Discovering an Author That Everybody Knew About (a continuing series)

Cover illustration for "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane"

I don’t have a good memory for names, even book authors, which is a terrible trait for a writer who hoped to get into the industry.

It was only a few years ago that I realized that the Father Brown mystery books (admittedly, I had only read one at that point) were written by the famous writer G. K. Chesterton. I only found this out after buying a Kindle edition of Chesterton’s complete works, and finally read the rest of the Father Brown stories and much more besides.

I was a lot older than I should have been when I discovered that Ray Bradbury (an author whose name is very familiar to me) wrote noir detective stories.

Today, I was looking at a post on Facebook from my writers’ group about a rabbit named Edward Tulane. I had never heard of this book before, which gives you some idea of my scholarship in this field. So I looked up the book, and then immediately looked up Kate DiCamillo. I found out that she had written Because of Winn Dixie, Flora and Ulysses, and The Tale of Despereaux, all of which I had heard of, along with The Magician’s Elephant, which I actually have tagged on Netflix to watch soon.

I imagine more professional writers know all this stuff, and have read almost every book in their field. I’ll never be that thorough–writing is my second job and probably always will be. But at least I can have the fun of discovering things even if I’m far from the first. I remember introducing someone to Terry Pratchett who had never read him before. I almost envied him the joy of treading that ground for the first time. And that was fun, too.

Terry Pratchett makes deal for ten more books!

And yeah, that headline deserves an exclamation point. In fact, I’ll do it again. Ten more books!

From the New York Times:

Terry Pratchett, the best-selling fantasy author, has struck a 10-book deal with Doubleday and Anchor Books, the publisher said on Sunday. The first book, “Raising Steam,” will be released in March as part of a seven-figure deal.

I’m hoping for a nice percentage of Discworld books of course, but it’s all good.

Neil Gaiman gets into gaming

Wayward Manor, coming out in December.

I’m not a big gamer, having mostly played the old Cyan games (Myst, Riven, and the sequels) but I appreciate the humorous, quirky stuff (“Monkey Island” anyone?”)

Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” also spawned a couple of fun and funny games, long “out of print” I’m afraid.  In this age of thermonuclear graphics and high-speed destruction, I’m not sure there’s a lot of room for dry wit, or even soaking wet wit any more.

Wayward Manor

Price drop

My book Castle Falcon, formerly $14.99 in paperback from Amazon, is now only $12.99!

Stock up for the holidays next year! Impress all the people at the beach who are blindly following the crowds and only reading those best sellers! Fix that wobbly table with the short leg!

486 pages!

“…will last a household all winter, with care, providing no one’s ill and the paper’s nice and thin.”   – Granny Weatherwax, Lancre.

Footnote aggravations

Since the last entry, I found some serious problems with the footnotes in my EPUB version of Castle Falcon.

Unlike the Kindle conversion plugin for Adobe InDesign, InDesign’s built-in “save as EPUB” function has no mechanism for driving my Pratchett-style humorous footnotes to the very end of the book (essentially converting them to endnotes).  The only two choices I have are to have the footnotes right at the end of the paragraph they appear in (blech!) or have them show up at the end of each chapter (blech squared!)

What’s so bad about that?  Well, if you’re doing your job right as a writer (or at least trying to), the end of a good chapter should be a nice punch line that really makes your reader want to find out what happens next:

“Suddenly he turned around, and there was the creature he’d been hunting, right behind him.”

Now, imagine that snappy fadeout with a humorous footnote (from a completely different part of the chapter) tacked right after the last sentence on the page:

“Suddenly he turned around, and there was the creature he’d been hunting, right behind him.”
[12] Everyone else in the family believed that anchovies on pizza were a crime against nature.

On the smooth road of carefully-planned plot development, your reader has just tripped over a nice big cement block.

So if InDesign couldn’t get my notes back to the end of the book where I wanted them, what could?  (No doubt the EPUB wizards out there are smiling indulgently right now, going over the dozens of complex code modifications they’d use to fix this, but keep in mind I’m quite new at all of this.  Besides, I really don’t like working with code.)

The next thing I tried was starting from an original Word manuscript and importing that into the PubIt! converter online.  I spent a lot of time wandering around that particular dead end.  The footnote links in the resulting EPUB were at the end of the book all right, but they didn’t work properly.

In the converted Word file the footnote references in the text linked back to the notes at the end of the book, but they didn’t link in the other direction.  Only the last endnote, number 16, linked back to the original page when I previewed a download using Nook for PC.  In Adobe Digital Editions, it was even weirder.  All the endnotes linked backwards to the same obscure page in the book, and that page didn’t even have a note reference in the first place.

At this point, I was almost ready to chuck the whole thing.  I decided to pull up an EPUB file editor to see what was going on in the (gulp) code, and used a program called Calibre which I’d downloaded a while ago.

I noticed then that Calibre comes with a file converter function.  Well, whaddaya know. One of their recommended input formats is Mobi (Kindle), so just for kicks I used Calibre to convert my already-working Kindle file to create an EPUB file.

Wow!  The EPUB file came out with working endnotes at the end of the file, just like the Kindle version, and they linked back and forth properly.  As a bonus, Calibre had converted the Kindle file’s table of contents too (I never created one for the Word file).  The links on this also worked properly, linking each table of contents entry to the proper chapter beginning.

There are still one or two minor formatting tweaks I’d like to do before I’m ready to publish my Nook version at Barnes and Noble, but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.