To Italicize or Not to Italicize

So, my book woes continue. Now CreateSpace has rejected my interior file because the pages aren’t numbered correctly (a problem I had while I was formatting it, but I thought I had fixed it).

I just want a bleeding proof copy for my beta readers to read. I’m not done with my editing, so the blank pages and page numbers, etc. are all going to have to be dealt with again. At this point, I don’t really care; I just want something they can read so they can give me feedback.

So, question for the writers and editor-types out there:

In English, it is standard to italicize foreign words unless they have entered common parlance. So, you might see déjà vu without italics (although you might see it with; depends on the writer/editor), but when your characters throw out foreign words, like “Oui,” they get italicized

When I was writing Acceptance, and Marie was driven to curse in French, that was easy: it was all italicized. I was more iffy on Micah calling his father “Abba,” since that’s Hebrew for “father.” He used it as a proper noun, and you could make the argument that it was used like a title (titles are not italicized), but he also referred to Isaac as “my father” in English, so there was a definite difference between him  using the English word and the Hebrew word. I ended up italicizing it.

The problem is magnified in The Flames of Prague. The book is set in 14th century Bohemia. While I’m writing in English, the understanding is that all of my characters are speaking Czech. Alzbeta calls her father “Tata,” which is Czech for “dad.” Should it be italicized or no? She calls her mother “Maman,” which is French, and so is foreign to both English and Czech, and therefore should be italicized, but I think it might look weird if I italicize that word, but not “Tata,” since it’s not English either.
What are your thoughts?


Moving Right Along with “The Flames of Prague”

You ought to know when my blog goes quiet, something’s going on: either I’m getting a lot of work done on one of my books, or the phone line is down again.

This time, it’s been some of both–mostly, though, getting work done on The Flames of Prague. (If you haven’t watched the trailer yet, click that link.) Friday, I finished the last of my major edits. (Yea!) From here on out, it’s just proofing and minor editing. (Boo!)

(What’s a major versus minor edit, you ask. A major edit–for me–involves rewriting parts of the story to make it shorter, longer, or better in general. Entire scenes may disappear, be combined, or be added. New characters may even be added.

A minor edit involves rewriting at the sentence level: things that don’t make sense, sound awkward, or are redundant. Proofing, which is the last step, involves spelling and grammar check, looking for double-periods and -spaces, missing punctuation, and typos like “lead” when I meant “led” (I’m really bad about that one!). Formatting means setting up the page size, margins, font(s), chapter headings, table of contents, etc. for print and ebook.)

I got all of my formatting for print done last night. Right now, I’m running a preliminary spelling and grammar checker. (Of everything the grammar checker dings, only 5-10% are legitimate errors; the rest of its suggestions are either completely wrong or don’t work in my situation (for instance incomplete sentences in dialog). Still, I feel the need to spend time running it because the small errors are the hardest to find, yet are the quickest to make you look unprofessional.)

I hope to be able to get it uploaded to CreateSpace this weekend (I hope I remember how to use it! It’s been awhile!) and get a proof copy made for my beta readers.

As soon as that’s out of my hands for a little while, it’s on to editing Acceptance. (I shudder to think of the number of “lead/led” errors in it. I had no idea I was so bad about that until I did a search.)

Organizing Your Drafts

Here is some advice I will pass on to people who are just beginning writing:

When you start writing your book, just write in one document (although make sure you frequently make backup copies of it on more than one device!). If you find yourself deleting things early (which you generally should avoid doing, but, hey, it happens), cut the section and paste it into another document and save it under a title that reasonably explains what’s in it. Sometimes things I cut out of my first book wind up, in some form or fashion, in my sequels. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that you will want to put something back in that you cut out. (That happened with an entire chapter that was cut from my first draft, but was put back in the second draft.)

Once you more or less have your book completed, and it comes time to do the editing, start saving your book as a different file every time you work on it. For instance, I have “Book Two 081511.” When I save changes that I make to it today, I will do a “Save As” and save it as “Book Two 081811.” I have found this is easier to keep up with than copying and saving every paragraph and sentence that I end up deleting. If I end up needing to find something I’ve cut, I can just pick an earlier version and go to the appropriate chapter. I can also search Word using a word or phrase which I remember being fairly unique to the portion I removed.