Dramatizing Characters

Film Crit Hulk is awesome. If you can get past the ALL-CAPS SHOUTING, then you’ll read some of the best storytelling advice on the internet. For instance, I was blown away by this recent post:


My Favorite Takeaway, aka TL;DR

For every major character in your story, you should know (and your reader, too) the answers to the following 7 questions:

  1. What does this character want?
  2. What does this character need?
  3. How do those wants and needs conflict with each other within the character?
  4. How do they conflict with the outside world?
  5. How do they conflict with other characters?
  6. How does the character change through those conflicts and how does the resolution affect them?
  7. What impact does that change have on everyone else?

You start your story by showing the reader the answers to the first two questions early on. That way your audience knows what they’re rooting for. They can experience tension as they wait to find out if the character gets what he wants. The conflicts that result are the meat of your story.

Anyway, this is why I don’t really write about writing that often: I’d just look like a dork next to Hulk.

Yet Another App for Writers.

I love index cards. I have a stack of them on my desk at all times. I carry a few with me at all times. I use them for all sorts of things.

Last weekend I was obsessed with an idea. What if there was an app out there where I could use virtual index cards to plan out my writing? There are a few programs out there for keeping digital note cards, but none of them really hit the sweet spot for me. For example, I already own a copy of scrivener. Yes, it has it’s cork board index card view – and that works great. However, I often crave simpler programs, especially when I’m just batting around ideas. I don’t want a zillion colors or copious amounts of meta data about each card. I just want to add / edit/ rearrange cards. Maybe get out a text file out when I’m done.

Well, I’m a nerd, so you can guess what happened next.

Yep, I built my own.

It’s a web-based application and it is about as simple as I could think to make it while still being useful.

Go check it out.

vindex.in – virtual index cards

Free Zombie Stuff Today

On facebook there’s an event happening today called the Zombie Fest Free eBook Bonanza! There are lots and lots of giveaways of ebooks, artwork, and other stuff. Every ten minutes something is being given way. Anyway, sometime during the day (not sure when) a couple of copies of Oasis are going to be awarded. edit: Oasis is going to be free for anyone who wants it, you just need to find the link when you get there.

So if you’re into zombies, go check it out.

In other news…

So much for my early April release of Journey of St. Laurent. My buddy Dane did an editing pass for me, and made a ton of good suggestions. Yes, I want to be done with the book and move on, but I’d also like for it not to suck. So hang in there just a little longer.

Some More Freeware

Yes, I have project ADD. It doesn't help that I have some programming knowledge. Every time I want a piece of software and I can't immediately find exactly what I want, I start making my own. I have hard drives filled with half finished projects.

A little while ago I was digging through some of these old project ideas and I came across the framework for a very simple dream journal. I wrote it intending for it to be released for android and iOS via phonegap.

I hit a technical problem at the time that I could never get straightened out, so I got bored and set it aside.

Fast forward a year or so, and I decided it would be pretty straightforward to make it work on the desktop instead. A couple of days later, I had it working.

If that sort of thing interests you, go check it out: Free Dream Journal Software

The Cover of St. Laurent

I’m putting the final touches on The Journey of St. Laurent, and I thought I’d share what I’ve ended up with as a cover. I may end up tweaking the text a little more, but maybe not.

I’m pretty excited. Adam Masterman painted this one for me as well as the one for Oasis.


Also, if anybody out there is interested in reading the packaged up Journey to help me comb for typos, please let me know. I’d be forever grateful. Just leave a comment on this post, or shoot me an email if you have my address. Or tweet at me.

What Happens Next?

Well, once this goes live on Amazon et al, I’m going to be locking up most of the chapters here on the site. I know that’s a huge bummer for some of you, but I have given it a lot of thought, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. I’m also going to be republishing Oasis soon, with the new first chapter, and I’ll finally get the paperback cover to match the ebook cover. It’s likely I’ll be setting a password for most of the Oasis posts as well.

Then next project I’ll be polishing up will be the “How to Self Publish a Book” book. Once that is over, I’ll go back to fiction, and try to stay focused on it for a while. All my side programming and design projects are fun, but when I look back, I realize I have enjoyed story writing more.

SPAB! v.3 Beta


What is SPAB!?

At long last I’m posting a new version of SPAB! For those not in the know, SPAB! is a simple utility for authors to take a markdown-formatted book and transform it into quality-formatted, ready-to-publish files that can be uploaded to kdp.amazon.com, smashwords, and the like.

Here’s what SPAB! now produces:

  1. An epub file to be used at Barnes and Noble’s pubit, and just about anyone else that’ll take an epub.
  2. A smashwords specific epub.
  3. A zipped html file to be used at kdp.amazon.com.
  4. An 8.5 x 11 printable pdf.
  5. A 5.5 x 8.5 pdf for paperback interior at createspace, lulu, shopmybook, or lightning source.

I need some help testing this, making sure that the files produced actually work at the various self publishing sites, and making sure that the output looks good. And of course I”m open to any other suggestions as well. If find any issues you can contact me by commenting here, or shooting me an email “bryce at storyhack.com”

Bugs that I Know About

  • Bold and italics are not always working correctly in the pdf outputs. Fixed in the 3.0.1 Beta
  • Book interior images not always working in the epubs. (cover is working fine) Fixed in the 3.0.1 Beta


So you know exactly how to use SPAB!, I’ve written up a couple of tutorials as part of my online book on self-publishing. Sorry, for now you’re on your own for creating a cover.

  1. What is Markdown?
  2. Getting your book into markdown
  3. Preparing your Markdown-flavored book file to use in SPAB!

After that you just open up SPAB!, select your book file, then click publish.

Note: Make sure that your image references are correct if your book has pictures. Otherwise, SPAB! will just freeze with no indication that something has gone wrong. Someday I may build in useful error messages. Today is not that day. Stop whining, this is free software.


 Download SPAB! v3.0.1 Beta now (Windows Only – 4.7 mb)

What? Windows only? But I’m a super-hip Apple addict!

Now, for you pobrezinhos who don’t have a windows machine – this has been written with cross-platform functionality in mind using the python programming language. Someday I will make you a mac installer, and probably go ahead and release the source code. Today is not that day.


You only need one, because that’s all there is to the program.

Tip Jar

If you find this little program useful and you wish to see development continue, or you just want to say thanks, feel free to leave me a tip via the donate button below.

I Think I Have a Problem

You know all those celebrities that get plastic surgery over and over? Sometimes I feel like that’s me with the theme of this blog. I can’t help myself. Every few months, it seems like, I have this uncontrollable urge to tweak my theme. If I give in to this temptation, this tweaking always turns into a total site redesign and rebuild from the ground up.

Anyway, that’s what happened here last week.

Two or three hours that could have been spent actually writing have been lost forever, but at least I have a new theme. But just check out how neat and responsive it is! Go ahead, go and resize your browser window. Make it skinny and then full screen. Stop rolling your eyes at me. It’s awesome.

If you see anything that looks unreadable or out of place, please let me know.

You know, so I can tweak it.

In other news, I think by Friday I’ll be ready to post something real about the new SPAB! If I’m lucky I’ll also be done with my edits to The Journey of St. Laurent. I’ll ask if there’s any of you that want to help me track down any typos.

I’m getting so close. I can’t wait to start completing my long list of works-in-progress.


Just Checking In

It’s been a while since I posted anything, so I thought I’d catch you up. Here’s updates as to what I’m working on.

  • SPAB! – this is my simple to use self publishing program. It’s been rewritten to remove dependencies on other programs. It automatically produces the various files you need to upload to the various self-publishing sites. Right now, I’m only packaging it for Windows, but it’s written in python, so I’ll (someday) package it up for other platforms, or at least drop the code on github so that anyone with python installed can run it. I’m very exited about this, and I’ll need some of you folks to help me test it out. This software is also central to my next project, which is-
  • HowToSelfPublishABook.org – this is my tutorial site. I’m rewriting everything to make a simple, cohesive book. I’ll eventually release it as an ebook on Kindle et al. with a couple of bonus chapters for those more advanced types. Needless to say, SPAB! is part of the workflow I’ll be teaching. I haven’t gotten far yet, but you’re welcome to check it out. I’m also using that site to showcase the new version of Book WP.
  • The Journey of St. Laurent – I bet you thought I’d forgotten all about it, didn’t you. Well, now I’ve edited 57 chapters. I’m in the home stretch. I have a feeling the epilogue is going to change, I’ve written out a couple of unnecessary secondary characters, and in general I think it’s a way more gooder awesomer book.
  • I’ll be republishing Oasis in Paperback so it can have the new cover to match the ebook version. And I’m adding a brand new first chapter!
  • Once I get all that taken care of, I’ll finish up the Children’s book I’ve been working on.
  • I’m in early stages of planning a series of novelettes/novellas.
  • I’m toying with the idea of making and selling a couple of smartphone apps.
  • And I’m writing another tiny piece of software related to audio drama scripts (of which I have ideas for many).


Book WP version 2 is here.

Okay. I think I’m satisfied enough to release version 2 of the Book WP theme. It may not be perfect, but if I don’t release it, I’ll just never get around to it.


This theme is meant to help authors use wordpress to write an online book, rather than just a blog. You can see the theme in action on my site on self-publishing.

More info and a download link can be found on the Book WP page.

Now I’m going to see if I can get it listed in the official WP Themes gallery…

What’s happening?

Here’s what’s going on in my world recently. I may not have been posting here, but I’ve been staying busy.

  • I’m on Chapter 52 of my “Journey…” edits. The end is in sight!
  • I’m about 3/4 done writing the kid’s book. I think. My daughters ask me every night if I’m ever going to finish it, so I have to keep working.
  • I just wrote a poem explaining my new purpose in life.
  • I’m rewriting SPAB! (Anybody remember that?) in python. Rather than drive other programs to do the file preparation, SPAB will be doing it all.
  • I’m re-writing my how to self-publish a book site. I wanted to focus and streamline the process (hint – it’s going to use the new SPAB)
  • Oh, and in the next week or so, I’ll be releasing the next version of my WordPress theme Book WP. You can already see it in action over at HowToSelfPublishABook.org. It’s been simplified and betterified.

The Trials and Tribulations of Self-Publishing Top 10

Moved as part of my HowToSelfPublishABook.org redesign. This is a guest post from Hillary Peak, Author of Wings of Hope and Cappuccino is the Answer for Job Dissatisfaction.

Her personal website is www.HillaryEPeak.com

10. So far, I’ve spent a lot more than I’ve made.

9. In my experience, good reviews sell more books than anything else. Check out bookrooster.com

8. It isn’t worth it to spend money to try and win an award.

7. The frugal ereader is worth the money.

6. Those free days on amazon are exciting–until you realize that you didn’t make any money. Plus, I haven’t seen the pick-up in reviews I’d hoped.

5. There are a lot of opportunities out there that are free or fairly cheap–particularly goodreads and facebook.

4. Facebook ads work, as do goodreads ads, if you are willing to spend a little money.

3. Doing a blog tour is really fun–and a lot of work.

2. Get into the Indie world, there is a lot of great information, help, support and new ideas!

1. If you have a good product, you can sell it, but it requires a lot of time and effort.


E-Book Self-Publishing: Part 3

Note this was moved here as part of my HowToSelfPublishABook.org redesign.

Here is part 3 of J. Dane Tyler’s series. You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. The original appeared on his whatnot blog, and appears here with his explicit permission.

If you get a minute, you should also go check out his produced ebooks:

All right, in this section of the tutorial – which, among us geek-types who like to learn on the interwebz is known as a “tute” – we’re going to have to dig, and worse still, script. *Shudder*

What you’ve done so far, if you’ve followed all my steps to the letter, is to take your Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer document, strip out all the formatting (and I do mean ALL the formatting), and now you’ve got it back into a nice, handy little HTML template suitable for you to transform into a .prc file which is DTP- and Kindle-friendly and allows you to check out your creation with the Amazon Kindle Previewer software.

So you’ve got an HTML document with no formatting. Now what?

Put back what you lost

You lost a lot. If you’re anything like me, you use a fair amount of italics to emphasize certain words in your manuscript. Don’t do that. As much as you can avoid it, you should. As a writer, you should have a strong enough voice to where that kind of thing is rare and well-placed in your document. But whatever the case, be you heavy-handed or light-touched on formatting, whatever you had, you’ve lost. It’s gone. There’s nothing there but a plain ol’ text document with a few paragraph tags now.

So, I’m going to tell you how to add back italics. This will go for any other inline sort of formatting you did too – bold face, underlining, strikethrough, whatever. As long as it isn’t a title or heading, a footer or a block quote, it’s probably inline and this is how you have to put the formatting back.

  • Open your word processing document, NOT the HTML document. The one with either the .doc(x) or .odf file extension. Open it with whatever the native word processor is.
  • Now, go to the Edit menu and choose “Find”.
  • Locate the special or format location features on the “Find” dialog box.


  • From the special formatting selections, locate the selection for “Font” and choose the font and the type of formatting to locate. For instance, in the image below, the Find dialog is set to locate Times New Roman 12 point italic font.


  • Once you click OK on the setup you can have Word (and presumably Writer) locate the  instances of italicized text in your manuscript. Presumably. I’ve never actually tried this, of course. Ahem.
  • When Word or Writer finds an instance of formatted text, you can locate it in your HTML document using the “Find” feature in either Notepad++ or your text editor (if it has one) to locate the same text in the HTML document.
  • When you’ve found the text to italicize, put an <em> before the text you want to italicize and a </em> after it. Note those differences! The one without the slash is called a start tag, and the one with the slash (and it’s a forward slash, leaning from lower left to upper right) is called an end tag. You need BOTH, or everything AFTER the <em> tag will be italicized in your manuscript. BE CAREFUL!
  • Okay, finished with that? Great! Now go back and do it for every other type of formatting you did.
  • Did you manage to use drop caps in your document? Well, while HTML and CSS (that’s Cascading Style Sheets to you an’ me) might be able to replicate that for you, the Kindle doesn’t show it. If you HAVE to use that technique, you have to make the initial cap a larger font face than the rest of the text. I kid you not, that’s the work-around.
  • Save your HTML document after EVERY CHANGE and check your progress by opening it in the web browser of choice for you. EVERY. CHANGE. NO. EXCEPTIONS.
  • Close the word processor document when you’re finished.

Now for the Rest of It

Okay, with that done, let’s go back and add your book title, chapter headings and any other subheadings you might like to add. Remember your book is going to need “front matter” too – this is the copyright statement at the beginning of the book, and you’re going to want a table of contents in there if you’re doing a book with, say, multiple stories. You know … like my eBook, f’rinstance.

So let’s format the title. First, you want to open the manuscript in Notepad++. If you’ve installed N++, you probably noticed it asked you if you wanted to add it as an option to your context menu. I find this extremely handy for this part. I right-click the HTML file and click on the Notepad++ option in the quick-menu that comes up. Bada-bing, it’s open in N++ ready to edit. It should automatically be opened with HTML as the language selected too.

When you copied everything from the KompoZer screen and pasted it into the <body> section of your HTML document, it presumably brought over the title and other information you had there as well. I, personally, leave all that out until it’s time to do this portion, but if it’s there, that’s fine too.

Find the book title if it’s there. In front of the first word (i.e., to the left in English-speaking, right-to-left reading countries), type the code <h1>. Note the angle brackets. That’s mandatory on all HTML code and you must use it with everything you do in HTML. This puts the Heading 1 or top-level heading format on the title. If you look at your nifty little template, you’ll see I did a tiny bit of CSS scripting for you. What happens to your title is, it becomes all uppercase, 24-point bold-face font and is centered on the document. When you save and reload the HTML document into your web browser, you’ll see this happen. Cool, no?

Now, after the last word of the title, put the end tag for the Heading 1 formatting, </h1>. This makes sure ALL the text in your manuscript isn’t transformed to a level-one heading.

There’s more. If you have a subtitle, you can use an h2-format heading by putting <h2> in front of the subtitle and an </h2> end tag after it. I have a special format set up for the author’s name too.

So find your name. The part where it says “by You” or whatever. And in front of that line, put <p class=”auth”>. Then, after your name, i.e., where you want the formatting to end, type </p>. Save your document, reload in the browser, check it out, be impressed.

Now, you can place your copyright front matter. Copy and paste it if it’s not in place, and if it is, put <p class="ctr"> in front of it and </p> at the end of it. And your front matter will be nicely centered on the screen for you. Voila! You’re finished with the front matter formatting.

A word about Amazon and Smashwords front matter – be especially careful not to include a statement like “printed in …” with your country of origin. It is NOT a printed book and this statement is meaningless. It will probably get you kicked off of Smashwords.com. Amazon doesn’t like it either. They both have very particular standards about their front matter, so research it carefully before you put one in place.

For my hierarchy of headings, I use this guide:

  1. H1 headings: Book title only.
  2. H2 headings: Story or chapter titles.
  3. H3 headings: Section titles or chapters within shorter works included in anthology.

I don’t go below level three for myself. You can go down to H6, it’s up to you.

Locate your chapter divisions and make sure they are formatted correctly.

Now, let’s discuss the pages.

Pagination in HTML

There isn’t any. None. Zero. Here’s what you have to remember: this is one long document. On a web page, each page is a separate document. In a Kindle, that’s not possible, each eBook is all one document. But there are tricks you can use to keep some page breaks in place.

Microsoft Word creates this neat piece of code when I convert the document to an HTML file.

<br clear=all style=’mso-special-character:line-break;page-break-before:

Now, I’m not sure what, if any, of that gobbledygook is of use to the browser, but I know I can create page breaks so that each story starts on a new page and each chapter does too, if you’re so inclined. But the idea is free-flowing text without margins and bottoms and tops. The Kindle likes this best and even does some formatting for us, all by its little lonesome.

The problem is that little ‘mso-special-character:’ part. The one I used on my hand-made book was similar, but cleaner:

<br clear=all style=’page-break-before:always’>

Much simpler, yes? And no ‘mso-’ specific formatting, which is bad juju.

Table of Contents Crafting

Crafting a good, working table of contents isn’t easy. It’s pain-staking, in fact, and you can’t just let your word processor do it for you. At least, Smashwords hated that. So you have to build them by hand.

  1. Open the HTML document in Notepad++ if it’s not already.

  2. For each story or chapter (I’m going to call them chapters to save a little typing from here on out), you create an entry on a Table of Contents page. So, I put in a page break right after my front matter and dedication, if any.

  3. At the top of the page type “Table of Contents” and apply an h2 formatting.

  4. In the body of the page, add the name of the chapter, such as “Chapter One” or “Chapter 32” or whatever.

  5. In front of each one, type the following code: <a href="#ChapterNum">. For “ChapterNum, of course, you use the actual digit. Or name, if you’re going with named chapters. At end of the chapter name, you type </a>. So, a complete entry is <a href="#Chapter01">Chapter 01</a>. And see the pound sign/hash mark/tic-tac-toe/whatever you want to call it thingy? That’s required before the chapter name or number. Won’t work without it.

  6. Save your HTML document, but don’t bother loading into the browser yet; we’re only half finished with the ToC.

All right, what you just did is create a bunch of anchor tags, or hyperlinks, which we now have to assign targets for. You can click ‘em now, but nothing’s going to happen because they have no destinations to connect to. So let’s give them the targets.

“Target” is where the links take you. So, let’s finish them off.

  1. Open the HTML document in Notepad++ if you closed it.

  2. Go to the first chapter title in your book after the ToC. Chapter 01 or Prologue or whatever you called it.

  3. Before the chapter title and either INSIDE or OUTSIDE the heading format tags (doesn’t matter), type the following tag: <a name="ChapterNum">. The ChapterNum is replaced with whatever you named your chapter and it must PRECISELY AND EXACTLY MATCH WHAT YOU TYPED IN THE TOC LINK. Otherwise, the link will not work, period. BE CAREFUL! So, a full entry would be: <a name="Chapter01">Chapter 01</a>.

  4. Do this for all the chapters in your book. You can use the find and replace feature and just type in specific numbers if you want, but for named chapters or story anthologies like mine, this is a manual process.

  5. Save the HTML document when you’re finished. Make SURE you get them all.

  6. Open your HTML document in the browser and test each and every link. Every. One. No. Exceptions. Test. Re-test. Test again, then do it all over again. Close it, open it, save it, then test test test testtesttest! Test it, over and over! Get it?

  7. Do they work? If yes, GREAT JOB! If not, don’t be bummed out. It’s probably a typo somewhere, and will be easy to fix. (Yeah, right.)

Okay, this is a lot. A LOT. But don’t worry, the hard part’s over. Now we have a hyperlinked, well-formatted HTML document and we can run it through a couple of crunches and get a new file type. We’re almost there!

Oh, and a cover image. We need a good cover image. We’ll talk about all those things next time.

Have fun, gang!

E-Book Self Publishing: Part 2

note: This was moved here as part of my HowToSelfPublishABook.org redesign

Here is part 2 of J. Dane Tyler’s series. You can read Part 1 here. The original appeared on his whatnot blog, and appears here with his explicit permission.

If you get a minute, you should also go check out his produced ebooks:

Welcome back, fellow eBooklets! …0r whatever we are. Today’s segment of my eBook publishing tutorial gets into the file conversion part of the process, which can be fun or really aggravating depending on your skill, patience and how well you follow instructions.

Let’s get to it then.

Open the File in the Word Processor

First, open the story or manuscript you’re going to convert in Microsoft Word or whatever word processor you’re using. If you’ve created a plain text file, you can skip this step and go on to the next portion of the tutorial. We’ll catch up.

Once the file’s open, you want to create an HTML file from your story which will be manipulated elsewhere. So go to the Save As feature of your chosen word processor and in the file type designator box, choose “HTML” for the file type.


Now save your story as an HTML document. When it’s finished, open your file explorer – My Computer or Windows Explorer for Windows; you weirdos using stuff other than Windows are on your own again.

The file should be named something you can easily recognize and remember. It will have an .htm or .html extension wherever you saved it. Now navigate to it with Windows Explorer.

Check Out the Ugliness

This is an optional step, but it gives you some idea of how bad word processing software is at generating good HTML code.

When  you’re finished, you can open the file with your brand-spankin’ new Notepad++ text editor. If you didn’t download it, shame on you, lazy-butt. Open it in whatever plain-text editor you want. Not a word processor, though; that’s critical. If you DID download Notepad++, make sure you select HTML under the Language menu.

With the HTML version open in your text editor screen, you’re going to see a LOT of code you didn’t know was there. Matter of fact, it’s gonna be a hot mess.


Yikes! Look at that!

But don’t despair! We can get rid of almost all of that gobbledygook and clean this up jiffy-quick.

Cleaning It Up

Okay, now we’re going to clean up the HTML from this thing properly.

  1. Open the file in its native software again – Word, Writer, whatever it was.
  2. Hold the Ctrl key and press the A key (Ctrtl + A) to select all the text in your file.
  3. Copy the text (Ctrl + C).
  4. Close the word processor; click YES if prompted to make all the text available to other applications.
  5. Open your text editor (Notepad, Notepad++, etc.).
  6. Paste the text into the text editor (Ctrl + V). This eliminates all unnecessary formatting and word processor-specific coding.  If you use Notepad++, check the Language menu to see it’s on Normal Text.

Okay, so you’ve got a nice clean document now. It has no formatting. What’s that you say? You had italics in some places, centered scene break markers, things like that? Too bad, Bucky. They’re all gone now. It might be in the HTML document you made, and it will still be in your original file, but it’s gone from this puppy now.

Some sites, like Smashwords, for instance, call this the “nuclear option”. This removes any and all formatting from your file. The curly quotes will still be there, pointed in the right direction, but pretty much anything else you added, like italics for emphasis or special formatting for chapter titles, things like that … gone. Zap. Pow. Bzz. Pbbt.

Getting It Laid Out

Once that’s done, you need to lay the text out in a way such that the HTML file will have paragraphs in it. If you don’t do this, you’re going to have one long, continuous paragraph. Or you’ll have a bunch of lines broken with line break tags, which might look okay or it might not, depending on how the reader sets the sizing for the text in their Kindle/eReader.

You need to make sure the device knows where to break paragraphs, so they don’t end up in the middle of a line somewhere. You also don’t want any other headaches associated with bad HTML coding. So let’s get this done.

I like to use KompoZer, the HTML editor, for this step. There is also a composer window as part of SeaMonkey, the Mozilla browser no one knows about, but … you know. If you didn’t download KompoZer, you’ll have to do this all by hand. Have fun. Remember, copy and paste is your friend.

  1. Copy all the text from the text editor (Ctrl + A to select all, then Ctrl + C to copy).
  2. Open KompoZer.
  3. Paste the text into the design screen (Ctrl + V).
  4. Go to the View menu, and choose HTML Tags view.
  5. Select all the text on the screen (Ctrl + A).
  6. On the Format menu, choose Paragraph, Paragraph.
  7. Switch to the Source tab (at the bottom of the window).
  8. Go to the Edit menu, choose Find and Replace.
  9. In the Find box type <br>; leave Replace blank. Click Replace All.
  10. When the search is finished, return to the top of the document and run it again. You should get a message saying it can’t find what you’re looking for.
  11. Click the Design tab again; you should now have nicely formatted HTML paragraphs.
  12. Click on the Source tab again and copy all the text from the edit screen (Ctrl + A, Ctrl + C).

The KompoZer Source tab should show something like this:


See the pretty paragraph tags (<p> and </p>)? You’re finished with KompoZer now, but leave it open, just in case of boo-boo later.

Okay, the next steps are pretty easy, and very straightforward, but crucial.

Putting It into a New HTML Document

Open Notepad++. In a blank document, go to the Language menu and choose HTML.

BE CAREFUL! Remember you have your entire story and your HTML code for paragraphs on your clipboard; DO NOT COPY ANYTHING! If you have to delete to correct a mistake, either double-click on the error and re-type, or use the backspace key to erase it. I REPEAT, DO NOT COPY OR CUT ANYTHING DURING THIS PROCESS!

Type the following text into the document, just like you see it:


Don’t worry about the little + and – signs on the far left; that’s a function of Notepad++ and you don’t have to type that part. Just the rest of it.

What you have now is a template you can use for all your Kindle-published stories and manuscripts. It will do all sorts of neat tricks; anything you tag with the HTML heading 1 tag will automatically be changed into all uppercase letters, with a font size of 24 points and be centered. All the h2 tags will be centered; all the paragraphs of the class “auth” will be centered, 10-point italic font; and so on. The Kindle Previewer software had no difficulty with this little style sheet added to the HTML document, but YMMV, so use this template at your own risk. You can eliminate everything between the head tags if you’re worried.

All right, with that done:

  1. Open the Kindle Stories template you just made (if it’s not open).
  2. Save the document with a new name.
  3. Open a new tab in N++.
  4. Paste the markup text from KompoZer (Ctrl + V).
  5. Go to the top of the document (Ctrl + Home does this quickly).
  6. Delete everything from the top of the document to your first paragraph tag (<p>). All this information is already in your template; you don’t need it.
  7. Select all the remaining text (Ctrl + A) and copy it (Ctrl + C).
  8. Switch to your Kindle Stories template.
  9. Move the cursor between the two body tags (<body> and </body>).
  10. Paste the text from the other tab into the template (Ctrl + V).
  11. From the Languages menu, choose HTML.
  12. Save the story in N++ with an .htm extension as file type HTML from the File, Save As menu. You can overwrite your existing HTML version of the story if you’d like.
  13. Open the new HTML file from My Computer or Windows Explorer with an Internet browser.  Or just double-click on it to have it open in your default browser.
  14. Verify all the necessary formatting is in place — titles, subtitles, chapter names, italics, bold — all were removed and have to be put back manually.

Next time, we’ll do a little HTML markup to make your story pretty again. Hang in there gang, we’re almost finished. See you next time.

E-Book Self Publishing: Part 1 by J. Dane Tyler

This article was written by J. Dane Tyler and originally appeared on one of his blogs. You should also check out his fiction blog. It’s one of the guest posts I’m moving over from my self publishing blog.

This series reflects the path Dane took to self-publish his short story collection via the Kindle Store and SmashWords. You can check it out prove to yourself that he knows his stuff. (And of course read some good fiction)

Thus begins my series of posts about how to self-publish an eBook on Amazon.com’s Kindle store and Smashwords.com. As I warned before, if this is not something you’re interested in, click away and I’ll see you when the series is over. I’m not sure how many parts this will run, though, so I hope at least some of you with stories you feel are entertaining and would be enjoyed by others but don’t think you have a market for them will stick around and consider this.

J. A. Konrath also suggested if you’ve got a manuscript which did its rounds – that is, you sent it out for representation and an agent didn’t pick it up or your agent sent it around and no publisher picked it up – you consider doing this with those as well. What have you got to lose? At the worst it languishes just like it is now. At best, you have an eBook bestseller on your hands and who knows what doors that will open.

I self-published my eBook for a number of reasons.

  • Short story markets are generally non-paying and take months and months to respond, in general, to submissions. Not all, but some. The benefit is a publishing credit, and you know what? I have those already from a non-fiction book. Why do I need them from non-paying markets?
  • My situation isn’t stable and my future’s a little rocky. I wanted to see results now.
  • I believe the buying public will let me know if story collections are still interesting or desired by the readers of the world.
  • EBooks are the way of the future. As many people as there are bellyaching about I’ll never give up books, I’ll never give up books, lots of figures show eBooks are currently outselling print books by a fair margin, which is only going to grow. Get with the program or be run over by it.
  • I can get 70% royalties with Amazon’s Kindle program. Try THAT with a mainstream publishing house. Go ‘head, I dare you.
  • My stories were already on my blog for free; why not try to make a little money from them?

I could keep going, but you get the point. All the money I’ve made so far is that much more money than I made with them by not publishing them on Amazon and Smashwords. I’m already ahead of the game. That’s why I did it, and it looks like I was right so far.

First things first: What you need

You’re going to need a few things, but you’ll already have most of them, and what you don’t have is free, so don’t freak. Just go get it.

  • A good text editor. Something like Notepad++ would be ideal, but you can use Notepad – which comes with Windows – if you’d like. If you’re not using a PC, or if you’re using a PC without Windows on it (AHEM, Bryce) [Note from Bryce: What? I use windows. I just don’t use Word…], you’re on your own. But I think Notepad++ is multiplatform, so I use it and I’m going to assume you’re using it too for the rest of this tutorial series.
  • Amazon’s Kindle for PC or Kindle Previewer software. I prefer the latter, but I have both. I can’t speak for how Kindle for PC works; never used it. The previewer does everything I want it too. I need this; it’s the only way I can test the behavior of the file and get an idea about how it looks on a Kindle. You can’t skip this one; go get it from Amazon’s Kindle publishing page.
  • Microsoft Word, or something which can save as a Microsoft Word document, like OpenOffice Writer or such. Try to avoid Wordperfect; it does strange things and no one recommends it. Also Smashwords ONLY accepts Microsoft Word documents. Go figure.
  • Mobipocket Creator. This is the program which will transform your file into a Kindle-friendly format for you. This is completely optional; many, many people upload their HTML document straight to Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform) and the conversion to the Kindle-native file format is done for them. No hassles, no hair-pulling, no cussing. What fun is that?
  • I like to use KompoZer – which is a free, multiplatform HTML editor (like a word processor for HTML) to do some of the heavy, repetitive lifting. It’s not necessary, but you’ll see why I use it when we get into the process.
  • Patience. Yep, you’re gonna need it. It’s gonna take a couple of days to get this right, but by the time you do, you’ll be a pro and can do it in your sleep.

Okay, once you’ve got all that stuff together, you’re going to need a story. Of course, that story should be imported or copied and pasted into Microsoft Word if you didn’t write it in Word. The part where you have a story, I’ll assume is done.

Next time, we’ll get to the nuts and bolts.

See ya then!

What’s Happening?

Okay, so I got mad at the internet after the great website hack debacle of 2012. Obviously, I haven’t posted anything here in a while, although I did post about how I won the election over at my other blog.

Even though I’ve been quiet, I’ve still been busy. There are a bunch of projects that I’m working on. So if you care, here’s what you can look forward to:

  • A new version of Book WP. This is actually pretty much ready to go right now. It streamlines a couple of things, it’s responsive, there are a couple more options on the back end.
  • The Journey of St. Laurent – I finally rewrote the section in the middle that I’ve been dreading/having trouble with, so now I’ve started hitting the edits again. It feels good to be making progress again.
  • How to Self-Publish a Book – After much thought, I’ve decided to do some major edits, and rewrite the site to be a more focused book. As a result I’ll be cutting a lot of stuff and moving all the guest posts over here (Hope that’s okay, darcknyt). I’ve just got to figure out the correct way to install permanent redirects for those.
  • I’ve also been working on another couple of non-writing-related essays and articles for my personal site. My goal is to post there once a month.

In other news, I’m trying out a new tool for posting this. More on that if it works.

Hacked, and Hacked Again

I’m starting to get a little tired of this crap. I have a bunch of sites hosted on one account. A couple of weeks ago all of them were hacked. A line of code was added to every php file in my account. That code would sometimes automatically redirect people to one of a list of websites.

So after pulling my hair out for a while, I changed all ftp passwords and my backend host password,and got my unix command line on and removed all the code from the infected files. Then I made sure that every site with wordpress was up do date (several weren’t). And I scanned both computers that I use to access the backend to these sites and checked them with two additional malware/virus scanners besides my standard one. (Nothing found).

Two days later, it happens again. I double double check, and apparently I missed one installation of wordpress. For the heck of it, I also went through all my sites, deleting a whole bunch of scripts in case one of those has a vulnerability.

Then I made sure that my hosting account was set to records all raw access logs so I can catch/ban the perpetrator if it ever happens again.

I’ve been so mad that I haven’t written anything in like three weeks.

So busy. And my kids are famous somewhere in Asia.

Okay, so I’d love to say that I finished my round of edits for Journey of St. Laurent and I’m ready to send out some copy to those who have said they’ll help me edit. I’d love it.

I’d love to say that I actually finished the draft of my Children’s novel.

But I can’t.

*Frowny Face*

Things have been crazy in my life.

The biggest thing is that I’ve been fixing up my house / building a shed / installing a new retaining wall in preparation for selling our house. Well, I guess it paid off, because the house is now under contract.

As soon as that happened, it was frantic-search-for-a-new-place time. We’ve now made a verbal agreement with a nice couple, and we’ll sign some papers and pay some earnest money tomorrow evening. Yay!

Assuming all goes well, that means we’ll be in a new place by Christmas. So now there’s lots of boxing up and such to get done.

As to the Asia thing.

Several months back I was downtown in Salt Lake City waiting for my daughter to finish a choir practice in the Tabernacle at temple square, where her choir was soon to have a big performance. As I played on the grass with the baby (then about 8 or 9 months old), an Asian group tour came out of the Assembly Hall and saw him (my son) sitting there smiling. They went nuts over him. About 20 people gathered around and started snapping pictures.

And then few days ago we went to Yellowstone for a family reunion. As I came out of the restroom at Mammoth Hot Springs There was a group of 15 or so nice Asian folk gathered around something and taking pictures. As I stepped into the crowd, I saw my 3 year old sitting on a big rock, hamming it up and posing for all she’s worth. I turned to my left, and there was my 7 year old doing the same thing with a crowd around her as well. My wife was just standing off to the side, trying not to laugh.

So by now I’m certain that my kids have made it onto a dozen personal blogs that I wouldn’t know how to read.


Well, I didn’t make my goal of writing that Children’s book last month. I did put down about 1700 (edit: make that 17,000) words, though, which is more fiction than I think I’ve ever written in a month before (yes, I know all you “real” writers are laughing at that tiny amount.) I suppose that’s sort of a win for me. I did really well the first half of the month and then crashed in the second half. Anyway, I have the whole thing all planed out, and many of the chapters started, so it should be fairly easy to get done. I just need to make sure I’m writing something every day.

So now I’ve got get back to editing Journey of St. Laurent.

Last Daily Progress Post.

Okay, so I’m not quitting my WIP or anything, even if the last couple of days I haven’t written much anything. It just occurred to me that these posts are pretty boring.

However, I still need some kind of public accountability. How else can I be expected to keep going? I’ll be tweeting the daily progress instead of posting it here. I’ll keep it to one post a week for updates.

Current word count: 9,110 ( I did some editing… I just can’t help myself.)

Weekend Report

Okay, my kid’s book is currently at 9,099 words. It looks like it’s going to end up a couple of thousand more than the goal (20,000), but I think I’ll be able to get it done this month.

However, my editing has pretty much fallen by the wayside. If I don’t figure out a way to get it done, then next month will become an editing month. So much to do.

The WIP is moving right along.

You know what I’m finding out? Writing is a lot easier when you plan it out beforehand. I’m glad this project has been on a back burner somewhere in my head for about three years. That’s plenty of time to let it marinate.

Yesterday, I typed another 1145 words.

Total word count: 7,813

I may not be able to update here again until Monday. Try not to weep too extensively.

Version Control for Authors (on Windows) Part V

Edit 8/15/2012 – This is now available collected into a single ebook for your kindle. Only a buck. Version Control for Authors

Here it is, the final installment of this series about Version Control, and how authors can use it.

Part V: Addendum

Okay, here’s the deal. Versioning is great, but if your computer crashes one day you’ll just lose all those pretty versions of your work. However, I respect your time, and I know I’ve already given you extra things to every time you need to commit to the database.

So let’s make backing up your work automatic, okay? My goal is to make this process as painless for you as possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to help you do this. I’ll cover my favorite one and list a couple more.


Dropbox makes a directory on your computer, cleverly named “Dropbox”. Dropbox then syncs everything in that directory to its online servers and to any other computer on which you have dropbox installed.

In my tests, it worked fine to put both a repository and Fiction Working Directory in the dropbox folder.You can even sync a repository to two different computers at once (At least it worked when I tried it)

How to get it:

Just visit by the Dropbox website, sign up for an account, and download the software. If you go with the free account, you get 2GB of storage in your dropbox.

If you use my referral link below to signup, we each get an extra 500 MB for our accounts.


Why I like Dropbox

And as I mentioned, if you get friends/aquaintences/random blog readers to sign up for Dropbox, you can earn and extra 500mb per signup up to 16gb total extra space.

There are a ton of desktop and android and iphone app that come with seamless integration to dropbox.

Also, guess what – dropbox comes built in with a sort of version control built in without you having to do anything. See – you knew I’d throw version control in here somewhere. Dropbox saves a copy of each file every time you update and save it.

Of course this doesn’t give the ability to label versions or anything, but has been a lifesaver for me once when I got my files crossed and overwrote a file I had spent hours on with an old version.

Also, you’re not guaranteed that it’ll have all the old versions you need or want.

To make use of this versioning functionality, you first need to log on to the dropbox website (after you’ve signed up, of course.)



Once you log in, you should be shown the contents of your dropbox folder. You can click on the folders and find the files you want.


To access old versions of your file, you need to click in that file’s row. If you click the file name itself, the file will download, so click somewhere else in the row.


Once your file is selected, click the “More” button above. A drop down menu will appear with “Previous versions” available as one of the options.


If you click on Previous Versions, you get the version history screen. Just click on the verssion that you want to download.


You can also find deleted files. As you’re logged into the dropbox website and looking at your stuff, you just need to click the “Show deleted files” button, and the deleted items show up kind of grayed out.



Easy Peasy.

I’ll step down from my Dropbox soapbox now.

Of course, there are plenty of other options for similar services.

Here’s four of them:

Okay, that’s it. You made it through all five parts of this introduction to version control. Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve found something useful.

Version Control for Authors (on Windows) Part IV

Edit 8/15/2012 – This is now available collected into a single ebook for your kindle. Only a buck. Version Control for Authors

Continuing the series talking about Version Control, and how authors can use it. It’s a big enough subject that I felt it best to split it into five uneven parts. I’ll update these to be links as each part is posted.

Part IV: Questions & Tips

Here are some questions you might have asked if we had been face to face this whole time.

Can I have one repository for each project?

Of course. There are at least three good reasons why you might want to do this.

  1. You have very complex projects
  2. If you jump around between your writing projects a lot
  3. If you expect to often be rolling back individual projects

Here’s how I would organize things if I were doing them this way.

Start by creating a “Fiction Repositories” directory, and then create a new empty directory for each project.


Then in each of the new empty directories, create a repository by right clicking, then in the popup menu selecting TortoiseSVN > Create Repository Here, then click OK.

Now create a working directory and check out the empty project into it by right clicking then on the menu selecting SVN Checkout. Here’s where you’ll start to need to be careful. TortoiseSVN remembers the last repository you checked out enters that information into the “URL of repository:” field. If you hit the dropdown menu, it brings up a list of other repositories that you have checked out before.


When you start creating a bunch of repositories, sometimes they don’t show up on the list, especially if you haven’t used the repository yet.

If you click on the “…” button while there is something in the field to the left, the Repo-browser springs to life and lets you select a previous version of the selected repository.

That’s not what you always want, so just select and erase the text in the “URL of repository” field, and then click the “…” button to the right.



You can now use your working directory by dropping in files and editing files like you did before. Remember to commit.

You can make a new working directory for every project that you’re currently working on. I would probably just put all the checked out repositories into directories that all sit in a Fiction Working Directory.

If you choose to work with multiple directories, you’ll just have to get used to selecting the right repository any time to use TortoiseSVN to do anything.

So, yeah, this is a bit more work. I think most of the time fiction authors can deal just fine with one repository.

What if I don’t want to see everything that’s in my repository in my fiction working directory?

The solution is easy – only check out the project folders you want to be using.

Yes, we’re skipping back and assuming that you have all your fiction projects in a single repository.

Before you do this, make sure all changes and new files have been committed to the repository. Now delete the contents of your fiction working directory. In fact, why don’t you just nuke the whole directory and create a new one.

Right click on your new fiction working directory and click “SVN Checkout.”


In the checkout window, click “Choose items.”


Now, as long as you’ve been at least mildly organized in your project creation (I keep mine one book/story per directory) you should have no trouble selecting which projects you actually want in your Fiction Working Directory.


Once you click OK, you are taken back to the main checkout window and you’ll notice the “Checkout Depth” has changed.


After you click OK again, TortoiseSVN will get to work copying only your chosen projects into your Fiction Working Directory. You can now work on those projects and add new projects the same as you did before.

What if I get sick of using this system, but I don’t want to hunt down all the .svn files that are in every stinking directory?

All you need to do is use the Export command rather than the “SVN Checkout.”

In other words, create yourself a new directory. Right click on it and go to TortoiseSVN > Export.


You’ll get a window that looks similar to the checkout window. Just OK and TortoiseSVN with serve you up a copy of your repository sans .svn file folder things.


Next time I’ll wrap up by talking about something that is not Version Control per se, but still of utmost importance.