Author Archive: whitec29_wp

Writing status update

I have been busy working on writing projects that I cannot talk about. They have been consuming most of my time for 18 months. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t think it is an oncoming train…
I am also working on travelogue e-books for the Azores (April 2018) and Aruba (January 2019). Those will probably be freebies distributed from this website, since they have so many photos that selling them via Amazon will be uneconomic – the cost of the download would wipe out any profit I might make.

US Writers and their agents reach an impasse

The negotiations that have been going on for over a year between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agent have failed, and the Writers Guild is preparing to essentially have all of its members who use agents from the ATA fire those agents.
We are entering unknown territory. The issues between the two sides are, as usual, over money, or rather the fact that despite an explosion in streaming of current and past programming, there has been no consequent improvement in writer remuneration, because the ATA has been obtaining revenues in a way not covered by the existing agreement, meaning that the ATA members pocket the extra money.

Scrivener limitations

As I work through the Compile process in Scrivener for a secret book project that I cannot talk about (think: If I tell you, I will have to shoot you), I am starting to realize that the Windows version of Scrivener has some distinct limitations compared to the Mac version.
The limitation that I hit yesterday in the Compile phase, which is bugging the hell out of me, because the workaround is so klunky, is the inability to use the $IMG tag system to embed images in chapter titles. I wanted to use a standard outline JPG file for the Suffix section of the Title, but, try as I might, the Windows version will not process the tag or recognize it. I tried putting the image in various places in the Binder, thinking that the software only processes the tag if the image is in a specific folder, but that does not change the behavior. It seems that Windows Scrivener does not process these kinds of tags, period.
I am now wondering if this is fixed in Version 3 of Scrivener, which is in development. In the meantime, I am trying to work around the limitation by embedding the image file in each chapter file. This is not ideal for all sorts of reasons, but it may be the only workaround to the limitation in the short-term.

Interesting essay about the craft of book evolution

This article explains how a successful and published author received a rude awakening when he submitted the first draft of his book. After taking the time to process what was being communicated, and resisting the temptation to respond with a “f**k you), he re-wrote the entire book.
The money quote is this one:

The first draft is for the writer. The second draft is for the editor. The last draft is for the reader.

Time to register copyrights

Although, technically speaking, under US law you do not have to register a copyright (copyright exists for the author once they start to create an original work), it is always a good idea to register the Copyright at the US Copyright Office. This provides an additional layer of protection if other individuals attempt to copy, plagiarize or otherwise emulate your work.
I have downloaded a presentation from this section of the government web site and i will be working on the submission for several of my projects in the next few days.

Writing with Scrivener – Search and Collections combined

I am, at least some of the time when writing, what is known in the writing world as a Pantser. I will start to write down something without any strict or clear understanding of where it will fit in the grand scheme of things.
The life of a Pantser comprises the creation of large piles of Stuff in bursts of writing. Then, in order to unlock the value and make a sensible structure for a book, you have to engage in post-hoc organization and evaluation.
Sometimes what you create emerges as a different type of artifact. For example, some of my blog postings began as ideas for book chapters, but I realized that for multiple reasons (often having to do with the fact that they keyed off news stories and were highly topical with a short shelf life) i converted them along the way to blog postings.
Sometimes I complete a story or chapter draft, then it gets ransacked for ideas for other stories. That happens a lot when writing novels. It is important to almost never delete Stuff. Even if you think that something you wrote is way less than half-baked, it may contain an idea or phrases and descriptions that can be re-used later. (I read an interview with Chris Hillman, who played with Stephen Stills in the band Manassas, who said that one of the important things that he leaned from Stills was to put all of his ideas into notebooks. Even if they seemingly had no clear end point, you could quite often go back to a notebook when writing a song and find something that suddenly fitted into that new song. My best friend from school in the UK, who was a songwriter, also had a similar pile of notebooks and music books, where he wrote down ideas. Sometimes they were just fragments, but they often were used at a later date.
What being a Pantser leads to, within a Scrivener project, is a large number of chapter and story fragments in various life cycle stages. Then you have to be able to organize them, clearly call out their status, and organize them so allow you complete the ones that are worth completing and unlock the value.
This weekend I learned how to combine three features of Scrivener to make that process of post-hoc organization much more elegant and useful.

1. Project Find (aka Search)
The Project Find (Search) facility is good for pulling out files that meet various text criteria. What I did not realize until now is that Search can also select based on key meta-data items like Status. This allows me to (for example) pull up a list of all files that are in To Do status (i.e. unstarted).

2. Collections
I discovered how to use Collections in a way that allows me to have a work list of ‘in flight” items. It is possible in Scrivener to save Search results into a Collection. So, I can Search for all files with a Status of “To Do”, and then create a Collection (which is not a copy of the files, just a different view of the contents of the Binder) named “To Do. Then I can work my way down the Collection, creating sketches or drafts for the items in the Collection.
The functionality is good, lacking only only one feature – the ability for Scrivener to drop an item out of a Collection as the item’s life cycle status changes. For example, if the Collection was based on Status, if the Status changes to a value outside the scope of the original Search that created the Collection, ideally an option should exist to drop the item out of the Collection. I suspect that this facility is not implemented in Scrivener because Search and Collections are two separate facilities linked only by the ability to save a Search as a Collection, which is a one-way creation process. To make what I just described happen would require a significant amount of extra coding.

3. Default Status
The other essential feature to implement in all Scrivener projects is a Default Status. I found that my Scrivener projects had no Default for a Status, so any new file I created had a Null value for Status. I set the Default value to “To Do” on all projects. That way, if I write down an idea, it appears in the To Do Collection list, and I can then see that it needs to be at least Sketched.

I also looked some more at the Label facility in Scrivener. This is a powerful feature that allows you (for example) to color-code the display of items based on Label criteria. I think it is useful, but I need to play around with it and use it over time. It would be more useful for me right now if it allowed color-coding of display based on Status value, but that does not appear to be an Option.

Writing weekend Part 1 – Progress on the business book

Up in Oklahoma at our friends’ lake house.
This is an opportunity for me to shut myself away in a corner of the living area and hammer away on the Corporate Realist book.
I set myself a target of 4000 words a day. I exceeded that yesterday by 1002, so I have around 3000 words to finish today.
Since many of the stories have been sitting in my head for years, I can write them out very quickly.
I should have 9000 -10000 extra words done by the end of the weekend.

Intellectual property misuse – embedded images

Eddie Mitchell, a UK freelance journalist and UAS operator, is not afraid to engage in litigation against people who abuse their powers. Last year, he won compensation from Surrey UK police after they improperly arrested him for flying his news-gathering drone near an incident.
He has filed a complaint against Sky News after they embedded an image online on their web site. The image was of a fire that he reported on, and the image had been cleared by him for use in a Tweet by the firefighter’s organization. However, Sky News pulled the entire image off the tweet onto its website. When informed by Mitchell that they were misappropriating his intellectual property, they eventually removed the tweet.
Personally, I am skeptical that Mitchell can win any significant money for this. However, a ruling that Sky did violate his IP would be a good precedent to set. Abuse of IP, over and above Fair Use, continues to be an issue.

Writing Retreat Results

Mia Moore and myself spent the weekend in Oklahoma at a lakeside house working on our respective publishing efforts.
U cranked out 8000 words for Corporate Realist and also did some organizing on other book projects.
Ms Moore assembled 16000 words for her first book of her Flying Commando series. A lot of it was pre-existing content but she got up on the wave and carried on and on.
We are now planning a second book writing weekend on the Texas Gulf Coast for February. In the meantime I am working on marketing and sales preparation for Corporate Realist.

Writing Retreat itinerary

Thanks to a group of Russian hackers, the draft itinerary for the Writing Retreat has been uncovered and leaked on the Dark Web:

18:30 Carrollton Pick up Mia Moore
19:30 TBD Dinner en route
22:15 The House Arrive at house
22:30 The House Scrivener overview
23:30 The House Bed Time

7:00 The Lake Run, cold showers, beatings
8:00 The House Breakfast
9:00 The House Objectives and Plan discussion
9:30 The House Writing Session 1
12:30 The House Lunch
13:00 The House Writing Session 2
17:00 The House Walk time
18:00 The House Dinner
19:00 The House Writing Session 3
22:00 The House End of Day Review
23:30 The House Bed Time

7:00 The Woods Prayers, floggings
8:00 The House Breakfast
9:00 The House Writng Session 4
12:30 The House Lunch
13:00 The House Writing Session 5
16:30 The House End of Day Review
18:00 The House Departure
19:30 TBD Dinner
20:30 Carrollton Drop off Mia Moore