Publishing Tools – Legend Maker

Publishing Tools – Legend Maker

Normally, the book-building process has two distinctive tasks. First, there’s the writing task where the text is written, reviewed and edited. Once that is finished, the layout effort begins. You may not think there’s much layout necessary for text-only books, but you would be wrong. Margins, fonts, hyphenation, footnotes, bibliographies and many other components are considered to insure the best…

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Give your book a page on your blog

Give your book a page on your blog

As more and more family historians take advantage of today’s self-publishing opportunities to publish our family stories, we are discovering we’re doing more than just researching and writing. We are also editing our projects, doing the layout and designing covers. Even when we hire others to help us, we are still the publisher responsible for all these efforts. We determine how it’s going to be…

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Creative Keynote – The Digital Scrapbook

Since my favorite storytelling format is a digital hybrid somewhere between a journal and a scrapbook, I need a software platform that supports a broad range of features. My favorite storytelling platform has to be Keynote, Apple’s presentation graphics app. You may be more familiar with presentation graphics for building  . . . presentations, but you will be pleasantly surprised to discover they have a creative side too. Keynote, along with Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Corel’s WordPerfect Presentations and OpenOffice’s Impress apps, are also very nice scrapbooking platforms. My storytelling style could be described as a scrapbook with plenty of journaling.

This storytelling style is probably not the best format for a traditional family history. Presentation graphics apps support text, but they are not very good writing platforms. Text does not automatically paginate when you fill up one page and spell-check is probably the only writing-support feature. In my case, I’m building my book from a series of short stories – most of which began as blog posts. I’m blogging my stories as the research/inspiration/memory/whatever motivates them. Later, they may become an element in a digital scrapbook. These scrapbooks will continue to grow as new stories are added. But that’s the joy of digital (one of many, actually). Just add it to the existing project and move things around until it all fits together the way you want.

Since the wordsmithing is already done, my focus is on finding the right supporting media (photos, video and audio) and building an attractive page layout. Although presentation apps all have a number of themes, giving you instant design capabilities, most are focused on the business world. We are beginning to see a few photo book themes appear, but I prefer to begin with a basic white theme and a blank slide.

Childhood Sounds story pageIn this example, the story is about sounds I remember from my childhood in the 1950s. One of those memories is of local shrimp boats motoring out in the early morning. Shrimp boats weren’t often included in my family’s Kodak moments back then so I had to make do with something more recent. This is a photo I took recently and the large amount of sky in the shot meant it had potential as the background to the story’s text. There was one small problem. As a color photo, the picture was the focus – not the text. By using a cheap photo-art app, I converted the photograph to a monochrome sketch which not only allowed the text to stand out, but gave it a vintage look too.

Keynote Collage

If you like collages, Keynote makes creating them easy. Sure, you can buy digital graphics, but you can also turn family ephemera into custom graphics using your scanner.

Traditional scrapbooks – especially those created prior to the digital age – are often an eclectic collection of memorabilia and stories. Because older scrapbooks didn’t always offer the ability to add or rearrange pages, they offered a somewhat chronological look at the events, people and things that person found interesting. Thanks to apps like Keynote, we can build stories in whatever order they come to us, save them into one or more presentation files and rearrange the order of individual stories within a file at any time. It’s as easy as dragging slides up and down the slide view panel.

Not only do my presentation/scrapbook projects fit my style, they are also a big hit with my family – including the younger ones. My goal is to tell the stories of the people who were a part of my life and show them as the fun and fascinating characters they were – not just vital records in a genealogy database. Storytelling with Keynote helps make that happen.

Repurposing Your Posts

Repurposing your blog posts into storytelling projects

I’ve been blogging for almost 12 years now. I’ve got multiple blogs on multiple platforms – and have moved my blogs more often than I care to admit. One of the wonderful things about geneablogging is how quickly those “little stories” we post about our family history grow into substantial story collections. Some years back I started copy/pasting them into different publishing projects to share…

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Repurposing Your Posts

I’ve been blogging for almost 12 years now. I’ve got multiple blogs on multiple platforms – and have moved my blogs more often than I care to admit. One of the wonderful things about geneablogging is how quickly those “little stories” we post about our family history grow into substantial story collections. Some years back I started copy/pasting them into different publishing projects to share with my family.

I got a real wake-up call when the Posterous blog platform was shut down. I had our family’s “news center” there along with several other blogs. Try to imagine the scramble to save all that content and then find a suitable new home for those sites. It was almost a year before the news center was fully operational again.

Sure I back up my blogs regularly and even save export copies of them every quarter. That protects me from disaster, but doesn’t make it any easier to organize and repurpose my story collection when I want to build a new family history project. I also want to “future-proof” those stories by saving them in Markdown format.

Today I use Byword [Mac – $11.99, iOS – $5.99] as an offline blog editor. Byword will publish to WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Scriptogram and Evernote (requires a $4.99 in-app purchase to add this publishing capability). Byword supports both iCloud and Dropbox for cloud storage and it also makes a nice mobile writing solution for Scrivener. I have multiple writing projects in Scrivener and each syncs to a different Dropbox folder. By creating each new blog post in the appropriate folder, I’m automatically adding it to that Scrivener project. Oh, did I mention that Scrivener imports from and compiles to Markdown files?

Mac users can now take advantage of the Ulysses writing platform app [Mac – $44.99 and iPad – $19.99] to develop their blog-to-book workflows. Ulysses uses a library package (similar to the Photos library) for managing manuscripts, but also supports external files. It doesn’t have a blog publishing capability so I continue to use Byword as my blog editor. Each Byword blog post is saved in a Dropbox folder which is set up in Ulysses as an external folder. Copies of those posts are easily dragged into any Ulysses writing project.

I’m still learning Ulysses, but it’s quickly becoming my writing platform of choice. It’s much easier to use that Scrivener, but while Ulysses does support research notes and attachments within the platform, it isn’t as robust as Scrivener’s. However, having the companion iPad app does a lot to mitigate that shortcoming.

I’m still working in Scrivener to separate the posts I imported via BlogBooker. Once that’s done, I’ll perform a synch to a Dropbox folder and then set it up in Ulysses as an external folder. I will then have access to my entire blog archive for whatever projects I want to create with them.

Life is good.