STAR CX: Chapter 1 – Legends and Myths

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STAR CX

Stew Stunes


STAR CX is being published in an 8 part serialized format, Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls is the first novella in the series. Each week I will be posting chapters from the series for viewing on my blog. For those that enjoy this series, I invite you to purchase the ebook or paperback editions of this story as a way of supporting this independent author; also reviews, likes, replies, retweets, and feedback are extremely helpful and encouraged.

“In space, there is no light but which you make for yourself.”

STAR CX follows two heavenly bodies that through an unbelievable mistake end up going on a journey across space and lifetimes. A mashup of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, mixed with spicy romance and sweet slice-of-life moments. This saga begins with a cosmic collision and ends in the world of Aura. Picking up 600 years after The King’s Challenge with a multitude of diverse characters, STAR CX is a story unlike any other in this world or the Universe of Chaos.


Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls

Chapter 1 – Legends and Myths

 

In space, there is no light but which you make for yourself. Distance beyond imagination separates one source of light from another. True one may catch a wink of a nearby star, but no warmth can be found from such remote positions.

Such was the life for the star known as Saturnine, whose only goal in life was to get close enough to another star to be warmed by one. He had spent his entire life, a short half a billion years, orbiting the galaxy without so much as being within shouting distance of another star and he was beginning to feel cold. Though he generated some 50,000 degrees of heat and was old enough to see the irony of his feelings, he could not shake the understanding that his core felt cold. Was it just loneliness that drove this cold spell or could it be a more troubling sign of things to come for the brooding star.

The cold and the dark continued to rush by Saturnine as his orbit advanced endlessly forward, for he had no control of his path. The star shivered and wondered why he was experiencing such sensations and emotion. His thoughts grew envious of the nebula and those stars lucky enough to entertain planetary systems around them. They had families, neighbors, communities, and most of all friends. Words he only understood by vocabulary, not through experience.

If only he could meet just one star and hold a deep conversation, he felt he could be satisfied with the rest of his orbit. What would he say, Saturnine pondered, suddenly nervous at the prospect of meeting another star. ”Hello. I’m a star,” He spoke aloud and felt his cheeks reddening from embarrassment. That statement alone would inevitably begin and end any bit of profoundness that his imaginary future conversation would hold.

As stars have little else to fill their time with, he decided the best course of action would be to sleep. Maybe in a decade or two when he awoke his mood and position will have improved enough for him to meet a fellow star or at least not be so gloomy. For the first time in many centuries, he looked beyond his horizon towards the faint dots of light far away and smiled before drifting off into a deep slumber.

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“We must head back and make camp for the night.” A tall man shouted at a small crowd of bystanders. The group was looking out over an enormous canyon. This place was where the road ended and thus did to civilization. The man gave one last bored look at the dry river bed far below, and turned away, repeating himself louder and with less joy in his voice. “Come on, all of you, we must stick together, let’s move.”

He felt a tad bit guilty about stretching the truth of the dangers of the wilds around them to get the group moving. It wasn’t even his tongue that had started the rumors that whoever went over the edge of the world into the canyons below never returned. It was a legend that had been a part of the local culture for many generations. He was only using it to get their attention in an attempt to hasten their return and be done with this favor to the Rokh of Priam.

The young man led the group back the dirt path towards their camp. The tour guide, Aster Unni, stood a head taller than the average man and had aged into his mid-twenties quite respectably. Although his demeanor was usually quite friendly and casual with unknown acquaintances, he gave off a rough edge. Seemingly always holding onto a week’s worth of wild, dark growth around his face. If one were to give him a second look past his rugged exterior, as many women had remarked through his life, he had eyes so gold and rare they made anyone who stared into them feel much more valuable as if they were the object of the world’s desire.

“Is it true, what they say about this place?” an elderly woman by the name of Lady Maurie Wright asked from the huddle behind Aster.

Aster, turned his head to acknowledge Maurie’s question, he did not slow down. “And what do they say about this place?”

Her husband, Sir Theodore Wright, came to her side and spoke for her. “How it all happened. How this great divide came to be. They say it isn’t natural, that it was some…some…some kind of…”

“Aye, My Lord and Lady, I know of the legend you speak of,” Aster answered. It was a story all men, women, and children of the northern territory of Priam knew. The legend told of a god that spent his life down on Aura. The God Priamia, who for the region was named after, had dug out the earth below them in search of a lost treasure. The mountains far to the east were created from the piles of earth during the god’s great conquest. Different accounts of the legend had the treasure being of gold, some had it as a diamond bigger than the sun, others spoke of a fight between Priamia and another god in which Priamia’s love was buried alive under the earth. All of the different accounts ended the same way, Priamia was unable to find his treasure and became so enraged that he jumped into the western ocean and was never seen again and if any were to dig up his lost treasure they would be granted eternal life or some other such fanciful wish.

Aster looked back over the crowd’s anxious faces. They all knew some version of the story. Each one in the party, he was leading, were of some noble bloodline and held high power over the region. The fact that the Rokh of Priam had come to him and personally asked if he would guide this caravan to the end of civilization still surprised Aster. Who until about a month ago was only known as a semi-famous frontiersman who spent more nights than he liked to admit singing and playing his 5-stringed lute in taverns all across Aura. Aster had spent much of his early life in the scouting trade, discovering new paths and laying the foundations for roads that would shape nations and cities into the form they now existed. As he traveled between towns and cities, mapping new routes for quicker journeys of safe travel, it became easier negotiating with people when they saw him as a joyous buffoon instead of a gruff frontiersman whose only job was to rip away their land and give it to the crown. His duty as a frontiersman had taken him far and wide to places unknown to anyone on this side of Aura, and yet there were many days of Aster’s life where he felt as if it were all a dream and he was missing a significant portion of his life in some thick fog of his own. To an irony that only he could understand, the songs he sang and played had become the only thing he could remember from specific points in his life, and all else was lost. Unbeknownst to him, his traveling antics were more famous than he even knew and he was forced by obligation into the spot he now found himself in. “I wish that I could say I have seen Priamia’s lost treasure myself. What a glorious song I could make with such a tale.”

He could see a vague disappointment fall over their eyes. And Aster realized this was the very reason they had asked him to guide them. “…although I do have a first-hand account of the day Priamia left this world behind.”

An audible gasp of excitement was let out from the group. “This is a long story, I will tell you all of it once we make it back to camp and we are safe. Although it has been many many years since there has been any trouble in the wilds around us, we must return to our camp before the night fog rolls in, I cannot risk us traveling under darkness. Once safe, you will hear a story like you’ve never heard before.”

Smiles and excitement spread across their faces, and the speed of their steps increased. Aster turned his head back to front and lead the way as he had to hide a smirk that surely would have gotten him in trouble, should they have noticed.

By the time they had made it back to their wagon camp, the sun was sitting low in the sky, and the temperature was dropping. They crossed a slender bridge and were greeted by an accompaniment of cheers from a handful of guards and servants who had stayed behind to protect their belongings. The tight grouping split apart into smaller couples and drifted towards their own covered wagons. Aster stood in the middle, and he was alone.

This camp had been his home for nearly 4 moon passes, and he could not remember a time when he had stayed so long in one place. He had no reason for staying in this area for so long, as he had an open invitation to aide the Rokh of Rochus in planning a new trade route between Rochus and the city closest to the mountains Frej. He decided at that moment it was because the tall cedar trees around him smelled nice and made him feel cozy and safe away from the hustle and bustle of the heartland of Aura. As soon as he saw these nobles and merchants off, he would head south and start on the long journey, again.

Night fell, a meal of roasted boar was cooked and ate to fill, and everyone; the noblemen and women, their guards and servants, gathered around the campfire to hear the promised story.

Aster stood up so suddenly that, Madam Strong, yelped from the surprise. Without saying a word, Aster picked up a large bucket of water, ran to the stream and filled it with water. He tugged it back to the group, and without explanation, doused the smoldering flames with the water. Smoke and ash billowed up, the flames hissed, and all of the people jumped back.

With the fire no longer present, and nothing but the stars above them for light it became very dark. Aster lit a single lantern and placed it upon a hook at the door of his wagon.

“Well, are you going to tell us a story or not?” He could hear Theodore Wright complain.

In but the faintest of light, Aster raised a finger to his lips, and the murmurs of discontent ceased. “Has anyone here met a person who was able to climb down to the bottom of the canyon, reach the other side, and return home?”

The camp shook their heads. It was indisputable legend that once a person reached the other end of the canyon and tried to return one would be struck down by some invisible force. Most people considered it to be a spirit or a curse left behind by the god Priamia, but no one was ever brave enough to venture out and find the truth. “Of course not. We all know of the curse of the canyon and the hidden treasure of Priamia. But I am here to tell you that I have ventured across the wasteland and returned.”

“Surely you lie,” Madam Strong’s husband Petre interjected.

“Nigh, this I tell you is the truth.” Underneath the light of the lantern, Aster ripped open his shirt and displayed his back to everyone. Scars ran the length of his body as if he had been whipped severely for years on end. “These scars bare truth to the words I say. For all the wounds you see before you are a by-product of my trying to return.”

Aster picked up his 5-stringed lute and strummed a chord. As he spoke, he began playing a soft melody that mixed with his words like a calm spell over all that had gathered to hear. “I believe it was over five thousand years ago. Priamia, the god of bounty and plenty, lived and ate with our grandfathers as if we were his equal. It is said that there has never been nor will there ever be a time with greater parties and feasts. Writings and inscriptions from that period tell of feasts that would not end for an entire season.”

Oh great Priamia,
Yea you gave us so much plenty-ia
We drink, and we eat all day-ia
The summers are long, the winters be mild
The harvest, big enough to feed ten thousand child
Oh great Priamia, thank you dearly can we have some more
Oh great Priamia, we do owe you great thanks
Oh Great Priamia, Can we have some more-ia
Yea you fed us till our belly burst
We ate, and we drank all night-ia
The summers are sweet and the winters by bitter
The harvest could be larger
Oh great Priamia, thank you truly can we have some more”

Aster ended his song by hitting his thumb on the lute and creating a loud thunk noise that brought everyone out of the lively tune. “As you might have guessed Priamia grew weary of our forefather’s constant demand for more and more food and ale. They had so much food not a single child went to bed hungry, and not a single beggar was there to be found. And yet they still requested more. It was around this time that Priamia encountered a beautiful woman. She was a fair-hearted girl from far on the other side of the sea. Some say she brought the night fog to this world, others claim she was not even human.”

Gasps of shock could be heard from the captivated audience. There was nothing more in the world that people on this side of the word feared more than non-human, intelligent fulken creatures.

“I hear what you are saying. How could a God so revered be captivated by something so lowly as an undesirable? I do not have an answer, but it is said that Priamia abandoned us and left to travel the world with, Avice. It was many years after the great bountiful harvests had ended and many children went to bed hungry, and the beggars had returned that our first king of Priam, King Judocous set out to find Priamia and do whatever it took to bring him back.

One, Two, Three, where art he
I will find you, I promise thee
I’ll travel to New Redren or Althea
I’ll even go over to ol’ town Hildumar
I’ll search every tomorrow
until I find that old Priamia
Can you grant us one more har’
I cannot fail and return with such sorrow”

As far as Aster could tell the crowd was perfectly setup for the climax of the story. They each sat with their faces and necks strained forward so none would miss a single word. At this moment Aster could not help but feel like a real king. “Judocous never found Priamia, but…and this is the piece to the story all others lack, he found Avice. The search had gone on for months, and no sign of the god of bounty and plenty could be found, and so Judocous having no other choice took Avice captive and brought her back with him. If he could not find Priamia, he knew that Priamia would come and find them if his love was missing. And as Judocous presupposed it happened. One foggy day Priamia returned, angrier than anyone had ever seen the god before, and challenged Judocous for his love.

Give her back to me, or I’ll flatten this town
Return our harvests, demanded great Judo
Judocous ran off into the night
Priamia gave chase but lost them in fog
The forest became a maze of wit and strength
The God promised to never feed a single mouth again
Oy! Judo never gave in and fought on
Oy! Judo never gave in and fought on
The God promised to never quench another thirst
Oy! Judo never gave in and fought on
Oy! Judo never gave in and fought on
Judocous hid Priamia’s love in a labyrinth
Oy! Pria dug and dug, always searching on
Oy! Pria dug and dug, always searching on
Judocous hid Priamia’s love down below
Oy! Pria dug and dug, always searching on
Oy! Pria dug and dug, always searching on
Oy! Judo never gave in and fought on
Oy! Pria dug and dug, always searching on

And as the legends tell true, Priamia dug out the entire area of Norsur into the canyon you saw earlier today. T’was a bittersweet day when Priamia gave up on finding his love and fled into the sea. Humans would have to learn on their own how to raise crops and cattle. They would never again enjoy such luxury, and all who dared to venture out in search of his lost treasure would find themselves lost in an endless maze. Aye, King Judocous had tricked a god, but it was him the people blamed for ultimately losing their plenty and bounty.”

Aster blew out the lamp, and total darkness and fog filled the atmosphere with dread and mystery. “That my friends is the true tale of Priamia’s legend.”

“How is it that you know this one to be true? I’ve heard it quite differently. Priamia hid precious stones and jewels as payment for his helping us grow food and crops. One day Priamia returned, and all of his precious stones and jewels were gone. He tore up half of all of Aura in his anger, believing that we humans had taken them he destroyed many thousands of cantitrools worth of crops and land. He then gave up and cursed this land, before jumping into the ocean to never be seen again.” An immensely wealthy and rotund merchant by the name of Christopher Juhnson recalled.

“Mmm, yes I too have heard that account, and many other variations during my travels so naturally I wanted to seek out the truth, and so I did,” Aster assured, reigniting the lamp so that all could see him again. “You see these scars, Yes, I got them when all other tales had run out, and I was forced to find out the truth on my own, and so I ventured down into the canyon of Norsur. It is an arduous five-day journey to get to the other side of the canyon. Even more so being alone, you see I asked for help, but none were brave enough to accompany me, and some even hit me and called me a fool for daring to suggest such a journey. But on my own strength and resources I made it to the other side, once there I could not find a way to climb out of the canyon, you see it was at least a 300 cantibles tall vertical wall with no place to scale the wall. I spent three days walking along the edge in search of a way up but none I could find. Running out of supplies, I hung my head and started my return. That was when I met her.”

“Who? Who did you meet? The woman from the story, but that’s impossible she’d have to be over 5000 years old.” Maurie Wright couldn’t help but interject and ask aloud.

“Yes, I met Avice in the frozen desert of Norsur. And as legend does say she was beautiful but unique like nothing I’ve ever seen nor will see again. She was neither human nor was she undesirable, no she was something else. Avice wore a dress made of the most vibrant feathers, her skin shone with a hue of indigo-blue, and from her back sprouted beautiful wings of auburn feathers.”

“Could she have been one of the long-extinct drakkon-kin?” Christopher Juhnson asked.

“I don’t believe so, Upon seeing her, I could immediately tell her body and her spirit were in two different places. I was merely meeting with what remained of her soul. I will admit I tried to turn back and run away, you can understand my fright, but it suddenly became so foggy that I could not see. Having no other choice, I turned back and came face to face with Avice. She told me “no one may leave the labyrinth, as I have not been freed, so you too shall remain forever.” I asked her if there were any way that I could earn my freedom. She replied that the only way was to find her and set her spirit free.” Aster’s last words faded into the shifting mist around them.

“Well did you find her?” Petre Strong asked for everyone.

“I am here, standing before you am I not.”

“Then tell us, you can’t leave it at that.”

“Perhaps over-morrow, I will reveal, be warned it is not a story with a happy ending,” Aster conceded.

The small gathering around the smoldering embers grumbled about the unfinished ending of the tale, but Aster could tell from their excited whispers that they were happy with the story he had recanted. A wave of yawns and other sign of exhaustion after a long day on the trail swept through them, and pair by pair the group splintered off to their own wagon or tent.

Once the majority of the crowd had left, Christopher Juhnson stepped towards Aster and held up a finger. “Before I knock off, I want to tell you. Your story reminded me of one my grandmother’s grandmother used to say. It’s been passed down a few generations, to put it mildly. In those days, she went by the name of Joi Retsina and lived south on the edge of the forest of Ildunn, she would tell of a mysterious traveler who came through the area, who sang of tales of times when gods walked among humans. She talked of him in a way as if he was a long past lover. One tale she enjoyed, in particular, was one of a god losing his love in a thick fog, but that traveler was able to reunite the God and his lost love, but one night before the traveler could complete the story, he disappeared and never made it back to tell the end. Have you ever heard of such a story?”

Aster did not reply, merely smiling with only his face, his eyes remained sad and far off. “I’ve heard so many stories throughout my years, It’s hard to say really.”

“No need to worry, I get it. It’s a part of your trade by nature. Your lie is safe with me, but there is one thing about your story that I wonder about.”

“And what would that be?” Aster asked without a smile.

“I’ve had my share of fistfights and brawls with steel. I know cuts and bruises nearly as well as a healer, and I can swear it to anyone, those scars all over your body are no mere lashes from a whip or a knife. They be burns, don’t they be? And those burns look bad enough to kill more than a man.”

“Doubt all you want, but the next time you find yourself standing before a god, try escaping the incident without any signs of damage,” he challenged.

“You can’t possibly expect me to believe you, a liar and a coward, a soft man with a song in his heart, could venture and return from which no man has with but a few burns and scars.” Christopher bawled his fists up at Aster as if he wanted to hit him.

“Believe what you like, makes no difference to me,” Aster assured with a confident wave of his hand.

“Thank you for your time, you dirty Fulke.” Christopher huffed and walked off into the darkness leaving Aster to his own remote thoughts. If they had been in a town with more people, calling someone, a fulke would be tantamount to declaring a death sentence for Aster, like calling him a treasonous murderer of the worst degree. Fulke was the Auraian word for undesirable non-human, sentient, slightly magical creatures.

“Night be with you,” Aster cursed out into the fading light.


Chapter 2 – Hruks- 10/25/2017

If you like this story and would like to support the author please consider purchasing a physical copy of the novel you are reading or sharing this blog with a friend.

2017 © Stew Stunes

 

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STAR CX: Chapter 0 – Prologue

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STAR CX

Stew Stunes


STAR CX is being published in an 8 part serialized format, Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls is the first novella in the series. Each week I will be posting chapters from the series for viewing on my blog. For those that enjoy this series, I invite you to purchase the ebook or paperback editions of this story as a way of supporting this independent author; also reviews, likes, replies, retweets, and feedback are extremely helpful and encouraged.

“I wish to go on an Adventure…”

STAR CX follows two heavenly bodies that through an unbelievable mistake end up going on a journey across space and lifetimes. A mashup of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, mixed with spicy romance and sweet slice-of-life moments. This saga begins with a cosmic collision and ends in the world of Aura. Picking up 600 years after The King’s Challenge with a multitude of diverse characters, STAR CX is a story unlike any other in this world or the Universe of Chaos.


Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls

Chapter 0 – Prologue

In the sky, we twinkle and dance. Some might even call us angels or celestial bodies on high. It is said that we are traveling at an astronomical rate through the universe, but has anyone ever observed a star move or change its place in the night sky?

Those who look up at us, describe us with words like Velocity, Mass, Gravity, Giant, and Yellow. They use these words to understand us; then they always try to get as close as possible by peering at us. Some others say it’s rude to point and stare, but I can’t help when I blush. In their fiction and stories, they tell of grand tales taking place among us, as if we were an attraction at an amusement park.

One day I would love to get down on their level and tell them – Nothing but helium is burning up here. It is down in your towns and villages where all of the life is happening.

In the sky, we twinkle and dance, but if truth be told we burn with envy at the creatures down below who are more free, then we will ever be.

“I wish to go on an adventure.” She promised to herself and looked beyond her horizon and smiled as she witnessed two stars, far off on the other side of the galaxy, enter into a binary star formation. In this act, promising one another to orbit the galaxy together until the end of the universe.


Chapter 1 – Legends and Myths – 10/18/2017

If you like this story and would like to support the author please consider purchasing a physical copy of the novel you are reading or sharing this blog with a friend.

2017 © Stew Stunes

STAR CX: VS 1 – Available Now!

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The day has finally come! The extremely anticipated release of STAR CX: Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls has arrivedI hope you are as excited as I am to hold your own copy of the first part in this grand adventure.

Amazon Paperback – $6.00

Amazon eBook – $1.49

CreateSpace Paperback – $6.00

“I wish to go on an Adventure…”

STAR CX follows two heavenly bodies that through an unbelievable mistake end up going on a journey across space and lifetimes. A mashup of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, mixed with spicy romance and sweet slice-of-life moments. This saga begins with a cosmic collision, and ends int he world of Aura. Picking up 600 years after The King’s Challenge with a multitude of diverse characters, STAR CX is a story unlike any other in this world or the Universe of Chaos.

STAR CX is being published in an 8 part serialized format, Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls is the first light novel in the series.

Reminder that on Wednesday 10/18/2017, I will start posting chapters from STAR CX here on my blog as a gift to all.

STAR CX: Giveaway!

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I am giving away free copies of my newest book STAR CX: VS 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls. To receive your free eBook, comment here on my blog or reply to this post on Twitter with the name of your favorite comic book/graphic novel and I’ll send you a link to download a free copy of STAR CX: VS 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls.

STAR CX: VS 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls goes on sale 10/16/2017

“I wish to go on an Adventure…”

STAR CX follows two heavenly bodies that through an unbelievable mistake end up going on a journey across space and lifetimes. A mashup of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, mixed with spicy romance and sweet slice-of-life moments. This saga begins with a cosmic collision, and ends int he world of Aura. Picking up 600 years after The King’s Challenge with a multitude of diverse characters, STAR CX is a story unlike any other in this world or the Universe of Chaos.

STAR CX is being published in an 8 part serialized format, Verse 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls is the first light novel in the series.

What is your favorite comic book/graphic novel? Reply with your answer and receive a free copy of the eBook STAR CX: VS 1 – A Saga of Starcrossed Souls. Contest ends 10/14/2017 at 23:59.

 

STAR CX: IN MY HANDS!!!

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THE FINAL PROOF COPY HAS ARRIVED!!!

Finally, got to hold my creation in my hands and I have to say it is a lot slimmer than I thought it would be (that’s what she said). Terrible jokes aside, this feels amazing and I’m even more excited to put this before your eyes on October 16th, 2017.

The cover art catches my eye in such a pleasing way. The matte finish gives it a solid feel, while the pages are crisp and ready to be turned and dog-eared by many.

Imgur album of the physical book!

View post on imgur.com

 

For more hype watch the video below of me reading the Prologue of STAR CX

Write! app: A Review

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I was recently granted a copy of Write!, a new semi web based text editor. I promised to give an honest review in exchange for trying the product.

https://writeapp.co/

Features

  • Distraction free editing
  • Dark Mode! (Thank you)
  • WYSIWYG markup language
  • Syncing and Publish to Medium
  • Advanced sharing options
  • Runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows

First Impression

I was up and running in about 5 minutes from login to download to post install. I have installed Write! on 2 laptops running Linux Mint and Ubuntu. One is fairly new and the other is about 5 years old and is starting to become very slow. I thought this would give it a fair trial as I am sure many readers and writers have a mixed bag of good/bad hardware so it is important to see how it handles on both cases. I have to admit, I was very impressed with how lightweight the desktop app felt. It loads fast, and I never felt that I was slowing down my work because of waiting for technology to load or save, or whathaveyou. I very quickly found how to switch to dark mode, as that is my biggest gripe with Google Docs, pure white backgrounds just blind me now a days so dark modes are very much appreciated.

The only thing that took me a little bit to get used to is that right click pops up a formatting menu instead of spellcheck. Instead Write! underlines a word and in subscript has abc, and one needs to left click on that for spelling suggestions. But once I understood what they were going for with the formatting right-click menu, I really like it, because I don’t have to go wondering up in the usual toolbars to change the font or headings, all I do is right click and tab over to find what I need.

The syncing between multiple computers is also very fast, I can work downstairs then go up to my office and finish what I am doing and the work is the same on all machines. Which is miles better than waiting for dropbox to sync or taking the time to load in google docs.

A Week Later

With a positive first impression, I set out to complete a chapter of my story STAR CX using Write! I was able to take notes, write the chapter, review, edit, export to rtf/pdf(and much more) and a whole lot more without the technology fighting me in some way. On old hardware it felt like it ran just as efficiently as on newer. Other than initial startup, I never had to wait for the app to load or save, it never tried to up sell me on “extra” features, it allowed me to focus on writing and not the tool I was using.

Final thoughts

I’ve been looking for a text editor like this one for a long time. I mainly use Google Docs, but I’ve never loved the experience but just used it for convenience and ease of sharing. In my search of a great text editor, I’ve tried everything from Notepad++ to Focuswrite to Vim to Libre Office, and I believe this app combines the best features of them all while not feeling bloated or overly confusing.

My only negative is that since it is a separate application, it does not integrate with Grammarly or other browser based tools that I use, but that is a very small gripe as neither do any other offline tool and Google Docs does not either.

Cost – $19.99 for a lifetime licence

https://writeapp.co/

LaTeX and Novel Formatting

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Completing a book is the main goal for all authors and writers alike, but that certainly isn’t the end of the hard work, especially if you are an independent author who needs to look at editing, typesetting, cover art, formatting for ebook and print(two very different things), and everyone’s least favorite – advertising. It’s one thing to finish writing a project but as one starts to look at the challenges to put that manuscript in front of your audiences eyes it can become overwhelming. I am writing today to offer some advise on how one can go from manuscript to print read pdf/epub with FREE and opensource tools. Mainly using the framework that is LaTeX.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a free and opensource, formatting and typesetting framework that is normally used with mathematical and scientific text books, due to its flexible nature and ability to render equations in a precise and repeatable fashion. In short, LaTeX is to book formatting as HTML is to web formatting. It simply describes how to render the document, given specific instructions.

With all that said LaTeX is almost perfectly built for formatting novels, short stories, poems, collective works, however you want your work to look, LaTeX can be tweaked to make that happen.

Why LaTeX?

  1. I am an advocate for open source solutions, so I will always try them out even if that means spending a little more time learning them. It took me ~ 1 week to go from vague idea of LaTeX to happy with my final product.
  2. Scrivener only works on Windows/Mac. I use a Linux operating system for everything and my only reason for Windows is recording music and previously formatting with Scrivener. My laptop with Windows was running out of steam, and I am impatient, so I would rather take the time and learn something new, instead of waiting for my laptop to load. LaTeX presented itself as a cross-system compatibly solution.
  3. Couldn’t find anything as powerful. I searched the web for online tools that would help with formatting, and to be honest they all felt like gimmicks instead of just providing a good tool. I wanted to be able to insert images at certain places, take care of front matter, etc, but all the online tools would restrict what I was able to do.
  4. Learn a new skill.

How to LaTeX?

If you are technically inclined I have created a github with all the information and sample files to show a sample of what I have been able to create with LaTeX.

https://github.com/twstewart42/fiction_novel 

For those that are not I will break it down a bit more. All my instructions will be geared towards Linux users, but fear not because all programs discussed are compatible with Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

Install texlive and TexWorks. The full install of texlive will include pretty much every package you could ever dream of in the TeX ecosystem, so it is nice to have everything so that you can quickly try different things and not have to spend time finding and downloading new plugins. TexWorks is a light weight editor/compiler that I find easy to use, there are many different ones out there, with a ton more features but this is what I like.

Use Memoir, as the main document class. This package is made for novels and fiction writing and has a lot of pre-built tools that will help you get to finished much faster.

The below section is from the README on the github page:

main.tex – everything for setup and formatting should go in this document. This includes scripts, macros, includes, font selection, header/footer formatting, etc.

main.tex is the skeleton and brain of your document, with the content in seperate sub documents that will make it much easier for organizing and once you get used to the syntax much clearer where things should be changed and how that effects the document as a whole. One should rename main.tex to be the title of the book for simplification and organization.

frontmatter.tex – This includes title page, dedication, copyright info, and anything that should preceed the novel. With all of these files it is important to visualize and understand how the viewer will see each page (front page, back page, even pages, odd pages) in relation to where content goes. I recommend comparing with other books in your home to see which pages are commonly included.

prologue.tex and chapter-one.tex – These files will hold your novel seperated by chapter. I’ve set them up to auto fill with Lorem Ipsum. which you can see in the included main.pdf

backmatter.tex – this inculdes any extra information at the end of your book.

main.pdf – this is the result of all the above files compiled together and published to a pdf.

Latex to epub

By default, LaTeX is designed to produce a print ready pdf. This is great for those who want to print on demand with CreateSpace or Lulu, but if one tries to convert a pdf directly to an epub one losses a lot of the great formatting as pdfs do not contain structural information so all converters have to guess at what you mean, and most of the times they fail.

Remember as I said above, LaTeX is a formatting/description language much like html, so the goal is to convert tex to html, and use the html version to generate an epub file that can be further refined.

Switch documentclass in main.tex to \documentclass[10pt,ebook,oneside,openany]{memoir} %ebook format. Save.
Install sudo apt install tex4ht for html latex support.
$ htlatex main.tex to produce main.html an html version of the final product. This will also produce a crapton of other support files.

Use Calibre to import the main.html and add metadata, book cover, and convert to .epub. Save .epub to disk.

Import .epub into Sigil and smooth out converting issues to make the document look as you wish. You can also edit metadata and add content at this stage. Save and publish!

Again, all of these tools are available for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.


If all of the above is overly complicated and you would like help with formatting your book. I would be happy to provide consultation services for a flat fee of $100 per book/setup. I find this work highly satisfying and would love to work with you to make your product stand out and appear as professional as a traditionally published book. I can format your book and/or help get you setup so that you can do the same and continue to do so for all of your books future and past.