#amwriting – How I write and what it costs

I saw a video by Vivien Reis recently, and started on a reply. Then I decided to put it here.

It’s been remarked that you can write either for money, for Art, or for pleasure. And while one does not necessarily exclude the other, these do push against each other a bit. If like Vivien, you write for money, you have to keep in mind that you need to write what you can sell. Me, I am an amateur. I am strictly an amateur, because writing to me is an important way to forget the present when I need to. I also need the ability to completely drop the book for a few weeks or even months, without anyone breathing down my neck. So I am uncompromisingly in the “Pleasure” slice. I don’t need, nor even want to make money off my writing. So now you know my motivations in writing, I thought I’d give you my cost rundown, or the freebies that I get.

Writing software: I use the Linux equivalent of Notepad, gedit. All my writings live on my home server in flat text files. I don’t want anything more elaborate, because chances are you will end up playing with the software rather than writing. I’m a Unix geek, and there is literally nothing you cannot do to a text file under Unix. Change the name of a character over twenty files is no trouble at all. For version control, I use Git, which also lets me keep multiple copies of all my books on my server, my laptop, my desktop. and keep track of changes everywhere. If anyone else uses the same method, I will be most surprised, but this is my thing.

Publishing software: I’m a Perl hacker, so I use a Perl script (Perl 5 of course, Perl 6 is for source code artists). It takes my texts and turns it into HTML. I keep the actual text as simple as possible, and do all of the formatting magic using Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). I tend not to use pictures, and on the rare occasions I do have them, I’ll hack them in manually. I use the HTML to put things into Archive Of Our Own, or into this free WordPress account. If WordPress wants to make some ad money to keep their servers running, that’s fine by me. I also stick the HTML into Calibre, and then use Calibre to convert it to .mobi, PDF, or epub. Those files get uploaded to my ISP’s web server, and linked to from here.

Editors and proofreaders: I have no editors, and I don’t want to pay for one. So my standing barter is, I’ll proofread yours if you’ll proofread mine. I do miss having proofreaders, because I invariably find errors after I stick my books up here. Such is life.

Front page design: This is one thing I do spend money on. All my front pages are drawn by Lindsey Batdorf (who appears in the stories as Linda Davenport), and are then cover-designed by Corinne Pritchard (Rina Prescott). These ladies are very good at what they do.

Things I won’t work with: There’s a few things I will not use, for one reason or another.

  • Word processors of any ilk. These things tend to be feature-creeped into infinity, and they mess with the words I type. I am tired of autocorrects that don’t know the meaning of the word STET. Tired of choosing out of thousands of nearly identical fonts that will get overridden on the first edit, tired of all the crap they insert into their HTML or PDF output, tired of when they do to words what food processors do to food. Flat text all the way. No surprises.
  • On-line document storage. I firmly believe that data you care about belongs on your own computers. So no google docs, no google drive, and things like WordPress of Archive Of Our Own are publishing sites, not storage sites. They are not even all that convenient anyway.

And that’s basically it. Literature on a budget.


#AlgernonExpeditions Fire From The Gods in E-reader formats

Gentle Reader,

Our expedition reports have been up on the World Wide Web for a while now, but some of you may wish to take this text away with you on expeditions of your own, after all nothing diverts one from one’s insect bites, heat stroke, thirst, frostbite, violent cryptids, poisonous vegetation and other misery than reading about someone else’s.

Since we are once more on the wing on the Airship Lady I, I certainly would. This current expedition promises to be mostly one with man-made horrors.

Read on-line: Fire From The Gods. Download: PDF, MOBI, EPUB


Prof. Alan Wadcroft, Algernon University, Ipswich.

#AlgernonExpeditions – Fire from the Gods – Andre Dupont: The colour of light

Gentle Reader,

Andre Dupont: The colour of light

This is the third chapter in our adventure, unusual in that it was translated from French by Miss Tennant. It is taken from a small notebook from a Dr. Andre Dupont of Paris University and offers a unique insight into the goings-on in the Prometheus organisation. It is not, on the whole, a heartening experience. Magister Slate rules his domain with an iron fist, and nobody is safe.

Prof. Wadcroft

#AlgernonExpeditions – Fire from the Gods – Godfrey Pike: The quiet life

Gentle Reader,

Please refer to: Godfrey Pike: The quiet life

This is the next installment in our ongoing report of the Tennant expedition into the Sudanese desert, this time from the hand of our new Head of Security and Recent History professor, Godfrey Pike. If you want to know who Winston is, I have no idea. Probably a code name for one of the more shadowy figures in Her Majesty’s secret service. I’m afraid Dr. Pike’s start was not an easy one. We have not had to remove a dead body since the rather exciting attempt to whip up a batch of Dioxygen Difluoride. I think high energy Alchemy should be left to the experts, who at least know when they are likely to die.


Dr. Alan Wadcroft

#AlgernonExpeditions Fire from the Gods, Fatin: Up among the clouds

Gentle Reader,

At long last, the final draft of our latest expedition report has been submitted to the person whose unenviable task it is to make these words available to the general public. The first report comes from the hand of Mrs. Fatin Tennant, who is steering Lady I to new horizons as I write this.

Perhaps to introduce a little levity into an otherwise fairly severe report, we will also, with permission, include selected articles from Algernon University’s student newspaper, mostly from the hands of Miss Linda Davenport and Miss Rina Prescott.

The first report may be found here: Fatin: Up among the clouds. Please enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment.

Prof. Dr. Alan Wadcroft


Coming soon: Fire from the gods


Gentle Reader,

This is a simple note to tell you that the airship Lady I has returned from the Sudanese deserts, bearing tales both gruesome and heartening. I myself have played only a tangential part in these adventures, so I will not be writing any reports myself, only collate, edit, and gather up the reports written mostly by the Tennant family and our new Head of Security, Dr. Godfrey Pike.

Please be advised that these tales are not for the faint of heart, as we are dealing with adversaries who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims.

Yours as always,
Prof. Dr. Alan Wadcroft

Was it something I said? (@JaclynGlenn)

In different places, where I play in the gardens of other writers and artists, I have an almost perfect reputation for incorrectly predicting what will happen in future episodes. I had really hoped that I might be spared this experience in the hallowed halls of Algernon University. But it seems I cannot escape this curse even here, where I (supposedly) have full control over what happens. Continue reading