Tools for Indie Authors: Scrivener

January 5th, 2018

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If you have a Mac and want to write and publish a book, give Scrivener a try. Scrivener is a writing app that allows you to outline, research, write, and publish your book in a single app.

Scrivener 3 was recently released for Mac, and it allows you to publish PDF, EPUB, and MOBI (Kindle) books by choosing File > Compile in Scrivener. I tried compiling an EPUB book in Scrivener 3, and it looked good without me having to do anything. After using Scrivener 3 I lost enthusiasm for working on Tome Builder because Scrivener 3 does everything I wanted Tome Builder to do.

Scrivener also has iOS and Windows versions, but I haven’t used them. The Mac and Windows versions have 30 day trials, which you can download from the Scrivener site.


One Bug Holding Up the Release of AM Pages on iOS

December 28th, 2017

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I have been trying to fix one irritating bug that is keeping me from releasing the iOS version of AM Pages. The bug appears only on devices running iOS 11, but that happens to be the version most people use.

AM Pages has two main user interface elements: a table view with items for each day’s morning pages, and a text view where you type today’s morning pages or read a previous day’s pages. If you launch AM Pages, select the newly created entry for today, and type your morning pages, everything works fine.

The problem occurs when you go back to the table view and return to the text view. If your iOS device is in portrait orientation, the text view won’t scroll when you type. The lack of scrolling means that after a while you can’t see what you’re typing. The only way to get the text view to scroll is to rotate the device to landscape and back to portrait.

I have spent weeks trying to fix this bug. I asked a question about this issue on Apple’s developer forums and received no responses. What is particularly frustrating is I am using the standard text view that numerous iOS developers use in their apps. The text view scrolls on devices running iOS 9 and 10, but not on iOS 11.

If I ever find a fix for this bug, I will submit AM Pages to the App Store.


Tome Builder Books Don’t Open in High Sierra

November 30th, 2017

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I recently updated my Mac to macOS 10.13, High Sierra, and uncovered a major problem in Tome Builder on 10.13. When I opened a book, the following alert opened:


It turns out the error is caused by a bug in Core Data, Apple’s framework for storing application data, on macOS 10.13. Tome Builder stores a book’s contents as styled text instead of plain text. Storing styled text triggers the Core Data bug when opening a book.

To fix this issue I have to change the data model to store the book’s text as plain text. This change is causing problems with tagging text. I will release a new version of Tome Builder when I get things working again on macOS 10.13. Don’t use Tome Builder on High Sierra until I release a new version or Apple fixes their Core Data bug.


Tome Builder 0.3

November 13th, 2017

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Tome Builder version 0.3 is now available to download at the Tome Builder website. The biggest change in version 0.3 is to the book editor window. There’s a third pane on the right side of the window. The third pane has tabs for the following actions:

  • Setting the book’s title and author
  • Selecting themes
  • Setting page options

Book and Title

Click the Book tab to set the book’s title and author.


Theme Selection

The theme selection menus have moved from the toolbar to the right pane. Click the Theme tab to select themes.


In version 0.3 your theme selections are saved when you save the book.

Page Options

Click the Page tab to control where page numbers are drawn and what appears in page headers and footers.


You can show the book title, chapter title, or author in the page header and footer.


Deep Work Scheduling Philosophies for Writers

October 23rd, 2017

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I’m reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport (Amazon Page). Deep work involves the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task, such as writing a book, so that you can get more done in less time. Writing a book is difficult if you check your email and Twitter feed every 10-15 minutes.

To get into a state to produce deep work, you need to schedule time for focused, uninterrupted work. Newport lists the following philosophies of deep work scheduling:

  • Monastic philosophy
  • Bimodal philosophy
  • Rhythmic philosophy
  • Journalistic philosophy

Monastic Philosophy

The monastic philosophy maximizes deep efforts by eliminating shallow obligations, such as social media and email. Eliminating shallow obligations gives you large blocks of time to work.

This philosophy is the most difficult to live by, as most of you have lives that don’t let you isolate yourselves from the world for long periods of time. But if you can live by the monastic philosophy, it’s a great way to schedule enough time to do deep work.

Bimodal Philosophy

The bimodal philosophy divides your time between deep and shallow work. During the deep time you act like you would in the monastic philosophy, seeking long periods of intense and uninterrupted concentration to do deep work. The shallow time can be spent doing things like answering emails.

The most common ways to implement the bimodal philosophy are to block out one or more complete days a week for deep work or to spend one season of the year in deep work. If you were a teacher, you might spend the summer in deep work, allowing you to concentrate on teaching during the school year.

Rhythmic Philosophy

The rhythmic philosophy says the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a regular habit. Generate a rhythm that removes the need to invest energy in deciding if and when you’re going to do deep work.

There are two common methods to implement the rhythmic philosophy. The first method is the chain method. Put a calendar up on your wall. When you do deep work on a day, put an X through that date. Use the calendar to build up a chain of consecutive days of deep work that you don’t want to break. The second method is to schedule a block of time (usually 1-2 hours) at the same time every day for deep work. A common approach for people with full-time jobs is to wake up early and do the deep work before going to their jobs.

The rhythmic philosophy is the best philosophy for most people. It’s easier to carve out 1-2 hours a day for deep work than to carve out the days or weeks of time that the monastic and bimodal philosophies require.

Journalistic Philosophy

The journalistic philosophy fits deep work wherever you can into your schedule. If you have 20 minutes free, spend that time doing deep work. The journalistic philosophy gets its name from the fact that journalists are trained to shift into writing mode at a moment’s notice to finish articles in time to meet deadlines.

On the surface the journalistic philosophy is the easiest of the philosophies because you don’t need to schedule large blocks of time for deep work. You work when you get a chance. But the journalistic philosophy is difficult to practice because of the difficulty in shifting from shallow to deep mode. It helps if you have confidence in your abilities and feel that what you’re working on is important and will succeed. If you can practice the journalistic philosophy and quickly shift from shallow to deep work, go for it.