Fireworks and “Flames of Prague”

Argh. The last several days have been very frustrating.


Ah, the old Tennessee Alabama fireworks stand in my hometown, Kimball. It’s still there, but they got cheap and redid their sign sans neon. It’s just not the same.

I did have a pretty decent Fourth of July weekend, although it rained the entire time. We had to miss out on a cookout with friends and the fabled fireworks displays in Marion County, the fireworks capital of the United States. (No, seriously. There are no less than 6 permanent, year-round fireworks stores in the county. I went to elementary school next to a fireworks manufacturing facility. When we were safely ensconced inside the building, they closed off the street with gates and shot off experimental pieces in the road.)*

What has me really frustrated (and silent on my blog for the past week) is the proof copy of The Flames of Prague.

I uploaded my file and cover, but the file was rejected for having too many consecutive blank pages in it.

I thought that was bizarre, considering I didn’t put more than one blank page between sections. But, after dredging up year-old memories about this process, and looking at the actual .pdf file (as opposed to the Word file), I remembered that, for some bizarre reason, extra blank pages get inserted into the .pdf file when it gets converted from Word. I have yet to figure out why this happens—although I spent the better part of a day trying to figure it out last year. The easiest, fastest thing to do is to convert the file, open up the .pdf, and then manually delete the extra pages. It’s still a pain in the ass—because you have to do it every time you make a change to the text—but it works.

The only problem is that I no longer have access to a full version of Adobe. Where I used to work had a copy, so it was no trick to just delete the pages. But Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader neither one let you delete pages. A full version of Adobe Acrobat is $140; Foxit is $90. I hate to pay that for a program I need to use three or four times a year to do this one thing.

I downloaded a free trial 30-day version of Foxit yesterday, installed it, and fixed my file problem. Now I’m ready to try uploading my book again. (All this work and it’s just the proof copy. I still have to let my beta readers read it and do all my proofing.)

I did hit on a good idea yesterday, though. My former boss is trying to close up her law practice. I’m going to go work for her Sunday, and I’m going to ask her if I can buy her copy of Adobe Acrobat, since she doesn’t have a need for it anymore. (In fact, I’m going to make an offer on the office computer, since I know it’s newer than mine. Mine belonged to my husband before it was mine, and he bought his new computer back when times were still good—no less than 5 years ago. So my current computer is probably 7-9 years old.)

So, note to people who want to publish their books on CreateSpace: you need to get a full copy of either Adobe or Foxit Reader because you’re going to need the ability to edit a .pdf file. Start looking for an older, used copy now, before you actually need it. (Having to hunt for one has put me a week behind.)

The other thing I learned from this experience: make a CreateSpace to-do list (I wisely made one for Smashwords/Kindle, but not for the print portion of this enterprise). A lot of the problems I had with formatting and uploading both the text and the cover were problems I had last year when I did the same thing. In other words, I had to reinvent the wheel. You can be sure, though, that I wrote a checklist this time.


An updated Gadsden flag for our times.


I think “they” know I’m trying to post this picture. Suddenly I can’t connect to Google anymore. I had to use Bing. And we all know that’s the first step towards a Communist takeover.

*You may ask yourself: what happens if a fireworks store catches fire? Well, it gives the volunteer firefighters all the way into Alabama something to do, I can tell you that.

Someone drove through the front of one fireworks store in Jasper and caught it on fire. But, other than melting the siding and roof off one end of the Western Sizzlin’ next door, it didn’t do any serious damage to anything but itself; it was eventually rebuilt. One building of the fireworks factory blew up one night, but it didn’t do any major damage to any of the other buildings or the surrounding homes or school (it may have blown out some windows, but that was it). It, too, was eventually rebuilt. And I seem to recall that the Stateline fireworks store burned down when I was very little. I think it rocked the neighborhood, but nothing more.

All in all, it’s better to live near a fireworks store than a fertilizer plant.

7 comments on “Fireworks and “Flames of Prague”

  1. Blank pages are added when you convert to a pdf? That’s so random!

    I don’t know if this will help, but I googled the problem and found this:

    With mirror margins, Word will not allow you to start a new section on an even/verso page (and this is considered to be a correct publishing practice) — so if a section ends on an odd/recto page, there must be a “back” (verso) of that page when the book prints, and Word inserts that “missing” blank verso into the PDF.

    So, you’re either going to have to (a) insert a page break to create an actual “blank” even-numbered page in your document to replace those blank pages that are being added, (b) change the set-up to normal multiple pages and make other adjustments as needed, or (c) work with multiple Word docs and PDFs to create the individual sections you want, then combine and fix them in Acrobat and redistill the PDF.

    … not sure if this is useful, but hopefully it is!

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Wow, I had never figured out why there were the random blank pages. I’m glad to know (although it’s annoying!).

      I can’t not have everything divided into sections because I like having headers on all of my pages, EXCEPT for the start of the chapter, where the header is suppressed. If a chapter is its own section, then I can tell it to suppress the first page header and boom, it works. I think it would be more trouble to wrestle with the headers in every chapter than take out a few blank pages in the beginning of the book (why it doesn’t insert them in between chapters when they end on odd page, I don’t know).

      And I think this explains why I had to keep wrestling with the margins, too; you would think you’d set the margins for the entire book and that would that, but no… I had to set the margins in every section–alternating the inner and outer margin widths in order to get all of the margins to look alike. How’s that for crazy?

      I don’t think you could pay me to do this for someone else, lol.

  2. Are you converting to pdf before uploading to Create Space? I am working on my createspace version for my latest release, and I’m just uploading a Word doc. Aside from a pain getting the mirror margins right in Word (which took eight attempts!) the manuscript looks okay online. Are there benefits to doing it in pdf first?

    • Keri Peardon says:

      I couldn’t upload it as anything but .pdf.

      I know you can upload the .doc file and preview it–I’ve done that before, although I don’t remember how.

      • Maybe it’s different in different countries. It’s not the most straight-forward of sites. For the life of me I couldn’t find a pdf cover template yesterday, though I’m reliably informed it should appear after uploading the word doc! If it wasn’t for the superior distribution, I’d stick to Lulu!

      • I’ve just checked and, fir a paperback, it definitely says it accepts .doc .docx rtf and pdf…

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