Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers on her new release!

Bestselling and award-winning author Alice Kuipers took time out from her busy schedule (which now includes a monthly literary segment for CTV Morning Live!) to answer a few questions for us about her new release Me (and) Me.

Welcome Alice! What’s your newly released book about?

Me and Me is the story of seventeen year old Lark on the day she has to make an impossible choice. Because she can’t decide who to save–her boyfriend or a young child-her life splits into parallel lives with huge consequences.

Who will it appeal to?

So far teenagers and adults have been warmly responding to the book–I love to write for Young Adults, but I think a lot of adults enjoy reading YA novels and so this book might appeal to them too.

What’s the “story behind the story”? (How did you come up with this idea?)

I started writing this story twenty years ago when I was first attempting a novel. I wrote it about me–or, rather, a version of me who split into two. It was only when the character of Lark Hardy came into my head that I realize the story I’d been trying to tell for years could finally be told. Lark is feisty, fun, cool, and yet paralyzed by the choice in front of her. She was the perfect character for this book.

How long did it take to write?

Twenty years! Well, from the first idea to getting the book on the page it was twenty years, but there were lots of books in between. I stopped writing this book for many years and when I got back to it, the book took about two and a half years from first sentence to published book.

Was there anything unique about your research or work method for writing this particular novel?

I had to learn a lot about the passions Lark has–she’s a singer songwriter, so I interviewed singer songwriters, and listened to a lot of music, and Lark is also interested in parkour. I asked the local parkour community lots of questions, watched them, and immersed myself in YouTube videos of people doing parkour.

How do you see media handling of novels evolving these days? Is there anything different about the way you communicated this novel to your audience compared to your previous works?

A local filmmaker made a book trailer for this book. I noticed that lots of people viewed this and shared it on their social media streams. A book trailer is a glimpse into what the novel might be like and what interested me was that the filmmaker cast Lark and Alec so perfectly that it made me feel like the characters had come alive.

I’ve also done more media than I have done in the past for this novel, which has been fun. I worked with a local publicist which was a great way to connect with people in my home town of Saskatoon. Normally I work with publicists located in Toronto or New York, who have less time to reach out to the prairies.

Which Hollywood stars would you like to see in the movie version of this novel? (and why?)

I think, if a movie were to be made of this book, I’d like to see unknown actors take on the roles. The book is about how we make choices–and I think that is something all of us have to deal with all the time. Who would we be if we’d done one tiny thing differently? What would it be like to encounter ourselves if we could cross into our parallel life–if there were one? I’d like the movie to reflect that everyone/anyone feel of the novel.

What are you working on next?

I have a YA novel that I’ve just finished that’s being edited right now. I’m launching an online course for people who want to write Middle Grade or YA novels. I’m writing a memoir of Toronto teenager Carley Allison. I’m finishing edits on the second chapter book in my new chapter book series coming out with Chronicle Press in the spring of 2018.

I’m surprised by all the projects I have happening, but the way the publishing industry works for me seems to be that–while it sounds like I’m doing ten things at once–each project gets the time it needs. Some are slow, some are fast. Some have deadlines. Some don’t. All of it falls into place. I share updates about my writing life, and tips about how other people can get writing too, through my newsletter and free online course. Find all that at alicekuipers.com

Where can we get a copy?!

At Amazon!

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Kuipers has recently released Me (and) Me in Canada, and it’s set for release outside of Canada in Fall 2018. It has received accolades in the Canadian media.

“Haunting and mysterious, this is a powerful book about love, life and choices. Both page-turning and thought-provoking, Kuipers deftly tells a lyrical tale that’ll keep you questioning reality right up to the very end.”
Arthur Slade

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AliceBestselling author Alice Kuipers has published five award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently, Me and Me, described by Bif Naked as mesmerising. Her two picture books feature twins Violet and Victor, and she has an upcoming chapter book series with Chronicle Press. She is writing a memoir about teenager Carley Allison with Kids Can Press. She has had stories produced for CBC and essays published in Bristol Review of Books and Easy Living magazine. She blogged for Today’s Parent, and The Huffington Post. Alice’s work is published in 34 countries. She has four children.

Alice’s website is full of tips and hints for writers. Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com or online.

Coming Monday: Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers on the story behind her new release!

Alice

Bestselling and award-winning author Alice Kuipers joins Ben’s blog – next Monday!

Kuipers has recently released Me (and) Me in Canada, and it’s set for release outside of Canada in Fall 2018. It has received accolades in the Canadian media.

“Haunting and mysterious, this is a powerful book about love, life and choices. Both page-turning and thought-provoking, Kuipers deftly tells a lyrical tale that’ll keep you questioning reality right up to the very end.”
Arthur Slade

***

Bestselling author Alice Kuipers has published five award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently, Me and Me, described by Bif Naked as mesmerising. Her two picture books feature twins Violet and Victor, and she has an upcoming chapter book series with Chronicle Press. She is writing a memoir about teenager Carley Allison with Kids Can Press. She has had stories produced for CBC and essays published in Bristol Review of Books and Easy Living magazine. She blogged for Today’s Parent, and The Huffington Post. Alice’s work is published in 34 countries. She has four children.

Alice’s website is full of tips and hints for writers. Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com or online.

Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers Interview – Coming Soon

Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers

has just released her new YA novel

Me (and) Me.

Interview coming soon…

Ben on Radio: When You Wrap Up your Past, You’ll Unwrap a Perfect Present

Screenshot 2015-07-05 18.35.31Carol Graham interviewed Ben on her radio program, Never Ever Give Up Hope, on November 15, 2015.

Carol says: From losing his partner to ovarian cancer to his passion for saving marine life, Ben’s life experiences inspired him to intertwine them into his short stories and his novel.   His passion for life and love are evident in his stories. His compassion is evident in his interview.”

Do you live a fear-based or love-based life?  

Listen to his interview to get the answer:

When You Wrap Up Your Past, You’ll Unwrap a Perfect Present

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BEN white_headshotIn this interview, Ben also talks about the challenges our oceans face today, life lessons learned from boxing, a guardian angel named Edington, and a short story from his collection, Something in the Air, available on Amazon…

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Olivia Teese Interviews Ben

Ben in cafeOlivia Teese has interviewed Ben. An Interview with Ben Starling is now live!

In this interview, Olivia talks to Ben about what it’s like to be a dad; his muse, a Great Dane named Edington; and about his newly released novel, Something in the Water, available now on Amazon…

Sign up to be the first to know about more releases from Ben!

What’s Jutoh? And how it began…

boxshotmediumI was fortunate enough to learn about Jutoh from a fellow author just before I published my first book. It’s a game-changing software program for self-published authors that creates ebooks for Epub-using platforms and Kindle, in a re-flowable format. Along with Scriven, this is the one other author tool I could not imagine living without.

ipad-and-iphone-freeimages

“Re-flowable” means it reshapes to fit all devices.

Re-flowable – what’s that? Re-flowable means that no matter whether your readers use Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, phones, Macs or PCs, your work will always “reshape” itself to fit the screen of the device they prefer (as opposed to having to scroll around from side to side to see each page).

DSC02093Jutoh also enables authors to publish a high quality product on any ebook distribution site, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks, Google Play and Kobo. And it creates PDFs suitable for sending to print-on-demand services. What’s not to like?

Julian Smart, co-author of Jutoh and the tech genius behind it, kindly agreed to answer a few questions about this software.

Welcome, Julian and thanks for joining us. You have a degree in computer science, a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and have developed software for many different kinds of applications, including a sonar navigation system for autonomous underwater vehicles – how did you find your way to developing software for authors? What made you think of this application in particular?

JulianThank you very much, Ben! It’s an honour to be invited.

My main inspiration has been my wife, Harriet Smart, who writes historical novels. In 2002 I was made redundant by the Linux company Red Hat UK, at which point Harriet and I designed our first writing tool, Writer’s Café, which had been brewing in our minds for some years.

Editing Screenplay

Editing a screenplay in Writer’s Café

Writer’s Café focused on early parts of the writing process, with tools for planning stories and exercising the writing muscle. As the ebook became a practical and commercial possibility thanks to Amazon and others, we realised that there was a gap in the market for a tool to easily create ebooks for self-publication, without resorting to writing HTML and CSS code.

There was plenty of scope to offer alternatives to word processors, that offered ebook-specific tools, optimisations and structuring that conventional word processors don’t cater for. Harriet’s writing needs have definitely driven and shaped the tools I’ve been writing for the last 14 years, and I’m glad to say she’s still an enthusiastic user of Writer’s Café and Jutoh, planning in the former and writing all her novels in the latter.

boxshotmediumWhat key things did you and your co-author, Harriet, consider while developing Jutoh?

Simplicity and flexibility are two major considerations, often tricky to keep in balance. Jutoh is used by a wide range of people, from authors who know just enough word processing to get by, to publishing houses with demanding expectations of how Jutoh will fit into their existing workflow. So Jutoh must neither overwhelm nor limit.

I try to keep advanced settings hidden until needed, notably with the ‘configurations’ concept which allows the user to control more esoteric facilities such as conditional inclusion of content according to distributor or format.

One of the features of digital publishing is the large number of pitfalls and ‘gotchas’ due to variations in the way e-readers handle content, limitations of HTML and CSS compared with word processors, display size differences and so on.

paper-people-1316581-638x459So Jutoh has an extensive warning and error system to help the user identify problems in their books, and there is also a help system with instant keyword search for the manual and a 200-article ‘knowledge base’ comprising short answers to specific technical questions. So this way Jutoh tries to clear some of the fog surrounding the mysteries of ebook creation, and Jutoh’s own behaviour.

How long did it take for you to develop Jutoh?

Editing Jutoh user guide in Jutoh

Editing the Jutoh user guide in Jutoh

I can’t remember exactly when I started working on Jutoh, but probably a year or so before the first release in 2010. However, I had a big leg-up reusing code from some of my other tools, including Writer’s Café. Complex software is never really finished, and I have been improving Jutoh and adding features since version 1, so another answer to the question is ‘the last 7 years’.

boxshotmediumWhere does the name Jutoh come from?

All the names we tried to come up with that had writing connotations sounded horribly cheesy, so we opted for an arbitrary word made up of the first letters of our names: Julian, Toni (our daughter) and Harriet. This had the advantage of being an available domain name.

What was the most difficult part of designing this software? The easiest?

Editing Tables in Jutoh

Editing tables in Jutoh

Hardest: tables! Jutoh’s text editor is written from scratch, and implementing all the parts of table layout, import, export, and editing with all the required property dialogs, was a massive job. During much of this I was bedridden for 9 months and as a distraction I worked feverishly on table support for Jutoh 2.

Easiest: probably the tab-based document management system, since much of it had been written for Writer’s Café.

Are there any famous authors using it?

Most conventionally-published authors will leave ebook creation to the publisher, but there are many quietly successful ‘indie’ authors using Jutoh who will be familiar within particular genres, such as Stephanie Bond, Ruth Harris, Freda Lightfoot, Holly Lisle and Barbara Freethy. Other notable users include the publishing guru Jane Friedman, and ‘Early Edition’ TV series creator Vik Rubenfeld.

What should authors think about before deciding if this product is right for them? Is it more useful for fiction or non-fiction?

I would encourage authors to consider if they are happy giving control of the editing process to a third party, who charge per book and make it harder for you to make corrections and changes later; books-freeimagesand whether they want a high-quality result compared with a simple-minded document conversion.

If retaining control appeals, and the author doesn’t mind a little work in getting to know new software, then Jutoh should fit the bill. Since a demo is available, authors can determine whether it suits their way of working before purchasing.

Jutoh can be used for both fiction and non-fiction; although most users are probably novelists, users have also created highly technical, large books with Jutoh, making use of features such as bibliography tools, indexing, footnotes, cross-references, pictures, and tables.

It has been used to create interactive Epub 3 tutorials, children’s books, memoirs, cookery books, photography books, travel guides, self-help books, manuals, and medical textbooks. Jutoh is of course used to create the Jutoh user guide!

Are any special skills required? Do most users have a technical background?

CreatingEbooksUsingJutoh_CoverKnowing how to use a word processor is a good start, together with a little patience for where Jutoh diverges from a conventional word processor. Formatting for digital publishing requires a little more precision and care than day-to-day word processing, and therefore good habits may need to be learned, such as using named styles consistently.

Most users aren’t particularly ‘technical’, if by technical you refer to programmers or web site designers. But obviously there is some skill in using any reasonably interesting piece of software.

life-saver-2-freeimagesJutoh comes with lots of documentation to help get the user up to speed on what formats are supported, how to use Jutoh, troubleshooting problems, and so on, and of course we are very happy to help users if they get stuck.

Have you created any other tools for authors? Or do you have any new products planned for the future?

I’ve mentioned Writer’s Café; my other software has been mainly for programmers, such as DialogBlocks (for creating user interfaces) and HelpBlocks (for creating manuals). Right now I’m temporarily reducing my focus on the nuts and bolts of software development to think about the next phase.

mp3-player-1416240-639x452I’m interested in the use of digital books by the visually impaired, and am looking into support for DAISY digital talking books. Jutoh can already be used to create MP3 files using text-to-speech, with features that allow you to improve speech quality and also preview audio for all or parts of the project.

Editing Speech

Editing the speech sample project, a leaflet optimised for text-to-speech (MP3) and large print output

The sample file Patient Advice Speech Sample demonstrates a medical information leaflet with speech optimisations that can create files for Epub, Kindle, ODT in normal and large-print versions, and MP3 speech. I’d like explore how authors can deliver their books to visually impaired readers more easily – the current self-publishing infrastructure, such as Amazon’s Kindle platform, is not yet adapted to this, and bolt-on audio hardware for Kindles is only a stop-gap measure.

There needs to be a better route for authors to add custom pronunciations and specific content for people listening via text-to-speech readers. Epub 3 has been rather a damp squib as an update to the DAISY format, with few devices or applications taking advantage of speech markup features offered by Epub 3. So there’s much scope for improvement in this area, and I will be looking at how Jutoh can help.

alfie07When you are not developing tools for authors, what do you do?

I enjoy playing ball with my cat, prowling around antique shops with my wife, renovating old properties, and checking out interesting architecture. I watch far too much TV drama – there’s so much quality stuff these days, it’s hard to keep up. My wife calls it ‘research’, so she has an excuse.

Who are your favourite authors? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Harriet book

Grrr. A bear-faced plug for the latest Northminster Mystery

I confess I spend more time reading articles online than reading books; I tend to consume stories in TV and movie form, but I’m a big fan of the Northminster Mysteries by one Harriet Smart.

I’m also promising myself the time to read William Morris’ sci-fi novel News From Nowhere as Morris is a significant part of our decorative schemes.

And my all-time favourite questions: If you had a supernatural power, what would it be? If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I would be Sash-Man, sporting astragalled specs, a white sash and the ability to instantly transform plastic windows into traditional wooden windows (sash-and-case where appropriate). The UK housing stock has been comprehensively ruined by tricksters selling ugly plastic windows that rip the soul out of old buildings, and only a superhero – or a benevolent dictator – could fix this mammoth scandal.

JulianJulian Smart was born in Nottingham, UK, and has degrees from the universities of St Andrews and Dundee. While working for the University of Edinburgh, he created the open source cross-platform GUI toolkit wxWidgets, used for nearly a quarter of century by individuals and organisations all over the world, and the bedrock of Anthemion Software’s applications. Julian has also worked for Red Hat UK, and the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

In 1996, Julian and Harriet founded Anthemion Software to create tools for programmers and writers, including the productivity software Writer’s Café and the ebook editor Jutoh. Julian is based in Edinburgh with wife Harriet, daughter Antonia, and cat Alfie.

You can find out more at www.jutoh.com and www.writerscafe.co.uk

Note: Just in case you are wondering – I (Ben) have not received any compensation for highlighting this product here. It’s a great tool for writers that I have found useful and am happy to share it as one of my favorite finds.

Meet Ben – Author Skype Visits for Book Clubs

BEN blue_actors headshot sq_AUG2015Would you like an author Skype visit for your book club?

Drop Ben a line at benstarlingauthor (at) gmail (dot) com. He looks forward to hearing from you!

Planning to read Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance with your club? The Book Club Reading Guide is now available at Ben’s website.