Although Apple claims most of their products are game changers, iBooks Author actually is. Not just as a free platform to create books for the iPad, but as an editing tool.
Despite my preference for curling up in a chair with a cup of coffee and a red pen, most of my editing work is done on-screen. This way, edits are not lost, pages aren’t eaten by the cat, and it’s easy for me to share my work when it’s done. Lately, though, I’ve been making most of my notes by importing work into iBooks Author, then exporting or previewing the file in iBooks on the iPad.
Wait, can’t you do that with a PDF?
I could. And I have. But I am not a fan of PDFs in general; I’d rather use a Word doc or a rich text file. And iBooks won’t mark up PDFs; you need a third party app such as Papers.
So why go to the effort of downloading iBooks Author when I could get another free app and use a PDF?
On the iPad, iBooks has a number of useful built in options, making it possible for readers to mark up e-text the same way they’d mark up a print version. To date, you can:
- add bookmarks
- highlight in yellow, green, blue, pink or purple
- add scrolling sticky notes
- underline in red.
Can I get my notes off the iPad?
Yes. Your notes (not highlights, unfortunately), are also easily converted to study cards and exported. Within the book, tap to bring up the top nav and select the icon that looks like a study card to reveal a list of your notes. Then you can select what you want and email the notes. Each note will show your comments, a page number, a chapter, and a date.
So how do you use it?
Most of the time, I make notes on the iPad then input the changes manually–it really is like using a print version, but without the risk of losing a page. I also color code my notes, using yellow for deletions, blue for additions, pink for ideas, and red underlining for clunky wordy. When I’ve completed an edit, I mark it green, so I can see my progress at a glance.
Although iBooks doesn’t replace the track changes function in Word, it’s a useful editing tool, especially if you’re only making comments (as opposed to highlighting sections for later reading/study). So far, I’ve found it best for larger documents (in the 20-80k range), although, if the notes are complex, I often end up using my bluetooth keyboard.
And for less complex work? Anything under 10 pages isn’t worth the effort of setting up the file unless you want to use images/view images in the context of the work.
Note: I do most of my editing in portrait mode; in landscape, it’s too easy to accidentally turn the page whenever I go to edit a note.
How to import your work into iBooks Author
- Download iBooks Author from the Mac App Store and install.
- Select a blank template. (I like “Classic” and “Basic.”)
- Go to Insert > Chapter from Pages or Word Document, then select your file.
Note: iBooks assigns a chapter per file; if you’re importing something with multiple sections and you want each one to be separate, you’ll have to break them manually. I rarely bother with this; the iBooks version of the document is only for my use and doesn’t need to be perfectly navigable to anyone else.
If you’d prefer not to export your work to an iBooks file, you can simply preview it on the iPad.
- Connect your iPad to the computer.
- Open iBooks.
- Select Preview in the toolbar.
- Select your device, then hit enter.
Your file should open automatically.
To Export – without publishing
For editing work, you want to export your file, not publish it. Do not hit “publish” in the tool bar.
- Go to File > Export.
- Select your file type (iBooks, though you can also export to text or PDF).
- Hit next.
- Enter your file name and save.
To sync the file to your iPad, you can drop it into iTunes, and it will be added to the books section of your syncing menu.
For those who didn’t catch it on GalleyCat or in The Guardian, a remarkable, new-slash-mixed-media artist has been leaving some rather stunning paper sculptures at libraries and other cultural institutions around Scotland.
The sculptures–usually addressed to the recipient’s Twitter account–are astonishing, tiny marvels of fantastic bookishness. It is particularly dorky, I know, but this one actually made me tear up a little.
There’s been a bit of discussion about who the artist is, with several folks suggesting Su Blackwell, though one commenter on the original post says it’s definitely not Blackwell’s work. Much as I’d like to know, though, I love that these gifts are anonymous tokens of bookish love. Hopefully, they’ll still be on display when I eventually get to visit the Scotland (my mum is from Glasgow, and yet I’ve never been…).
So far, gifts have been made to:
- the Scottish Poetry Library, @byleaveswelive (I love this handle)
- the National Library of Scotland, @natlibscot
- the Filmhouse (home of the Edinburgh international film festival), @filmhouse
- the Scottish Storytelling Centre, @scotstorycentre
- the Edinburgh international book festival, @edbookfest
- UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature, @edencityoflit (my favorite)
- the Central Lending Library on George IV bridge, @Edinburgh_CC
See them all, with photos by Chrisdonia, here, then pass them on. Also, a few fun pics with the tree sculpture and Ian Rankin @ Anna-Not-Karenina’s post on the Edinburgh Book Festival.Read More
Happiness is a cup of coffee and a really good book.
It is late.
The munchkin is in bed, sprawled across my side and Joe’s, like a starfish unable to commit to one side or the other. He’s cool and calm, so still I keep checking his breath. He is never this still during the daylight hours.
And yet, despite the lateness, and the dark waiting outside, I want to go for a walk. I want, desperately, to meander down by the river in the buttery yellow light of streetlamps. It’s daft, but something Joe and I used to do often, here and at home, though it was harder to get near the river in Australia. The Brisbane River is polluted–though not as badly as it was–and brown, and unappealing. People sail and row and ride the City Cat to work. They don’t stroll along the banks, or picnic, or have D&Ms that reach long into night.
Regardless of river, though, I can’t walk. It’s late, our car was broken into yesterday, and there is a sleeping kidlet in the next room who needs a functional mummy tomorrow morning. So instead, I’m sitting here, in the comfy chair, with most of the lights off, thinking about the walks I’d like to take, or take again…
…around Harvard Square, in a summer twilight, ending with a dance in the pit while a Beatles cover band plays loud and fast (~3 years ago)…
…by the Charles, watching the moonlight tango club, and tapping my feet to the beat (~4 years ago)…
…through the Botanical Gardens at Mt. Coo-tha, climbing up the slow, winding path to the war memorial at the top, where I’m cold and shivery in the wind, even in (a Queensland) summer (too many years to remember)…
…through a pine forest, where the needles are blue, and the ground smells just a little burnt, like the best chocolate chip cookies…
…through the “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama, though perhaps with an invisibility cloak. I’ve always wanted to see those moments where Scout realises Mr. Raymond isn’t a drunk, and Atticus defending Tom Robinson up close. As much as I love that movie, I’m sure neither it nor my imagination do them justice.
…through New York, with a pair of Holden Caulfield sunglasses. I’ve only been a handful of times, and it still holds a crazy, starry-eyed, Breakfast at Tiffany’s appeal. I don’t want to live like Holden–I love my life–but I’d like to see like him, just once.
…around the peak of a snow-topped mountain, where everything is fresh and new, rich, lush, and verdant, except with white instead of green. Also, where most of the snow (but not all) tastes like marzipan.
I could go on, but my eyes are closing, and my typing is slowing. It’s time for bed. I have a kidlet to take care of, a Joe to talk to, a long run, story time cooking, shopping, and half a dozen other things ahead. But I hope I dream about marzipan cloud forests rather than checklists. Just. This. Once.Read More
Will Grayson, Will Grayson gets so many things right it’s almost painful to read.
There are so many things to love about this book. Written by YA power duo David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and John Green (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines), it’s ridiculous and absurd and somehow wonderful, like a Benny Hill/Monty Python/It’s a Wonderful Life mashup suffering from ‘roid rage. It is almost everything I wish I could be when I grow up.
And, no, that’s not me being writerly and metaphorical (well, it is, but not in the crazy sense). It’s just the truth.
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Based on the blurb, Will Grayson, Will Grayson should be just another high school coming of age book. And in some ways, it is–it’s about belonging, place, owning yourself, owning your emotions, and so on and so forth. It’s also about voice.
Told in alternating–and patented?–Will View, the book switches between two incredibly different voices.
chapter one (Will Grayson 1)
When I was little, my dad used to tell me, “Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper.
Tiny Cooper is not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is really really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large. Tiny has been my best friend since fifth grade, except for all last semester, when he was busy discovering the sheer scope of his own gayness, and I was busy having an actual honest-to-God Group of Friends for the first time in my life, who ended up Never Talking to Me Again due to two slight transgressions…
chapter two (Will Grayson 2)
i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me.
those seem to be the two choices. everything else is just killing time.
right now, i’m walking through the kitchen to get to the back door.
mom: have some breakfast.
i do not eat breakfast. i never eat breakfast. i haven’t eaten breakfast since i was able to walk out the back door without eating breakfast first.
mom: where are you going?
school, mom. you should try it some time.
mom: don’t let your hair fall in your face like that – i can’t see your eyes.
but you see, mom, that’s the whole fucking point.
i feel bad for her – i do. a damn shame, really, that i had to have a mother. it can’t be easy having me for a son. nothing can prepare someone for that kind of disappointment.
These voices are the reason I kept reading the book. Yes, Tiny Cooper is funny. Yes, the plotline–and the ending–is Benny Hill/Monty Python/It’s a Wonderful Life ridiculous. But these things–great as they are–aren’t enough to carry a book on their own. And they’re certainly not enough to forge an emotional connection with.
I’ve read books with depressing narrators before. My own work-in-progress features a screwed-up kid with issues. But aside from Justina Chen’s North of Beautiful, where I had a bittersweet sort of reaction, I’ve never read anything quite so viscerally depressed in YA. (For middle grade, check out Ann Dee Ellis’ This is What I Did.)
Although Will Grayson2 may be the more obviously depressed guy, Will Grayson1 has issues, too. And we know they’re coming–after all, his Group of Friends are Never Talking to Him Again, and, we soon learn, he never cries. He’s distant, confused, funny, and unable to process his emotions, a perfect counterpoint to Will Grayson2 who processes so much he could beat Deep Blue in the Special Get In Touch With Your Feelin’s Edition of Monopoly.
So here’s a quick overview–truly, I can’t do this book justice, so if you want more, go read it–of the good side of Will Grayson, Will Grayson:
- Authenticity–these characters are mean. Not I hate you forever and wish a cyclops would eat your spleen mean, but the sort of mean teenagers are to each other. They cry, they shout, they insult–and they get over it, with nary a saccharine sachet in sight.
- (Dis)honesty–When we think of honesty, unsurprisingly, we think of truth. But in YA–in fiction–truth is flexible. Neither Will Grayson is honest with himself–they’re not full-on unreliable narrators, but there is a clear sense that they’re both lying to themselves, handled in a very realistic (but subtle) way.
- Humor–it’s easy to say, “here’s a lesson I learned from this book: be funny!” It’s hard to be funny. But one thing Will Grayson, Will Grayson does make clear is this: don’t go for the obvious line. Levithan
( @loversdiction ) and @therealJohnGreen could have made obvious gay jokes or fat jokes or depressed jokes. They didn’t. Instead, they went for something just shy of insane, and it worked. If you replaced the “world’s largest person who is really really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large” line above with something more obvious and Simpsonesque, the book would’ve face-planted almost immediately.
- Language–the authors don’t shy away from bad language, but they don’t showcase it either. It’s believable, and sometimes dirty, but it’s fitting. (I’m told Sherman Alexie does an excellent job of this, too, but I haven’t read him yet.)
- Secondary characters–If voice is the greatest strength of this book, secondary characters are,well, the second greatest. The novel is full of characters we recognize–cool kids, deliberately uncool kids &c–and Tiny Cooper. And although they’re recognizable, the supporting cast doesn’t play to type. Instead, they’re realistically sketched. Not explored–that’s not the point of the book, and would slice the Will Graysons self-deceptions to ribbons–but well-sketched.
- These kids have parents–this may be a small point, but I love reading YA that acknowledges parents exist. I’ve covered some of the reasons for absentee parents in YA in the past, but I much prefer having the existence of the Really Tall People Who Make The Money* acknowledged in the books I read. Why? Because for most of us (myself included) parents are a reality: we grew up with them there. Even if characters don’t interact with them much, they’re important, because (again, for most of us) they help shape who we are. And besides, a book without even the slightest acknowledgement of the Really Tall People is like a contemporary novel set that doesn’t acknowledge the existence of cell phones or the internet: unrealistic**.
Of course, not all books are sweetness and light. Much as I love this novel, I had questions and worries, several of which I’m still trying to get my head around. So I’ll be back later with a follow up post, Will Grayson, Will Grayson: The Confusing Side.
Wondering where the names came from? Here are Levithan and Green, via an interview with Amazon.
We decided that I (David) would choose our character’s first name, and John would choose his last name. I liked the name Will because of its different, sometimes contradictory, meanings. As a noun, it can be so strong – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and whatnot. But as a verb, it’s split. Sometimes it’s just as definite (It will be done!), but that definiteness is underscored by an uncertainty – you say it will be done, but it hadn’t been done yet, has it? And put it at the start of a question (“Will you still love me tomorrow?”) and it becomes the entrance for all kinds of vulnerability. That seemed right for the characters.
I liked Grayson because whenever I would hear that name, it always sounded to me like “grace in,” which always struck me as a richly ambiguous phrase – is “grace in” the beginning of a clause or the end of it? Are we being asked to find grace in something, or to let grace in? Those questions seemed like interesting ones for the guy I wanted to write about.
*No, I am not really tall. My parents are not really tall. But when I think kid-view, I imagine things from 20 month old, 3′ Mir’s perspective–and that makes me Really Tall.
**I know, cell phones are not a reality for all contemporary novels. There are books set in places where they don’t exist, but these aren’t the majority. Technology is a fact of life; books set in era/place with digital know-how can’t afford to gloss over it without good reason.
ETA, 5:03 pm:My critique partner and friend Amitha also has a short review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson–it was our group pick last month; authors’ Twitter IDs.Read More
Beautiful Creatures is a marvelous, challenging book, completely outside my regular taste–and I love it.
Generally speaking, I don’t read romance. I’m not against the idea of it, but I prefer stories where love isn’t the driving force solely for love’s sake. But every now and then, a book hits me–really hits me–and I find myself questioning everything.
Beautiful Creatures is one of those books.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
Actually, it’s more than a feel. Here are just some of the ways Beautiful Creatures strikes gothic chords:
- Exploring entrapment – Lena isn’t a woman trapped in a domestic setting (a la Jane or Cathy) but she is trapped between her power and the curse. And in this world, the curse setting is almost domestic.
- Forbidding mansion and gloomy villain. I can’t reveal more without significant spoilerage, but you’ll see what I mean if you grab the book (which you should!).
- The madwoman in the attic trope – Lena definitely isn’t Bertha, but there are clear elements of Bertha (Rochester’s wife in Jane Eyre) in the story.
- Questioning social structures – this may be a reach, but the exploration of the town of Gatlin and the theme of belonging vs. other fit the bill to me. It also has a bit of a Frankenstein vibe, which I love. (If you haven’t read Shelley’s Frankenstein, grab it from Project Gutenberg now!)
Right now, Beautiful Creatures is fresh in my mind–I finished it this morning, in public, and did the staring at something trick Ethan mentions in later chapters to keep myself from blubbering like an idiot in a room full of old ladies drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and gossiping louder than crows. (It may sound bad, but it’s actually a really fun place to read, with lots of setting and character swirling around.) But here are my briefest, most important thoughts about the book, mostly from a craft perspective; a proper review will follow next Tuesday, when I’ve had time to process.
- Beautiful Creatures is a duet, something I rarely see done well (Warriors series, I’m looking at you).
- The missing people–Ethan’s mom is dead, Lena’s parents are dead–hang over the text, giving poignancy to the story without crossing into the melodramatic.
- The dialogue of the South is readable, understandable. I can’t testify to how people in the South actually speak, as I’ve only met one person, and not been farther from the Northeast than California, Utah, Arizona, and Florida. But there are distinct speech patterns in this book, with unique voices, that make sense and are easy to hear. Most attempts at regional dialect (including my own) fall flat. These do not.
- Geekiness. Before I knew @MargaretStohl wrote video games, I’d spotted the Zelda reference, and giggled. That sort of call back always draws me in.
- Trope tipping – having read a fair few classics and yet more fairy tales, I’m pretty attuned to tropes. And while Beautiful Creatures does have quite a few, and I did half-predict the ending, the tropes weren’t bland stereotypes, but rather explorations. Nothing, truly, is as it seems in this book, and that’s a good chunk of what makes it beautiful.
- Research – again, I can’t speak to knowledge of the South, but there are parts of this book that reek of research. Not in an onion breath way, but rather in a well-rounded, knowledgeable way that gives the story more depth.
- Prose. There are many things to love about this book, but I wouldn’t have continued reading if the prose hadn’t grabbed me.
- Book-love. It’s clear throughout this book that the characters and the authors value books, and that makes me happy. (Read @KamiGarcia’s list of favorite classic science fiction & fantasy novels – we have pretty much all the YA & kidlit books in common! (I’m not really a fan of The Giver.))
Next week, a real review, with all the stops, commas, semi-colons, and apostrophes this book deserves. ‘Til then, Happy Friday, Folks!
Have you read Beautiful Creatures? What did you think? Who was your favorite character? Will you read the next book, Beautiful Darkness?
Update: this post was meant to publish at 2pm EST on Friday, but I forgot my WP settings are on 24 hour time, so it pre-pubbed for 2am Friday. I’ve corrected it now to reflect the real time it was supposed to drop.Read More
@shala_darkstone & Maggie Gibson!
All in all, there were 23 entries – not bad for my first contest – and the winners were picked via Random.org. And there will be plenty of chances to win again, as I’m going to run a book contest every time I hit a new 100 follower milestone. So stay tuned – I’m at 841 followers right now, which means it’s not long ’til the 900 giveaway!
Congrats to Shala & Maggie! I’ll update with the books they choose once I have the details.
Thanks, everyone!Read More