Tag Archives: Undead Rising

How to Edit Your “Choose Your Own Adventure”-Style Book

Now that you’ve written your totally awesome gamebook, you’ve got to edit it! Unfortunately, because you’ve got all these disconnected storylines running all over the place, that’s a bit more of an organizational feat than normal editing. So what should you do? Here’s my advice after working on my adult zombie gamebook, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny.

Take a Deep Breath
And just try to be patient. It’s pretty complicated, and even after taking more than 6 passes through it (both me and with other editors) I still found mistakes in the final form. Which is frustrating.
Make a Checklist
Since you made that awesome list when you wrote it, you can now turn that list into a checklist. You’ll want to mark off each section you’ve read/reviewed as you go. YES, you will most likely loop through the same sections repeatedly. You have to check the direction with every one, even if you just glance to make sure the transitions make sense.
Use the “Find” Feature
Late in the game I decided to change the names of a few characters. There was no way in Hades I was ever going to find all the incidences of those names, but the find tool made it easy to find and replace them in one quick pass. The same thing holds true with other story details (if you’ve decided, as I did, to keep some things constant across storylines). Because you’ve got a nonlinear story, you’ll need some clever tricks to track everything down.
Rewrite and Modify
After I showed a draft copy to my brother, I had to add in a few more scenes. (He felt like he died too often, poor baby). Because I’d written the book in Scrivner, this wasn’t that hard, but it did mean changing the choices to lead to that section, and inserting new pages. If I had been going by page number at this point–instead of the simpler numbering system–I’d have been in big trouble.
Layout the Pages
When you are completely confident that the story works, doesn’t have errors, and is generally in good shape, lay out the pages. It is a BIG headache if you have to go back and change these later (odds are good that you’ll have to go back and change them later…) but that’s why you’ve got your checklist as a backup.
You may want to do a rough layout, and then save two versions, if you’re doing ebook and print. They are similar in manuscript format but are about to change dramatically.
Add Page Numbers
I worked from the beginning and moved through my numbered list in order. That meant, in some cases, I added page numbers to some choices and left others with the placeholder number until I reached that point in the number system. In those cases, I just used the “find” tool to find my placeholder once I knew for certain what page it would be on. I also wrote the page number next to the original number in my list.
Use a pencil. I had to erase and scratch out at least a few times, particularly in the final pages.
Add Links
Because I wanted an ebook option as well as a printed option, I had to add links for ereaders. But the number system I used also made this pretty easy! I added the links in my document in Word (after exporting the manuscript from Scrivner). Word has a great “bookmark” tool that allows you to create in-document links. In Microsoft for Mac, this is located under Insert>Bookmark. You’ll add the bookmark itself to the section you want to send readers to, and add a hyperlink to that bookmark to each choice. (So: choices become links; bookmarks are at the beginning of the new section). You can also nickname your bookmarks with a few words–or even your number system. That chart you made really comes in handy!
Google “add bookmarks in Word” if you need step-by-step directions. A word of warning: if you have a full novel like Undead Rising with a lot of links, your document is going to get pretty big and the bookmarks may get challenging. That’s another reason I find the number system so useful.
Add Formatting For eBook and Print Versions
This was really time-consuming and you may want to hire a designer for this part. Print and ebooks naturally have some strong differences in layout and needs of the reader, and you’ll have to design carefully to accommodate that. For print, I wanted clear bullets to indicate each new choice. For the ebook, the choices were already obvious because they are underlined links. I also added dropcaps to signal new sections for the print book; that wouldn’t be necessary in an ebook, because the link will “warp” the reader directly to the new section.
Whatever formatting you decide on, be extremely careful that you don’t mess up your page numbers (in print) and that you are consistent throughout.
Check It Again
After you think everything is perfect, you’re going to need to check it..again. And probably again after that. The first pass should look for spelling and grammatical issues (I read the book backwards to help look for those); the second pass should check every link and every page direction. It’s tedious but very important that it be perfect!
After this, you should have a gorgeous ebook and/or print gamebook ready to publish!
—-
Undead Rising coverIf that sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, maybe you should just enjoy a good gamebook instead. How about Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, now available in print and for Kindle?

1 Comment

Filed under Editing, Publishing

How to Write a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-Style Book

In the ’70s and ’80s, a new genre in teen literature was born: the gamebook. The books, under the umbrella title of “Choose Your Own Adventure,” were the brainchild of a man named R.A. Montgomery. The interesting twist in these books was that the story was not singular: the reader would have a choice at the end of each section, with each choice directing to a new page number.

Montgomery either wrote or facilitated the production of every one of the books in the series, which is impressive, but has also meant there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the genre. But it’s a lot of fun! So, if you want to try to write a gamebook, here are my suggestions:
Decide What Will Effect Everything
I’m a bit of a seat-of-the-pants writer, and that worked pretty well with Undead Rising, but I had to make decisions along the way. There were certain things I knew I wanted from the beginning:
  • not deciding too much about the reader (the protagonist)
  • a completely gender-neutral protagonist (which is tough! Be really careful with those pronouns!)
  • a office environment and a home environment
  • set in New York
  • it will be hard to survive
But I had to make other decisions as I went. I decided that if something existed in one storyline, it had to exist for every storyline, even if the character never encountered it. Because much of the action takes place in an office building, this mostly meant that if there is an ad agency on the top floor in some scenarios, there will always be an ad agency on the top floor. This may be something you choose to do differently! But I found it helpful to have some kind of internal consistency, both for my sake and as a hint for the reader, who may encounter something story-related in one scene that will help them in another scene.
Number Your Outcomes
Though you’ll eventually have to go back and put page numbers or links in, that’s unmanageable when you start writing. I found it was much simpler to just number each choice as I went along. With every possible solution, I put a number in front of the option (ex. #1 Go to Lunch) and then put that number also in front of the first part of that section (or in the title in Scrivner; see below). This way I could search for #1 and quickly find both the launch point and the ultimate solution.
This was also helpful when I came back later to add new outcomes. My numbering might look like: #1, #2, #15. And that is perfectly fine! The numbers are for me, not for the reader.
Write The Choices Before the Scenes
As I wrote, I would complete a scene, and then immediately write down all the options that were possible from that scene. For example, you have an option to choose a medicine when you think you’re getting sick. As soon as I wrote the scene where you are picking the medicines, I decided what I wanted all the options to be and just wrote them in. Then I immediately went and created new sections (carefully numbered) based on those choices. I didn’t necessarily fill them in right away, but I needed to a) remember that I’d created that option and b) guarantee that every option actually went somewhere. There can be no dead ends except those you intend to be stopping points! By writing the choices as soon as I finished the scenes, I made sure every option was accounted for up front.
 
Get Out Paper and Pen
I originally tried to keep track of each reader “path” with a digital flowchart. That was a great idea…until I quickly found out that there was just too much going on. (I broke the Google Flowchart I was using. 😦 ) It was a lot easier for me to just write it out in paper and pencil. I made notes of what each section was (using the numbers, above), a little bit about it and anything that made it particularly important, and whether it was an outcome. I also listed the choices that came out of each scenario. My notes might look something like this:
#1- Stay in or go out for lunch from office? #2 #18 #34
#2- Go out for Thai food. #14 #16 #45
 
Use the Right Tools
I wrote Undead Rising with Scrivner, a writing tool specifically for authors, and it was a lifesaver. Unlike Microsoft Word, Scrivner lets you create a new section for every piece of the story. This might matter a bit to typical authors, but it is critical for gamebook authors. I was able to title each section with a few words of description, so I could tell what each was at a glance. I also could easily add or rearrange sections with the simple drag-and-drop interface. So much better than having to endlessly scroll in a single document!
Scrivner’s tools also let me label sections, so I could keep track of what was blank, what needed a second pass, and what was perfect.
With these steps–and a good amount of patience–you’ll quickly have a gamebook of your very own! And then…you’ve just got to edit it…. *dun dun dun!*
Undead Rising coverWant to stick to reading gamebooks? Pick up a copy of my book, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, a zombie adventure for adults!

2 Comments

Filed under writing

10 Reasons Why You Should Read Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny

Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny is now available in print and for Kindle! But why should you, a reader of things, actually buy it or download it or read it? There are lots of choices out there; why this one? I’ve got some ideas.

  • Your choices shape the story. Sure, most of the time as a reader you’re just there passively accepting the story. Well, with Undead Rising, you don’t have to–you decide what happens next. That’s real power.
  • There are 45 different endings. Seriously, how many books can say that?
  • It’s free! Until Saturday, May 9, you can download the Kindle version of the book for exactly $0. So even if you hate it (you won’t), there is absolutely no impact on your wallet.
  • It’s funny. Not many apocalypses make you laugh. This one will warrant a chuckle, though.
  • Survival is hard. Much like a real crisis, not every choice is easily decided. But that’s just a reason to test it out in a safe, written environment.
  • Even when you die, the story continues. Most of the time, the story has to stop when the main character dies. Not so in Undead Rising. You just unlock a whole new range of choices! What will zombie-you do next?
  • You can be a hero. Will you be the salvation of others… or will you be their undoing? Will you be selfish, or selfless? You can get some answers.
  • It doesn’t take much time. You lead a busy life with lots of things demanding your attention. Luckily, with a book like this, you have time. Storylines are short; within 15 minutes you can find a resolution.
  • If you don’t like the ending, just try again. Most books, you don’t like the end, you don’t like the book. This one,  you just try again. It’s that easy.
  • You’ll be able to tell your friends, with certainty, that you survived the zombie apocalypse. Who else can say that?

Undead Rising coverSo what are you waiting for? Get your copy of Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny today!

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading, Undead Rising

Read ‘Undead Rising’ for Free!

Undead Rising coverThis week only, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny is FREE for you, yes, YOU, to download and read on your Kindle device! (That includes all the Kindle products, plus any other things that happen to have the Kindle app.)

Undead Rising is a zombie apocalypse gamebook for adults—at the end of each section, you’ll come to a choice, and your choice will determine where the story goes next. There are more than 45 different outcomes…and if you get bitten by a zombie, you open up a whole new section of choices where YOU are the zombie.

Really, what could be more fun?

Go download it!

(Read it already? Great! Share a review on Amazon or Goodreads, please!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading, Undead Rising

Warts and All

As if I hadn’t told y’all about 100 times, my book is out now! And that’s awesome and exciting and…really bizarre. I’ve crossed a threshold and yet…nothing is really different–yet.  Most of the differences are in how I’m feeling: jittery and super-overwhelmed.

Does every author feel this way?I’ve worked on this one book for nearly 3 years and yet I still have moments where my heart beats faster and I get all shaky and am just convinced that my book is terrible an no one will ever love me and I’d better just go pick out a nice box under the freeway already. Then I swing to the opposite extreme: my book is the best in the world and I’ll be the funniest guest on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and I’ll have publishers knocking on my door, on their knees.

Of course the truth is nowhere near as dramatic. I’ve sold–actually sold!–a handful of books in a variety of formats and got my shipment of 10 copies to give away to family. I’ve got some great reviews on Amazon and the beginnings of interest on Goodreads. That’s progress.

But there have also been problems: a friend who I’d given the book months ago finally got around to actually reading the book, and she found an error, which was embarrassing. Then my cover artist finally got her copy and noticed a formatting thing that I swear I never saw before… combined, these two things rendered my 10 giveaway copies practically useless. Luckily, CreateSpace’s tools made it easy to fix the error and replace the cover, but it’s still not exactly how I dreamed it would be. It wasn’t perfect.

My husband (rightly) points out that things are often not perfect (hey, I found a blatant typo in my 20-year-old copy of Ender’s Game!) and that I’m being too hard on myself. I’m trying that whole “it’ll work out” ethos.

I’m trying to keep that same tenacity with the marketing stuff. Man do I hate talking about myself–and, it turns out, promoting my book. But of course it’s necessary: even the greatest book won’t be bought if no one knows about it. I just spent about an hour on different social media platforms, just doing simple things–posting about my book, talking with readers–and yet by the end of the hour I was shaking like I’d downed four cups of coffee. My veins were thrumming with “what if they don’t like me? what if? what if?”

Deep breaths. Just keep on keepin’ on.

Those of you who’ve survived this stage, what do you recommend? Help me out here.

4 Comments

Filed under Publishing, Undead Rising

Rise From The Grave (Without Actually Being a Zombie)

What if I told you there really is a way for you to be un-dead, in a very literal, and very helpful way? To be gone from this life and yet still helping people.

No, not as a zombie—they mostly just chase you for your brains. But in a way that will allow you to save someone’s life.

You can: sign up to be an organ donor.

I just recommitted to organ donation last week, when I renewed my request to be an organ donor. Here in Texas, you can do it through the DMV.

I’m an organ donor because of my friend David. David was my high school theater teacher, and he had to miss our actual performance of Romeo & Juliet because he was coughing too much to sit through the show. David has cystic fibrosis. It’s a disease where phlegm builds up in the lungs. Over time, David’s body was literally suffocating, drowning him from the inside out. He lost most of his weight, coughed so hard he broke ribs, and was on a first-name basis with the hospital staff.

But David is alive today because he was able to get brand-new lungs; well, lightly-used, or at least in better shape than the lungs he was born with. Now David celebrates a new birthday every year—the day he received the gift of a lifetime, new lungs.

Before his operation, David’s lung capacity was down to 7%. This year, it was at 110%.

Unfortunately, here in the U.S. and in most other places, essential organs like David’s new lungs are lost forever because organ donation is an opt-in rather than an opt-out. So you have to actually think about it, check the box, and make the commitment. Even when you’re gone, you could save someone’s life. What an incredible opportunity.

Go sign up to be an organ donor today and save a life sometime in your future.


Undead Rising coverNot enough zombies in this post? Why don’t you go buy my novel, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Much like with organ donation, there’s an afterlife: when you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

Leave a comment

Filed under Undead Rising

Readers’ Choice: Undead Rising – Part 1

Undead Rising coverUndead Rising: Decide Your Destiny is a zombie experience like no other—you, the reader, get to choose how the adventure will unfold! As such, it seemed only right that my blog readers should get a free taste of the book. What will you choose? Answer the poll to decide which way the story will proceed!


Today has not been your day. First you woke up late, and had to wait behind the most indecisive person in New York—good god, how long does it take to order a tall nonfat latte with a doubleshot of caramel and no whip? Is this your first time picking out a goddamn drink? Moron.—So you were barely caffeinated by the time you made it into work, narrowly dodging a cabbie’s nasty road splash (but still winding up with something indescribable and sticky on your shoes). Your boss Lisette looked annoyed, and you hid in your cubicle, hoping not to be noticed, and spent the first hour staring at your ex’s photo on Facebook. Why did it have to end like that? Forget the other fishes in the sea, you two had something good.

But you aren’t even able to cling to your reverie. A little before lunch (geeze, can you not even catch the smallest break?!) the first announcement came: CDC officials identified the outbreak in Chicago. It is some new virus, really dangerous. There are whispers of bioterrorism, but nobody knows for sure. It is now in New York, and probably airborne. Then, block by block, the mayor put the city into lockdown. This is serious, guys.

This is an official outbreak.

Check back on Saturday for the result!

Edit: After further consideration (and a closer read of Amazon KDP’s rules), I’ve decided not to post more of the book for readers. Sorry! KDP is, it turns out, rather strict about giving away too much. You’ll have to buy the book and try for yourself!


Want to decide for yourself? Buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny now! (Also available for Kindle.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading, Undead Rising