Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Piffle, Hogwash and Other Four-Letter Words

Where Love Once Lived was written to conform to the definition of Christian Fiction and be eligible for sale by members of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). CBA novels contain no explicit sex, no premarital sex, no swearing, a Christian worldview of some sort, and normally a strong evangelical message. What was most difficult for me was the swearing rule. My characters sometimes felt like screaming a few four-letter words, especially when they were alone or in the presence of an understanding friend.

That's why you'll find my fictional character Karen saying piffle from time to time. I learned that word from Jinx. Before she died, Jinx was a school counselor and had to be careful about what she said in front of the students. However, I think everyone, including the students, knew what she meant by piffle. It was the way she said it, not the word itself. She had so-called clean words for just about any situation. My favorite was fluff, because it was a word you didn't often hear in mixed company.

I thought about CBA's guideline about swearing last week when CreateSpace sent back the book mockup with a blank page before chapter two and told me it was the industry standard to begin each chapter on the right facing page. I checked at least twenty novels in my library and they all started chapters on the left or right page so that blank pages between chapters wasn't necessary. I did find several non-fiction books with a blank page before a chapter beginning. So, I wrote back that I didn't agree. I had to rewrite my response when I thought about how I was writing a Christian novel and my comments didn't sound very Christian.

I got the mockup back the second time Saturday, May 8, 2010, and they had removed all blank pages. I'm almost positive I said there should be no forced blank pages after chapter one. By the way, this is a problem with communicating with CreateSpace. There is no record of my messages. I can see their messages, but my responses are not saved and available to me.

Most books I have in my shelves start the dedication, the acknowledgement, and chapter one on the right facing page. The mockup I received had no blank pages in the front section at all and chapter one started on a left facing page. So, this time I was very nice and very specific about what I would like. We'll see how that works.

Before I got into the business of making a book, I would have thought a company like CreateSpace would know the standards for page layout. It shouldn't be left up to the writer. But, in a way, I'm the publisher here.

I'm not sure what's right or wrong. All I know is what looks best to me. What is the industry standard for beginning a page on the left or right? Is it different for fiction and non-fiction? Does anyone know? If so, please comment.

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