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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Coming soon …

Seems like quite a long time since I wrote a novel. The last one was The Quisling Orchid way back when.

Since then I’ve been fiddling with screenplays, writing short stories, winning competitions (ahem) and working with the fine fine people who make up my local writers group.

But I have been working on one book for a while now …

A couple of years back, my mother became very ill. She always enjoyed reading when she had the chance, but during her final year, she preferred having either of her sons read to her. Since she couldn’t really concentrate on a full length novel, I started writing a collection of linked short stories, so I could read her each chapter as I finished it.

Sadly, my mother passed away before I could write the last few stories. I didn’t feel like carrying on with it, or writing anymore, for that matter, so the novella languished inside a laptop for a couple of years, and I sort of turned my back on writing.

I’m not sure why I picked it up again. Would love to say I had some sort of otherworldly epiphany, but it wasn’t that exciting. While sorting out my mother’s effects, we found a stack of handwritten papers: the beginnings of an autobiography. It was deeply moving and beautifully written. I had no idea she could write. I mean, when I talked about my writing, she never mentioned it.

Now I think about it, maybe it was an epiphany. Anyway, I dusted off the novella with a plan to self-publish it (for free if I can figure out how) before the end of the year. Sort of a tribute to my Mum.

Coming soon …

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the second book in the Rivers of London series which is a sort of Harry Potter meets Scott & Bailey.

Imagine, if you will, a secretive, well-funded branch of the Metropolitan Police, tasked with dealing with cases involving magic and the supernatural. Well, calling them a ‘branch’ might be overstating it; there’s just the two of them: Peter Grant, police constable and wizard-in-training; and his mentor, Thomas Nightingale, a detective inspector who seems to have been alive since the nineteenth century.

It’s by no means an original concept, but I don’t think I’ve come across an urban fantasy novel (or is it magic realism?) that’s so well-written. The sense of place you get is extraordinary; Aaronovitch has mapped London to destruction, giving himself a rich environment in which to explore this magical world of vampires, witches and river gods.

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