Two Thirds There


I have finished the second part of the Sorrow song Trilogy!

Well, almost. The actual writing part is complete. I am now in the process of formatting the manuscript in Sigil, an epub file creator. I write using Microsoft’s Word, which I find to be an excellent word-processor, and as I use more than one computer to do this there are no compatibility issues. This did not seem to be a problem with regards to creating a digital version of the manuscript either. Certainly when I submitted my first novel, The War Wolf, it made its appearance on the Kindle in fine form.

A little later I received some comments from readers that suggested that I should include a who’s who of characters as there is rather a few of them, what with it being a historical fiction novel. I also decided to a do a bit of cleaning up of the text, just a few lines that I thought could have been better written. As a result I reviewed the manuscript in Word again and then submitted it to Kindle, exactly the same as I had done the first time around. The results were not the same, however.

Another reader commented in a review about the poor formatting so I decided to have a look for myself by downloading a copy onto my Nexus 7 tablet. Sure enough I encountered various annoying problems, missing words and some words substituted by meaningless characters.

I could understand how this would annoy a reader who had paid for the book but to be honest it really annoyed me as the author. Amazon keep 30% of my sales in payment and they also accept the responsibility for transferring my manuscript from Word into epub for the Kindle. Clearly they had not done a good job in this instance.

Now I could have gotten on my high horse and complained to Amazon, and maybe I should have, but other writers, when asked, offered a different point of view. Some were of the opinion that the manuscript is the writer’s sole responsibility and that it is just not good practice to rely on others to get the formatting right when transferring it to other mediums, such as the epub file format. I think that there is an element of truth in this. I would not go so far as some suggested in learning how to manipulate the code to ensure the cleanest possible transfer of the manuscript from one format to another simply because I do not have the time for it. Fine if you do, not to mention the capability to take on something that technical, but I have a full-time job, a wife, kids, and a football team to support. Time is my most precious commodity!

This is where a program like Sigil comes in. It allows the author to upload a word file, check the formatting, and then save it as an epub file. It does not take away the requirement to go through the text one line at a time to make sure that nothing has crept into the format or that anything has been changed, that labour intensive task remains. The key point is, however, that the interface is based on ‘what you see is what you get’. This makes spotting errors that much easier. Yes it is time consuming but at least this approach instils more confidence in the fact that the final product, the epub file of For Rapture of Ravens, will not only contain any formatting errors but also that when Amazon transfers it to their Kindle format they have less opportunity for introducing any of their own during the process.

My intention is to get this second instalment out by the end of this month. I really want to see this book out there as I think that it makes a worthwhile companion to the first, which I was ridiculously proud of when I first saw it available. That then leaves me with the third and final book to complete. It already exists in a skeleton form. I need to put a lot of flesh on those bones, however. I have learnt so much in writing the first two novels that I am keen to apply that new knowledge to the final of the series. There is a part of me that would like a little break from Saxon England, however. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about 1066 and I will definitely be finishing the Sorrow Song Trilogy, but I have other literary interests as well. Recently I have begun work on an alternative history project. It is a very dark and disturbing subject within in British history based upon the premise of ‘what if things had gone this way instead of the way that they did?’ It also touches on a subject that is very important to me but that is all I am willing to say at the moment.

I do not want to end with For Rapture for Ravens pushed into the shadows as that would be a disservice to the book and to myself as its author. I am very proud to have completed it so if you are interested in learning what befalls Coenred, Mildryth, and the real historical characters of 1066 then please look out for the publication date, which should hopefully be much sooner than later.

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