I Designed, Edited, and Produced my First Book

I Designed, Edited, and Produced my First Book

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

I designed, edited, and produced my first book

My Book Project

You may or may not know that I am a MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. During our second trimester we got to do a really cool project. (Probably the coolest project I’ve ever done!) We had to produce our very own book. We were given two criteria: the author we chose had to be Scottish, and the book we picked had to be out of copyright. My choice: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish classic I enjoyed reading immensely during my undergrad.

When I started this project, I knew right away I wanted to create a young adult edition of a classic title. My main reasoning behind this being that those were the books that I, as a non-native speaker, couldn’t read when I was a teenager and still learning English. I wanted to create an edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde that I would have been able to read. I am so very proud of the end result, and think I achieved the goals I set for myself and then some!

Cover Illustration

Alongside editing, I started thinking about the cover. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, however, I knew my Adobe skills weren’t advanced enough to create what I was picturing in my head. I wanted a cover that showcased the contrasting personalities of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the cover needed to be appealing to both boys and girls (and have that slighly horror-ish look to it), and above all it needed to be a YA cover.

So, I contacted my VERY talented friend: Shiralee. She’s a graphic designer from the Netherlands, and after a skype conversation and few emails she absolutely nailed it and created this beautiful cover illustration for me!

The Editorial Bits

The editorial part of this book was perhaps what I was most nervous for. Because I set my sights on creating a young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde there was a lot to be done. I first went through the manuscript to eliminate any grammatical and spelling errors. After that was done it was time to focus on what needed to be done to make this an edition suitable for young adults (both native and non-native speakers). The original work was full of endlessly long sentences and quite some archaic words. Both needed to dealt with, but in such a way that I stayed true to the original work.

I ended up creating shorter sentences by splitting up the ones that were too long. I made a list of all words I didn’t immediately know the meaning of (and those that I did but were too old-fashioned) and researched them by looking up the definition and finding out where they originated. The list of words was quite long,  and took time to research, but it made me realise that there were some words that I wanted to keep because they gave the work (and the time period it is set in) character.

Hence why I ended up creating a glossary in the back of the book. Readers don’t need to use it to understand the book, but it does enhance the reading experience and allowed me to keep those words I wanted to keep. For example, the word ‘Sawbones’ is in the glossary. It’s a slang term for a surgeon or doctor, and I loved it to much to just cut it out of the book. The glossary solved this problem for me.

The Internals

Once all editorial was done, I had to flow in all text, and start on the production of the book in InDesign. This was probably my favourite part. I love working with InDesign and spent A LOT of hours making sure the internals ended up as pretty as they could be. There’s endpapers, there’s chapter illustrations, I took care of those pesky widows and orphans, and I made sure there were no weirdly hyphenated words throughout the book. You can see a glimpse of those endpapers and chapter illustrations in the image on the left (or above, depending from which device you’re viewing this post). Both (again) curtesy of my insanely talented friend Shiralee!

A lot of hours went into creating this young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, but it’s hours incredibly well spent, because I am SO PROUD of the final product. I’m so grateful that Edinburgh Napier University created a learning environment that allows students to experience this. It was a safe environment that allowed room for trial and error, and I feel like I understand and appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating a book even more than before.

The book is currently at Bell & Bain in Glasgow, where it is BEING PRINTED. You read it right, in a few weeks time I get to hold actual physical copies of the book I created.

And that’s a wrap! I have been sitting on this, wanting to share it with you, for what feels like forever (but was actually just a trimester…). I’d love to hear your thoughts, so do feel free to leave a comment below!

Edinburgh Walking Guide

Edinburgh Walking Guide

Edinburgh Walking Guide

My favourite walks to escape the busy city for a bit

Edinburgh Walking Guide

It may or may not have escaped your notice that I moved to Edinburgh in August. One of my absolute favourite characteristics of this city is that there are a plethora of walks to enjoy. Since it has now been five months since that I moved here, I thought it would be nice to share my favorite places to escape the city for a bit. Armed with a home-brewed cup of coffee, I prepared a list of beautiful and relaxing places to walk in Edinburgh or around the Edinburgh area.

Arthur’s Seat

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

Blackford Hill

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

Water of Leith Walkway

The Leith Walkway is one of those walks where you’re still right in the middle of the city, but it doesn’t really feel like it. The walkway is about 12 miles long and goes all the way from Balerno to Leith, passing some of my favourite areas in the city, such as Stockbridge and Dean Village. When I did this walk I started out in Dean Village and just followed the trail from there. I really recommend this walk as it is really nice and picturesque and you get to see the city of Edinburgh in a different light.

North Berwick

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

Edinburgh Independent Bookshop Guide

Edinburgh Independent Bookshop Guide

Edinburgh Independent Bookshop Guide

My personal favourite indie bookshops in Edinburgh

Moving to a new city (read: new country) comes with the added bonus to discover and explore new bookstores. As I happened to have some spare time in the first few weeks, I explored in excess and happened upon some bookstores that I quickly found myself falling in love with.

The first thing I discovered when I looked up the various bookstores in Edinburgh was that there are a lot of them. The second thing that most of them are independent bookstores. It happens to be that both of those things make me very very happy. I decided on two beautiful, albeit different, independent bookshops that stood out to me (and which I am definitely visiting again).

Golden Hare Books

Golden Hare Books is my number one favorite in the city! It has the most beautiful storefront I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I went there on #BookshopDay (hence the ‘Books are my Bag’ flags) and slowly browsed my way through the store.

They have a ‘Blind date with a Book’ wall that tempted me mercilessly and have baked treats throughout the store that you can nibble on (their peanut butter brownies are to die for!). The ambiance is incredibly pleasant, with music playing softly in the background and seats to sit down and read. Golden Hare Books is a paradise for book lovers and definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting the city or just find yourself in the neighborhood.

Lighthouse Bookshop

Lighthouse Bookshop is another independent bookshop you don’t want to miss out on. They market themselves as left-leaning and politically engaged, and when you step into the store you can see they truly are. They celebrate diversity, equality and free speech throughout the store and provide marginalized as well as mainstream books. My favorite discovery was the way they described YA books. They have a little sign on their shelves that states: “YA (Young Adult) is a genre melting category full of brilliant, challenging crossover books & authors, check it out.” Isn’t that the best description any YA reader can wish for?

Why you should support your local independent bookstore(s)

I do hope that if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh you’ll take the time to visit these indie stores. Do remember that bookshops like these are cultural assets: they support and promote (local) authors, they champion reading and work with the community. It’s independent bookshops like these that make buying books such fun and the city would certainly be a poorer place without them, so make sure you support them by buying a book (or two, or three).

Furthermore, to put things a bit more in perspective: the number of independent bookstores has halved in the past 11 years. In 2005 there were 1,535 independent bookstores, and in 2017 the number of independent bookshops has gone down to 867 (The Bookseller). So be sure to support yours!

Epic Love Stories to Turn to in Times of Need

Epic Love Stories to Turn to in Times of Need

If I got paid for every time I get asked ‘what’s up’ with ‘my love life’, I’d surely be a millionaire by now. Whether it be by a meddling aunt, your parents, or by curious friends that particular question always manages to exhaust me. So for everyone that’s still wondering: the ‘love life’ is non-existent. There’s no man (or woman) in my life. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure Prince Charming took a detour in getting here (a serious error in judgment on his end). To everyone who lives through the same, this post is for you!

Most days I am totally fine with my single way of life. But some days, the lack of that epic love story makes me feel a little ‘meh.’ A friend of mine just got married and my god, it was a beautiful day that had me wiping away tears like mad. There’s just something about weddings that make you crave a little slice of that for yourself (you know, for when that detoured Prince Charming finally finds his way out of the woods).

For those ‘meh’ days:

So, for those ‘meh’ days… When your cat, best friend, dog, or sister isn’t enough to keep you company: here is a short list of books (YA and NA) with great epic love stories that I turn to when I need a reminder that my one is (somewhere) out there:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Let’s be honest, Simon vs.the Homo Sapiens Agenda can’t really miss from this list. I only recently read this book (in anticipation of Love, Simon) and LOVED it. It is such a beautiful and meaningful story about falling in love for the first time. This book will make you laugh, cry, and laugh again.

Wait for You by Jennifer Armentrout

The Wait for You series was one of the first NA series I read (I mean, I read EVERYTHING by Jennifer Armentrout) and I wholly recommend not just the first book, but the entire series. It deals with some heavy themes, without becoming too heavy and losing that feelgood vibe. The third book in the series, Stay with Me is my favorite book in the SIX book series.

Havoc by Jamie Shaw

A rockstar romance, need I say more? Havoc is the fourth and last book in this series and my absolute favorite. Although all other books in the Mayhem series are thoroughly enjoyable, this is the one that gives me the most feels. This love story is one that builds slowly and develops beautifully (and the love-interest is so damn sweet).

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout

Hey! Another Jennifer Armentrout book! And this time a YA. This one is a little heavier than her previously mentioned series. A lot heavier actually, but so good! It’s about pushing yourself to go beyond your past, getting to know yourself, and finding love in the process. The Problem with Forever will wreak havoc (see what I did there?) on your emotions, but it can’t miss from this list. Because if this isn’t an epic love story, then what is?

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Whoah, it’s been a while since I read Eleanor & Park… This is not really a simple love story. It’s a story about two star-crossed lovers that aren’t really given a chance. It’s a love story, but at the same time, it’s not (it is so much more). All I can say is that if you haven’t read this book, you’re seriously missing out!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Yup! Two Rainbow Rowell books! Because ‘Rainbow Rowell’ and ‘epic love story’ pretty much go together. Fangirl holds a special place in my heart, as it is the book that helped me greatly when I was seriously anxious about starting university. It’s a wonderful coming of age story with a lovable heroine (who develops greatly throughout the story) and a fun love-interest. This entire book is so relatable!

What epic love stories do you turn to when you need a reminder to believe in love?
The running project!

The running project!

One or two years ago I was still fit enough to run a half marathon. Then my BA thesis happened and ten months of internships happened. The past two years have been awesome, but still, a part of me mourns those hours spent running. Then again, nothing is ever accomplished simply by looking back. If you want to make changes, then the only way to do so is by actually ‘doing’. Which is why I made a promise to myself. No more sporadic runs, instead, I am back to training regularly. I am setting up a schedule and I am setting the goal for myself to pick a running event in Edinburgh.

MY running project

Part of wanting to get back into my routine is that I have a few months before my official moving date. I want to be used to my routine again so I can have some stability, something to focus on when I move. Although I am madly excited about the time to come, I do realize it’s going to be an adjustment to move away from everything I know. As The Meadows is practically going to be in my front yard, I have zero excuses for not going out and running a lap (or two). Running is going to be what I will turn to when I need some common ground.

The first run in my schedule was last Saturday. The next run was on Monday. And the next will be on Wednesday (the day after this post goes live). That’s three runs already, three runs closer to my goal of getting back into that running rhythm that I miss so much (and yet not at all, because let’s be honest, a bad run can be harrowing). That burning feeling in my lungs. That euphoria when you get back from a run and feel like you’re on top of the world.

The fun part about getting back to training was finding out that I hadn’t drifted off as far as I thought I did. On Saturday I ran 3k quite easily. I might be slower than I used to be, but I still had the stamina to run the entire distance.  However, on Monday the distance didn’t quite come as easily as it did two days before (and I believe a slight case of sore muscles might have a hand in that as well). Easy does it. I am not going to force it: I am going to enjoy getting back into the rhythm because what matters is that I am getting back into running again.

I guess what I am trying to say is: it is simple to get lost in what used to be. Try to remember that, no matter how insignificant, every run you go on is progress. And don’t forget to enjoy the process!

To Edinburgh and Beyond!

To Edinburgh and Beyond!

At the beginning of May, my dad and I booked ourselves a trip to Edinburgh. We were there for a long weekend and found ourselves right in the middle of cherry blossom season. Princess Street, The Meadows, and many more sights were colored pink with all the cherry blossoms in bloom and it might have been the prettiest sight I have ever seen.

I honestly love anything that has to do with Scotland, and Edinburgh has stolen my heart. The people, the architecture, and the whole feeling to the city. What’s not to love?

I felt pretty gutted that I had decided against bringing my SLR camera after one day of walking around (and we walked a lot) because even though smartphones take good enough pictures, pictures taken with an SLR camera are just clearer and brighter than any picture I could take with my phone. Translation: the former picture will just have to do.

The objective

Those of you that follow me on Instagram might know this already, but we made the trip with a very specific goal. About half a year ago I was admitted into the MSc Publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier. The academic year starts in September and I needed a place to stay (preferably where cats were allowed, because this crazy cat lady is taking her cat with her). I scouted ahead and had two appointments scheduled during my 4-day stay. The rest of the time we could spend whatever way we wanted… and that we did!

The weekend

The weeks leading up to this weekend were quite stressful. Something to do with life handing you lemons, as I was handed a lot of them. However, I got through them and on Friday, fresh out of work, I headed over to Schiphol (where my dad was waiting) and boarded the plane to Edinburgh. One flight and a taxi ride later we arrived at our hotel and I pretty much fell asleep a second after my head touched the pillow.

Fast forward to the next morning, where we woke up to 20-degree weather (say what?) and the whole day ahead of us. If I had to sum up our trip in just one sentence, it would be something along the lines of ‘lots of walking and good food.’ But that wouldn’t do the trip justice, of course, so prepare for a (slightly) more detailed account.

The first morning we didn’t really have a plan and decided to just walk in the direction of Princes Street. Armed with a cup of coffee we headed into the direction of Princess Street and wandered through St. Cuthbert church cemetery. It offered a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle and became our next destination. We didn’t go in, mainly because the line was ridiculously long, but we people watched for quite some time and just took in the sight of Edinburgh stretched out before us.

There was so much to see that we pretty much just wandered around the whole day. Beautiful weather, good food, plenty of museums, and a pitstop at Waterstones. That Saturday was the bomb!

On Sunday we visited the campus that I’ll be studying at, made a visit to Nelson’s monument, and had an apartment viewing. We were really early (as in two hours early) and because the apartment is right next to The Meadows, we spent the remainder of that time on the grass. Did I mention that The Meadows was fully decked out in pink? See for yourself!

We had our flight home on Monday, but we didn’t have to be at the airport until 5 pm. Wonder above wonder we actually did have a plan for that morning. We walked to Holyrood Park and climbed Arthur’s Seat. Now, I did this the last time I was in Edinburgh as well and it was one of my favorite activities. It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top, and the view is so beautiful!

Fun fact: we almost added another day to the trip (that’s how relaxing it was), but alas, the next day it was back to work for the both of us!

What about that apartment?

When I returned home Monday evening I had an email waiting: the room was mine if I still wanted it. So not only did I spend a glorious weekend in Edinburgh that had me returning ultimately relaxed, it also resulted in me finding a place to stay for the upcoming academic year. The best part? Fury (the cat) is very welcome as well. I’d call that a win-win situation.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh (or Scotland)? Tell me about your experience!