chelsea hanna cohen

The Directed Study is Finished!

Last week, I finished my EPUB3, interactive, choose-your-own-adventure version of A Scandal in Bohemia. Cool things I did include:

-Several choices throughout the story – which choices you make determine which ending you reach. I wrote new portions of the story to facilitate these choices. 

-The option to see how Holmes did it, where each choice that makes up the original text is highlighted as you go through the story. 

-A plain text version, if you just want to read it straight through. 

-An interactive cluepad at the end of many sections, which utilizes drag-and-drop jQuery. You’re presented with four possible clues and can drag each of them onto the cluepad. If the clue is true, it’ll stick. If not, it’ll bounce back. 

-The use of media queries for the cluepad so that it looks great on both iPads and iPhones in landscape and portrait. 

-An embedded font for handwritten notes

-It validates as EPUB3

I spent all semester working on this and am hoping to have it for sale on my website soon, as soon as I figure out pricing. I’ll be doing more specialized blog posts soon on the technical aspects (especially how I got drag-and-drop to work), so be on the lookout for those!

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JQuery and Javascript

I’ve been attempting to teach myself JQuery and Javascript lately, for use in my directed study., and, although it’s different from anything I’ve done before, it’s very interesting. I’ve been using Codecademy.com’s online courses, and while I’m learning a lot, I sometimes have to do the exercises three or four times before I can fully grasp what it is I’m doing and what the proper way to do it is. 

It’s funny to reflect on this because, if you’d told me two years ago that I would be coming to this program and doing a project that involved Javascript by the end of it, I’d have thought you were crazy. How would that fit into a publishing program? And I wanted to be a fiction editor. Crazy to think how my career path has changed since then. 

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Ebooks vs. Print Books – Why You Can Have Both

I have this conversation with a lot of people. I tell them I work with ebooks, that I enjoy making them and even reading them, too. “But what about print?” they ask. “How can you be a part of the demise of print publishing as we know it and the collapse of the industry?” (That last part may be a dramatization). 

But those people have it all wrong. I love print. I have a tiny bedroom in an apartment in Boston that is positively overflowing with books – I’ve filled more than two bookshelves, and the ones that won’t fit on the shelves are currently organized two deep on a small table. And yet I also have a Kindle Fire, an iPad Mini, and an iPhone with four different e-reader apps downloaded onto it. It’s not a case of either/or – just because I love ebooks and think they have their place in publishing doesn’t mean I think print should die. I love to read my print books when I’m relaxing at home. When I’m just looking to browse for books, I’ll stop by a bookstore to see what they have to offer – and then actually buy the books there, not on Amazon later that day. 

But when I’m taking the subway during rush hour, crushed up against numerous other people, my personal bubble completely and utterly collapsed, I love the fact that I can pull out my iPhone, open an ebook, and read. I love the fact that I don’t have to dig through my backpack for a paperback I don’t have the room to hold out in front of me. When I’m at the gym, I love that I can just put my iPhone on the shelf on the machine and not have to worry about the pages staying open. My iPhone is always with me, which means my ebooks are always with me as well. 

The bottom line: when it comes down to it, I would prefer owning a print copy to an ebook copy. To me, the substance of a print copy, the way it lines up on my bookshelf, and the fact that I can do with it whatever I please are things that an ebook currently can’t provide. But the absolute convenience of my ebooks outweighs many of their downsides, and, in the end, as long as people are reading, isn’t that enough? Print books will be around for the foreseeable future, but so will ebooks – people just need to realize that they can coexist and that they both have their time and their place in publishing. It’s not an “or” – as in, “Do you prefer print books or ebooks?” It’s an “and.”

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The content is finished!

Last week, I finished all of the content for my Sherlock Holmes Choose-Your-Own-Adventure project. There are 16 different ways to go through the story, with six different endings which range from solving the case to Sherlock being escorted away by the police. It’s based on A Scandal in Bohemia, so the decision to have one of the endings be solving this case was actually one I wrestled with since the central theme of A Scandal in Bohemia is that Holes is bested by Irene Adler. But in the end, I decided that this was my project and that I would allow the reader to solve the case – if they make the right decisions, of course. 

So now I get to start making it into an interactive ebook. Features I’m planning on including include a cluepad to help you solve the case, a map of major locations in the story, and an option once you finish to go back to the beginning and see how Holmes did it, which highlights the choices that lead to the actual story as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

I’m excited about where this is heading! Now I get to play and see what I can do. 

 

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AWP 2013

Luckily for me, this year’s AWP conference was in Boston, so, although I was working on Thursday and Friday, I headed over on Saturday for the chance at buying more books than I have money and/or time for. I came away with 22 new books/literary journals/magazines, some free, some not. Getting to walk the bookfair (all three, huge exhibition halls of it) was awesome, and I also got to go to a great panel on Ray Bradbury by the editors and three of the authors of
Shadow Show
. Now all I want to do is read and write, and, of course, I have time to do neither. Maybe after I graduate…

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Choosing Your Own Adventure – Keeping It All Straight

As I get deeper into my Sherlock Holmes directed study, I actually found it incredibly tricky to keep all the paths I was mapping out through the choices straight. How much do I have to write? How does it branch off from the original material? How can I even begin to keep what I still need to do straight and the paths and consequences of each choice together? How do you organize a non-linear story?

Perhaps somewhat ironically for an ebook project, I didn’t find a good way to keep it all together until I drew it out using that old-fashioned tool of pen and paper. Still working out the final kinks so I can start the Javascript ASAP, but so far, this part has been more challenging than I thought it would be. That’s all right, though – all part of the fun 🙂

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Updates

So, as you can probably tell, my first post didn’t lead to more posts, as I feel is often the case with blogs. But I’m going to try and bring this back to life, to actually post blog entries, thoughts, life updates here. So here’s where my life is now since I created this back in October:

–I have a new job! I’m still at Pearson, with Pearson Learning Solutions (custom publishing), but I’ve worked my way up from proofreader to Media Project Manager. I’m on the ebook team, so I deal with ebooks for third-party platforms. I started last Monday, so it’s still ramping up, but I think I’m really going to enjoy it. 

–New classes! I’m taking a digital publishing class this semester, where we’re learning about apps and enhanced magazines. I’m also doing a directed study where I’m creating an interactive ebook Choose-Your-Own-Adventure version of Sherlock Holmes and an internship where I’m converting print titles to ebooks. So it’s a very ebook/technology intensive semester – just the way I like it. I’m graduating in May – exciting!

So that’s where my life is now, what it’s become. Be on the lookout for more thoughts and ideas shortly 🙂

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So it begins…

Here it is, the first post on my brand-new blog. I feel like there’s a lot of expectations wrapped in in the first post – to be funny enough, engaging enough to draw people back and make them want to hear what you have to say. I’m just going to start by introducing myself, and hopefully that’ll be enough. If you’re here, you can probably tell that I love books. I’m getting my Masters in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College and starting to work my way up in the industry. I have become enamored with the creation of e-books, something that combines my techy side with my literary side. I’ve created this to document my forays into the industry, my projects, my problems, my solutions. I hope you’ll enjoy my insights, and I look forward to hearing from you as well 🙂

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