NEW SPECULATIVE FICTION/URBAN NOIR BY MEDEAS WRAY

Welcome to the web-site of Medeas Wray, writer of fiction, purveyor of fact, humour, magic, mystery and everything in between.

Find free and easy formatting hacks to help you e-publish your own books, resumes and samples of my books and links to help you sample further and/or buy. 

For samples of new work go to http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/medeaswray/1363150/ 

- and you can follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MedeasWray 

 Enjoy the site - feedback's always appreciated.

 

The Big Crunch - a story of recklessness and redemption, love and loss, winners and losers.

Click on smarturl.it/uzoqa3  for Amazon/Kindle 

Click on smarturl.it/n1eq7c for Kobo

How to survive on a planet no bigger than a speck of dandruff in a coal-mine in universal terms - that's Malkie's dilemma.
See video on YouTube at http://youtu.be/7QSJLepFzfw via @YouTube

THE BIG CRUNCH: the story of a man who reaches for the stars and comes crashing down to earth

How to survive when your world is falling apart around your ears? That's Malkie's dilemma in The Big Crunch, a 70,000 word novel with strong language in places, dark themes, shady deeds - and humour - despite it all.

Set in Leeds in the first years of the 21st century as Leeds United start to slip down the league tables and all kinds of mayhem begins - at least for Malkie. 

He's a computer graphics designer and games inventor, newly into astronomy, habitually into alcohol with a life going into free-fall as computer crashes, a car being mysteriously totalled and a failing marriage occur around him - assisted by a full-time geek called Ian, an ex-hacker with a couple of murky associates, a passion for football and a flat at the low-rent end of the neighbourhood where Malkie mis-spends a few of his nights.

They're after the big prize, the MacGregor contract, a project that promises to put food on the table for years to come and give them financial security. 

But with Malkie in charge what could possibly go right?

As Malkie struggles with his own particular demons and tries to make sense of a life spent on top of a planet no bigger than a speck of dandruff in a coal-mine in universal terms, Ian comes into his own.

The Big Crunch. Available on Amazon/Kindle and  through Smashwords at major e-publishers now for £1.80. 

To sample or purchase The Big Crunch, click on the link here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425740 

For Kindle/Amazon click on: smarturl.it/uzoqa3 

For Kobo click on smarturl.it/n1eq7c

Also available as an e-book at Barnes & Noble, Nook, Sony and Smashwords. Just search for author name: Medeas Wray on their sites.

 

An excerpt:

He was a big guy, a guy who stood out from a crowd, though he’d never thought that was a problem up to press. He was so big in fact that he wasn’t looking, wasn’t watching his own sides or back well enough to notice when the fall-out started. Minutes earlier, Billy had spotted Flymo throwing his weight around and had leant over next to him as he was waiting impatiently at the bar and had managed to slim him down a bit.

The identikit picture Ian and Jason had cobbled together was spot-on and he knew he’d seen the guy somewhere before, some scruffed up slouch littering the corner of the pub, big dusty boots, leather jacket beaten up and wrinkled, rubbed to the grain in a couple of places. Faded grey to blond barnet that looked like a no.49 bus had run over it, thick, short and wavy with a face like a boxer’s underneath it, nose that was big and wide threatening to monopolise it and a mean little thin-lipped mouth tacked on below.

But those small blue piggy eyes set deep in their sockets were what you really remembered him by. Name? Jason said they called him Flymo though Ian said it sounded like somebody burping, that’s what he remembered when they’d been introduced. Introduced, that was a name for it, Ian thought, flashing a badge past you and slurring a name as they barged in the door. Began with a B, Ian said, B for bastard. B for Billy, Billy thought at the time, Billy, known in the faraway days of his misspent youth as Billy Lightfingers down to the fact he had a skill or two.

Moving in on the guy had been easy, with so many people in the pub already, so much activity, so many diversions. He’d scissored the wallet out of the inner pocket of his jacket when he’d been further down the bar, being ignored by blonde Shirley like all the rest of the punters, dove in with two deft fingers and grabbed it without the guy noticing a thing ‘til he discovered himself a couple of ounces lighter just when he had a drink lined up.

Flymo felt hassled, could do with the drink, sitting there waiting for him quietly seductive on top of the bar-counter.

‘Take a credit-card?’ He asked the young kid serving him.

‘Not normally unless it’s for food. But just this once.’ The kid said.

Flymo dug into his jeans pocket for his card. It was something he didn’t normally do, something they told you not to. Main brief for being undercover: stay in cover, don’t let anyone know anything about you, your real identity.

Kid at the bar took the plastic and processed it, then handed Flymo a receipt to sign and gave Flymo the card back. Flymo, relieved, picked up his pint and headed over to a table in the corner, waiting for Jason to show. He could buy the next round, Flymo decided, sipping his pint, enjoying it, watching the Leeds crowd at their Saturday afternoon break, racing blaring from the TV screen as they sat at tables scoffing mouthfuls of haddock and chips, hamburgers and steak pies from large overflowing plates, scratching off cards to see if they’d won and throwing them in pieces into already-full ashtrays.

During those minutes, Billy had thumbed through the wallet, dark tan leather, newish with about thirty quid in it, but nothing more, no ID, no plastic, no nothing. Only the folding. He picked a ten out of the cache, found a gap at the bar and caught the kid's eye. Drinkers crowded round shielding his back from view as he spoke. ‘Give you this if you give me the guy’s name.’ He said.

The kid took the note, scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it over to Billy. Mr. A. Brezny, it read.

‘You sure?’ Billy asked.

The kid, Reece, they called him, Billy knew that, knowing his old man who’d got him a job here, just weekends, leant over the bar-top separating them.‘Sure I’m sure.’ He said.

‘’Nother pint, Bill?’ Billy nodded. Bright kid, Reece. Helpful. That was the thing about being local, Billy thought. It had its advantages.

Back at Ian’s Billy handed over Reece’s note. Ian looked at it, nodded, said it was a good start. Only a start though. They’d need more for the plan to work and more was kind of difficult to come by right at that moment. Couple of nights later though they got themselves a lucky break.

Flymo’s undercover hide-out – and Jonas’s on the odd night Jonas wasn’t at his girl-friend’s – was a shabby maisonette, one of ten or so above a string of run-down, now defunct garages, a mess of buckled metal, rusting up-and-over doors that had never quite opened and never quite closed, not for years. Most people who lived there if they had cars at all, left them up on the road, under the street-lights where it was safer. Not that many people lived there, one floor up from the empty, trashed garages.

Next door to Flymo’s it was all boarded up plywood over glassless windows and a kicked-in door, a flat abandoned during a chip-pan fire and so far, unrefurbished by the Council landlords.

Flymo, at the end of the row, therefore had no neighbours. Just a balcony in front, a narrow terrace-affair, floored with asphalt, a place where the smokers generally stood, leaning over the rusty bars, staring vacantly ahead at the terraces opposite, watching the passing cars, glare of headlights as they arrived, trail of red and white tail-lights as they disappeared.

Someone in Maintenance had ordered the repainting of the flats’ front doors. Workmen had arrived some months before, slapped jade-green paint all over, all over the doors, their handles, their letter-boxes and their numbers. By day it was difficult to tell one flat from another, by night, almost impossible and pizza deliverers had on other nights, come and gone, failing to find the flat their al funghi or margharita was destined for. And the inhabitants of the maisonettes went without.

Tonight, Flymo was starving, empty-belly hungry, waiting for a pizza and he wasn’t about to leave it to chance. It was cold on the balcony, definite autumn, with the sky black as tarmac and a view of the gap-toothed straggle of houses and flats leading to the city centre, clear and bright, lit intermittently by the flare of fireworks, sparking out of the sky in showers of gold, red and silver.

Run-up to November 5th and Bonfire Night, October was always like that, time to set the fireworks off. That was what the night sky was made for come autumn across the outer-margins of the city. Fireworks, entertaining spectators like Flymo now, with the centuries-old, ever-new thrill of exploding gunpowder. Another whoosh and flare of sudden light, fountains of gold and silver shimmering through the dark sky. Lighting up the car that had stopped on the road next to the maisonettes for a second or two. Dissipating like dust into sheer night.

Flymo watched as a woman got out of a mini, a girl, clutching a large red plastic flatbag that was bigger than a pizza but not quite as big as she was. She plopped the flatbag on top of the car as she locked up, then picked the bag up and ran down the grassy bank to the tunnel of darkness between the garages that was the entrance to the maisonettes.

Flymo beckoned to her over the balcony, mouthing ‘That’s mine’. Then Jersey O’Brien walked through the entrance, up the cracked white-tile stairway, stinking of urine to the balcony area where Flymo had been standing.

She’d worked for the pizza company for three years now, on and off, doing college courses in basic computing, power-point, web design day-times. Then did the odd night at the pizza place just to make ends meet. They called it The Italian Job and they all drove minis, some little joke of the owner’s. Something he’d always wanted to do, come the time.

Not a bad place. Famously good pizzas, crispy and deep with lashings of topping, not like those other pizzas from other places where it was all itty-bitty ingredients sprinkled gappily over a yank or two of cheese and a couple of bites was like chewing air. The Italian Job was a bit more classy than that, bit more expensive too, but it was well known as the best in the neighbourhood and anyone who had any taste at all would order from there.

Just like any other place they had different drivers working different nights. Billy worked there too now and again and tonight it had been quiet, just Billy and Jersey delivering, both taking it in turns to answer the phone, do the cashiering, with Sanchez the chef and a kitchen hand called Luther sorting the food out. Billy had primed her already about the subject called Flymo.

To download The Big Crunch go to smarturl.it/uzoqa3 -  for Amazon/Kindle

smarturl.it/n1eq7c for Kobo

 

 

 

 

 

DOWN TO ZERO - Where crime-thriller meets the paranormal. The first in a series. Available now at Kindle and other major e-publishers and through Smashwords.

Cover design: Anna Cleary

Down To Zero is contemporary Gothic, a gritty crime-thriller with a paranormal twist: set in London in 2018 and featuring two seasoned detectives, Mallory Vine and Bob Dario who work for The Unit, a shadowy government department.

For them, the day to day is generally murder. That's not unusual.

But when they stumble upon a serial-killer who's been hiding the evidence of a murder spree in the art-works he sells to an A-list clientele and are assigned to the case of another serial-killer who's been living on top of the evidence of his crimes, it all starts to become less than everyday.

As new leads emerge, they start to realise (and cannot deny) that the paranormal is at work, counter to everything they've been brought up to believe in a culture that with its reliance on science is unready for the full facts. 

Available as an e-book at Amazon/Kindle at smarturl.it/a7h7l2

Also at Kobo at smarturl.it/oceu81

 

Read an excerpt here:

 “Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.” BD said, surveying the collection of curios in front of them, displayed in the unit’s numerous recesses. Relics of the past, memorabilia collected together by someone with a keen eye for the unusual, it looked like. And the macabre. It was all here, he thought as he took in the sight of a range of medical and dentistry instruments, probes, forceps, lancets and amputation knives: relics of torture or experiment from the 1900s and earlier, now displayed in an art-work of monumental complexity.  

 

In one recess, medical illustrations from an old encyclopaedia acted as the backdrop to a jar containing what seemed to be pickled cucumbers submerged in a murky liquid, whilst in another, the brightly coloured plasterwork mould of a head showing the anatomical connections between ear, nose and throat, glared back towards them: a once-functional object that managed to look both garish and intimidating within its new surroundings.

 

Mallory was stooping down to examine the installation’s recesses, peering into one where a couple of small battalions of battered tin soldiers had been arranged as if ready for battle, two opposing sides with tiny rifles held in miniature hands aimed towards each other, intent on attack.

 

The next compartment housed a pair of small wooden mannequins dangling on wires hung from two toy tin cranes - hardwood artists’ models with rounded featureless faces and articulated limbs, caught up in a terminal dance as they hung by their necks in front of a black and white photograph of a war-zone golgotha, a blurred monochrome shot that could have been Dresden, Berlin, Hiroshima, Beirut, Belfast, Gaza or Damascus. It was difficult to tell the precise location or guess the year the picture had been taken, Mallory thought, studying the image as closely as she could, seeing nothing but a mess of rubble, buildings that had once been homes, now gone to dust.

 

“It’s like a rerun of the twentieth century in all its bad aspects. War and other collective horrors, conflict, destruction, waste, it’s all here, the blight of last century’s span and this one up to press. The great spat-out, shat-out multitude of our sins.” BD commented. The artist was making a point and making it well, he thought. OK, so he or she might have been overdoing it but the fact remained....

“You like it, I suspect.” Mallory said with just the smallest trace of irony in her voice. 

To read more: click through to smarturl.it/a7h7l2 (Amazon/Kindle) for sample/download

For Kobo e-book click through to smarturl.it/oceu81

Also at Barnes & Noble, Nook and Smashwords - just go to Medeas Wray to find it.

Comments? Suggestions? Let me know what you think on the guest-book below.

Or send mail to: e-mail@medeaswray.com

Other news:

Down To Zero is the first in The Eaters of Light series. The author is currently working on books two and three, featuring members of the Unit from Down To Zero: now fully-fledged 'Unexplained Phenomena' investigators.

It's sci-fi with a twist: peppered with elements of crime thriller-mystery and the paranormal as the Unit starts to encounter more strange forces at work in a near-future world.

Find samples of new writing, a work in progress (and continuing on from Down To Zero in The Eaters of Light series)- working title The Off-comers @WritersCafe - find it at http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/medeaswray/1363150/ 

 

JABBERWORKY & THE OTHER ODD STORY: medieval misdeeds, magic and mystery

Find Jabberworky & The Other Odd Story exclusively on Amazon/Kindle - click on smarturl.it/v84u9p (wherever you live in the world you'll be directed.)

Jabberworky & The Other Odd Story is a book of tales for readers of the fantastic: from fantasy and the supernatural to ghost-story and a little horror.

There's gallows humour, medieval misdeeds and a rumbustious lust for life over six chapters in Jabberworky - the story of a band of stalwart friends and their troublesome Friar, who go to seek the knowledge and wisdom of Scolastica Toebine, local hermit-ess of some renown, in order to cure the Friar of his ills - with unforeseen consequences.

As for The Other Odd Story: one's a day-time ghost story set in present-day Normandy called 'The Couple In Front': an edited version of which won the StoryBucks Mystery Short Story Contest July 2014 - find it at www.storybucks.com - and there's my author Q&A Interview to read on-line at that site too. Reviewer and author John Burley who judged the competition had this to say about 'The Couple In Front':

“A powerful, fascinating, and visually textured ghost story...The author does an excellent job of painting the scene in the reader’s mind. There is something timeless, haunting, and ethereal about this place, and we soon discover why...talent like this should be shared with others.”

 'Just A Bit Extra' tells the story of a lone pizza-deliverer who goes to a strange semi-detached house one dark night and gets more than he bargained for - a little magic.

That's Jabberworky & The Other Odd Story - page-turning fiction with a twist - encompassing spirits and magic, the supernatural, medieval and all things that go bump in the night - and day. Prime Amazon members can borrow FREE.

Exclusively at Amazon/Kindle - for further sample/download  - click on smarturl.it/v84u9p

Find interviews  at  http://www.duanelmartin.com (go to Other Authors), at kevs-domain.net/2014/06/05/kev at www.storybucks.com and www.bookgoodies.com 

For samples of new work go to http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/medeaswray/1363150/

Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MedeasWray 

Read a sample of Jabberworky here:

Jabberworky

‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe

All mimsy were the borogoves

And the mome raths outgrabe.’ 

From ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll

Chapter One

‘Fine weather for it’ Tom Smollett said with a wry smile, seated at a pew within the shady innards of The Angry Toad that afternoon in the year thirteen hundred and ninety blob.

Tom and the Friar were having a drink in the finest public house in Cheapside, Tom paying of course. Tom was drinking a goodly pot of ale whilst the Friar sipped from a mug of mead, his ample frame not quite accommodated by the rickety wooden stool he sat upon so that most of his generous proportions hung over it like a couple of sacks of corn, his brown cloth garb though threadbarely held together, hiding multiple sins. Him loving the food as much as anyone in all England and the mead. Harmless appetites that made him jolly company but rather round.

Seated in the comfort and shade of the tavern, Tom and the Friar could see through the open doorway a sky as blue as a madonna-veil with the sun behind a sliver of lentiloid cloud as if held on invisible wires, its light winking and blinking over a motley gathering of peddlers, miscreants and sundry rabble all making merry outside in the square. This being an especially big day.

Such an especially big day indeed that most of Cheapside was out on the streets, save for the odd hermit or two who lurked indoors and did peculiar things like writing. Or reading. Or doing some hermit-like jiggery-pokery few understood and which was not always popular, apart from those times when members of the general populace might need their services, beset as they were with infestations of head lice, mysterious and unwelcome agues or a sudden attack of rheum or colic. Then such anchorites were dragged out of the seclusion of their dwellings and became much in demand, bequestered to do their level best to divest the afflicted of such ailments and conditions. Today however, was not one of those days and the hermits were let alone and had leave to carry on with whatever pen-waving or spell-casting stuff they were working on in quiet and solitude, that being the general hermit-like way of it.

Apart from such folk, the rest of Cheapside to a very man, woman and child were out and about, either ensconced in the many taverns that lined the square or busy thronging the walk-ways, noisily bringing their goats to market, their chickens, their pigeons in woven crates, their ferrets, their jams, chutneys, cheeses, gee-gaws and such like to sell on this particular day. For as everyone knew, there was never a gathering like it save for occasions such as these. And it was not to be missed by anyone with half a whit of sense or a vaguely commercial streak or just some idle curiosity and in need of goodly cheer. Goodly cheer, they were in the right place for that, Tom and the Friar, there in the recesses of The Angry Toad right now with a crew of cronies to left and right holding the bar up and giving forth much opinion on the day’s events. Those that were due in some short time and that they wouldn’t be missing for all the world as long as they could find a place to stand and there wasn’t too much of a crush.

After buying the Friar yet another cup of mead, Tom quickly surveyed the jolly man’s robe. Thinking to himself that a new one must be found and soonish lest come Mickletide, whenever that was, the man would be in tatters exposing flesh that hadn’t seen the light of day for possibly years. And that would be no good thing.

‘Thank you, my son, for your kindness to a simple man of the cloth.’ So spoke the Friar, his face as dimpled as dough after kneading, accepting the mug of mead Tom was handing him with the good grace and few words he was known for.

‘Cloth that is nearly rags by the look of it.’ Tom answered. ‘I’ll have the missus rustle you up another before the week is out, I swear.’

‘Thanks for that too, my son.’ Said the Friar, speaking between sips.

 ‘Never mind, never mind, all in a day’s work or two or three. We’ll get the measurements later or she can just guess the size all by herself.’ Tom said. ‘But here’s the thing…’ he continued, then paused for a moment to take in a large glug of ale from the receptacle he held in his brawny hands, ‘….what make you of this Lambkin Simwort, he that is up for the chop this very afternoon? Is he blame-worthy of all the accusations flung in his general direction or are we misled in our opinion on the matter?’

Tom had no need to ask such questions knowing too well how the Friar would answer. Just in need of some amusement and getting the Friar started on the topic of the day was entertainment itself.

The Friar put down his mug, looked up at the timbered ceiling of the tavern, his eyes lingering on the brownish stain above the fire-place and spoke, quite loudly for him:

‘What make I of this prattling, preening mannequin that has been fobbing us off with pies of a dubious nature…and old Mrs Cartwright and Mr Slophammer gone missing? Thanks be to God I am not in his pointy little shoes.’ The Friar spat the words out as if he had a bad taste in his mouth and smiled, his eyes glinting with the fire and ferocity of truth. Such stuff was worth the groat or two it cost, Tom thought, smiling his agreement.

‘A more braggard of a man has never walked this earth.’ Gruff old Himber Mason from his pew coughed over to them.

‘Man? Is he worthy of the name? Well if he is, he’ll be hanged like a dog by sundown.’ The Friar in his plain-spoken simple manner retorted, grinning.

Tom nodded.

‘Aye it’s a fine old business, that it is.’ He said, looking towards the archway of the tavern towards the general throng walking up and down, as the noise from the square invaded their quiet.  Dogs barked, goats brayed, hens cuckled and cackled, children ran about with annoyingly clacketty wooden toys whilst hawkers roared out promotional beseechings to the crowd to buy their pots and salvers, their bees wax and muslin, their condiments and such whilst the Friar, Tom Smollett, Himber Mason and the rest of the rabble seated in the alcove gave thanks for the relative quiet and comfort of the tavern.

The peace however was not to be for long as a bustle of peddlers and their trolls crashed through the doorway, peddling and trolling no more for this was lunch-time and a pause for a ploughman’s and a pint much needed.

‘Sun.’ Cried one, a merchant of leather goods by the look of his garb, all black shiny stuff with stud-like decoration, sporting some skin-art on his right arm depicting a heart with a dagger right through it. ‘I thought I’d melt away in the heat of it.’

‘Aye, dressed that way you could very well have been roasted like a capon.’ His moll replied. And so he could, all agreed. They noted quietly to themselves with some appreciation that she was less got up than he, wearing a simple white top, full black skirt and something of a waistcoat that had no intention of ever being buttoned up.

‘It’s thirsty work these public hangings bring us. So it is.’ Tom said, smiling towards the new arrivals, wondering to himself where his own fair wife was at that particular moment and how the produce from their own gaff was selling.

Such was the modern world, festivity and commerce blending together in the thriving new economy that was England’s now: such variety, such enterprise, such a thronging together on the day of Lambkin Simwort’s expedient departure from their good earth. For it was good, the populace free to enjoy themselves and go about their business and their merry-making as they pleased whilst the king did the ruling and governing and that and hardly interfered at all.

Click to: smarturl.it/v84u9p for further sample or purchase. And remember, AmazonPrime members borrow FREE.

 

 

About the author

Medeas Wray is a writer with a passion for fiction that errs on the side of the strange, the paranormal, the just plain weird - sci-fi, cyberpunk, urban noir and fantasy - nothing that will ever show up on an approved reading-list and which doesn't take itself too seriously.

"I write to discover where the story will take me, spin tales that take you, the reader, anywhere, back in time, into the future, across the planet and maybe to others. My aim is to entertain and perhaps provoke the odd thought. And I do mean odd."

MW lives in a mobile home in Alabama and has waited tables, delivered pizzas, worked as a painter and decorator, freelance journalist, researcher, private investigator and book editor. The author is currently throwing darts at a map of the globe to figure out where to live next.

Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MedeasWray

Contact me at e-mail@medeaswray.com with comments, suggestions, insults if you like.

Art-work based around my work is welcome too, send samples to the e-mail address and I'll post the best ones on this site - I look forward to seeing them. 

 

Medeas Wray's 12-point guide to getting your e-book published without it costing a mint (for Windows users).

 

So you’ve written your book, made it as wonderful as you were able to, edited it, polished it. Here's my advice - read the following notes through before you do anything else, read them all. Then take action. I've made my 'To Do List' as concise as possible and it amazes me how much of it there actually is when it all boils down - but I think I've included everything you need to think about without glossing over the details and without being too long-winded about it. I hope it's helpful. 

Going through the process, watching those tutorials, reading through the guides has been like taking a degree-course - it really has. Now here's my potted-down version on how to get yourself e-published - in twelve (I won't say easy) steps:

1

  • Proof-read your work over and over again (it’s surprising how many slip-ups you can miss on first, second, even third reading – I’m saying this through experience.)
  • Put it through Spell-Check again (an irritating, laborious and long-winded process, believe me, but necessary.)  
  • Get a friend who’s a writer/word-smith to take a look at it and tell you about any mistakes they find. Allow them to be brutal – they have fresh eyes – and may come across something you’ve missed or that needs further clarification.

2                    

  • It’s best to have your book originated as a Word document – something quite simple. The technology that transfers a digi-work to the Kindle, tablet or whatever, is still in its infancy, I’m guessing, and can’t cope with ultra high-spec. They’ll demand a Word Document off you, not a pdf or a .docx – just a .doc  (and will not accept a docx etc.) So however your document is saved right now – resave it as a simple Word Document.  
  • Put it in a font that’s pretty basic such as Times New Roman (though I think Arial is easy to read, quite attractive and that seems to be acceptable too.) You can do this – and in fact many things – by going to the far right of your Tool Bar and clicking on Select – Select All – then going to Font: choose 11 or 12 point (both are acceptable).
  • As for line spacing -  1.5 spacing is a good option to go for:  it looks good, it’s clear, neither too crammed up or too airy.

3                    

  • Present your book as an ordinary word document in a normal portrait view setting. Go to Select – All – at the far right of your Home page Tool Bar to do this if you haven’t already.  
  • Justify your book left, using the Tool Bar options. Paragraphs and pieces of dialogue should be indented at least a little, so where it says Paragraph on your Tool-Bar go to the little arrow in the square on the right, click on that and once in, go to Special and click on First Line. (If you need to, go to ‘Indent left’ and add a couple of numbers, say between 3 and 5).

4         It’s best – probably because it looks better – to have single speech marks around dialogue and to have single spacing after sentences/full stops. For many of us (touch-typers, predominantly), we automatically put double-spacing after full-stops (it’s the way we were trained and the way print-publishers like it) but this is easy enough to rectify:

  • Stay in Select – Select All mode - then go to Find/Replace and in the Find section put in two spaces – then in the Replace section just put in one. (You won’t be able to see them but it actually works!).
  • Do the same for full-stops – reducing the gap from two spaces to one – if you need to.

5        

  • Whilst your document’s in Select – Select All mode – make sure the formatting is correct, that paragraphs and indents are aligned by clicking on the ¶ symbol on your Home Page Tool Bar.
  • If you see arrows to the left of your text or any little dots just delete them. (Youll need to go through your entire book looking at this, making sure that everything is perfectly aligned - professional, even - that's the level you should be aiming for.)
  • Once you've done that, made all the adjustments necessary, click off the ¶ symbol so that you can upload your document to the Smashwords and Kindle/Amazon sites as a normal document.

6       So now your book should be sorted but there are a couple of other items you need to look out for:

  • The Smashwords Meatgrinder they put all submitted entries through, will put your text through different sieves, I'm guessing. It will 'Select All' your text and apply the ¶ symbol to it, from what I can figure, and if five or more of those show up on consecutive lines – say you have short lines of dialogue one after the other – your document might fail the process. (Stuff like that can show up as blank pages on e-readers apparently.)
  • It can be down to trial and error – upload your prepared document (and a cover of course – and all the rest) and see what the comments are.
  • You might have to add extra descriptions in various places, extending the lines so that doesn’t happen. (You’ll understand what I’m talking about when this happens to you.)

7         You need to have a cover – not just any cover, not just something you came up with yourself (unless you’re a professional graphic artist). It needs to be:

  • Eye-catching.
  • Professional-standard.
  • Able to stand out from the crowd whether it’s as a thumb-nail, (particularly as a thumb-nail because this is how it's predominantly going to be seen on any e-pub reader), in grey scale, full colour or black and white. This is important, very important – this is your shop-window that along with your synopsis will hopefully, entice your potential readers into picking up your book. This is where the major financial investment you make in your book/s should be.
  • The cover needs to be high res, about 5” wide by about 8” long, give a decent idea of what your book is about without misleading your potential readers –  have a ‘promise’ of what the reader can expect once they're inside the book, some hint about the content, its tone, its genre. Is it scary, is it sci-fi, is it romantic? Let the reader know. (And remember, you can't please all the people all of the time.)
  • The cover needs to be 300 dpi (dots per inch – a technical phrase which basically suggests it should have been created by a professional graphic artist who knows what they’re doing.)
  • If you don’t know one or can’t afford one, Kindle Direct Publishing will give you a cover for free – you just make selections from various templates to get the one that most suits your book. They’re free, yes, but they don’t look brilliant as a thumb-nail and will probably never win book-cover prizes. But they're free and you can always upgrade later.
  • Don't be scared of using photos or graphics from a photo-stock site like Shutterstock or Getty images etc (they’re generally very inexpensive and have millions of images to choose from) and raise the bar by having good art-work for your cover. It’s hopefully going to be around for a long time, so think about that – future-proof it.
  • Create an author brand for yourself through the kind of covers you choose for your book/s. Typography might be the key. Ask yourself questions before you make a decision - are you happy with the typography - will you be happy with it in five years’ time? Future-proof your cover as much as possible - you're making the greatest financial investment here.
  • When you get your cover back from your graphic artist of choice - ask for a thumb-nail and a full size image (both of them should be High Res - then when the whole process is through save them as jpegs onto your system, just that, nothing more sophisticated than that – Smashwords and Kindle will both accept jpegs and not pdfs – as I say...)

8         Now that should do it – your book’s very nearly ready for you to submit it to Smashwords etc. But there are a couple of very important features you should add:

  • Make sure that each chapter has a page-break after it – just go to 'Insert' on your Tool Bar, then click on Page Break as you go through the entire document, chapter by chapter.
  • At the beginning of your document, enter a title page, stating your author name after it (as in 'The Big Crunch by Medeas Wray) and add a Page Break after that.
  • Add copyright details and make sure these are down to the letter, as shown in the Smashwords Style Guide and insert a Page Break again.  If you don’t you’ll have to make changes and submit everything again, they’re very particular about this. To see exactly what they will accept take a look at the free sample of The Big Crunch or Down To Zero by Medeas Wray on the Smashwords site and look at the first few pages of bumph...you’ll see what I mean and you can copy and paste those details (and make your own changes, of course) because you know these have already been accepted.
  • Add License Notes - see mine and adapt as necessary - then add a Page Break after that section.
  • Add the name of your front-cover designer and put a Page Break after that section.
  • Add any acknowledgements you want to make - you don't have to, of course - but if you do, add a Page Break after that.
  • Then create a Table of Contents that, ideally, should be navigable. For How To Do This - see the notes below.

9        

  • Create an active Table of Contents. It’s not actually as difficult as it might first appear or as you might have been led to believe. It's do-able and not too laborious, trust me. But it’s a wise thing to do. And will get your work accepted - along with all the other steps you've taken.
  • Write out a Table of Contents as a list (and put a Page Break at the end of it) : e.g. Chapter One, Chapter Two etc.
  • Next, go through your book chapter by chapter. Go to Chapter One, Chapter Two etc in your book's text - and any sub-head you’ve given them then highlight those. 
  • Go to Insert - Bookmark  on your tool bar and write in the space given - ‘Ch1’ – then click on Add - OK. No more than that is necessary. Go through the whole book doing that, as in 'Ch1', 'Ch2' etc.
  • Next go to Hyperlink and click on 'Ch1' etc as you've keyed them into the Bookmark section and add 'Chapter One', 'Chapter Two' etc bit by bit - you should have clicked on the box on the left that says ‘Place in this document’ .
  • Click on that and go through the whole of your Bookmarked chapters hyperlinking them all.
  • You should now have chapter headings and sub-heads that appear in blue in your document and in the Table of Contents list and you should be able to click on Chapter One, for instance, in your Table of Contents (at the front of your book after your book title and author, after your copyright and licence notes, your acknowledgement if you’re making one) – and be taken to Chapter One of your book and so on.

10                

  • On the issue of copyright – if you’ve originated the work yourself and can hand on heart swear that you are the owner of the work – you should have automatic copyright. If you don’t trust just to that there are a limited number of directions you can go in.
  • You can send batches of work – a portfolio to UK Copyright Services, for instance, (if you’re in the UK, that is) and for a small fee, between £20-£50 they will copyright them for you and send documents back to you so you can prove it, should you ever need to.
  • As for ISBN numbers – Smashwords will give you one for free if your works pass through their Meatgrinder stage and are accepted for their Premium Catalogue (which, from what I can glean means they’re formatted properly, that the language actually works, that there is a certain quality to the writing, that it’s basically of a professional-standard and abides by the usual Terms and Conditions - has all the copyright details as they want them at the front of it and has an active and navigable Table of Contents.)
  • This is what you want to aim for - Premium Catalogue status. Smashwords (I’m guessing, of course) will market these works to a range of publishers – this is how they make their money, if you think about it.
  • But still, that’s not going to guarantee you any degree of success. It’s one hard slog, believe me. You'll need commitment - and patience.

11       Prior to publication, maybe as long as three or four months before – start building a web-site, with a view to promoting your work to interested parties, your potential readership:

  • With something like SimpleSite.com – the web-site I’m using here - the process is simple – and it’s not expensive to do, you just pay a month by month fee of about £10. Check them out – and no, they’re not paying me to say this. The rest is up to you.
  • Add text as you like, import pictures, images of your book covers onto your web-site. Add samples of your work by going to your Word document in your file, select a passage you’d like to use as a sample, click on Ctrl and ‘C’ (for copy) on your keyboard then go back to your web-site and click on Ctrl and ‘V’  and ‘Save’ to transfer your selected text into the allotted section.
  • Buy up domain names for your author name and those of your book/s - those you've already produced and those in the pipeline. You can't copyright book titles but you can buy up domain names and these can be pretty inexpensive. 

12       No, it’s not rocket science but it is a bit of a slog - and obviously there is some financial investment you've had to make that you might not get back - at least in a hurry. But now you have your wonderful book with its astounding cover. It’s well-formatted enough to get through Smashword’s Meatgrinder (and hopefully has been reviewed and accepted for their Premium Catalogue) and Kindle’s processes and meets all the rest of the big e-publishers’ demands in terms of formatting, quality and downright professionalism. But you can’t just leave it there.

  • Market your book as well as you are able – tell your friends, your associates, your family about it, your social network e,g. through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, other author sites you’ve hooked up to. (Must say – I’m particularly rubbish at doing this).
  • Write author bios on your web-site, in the Author Profile section on the Smashwords web-site, do an Author Interview on the Kindle/Amazon site - it's recommended. 
  • Hook yourself up to various 'Writer/Author' forums and sites and participate wherever and whenever you get the opportunity to do so.
  • Get yourself a business card advertising your work and your web-site (VistaPrint, for instance, do very cheap ones - say £15-£20  for 250 and deliver in a matter of days) and leave it around at places like your local library, colleges etc. Give it to friends, family, associates - and hope the recipients will check your web-site and your info out. 
  • Offer free samples of your book or books on your own web-site and at Smashwords, Kindle, Amazon, anywhere it’s being retailed.
  • Come up with a price that’s not too much, not too little (you can change it later if that doesn’t work for you) – remembering that Apple only accepts pricing that has the figure .99 in it. E.g: $2.99 (they translate that into other currencies).
  • It's advisable to have a PayPal account set up already - so you can get paid royalties by Smashwords though Kindle/Amazon will send non-US citizens cheques or pay you through your bank account- and not pay you by PayPal, I don't think. All payments will normally take at least 90 days from publication. Payment is any royalties you receive from sales minus 30% paid to the IRS, (see the note below) remember. So it's not going to be much per unit - but remember that the internet gives you access to billions of potential readers. That's looking on the bright side.
  • Other advice: add details of any forthcoming works to the back of your already published and up-there books etc. Also your author e-mail address, some bio about you as an author, if you want to, some more info on stuff you've already published.
  • Enter competitions - send off stories etc you haven't published already, read each competition's rules and guide-lines - some allow entries from self-published, e-published authors, some don't, so be careful. So you might be able to enter works that have already been sent to Smashwords/Kindle/Apple etc.
  • Above all, have patience. (I'm not good at this either.)

And that’s it – just about.

There are, of course, a few more hurdles to jump over, a few more decisions to make: like should you sign up to KDP Select or not? (If you do you’ll get 70% of the royalties on your book but you’ll have to sign up with Kindle for complete exclusivity which means you can’t publish it anywhere else as an e-publisher though you could of course sign up to a print-publisher should you get the opportunity.)

And how about the tax situation? You’ll have to allow the US Internal Revenue Service 30% of everything you get from your royalties – this is done automatically at source by Kindle, Smashwords etc. No getting out of that one - though if you come up with the right kind of paperwork (you can possibly do this later, depending on how well your book sells) you may be able to get a tax exemption (depending on where you live on the planet and who you are etc. etc.)  Or you might be able to get a tax rebate at a later date – for which you’ll have to fill in a tax return/do an on-line interview with the US authorities. But don’t let that put you off. Go with it, roll with it and have patience.

After doing all this work – there’s just one last thing you need. And that’s luck. Have faith in your work and hang on in there. Keep writing. Remember, an e-publication is forever. Never unpublish because you haven’t had the sales you were hoping for: certain authors have been disappointed by their sales for months and then eventually they get noticed by an important reviewer, get some publicity and it all starts to take off. There are millions of books out there, that's true – but there are also millions of hungry readers.

All the best on the journey, (I’m going through it too, learning something new every day).

Hope I’ve been able to help. Let me know, you can e-mail me with comments and/or suggestions, even questions at e-mail@medeaswray.com

 

Find The Big Crunch at smarturl.it/uzoqa3 (Amazon/Kindle) and smarturl.it/n1eq7c (Kobo)

For Down To Zero go to smarturl.it/a7h7l2 (Amazon/Kindle) or smarturl.it/oceu81 (Kobo)

For Jabberworky & The Other Odd Story go to smarturl.it/v84u9p (KindleUnlimited - Prime members can borrow for free)

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