On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

I run into this a lot -- someone tells me that they're blocked so are writing X number of words per day. The brute force method CAN work, but often it just results in page after page of drivel. If you're consistently frustrated, step back to figure out what are your problems.

Take a writing session to make some progress. Start your session with this sentence: I'm having trouble with this story because... then write your thoughts quickly. Talk to yourself. Is it that your story isn't holding together? Your characters seem flat? You're just bored with what's going on?

Now make a list and choose the most important problem to start. Take a day or two to go through your writing library to see how other writers have handled this problem. Solve it. Then move to the next.

Remember that writing lots of words is a laudatory activity, but repeatedly banging your head against the wall won't help you. Work smarter, not harder.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making a PDF look like a book with Even Pages on Left and Odd on Right

Today I want to discuss a glitchy problem that drove me nuts before I found a way to do this. Google searches did not turn up a good answer, so for those who, like me, have been frustrated, this one's for you :-)

The instructions here are for Word 2010.

THE SET-UP: I want to print a Word document into a PDF with two pages on each page that will look like a book.

THE PROBLEM: The PDF keeps coming out with the ODD page on the LEFT and the EVEN page on the RIGHT.


Step 1: Put in a blank page in front of your first page. Use the Page Break Feature rather than a bunch of returns. Go to the INSERT Menu --> PAGES Section --> Page Break

Step 2:  Go to PAGE LAYOUT Menu --> PAGE SETUP Section. Click the little arrow on the right bottom of that box.

Step 3: A PAGE SETUP Box will open. Click on the LAYOUT tab. Under "Section Start" scroll down to "Even Page."

Step 4: To set up your Print Settings, go to FILE --> Print. Under Printer select your PDF converter (Adobe Acrobat is preferred, or you can get a free one at PrimoPDF.com). Scroll down to select "2 Pages Per Sheet." Hit the Print button --> you will be asked to name your file so give it something.

And that's it! When you print your Word Document to a PDF with two pages on each page, it should work.


Here's chapter 45 from my book A LEVER LONG ENOUGH to show you what I mean with the print-out. It may be tough to see, but the pages are correctly aligned: chapter 45 starts on page 193, which is on the right.

I've pasted the text to this chapter below the screen shots -- this was a fun one to write! And understandable even if you haven't read the rest of the book.

NOTE: Overwhelming tasks with managing Taegais have left me too busy to blog. I plan to start again soon along with my new book release (Middle Writer) and will let you know -- although I'm not sure that anyone is coming to visit me anyway! LOL. If my advice is helpful leave comments, OK? I will work harder to blog if I know it's not floating into the stratosphere with nary a whimper.



The medics arrived too quickly.
Gideon held the unconscious soldier down on the floor at the far end of the room. It hadn’t been long enough, not long enough at all.
The second guard, Sol Tobias, scurried on the other side of Hirsch, pushing up on his diaphragm to try to remove any obstruction, manipulating Hirsch’s head back and forward to open the airway, trying to blow air into lungs that wouldn’t inflate. Gideon grimaced. It wouldn’t work. Gideon felt sure Tobias was from Aaron’s group of elite security officers, just like Hirsch. If Hirsch hadn’t been quite so observant, he never would have had to hurt him in the first place. Such a small thread.
Gideon pressed his fingers against Hirsch’s wrist. Pulse was losing strength, soaring. It wouldn’t be long now.
“This way,” the private said from across the room as he held open the door. Two people rushed in, past the dead saboteur to the downed soldier beside whom Gideon and the other guard knelt.
Gideon recognized Leah Rosen and winced. The doctor was dressed in nonmilitary blue flannel pajamas and a red terrycloth robe flapping about her knees; her sneakers were loose, and she carried a bulky leather bag. She pushed her wire rounded glasses up on her nose as she entered. The man behind her—the medic on call, Gideon guessed—was pushing a chest-high box on wheels ahead of him. The crash cart.
They crossed the small room in four steps, the physician skidding off balance for a moment on the saboteur’s blood.
“Get back!” she ordered as she dropped to her knees. The medic bumped Gideon out of the way as he moved to the doctor’s left, near Hirsch’s shoulder.
“Yossi, my laryngoscope and an ETT. Move back, move back!” She slipped on latex gloves. Then, she repositioned Hirsch, pulled his chin up and forward, and placed her hand on his neck, checking his pulse.
The medic also put on gloves, then took a white cloth from the top of the bag, spread it on the floor, and laid the contents of the bag in a line on the cloth.
“How long has he not been breathing?”
The security guard, Tobias, answered. “Three minutes. The prisoner hit him in the throat as he went down.”
The doctor grimaced. “We’ll get him back.” But Gideon knew that every tick of the clock took Hirsch further away.
The doctor manipulated a lighted silver blade within Hirsch’s mouth, peering in as she attempted to push a plastic tube down his throat with the other hand. Hirsch gagged.
The doctor shifted the bladed instrument sideways and lifted up, pushed the plastic tube in again.
“Tube won’t pass,” she said, almost in an automated voice. She pulled out the laryngoscope. “I have to cut.”
Gideon stepped back against the wall opposite the mirror.
The doctor ripped open Hirsch’s shirt from top to bottom, buttons flying off like small missiles. The medic held out a hand-sized bottle. She grabbed it and poured a quantity of the brown iodine liquid low onto Hirsch’s neck, wiping it over his skin. Then she snatched a cloth wrapped package from the towel and ripped it open. Inside was a scalpel.
“Hold him.” She moved to Hirsch’s shoulder. The medic grabbed Hirsch’s head and pulled it back.
A small line of black followed the scalpel’s blade. Dark blood along Hirsch’s throat, it turned red as soon as it appeared.
Hirsch lay motionless.
The medic held open a paper package containing a plastic airway tube. The doctor inserted the tube into the throat wound, taping it down.
It was three minutes since they’d started.
“Ambu bag,” she said.
The medic was holding a black balloon. The doctor attached it to the tube and squeezed air into Hirsch’s lungs. Hirsch’s chest rose.
For the first time Gideon felt dizzy with the thought that he might not be able to contain this. He looked up, and his eyes caught the saboteur’s unblinking stare.
His own death.
Stop it.
“Take over respirations,” the doctor said. The medic moved in, took back the ambu bag and squeezed again. The doctor pressed her hand to Hirsch’s throat.
“No pulse. I have to shock.” She pulled cables from the side of the EKG box, and then slapped a lead onto Hirsch’s chest, another on his side.
Hirsch’s skin was grey beneath the bright fluorescents.
The soldier’s chest rose again. Another breath.
The machine buzzed.
“I am going to shock on three,” the doctor announced. “Get back. One, two. Yossi, hands off. Three, everyone’s clear. Now!”
A jolt of energy went through the leads, and Hirsch’s body jumped.
“V-tach,” the doctor said, looking at the monitor. “Yossi, start CPR. I’ll ventilate.”
Gideon could see a thin green trace across the screen—jagged triangles.
Yossi clamped his hands together, heel of one hand over the other, and pushed down on the chest. Again. The doctor gave a breath to Hirsch, and then threaded an I.V. into the inside portion of Hirsch’s elbow. Another breath. She handed a bag of saline to Gideon.
“Epinephrine one mg. Time is...0243.” She pushed in the syringe plunger.
Breath. The doctor looked at the screen. “Yossi, good perfusion. Let’s do another shock.”
“Yes doctor.”
The EKG squealed, charge ready.
“Get clear. One, two. Yossi, back. Three. Now.”
Like running a machine, Gideon thought. It was a smooth drill to bring someone back to life.
Hirsch’s body jumped.
“Come on, soldier,” the doctor murmured. “Still V-tach. Yossi, start CPR again.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Yossi knelt forward and again leaned into Hirsch’s chest.
The doctor gave another breath. Gideon watched the trace on the screen jiggle with each compression.
The buzzer on the EKG squealed.
“I’m going to shock again,” the doctor said. “One, two. Yossi, hands off. Three. Clear.”
Hirsch jumped again. The trace on the monitor was flatlined, and then it started to move in what looked like a better rhythm. The line was stretched out more.
The doctor nodded. “That did it. Sinus.”
She motioned to Gideon to elevate the saline bag, then turned. “He’s holding sinus. Yossi, I need another line please.”
Hirsch’s chest rose again as the doctor gave another breath.
“Come on, come on,” Gideon heard the doctor mutter. “You can do better, soldier.”
The medic pushed a needle into the soldier’s other inside elbow. The doctor gave another breath.
“I have that second line now,” Yossi said. He was taping the tubing to the guard’s forearm, the other guard Tobias holding another bag of saline aloft.
The doctor gave another breath. “Heart looks better. Still sinus. Pulse oximeter?”
“In the bag.”
“Give a four mg Tocofel push, then another four in one minute. Now!”
“Yes, ma’am.”
The doctor gave another breath.
“What’s Tocofel?” Gideon asked.
The doctor was fixated on the EKG trace, and then she glanced up at him. “Yes, General. It’s a new drug. Tocofel chemically combines with the free radicals generated during reperfusion after anoxia. In simple terms, the drug prevents brain damage.”
“Will he be able to remember what happened?”
“Very likely. If we’re in time.”
The medic pushed in the syringe plunger. Translucent yellow fluid flowed into the cap of the second I.V. Gideon watched, immobile, as it marked out the I.V. line and disappeared into Hirsch’s arm.
Gideon stared, fascinated, at the spectacle of his own demise.
Breath. The doctor rummaged in the bag and pulled out a box the size of a deck of cards. She extended the sensor from its side and pushed the clip onto Hirsch’s finger.
“Sat’s ninety,” she said. “Come on, soldier.”
Gideon wished he understood what was going on.
There was a commotion at the door. The private was out of sight, in the vestibule by the monitoring room, but Gideon could hear his voice talking to someone, and running steps. Then he saw Aaron standing at the entrance.
Who had notified the security chief?
Aaron’s gaze was trained on him, and Gideon masked his face. Then Aaron broke away to survey the room. “Lieutenant! What happened?”
Lieutenant. He’d been right about the other guard, Tobias, being an officer.
Tobias looked up, juggling the second I.V. bag. It was obvious he hadn’t been aware of Aaron’s entrance. “Sir, it was so quick.”
“What happened?”
“General Gideon was questioning Seidel. Seidel jumped Hirsch, no warning or reason. Hirsch shot him, but Seidel must have punched him in the throat on the way down.”
“You saw Seidel punch him?”
Tobias shook his head. “It was too quick, sir. Seidel’s dead. And Hirsch is—”
The doctor looked up. “He’s stable now, Colonel. I don’t know how much damage yet.”
“Why did he need you?”
“Airway obstruction. He wasn’t able to breathe.”
“Colonel,” Gideon said. “I feel responsible. I questioned Seidel. I had no idea he was so unpredictable.”
Aaron walked across the room, all the while locking his gaze to Gideon’s. When he stood next to him, he put his hand on Gideon’s forearm.
“Don’t worry,” Aaron said. “I’ll get to the bottom of this.”
A warning? Did he even suspect him?
Gideon shook his head.
Aaron stood behind the EKG. “Doctor, what happened?”
She squeezed the ambu bag, and then looked up. “When the soldier was punched, his larynx was smashed. I had to do a trache, then resuscitate his heart.”
“Do you know for sure that he was punched in the throat?”
The doctor shrugged. “The airway was completely obstructed.”
Breath. She turned back to study the monitors. “Yossi, sat’s up to ninety five. We’re almost ready to transport. Wake up Shoshana. Tell her to bring a stretcher on the double, and oxygen.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The medic stood stiffly. A large patch of Seidel’s blood from the floor had dried on his fatigues from the knees down. The medic didn’t seem to notice it as he walked through the door in search of a telephone.
Aaron turned his body to Tobias, but his gaze stayed on Gideon. “Lieutenant, is the camera still live?”
Gideon twitched his hand involuntarily but otherwise remained immobile. Had it all been filmed? Or was Aaron bluffing? Where was the camera, what angle? He longed to sweep the room with his eyes but pulled himself back. Aaron was watching.
Tobias shifted the bag of intravenous fluid. “Yes, sir, it is.”
“I want to review the record in five minutes. Get it ready.” Aaron’s eyes were still on Gideon.
“Here, sir.” Tobias handed his saline to Gideon.
Gideon stepped back.
The doctor looked up again. “This man needs a hospital. I can stabilize him, but I don’t have the resources to keep him. We need to get him out now.”
“Out of the question,” Gideon said. “We can’t break the seal over the base for another week.”
“How soon would he need to be transported?” Aaron asked.
The doctor shrugged. “Within the next few hours at the latest. This is a critical time.”
“I see,” Aaron said.
The doctor gave another breath, then checked the monitors. “Heart seems stable. Sat’s at ninety eight.”
“When will he wake up?” Aaron asked.
“Unclear. Depends how long he was anoxic, how much brain damage he may have sustained.”
“I need to question him.”
The doctor shook her head. “Your best bet is to get him out of here and to a specialized unit. That’s all I can tell you.”
The medic reappeared in the doorway. “Shoshana will be here in five minutes.”
Aaron glanced at Hirsch. “Doctor, you saved his life.”
“Let’s hope so.”
“Bring him back.”
He nodded curtly to the medic as he exited.
“How is he?” the medic asked.
Gideon watched the doctor. She was monitoring the EKG trace and her patient, and squeezing the ambu bag every five seconds. Blast it; she’d brought him back. Now, his only hope was that Hirsch wouldn’t wake up in time.
“Let me take these, General.” The medic reached for the bags of saline.
Gideon glanced at the monitoring mirror as he walked out. Once he was in the vestibule, he turned around, scanned the room for possible camera locations. If it was in the mirror, there was nothing to worry about. Light fixture, a problem if located there. Doorframe, possible.
Aaron’s voice filtered through the vestibule. “Yes, General Landau. One hour, your office. Thank you, sir.”
Aaron was going over his head to talk with the base commander.