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.)

The Flames of Prague Book Trailer

I had a really productive Sunday! I made myself cross two things off my to-do list. One, I finished putting The Bloodsuckers on Wattpad (so now Wattpad has all the episodes that my blog has). Two, I finished my trailer for The Flames of Prague!

Like the credits for Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail, I made the trailer for Acceptance at the last minute and at great expense. (Actually, it didn’t cost me anything, but I did make it in less than 24 hours using a program I had never used before.)

Book trailers work best, though, when you make them up a little in advance of your publication, instead of 24 hours before. I’ve been working on The Flames of Prague trailer for a while, but neglected it for several months when I lost access to a computer that had Vista (which has a much better version of Windows Media Player than older Windows versions). But, my husband happened to acquire a laptop with Vista on it a few months ago, so I finally made myself sit down yesterday evening and finish it. And I have to say, I’m pleased.

Goals for “The Flames of Prague”

Front-Cover-v3-For-WebI have only 7 more chapters to edit for The Flames of Prague, plus finish up my notes/bibliography. I’m on schedule to hit my goal of 80,000 words (which gives me wiggle room to cut some during future editing, leaving me with 70,000-75,000).

My goal is to finish my first round of edits on or before the end of January. Then I plan on taking the month of February to do some more research and do a second round of editing and formatting for print.

Then it’s off to the printer for a proof copy for my beta readers. They will need at least the month of March to read it and get back to me–maybe into April. If I notice any problems with the cover, I will make it while they’re reading the book. I will also try to finish up my book trailer during this down time.

April will be for making edits and corrections based on their suggestions. May will be for grammar editing and general proofreading.

I will probably order another proof copy in June because I like looking at multiple formats (computer, print, ebook) when I’m proofreading, because changing up the format helps keep your brain from becoming tired and glossing over the same errors again and again. So, June will be for reading the proof copy and then making any handwritten corrections to the computer copy.

In July, I will format the entire thing for ebook, put it on my Kindle, then proofread it again. (I save this part for last because it means every change I make will have to be made to both the ebook file and the print file.)

Which leaves me ready to publish in August, exactly one year after I published my first book. Mind you, I’m not making any promise that I’ll go to print in August. There’s a lot that could happen between now and then (hopefully a job and a move to Chattanooga). But I should definitely be in the clear to hit my outside goal of fall of 2013.

I’m relieved that I’m back on schedule with this book after feeling like I had been procrastinating with it too much. What’s more, I’m starting to think about making a third book, which would be set during the Hussite Wars.

The Hussite Wars are a very interesting time in Bohemia. People were calling for a reform of the church (this was 100 years before Martin Luther and the Protestant reformation). Jan Hus–who was the founder of the movement and who was executed fairly early into the two-decade civil war–was rumored to have a cordial relationship with Rabbi Avigdor Kara, and some have even said that some of Jan Hus’s ideas for reformation were based on theological conversations he had with the rabbi. (Apparently Rabbi Avigdor was quite the rabbi; he was also rumored to have had theological discussions with the king and other members of the clergy.) Of course this creates an opening for all sorts of political intrigue by my Crypto-Jewish family.

And, finally, you have the Hussite war wagons. I just don’t think I can go through life without describing, in action-packed, gory detail, the use of Hussite war wagons on the battlefield.

From what I have read so far, they effectively broke the back of the chivalry in Bohemia. (The English would do the same to the French knights at Agincourt in 1415 using longbows and light infantry.) The war wagons were defensive, but highly mobile. When a location was chosen for a battle, the wagons would be formed into a circle or square (or whatever shape the terrain demanded) and chained together. If time permitted, additional defensive measures, such as trenching and putting in stakes or caltrops, would be done.

As you can see from the recreation, there were “arrow” slots in the outside face of the wagon, but these were used for hand guns (a whopping 1.00 caliber proto-musket). The charging cavalry had no defense against the bullets and no way to break the line or outflank it. And even if the king’s army disengaged and tried to make a larger outflanking maneuver–to get between the Hussites and their supply line or base of operation or what have you–the entire wagon operation could be on the move within minutes (more like a couple of hours if they wanted to take their stakes and other camp equipment with them).

Book Cover for “The Flames of Prague”

Final-Cover-for-WebI started my Flames of Prague cover over again and I finally have it looking the way I want. I may have to do some tweaking after I get the proof copy back–everything depends on how it actually looks in print–and I may alter the back cover blurb (more likely than not, really), but, for the most part, it’s done.

(Click the picture for a larger image. The original file is twice as big as the biggest image you can see, so some things that might seem blurry to you are crisper in the higher resolution file. Also, this image includes the bleed areas; that’s why things might look slightly off-center; they’re actually centered to the trim lines, not to the bleed lines.)

Me at Glad Tydings (by Beth) (Adjusted)A friend of mine took the picture of me this past weekend at an event. I though it was a really good picture of me. I just wish I could get an everyday picture that looked so good for use as my author picture on my non-medieval books. (Maybe I need a photographer who catches me when I’m not looking. I don’t pose well.)

I only lack 2,200 words reaching my minimum word count (70,000), and I expect to hit that today. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through my first round of edits, so I hope to actually bump the word count up to about 80,000 by the time I’m through. Then I afford to go back and cut some words where they’re not necessary.

Not Working is Hard Work knew being unemployed would make me so busy? I seem to be working as hard since I was laid-off as I was when I was putting in 40 hours a week. The house is looking better, though, and I made all the family rounds at Christmas.

I’ve also had 4 interviews in as many weeks and have another attorney who wants to schedule an interview the first or second week of January. I figure I’m getting interviews from about 10% of the resumes I send out, which is pretty high, especially in this economy. I’m also getting a lot of compliments on the depth of my skills, which is a good thing. Hopefully it will mean a job in the not-too-distant future.

Now that the holidays are over (I don’t count New Year’s, since I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything for it), I hope to be more active on my blog again. I also plan on doing more Bloodsuckers and release Volume 3 on Smashwords.

I also started a new short story recently that I think is going to turn out good. When I wrote The Last Golden Dragon, I intended for it to be part of a collection of fairy tales inspired by Ireland. (At the time, you couldn’t get a short story published on its own.) I wrote some other stories, but was never as happy with them as I was with TLGD, so the book idea languished, and I eventually published TLGD as a stand-alone short story/novella. But this new story seems like it might fit in with the theme. If I complete it, I’ll publish it individually. Maybe I will eventually get one or two more stories that fit together, and I can bundle them all together and publish them as a novel.

And I’m also getting inspired to to make my edits on Devotion, the sequel to Acceptance. I’m doing some pretty heavy revising, but the new storyline is starting to take shape in my mind.

And, at some point, I have to buckle down and write more on The Flames of Prague, which I plan on releasing late next year.

So, I have a full year planned for 2013: new job, more writing and publishing, and more blogging.