Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Adventures in Formatting

I turned to the Smashwords Style Guide this week to see if ebook formatting would be explained better there. And it was. So, if you ever find yourself in the position of having to format an ebook and need guidance, get the Smashwords Style Guide. It's free and it has pictures.

Once again, I found that some of the instructions didn't exactly correlate with my version of Word, but after a bit of searching through my Word menus, I was able to figure it out.

Basically--I wish I'd paid better attention in Desktop Publishing in college.

For Smashwords, you format your file, you upload it to Smashwords, their algorithm thing determines if the document is formatted correctly--if it is and you get accepted, they can distribute your book to a number of vendors, including Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and B&N. That way, the author has a central place to make changes if need be, doesn't have to go insane changing the file to suit the various needs of the different vendors' requirements, and Smashwords handles payment (they take a cut, of course) and taxes.

Since Smashwords distributes to Kindle, I figured that the formatting couldn't be that different.

Here are the highlights:

  • Turn off the Automatic features on Word. 
  • Set your Styles--in my Word, it's under the Format menu. This is what I remember from Desktop Publishing: the style sheet is everything. It's how the text organizes on the screen. So, essentially, you have a Normal setting, which is what the bulk of your text will be. Then you can add in other styles as you go. 

  • For example, you can set a style for Chapter headings. So, like, if you want your Chap headings to be 14 pt. instead of 12 pt. and centered, you can set it that way in the style sheet and when the time comes, highlight the chapter headings and choose your Chapter style to make that title do what you want. 
  • I also used the Style function to set scene breaks, so I can highlight and set them up so they'll be consistent. 
  • Smashwords says don't use the built-in table of contents in Word. Instead, as you go, bookmark your chapter titles, create a list at the top of your doc for the Table of Contents page, then highlight Chapter One, go to create hyperlink, and then find the appropriate bookmark and voila--a linked Table of Contents!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cutting The Bloodline Book Tour: Creating The Future

Hi guys! We have another fantastic guest today--Angeline Trevena, whose book Cutting The Bloodline was released on May 12th.

Cutting the Bloodline is set in Britian, 2052. This is a world where people are tested for the criminal gene, where carriers are outcast, and babies testing positive are aborted.

I've always been a fan of dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories. As a child, my father set me off on the right track by reading me novels by the likes of John Wyndham and H G Wells as bedtime stories.

Dystopian fiction relies heavily on catching the widespread fears of society. If you look at the trends, you can map a timeline of a country's paranoia. From early alien invasions, through big-brother surveilance, robots rising up against their creators, to zombie outbreaks caused by humans messing with genetics, or bio-warfare, or cultivating diseases.

While creating a future may seem like something pulled purely from the imagination, it's important to look to the past to create a plausible and believable version.

As science advances at a rate we can barely comprehend, genetic research is a debate that is coming further and further to the fore. There are strict guidelines on what scientists can, and can't do, strict moral lines that have been drawn. But who draws them, and who decides when they need to be moved?

Science is nose to nose with morality, with our own sense of humanity. If we eradicate a condition, what are we saying about the people who live with it? If we allow parents to choose the gender of their baby, in order to prevent an inherited disease, what else can we mess with while we're in there? What should we mess with? Their pre-disposition to asthma? Obesity? Stupidity? Ugliness? There are benefits to be gained from this, but it wouldn't be the first time someone's tried to create the 'perfect' race.

Cutting the Bloodline is an experiment in what would happen if we did choose scientific advancements over humanity. Just because someone in a white coat tells you something is true, does it mean that it is?

Cutting the Bloodline – The Blurb

Not everyone is born innocent.

A generation of defective children were abandoned. They grew up on the fringes, without rights, without a way to change their fate.

Journalist Kenton Hicks is driven to tell their stories, but these are not stories everyone wants told. As he digs deeper, he finds that the discovery of the criminal gene, the foundation of their crime-free utopia, isn’t quite the salvation it promised to be.

Armed with a book that could bring down the government, Kenton finds the country’s future in his hands.

Some see him as a saviour, others as a traitor. It’s time for him to choose which he will become.

This Book Cannot Bring Down a Government – But it is the Story of One That Can

Angeline Trevena

Originally written as a stageplay five years ago, Cutting the Bloodline is the debut novella from British horror and fantasy author Angeline Trevena.

Released on Kindle on May 12th, this adult dystopian thriller follows magazine journalist Kenton Hicks as he sets out to change the world.

Born and bred in a rural corner of Devon, Angeline now lives among the breweries and canals of central England, with her husband, their son, and a somewhat neurotic cat. She's been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and has several short stories published in various anthologies and magazines.

After spending her formative years on the stage, she graduated in 2003 with a BA Hons Degree in Drama and Writing. While at university, she decided that her future lay in writing words, rather than performing them.

Cutting the Bloodline is set in a future Britain where people are tested for the criminal gene, where carriers are outcast, and babies testing positive are aborted. Kenton simply wants to gather the stories of those who have suffered, but as his book gathers pace, and he investigates further, he finds that the crime free-utopia they enjoy was sold to them on a lie.

While the government fight to protect that lie, there are others determined to expose it, by whatever means. Kenton finds himself pulled between everyone else's agenda, while his own motivations start to become a little confused. But his book has the power to start a civil war, and he needs to figure out who's on his side.

Tony Benson, author of dystopian thriller, An Accident of Birth, said “Cutting The Bloodline is a vivid portrayal of a scarily real future, and the man who risks his life to expose the truth. Insightful, original, imaginative, and a great read.”

Buy the book from Amazon:
Angeline Trevena's website:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chrys Fey's Ghost of Death blog tour!

Hey peeps! Today, author Chrys Fey is stopping by to tell us about her new release! Check it out!

Thank you, Michelle, for letting me take over your blog for the day to talk about my newest short story, Ghost of Death. Since this story, and Witch of Death which is available for pre-order, can be considered a bit odd because of their supernatural themes, I thought it would be fun to share some odd facts about me. Ready?

Ten Odd Facts about Me:

1. I love bats.
2. I have a witch’s cauldron full of writerly stuff such as pens and paper.
3. I’ve had dreams and other psychic thoughts that have come true.
4. I’ve used tarot cards.
5. I own all the Charmed seasons.
6. My favorite color is neon green.
7. Halloween is my favorite holiday.
8. Autumn is my favorite season.
9. I wanted to be cop/detective when I was in high school.
10. As a child, I wanted to be a witch.

SHARE: Something odd about you. :)

Title: Ghost of Death
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Supernatural/Suspense
Format: eBook Only
Page Count: 41 (short story)
Release Date: April 22nd, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Book Links:


            With the sound of her mom’s grief wafting up to her, Jolie came to terms with her present state. I’m dead and now my mom knows it. She eyed the door in front of her. She hadn’t yet walked through a door, but if her hand could pass through metal then she knew she could move through wood. 
         If I have to be a ghost then I’ll be a damn good one. All across the afterlife I’ll be known as the Ghost of Death! And I’m going to start by walking through this damn door!
            She would’ve taken a deep breath to brace herself if she could have, so she mentally pumped herself up instead. You can do it! Easy-peasy. Nothing to it. And she took a step forward. Solid matter slipped around and through her form. On the other side, a familiar site confronted her: a black and white bed, the bright green shag carpet in the middle of the room, and a white desk.
            Stepping up to her desk, Jolie eyed her ancient desktop computer, the one she used before her dad gifted her with a laptop when she announced she was accepted to the local university. Wanting to send out the first ever tweet from the afterlife, she pushed the button to bring the device to life, but her finger poker straight through it. Resigning to her Twitter-less fate, she moved toward the full-length mirror hanging on the wall. She saw nothing. Not even a shimmer in the air hinted at her presence.
            Being a ghost sucks!

Available for PRE-ORDER:


Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:


Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers! 

Author Links: 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Your Future E-Book: Formatting for Kindle


I have found an editor and hired her to copyedit Pearl (I need to think of a title, don't I? Ugh).

I had emailed a few self-pubbed writing buddies, asking them where they found their editors and which platforms they went with, but I was on Facebook one day and a college friend, who is now an acquisitions editor at an academic press, said that she had a freelance slot open. So I jumped on it. She always left the most helpful notes on workshopped pieces :-)

Basically, for those of you thinking of going the self-publishing route or those who aren't writers but are forced to read this blog out of friendship (shout out!), there are three main selling outlets for self-publishing authors.

CreateSpace: CreateSpace is a free creation and distribution service catering to those who want to self-publish paperbacks. I haven't researched them extensively because I don't want to go the paperback route, but they print-on-demand when a consumer orders the book and the book is put up on Amazon and other major book retailing sites.

Smashwords. We'll talk about them at a later date.

Let's focus on Kindle Direct Publishing. The Kindle is, by far, the largest publisher and distributor of ebooks and it's very easy to sign up to be a publisher on KDP--there's a form, then a tax form to fill out, then you upload your document and then your cover and off you go.

But the document has to be formatted correctly---so I dutifully downloaded Building Your Book For Kindle, read it, and decided that I'm going to practice formatting my book properly while it's in my editor's hands so that I don't screw it up when the time comes.

Of course, I could pay someone to format it, but, well, like, I'm cheap. And I really do want to learn how to do it for myself because I have been blogging for six years---resulting in a very rudimentary knowledge of HTML.

So far in formatting: your text needs to be single-spaced, no indents--use the paragraph tool to set each starting line at 0.5" instead--Kindle wants page breaks in between the ends and beginnings of chapters, and the Table of Contents will link as long as you put the chapter headers in Heading 1.

However, the instructions in Building Your Book for removing the ToC's page numbers don't correlate with my Word program. Of course, ebooks don't have pages, so the page numbers are unnecessary, but I can't figure out how to get rid of them.

So, so far:
-How the heck do I get rid of the dang page numbers in the TOC?
-What do I do when I have a scene break?
-Why does Word keeping reverting?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why So Nitpicky?

Here's a thing I never really understood about fans of books or TV shows...

Some of them get extremely nitpicky. Why? I've never really been a participant in a fandom--more of an observer. I read, I'll watch videos, I look at websites and Tumblrs and I'll read fan fiction, but I don't take part in discussions.

That's partly because I'm fickle; see the Men I've Google-Stalked tag for proof. Once upon a time, I was super into Lost. I got my college roommate watching it because I had to watch it when it was on (this is before DVRs). But after a few years, I wasn't interested anymore. Still haven't watched the last season.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG: The Emotional Impact

It's IWSG Wednesday. Time to post our writerly insecurities. 

I received a beta's remarks back on the Pearl novella. Thankfully, she liked it and while there needs to be some clean-up and a few additions and subtractions, the biggest thing for me was when she wrote in her email:

"I'm so impressed! I actually got a little teary-eyed at the end. It makes me want to go and hug my brother, even though I just saw him Wednesday."

So, yay! It's always been important to me that there's an emotional impact to a story. When my emotions are engaged while reading, that means I'm in. Sometimes that means I care about what's going to happen to the protagonist or I want to know if the couple end up together (I read a lot of historical romance; they always do, but the getting there is interesting) or I like the author's style or I'm interested in the little details sprinkled through that make that story and world come alive in my imagination.

But at the end--it's about the feeling I get from the characters and the stories. When I'm writing a story, I often worry that what I want to convey won't come through. A writing professor once described my writing as "so subtle it's not there."

Thanks, prof.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Guest Post by Karla Gomez!

We are starting off May--which is turning out to be a month of many guest posts--with a quick interview with Karla Gomez, who is not only something of a writer herself, but also works at The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

What is your typical day at the literary agency like? 

There are always things to do; seasonal projects that need attention, urgent matters to take care of, etc. Because of this, I don't have a typical day at the agency. Whether I'm making sure we have all reviews and blurbs for our new releases, fulfilling foreign interest requests on our titles, helping the financial department on various areas, providing crucial feedback on manuscripts, or handling the nitty-gritty of office upkeep, you can be sure that I am always busy and always learning.

What has working at a literary agency taught you about the publishing process?

You might relax on a Sunday afternoon by reading your favorite book, but the process of getting the book in your hands was not as peaceful. Publishing is extremely competitive. Agents are selective, and editors have to be, too. And sometimes everyone wants the same project! I've definitely learned that we have to act quick. That's when the fun begins. In publishing you have to keep an eye out for what's currently hot, but also think ahead.

What has surprised you about the slush pile?
Oh gosh! I'm surprised by how unprofessional people can be. Writers who query every agent in the agency and everyone in five other agencies in one email? They do exist. Writers who demand you edit their pages and send it off to Random House? They exist, too. How about those who demand to know why they haven't received a reply when they sent in their query a week ago? Yes.They're real, too.

Has it changed your ideas about what you want to write?

I don't think working at the agency has changed my ideas on what to write about, since that's something very personal, and what speaks to me will speak to me no matter what. However, working here has opened my eyes to new genres and categories to read. We have amazing agents and they each have wonderful lists! A few upcoming releases I'm super excited about are: Neal Griffin's BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT; Bradley Somer's FISHBOWL; Katherine Harbour's BRIAR QUEEN; and Lillian Faderman's THE GAY REVOLUTION

Are you still interested in writing fantasy?
I will always be interested in writing fantasy! :)

Karla Gomez lives in sunny California and has a lovely view of the ocean from her desk.