Monthly Archives: December 2016

Goodbye to an Old “Friend”

Okay, it’s not really a friend. It’s my original Two Blue Books website. I read that Google will be prioritizing mobile-friendly sites in its search results, and it was the final kick in the pants I needed to create a new site.

front page of old websiteA friend helped me build the site in 2006, before the popularity of content management systems and DIY blog websites. He found a template PHP page and style sheet, and we FTP-ed them to my website host’s server and changed all the colors. I thought I should go with yellows and browns, something bread-like, but the green and pink won me over. It seemed like a tribute to the original title I had planned for Bread Science, which was Bread and Roses. (Thankfully I was talked out of it!)

My favorite part about the site, in addition to how easy it’s been (no software updates or database backups), is the random quote at the top of each page. It comes from a list in the code—here they are:

  • “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” —Robert Browning (1812–1889), English poet
  • “As we have seen, bread, and especially dry bread, evokes secretion of considerably larger quantities of saliva than meat.” —Ivan Pavlov”
  • “How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” —Julia Child
  • “I understand the big food companies are developing a tearless onion. I think they can do it—after all, they’ve already given us tasteless bread.” —Robert Orben
  • “Without bread all is misery.” —William Cobbett (1763?–1835), British journalist
  • “Bread and water–these are the things nature requires. For such things no man is too poor, and whosoever can limit his desire to them alone can rival Jupiter for happiness.” —Seneca
  • “We have learned to see in bread an instrument of community between men—the flavour of bread shared has no equal.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • “The universe of bread is made up of a nostalgia for one’s childhood, the hard work of farmers, miller and bakers and the distinctive pleasure given by something ‘authentic’ and flavourful.” —Jerome Assire
  • “One’s own simple bread is much better than someone else’s pilaf.” —Azerbaijani Proverb
  • “Never fall out with your bread and butter.” —English Proverb
  • “Whose bread I eat: his song I sing.” —German Proverb
  • “The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.” —Portuguese Proverb
  • “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” —Aesop
  • “Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.” —Yiddish Proverb
  • “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” —Chinese Proverb
  • “We light the oven so that everyone may bake bread in it.” —Jose Marti (1853–1895)

Each time I’ve thought about building a new site, I’ve gone to look at the old one and been arrested by how much I liked it. So before I take it down, I wanted to post this memorial, for ten years of good service.

How to Lay Out a Book in InDesign

a page from the bookI recently designed my second book, Somewhere and Nowhere, using Adobe InDesign for the page layout. Given the additional ten years of InDesign experience I’ve gained since my first book (when I was basically at level 0), things went much more smoothly this time. I hadn’t attempted to format any text ahead of time in Word, and I used styles and added flourishes like drop caps.

I took notes so that I’d have a guide to follow next time. I am sharing them in the hope that they might be useful to other self-publishers.

Download a PDF here.

Get the EPUB file free at Gumroad: https://gum.co/InDesignEPUB
Please note: three of the images in the EPUB version would not convert properly, no matter what I tried. You can see them but they don’t look quite right.

Get the MOBI file free at Gumroad: https://gum.co/InDesignMOBI

NaNoWriMo 2016

Nanowrimo badgeWell, November is over, and I did it: I wrote a 50,000 word novel!

I first participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2014, when I wrote Intelligence, a new adult fiction novel that is still in the works. The goal of NaNoWriMo is simply to get a draft out, which will then be revised. It helps to be able to tell yourself, It doesn’t have to be good, just keep going.

In 2014, I felt like I had a coffee buzz the entire month. I wrote in the morning, and then went to work where my officemates consistently asked, “Are you okay?” Ideas would pop into my head all day long, and I’d race home to incorporate them.

So I was looking forward to participating this year. But it was very different. After the busiest October on record (2 weekend-long weddings, 3 day-long work events, my 20th college reunion, the state fair, and Halloween), I woke on November 1 thinking, “There’s no way I can write.” But I did. And I wrote every day after that, in spite of feeling like a slug.

Nanowrimo chart of word countI plateaued mid-month with no ideas. I’d already written everything I’d imagined, and I had 25,000 words to go. I tried to let go of the outline that had formed in my head, and new action emerged: there’d be a revolution, with a battle scene, and then the second villain would emerge, necessitating another encounter. Then in the last week, it struck me that the entire story was extremely childish and that I have no ability to craft fiction. But I kept going. So, there it is, my chart of 50,000 words in one month.

You may be wondering why I haven’t said a word about the actual novel. Well, it’s a romance novel. I wrote it because I wanted to do NaNoWriMo, it seemed too soon to start the sequel of Intelligence, and I didn’t have another idea. I also find writing romance liberating–it gives me this feeling that I can write whatever I want, which is a feeling I’d like to cultivate. And, romance may be a good way to make money as a writer, while working on additional, non-money-making projects. I’m still considering how to present my romance writing to the world–I might use a pen name to keep my bread-class-teaching self separate from my romance-writing self. So for now, I’ll just say that it’s a romance novel in a fantasy world.