Work and Play with Voice to Text – Part Two – Three Steps to Better Writing Efficiency

Use Voice to Text and Speech to Text programs to increase your writing efficiency and accuracy.

Step 1. Set Your Smartphone up to take Dictation.

Talk to your smartphone anywhere and have it type for you.

*Note: You must have a Google account set-up before beginning this tutorial.

Step 2. Move your Google Docs Text into your Word Processing Document.

Step 3. Edit your Document by Listening to It.

Listening and reading involve different parts of the brain. By converting your writing (or manuscript) into an audio form, you’ll catch different mistakes than you would if you edited it by reading alone.

*For manuscript editing and book processing, I recommend multiple editorial rounds that focus on different aspects. In this instance, I would do the reading edit first then follow it with a listening edit.

In the video below, I show how to set up the Narrator app. in Windows 10, so that it will read your manuscript to you.

Here’s a free most-used Windows 10 Narrator Shortcut List pdf.

Check out part one of Work and Play with Voice to Text for a fun how-to create a robot answering machine message.

 

 

Preparing Files with Pictures for KDP – e-book

This is part two of an article discussing file preparation for seamless book file uploads to Kindle Direct Publishing also known as KDP (e-books). Click here to read about Manuscript Formatting PDF files for CreateSpace – Print Books.

E-books are, in essence, web pages – complete with links. Once your file is uploaded to KDP, it is converted into a MOBI file. A MOBI file is an elastic thing that changes size to fit tiny smartphone screens and large tablet devices. Page numbers don’t exist in MOBI files.

When including images in your e-book, there are several considerations to take into account – especially when doing file set-up for children’s picture books.

childrens self healing empowerment book
Toby Bear and the Healing Light, by Lisa Boulton

Image & Text Arrangement

Should images be kept separate from the text, or should words go directly on top of the pictures? I’ve seen e-book formatting both ways.

Although full-color pages with text on top of artwork are lovely in printed books, it doesn’t translate well in an e-book.

  • If the text is placed on top of an image in an e-book, it becomes part of that image and, therefore, is not stretchable.
  • If the text is placed separate from the image, the reader can then pinch or enlarge the word size to fit their needs.

I opt for functionality over beauty – text and images separate.

Image Size for e-books

Images should be sized at or near 400 px X 600 px at 96 px /in for an e-book.

*Note: Images that are too large waste server space, take a long time to download and frustrate readers. 

Folder Structure

There are several files and file folders that must be structured according to KDP specifications for smooth, error-free uploading.

*Note: Before beginning this process, save all your work in a sperate place. You can return to this file if something goes horribly wrong.

1. Create a folder with all of the images (sized appropriately) that will be inserted in your book. Give it a name like, ‘e-book images.’

2. Create a new folder. Give it a name like, ‘MyZippyNewBook.’

Image & Text Placement

3.  Begin inserting images into your finished manuscript.

Inside your Word Document, place pictures by locating your cursor where you want the image to go then, Insert -> Pictures.

*Note: Do not use the Copy / Paste function. The images will show up in your workflow but when you go through the next step, the file will be corrupt.

4. Once the images have been placed, you are ready to turn your manuscript into an HTML file. (*Note: For good measure, save an additional copy of this file in another location before continuing.) To do this, choose File  -> Save As. Where it says, Save as type: choose Web Page, Filtered

*Note: At this point MS Word will start gifting you pop-up warnings. Don’t be afraid…just do it…it works.

5. Save this new file in the empty folder that you created and named ‘MyZippyNewBook.’ Close the document.

*Note: the formerly empty ‘MyZippyNewBook’  folder will now contain your ‘manuscript.html’ file and images.

inside file to be zipped
Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen by Megan Scott

 

6. Navigate back until you see the closed ‘MyZippyNewBook’ folder, right click on it and Send To -> Compressed (Zipped) File.

Upload Zip File to KDP

7. Once the folder has been Zipped – it will look like a duplicate folder to zip fileMyZippyNewBook folder – but this one will have a zipper on the folder icon. The Zipped folder is what you upload to KDP.

*Note: The zipping process marries the images with the text. 

*Note: If your book has no images, graphics or jpeg files, you can skip the zip step.

Manuscript Formatting PDF files for CreateSpace – Print Books.

 

Manuscript PDF Settings for CreateSpace – Print Books

Programs are like bicycles, scooters or skateboards.  If you don’t use them daily the skills get a little rusty. Here are my notes (for me and) for you on how to set up a PDF file so that will upload seamlessly to CreateSpace.

Your manuscript is edited and completely ready to go in MS Word. To upload it to CreateSpace, it must be converted into a PDF file that embeds the fonts.

Before you begin, you should have entered all the information necessary to start a book project within CreateSpace. In this process, you will have chosen a size for your book. CreateSpace will provide measurements of that size. These exact measurements are what you will enter when setting up your PDF document.

Example: A standard book size is 6″x 9.” CreateSpace provides the measurements 15.24 x 22.86 cm. This will need to be converted to mm by moving the decimal over one space to the right. The numbers you will enter on the PDF set up is 152.4 x 228.6 mm.

  1. Within Microsoft Word, Click on Print
  2. Change the Printer Setting to Adobe PDF
    save

File Print

3. Click on Printer PropertiesPdf property settings

4. Change Default Settings to: PDF/X-1a:2001

5. Adobe PDF Output Folder: Click on Browse to direct it to where you want the PDF file to go (this should be a file folder that you can navigate to when CreateSpace asks for which file to upload).

6. Adobe PDF Page Size: Add a custom setting using the measurements that you got for your book at CreateSpace.

 

And there you have it!  Good luck and happy authoring.

Click here to read about How to Format KDP files (e-books) with pictures.

book-863418_1280

Angela Hoy from Writer’s Weekly – Common Themes in Writing Contest Entries

For authors, entering a writing contest is a way to test and flex their mental acuity. The Writers Weekly competition is especially exciting because you don’t know what you’ll have to work with…and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to produce a finished piece. It felt like a version of Chopped for writers. 

As with the TV show, Chopped, judge commentary educates the audience about the strange basket ingredients and how to best to prepare them. Meanwhile, the competing chefs are thinking and working as fast as possible to come up with something prize-worthy.

Having recently been a participant in the WritersWeekly.com Fall, 2015 24-Hour Short Story Contest, it was interesting to learn about the overall writing trends that emerged as the judges read through the 500 entries. I asked Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly.com if I could repost excerpts from her article about the contest’s common themes.

AngelaPortrait72dpismall_400x400

Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com.

WritersWeekly.com – is a free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.

After registering for the contest, entrants are given the date and time that topic will be posted. The required word count is also given at that time.  From that point forward, entrants have 24 hours to craft the story that they will submit.

THE FALL, 2015 TOPIC

The barren, tan corn stalks behind her snapped in the cold evening breeze, the only sound louder than the dry, fiery red leaves swirling around her tiny, shivering bare feet. She’d lost her bearings again and she hoped the dinner bell would ring soon. A gray tree with endless arms and fingers, devoid of any remaining foliage, loomed before her. She gazed at the odd markings on the trunk, which appeared to outline a hand-cut door of sorts. And, as she stared, it opened…

(Stories only needed to touch on that topic in some way to qualify.)

Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…

once-upon-a-time-719174_640

The top three winners of this contest are posted HERE.

COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED

Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:

Many of the stories were dreams and visions of the characters.

There were lots of faeries!

Several stories featured children playing games in the corn fields.

There were numerous stories featuring elderly and other people who are delusional.

Several stories ended with the main character being a dog or other animal.

And, surprisingly, four stories featured the tree being a hiding place for the Underground Railroad!

As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is.

These include:

The story is about a writer and/or it’s a writer participating in a writing contest (groan).

Vampires, aliens and other scary creatures. We always see LOTS of those.

We find out at the end that the entire story was just a movie/TV scene/play or we find out the first scene of the story (usually the topic itself) is from a movie or TV show/play or even a book or article one of the characters is reading.

The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually dead (is a ghost or spirit of some sort), or that the main character has dementia. We always get several retirement home or other senior citizen stories.

The main character dies at the end, and is met by a loved one or an angel of some sort. We also see lots of dead friends/relatives trying to convince the characters it’s their time to die, too, helping them to cross over, etc.

The story is dramatic but you find out at the end the characters are really children playing make-believe or that the main characters are actually animals, not people.

The main character of the story is a writer or someone in the story (usually the main character) is named Angela (the publisher of WritersWeekly).

A common fairy tale is the basis of the story.

Links to the winning stories of the current contest appear HERE.

PRIZES: 1st prize: $300 2nd prize: $250 3rd prize: $200 20+ honorable mentions + 62 door prizes!

The WINTER CONTEST IS COMING SOON!

Sign up today right HERE: http://24hourshortstorycontest.com

 

 

Book Review – Dragonflies – A Coalescence of Water, Air, Science, Art and Romance

Vulnerable and dependent on fresh, clean water sources, water-lily-392570_640dragonflies are born hideously ugly. They hunt, hide and pick their way through pond bottoms for the majority of their year-long life.dragonfly-188275-sm

Then, illuminated by moonlight, they transform into creatures that inspire dreams of fancy. Upon warming breezes, they take to the air to perform their aerial ballet.sun-403552-sm

Every culture through time has observed and been captivated by these nimble, sparkling insects. Mythology of fairies must surely have origins with the dragonfly.

Fossil from Green River formation in Wyoming. Age: 34 million years
Fossil from Green River formation in Wyoming. Age: 34 million years

Peter van Dokkum, a Yale Astronomy Professor and dedicated insect photographer blends art and science together in his beautiful mini-coffee table book. Combining his own observations and photographs with anatomy and life cycle information, he deepens the level of understanding about these creatures in a way that doesn’t sound like a dry textbook or field guide. Dragonflies is a pleasure to read, contemplate and refer back too.

Dragonflies by Peter van Dokkum
Dragonflies by Peter van Dokkum

As a fellow dragonfly photographer and artist, I appreciate the time and skill it took for Dokkum to amass his photo collection. Images of dragonflies in flight, egg laying and eating were of particular interest and admiration.

Knowing my fondness for the creatures, my husband purchased Dragonflies for me as a surprise. And what a delight it is!

October Art Show at BriarPatch – take a Virtual Tour

Far away friends asked for a virtual tour of the pieces hanging at the BriarPatch this month.  Ask and you will receive. 😉

Pixel Pushing Images, Encaustics & Young Adult Fiction

BriarPatch Co-op
290 Sierra College Dr, Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 272-5333
Open daily · 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu: https://locu.com/places/briarpatch-co-op-grass-valley-us/#menu