the whole paragraph would be converted to italics.

Solution: Create an Italic “Character Style.”

Like the Paragraph Styles panel, the Character Styles panel will appear in the right-side menu. (It can be called up via the “Window” menu if necessary.) It works exactly the same as the Paragraph Styles panel:

  • Select the text you want to change.
  • Format it.
  • Click “Create New Style.”
  • Double-click the new style that appears in the list, and you’ll get the now-familiar dialogue box showing your settings.
  • adjust your settings from the left-side menu in this dialogue box.
InDesign Workspace with Character Styles Open.

In this close-up, I still need to rename my new style, and to click on “Basic Character Formats” in the left-hand menu to choose “italics.” I also need to adjust the font size slightly.

You have a great deal of control over these styles. Conversations with readers of my developing design suggested to me that the italic that came with Garamond, which I was using for my main body style, was too ornate: crabby and hard to read. I experimented with a number of italics and finally created a Character Style using Book Antiqua with a slightly reduced font size. Again, I do have to locate italics in the text and apply the style manually.

By the way, I have not found InDesign’s Find/Change box to work well when asked to locate italics, perhaps because I haven’t always specified precisely the attributes it needs to search for. I make double-checking for italics part of my proofing process when I’m reading my pdf.

InDesign Workspace with Character Style application illustrated.

In the final version of this character style, I’ll reduce the Book Antiqua font size slightly to match the Garamond body text, and then apply the style manually to italicized words in the text.

Next: Part II of Finishing Up!

Please visit other posts in this series! Your feedback is welcome!

Formatting for IngramSpark in InDesign: You’re Almost Already There!

InDesign for Book Formatting: Cheat Sheet I

InDesign Cheat Sheet 2: How to Get Started

InDesign Master Pages: No Big Deal!

InDesign Cheat Sheet! Add Some Text!

Finally! Formatting Text in InDesign, Part I

InDesign Obstacle: When Smart Text Reflow Doesn’t Work

InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II

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Filed under Blood Lies, book design, business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, self editing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, Writing

Horse nut/Professor/Writer

My bio on Chuck Suddeth’s site! He’s posting info on sponsors and judges for the Green River Writers 2016 contest, now open. Check out the guidelines! And thanks, Chuck, for sharing!

C. T. Suddeth

V. S. Anderson always been a horse nut, and as a young person, was a rabid horse-racing fan. So it’s no surprise that her first novels were about horses: the Kentucky Derby and the glamour of a Thoroughbred breeding farm—but with a little mystery and mayhem thrown in! For King of the Roses and Blood Lies, she drew on her years of working in the horse world, teaching riding, showing hunters, moonlighting on the racetrack, and for a while, owning and galloping her own racehorse.

Since then she has used her doctorate in English to teach writing at a regional campus of a Midwestern university—right across the river from Louisville and the Derby, in fact! She lives in New Salisbury, Indiana, where she gardens, watches birds, writes mystery/suspense (three novels in progress!), and rides Paddy, her sweet, sweet horse.

Visit her at

www.virginiasanderson.com

www.justcanthelpwriting.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/virginiasanderson.writer

www.amazon.com/author/virginiasanderson

or follow her…

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Filed under Blood Lies, Contests, ebooks, Green River Writers, indie publishing, King of the Roses, novels, Self-publishing, V. S. Anderson, Writers' groups, Writing

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark…

Here’s a post on POD printing options from Build Book Buzz featured on The Story Reading Ape. This post provides reasons why my decision to go with Ingram first rather than CreateSpace in publishing a print version of King of the Roses (and eventually Blood Lies) was a sound one. Follow my series on my “Crazy Journey” through the Ingram process: it doesn’t look all that crazy when seen through the eyes of book-marketing expert Amy Collins!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract of an article by Author Amy Collins in Build Book Buzz:

I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work. I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?

See the full article (and read the comments already there) by clicking the link, or Amy’s photo below:

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark

Amy-Collins-Photo-240x300

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Filed under Blood Lies, business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Marketing books, Money!, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

Great Post from Writers in the Storm: 7 Mistakes on the Way to a Publishing Contract

Couldn’t reblog this from Colleen M. Story on Writers in the Storm (no button), but I wish I could. It’s a great post that really resonated with me and might with you.

(Can anybody tell me why some WordPress sites have reblog buttons and others don’t? Is thiis a choice the blogger makes? I HATE seeing good posts I can’t share in their entirety.)

In any case, this could so be me! I’m just now trying to decide whether to self-publish my way-outside-the-conventional-genres novel or to go on submitting to agents. I haven’t gone the small press route because I found myself thinking that if I have to do all the marketing, why share the net? But this post makes me realize that I’m probably thinking too short-term. Having a new novel picked up by a press (I published five with big presses before going back to school) would letter scatter novelbe a gateway to new contacts and new opportunities.

Story’s thoughts on feedback also resonated. Having gone the beta-reader route as well as working with my writing group, I’ve decided not to tear up my work unless it’s for someone who has made a commitment to the book, for the very reasons Story states: six reviews, six different ideas as to what just has to be done. In my excellent writing group, I listen for consensus and a good argument that the advice is well-grounded. I often receive the kind of feedback Story praises, the kind that strikes me instinctively as valuable, sometimes pinpointing a problem I knew at heart needed attention but which I hadn’t quite identified.

Check out the post for her seven inspirational messages. They were a call to action for me, and might be for you.

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Off to Upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK LAUNCH DAY at Smashwords! And the day I bite the bullet and upload to Amazon! So far it looks a lot more complex than uploading to Smashwords. If any of you have been through this process and have any advice for me, please let me hear from you! In the next day or two, I’ll report back on my own experiences. King of the Roses coverIn the meantime, you can now order the books at Smashwords.com in addition to ordering them through any of your favorite ebook retailers, including Barnes and Noble and iBooks. Blood Lies coverLet me know if you run into problems. I may not be able to help, but I will try! Also later today I will post some direct links on my web site, www.virginiasanderson.com.

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Blood Lies, ebooks, King of the Roses, novels, Self-publishing, Smashwords, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson