Thursday, March 29, 2012

Aurora Rescue Prologue

I have decided to post the "new and improved" prologue for Aurora Rescue. Part of my reason for making some changes, as I mentioned in my last post, was because while I was writing the prologue for the second book in the Aurora series, Aurora Redress, I realized I should flesh out a few things in this prologue before it goes to press.

One of "enhancements" dealt with the character of Andrea Jackson. I hope I do not throw off my reading audience by bringing up her one-quarter Native American heritage and attributing that as the reason she senses there is a "bad spirit" at the top of Dead Man's Drop Mountain. The "spirit" of the mountain is not part of the plot of this novel, only an attribute of this particular character. Andrea is such a minor player in this novel. However, I hope this mention will lay the foundation for Andrea when she shows up in Aurora series book four, Aurora Remembrance. In that novel, she plays a far more prominent role and her Pueblo ancestry will be important.

Here is the new prologue:

       On the Monday of Spring Break in 2024, Eddie Burrows took Andrea on a day trip to Dead Man’s Drop Mountain. They rode in Eddie’s all-terrain vehicle, a two-seater Prowler he used for hunting. The trail grew increasingly rugged as they arrived within a quarter of a mile from the summit. Andrea, tired of being beat around inside the vehicle, finally told Eddie that she would rather walk.
       They saw the sign warning everyone in the area to stay away from the cliffs at the peak of Dead Man’s Drop.
       “We should not go any further, Eddie,” Andrea warned. “There is a bad spirit in this place. It swallows people up.”
       “What are ya’ll talking about, Andi?” Eddie responded with a laugh. “That warning sign there is because of the steep cliff and the winds that can whip up and throw people around if they are too dumb to pay attention to what they are doing. We’ll just be careful and there won’t be no problem.”
       “Please, Eddie, let’s just explore somewhere else where the spirit of this mountain is more welcoming. I do not want to go any further.”
       “What is all this talk about spirits, Andi?” Eddie asked, confused. “Ya’ll know, this Texas white boy don’t understand all that business about spirits in nature like you folks with Indian blood do. Besides, I thought ya’ll were only one-quarter Native American.”
       “One-quarter Pueblo, Eddie. The tribes are not all the same.”
       “Okay, sorry. I should know better by now. But, are ya’ll sure your fear of heights ain’t the real reason why you don’t want to climb to the top?”
       Without a word, Andrea stared at Eddie, her face void of expression.
       “Oh, Sweetheart, future-bride-of-mine, please don’t get mad at this country boy of yours for my stupidity on these matter,” Eddie teasingly pleaded. “Ya’ll come only as close as you feel comfortable. But, this is too impre of a scene for me to pass up. I want to get some pictures of the canyon and beyond from the top of the rocks.”
       Ignoring the sign and Andrea’s warning, Eddie bolted out of the Prowler and strode towards the top of the mountain. He turned back occasionally to check on Andrea as he climbed the boulders.
       Andrea, more cautious due to the dark feeling she could not shake, ventured only a short distance from the Prowler. She stayed as far away from the top of the mountain as she could without losing sight of Eddie. From her vantage point, she used her camera to take snapshots of Eddie. He stood confidently on the rocky outcrop while he captured images of the view beyond the cliff with the camera on his retro Cabela’s flip phone.
       Eddie walked back to show Andrea the pictures. He could not find one of the snapshots he thought he had taken. In frustration, because it was not on his phone, Eddie shook his head and ignored Andrea’s intake of breath as he hiked back towards the boulders.
       Eddie changed his mind and rambled on the flatter surface towards the edge of the cliff. Andrea shook her head with confusion. She should have felt relief at his decision to not climb the rocky outcrop again. Instead, as she watched him move to the left and below the rocks to see if he could capture the image he desired, her feeling of foreboding increased.
       In an attempt to distract herself from the uneasiness building inside of her, Andrea turned her camera to video mode and started a holo-video clip of Eddie. She watched him through the viewing window as he stood on the cliff edge. She saw how he centered the scene he wanted in his cell’s viewing window. Full of confidence, he ignored the wind that whipped at his clothing and bent back the rim of the brown, wide-brimmed western hat that would have blown away if Eddie had not tightly fastened it under his chin with its leather straps. At this sight of Eddie standing at the cliff’s edge, a surge of love for this man coursed so strongly through Andrea that it smothered all feelings of fear inside of her.
       After he clicked his phone camera, a smile spread across his face as he checked the image. She guessed Eddie was pleased with his latest picture.
       Eddie walked back toward Andrea, his cell phone clutched in his hand. While he made funny faces for the video being recorded by her camera, Eddie’s cell rang. He glanced at the caller I.D. screen. The sunlight created a glare making it impossible for him to see who was calling. Eddie stepped back into the shadows cast by the boulders crowing the summit of Dead Man’s Drop.  He pulled the screen closer to his face to read the incoming number.
       Andrea realized the caller must be someone Eddie knew and liked because he grinned before he flipped open the cover to answer the call. Instead of Andrea feeling happy for him, the feeling of foreboding returned and clutched her heart.
       Then Eddie disappeared.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh, the things I learn....

Oh, the things I learn when I start preparing Word documents for self-publishing, especially when I receive a template with which to work, but need to make adjustments to make it work correctly:
  • I learned how to set section breaks instead of just page breaks so that the header will not show on the first page of the next chapter.
  • I learned about embedded and non-embedded fonts, which ones I cannot have on a pdf document for submission, and how to hunt down and change all the sneaky little non-embedded fonts in a template when the creator of the template does not want to allow it to be compatible with other printing services.
  • I learned how to set margin sizes on right and left pages.
I'm exhausted with all this learning, especially after making adjustments on a novel-length work most of yesterday.

I also decided to print Aurora Rescue as a 6 x 9 inch book instead of my original 5.25 x 8 inch format. I save $.60 per book using the larger-sized pages, but fewer pages per book option. That does not sound like much, but it adds up over time.

Also, for the final page in the book, I came up with a "tease" or a "hook" for novel two in the Aurora series. I chose this for three reasons:
  • Financial considerations - a one-page blurb is cheaper than an additional 20-30 pages of first chapters.
  • The opening pages of Aurora Redress will not give enough information about what to expect for the whole book.
  • It will assure the readers that I did not just forget about Eddie--leave him hanging in 1857 Pennsylvania. Eddie is featured in this book.
(I am into bullet points today, can you tell?)

Not to keep you in suspense any longer, here is my blurb for Book 2 - Aurora Redress:

          The saga continues as Marty makes a startling discovery about the mountain on which she and Hunter landed. As she searches her cell call history and realizes what went different than planned, her disappointment turns to anticipation over the possibilities. Will this be her opportunity to help Eddie Burrows return home, too? Cy agrees that she should try to find Eddie, even though it means he must somehow continue to fend off the increasing threat to his own freedom as a result of being pursued by “Cowboy” FBI Special Agent, Lee Hardin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


This is what I have come up with for a cover for Aurora Rescue. I am still "sleeping on it", meaning it is not "set in concrete" yet. (Oh, the trite phrases--and the punctuation and grammar rules of which I have been reminded as I perused my copy of The Elements of Grammar book written by Margaret Shertzer.)

I have finished proofreading my manuscript and have made about two-fifths of the corrections on my digitized version that I will upload for publication.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Found My Red Fine-Point Pen

Please read my previous post on proofreading before you read this.

I found my fine-point red pen. I have changed my procedures so I use the red for any changes in the actual wording of the book. I use my blue fine-tip pen to make notes, such as, "check style manual" or "check usage" or "check spelling."

Last night I took a break by working on my novel cover design. My original cover artwork does not look right in the cover options I have tried. I need to work on that image a little more using my photo-editing program to see if I can make it workable.

This is one of my own touched-up photographs which I am considering. What I really need, though, is a good authentic aurora scene. The trick is first, finding one I can legally use, and second, being able to afford it. Unfortunately, some of the beautiful aurora photographs found on the internet are the copyrighted property of someone and cannot be legally used.

Today, I am back to proofreading. I am on page 22 of 84. Moving right along....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Proofreader Found Dead Five Days Later

I have decided to completely pull my e-book versions of Aurora Rescue off the internet as I prepare them for publication in traditional book format. Part of the reason is that I have, once again, edited them and made some changes. For one thing, I took a chunk of the story out of one of the middle chapters and used it to create what I hope is an attention-grabbing prologue.

After I dumped the latest manuscript for Aurora Rescue into the formatted-for-print document, I, once again went about the process of proofreading. I found punctuation errors, dropped words, and awkward sentences. Not good.

Now, I know I proofed this manuscript many times before I submitted it as an e-book, including:
1.  Performed several proofs on the digital version, some of which took place after I had put the manuscript away for several days (one of the "sacred cows" of proof-reading the first and subsequent drafts).
2.  Killed a forest and printed it out in order to proofread a paper version
3.  Created an e-book file and read it on a reader to see how the final version looked in a different format.
In spite of that, I was surprised how many errors I found when I read through it again after not looking at this manuscript for over a year.

So, now, after proofreading Aurora Rescue in its entirety on the computer, I have killed another, albeit smaller, forest and printed out my manuscript for a final proofreading. What I did was copy and paste the manuscript into two columns and took out all the "white space". I am going over it with multiple colored pencils and pens to try to catch everything.

Proofreading is tedious, tedious, TEDIOUS.

I recently read about a professional proofreader who passed away at his work desk and was found only after several co-workers realized they had not seen nor heard from him for awhile. The coroner estimated he had been dead for five days when he was found. Yep! I can see how that can happen. I am five pages into proofreading my 84 pages, and I already feel like I am there. This morning I even looked forward with pleasure to the diversion of swapping out my laundry and folding clothes just so I could take a break from proofreading.

I am not a professional, but based on problems I have found in the past with my manuscripts, this is what I am doing this time:

1.  I use a light blue pencil to circle every period or sentence ending, as well as verify quote marks and proper punctuation on both ends of my dialogue sentences. I also use it to track commas on complex sentences to be sure the wording is not awkward, or the subject and predicate are not misplaced.

2.  I use a red pencil to mark errors, whether they be punctuation, or needed word changes, or changes in sentence structure.

3.  I use a FINE TIP blue ballpoint pen for jotting  any word changes or notes of what I need to check on in the style manual or dictionary. After all, I have very little margin space, so I need to write small.

Only 79 more pages to go. If no one hears from me in five days, please ask someone to check on me.