Author Tools: Publishing from WordPress

Imagine you’re an author who uses your WordPress install to publish your work on your website. What if you wanted to export and distribute your blog posts–an anthology of short stories, research, or an image portfolio–as a PDF? Quite some time ago, I stumbled upon a WordPress plugin called Anthologize that does just that. It was discussed in a post at Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog. Here is an overview of what this plugin does, lifted from the Anthologize website:

Anthologize: grab, craft, publish.

Anthologize 0.5-alpha includes the following core features:

  • Use your existing WordPress blog content as the basis for your project;
  • Import content feeds from non-WordPress blogs and other publishing platforms;
  • Create a project containing one or more parts (chapters, acts, etc);
  • Add, update, remove, and reorder parts;
  • Add, update, remove, reorder, and merge individual items in parts;
  • Edit project items through standard WordPress editing interface;
  • Export your projects to: TEI, PDF, and ePUB.

It’s important to note that this plugin only works with WordPress 3.0 and PHP5 or higher and it only works on users installations (downloaded from wordpress.org and maintained on a server at a domain other than wordpress.com).

The possibilities created by this plugin are incredibly compelling to me. I’m a hardcore supporter of using WordPress as a CMS for websites. The ability to repurpose blog content into a ePUB, PDF or TEI file makes me a little giddy. I recommend looking at the case studies listed on the Anthologize website to get a better feel for how this tool might be used. My blogs don’t lend themselves well to this kind of tool but I can certainly see the usefulness of this tool for folks who want to distribute their own ebooks, generate exhibition catalogs, or create brochures and pamphlets about their company.

There’s quite a community built behind this plugin. The Center for History and Media and George Mason University developed this app with NEH funding. Some thought has gone into not just the documentation but the presentation of this plugin by way of logos and branding. It is evident that there is commitment from the developers to continue to shape this tool into a something special. The plugin was last updated a week ago today (I’ve known about the plugin since August).

I hope to give this plugin a try sometime.

Come for the shiny, stay for the…

Things that may help me write more:

  1. Only working 40 hours a week now. No 2nd job. Wahoo!
  2. Acquisition of a new shiny.

I’ve officially declared my 2003 HP laptop dead, after a number of resuscitations. I type at you now on an iPad. It IS an experience completely unlike typing on a laptop. I can’t recommend it for everyone. It does what I need it to do when I’m mobile. If I end up with a car after the divorce, I’ll look into a desktop solution to handle everything else, like running the Adobe suite and, you know, a DVD-ROM. That aside, the iPad takes zero time to boot and I can blog, edit wikis, tweak CSS, do the social web thing, read books and comics and watch streaming video. Did I mention that it’s shiny? I can check my hair in between meetings. Totally rad.

I haven’t been doing a lot of creative writing but I have been getting in some journaling. Most of it is self-therapy, private kind of scribbling, so it’s not showing up here. Hope to change that soon. A bit of my rantiness is coming back (Oh, HI, world. So sorry, I forgot you were there in my self-absorbed musings…), so at the very least I can start blogging again.

No new writing goals right now. I’m still adjusting to this my-weekends-are-free-now thing. I’m enjoying all of the possibilities for reinvention.

Update

WrAnyMo Progress

3993 / 30000

I’m back on track for today. I’m two days and 2,000 words behind for the month thus far but I’m sure I can recoup that! Hey… 2,000 could be written out as “two thousand.” Note to self.

[This post’s word count does not count toward WrAnyMo2009 total.]

Crash

Getting up earlier in the mornings to write is starting to become problematic. Earlier in the week, it worked very well but by Wednesday, I was feeling uber tired by 8pm. Last night, I sat down to write a piece about my sister since it was her birthday yesterday. I got about 30 minutes in before I was falling asleep where I was sitting. In retrospect, tapping away on my wireless keyboard while reclined in bed was probably NOT the best idea.

A curious thing about writing when that tired: I edit MORE. I expected the opposite to be true; nonetheless, I found myself fighting the narrative stream appearing on the screen. I spent a lot to time going back and trying to impose order on my scattered thoughts. I am not one of those that believes that being “in the moment” and writing whatever comes out makes for good reading. I might do this in a journal but I’d never want to read that entry again. I certainly wouldn’t subject a reader to the pain of reading that crap either.

I don’t have a word count for what I managed to get out last night before crashing so I’ll have to update my word account again later. It was no where near the thousand I needed. I’m lucky if I got to 400. This puts my significantly behind but I’m not worried yet. When I was writing more regularly, I worked better with large blocks of time. This weekend I work Friday night and Saturday morning so I’ll have big chunks of time to write this weekend.

WrAnyMo Reality Check

WrAnyMo Progress

2883 / 30000

I’ve found a new advantage to the daylight savings time switch: I’m awake an hour earlier, which means that yesterday I had almost an hour of writing time before getting ready for work.  I managed to get more than half of the review done for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I finished the review this morning. What slowed me down in posting the review was all of the editing, tweaking and expanding that I was doing during the process of writing and after I was done writing. As it is, I KNOW there are still errors in the review I haven’t caught.

The review isn’t as thorough as I’d like but I’m never going to get to 30,000 words this month if I keep obsessively editing everything I write so that I can publish it on one of the blogs. This might mean that I’m posting less of my writing output (I hadn’t planned on posting any of my creative writing but I hoped that SOMETHING might be shared).

I am a little worried about keeping a steady flow of ideas so I’ve been less attentive to my RSS feeds the last few mornings and more intent on using bus ride time to brainstorm.  Every idea gets a new draft in my WordPress app (oh ho, that’s ANOTHER topic, the new WordPress 2.0 app <grumble>), which I’ll expand into a fuller post. Later, I can sort out whether I want specifics posts to be either public or private.

Things I’ve learned thus far:

  • Don’t over-edit. In some cases, don’t edit at all.
  • It’s not necessary to post everything.
  • Wi-fi access is good if I’m finishing a public post and need to add links but very distracting if I’m trying to sit down and write creatively for a solid hour.
  • When writing fiction or non-fiction, flag words, phrases or facts I’m unsure of and move on.

I noticed that my previously posted WrAnyMo meter was wrong (I used the NaNo 50,000 instead of my 30,000 word count goal), so I updated that post. I’ve included a progress bar widget on Puddles so that I don’t have to worry about including it on each post. I can’t do the same on Jottings because it will break my theme. The count above is where I’m at currently.

I hope to do some catching up tonight!

I Reject Your Rules and Insert My Own

NaNoWriMo began yesterday. I am not participating.

Others who are not partaking of the NaNo: Kristen, who is busy shopping her first novel and has already started her second; The INTERN (whose blog is worth a looksie) is sans NaNo; and heck, countless authors1 aren’t participating– OK, fine, writing is an author’s JOB, so really, November is just another month… but STILL.

I’ve seen a number of alternatives to ‘let’s write a 50,000 word novel in one month,’ in which, might I add, ONE WEEK is killed if you travel home for Thanksgiving2. NaNoReVisMo, or, Nation Novel Revision Month, was proposed by The INTERN. While I have no desire to jump into writing a novel at the moment, revising a previous work is tempting; however, I wrote my last novel when I was in JUNIOR HIGH. That is not revision. That is printing the abomination and burning it. That is ripping out the drive containing Abomination and smashing it pieces. That is reworking characters and plot and completely rewriting Abomination as a brand new work. Right, perhaps not.

Kristen had a thought: make a pledge to blog every (or almost every) day in November. BEDN isn’t as catchy an acronym as BEDA (Blog Every Day in April); nonetheless, the suggestion is still in the spirit of focusing on writing output.

I will be writing this month. It may come in the form of scenes, character studies, short stories, blog posts, reviews, textual criticism or whatever else I feel like writing at the moment. I should probably keep a word count goal in mind. 50,000 words is rather arbitrary when taken out of the novel context but I do wish to keep quantity the focus.  I’m going to reduce the quota to 30,000 words in 30 days. There is no science to this number, I just like the number three. And what the heck should I call my little project?

  • At Least I’m Writing Something Month (AtLImWriSoMo)
  • Write Anything Month (WrAnyMo)
  • Write, Gorram It (WriGoIt)

In the interest of not agonizing over the appropriate name/abbreviation all day, I will settle with WrAnyMo. I don’t want to cross-post everything I publish here on Puddles (and vice-versa) so I’ll Tweet links to all public posts, regardless of where they appear, using the tag #WrAnyMo2009.

I started yesterday on a creative piece and only hit 506 words but some blogging should quickly up that count and get me back on track for the slightly late start.

To Star and Jenn and everyone else who is doing NaNoWriMo: YAY! RA! GO! Best of luck : )

WrAnyMo Progress

1092 / 30000

1. A mighty triumvirate of seriously cool women YA writers, Maureen Johnson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Melissa Marr, have confirmed that they are not participating this year. Maureen has pledged to give NaNo advise throughout November, which is sure to be just the thing you need for procrastination and a chuckle. Back to text.

2. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, not because of the significance behind it but because of how it is celebrated: with family. I am not driving 12 (Jersey)-16 (Mass.) hours each way only to spend the whole visit 1.) feeling guilty for ignoring my family in order to meet my quota or 2.) feeling guilty for spending time with my family and not meeting my quota. If I make it back this year, it will be the first time in two years I’ve been home. I’m damn well making the most it. Back to text.

Power of Repetition

In writing a recent post over at Puddles, I realized that I have a tendency to use repetition quite a bit. In the aforementioned post, I ended a few of the paragraphs with a refrain. It’s not the same every time but it is structured in a specific way:

[sentence]. [1-2 words]. [single word].

If that post had been longer, I think the repetition would have evolved into something more normalized.

[sentence]. [1 word describing sound, motion, etc., e.g., ‘Grumble,’ ‘Grr,’ ‘Facepalm’]. [single word, e.g., ‘Onward’].

The final repetition ends with the refrain changing:

[sentence]. Sigh. End.

The repetition was deliberate but I didn’t reflect much on why I was using it. In looking over earlier posts, in which I attempt to entertain with my writing instead of treating the post as a journal entry, it seems that repetition is one of my favorite devices. A great thing about repetition is that it’s scalable. I may utilize an exaggerated parallel structure within single sentences (as I’m doing in this sentence), I may use lists, or I may sustain a refrain over several paragraphs (or indeed, entire novels).

I like using repetition because it helps pull a reader into the story. Predictability can be detrimental but, if used as a device (instead of predictability arising from poor plot construction or flat characters), it is much like letting a reader in on a joke. I may or may not have pulled that off in my “Walks 2009.001” post but there was definitely a semi-conscious effort to wink at the reader, who (I hope) is already nodding, because they know where I’m going.

Things to think about: Is repetition annoying, even if done well? Does it talk down to the reader? Is repetition a cheap trick? Is it too obvious or affected? What are other examples of authors or works that pull off repetition well? Are there other ways to help engage readers, allowing them to be quasi-co-conspirators in my writing? Conversely, which stylistic techniques are useful for distancing readers from my writing?

Online Note Management

I’ve taken to using Google Documents for recording notes and the like for my Jackal project. I like using gDocs because my information is available where ever there is a computer with internet access and a web browser, the content is shareable (or not), it can be exported as a .doc, .html, or posted to a blog and the whole thing is more or less searchable.

At lunch, I played around with Microsoft OneNote and wondered if there are any writers out there who use OneNote to help them organize random musings that are scribbled down for future reference. Continue reading “Online Note Management”

It Begins

Greetings and welcome.

What can you expect from this site?  My goal for this blog is to post what I’m up to, interesting writing-related articles, and possibly writing excerpts, when I get that far.  My broader goal is simply to write as often as possible.  Even horrible writing may become an exercise.  That is what this blog is: exercise.

Hopefully, there will more content for visitors to poke around in soon!