Launch day: Walking Out of War



Source: Nasa

Today, the third book in the true-life trilogy about my father-in-law’s experiences in World War 2 launches on Amazon. That’s right: Walking Out of War is now available for sale in both e-book and print formats.

Cover-WOOW-500x800 (1)

And in celebration, you can get the other two books in the trilogy at reduced prices.

And if you want all three books for free, come to the launch party on Facebook from 5 to 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, February 22. Prizes include:

  • e-book copies of all three volumes in the trilogy
  • signed paperback copies of each book
  • a $25 Amazon gift card
  • and the grand prize—a complete set of all three books in the Eastern Front trilogy, personalized and signed by the author (that’s me).

There’s no fee to get in, but there will be skill- and knowledge-testing questions, as well as a live chat and lots of fun.

See you there!

A new book walks closer



Cover-WOOW-500x800 (1)Walking Out of War, the third book in the true-story trilogy about Maurice Bury, the Canadian in the Soviet Red Army in World War two, launches in two days. I’m excited. It’s already received three excellent early reviews that you can read on Goodreads. and I’m giving you another free taste of what’s coming.

There are going to be several special online events on and around launch day:

  • Army of Worn Soles, the first book of the trilogy, is FREE on Amazon from February 21 to 25.
  • Under the Nazi Heel, the second book, is on sale at 99 cents for the same period.
  • launch event on Facebook will feature giveaways of electronic and print books from the trilogy as well as other works.
  • A blog tour will feature excerpts and images from Walking Out of War. Watch this space for details and links.

And now, your taste of Walking Out of War:

Donbass, summer 1944

“How did you learn to break down a rifle so quickly?” the drill sergeant asked.

“I grew up on a farm,” Maurice answered. “You have to have a gun on a farm.”

“A shotgun, yes. Not an automatic rifle. I come from a farm, too,” said the drill sergeant. He was a small man with a round face and earnest brown eyes.

Maurice shrugged, hoping the sergeant would not hear his hammering heart. “I guess I’m just a fast learner.”

The sergeant’s eyes narrowed, but he moved on to the boy beside Maurice, who was fumbling with his weapon. “Get that magazine back together in the next sixty seconds or you’re on double guard duty tonight!”

I have to be more clumsy. And more careful, at the same time, Maurice thought.

Compared to his experience as an officer three years earlier, this training camp for soldiers was brutal. In August 1944, the Red Army had reached the outskirts of Warsaw and was within sight of the Gulf of Riga. They had pushed the Germans out of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia and were throwing every man they could find into the drive to destroy Hitler’s Germany.

In June, the Red Army had launched Operation Bagration. Two million men, thousands of tanks, heavy assault guns and airplanes, attacked in a coordinated series of attacks along a front that stretched from Estonia to Romania, accompanied by 220,000 trucks from the U.S., with tanks and guns from Britain, tonnes and tonnes of food and ammunition from the West. In two months, they pushed the Germans out of Belorussia.

The Soviets annihilated the German Army Group Center. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were killed, wounded and captured, including thirty-one generals—a quarter of the German strength on the Eastern Front gone in two months.

The Red Army’s losses, while not as severe, were still huge: 800,000 casualties, including over 180,000 killed and missing.

What Walking Out of War is all about

Ukraine, 1944: After the Soviets burned the Ukrainian city of Ternopyl to the ground to crush the stubborn Nazi occupiers, they rounded up every remaining Ukrainian man around for the Red Army’s final push on Germany. Maurice Bury, Canadian citizen, Ukrainian resistance fighter and intelligence officer, is thrust once again into the death struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR.

Fighting across the Baltics in the autumn of 1944 is tough and bloody. Then the Red Army enters Germany, where they’re no longer liberators—they’re the long-feared Communist horde, bent on destruction, rape and revenge. The Communists are determined to wipe Nazism from the face of the earth. And the soldiers want revenge for Germany’s brutal invasion and occupation.

Maurice has determined his only way out of this hell is to survive until Nazi Germany dies, and then move home to Canada. But to do that, he’ll have to not only walk out of war, but elude Stalin’s dreaded secret police.

What the early reviewers are saying 

“Full of heart and indomitable spirit”—Joy Lorton 

Walking Out of War is a well-written and powerful read, and a difficult one. The violence and war crimes are startling, and Bury, being a master at his craft, effectively paints mental pictures. He doesn’t linger on vile acts, however; he isn’t gratuitous. But he is a vivid writer and skilled at choosing the right verbs and adjectives to bring his prose to life, where the reader can visualize scenes as if watching them on film. “—Elise Stokes 

“A very compelling read.”—Frederick Brooke 

You can pre-order Walking Out of War for a special price until launch day.

Walking Out of War: the countdown begins



Walking Out of War, the third book in the true story trilogy about the wartime experiences of a Canadian in the Soviet army, launches on Febraury 22—a little more than a week from now. You can pre-order it for a special price, exclusively on Amazon, and it will download to your Kindle account automatically.

In the meantime, here’s a taste:Cover-WOOW-500x800 (1)

The Red Army returns

Nastasiv, Ukraine, August 1944

Maurice stepped outside onto his mother’s front doorstep. He lit a cigarette, drew a lungful and turned his face upward. He closed his eyes to exhale and savoured the feeling of the sun on his face. It felt like the first day of peace after his nightmarish journey from Kalush.

We have to find somewhere else for Maria to stay. People will notice two extra residents in this house, and we don’t want anyone to ask questions. 

The air smelled sweet with hay and growing sugar beets. He looked out at his mother’s fields. They’re doing well, he thought. We’ll have a good crop this year. He crouched, digging his fingers into the rich black soil. He pulled a few weeds out from between the beets.

He stood again, leaned against the fence and closed his eyes. How much longer will this war last? Germany lost the war in 1941, when they stopped outside Moscow and Leningrad. Now they’re gone. And now, Ukraine has to fight Stalin’s USSR to be free.

The Soviets had pushed the Germans out of almost all Ukraine by the end of spring. In June 1944, they had launched Operation Bagration, which had swept the Germans out of Belarus and pushed them away from Leningrad. By August, the Red Army was on the Vistula River in Poland, and the Polish Home Army was fighting the Germans to control Warsaw. Meanwhile, the Americans, British, Free French and Canadians were penetrating deep into German-occupied France. Germany won’t just surrender, though. Hitler is too stubborn.

Maurice wondered about Ukraine’s chances of independence from the USSR. It would be a political question, he knew, dependent on the will of the countries of the West.

And Poland. A free Poland will claim western Ukraine, Russia the east.

Maybe I should go back to Canada when this is over.

Something clamped his left arm, and then something else grabbed his right. He looked up and felt cold terror when he saw the red stripes on the uniforms on the men holding him by the arms: NKVD, Stalin’s political police.

“Come with us, comrade,” said one as they pulled him toward a covered truck. They threw him in the back, where a handful of other fearful-looking young men sat on the floor under the watch of another soldier with a machine gun ready. The engine roared and the truck lurched. One of the young men fell face down as the truck jolted along.

Maurice knew what this was about. The Red Army needed more men to make up some of the incredible losses of men its victories brought.

Walking Out of War

Ukraine, 1944: After the Soviets burned the Ukrainian city of Ternopyl to the ground to crush the stubborn Nazi occupiers, they rounded up every remaining Ukrainian man around for the Red Army’s final push on Germany. Maurice Bury, Canadian citizen, Ukrainian resistance fighter and intelligence officer, is thrust once again into the death struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR.

Fighting across the Baltics in the autumn of 1944 is tough and bloody. Then the Red Army enters Germany, where they’re no longer liberators—they’re the long-feared Communist horde, bent on destruction, rape and revenge. The Communists are determined to wipe Nazism from the face of the earth. And the soldiers want revenge for Germany’s brutal invasion and occupation.

Maurice has determined his only way out of this hell is to survive until Nazi Germany dies, and then move home to Canada. But to do that, he’ll have to not only walk out of war, but elude Stalin’s dreaded secret police.

“Full of heart and indomitable spirit”—Joy Lorton, reader and reviewer

“A well-written and powerful read”—Elise Stokes, Goodreads

“A very compelling read.”—Frederick Brooke, Goodreads

Walking Out of War is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Walking Out of War wraps up the trilogy



The long-awaited final volume in the trilogy recounting the wartime experiences of my father-in-law launches in e-book form on Wednesday,  February 22. You can pre-order it now from Amazon at a special discounted price.
Cover-WOOW-500x800 (1)

Walking Out of War follows up on Army of Worn Soles (2014) and Under the Nazi Heel (2016).

What’s it about?

Ukraine, 1944: After the Soviets burned the Ukrainian city of Ternopyl to the ground to crush the stubborn Nazi occupiers, they rounded up every remaining Ukrainian man around for the Red Army’s final push on Germany. Maurice Bury, Canadian citizen, Ukrainian resistance fighter and intelligence officer, is thrust once again into the death struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR.

Fighting across the Baltics in the autumn of 1944 is tough and bloody. Then the Red Army enters Germany, where they’re no longer liberators—they’re the long-feared Communist horde, bent on destruction, rape and revenge. The Communists are determined to wipe Nazism from the face of the earth. And the soldiers want revenge for Germany’s brutal invasion and occupation.

Maurice has determined his only way out of this hell is to survive until Nazi Germany dies, and then move home to Canada. But to do that, he’ll have to not only walk out of war, but elude Stalin’s dreaded secret police.

Pre-order for less

Walking Out of War will officially be available on Amazon on February 22 for just $2.99 for the Kindle edition. But if you order before midnight at the end of February 21, you’ll be able to get it for just $1.99.

Get it for free

If you’re willing to write an honest review (tell the world exactly what you think—no influence from me), I’ll send you an advance review copy (ARC). Just email contact@writtenword.ca and put “Walking Out of War – ARC” in the subject line, and I’ll fire back a copy as soon as I can. The only thing I ask is that you post your review on Amazon as soon as possible, and if you have a chance, post the same review on the Goodreads page.

 

VALENTINES DAY MENU HOP from the Lei Crime Kindle World



LCKW-blogHopValentine’s is just over a week away, and anyone who knows me, knows how seriously I take Valentine’s Day.

(A quick Valentine’s question: what do women want for Valentines?

  • chocolate
  • fine wine
  • flowers
  • jewelry
  • lingerie
  • dinner out
  • mushy card?

The answer is below.

But if you want to do something really romantic, consider a recipe from one of the most romantic settings in the world. That’s right, Hawaii. Today, the Lei Crime Kindle World authors are sharing great recipes with you, our readers—and giving you a chance to win a $170 Amazon gift card!

Hop on this blog tour!

Get to know each #LeiCrimeKW book and author, read their recipes, comment on the posts with your choices of Valentine’s menu items, like each authors page, and hop on to the next one! Click the link at the bottom of each post, to go to the next author.

Here is FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm’s favorite Hawaiian recipe: Kalua pork, which means a whole pig roasted slowly in an underground oven. While there are dozens of recipes, here’s one from Kitchen Hui of Maui.

Image courtesy Kitchen Hui.

Here is a simple recipe for kalua pork with cabbage you can make in your home.

1. 4-5 lbs. of pork shoulder fat on
2. Hawaiian sea or Kosher salt, rubbed over the pork generously.
3. 4 tbsp.liquid smoke
4. 6 cups of water
5. Preheat oven to 375 deg. f.
6. In a roasting pan, deep enough, place the water in it, then place the pork in to the pan.
7. Spread liquid smoke over pork, then cover with foil, and roast for about 3 hours. Let it rest covered.

8. Take a small head cabbage slice it into 1/2 inch strips and half it, then stir fry it in some vegetable oil to wilt it. Then in the roasting pan, drain the liquid, then shred the meat, next add in the cabbage and mix it well.

Serve with rice either brown or white, and macaroni salad.

FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm will be back in May in Echoes: A Lei Crime Kindle World mystery. Until then, you can follow her Maui adventures in:

  • TORN ROOTS—beauty and danger reign on Maui’s rainforest south coast. Vanessa Storm is at the centre of a tropical storm of environmentalists, real estate developers and a rogue Homeland Security agent.
  • Snowflake takes on a new meaning in Honolulu’s drug trade, and it’s up to Vanessa Storm to stop the killings—PALM TREES & SNOWFLAKES
  • She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer in DEAD MAN LYING.

Hop on to the next author: Shawn McGuire!

Answer to the Valentine’s quiz:

All of the above.

Happy Valentines!

 

New release coming: Imperfect Harmony—a rock’n’roll romance



Imperfect Harmony Teaser #4House of Archer #1

By Raine Thomas

A few minutes into his wait, there was a knock at the door. Archer stopped his pacing and smiled, anticipating Lily’s arrival. His smile faded when Trey opened the door and carried in a large vase full of red roses. Archer knew that Lily found red roses incredibly clichéd, so he figured they couldn’t be for her.

“What’s that?” Archer asked as Trey placed the roses next to the pink plumeria on the dressing room vanity.

“A delivery for Miss Lily.”

“What?”

Archer didn’t pause for a moment to consider Lily’s privacy. He strode over to the elaborate arrangement and yanked the card off the plastic stick. It read, Here’s to launching your career, Montgomery. I love you and I hope you’ll say yes. XOXO, Wingerson.

By the time Archer read the rather girly XOXO sign-off, his upper lip was curled in disdain. It was all he could do to jam the card back on the stick rather than crumpling it up and tossing it into the trash.

He hadn’t considered the fact that Johnathan might do something romantic for Lily. What was up with using their last names in his message? It had to be some kind of inside joke or pet name. Archer didn’t like how that made him feel…like an outsider on the fringe of Lily’s life.

And what did Johnathan mean about Lily saying yes? Yes to what?

The unanswered question gave his already foul mood another punch to the face. Trey paused before going back out the door. He cleared his throat as if uncertain whether to speak. Archer waved at him to spit it out.

“Mr. Donovan asked when you intend to return to your green room, sir.”

Archer figured Christopher wanted to rehash the performance problems they’d had that evening. Not wanting to deal with it, he gave Trey a shrug. “Let him know I’ll get there once I’ve seen Lily.”

“Yes, sir.”

Trey gave him and the flowers a knowing look before stepping back out of the room. Archer followed his gaze to the roses and felt irrational anger building in his gut. He shook his head at himself and resumed his pacing. Why did the flowers piss him off so much?

You know why, he thought.

He knew it made him selfish, but he wanted Lily’s attention focused on him, damn it. He wasn’t prepared for serious competition for her affection. It hadn’t ever been an issue before. Encountering it now was throwing off his game.

He had to do something to get her attention, and he had to do it now.

The sound of laughter and voices reached him from the other side of the door. His heart started beating faster and he turned towards the door as it swung open. At least ten different greetings ran through his mind as he tried to decide what to say to Lily.

She walked in and her entire face brightened when she spotted him. All of the greetings faded from his thoughts. In their place rose a demanding need he’d never felt before, especially for Lily.

He met her halfway into the room and, as naturally as if they’d done it a hundred times, he pulled her against him and captured her mouth in a passionate kiss.

About Imperfect Harmony

This is a New Adult Novel appropriate for ages 16+.

Imperfect-Harmony_ebooksmA rock band. A reality show. The opportunity of a lifetime.

As the front man for The Void, lead singer Dane Archer has yet to achieve the success he craves. He hopes that will change when he’s approached about filming a reality show called House of Archer. All he and the band have to do is get some juicy footage while on their upcoming tour.

The problem? Archer’s life is a snoozefest. His parents are happily married, he’s never done drugs or gotten arrested, and he doesn’t get into fights with his band mates. He knows the show will fizzle and die before it ever hits the air, taking his dreams of worldwide fame along with it.

Unless…

If Archer can convince his best friend Lily to be on the show, he’s sure they’ll get all the compelling footage they need. Her life is filled with drama. Hell, she’s practically a reality show in her own right.

Archer’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Lily on board, even if it means charming her into being more than just friends. But when he finds himself falling for her, his seemingly simple plan gets complicated. Soon the line between reality and Reality TV begins to blur, leaving him wondering if achieving his dreams is worth all it might cost him.

PRE-ORDER THE BOOK FOR $1.31 BEFORE 1/31: 

About the author

Raine Thomas Headshot (small)Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream.

Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Raine loves to hear from readers! You can connect with her here:

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

A gripping thriller and a stunning writing feat



Independent review of Sugar for Sugar by Seb Kirby

SebKirbyLargerWith the first few pages of his latest novel, Seb Kirby seemed to have challenged his abilities as a writer by choosing two elements that many writers find difficult to pull off: the unreliable first-person narrator, and present-tense action.

It seems challenging at first, but within the first three chapters, you can see how clever Kirby is.

Sugar for Sugar begins with a prologue about a hit-and-run accident. But the story really begins with “I’m lost in a dark, dark place and, try as hard as I can, nothing helps me to understand.

“When I seek answers, I see only broken shards of my past, flashes lighting this darkest of places for an instant, shining bright then fading as soon as they appear.”

Gradually, we learn that Isobel Cunningham has no memory. A friend, Marianne French, has brought her to a hospital, concerned about Issy’s disorientation and confusion.

Issy doesn’t even remember being brutally raped. This fact is discovered by Dr. Jane Wilson, the physician who first examines Issy.

Amnesia: a clever device

The opening is simultaneously frustrating and compelling. Issy asks the same questions over and over because her short-term memory is less than a minute long. On the other hand, she can remember older facts about herself, like her name, age, address and employer. But she cannot remember the previous several days, nor her childhood. The repetition this characterization requires would seem frustrating, but at the same time, we readers are compelled to turn the page to find out more, especially what would induce this state of mind.

This device is a perfect way for the author to describe the first-person narrator, as she goes through the photos and messages on her smart phone to try to learn about herself. “Wavy blonde hair … grey green eyes.” It’s a book for the social media age, as Issy not only begins to reclaim her past through her online identity, but also uses the phone to keep notes as a workaround her faulty memory. They’re messages to herself:

Why did Colin need my help?

Mary is a good friend.

Thankfully, Kirby does not rely solely on Issy, the unreliable narrator. Subsequent chapters have the POV of two police officers, DI Steven Ives and DS June Lesley; Marianne French, the woman who brought Issy to the hospital, and occasionally gangster Justin Hardman.

The mystery

sugarforsugarDetectives Ives and Lesley are investigating the suspicious, sudden death of Mike Aspinal, the Senior Executive at Ardensis, where Issy works. Early in the plot, it turns out that Aspinal has been murdered by poison injected into his back. Medical evidence also shows it was Ardensis who raped Issy, giving her a motive to kill him.

Like the skilled mystery writer that he is, Seb Kirby logically links all these elements. While there are some red herrings, there’s not a wasted word. The pace is fast, the action tense, the details spare, just enough to keep you flipping pages—or swiping my iPad.

The ending is satisfying, sensible and logical, tying everything together.

Recommended

The publisher describes the book as “a gripping psychological thriller,” and every single word of that is true. Do yourself a favour and buy it now.

I highly recommend this book. 5 stars *****

Get it on Amazon

Visit Seb Kirby’s website

How you can win four mystery novels



But first, the third book in the trilogy looms

Walking Out of War, the third volume in the trilogy that began with Army of Worn Soles in 2014 and followed with Under the Nazi Heel in 2016.

ArmyofWornSoles-smallerRegular readers of this blog will know that I had promised to publish Volume 3 by the end of last year. But it just plain took longer than I anticipated.

The good news is that the outstanding editor, Gary Henry, has done his usual great work on it. The matchless David C. Cassidy has delivered another stunning cover concept and is now working on the final design.

It shouldn’t be much longer before you can read the final stage in the story of Maurice Bury’s war. In fact, the almost-final version is in the hands of some faithful, helpful beta readers, and if any readers want an Advance Review Copy (ARC) and are willing to write an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or any other book review site, I’ll be happy to send one. Just use the contact button on this blog.

What took so long?

Maurice Bury after the war.

Maurice Bury after the war.

The journey to publication started many years ago, when I began talking to Maurice about his wartime experiences. I thought, “This would make a great book.”

Writing the story, though, took years. I ran into a real roadblock almost at the outset, when I was trying to create an outline. I thought for a while of writing parallel timelines, comparing various parts of Maurice’s journey by juxtaposing them in prose. I wrestled with the order literally for months, writing separ
ate chapters and then transitions that I ended up throwing away. Finally, a friend suggested that I just write it as it happened. In other words, linearly. First one thing happened, then the next, and so on.

It’s amazing how we need another party to tell us the most obvious things.

That was when I decided to break the story into three books, one for each phase of his experience:

  • Army of Worn Soles tells of Maurice’s experience as an officer in the Soviet Red Army officer
  • Under the Nazi Heel describes his time as an insurgent fighter against the German occupation of Ukraine
  • and finally, Walking Out of War is the story of Maurice fighting as a foot soldier, walking with the Red Army across Eastern Europe to Berlin for the fall of Nazi Germany.

Even though I had the whole outline completed before I published Volume 1, and had several chapters of Volume 3 complete, finishing it took longer than I thought it would. Months longer.

There were some little details that required more research, which was time-consuming—like what the machine gun that Maurice’s unit operated looked like. Or just when the Red Army reached the Niemen River on the border between Lithuania and East Prussia.

Maurice isn’t around to ask anymore, so I had to turn to history books, including Professor Orest Subtelny’s excellent Ukraine: A History, the Ukrainian Encyclopedia published by the University of Toronto, other books and, of course, Wikipedia.

tdbnletterAs those of you who read this blog will know, I finally found one little bit of evidence that somehow became a keystone: a letter of recommendation for Maurice and his friend, Basily, signed by a Lieutenant John Gardner. Brigadier General (Retired) Michael Joregensen of the Canadian Armed Forces interpreted some of the abbreviations at the top of the letter, which helped me identify the U.S. Army unit that Lieutenant Gardner belonged to: the 692nd U.S. Tank Destroyer Battalion. That little slip of paper, with its faded, misspelled typewritten message, put Maurice in a specific time and place. Suddenly, I saw how the stories he had told me, the notes I had taken and the historical information I had researched all fit together.

Finding that, I was glad I had taken longer to write this book.

When will it be done then, Scott?

As I mentioned, David Cassidy is working on the cover, and a few beta readers have the almost-final draft now. I hope to have their comments in my hands by mid-January, and then I’ll send it to some beta readers for feedback. And barring any disasters, I’ll be able to send advance review copies by mid-February for publishing on the anniversary of its predecessor, Under the Nazi Heel.IMG_0020.jpg

The next projects

Fans of my Lei Crime Kindle World stories featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm will be happy to learn I’m well on the way to a new Hawaiian crime story, and I think this will be my best yet.

A yet unnamed, this novel will reveal more of Vanessa’s youth and also an old flame with a huge problem, one that will make Vanessa choose between her old life and her new career.

Following that, I’ll be working on a new #SydneyRyeKW novella, featuring, once again, the irresistible Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun. I’m aiming to publish that on the next surge of Sydney Rye Kindle World books at the end of April.

How to get all the Vanessa Storm #LeiCrimeKW novellas FREE

Read the first two chapters of the new story, “Soft Summer Rain.” Watch for the clues that will tell you which two 1970s songs inspired it, and you’ll win four mystery novels. That’s right, I’ll send you all the Vanessa Storm e-books for free, including the upcoming volume. To get the story, all you have to do is subscribe to my advance information newsletter, Forewords. Once you fill in the information and confirm your identity, you’ll get a link to download it.

Don’t miss out—four e-books for making a good, informed guess and filling out an online form. You can’t go wrong!

Send your guess to me by email (contact@writtenword.ca)

  • Torn Roots

  • Palm Trees & Snowflakes
  • Dead Man Lying.

A look back at a tough year



To many, 2016 has been a horrible year. The war in Syria, the loss of refugees from that conflict and others, the record number of celebrity passings, record homicide numbers in my home town, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency … I won’t go on. It’s too painful.

For me, it’s been a turbulent year, too. I broke my knee in May and went through months of intensive physiotherapy and exercise to get back the range of motion and strength I needed for my two-week whitewater canoeing trip. My son had appendicitis, my other son had some issues with school and work.

In the fall, I came down with a wicked case of pinkeye. There were more problems in this single year than in many that I can recall.

On the other hand, there were some “ups,” as well.

  • I published three books this year:
    • IMG_0020.jpgUnder the Nazi Heel, Book 2 in my Walking Out of War trilogy based on the World War 2 experiences of my father-in-law, Maurice Bury.
      It won Second Prize in the East Texas Writers Guild 2016 Awards for nonfiction/memoir.
    • The Wife Line, a Sydney Rye Kindle World book that features my spy-thriller characters, Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun.
    • Dead Man Lying, my third Lei Crime Kindle World title, featuring my FBI Special Agent character, Vanessa Storm. It won First Place in the 2016 East Texas Writers Guild Mystery Awards.WifeLine-final-small
  • I edited three very strong books by independent authors:
  • I participated in some group publishing efforts along with other members of BestSelling Reads, an authors’ group that cross-promotes members.
  • New members joined Independent Authors International, a collaborative publishing venture where members share skills to provide all the functions of a full, commercial publishing company.
  • PaddlersI canoed 325 kilometres down the Missinaibi and Moose Rivers in northern Ontario to Moose Factory on James Bay, and capsized only once.
  • I visited the Finger Lakes in New York, and met some very nice, interesting people and drank some excellent wine.
  • I crafted an outline for The Triumph of the Sky, the follow-up to my first full-length novel, The Bones of the Earth.
  • I outlined a new Lei Crime novel featuring Special Agent Vanessa Storm: Echo of a Crime, and have so far written about half of it.
  • And I came up with a concept for a new Sydney Rye Kindle World novel which will feature Van and LeBrun.

So 2016 has been a year with ups and downs, and now that I look at it, for me at least, there were more good points than bad. And for the family, too.

But for the world, it’s been a tough year. For Aleppo and the rest of Syria, for Iraq, for France, Belgium and the U.K., for Japan, Italy and Fort McMurray. For the U.S., 2017 is going to be … interesting politically.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, loving, peaceful and plentiful 2017.

How to format your book for e-publishing



I have found that a lot of independent authors feel intimidated by the process of e-publishing. In the past few posts, I showed you how to use Styles to make formatting more efficient and consistent, and how Styles also help automate other processes you’ll need to publish your book.

Your word processor has a number of other nice features to make it simple to format a book, whether for print or electronic publishing. Here are some of my favourites, based on the word processor I know best: Microsoft Word.

Elements of professional formatting

Start by getting your favourite print book off your shelf. There are some elements that you have probably taken for granted all your life, but getting them right in your own book will make the difference in making sure it looks professional.

  • Title page—a pleasingly designed page that tells you the title, author and publisher of the book, and the city or cities the publisher is located in. It may also list the series, if the book is part of one, or a subtitle.
    Sometimes, print books have a “half title” or “semi-title” page preceding the title page. This usually just includes the title, in smaller type than on the main title page. The reason for including this has to do with the fact that the number of pages in a paper book has to be divisible by four, which is also why there are sometimes blank pages at the end of a paper book.

    half-titletitlepages

    The half-title (left) and title pages

  • Copyright page—on the back of the title page, listing the copyright notice, date of publication, the warning not to copy the book, the publisher’s address, Library of Congress or Cataloguing in Publication Data information, ISBN and other information. It may also list the editor, designer and other contributors to the book.
  • Acknowledgements or dedication page.
  • Table of Contents.
  • Headers and footers—information at the top (header) or bottom (footer) of every page. Often, the left-hand header will have the author’s name, and the right-hand will have the title of the book. Non-fiction books may have the title on the left (verso page) and the chapter title on the right (recto).
  • Folios—the page numbers, on the top or bottom of the page, in the middle or on the outside corner. One way to tell that a book has been properly formatted: left-hand pages have even numbers, right-hand, odd.
    Notice that the title, copyright, dedication, acknowledgement and any blank pages at the front of the book do not have folios, headers or footers. Often, tables of contents are numbered in lower-case Roman numerals. Also notice that the first page of every chapter, part or section has no header or footer, and the page number is usually at the bottom, centred, even if the folios are on the outside top margins of other pages. This is an old convention in English-language publishing.

How to make your elements look professional

Word has a number of neat features that allow you to easily format a professional-looking book.

Page set-up

You want the first page of every chapter to look different from the rest. Word makes it obscure to set this up.

Double-click in the top margin or header area (or the footer) of any page. The ribbon changes. Select Different First Page and Different Odd & Even Pages. This allows you to put the folio in a different place on the first page of every chapter or section, and also to put them in the opposite, outer corners (when it comes to print books).

The Page Setup menu, where you set the size. Don't forget to click the menu beside Apply to: to make sure the whole document has the same size of pages.

The Page Setup menu, where you set the size. Don’t forget to click the menu beside Apply to: to make sure the whole document has the same size of pages.

If you’re going to publish only as an e-book, don’t worry about margins or page sizes. But if you are creating a paper book, you have to know what the page dimensions are. Amazon’s CreateSpace service offers pages of 5 inches by 8 inches, 5.25 by 8, 6 by 9 and others. Choose one, and set up your pages. Click on the Page Layout tab in the menu, opening that ribbon, and click on the triangle under Size to see the options available. If the size you’ve chosen isn’t in the list, click More Paper Sizes and enter the Width and Height. Make sure you apply it to the Whole Document using the drop-down at the bottom left. Click OK.

Adjust the margins, now. Click the Margins button, and set them for smaller—probably half an inch, or maybe a little more. Don’t set them too narrow.

The Gutter measurement adds space where the pages come together at the spine. Have you ever noticed that your paperback pages curve there? Add a little more space to keep text out of the curved part, which is harder to read.

Make sure you Apply to Whole document again.

Design your title page, or get a qualified graphic designer to do it for you: a large, attractive font for your title, smaller for the sub-title or series, large but distinct for your name as the author. At the end of the text, as long as there is room, insert one more blank line (Enter or Return key), then click on the Page Layout tab in the word processor and click on the Breaks menu. Select Next Page.

Decide whether you want to have a half-title page or not. If you do, hit Enter for a blank line, then choose a page break. Then repeat the above process to create a new page for your main title.

Enter another page break. On this page, you’ll put all your copyright information. Insert another page break for your dedication and acknowledgement pages, and any other “front matter” you may have.

To find the breaks menu, click the Page Layout tab in the ribbon at the top of the Word window.

To find the breaks menu, click the Page Layout tab in the ribbon at the top of the Word window.

Do you want to have a table of contents? Go to the Page Layout tab. Under Section Breaks, select Next Page. This makes the next page the First Page of a new section, which means its page numbering, header and footer characteristics will be different from following pages.

Because the First Page of each new Section (in Word) is distinct, you can have no page number on the first page (the ancient standard), or place it in a different place compared to other pages. So, for example, if you put the page numbers in the bottom outside corners as described above, for the first page of each new chapter, you could put the page number in the middle of the footer (bottom margin).

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It can be tricky and confusing to get to this menu. The easiest way is to double-click in the header or footer area of the page. If that doesn’t work, do it again.

Double-click in the footer. The Ribbon will change. From the centre of the ribbon, unclick Link to Previous, so that what you do to this section does not affect the title page.

The Page Number button is third from the left. Choose Bottom of Page, then one of the centred options. The page number will appear there. If you want to use Roman numerals for the front matter, right-click on the number and select Number format.

Scroll down so that you can see the next page. You’ll notice labels called Odd Page Header -Section 2- and Odd Page Footer -Section2-. You can put your author name on the Odd/right pages and the book title on the Even/left pages, or whatever you want. Since you’re creating each chapter as a separate section, you can also put the title of each chapter in the header or the footer, as you see fit.

That’s enough for this post. If you have any questions, leave them in the Comments section.

Happy writing!