Like Pulling Teeth. Out of my Scalp 5: Back at Last.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited upon you, good reader, the plights of an aspiring writer trying to self-publish his first book.  Admittedly, a large part of my absence has been due to the pronounced lack of such plights.  Some delays were inevitable – waiting for illustrations to be finished, which my very talented artist finished at amazing speed.

There was the slightly panic-filled adventure where I found myself desperately trying to find and master an inexpensive (free) layout program after figuring the Word Starter bundled with my laptop wouldn’t do the trick.  The problem was easily settled by changing my mind and using Word anyhow.  Turns out it works pretty well.  It’s not professional level layout software, but not being a professional layout artist, I wouldn’t know what to do with that kind of software anyway.  So, everything worked out.

After a trip to a printer, I discovered to my pleasant surprise that what I feared would be some unruly monstrosity actually looked pretty good in the industry-standard pocket book size that I was aiming for.  And, during another episode of You Don’t Know What You’ll Find on the ’Net until Needs Demand You Look, I also found some neat software for drawing maps.  The Kingdom of Steragos and surrounding nations can now make an appearance in my book.

At times like this, I find myself dwelling on how many great resources I’ve had helping me make this mess.  One of my dearest friends is a mother of three, and a fan of fantasy.  Not only was I able to get her valuable input, but the input of her daughter as well.  At eight years of age, she may not yet be in the target demographic, but she’s a smart kid with a lot to say.  What’s more:  she’ll grow.

I don’t know where I’d be in this project without the help of my dear friend Mae.  If you hadn’t met her before, Mae’s the founder of this site, and can be recognized by her piercing blue eyes, physically visible love of punk music (there was this one time where she raised her left eyebrow, and the Edward-Scissorhands guy from the Clash just appeared right next to her.  Man, he was baffled), and the massive supply of classical and modern literature being fed directly into her bloodstream via IV.  She has been of inestimable help to me in this adventure, pointing out my gaffes (on my request!), serving as a fashion consultant (the book is set during a fictionalized 1920s period, a part of history Mae is fascinated by), and being a much-needed soundboard in many different ways.  She’s been an awesome friend and consultant, and I value her counsel greatly.

Kurt and Tessa, my bosses and friends at my teaching gig, have put in a tremendous amount of helpful input, including the suggestion of putting a map of the fictional country I created in the book.  This was something I’d have never thought of doing on my own, simply because I didn’t think myself capable of doing so.  Never made a map before; how do I do one now?  Well, as it turns out:


Now, I may not be the greatest cartographer ever, but I’m proud of this.  I didn’t know I could make anything like this at all, and thus, didn’t think I could do it.  It’s funny to think about how this project has presented me with seemingly daunting tasks which turned out to be skill-broadening challenges.  If you’re going to write a book, you’re going to have to bring your A-game.  I don’t know if I’ve done that, but I made a map anyhow.

Next time, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of print-on-demand.  I’m going with Createspace this time; I’ve heard good things about them.  I’ll be sure to hit you with all the details of any skull-bursting headaches if they come knocking.

’Til then.



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