Saturday, 30 June 2012

Formatting an eBook in Word - Creating a Clean Document.

This post is going to be the first in a number I plan to post on formatting in Microsoft Word. I know a lot of people who hate Word, but it’s the only thing I’ve ever used. I know nothing about any other formats! So far, I haven’t had any complaints about the formatting of my ebooks, and my books look good on my kindle, so I guess I’m doing something right! I hope this will be a simple explanation about how I do things and will be helpful to others. I'm the least technical person in the world, so if I can figure this one out, you should be able to as well!

1.    If you’re unsure of your formatting from the start, or the document has been through a couple of different computers or editors, copy and paste the whole document into something like Word’s OneNote. This removes all the horrible little formatting issues (some of which may even be hidden when you have the formatting sign on) such as change in font sizes. These things ruin the look of your ebook.
2.   Copy and paste the cleared of formatting piece from OneNote back into a new Word document.
3.   Hit ‘Select All’ on the top tool bar.
4.   Decide which font you want to go with. I tend to use Georgia. So, with the ‘select all’ highlighting your document, choose the Georgia font (or whatever one you want).
5.   Again, with the whole of the document selected, right click and select ‘Paragraph’. Here you need to make a number of selections. Start at the top and work down. Check Alignment is ‘Left’. Check indentation is ‘0’ for both left and right. Choose Special, first line by ‘0.8cm’. (This is the indentation I prefer. You may want to make it bigger or smaller.) Line Spacing needs to be ‘Single’. (Again, some people prefer 0.5, but this is your choice). Finally, check the ‘Don’t add space between paragraphs’ box. Now hit ‘OK’.
6.   This should give you a good looking document with no nasty formatting surprises!
7.   Start to personalise your document. If you want certain things centered, you need to highlight that title and center it. Same with any changes in font, etc. If you want a line to be perfectly centered in the document, you need to right click and select ‘Paragraph’ again. This time make sure everything is the same as above, but change the ‘Special’ to ‘None’ and this will make it perfectly centered.

The next post will be on making your eBook look good on an e-reader, so stay tuned!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Life in a Box - A Post by Serenity.

I first wrote this post for Darcia Helle's campaign to bring awareness for women trapped in violent relationships. I thought I'd share it here as well. I also hope you click the link to take you through to Darcia's blog and read some of the comments left there. Some of the real life stories made me realize just how important it is to get things right in fiction when you're dealing with such a sensitive topic.

Life in A Box

 I live my life in a box.
On all sides rise sheer walls of fear. A roof of humiliation presses down on my head so I’m forced to crouch, to curl up in a ball. Bound across my mouth is a gag of shame. I cannot speak about what the person who is supposed to love me the most in the world does to me.
And I cannot escape.
My husband, Jackson, hits me in all the places no one else can see—the ribs, my lower back, my thighs.
Each time it happens he comes to me, curls up behind me, pressing his body against mine. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he tells me. ‘Why do you make me do these things to you?’ As though this is my fault.
Yet in many ways I feel responsible. The abuse didn’t start until after I lost our first pregnancy.
We’d both been so excited, but then I woke one morning with blood in my underwear—too much blood—and a visit to the doctor confirmed our worst fear, I’d lost the baby.
I blamed myself and saw the accusations in Jackson’s eyes. Ruining one of our pans while cooking dinner was enough of an excuse for him to take his loss out on me.
Afterward, he’d been so apologetic. We cried in each other’s arms and he promised it would never happen again. Except I would hear those words many times in the years to come.
Then I fell pregnant a second time and, once again, lost the baby. With the next I managed to reach twenty weeks gestation but, at the twenty-week scan, the technicians were unable to locate a heartbeat. That one had been the worst. I gave birth to the child, an impossibly tiny, doll-like baby my body had killed.
The next time I became pregnant, I kept the pregnancy a secret. When I lost that one at eight weeks, I sobbed in private and tried to act like nothing was wrong.
My life has no meaning. Incapable of nurturing a child inside of me, what is the point in my existence? My body kills my own babies; as though I’m poisonous, toxic. I hate myself for it.
Consequently, the beatings I receive on a regular basis are nothing less than I deserved. I can’t blame Jackson for hating me. After all, my body has denied him a family.
Ironically, Jackson doesn’t tell me he hates me. If anything he is vocal about his adoration. ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’, he tells me over and over, as though those three little words will heal my wounds.
I start each day judging the mood of my husband. If he’s in a bad place, his temper radiates from him like heat. On those days I do everything I can to avoid setting him off, but he’s a tightly wound spring and looking for a fight, a release to purge his anger.
One time, he dragged me out of the shower by the hair and beat me with the shower head until I passed out. I woke up naked and freezing on the bathroom floor. In so much pain, I had to drag myself to the bedroom. I couldn’t even get on the bed, so I just lay on the floor with a towel over me, trying to stay warm until Jackson came home. When he finally rolled back from the bar, I asked him to help me and he laughed. He told me if I behaved like a dog, I should sleep on the floor like one.
Do you know what really got to me?
To this day, I have absolutely no idea what I did to deserve that beating. I wracked my brains for weeks wondering if I’d left the breakfast dishes out or if I hadn’t cleaned the floor well enough. I was so paranoid, whatever cleaning I did, I checked, and checked, and checked it again to make sure I had done the job right. I didn’t question my husband’s state of mind to beat me as he did; I questioned my own ability to do the God-damned cleaning!
I know people will never understand my position. You’re probably thinking yourself, ‘Why doesn’t she get out? Why doesn’t she leave?’
All I can do is bring you back to that box, the one I’m trapped inside. I cannot see a way out so I hide here; hoping and praying one day things will change.
That one day, someone will help me out.

'Alone', Book one in the 'Serenity' series, is free to download from a number of different sites, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Female Protagonist Turned Vampire... Cop Out or Not?

*Warning: Spoilers of next season's Vampire Diaries ahead if you're in the UK!*

As an author of a vampire series where the main character is a human woman, I will always be faced with the question 'will Serenity become a vampire'?

In many ways, it's the only real way a human and a vampire can ever be together forever. However, I still find it somewhat disappointing when the main female in a vampire series is turned. For example, I never saw Elena in 'The Vampire Diaries' becoming a vampire and when I realised that was what was going to happen, I couldn't help feeling let down. As soon as the human becomes a vampire, for me, the whole series is over. The point of a vampire/human relationship is all the contrasts: fragility vs strength, warm vs cold, mortal vs immortal. As soon as that is taken away, the difficulty and angst within the relationship vanishes, and often so does the storyline.

Another example of this happening was in the 'Twilight' books. Bella ends up in the series as a vampire, yet so much in the previous books were about how Edward was trying to save her soul and how he'd rather leave than turn her.

So is turning the female protagonist into a vampire really the only way to end a vampire series? I've not read the final books of the 'True Blood' series, but as far as I am aware, Sookie is never turned. Is this simply because she's part fairy and has her own issues going on? If she was fully human, would Charlaine Harris have felt the need to 'turn' her?

For me, I would like to think a human can hold their own, even against vampires. Yes, there are issues with the 'never growing old' thing, but perhaps there are simply more clever ways to combat that problem. I can't promise how my 'Serenity' series will end - I don't even really know myself (I have some idea, but my ideas have a tendency to change as the book is being written). Some of my readers have told me they hope Serenity will become a vampire, but I'm not sure I want that to be how the series goes.

Serenity is human and that fragility is an integral part of her character. To change it would feel like not only a lie, but an easy way out.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

New Release! 'The Vagrant' by Bryan Hall, 'A Southern Hauntings Saga'!

This week has seen a new release from Angelic Knight Press and is available to buy from Amazon!

Creighton Northgate is a man shrouded in mystery and on the run from a past he doesn't even fully understand. Blurring the lines between vagabond, enigma, drunkard, and savior, he spends his days staring into the southern legends and paranormal events that most only speak of in hushed, half-believing whispers.

In the midst of a sweltering southern day, he attempts to help a homeless man who seems to share his curse; a man haunted by a silent figure from beyond this world who pursues his every step. By the end of the day, Crate discovers that some things are best left alone; some truths best left in the dark. 

This novellette serves as an introduction to the Southern Hauntings Saga and its central character Crate Northgate, a man whose shadowy past is slowly catching up to him. The first novella in the series will be released late summer 2012. 
To find out more about Crate visit

Author bio:

Bryan Hall is a fiction writer living in a one hundred year old farmhouse deep in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and three children.
Growing up in the Appalachias, he's soaked up decades of fact and fiction from the area, bits and pieces of which usually weave their way into his writing whether he realizes it at the time or not. 
He's the author of the sci-fi horror novel Containment Room 7, collection Whispers from the Dark, and the upcoming Southern Hauntings Saga.  You can find him online at