Asciidoc: part deux

First of all, I’m going to apologise for the post-Christmas techy rant.

I do most of my writing in Markdown; and as I may have mentioned before, I’m not altogether happy about it.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s a lot better than trying to craft a novel in Word, which is a plethora of distractions and well-intentioneed overkill. There are lots of really good tools, at wildly varying price points, that make working with Markdown a doddle … mostly. The important thing, however, is that a Markdown file can be converted to just about any other file format, so it’s the idea place to keep the source of your novel.

The trouble is that the publishing industry is built around the Word document format, which is why, I guess, most authors still churn out their books in Word.

But what if we could start again? What if a comet hit the planet, wiped out civilisation and we all had to crawl out of the ashes and rebuild? What would the new universal document format look like? 1)I’m willing to admit that my priorities may come off as a little skewed.

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Sweet Sweet Revenge Limited by Jonas Jonasson

I’ll tell you what, I’ve been round the houses looking for a book I could settle on; I’ve dumped the last three I’ve started, but I don’t think the problem was the books (so I won’t say what they were: I think I was in the mood for something a bit more fun, a bit more lightweight … and then Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. popped up in the book feed.

What I like about Jonasson’s writing is that he manages to weave a deceptively simple plot (I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away by telling you it’s centred around revenge), some pretty unsavoury but strangely endearing antagonists (remember Hitman Sanders …?), and some fairly ordinary protagonists. The prose flows well, with no bumps or sharp edges; but plenty of humour, some of it gruesome, most of it just really fun.

The appeal of the book for me was that I could enjoy the book without expending too much brainpower; the author takes out much of the hard decision-making, but does it in a way that doesn’t patronise. To begin with, the villain, Victor, is a racist, misogynist, homophobe, thief, swindler and would-be murderer … and we learn all of this in the first ten pages, so we dislike him pretty much straight away. He does have occasional flashes of mercy, so he is very much a standout character in a book that focuses more on the adventure than the people.

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Vellum: a list of wants without the tantrum

I have a strange relationship with Vellum. It’s one of the most expensive apps I own (or rather license), and it’s the app that I probably use the least. And yet it’s one of the few apps I wouldn’t be without, because when I do get round to using it, it saves be a bucketload of time and churns out professional quality results without me pulling out what little hair I have.

So for the uninitiated, Vellum is sort of like a word-processor … though not really. You can load a file (.docx, .rtf) into it, or type your book straight in, and Vellum will churn out beautifully formatted ePubs for a handful of mobile platforms such as Apple Books, Amazon Kindle, along with PDFs that be dropped into CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.

Yes, I know that I can do the same thing in Word and Scrivener, but even Scrivener can’t deliver such a clean, well-dressed output without some fiddling afterwards. Vellum will space out your text to make sure all the pages are balanced without leaving those niggling single lines on a page before skipping off to the next chapter.

I’m not a believer in the one-stop-shop kind of an app, but Vellum is so easy to use and so well thought out, I find myself wondering what would it need so I could use it more.

So here’s is my list of wants for Vellum, based on nothing more than my own sense of entitlement (there’s a lot of it about after all).

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