Hi. It has been a while since I last blogged, but that does not mean I have been idle. In my last post, I mentioned that The Author’s Manual had been reissued. This was to include recommendations on how to use Apple’s word processor, Pages, if you don’t have a Mac. Windows users can access the online version if they have a iCloud account, and anybody can have one of those, free of charge. For a Windows user, its main advantage is its ability to make flawless epubs. Epub is the industry standard format for electronic books. Ironically, the world’s biggest selling ebook reader – Amazon’s Kindle – does not use epub as its display format (although it does accept them for uploads). The Kindle format is, however, very similar. If you have a Mac, of course, you can access all its facilities, in which case it is a viable alternative to Word.

Pages isn’t the only word processor to claim to be able to make an epub natively. Another is Libre Office, which is a free alternative to Microsoft Office (the suite of productivity apps that includes Word).

I spent several weeks trying to teach myself how to get the best out of Libre Office, so that I could introduce it in a further revision of The Author’s Manual. It did not go well. Firstly, I failed to persuade it to convert a file to epub reliably. I point no finger. The fault may be mine. Secondly, most word processors follow Word’s practice of dividing a book into sections. For example, each chapter is a separate section. This allows you to vary the Headers and Footers and to miss them off the opening page of a chapter altogether. Libre Office does it differently. It uses Page Styles instead, whereby each page conforms to a set layout, and, being so used to the Word method, I couldn’t get my head round it. I am not saying it doesn’t work – I am sure it does – just that I didn’t understand it properly and need to do more research.

Meanwhile, I have other things to do. Novel number 19 is under way and I passed the 10,000 word mark this morning. In fact, I did so without noticing and am nearer to 11,000 as I post this. It is a Rutter story that has its roots in Rutter, Reborn. I have a title for it, but I am not letting that out yet. There are many months of writing and editing still ahead and I need to be vigilant in case anyone comes up with the same title by coincidence. It is a good one. You can copyright the content of your work, but not the title, so it is best to keep it to yourself until you are confident nobody else will think of it and use it ahead of you.

So, work continues. It has been a slow start, but it is gathering pace and the basics of the story are falling into place. At some point (probably when Writer’s Block raises its ugly head – as it will, sooner or later) I will also revisit Libre Office and get to grips with the thing properly so that I can include in in my recommendations in The Author’s Manual. Don’t look for that anytime soon, though.

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