Stillpoint Digital Press https://stillpointdigital.com The human face of digital publishing Fri, 01 Dec 2017 04:02:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/stillpointdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Stillpoint-Enso-Logo-Red-55d2c0d1v1_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Stillpoint Digital Press https://stillpointdigital.com 32 32 97446753 Timekeeper is on its way! https://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-is-on-its-way/ https://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-is-on-its-way/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 02:22:08 +0000 https://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3714 Copies of Timekeeper are on their way to all our Kickstarter backers! Thanks again for your support. If you don’t receive yours in a reasonable amount of time, please contact us. Two down, one to go!   Previous update

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Copies of Timekeeper are on their way to all our Kickstarter backers! Thanks again for your support. If you don’t receive yours in a reasonable amount of time, please contact us.

Two down, one to go! 

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Special Offer: Buy Timekeeper, Get Timepiece Free! https://stillpointdigital.com/special-offer-buy-timekeeper-get-timepiece-free/ https://stillpointdigital.com/special-offer-buy-timekeeper-get-timepiece-free/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:45:00 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3682 Heather Albano’s Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure has hit the shelves! It’s available now in ebook or print form at your favorite store! And since we know you might want to read book #1 in the Keeping Time series, Timepiece, before reading book #2, we thought we’d extend your chance to get the book free! … Continue reading Special Offer: Buy Timekeeper, Get Timepiece Free!

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Heather Albano’s Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure has hit the shelves! It’s available now in ebook or print form at your favorite store!

And since we know you might want to read book #1 in the Keeping Time series, Timepiece, before reading book #2, we thought we’d extend your chance to get the book free!

Timekeeper coverWe released Timekeeper the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Between now and June 30, order a copy of Timekeeper from any store, then email us a copy of the receipt, and we’ll send you an ebook copy of the first book for free!

ORDER TIMEKEEPER ONLINE

Once you’ve ordered book #2 (whether as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover), email a copy of the receipt to us, and we’ll send you a copy of book #1!

What a great way to kick off you summer reading (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, give yourself something exciting to read during those long winter nights)!

But don’t wait — the deal is only good through June 30.


What happens when the Law of Unintended Consequences meets the Time-Travel Paradox?

Find out in the thrilling continuation of the Keeping Time trilogy!


Follow Elizabeth, William, Maxwell, and the rest as they do their best to set time right… again. Struggling to get history flowing correctly, they encounter a brutal dystopian regime, steam-powered airships, breathtaking revelations, and a pocket watch that is both a tool and a trap.

Time travelers, freedom fighters, Frankenstein’s monster, the Battle of Waterloo, and Napoleon invading Britain by dirigible — What could possibly go wrong?

(Science fiction — Steampunk time-travel, historical romance and adventure)

IndieBound
Booksamillion

 

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Launch your summer reading with a free time-travel adventure! https://stillpointdigital.com/launch-summer-reading-free-time-travel-adventure/ https://stillpointdigital.com/launch-summer-reading-free-time-travel-adventure/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:30:24 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3672 Looking for a great way to launch your summer reading? Last month, Heather Albano’s Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure hit #1 on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play in the Steampunk genre! It was part of a two-day promotion that was more successful than we could ever have hoped. Well, in case … Continue reading Launch your summer reading with a free time-travel adventure!

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Looking for a great way to launch your summer reading?

Last month, Heather Albano’s Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure hit #1 on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play in the Steampunk genre! It was part of a two-day promotion that was more successful than we could ever have hoped.

Well, in case you missed it, here’s your chance to get the book free!

Timekeeper coverThe second book in the series, Timekeeper, is coming out on Sunday, June 18 — the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. And if you pre-order a copy of Timekeeper and email a copy of the receipt, I’ll send you an ebook copy of the first book for free!

ORDER TIMEKEEPER ONLINE

Once you’ve pre-ordered book #2 (whether as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover), email a copy of the receipt, and we’ll send you a copy of book #1!

What a great way to kick off you summer reading (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, give yourself something exciting to read during those long winter nights)!

But don’t wait — the deal is only good through Sunday.

 

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David Kudler on The Hero’s Journey® in Sacramento https://stillpointdigital.com/david-kudler-hero-journey-sacramento/ https://stillpointdigital.com/david-kudler-hero-journey-sacramento/#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 19:04:32 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3661 Stillpoint author and publisher David Kudler will be giving a talk this Saturday at the California Writers Club Sacramento on the subject of “The Enduring Hero’s Journey®: How to Make your Writing Compelling and Memorable.” Kudler, who has worked with Joseph Campbell Foundation since 1999, will talk about Campbell’s concept of The Hero’s Journey®, as … Continue reading David Kudler on The Hero’s Journey® in Sacramento

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CWC SacramentoStillpoint author and publisher David Kudler will be giving a talk this Saturday at the California Writers Club Sacramento on the subject of “The Enduring Hero’s Journey®: How to Make your Writing Compelling and Memorable.”

Kudler, who has worked with Joseph Campbell Foundation since 1999, will talk about Campbell’s concept of The Hero’s Journey®, as it was laid out in his seminal book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Kudler edited the 2008 edition of the book. He will look at the ways in which the Hero Journey can serve as a blueprint for creating an enduring, transformative story.

Location: Cattlemens Restaurant, 12409 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, CA
Date/Time: Saturday May 20, 2017, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Website: http://www.cwcsacramentowriters.org/2017/luncheon-david-kudler/

“The Hero’s Journey®” is a registered trademark of Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF.org) and is used with permission

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Giveaway! WIn a copy of Timepiece https://stillpointdigital.com/giveaway-win-copy-timepiece/ https://stillpointdigital.com/giveaway-win-copy-timepiece/#respond Fri, 05 May 2017 03:15:50 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3642 Sign up now on Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure by Heather Albano! Goodreads Book Giveaway Timepiece by Heather Albano Giveaway ends May 08, 2017. See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway You only THINK you know what happened at Waterloo The real story involved more … Continue reading Giveaway! WIn a copy of Timepiece

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Sign up now on Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure by Heather Albano!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Timepiece by Heather Albano

Timepiece

by Heather Albano

Giveaway ends May 08, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

You only THINK you know what happened at Waterloo

The real story involved more monsters. And a lot more time travel.

It’s 1815, and Wellington’s badly-outnumbered army stares across the field of Waterloo at Napoleon’s forces. Desperate to hold until reinforcements arrive, Wellington calls upon a race of monsters created by a mad Genevese scientist 25 years before.

It’s 1815, and a discontented young lady sitting in a rose garden receives a mysterious gift: a pocket watch that, when opened, displays scenes from all eras of history. Past…and future.

It’s 1885, and a small band of resistance fighters are resorting to increasingly extreme methods in their efforts to overthrow a steampunk Empire whose clockwork gears are slick with its subjects’ blood.

Are these events connected?

Oh, come now. That would be telling.


“Waterloo and time travel are made for each other and Heather Albano has done a wonderful job of giving us a delightful cast of characters, tasked with stitching together the proper nineteenth century while fending off several monstrous alternatives. Propulsive adventure with historical insight.” – Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars and 2312

Austen, meet Waterloo. When a genteel 1815 heiress is given a strange watch, she time-travels to an 1885 England where history has gone hideously wrong. Now she has to change it back to what it “should” have been—and that never works out well, does it? A delicious supercharged blend of steampunk and the Napoleonic Wars, with a thrill on every page.” — Sarah Smith, The Vanished Child

If Jane Austen and Mary Shelley had locked H. G. Wells in a dungeon and revised his wildest work, the result would have been something like this rollicking steampunk time-travel adventure that still manages to be a comedy of manners. Albano’s delightful characters confront the not only monsters and killer robots, but their own divided loyalties between personal happiness and the fate of their country.Ken Schneyer, The Law & the Heart

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Timekeeper Cover Reveal https://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-cover-reveal/ https://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-cover-reveal/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 00:00:24 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3636 We’re excited to share with you the cover of Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure by Heather Albano: Available June 18, 2017 What happens when the Law of Unintended Consequences meets the Time-Travel Paradox? Find out in the thrilling continuation of the Keeping Time trilogy! Follow Elizabeth, William, Maxwell, and the rest as they do their best to … Continue reading Timekeeper Cover Reveal

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We’re excited to share with you the cover of Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure by Heather Albano:

Timekeeper cover
Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure

Available June 18, 2017

What happens when the Law of Unintended Consequences meets the Time-Travel Paradox?

Find out in the thrilling continuation of the Keeping Time trilogy!

Follow Elizabeth, William, Maxwell, and the rest as they do their best to set time right… again. Struggling to get history flowing correctly, they encounter a brutal dystopian regime, steam-powered airships, breathtaking revelations, and a pocket watch that is both a tool and a trap.

Time travelers, freedom fighters, Frankenstein’s monster, the Battle of Waterloo, and Napoleon invading Britain by dirigible — What could possibly go wrong?

(Science fiction — Steampunk time-travel, historical romance and adventure)

IndieBound
Booksamillion
Order from Stillpoint Digital Press:

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The Power of Where: Setting, Place, and the Hero’s Adventure https://stillpointdigital.com/hero-journey-the-power-of-where/ https://stillpointdigital.com/hero-journey-the-power-of-where/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:34:02 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3565 I’m going to be running a workshop as part of Redwood Writers 2017 Academy on Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero Journey as it applies to exploring setting for writers! Every story explores a hero’s journey along a path toward discovery. It’s easy to focus on the hero or on the goal, but what about the … Continue reading The Power of Where: Setting, Place, and the Hero’s Adventure

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I’m going to be running a workshop as part of Redwood Writers 2017 Academy on Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero Journey as it applies to exploring setting for writers!

Every story explores a hero’s journey along a path toward discovery. It’s easy to focus on the hero or on the goal, but what about the path? With David Kudler (author, publisher, and editor for the Joseph Campbell Foundation), explore the ways in which you can enrich your settings using the hero cycle explored by Campbell in his classic The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

The Workshop will be Saturday, March 25 from 9:30 to 12:30 in Santa Rosa.

If you sign up for all three monthly workshops, you’ll get a discount; space is limited, so register now!


Redwood Writers Academy 2017

SAVE THE DATES!

Participate in three Saturday morning workshops focusing on crafting your best work and launching it into the world. These workshops will be your chance to “dive deep” into specific topics with a smaller group. Attendance is limited to 30 and in the past, they have sold out, so register soon if you plan to attend. These workshops will be an interactive learning experience, providing deeper knowledge and new skills.

MARCH 25, 2017

The Hero Journey

The Power of Where: Setting, Place, and the Hero’s Adventure

Every story explores a hero’s journey along a path toward discovery. It’s easy to focus on the hero or on the goal, but what about the path? With David Kudler (author, publisher, and editor for the Joseph Campbell Foundation), explore the ways in which you can enrich your settings using the hero cycle explored by Campbell in his classic The Hero with a Thousand Faces.


David Kudler

David Kudler is an author, editor, and publisher as well as a North Bay native. Since 1999, he has overseen the publications program of Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF.org), where he has shepherded over 70 print, ebook, audio, and video titles to publication. These include Pathways to Bliss, Myths of Light, and Sake and Satori, all of which he edited, as well as the 2008 edition of Campbell’s seminal The Hero with a Thousand Faces. He runs his own small publishing company, Stillpoint Digital Press, and released Risuko, his first novel, in 2016. He currently serves as vice-president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.

stillpointdigital.com

APRIL 22, 2017

Platform

Building Your Self-Promotion Platform: From Strategy to Action, Steps for Independent Authors

Connect with fans, friends, followers: it’s done in multiple ways. Authors can’t depend on one type of outreach. We’ll cover some of your options, provide tips and planning tools, and help you decide among various media platforms (social and others). It’s all about relationship-building with your audience.

You have lots of choices: Author profiles and pages online. Blogging. Email. Podcasts. Videos. Speaking. Websites. If you feel resistant to the whole idea of “self-promotion,” if you aren’t active (yet) on any social media as an author, or if you want to improve your current strategy, this workshop will help.

Judy Baker and Judy Reyes will take you from strategy to concrete action steps in building your author platform in small, manageable steps. You will come away with a solid plan of action for growing your platform. You’ll be able to say why people want to know you and read your book.

Learn the 5 essential areas of building your self-promotion platform:
1. Your identity
2. Making a schedule and sticking to it
3. Building relationships and growing your community with email, social presence intelligence
4. Influencers and friends
5. Measuring success


Judy Baker

Judy Baker attributes her love of color to her mother and her love of books to her father. She has been passionate about communication since she was a child. She acted in little theater and studied drama and telecommunication at San Diego State University. Fascinated by the ways in which people behave, Baker studied Organization Behavior at UCSF and went on to become the first Director of Human Resources for Sutter Home Winery. Following the “Great Downsizing of 1992,” she was featured in a story in the Press Democrat as one of the first women in Sonoma County to have a home office.

Baker started off providing graphic design services to small businesses and expanded her services into marketing. Now, this past president of BAIPA specializes in working with authors.

Judy Reyes

Judy M. Reyes, aka The Document Diva, helps authors set up the nuts and bolts of their marketing platforms. She provides solid advice and good sense around using social media, blogging, and email marketing. Judy’s an admin and computer whiz who has the patience to work on computers long after others have gone screaming into the night. Clients find her to be reliable, persistent, and loyal. The Document Diva deftly delves into the devilish details of self-publishing, providing admin support with good humor and creative competence.

Judy began as a solopreneur with “Reliance Admin,” her administrative consulting enterprise. She is now embarking on a partnership with Judy Baker on “Book Marketing Mentor” to offer strategic marketing coaching with admin expertise. The “Two Judys” are dedicated to mentoring self-publishing authors as they devise and execute effective marketing plans for their books.

BookMarketingMentor.com

JUNE 3, 2017

Creative Nonfiction

Writing Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction as a genre is both young and misunderstood. Careers have been built on the telling of true-life adventures but lost again when the line was crossed between fact and fiction. What, then, is the definition of this young genre? How can writers come to understand it? Does it include getting creative with writing memoir? In this workshop, we’ll look at breathtaking examples of creative nonfiction, discuss how to approach it, and learn its rules and how to honor them. We’ll write and share, explore how to turn real-life adventures into gripping accounts and dare to tell the truth.


Rebecca Lawton

Rebecca Lawton is a writer, geologist, and former Colorado River guide who has published in Aeon, Brevity, Hakai, More, Orion, Shenandoah, Sierra, THEMA, Undark, and many other journals. She is the author and co-author of seven books, including the creative nonfiction collection Reading Water: Lessons from the River, a San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist. Her writing honors include a Fulbright Scholarship, Ellen Meloy Award for Desert Writers, WILLA for original softcover fiction, Waterston Desert Writing Prize, three Pushcart nominations, Best American Science and Nature Writing nomination, and residencies at Hedgebrook, The Island Institute, and Playa Fellowship Program. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College and a B.S. in Earth Sciences from U.C. Santa Cruz, and she has taught writing workshops at the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference, North Coast Redwood Writer’s Conference, Women Writing the West Conference, and many other venues.

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Two by Two: Happy Valentine’s Day! https://stillpointdigital.com/two-two-happy-valentines-day/ https://stillpointdigital.com/two-two-happy-valentines-day/#respond Tue, 14 Feb 2017 13:35:02 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3553 It is interesting that St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated in the second month of the year, is the festival of romantic love in Western culture. Interesting for a couple of reasons — the first being that poor Valentine wasn’t really much of a lover himself, as nearly as we can tell (though he was martyred for … Continue reading Two by Two: Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It is interesting that St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated in the second month of the year, is the festival of romantic love in Western culture. Interesting for a couple of reasons — the first being that poor Valentine wasn’t really much of a lover himself, as nearly as we can tell (though he was martyred for marrying Christian couples). Of course, his symbol has become the stylized “heart” shape, and the heart has long been identified, both East and West, as the seat of love. And so where earlier Europeans identified May Day and Midsummer Night as the festivals most connected with passion, the Christian world focussed on the day of the saint of the pierced heart.

The other interesting thing about February 14th being the lovers’ holiday, it seems to me, has less to do with Valentine, and everything to do with when it occurs: smack dab in the middle of the second month.

Metaphysically, the number two resonates with the romantic, for obvious reasons. Love cannot exist until one becomes aware of the other. That is the revelation of the opening of the second cakra in the kuṇdalīni system of spiritual yoga: the awakening of desire for the not-self. The irony, of course, is that the desire is ultimately to become joined with the other — and you can take that in any one of a number of ways.

Even so, as we approach Valentine’s Day, perhaps we should all take the opportunity, here in the second month, to recognize the Other, in all its forms, and open ourselves up to the opportunity to become more than ourselves.

So it doesn’t matter if you get roses or not: today is a day for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Creative MythologyYou can explore the idea of the flowering of romantic love in the modern mythos in Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology.

Image: St. Valentine’s Day in the City 2 by Mehli Rustu. Used through a Creative Commons license.

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Inside the Box: The Anatomy of an Ebook https://stillpointdigital.com/3538-2/ https://stillpointdigital.com/3538-2/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:20:31 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3538 Over the next few posts, I’ll be showing you how ebooks are coded and formatted. We’ll look at the anatomy of an ebook, and what makes it tick. You’ve heard me call an ebook a website in a box. This time we’re going to talk about what’s inside the box. First thing’s first: let me share … Continue reading Inside the Box: The Anatomy of an Ebook

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Over the next few posts, I’ll be showing you how ebooks are coded and formatted. We’ll look at the anatomy of an ebook, and what makes it tick.

You’ve heard me call an ebook a website in a box. This time we’re going to talk about what’s inside the box.

First thing’s first: let me share an ebook with you. It’s the ePub file for a short story of mine called White Robes.

You’re welcome to read it, obviously, but for the purposes of this post (and the next two), we’re going to be opening up the box and dissecting the ebook.

This is the actual production file that I’ve uploaded to Amazon, by the way — it includes all of the coding and formatting that I typically include in creating an ebook. It will be the model that I’ll be using over the next few posts in discussing an ebook’s innards.

Opening the Box

What we’re going to look this time is the structure of the ebook — the collection of files that an ePub-ready ereader like Apple’s iBooks or Barnes & Noble’s Nook or Readium or Calibre or any of thousands of other apps can open.[1]

So now we have our website in a box. Let’s open the box and see what we’ve got![2]

There are just three steps:

  1. Duplicate your file (Never work on the original!)
  2. Convert the file ZIP format
  3. UnZIP the file

Step 1: Duplicate your file

Now, I’m going to assume that you’re using a Windows or Mac computer.[3]

We’re duplicating the file so that the original doesn’t get destroyed. Just a good habit to stay in, right?

In Windows, select the file in Windows Explorer by dragging over it or left-clicking on it once. From the Organize menu at the top of the window, select Copy. (You can do the same thing by right-clicking on the file and selecting Copy.)

In Mac OS X, select the file in the Finder by dragging over it or clicking on it once. Now hit command-D or go to the File menu and select Duplicate. (You can also control-click/right-click on the file and select Duplicate.)

You should now have a duplicate copy of the file:

Step 2: Convert to ZIP format

This is actually a much simpler process than you might think: an ePub file is just a carefully constructed ZIP archive with a different extension (the last three or four letters at the end of the file name).

If you don’t see the .epub extension at the end of your new file, click on/drag over the file to select it.

In Windows, go to the Organize menu and select Folder and Search Options. De-select the Hide known file extensions option. Click OK.

In Mac OS X, go to the File menu and select Get Info or hit command-I. If not already open, click on the triangle next to the Name and Extension heading to reveal the Hide extension option and deselect it. Close the Info window.

Now rename the file.

In Windows, right-click the file name and select Rename (or left-click and hold down the button for one second). Double-click the epub file extension (not including the period!) and replace it with the extension zip. Hit the Enter button.

In Mac OS X, click once on the file and hit the Return button. Double-click the epub file extension (not including the period!) and replace it with the extension zip. Hit the Return button.

Voilà! You’ve turned your ePub ebook into a ZIP archive.

Step 3: UnZIP the file

Whether you’ve got a Mac or Windows computer, you can simply double-click on the file now to expand the archive, turning it into a regular folder/directory on your desktop.

What’s inside the Box?

What’s inside, you ask?

Well, the first thing you’ll see is two more directories (we’ll talk about those in a minute) and a file called mimetype.

The mimetype file is a one-line piece of code that lets the ereader know what kind of file it’s reading — and that one line always reads as follows:

application/epub+zip

It’s telling the ereader that, in fact, this is an ePub file wrapped inside a ZIP archive. As if we didn’t already know that.

How about those two folders?

Well, one of them isn’t any more exciting. The META-INF folder usually contains just one file (container.xml),[4] and its sole purpose is to tell the ereader where to find the all-important OPF file. The OPF file is the traffic cop for the ebook, telling the ereader where to find everything, and what everything is. The folder where the OPF is located is called the root directory.

Sometimes the OPF is actually on the outermost level of the archive. Most often, however, you’ll find it in the OEBPS folder.

The root of the ebook: the OEBPS folder

OEBPS (Open eBook Publication Structure) is an XML-based specification for the content, structure, and presentation of electronic books. It is the blueprint on which any ePub file is built.

The OEBPS folder in any ebook will contain a number of important files, including our friend the OPS file, as well as a number of folders we’ll look at later.

Here’s the White Robes OEBPS folder:

Remember: this is the root directory. Every file reference given in the ebook will be given relative to this folder.

Now the two files are of great interest:

  1. The OPF file is our traffic cop
  2. The NCX is the navigation file[5]

The traffic cop: The OPF file

OPF stands for Open Packaging Format — so you’ll sometimes see the OPF referred to as the Package File. It contains all of the bibliographic and structural information about your ebook: what it is and where it is.

You can open the OPF file in any text-editing software like Notepad or TextEdit (or TextWrangler or BBEdit or whatever)[6]

Like all of the files in an ebook,[7] the OPF file is an XML file. That means that it’s a very carefully constructed set of data, set off in series of tags, each of which has an opening and closing version, that are (almost always) used in pairs around the data, like this: <tag>[DATA]</tag>

The version of the tag that starts with a forward slash (</tag>) is called the close tag.

The two important things to remember with XML tags:

  1. You can nest them (place one inside another like Russian dolls
  2. You always have to close the most recently opened tag first

Here’s how that works:

<outer tag><inner tag>[DATA]</inner tag></outer tag>

Did you see what I did there? The <inner tag> went inside of the <outer tag> — and I had to close the  </inner tag> before I closed the </outer tag>

Because of the way XML works, every thing that applies to the <outer tag> applies to <inner tag> unless the inner tag states otherwise. That’s called cascading, and will become more important when we talk about the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and the HTML code that makes up most of an ebook’s content.[8]

Warning: Feel free to poke around in the OPF file for White Robes. However, unless you are really confident in what you’re doing, I highly recommend not messing around with the OPF file in an ebook you’re preparing for publication. The file is created and updated automatically by the conversion/editing software that you’re using — making changes by hand without knowing what you’re doing can break your ebook.[9]

The OPF file is made of a header that identifies the kind of file that it is (the XML and package tags in lines 1–2), and then as many as four sections:

  1. The metadata section, which tells the ereader information about your book
  2. The manifest section, which tells the ereader where to find everything (listing every file contained in the ebook and its address)
  3. The spine section, which tells the ereader in what order it should display files (optional)
  4. The guide section, which tells the ereader where to find “special” files like the cover (optional)

Here’s the OPF file for White Robes:[10]

Boy, that’s a lot of stuff going on for one short story!

One interesting bit: in line 2 (along with a lot of other very important but opaque stuff) you can see the attribute version=”3.0″ This tells us that this is an ePub3 file. If the version number had been 2.0… Well, you can probably guess: it would be an ePub2 file.

There are a number of other major differences between the two types of ePub file, but that’s the flag that tells an ereader to treat this file as one kind of ePub or the other.

Many of the lines begin with an open tag and end with a close tag. A number don’t. They fall into two categories:

  1. Some contain all of the data within the tag — for example, all of the item tags (lines 22–56). In that case, rather than have two separate tags with nothing between them (i.e., <item href=[…]></item>) XML convention allows you to close the tag by putting a slash at the end of the open tag: <item href=[…]/>
  2. When a tag has one or more tags nested within it. For example, look at the guide tag, on line 72. There’s a reference tag on  line 73 before the guide close tag on line 74.

Each type of tag, from the various dc: (Dublin Core) metadata tags to the itemref tags, has an extremely specific syntax, and learning that is more than I could teach (or you would want to learn) here. However, you can find out more (much more) at the International Digital Publishing Forum page on OPF files. (The IDPF is the trade group responsible for the ePub format.)

One other thing that you might notice here: the addresses. Everything after an href or src attribute is a reference to a file within the ebook’s file structure. It’s exactly like one of the URLs we’re used to typing into the address bar at the top of our browser window to go to a particular web page. The only difference is that where a URL (uniform resource locator) has to give an address on the open internet, and must contain the protocol for the browser to use when it gets there (i.e., http://, ftp://, or mailto:), these addresses are always relative to the current document — they’re what are called URIs — uniform resource identifiers. They don’t include the protocol — and they have to be somewhere in the current file structure of the ebook (or web page). So for instance, on line 27, there’s a reference to where to find my headshot. The URI reads Images/headshot.jpg. That tells the ereader to look inside the Images folder for the file called headshot.jpg.[11]

Note that capitalization and spelling must be precisely correct. Headshot.jpg is not the same as headshot.jpg.

The roadmap: The NCX file

The other file that almost always appears in the root directory is the NCX or navigation file.

If you’ve ever read an ebook (and if you haven’t, you really should, if only so that you can understand what your readers’ experience!), you’ll know that there’s a pull-down table of contents — not the contents page at the front or back of the book, but a menu available wherever you are, so that you can navigate to wherever you want to go in the book. It looks something like this:

In ePub3, that menu is pulled from the table of contents page in your ebook — it’s essentially a slightly marked-up HTML page. In ePub2, you needed to create a separate file (the NCX file) to tell the ereader what to display.

Now, ePub3 is great — but not all ereaders can display it, especially the older ones. And so, for backwards compatibility (that is, so that newer software can run on older machines), it’s still a really good idea to include an ePub2-style NCX page.

Here’s what the NCX page for White Robes looks like:

Notice that each item in the table of contents (everything inside the navMap tags) is in its own set of navPoint tags, and that the navLabel and text tags tell the ereader what to display in the menu while the content tag shows what file to send the reader to when they click on the item.

Like the OPF file, most ebook-conversion and creation software will take care of this for you — but it’s good to know what’s there, in case a problem should come up.

All together now: The rest of the files

Let’s look at the OEBPS folder again:

You’ll see our friends the OPF and NCX files. And then there’s all of the rest of those folders. Sigil organizes all of the files neatly so that they’re easy to find: fonts in the Fonts folder, images in the Images folder, stylesheets in the Styles folder, and so forth. (Don’t forget to capitalize correctly!)

Here are the contents of the Images folder for White Robes:

Notice that all of the image files are there — the cover, the map, and all of the little images (including covers of other books) that are scattered throughout. Notice too that I’ve optimized those images so they’re fairly small.[12]

The fonts in the Fonts folder are ones that I have the right to use in ebooks in this case, they’ve been released into the public domain. They’re also OTF fonts (Microsoft’s OpenType font standard), which are the only ones that will work with most ereaders (and even then, not always).

There’s an XML file in the Misc folder that tells the ereader I’ve got custom fonts on board.

There’s a CSS stylesheet in the Styles folder. I’ll get to that in a couple of posts, I promise — and it will a lot more hands on than this one!

Last but not least we find the actual body of the ebook, the (X)HTML files, in the Text folder:

Note that they’re in alphabetical order — but that’s not how they’re displayed in the book. Remember the spine section of the OPF file? Yup. That’s what defines the order.

In any case, next month, we’re going to look at how those files are built!

Clean Up

That’s all for now. But if you want to clean up the files you’ve been poking around in, just go back until you see the folder that contained the ebook:

In Windows, select the folder (“ebook-sample-White-Robes-copy”), right-click on it, and then select Send to, and then Compressed (zipped) folder. Then change the extension back to .epub.

For Macs, this part is a bit more complicated; OS X adds invisible files that mess with the ePub file structure. The easiest way to re-ZIP the ebook is to use a little freeware script called Zip/Unzip. It’s not a new script (version 3 is at least five years old), but it still works wonderfully. Drag your file onto the script, and it will take care of re-compressing your folder and renaming the archive with the proper .epub extension.

 


[1] Not Kindle. As we’ve discussed, Amazon’s Kindles and Kindle apps use proprietary file formats. You can convert an ePub file to Kindle formats, but you can’t open up a Kindle file and poke around inside the way we’re going to be doing here, so I won’t bother including a Kindle version of the file. However, just to repeat what I’ve pointed out before, this ePub file is the best format to upload to Amazon! (Please don’t upload this one, though — it’s mine!)

[2] Okay: you don’t have to do this to create/edit ebooks. You can in fact get at the files inside of an ebook without opening it up using applications like Sigil and Calibre. You can even look at the file structure and edit individual files in those apps. We’re doing this the old-fashioned way, however. Think of this as a high-school science lab, only instead of slicing open a frog, you’re opening up an ePub file. Much less messy!

[3] Linux users are usually pretty savvy and don’t need instructions on how to manipulate files. As for iOS and Android users… Well, opening up and editing an ebook on a tablet or phone isn’t yet terribly practical. It can be done, but it isn’t fun, so I don’t recommend it.

[4] Okay: occasionally there is another file or two — often put there to let the ereader know that there are fonts or other special files on board. But that’s advanced stuff for another day.

[5] This is necessary only for ePub2 files — however, it’s good to include one in ePub3 files, so that older ereaders can open them.

[6] But not a word-processing app like Microsoft Word! Word, etc., will turn all of the quotation marks to “curly” or “smart” quotes — which will render the files useless.

[7] Excepting media files (like images, video, and audio), scripts, fonts, or CSS files — but more on those a couple of posts from now. By the way, aside from the media files, most of the files on your computer are probably some flavor of XML (or packages of XML files).

[8] HTML is simply a form of XML that has been adapted for displaying web pages.

[9] If you’d like to know more about the workings of the OPF file, I recommend going to the IDPF.org pages for the ePub2 and ePub3 formats, or check out Liz Castro’s great nuts-and-bolts intro to ePub creation ePub: Straight and to the Point or Jared Buse’s ePub from the Ground Up, which is a bit more up-to-date, and touches more on ePub3.

[10] Screenshots taken in Sigil. The indentation and coloring should help you see what goes with what.

[11] You want fine distinctions? Images/headshot.jpg tells the ereader to look inside the folder Images inside the current folder. /Images/headshot.jpg (see the slash at the beginning?) tells the ereader to look for the Images folder in the root directory —which it is in this case, but might not be in other cases. The most common way to look for a file in a different folder? Use this syntax: ../Images/headshot.jpg. That tells the ereader to go up one folder, look for the Images folder, and then find the file headshot.jpg. Whew!

[12] I almost always optimize after I’ve imported the files — this is a major reason that I open up ePub files like this.

Image: Danboard Package Received by Louish Pixel @ flickr. Used through a Creative Commons license.

 

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Stillpoint Author News: An Interview, A Preview, and Appearances https://stillpointdigital.com/stillpoint-author-news-interview-preview-appearances/ https://stillpointdigital.com/stillpoint-author-news-interview-preview-appearances/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 00:03:58 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3528 Stillpoint Digital Press authors are keeping very busy! In addition to multiple appearances, we’ve got news to share about a great interview, a chance to vote in a red-carpet award ceremony, and a sneak preview from a much-anticipated book! Timepiece author Heather Albano returned from last week’s Arisia conference in Boston, where she spoke on … Continue reading Stillpoint Author News: An Interview, A Preview, and Appearances

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Stillpoint Digital Press authors are keeping very busy! In addition to multiple appearances, we’ve got news to share about a great interview, a chance to vote in a red-carpet award ceremony, and a sneak preview from a much-anticipated book!

Timepiece - now availableTimepiece author Heather Albano returned from last week’s Arisia conference in Boston, where she spoke on a number of game-related panels, read from her new book, signed copies, and held a giveaway for another!  Tired but happy, she informed us, “EVERYONE commented on how beautiful the cover was!” We think so too. 🙂

She’s also given an interview to award-winning fantasy author Heather Bryson, in which she talks about her inspiration in writing the Keeping Time books. Check it out!


Stillpoint/Prometheus: Law and the Heart coverThe Law & the Heart author Ken Schneyer (who wrote a lovely foreword to Timepiece) also had a great time at Arisia, reading from a new story and speaking on a range of topics ranging from “In Praise of Unlikeable Characters” to “How to Self-Edit That Hot, Steaming Pile of Cr@#.” The Providence, RI-based writer/teacher will also be back in Boston once again at next month’s Boskone 54 conference. He shared his schedule — do check him out and say hi! Besides being a terrific writer, Ken is a wonderful, thoughtful speaker and as knowledgable a fan of science fiction and fantasy as you will ever meet.

And yes, Ken: we love the cover of your book too.


Risuko (600)Risuko author David Kudler hasn’t had any appearances recently, but he’s been posting up a storm, including a piece about the recent women’s marches and a request for help filling out his ballot for this year’s SAG Awards.

Most exciting, he posted “The Cave,” a sneak peek at the second book in his Seasons of the Sword series, Bright Eyes!

Oh — and we are extremely fond of the Risuko cover as well.


About the Authors

Keeping Time Kickstarter - Heather AlbanoHeather Albano is a storyteller, history geek, and lover of both time-travel tropes and re-imaginings of older stories. You most likely know her from her game design work (which most recently included A Study In Steampunk, produced by Choice of Games, and contributions to TimeWatch and The Dracula Dossier, both published by Pelgrane Press)—but she writes non-interactive fiction too. Like the Keeping Time trilogy.

Read more at heatheralbano.com


Kenneth Schneyer forgot he wanted to be a writer for 25 years, until he was ambushed by a gang of plot bunnies in 2006. Since then, he has sold stories to many science fiction and fantasy magazines and anthologies, several of which can be found on Amazon. His novella “Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” has been nominated for a 2014 Nebula Award and a Theodore Sturgeon Award for best short science fiction.

Ken attended the Clarion Writers Workshop at UCSD in 2009, and joined the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop in 2010. Mostly he writes science fiction and fantasy, but he’s been known to write crime stories, poetry, and anything else that strikes his fancy.

He was a theater major at Wesleyan and briefly a semiprofessional actor before attending law school at the University of Michigan. He teaches legal studies and humanities at Johnson & Wales University, and has published numerous articles on the constitutive rhetoric of legal texts.

Born in Detroit, he now lives in Rhode Island with one singer, one dancer, one actor, and something striped and fanged that he sometimes glimpses out of the corner of his eye. He’s interested in astronomy, history, politics, philosophy, presidential trivia, brain science, and practically everything else. He cooks better than most people you know. Follow Ken on his blog.


Keeping Time Kickstarter - David Kudler

David Kudler is an author, editor, and publisher. He lives just north of the Golden Gate Bridge with his wife, actor/teacher/author Maura Vaughn, their author-to-be daughters, and their (apparently) non-literary cats.

He is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief for Stillpoint Digital Press. Since 1999, he has overseen the publications program of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, for which he has edited three posthumous volumes of Campbell’s previously unpublished work (Pathways to Bliss, Myths of Light and Sake & Satori) and managed the publication of over seventy print, ebook, print, audio, and video titles, including the third edition of Campbell’s seminal Hero with a Thousand Faces. He is honored to serve as the vice-president for the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Association (BAIPA).

In June, 2016, he released Risuko, his young-adult historical adventure novel. Set in sixteenth century Japan, Risuko follows the adventures of a young woman pulled into a plot that may reunite a war-torn Japan — or may destroy it. He is hard at work on Bright Eyes, the sequel.

You can follow David on Stillpoint Digital Presson the Risuko website, or writing about ebook creation on Joel Friedlander’s TheBookDesigner.com.

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