Quick Update

I haven’t been updating the site much of late; instead, I’ve been preparing to published an updated edition of my book, Why Mary Matters. Here, as a preview, is the preface.

Preface to the Fourth Edition
The benefits of self-publishing are many; likewise the perils. The first edition of this book was a Kindle edition, and fell victim to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice from a copyright troll. The second Kindle edition removed the offending material, after which I published the third edition in print.

This fourth edition is the result of another year’s worth of research. I also changed the citation style, choosing to use endnotes instead of in-line citations. Although I make an attempt to define a word the first time I use it, I realize that in a different context that definition may be forgotten. Therefore, at the request of one of my readers, I added a glossary.

I remain firmly convinced of the need for a book like this, a book that addresses the theological and historical rationale for the veneration of the Virgin Mary. This book is intended as an apologetic for rather than a theological treatise on the Virgin Mary. It is not enough, as many do, to simply state our beliefs; we must be able to defend them in a spirit of humility, and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

I intended this book for the curious Protestant, not for the Orthodox. Yet I have discovered that its best use may be as an aid to Catechesis in the Orthodox Church. The reason is that most Protestants are incurious about the Virgin Mary; it is not until they begin exploring the apostolic church that they come face to face with the Virgin Mary.

The Blessed Virgin is a great comfort to those Christians who know her, but also a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who do not. A priest who is not an American convert may not understand the visceral distaste for the ways in which we speak of her, and the instinctual manner in which Protestants recoil from her. A Protestant will not understand the difference between veneration and worship, nor the important place the Blessed Virgin plays in the Incarnation of the Son of God.

It is my prayer that those who read this book will, if nothing else, come away with an appreciation of the scriptural, theological, and historical basis for the veneration of the Virgin Mary.

In that spirit, let us pray with all the saints:

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and the Mother of our God! More honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim: in virginity you gave birth to God the Word, True Theotokos, we magnify you!

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

LORD have mercy! LORD have mercy! LORD have mercy!

Through the prayers of our brothers and sisters, LORD Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Certificate of Registration

Although copyright law does not require it, it is still a good practice to register any copyrightable work with the United States Copyright Office. While this is not a particularly cumbersome process, there is quite a length of time between when you begin the registration process, and when you get the Certificate of Registration. Yesterday I received my Certificate of Registration for my book “Why Mary Matters”, effective September 9, 2013.

Why Mary Matters

Why Mary Matters










The Year in Blogging

2013 has been an interesting year. I published my first book, Why Mary Matters, and started this blog to promote the book, to publish other bits of research that didn’t make the cut, and to share the fruits of my research.

It hasn’t always been easy. I quickly learned that it is easy to run out of material. The beast needs constant feeding. Having the blog forces me to keep reading and writing, something that will, I trust pay dividends in the future.


Off to the Publisher?

Today I finished proofing the galleys (the author’s manuscript after it has been copyedited and typeset), making all necessary corrections, and submitting the corrected file to CreateSpace (the print publishing arm of Amazon.com). I should get an email soon saying whether the book has been accepted. If so, it will be off to the printers before the end of the week. Finger’s crossed. http://amzn.com/B00DK1VEIS

Cover of the book "Why Mary Matters"

Why Mary Matters

Preparing a Book for Print

So you’ve written a book, and you think you are done. Far from it. The days when you could just hand your manuscript over to a publisher are pretty much gone. Today you have to take on some of the responsibilities of the publisher. Most publishing houses are running with a skeleton crew, so the better shape your manuscript is in, but more likely you are to have a happy publisher.

If you have decided to forgo the traditional publishers, the time, work, and expense has only just begun.  You have to have your book copy edited, at the very least. This gets expensive — in the case of my book, prohibitively so.  Academic copyeditors bill at between $40 and $100 per hour, and edit between 2-5 pages per hour. Best case scenario: the cost to copyedit my book would be  $3,640.

Only a fool copyedits his own writing. I am that fool. This means I have to check, recheck, and recheck again, often redoing work I just finished simply because I did something that repaginated the document.

There are plenty of helps available for the aspiring author, although most of them are meant for authoring fiction. The one I made the most use of is “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur” by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. The book and the authors have an active APE community on Google+ that can be quite helpful.

Just because you are self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to use a vanity press. There are plenty of options available. I chose to use CreateSpace from Amazon.com for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they provide relatively inexpensive ISBN numbers — ranging from  free to $99, depending on whether you want to use a custom imprint and whether you want to maintain the rights to be able to publish your book elsewhere. ) They have a variety of helps available, some for free and a wide variety of paid services. And they are the world’s largest bookseller, with global reach, so that’s a big plus.

It is important that you follow the instructions for creating a high quality PDF. If you don’t, your graphics will not be high enough quality (300 dpi) for print. But you may find that the conversion doesn’t proceed smoothly. Hopefully whatever publisher you use will identify the problems for you. It took some time, but I got rid of the problems one by one. One of the hardest was embedding the fonts into the file. This wasn’t hard with Word, but depending upon your PDF conversion process, it may be more difficult to embed the fonts into the PDF.  The hardest problem to find a solution for was deleting the line that Microsoft Word inserts between the body of the text and the endnotes/footnotes. It turns out you cannot do it in the Print View (WSYWIG) mode; you have to be in Draft. Follow the online instructions provided by Rivier University and you’ll be fine. Delete Endnote/Footnote Line Separators

Editing for Print

I was recently asked if my book “Why Mary Matters” was in print. The answer was no, not yet. It’s the “not yet” part that deserves a bit of an explanation.

Publishing an ebook is rather simple. You format the text, move some of the front matter to the end of the book, edit the content, and upload to your publisher of choice. Done and done.

Publishing a printed book is more complicated, because there are a number of issues that are irrelevant for ebooks.

Verso - Recto, the even and odd numbered pages of an open book

Verso – Recto

Like “running heads”, for example. This is the text contained in the header which provides useful information for the reader, like the title of the chapter. Then there’s the matter of verso and recto, or the even and odd numbered pages of an open book. You generally have different running heads for the verso and recto, so keeping those straight can be a challenge.

The Bibliography and Index can be difficult. Of course you don’t need those for your average book of fiction, but for a book with scholarly pretensions they are essential. Fortunately the later versions of Microsoft Word make these much easier than in the past, but their are still quirks that have to be dealt with. The Bibliography can get corrupted, leading to the dreaded “Invalid Source Specified” error. These are much harder to deal with in the footnotes and endnotes, for some unknown reason.

Adding an index, even using Microsoft Word, is still a challenge. If you mark all the instances of “John Calvin”, what do you do with the remaining instances of “Calvin”? Even more challenging, try creating unique references for the “Archangel Gabriel” and “George S. Gabriel”. No matter which way you do it, it ends up being a nightmare, requiring a lot of manual processing to resolve the inconsistencies.

And then there is the matter of cost. Each additional page adds to the length of the book, increasing its cost. So my index, while useful, has added 19 pages, and I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the book. You, the reader, must ultimately pay for the utility of an index. Sorry about that.

When publishing a book for print, you have to worry about things like Trim Size, which is the size of the page after being printed and trimmed. The Trim Size is almost certainly not going to be 8.5″ by 11″, so you’ll want to create a custom paper size in Microsoft Word (or your word processor of choice). There are numerous industry standard Trim Sizes to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages.

Then you not only have to determine your page borders, but also the size of the Gutter, which is the white space between two facing pages of a book. The longer the book, the more of a gutter is required to reduce stress in the book’s binding. And as soon as you add or change the gutter, the book is repaginated, requiring you to update the Table of Contents, check all the Running Heads, check that all the Parts or Sections of the book still begin on the verso or even-numbered pages, etc.

Maddening. This is why paper books are so much more expensive.


1) Get your self the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. The section entitled “Parts of a Book” is invaluable, and makes the difference between an amateur and a professional. You will find this useful even if you are editing using a different Manual of Style.

2) If you get the Invalid Source Specified error, you can try “one at a timing” your fixes, or you can simply go to References>Manage Sources and copy your entire Master List into your Current List, delete the books without check marks from your Current List, update your Bibliography, and you’re done. Now save, and pray it doesn’t happen again anytime soon.


Issues When Using Kindle Direct Publishing

I recently discovered that the one and only diagram in my book was not visible in the ebook.  I also discovered my tables weren’t displaying correctly. Why this was so, and how I fixed it, is the subject of this post.

Kindle Direct Publishing is a tremendous asset to the writer (and by extension, to you the reader.) But there are some things to be aware of. First, you need to know the acceptable file types.

Kindle accepts the following formats.

Unfortunately, these have some peculiarities. For example, while Kindle accepts both DOC and DOCX, documents with complex formatting may not be converted properly. I discovered this while uploading my book; for some reason, the diagram didn’t show up. There are also some issues with converting and uploading HTM or HTML files. you have three different options in Microsoft Word: a Single File Web Page (MHT/MHTML); a Web Page (HTM/HTML); and a Web Page, Filtered.   It’s not in the help files, but when you convert from DOC or DOCX to HTM or HTML you need to use the Filtered HTM/HTML option. This creates an HTM file along with a folder containing all the picture files. You will need to ZIP both the file and the folder and upload the ZIP file. If you use any other option, it won’t convert properly. For more information, see the following page: Types of Formats.

My problem was twofold. First, I needed to convert the Word shapes and text boxes into an image. Second, once I replaced the diagram with an image, the caption didn’t want to stay connected, so I had to use the Windows Snipping Tool to convert both the diagram and the caption into a single image. Then I had to bookmark the image, to into the Figures TOC, and insert a hyperlink to the bookmark.

Unfortunately, after I fixed the problem with the diagram but discovered another problem with the formatting of the tables; some of the tables extend beyond the borders of the Kindle. While the basic help doesn’t help much with tables, I discovered a lengthy PDF file that diagnosed the problem. Basically, Kindle doesn’t handle tables very well, as explained in the following document: Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines.

For me, fixing this problem required converting the tables into lists. But depending upon the way the tables are being used, Amazon recommends other options. It’s a judgement call, and it is trial and error. Once I did that, I had to remove the Tables TOC, since I no longer had tables. I also had to update the TOC to reflect the new pagination.

Good luck.

Keeping your Kindle books updated

Despite my best efforts, I’ve discovered my published book contains errors of fact, errors of omission, as well as the unfortunate typographical errors. However, one advantage of ebooks over hardcopies is that it is easy for authors to upload corrections, and it is easy for you to keep your Kindle ebooks updated. Here’s how.

First, open Amazon.com in your browser. On the left you will see “Shop by Department”. Hover your cursor over Kindle, then select “Manage your Kindle”.

Manage your Kindle

Manage your Kindle














This will open a new page entitled “Your Account>Manage your Kindle”. At the top of the page, above “Your Kindle Library”, you may see a banner containing the following: “Automatic Book Update is now available. Learn more”.

In the left column, under the heading “Your Kindle Account”, you need to select “Manage your Kindle”. Once on the page displaying all your Kindle devices and Apps, scroll down the page until you see the Automatic Book Update section. Under Actions, select the “Turn On” option. (If Whispersync Automatic Book Update is ON, you don’t have to do anything.)

Automatic Book Update

Automatic Book Update






That’s it. It’s just that simple; now anytime I (or any other author) uploads corrections, you will receive them.

CAUTION: In order to retain your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading locations, ensure that all your Kindle devices and reading apps have the “Annotation Back Up” setting turned on.