Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


I have 36 chapters of my work in progress thriller story “Girl at the Window” uploaded at Wattpad. I’m targeting adding a chapter per day until complete. I would appreciate it if anyone could join my army of Beta readers to comment on the chapters over at Wattpad. Your input would be valuable.

Not everyone is a grammar expert, so it doesn’t matter if you are not a major in English, though experts in US style and grammar would be welcome.  A reader’s input is just as valuable to pick out missing or incorrect word usage. How you feel about the characters. What works and what doesn’t. Plot progression. Correct police proceedures, etc. You could be as brutal as you like with your critique as I have a hard skin. What is important to me is that when self-published, readers will enjoy the story from start to finish. The story is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18 as it contains scenes of violence and adult themes.

CLICK THE LINK FOR WATTPAD

https://www.wattpad.com/DeclanConner

Girl at the Window © 2017: All rights reserved.

Here’s the mockup cover. No doubt my cover designer will knock it into shape and add a tear running down her cheek and other refinements. Comments on the design idea welcome.

Here’s the draft blurb.

All families have secrets. Only this family’s past is far darker than most.

A psychological thriller for those who enjoyed The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

Clara is trapped in an abusive life by her Pa who is hiding a dark secret. Home schooled and with no outside social contact – constantly on the move – she wishes him dead.

When they arrive at a small mid-west town, he had promised her freedom. He lied, but the seed of freedom is sown. He forbids her to have contact with the townsfolk who he considers to be the disciples of the Devil. Clara defies him and meets Nat and Jordan who vie for her affection. She finds the courage to consider escaping his clutches, but her Pa and fate has other ideas to trap her in slavery.

When her Pa is found murdered by the town sheriff, the circumstances point firmly to Clara as the guilty party. Now an accomplished liar, having picked up the trait from her Pa, she convinces Detective Alana Bossé to dig deeper. As the suspect list grows, it looks as though there is a slim chance that she could be innocent.

But is everything as it seems? Or should they lock Clara up and throw away the key

Over at Wattpad, once you join you can access my story either on your computer or mobile device.  At the side of each paragraph you will find a + sign. Clicking or actioning this allows you to leave comments, though you don’t have to comment if you have nothing to add. You can also vote for the chapter to give it more visibility to others on the site.

Images of Clara and her PA

Here’s the first 2 chapters to see if it is to your taste.

CHAPTER  ONE

CLARA

 

The world outside, so my Pa said, was my enemy. A world full of sinners who would do their best to harm me now that I was a woman. Even in the sunlight, I sensed darkness through my bedroom window. I fought with the not knowing what was out there every day. Pa said it was dangerous on the outside. I was only to go out with him by my side to protect me. I was beginning to have my doubts about his preaching, and yearned for the freedom to find out for myself before my mind would implode.

The glass misted with the steam from my coffee. I drew HELP with my finger on the windowpane. None was coming. It was a cry to myself. No one would be out there waiting to rescue me. There was no white knight ready to whisk me away, and that’s the truth. Maybe it’s because only I could read the word that faced me. Especially when there weren’t any neighbors as far as my eyes could see. With a flourish, I wiped my sleeve across the letters at the futility.

A fresh blanket of snow covered the landscape. It taunted me to leave witness for if I dared to sneak out. The flakes were heavier now. I had an urge to want to dance in the snow. To scoop up a handful and throw it in the air. To make a snowman like I did when I was a child.

Pa was asleep, snoring. He sometimes slept light. A creak on the stairs would surely waken him. Strange how he ignored his own honking, but yet he had a second sense when I attempted freedom to be alone, even if it was only to the veranda out front. I yearned to overcome my internal fear. If only I had had the courage to defy him. To be able to make my own way outside with no one watching my every move. To feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, or the cold of a winter breeze, bathing me without his shadow following my every move.

The few times I had dared to venture out alone, I had been torn inside out with guilt. Tightness in my chest would consume me as our house disappeared from view. Short breaths. Leaden legs. Then the tremors for if Pa caught sight of me.

He guessed all my excuses to venture out alone. Kept my shoes under his chair, or he took them to his bedroom. I thought it would be different in our new home. He promised. It was a lie. I didn’t know why we had to move around so much. Every move always seemed to be in such a hurry. I didn’t even know why he always had to choose isolated locations, except, he said it was better to live off the grid. All I did know is that I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do if he were not there.

Movement outside distracted my train of thought. A blackbird took flight from a pine tree. It swooped and landed on the ground. Ruffled its feathers. Dug its beak in the snow. Moved on, hopping, then stopping and digging some more. It took flight, landing back in the cover of the pine tree. Its claws had left arrow tracks in the snow, but only for a short while. They were soon covered by the flakes as if it had never been there.

Maybe, I thought, that’s what would happen to me if I defied him and tried to escape. I could have died in the freezing air. No one would have known if a fresh blanket had covered my tracks. Only the blackbird would have borne witness, but then who would he have told? Birds can’t speak. But then neither could I. Even if I had had the nerve and the strength to carry life’s breath beyond the confines of our house, I wouldn’t have dared to speak. Not that I knew anyone. I knew no one, only Pa.

I wished Pa dead. It’s not that he hadn’t treated me well as long as I had obeyed him. He provided sustenance and I wanted for nothing in the material sense. Except I did want. There were people out there my own age. Experiences I had never had. All I knew was from the books he had provided over the years for home schooling. Then there was his bible, The Old Testament. He used passages to prove he had the rights over me that God gave him. I had a deep urge to taste a different life that I would never have while ever he lived. That was another truth I couldn’t deny. The sooner he breathed his last breath, the better.

 

CHAPTER TWO

The following morning Pa was outside, fixing the chains to his pickup tires. He glanced my way. I shuddered at the rattle of the links clinking as I washed the breakfast dishes. I reckoned that he gave them an extra rattle to remind me. My ankles itched at the memories.

It would be our first journey into town for provisions. He bent over to fix the last of the chains. Elbows on the worktop, I held a carving knife with both hands and closed my eyes. A vision of Pa instructing me to slice his hunting knife across a lamb’s neck crossed my mind. ‘Empty your head,’ he’d said. ‘It’s God’s will.’ I couldn’t help but wonder if God was putting the images of me grasping Pa’s hair and slicing the knife across his neck when he stooped at the tire. He rose to his full height and held his back as if pained.

Pa hollered, “Clara, get out here now.”

As I reached the front door at the veranda, he stamped his boots, then he shook his coat, powdery flakes cascading to the wooden flooring.

“I’ll get my coat and boots,” I said.

“No need.”

“But it’s cold and snowing.”

“The engine’s running. It’ll be warm in the pickup soon. Forget your boots. I don’t want you wandering off.”

There was no point protesting. He picked me up and carried me to the open pickup door. Launched me onto the seat. My teeth chattered as he opened his door and slid onto his seat. The tires spun, and with a lurch, together with a crunch on the crisp snow covering, we set off. My entire body trembled at the cold air blasting through the ducts. Even with the short distance to the pickup, the flakes that had settled on me now melted into my cotton dress and hair. Spider webs of cracked ice covered the side windows. Staring ahead, clumps of snow dislodged from the hood and peppered the windshield, swiped away by the squeaking windshield wiper. At last, warm air began to circulate. The wind picked up, swirling and blowing drifts across out path.

“It’s a blizzard out there. Are you sure we’ll make it back?”

“It’s now or never. We have to eat, child.”

Child! I hated Pa calling me child. It was his way of being condescending. His way of wishful thinking that I would have remained so. He’d stopped putting candles on the cakes this past seven years since I had my eleventh birthday. That was around the time he lost interest in me after my first bleed. His attitude changed. Pa gave up the right that he preached The Old Testament bestowed on him, but still demanded complete obedience.

It stopped snowing. The clouds gave way to sunlight. Ice on the side window turned to pearls of water droplets, streaming across the glass as we picked up speed on the main road into town. The streams of melted ice reminded me of the tears I’d shed the night before when I’d cried myself to sleep.

Pa turned off the wiper. The sign for the town flashed by. ‘Hunter’s End’, it had said. Under that it read, ‘Population 786’, but that was struck through with a line and changed to ‘491.’

The town looked picturesque. Like a Christmas card image. A wooden church spire dominated the far end of Main Street. Wisps of smoke plumed into the sky from the chimneys. The smoke mocked me with images of families warm in front of their fires. I knew about families, and their begetting, but I had none, except for Pa. That’s not exactly true. I had cousins when I was younger. At least I knew that much. Quite a few really, but I hadn’t seen any of them for many years. They’d only come for the day and sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of them before being sent to my room. Pa said they weren’t cleansed enough for me to meet them. We pulled over and stopped outside the grocery store.

“Wait here.”

“Can’t I come with you?”

“No, I won’t be long.”

He reached over me and removed the handle for my side window. His breath reeked of chewing tobacco. I retched. He was wheezing. I’d noticed him being short of breath lately and talking with a rasp. Maybe it wouldn’t take a knife to see the back of him, I thought.

He labored up the wooden steps to the veranda outside the store. There were three young men around my age, sitting on a bench to the left of the entrance that I’d noticed when Pa opened his door. They’d been laughing and passing a cigarette between them. I drew my knees up to my chest, wrapped my arms around my legs, then rocked back and forth. A rap on my side window and I near jumped out of my skin. My chest tightened.

“Wind your window down.”

It wasn’t Pa’s voice. The windows were misted again. All I could see was a shadow.

“C’mon, don’t be shy. Only we don’t get many gals around these parts. We only want to jaw.”

“Go away,” I wrote with my finger. I pulled the sleeve of my dress over my hand and wiped the words away at realizing they’d need a mirror to read the message. A mop of black hair and white teeth loomed large as he bent over. It was the white teeth that held my gaze. I was used to seeing Pa’s toothless grin, surrounded by his long white facial hair. Well, not exactly toothless, just his top two teeth were missing. The rest were twisted and stained with the tobacco he chewed.

“I’m Jordan, what’s your name?” he said, and smiled. “You moved in around here, or just visiting?” he said, not waiting for a reply.

Pulses of shivers ran through my body. I noticed my hands shaking, unable to stop the tremors.

“I… I’m Clara. Listen, I can’t open the window, please go away.”

His features distorted as the moisture on the window misted again. Maybe Pa’s preaching was right and it was the demon in him I could now see.

“Hey whatcha doing hanging around my pickup?” Pa called out.

“Just being neighborly.”

“Well, just skedaddle.”

“Fuck you, old man. Just trying to be friendly.”

“Fuck you! I’ll show you who’s gonna fuck who.”

“Whoa there, put the gun away.”


Reviews and self-publishing.

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What is self-publishing today?.

kindle reader

https://declanconner.com/what-is-self-publishing-today/

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Importance of researching the facts before writing fiction.

How many times have you heard the old cliché? “Fact is stranger than fiction”? Until I started writing I had never really thought about it before, and I blame TV programs such as Myth Buster for stirring me into action on the research front. In truth, it is that and a one star review of one of my short stories, where I had the Vice President of America boarding Air Force One, under the misconception that they were actually named aircraft. The fact is, Air Force One and Two are one of the same, with the descriptions only applied as to who is onboard. Air Force One is the designated name for when the President is onboard and Air Force Two for the Vice President. Okay, so it was no great effort to change the eBook text, but the one star review remains forever and serves as a reminder of the importance of getting things right.

Another cliché that comes to mind and directed at authors’ is, “Write about what you know.” There is a lot of truth in this as research is not as big a deal if you are writing about what you know and love and your knowledge adds authenticity to the read. A good example of this would be the Bravo Two Zero, by Andy McNab, who wrote about his British Special Air Services operation exploits as a memoir. Since then he has gone on to writing fiction thrillers using his expertise in covert operations and weapons to produce a list of best-selling fiction.

“What’s the big deal?” you say “It’s fiction and in fiction we can write what we want.”

“True” I say, Not all readers are intolerant when it comes to stretching the plausible, but if you want to appeal to your market, you have to consider a good percentage of your readers who are well versed in all manner of subjects and even the slightest error of fact will have them toss the sample of the read aside, or they may respond with a bad review.

An example of this would be a gun enthusiast reading your work. Say you write a modern thriller and describe someone firing a Glock 9mil and invoke their sense of smell as experiencing the smell of “Cordite.” There are a number of problems using this description.

1) They stopped using small bore Cordite rounds around the end of the 20th century.

2) It is likely your character would be too young to have ever experienced the smell.

So how would you describe it? The answer is, that if you haven’t fired a gun, then research the subject.

Another example would be safety catches and safety-operational devices of guns and the way different models operate. I wish I had a penny for every time I have seen it described wrong. Research your guns folks. The link above “gun enthusiast” has some good descriptions of how different safety devices work.

“Okay but this is mostly boring stuff about guns.”

Well, yes it is, but let’s look at other examples. For instance, say you want to write about a wildfire in the Pine Mountains to the north of LA. It may be hot where you are for the time of year, but what is the season for likely wildfires in this area. A search of the internet will tell you. You will also be able to find the rescue services response to such events and the names of the equipment used. Who would have known that a bucket dropped into a lake from a helicopter to gather water would be called a Bambi bucket? Bambi bucket sounds just so much more authentic.

One example where I found research of vital importance was when I wrote a short story about Climate Change and the end of life on earth through CO2 poisoning. (The End, or a New Dawn). Here I wanted to have the character experience the death that breathing CO2 would cause and to evoke a sense of dread, or some response in the reader’s mind as to what could happen if the emotive term “Global Warming,” got out of hand and what it would mean physically and mentally before death. Rather that, than use my instinct to write simply that he coughed and spluttered and choked to death. I wanted the description to be medically correct in the depiction of the character’s death and what he would experience. Without research, on the internet I would not have achieved this.

One other thing to consider is that procedures change with technology advances. Ask yourself, does your city police still use a physical identity parade, or show you a number of photos, or do they pop in a computer disk have you watch a slide show. The same question could be asked of fingerprints. Do they still use ink and a roller, or do they digitize your prints from an electronic-pad device direct to a computer?

What can I do other than search the internet?

Well if you are famous, I suppose the FBI, or the local Police department may give you time of day. But for mere mortals there is always the local library, or if you know an expert on the subject in your neighborhood, you could always ask, or even pop into your local police station if you have a question on say procedure. Who knows, you may strike lucky as many people like to talk about their work. The internet is the least time consuming. One tool I have found useful is Google Maps and the street-level view. If you are writing about scenes in a town or city that you are not familiar with, then Google Street View is a useful tool, down to what type of business and other landmarks are around, and what type of trees etc to the type of road surface.

Writing about what you know?

There is no question about it, that if you don’t have the knowledge, that it should not be an impediment to writing about a subject, especially if you are an avid reader of your chosen genre, but if you have first-hand knowledge of the subject, then it places you at an advantage and in some instances it shows in the confident voice of the author that oozes authenticity.

One such author that is a great example of this is British author/ Crime writer, Debbie Bennett, who features on our Book Buzz page and expands on the subject of research in her article. Her latest release is due out soon. Debbie is the author of a number of books, one of which is Hamelin’s Child. Her background in Law enforcement and procedures in the UK, which extends over 25 years, together with knowledge of drugs suppliers/users and their habits, it shines through in one of the most gritty authentic reads I have had in a long time. No wonder it was on the list for consideration by the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Mine is not to reason why, but at the current sales promotion of 99c (Usual price $2.99) on Amazon kindle, it really is a steal.

Debbie is from England. I first met Debbie on the Harper Collins writers’ site, Authonomy. It was a few years ago when the site first opened and authors’ uploaded their work for critique. I’ll never forget sampling her work and thinking, wow, or the constructive advice she gave me when sampling mine. Her work was at the time streets ahead of the rest.

Here’s an idea of what she has gleaned from those 25 years to help with her work, which I am sure doesn’t even scratch the surface, but at the same time still uses research to keep her up to date.

“It was working with heroin importation that got me thinking about street drugs which led to Hamelin’s Child and the sequel Paying the Piper (which will be out in the next 2 months). I have (literal) hands-on experience with heroin, though I have to be careful how much I say! But I know what it tastes like and smells like, how it gets in the hair and into your clothes. I also have (or had) a working knowledge of police procedure and how custody works – although I’m a bit of out date on that score now, I do still work in police headquarters and have lot of useful contacts. I even asked one of my police mates (who is also a writer) to tell me how modern radio procedure would work and he helped me with a mock conversation that I have used in Paying the Piper.”

So there you are, even those with extensive knowledge of a subject still need to research to keep abreast of procedures. Good luck with your writing and with your research.


I can’t believe it has taken me until now to fathom out how to format the description on Create Space, or Kindle. The descriptions have to be one of the most important aspects of a readers decision for them to consider buying your book. I will keep the examples simple for those like me who are not computer literate.

Create space unfortunately offer no assistance with HTML. I have always uploaded as a direct copy and paste from word, but in 4 books I have just uploaded to Create Space, their software ignored all my paragraphs.

Type out your description in Word, or notepad. Format your paragraphs single spaced. I have not set a paragraph indent  and no paragraph spacing. Now you can add the HTML code as below.

<p> creates a paragraph. <p/> closes the paragraph and automatically creates a paragraph space.

<b> Creates bold text. <b/> Closes the bold text.

Note: Let the HTML code create the paragraph space.

<p><b> Missing: The Body of Evidence, is a gripping crime thriller. A story of secrets and deceptions, and one woman’s determination to discover the truth. </b></p>

<p>When rookie LAPD detective Nancy Roberts is called to the scene of a fire  and the remnants of a body are discovered, CSI can’t be sure if it is the result of a suicide, accident, murder, or….  Well… kind of something else. </p>

<p>The CIA declare an interest and point everyone on the investigation in the direction of a freak accident. Nancy doesn’t buy the theory of spontaneous combustion put forward. Her own unconventional investigations point her in a different direction, but they are curtailed when she is framed for being on the take. This brings her into conflict with her fellow detective and boyfriend, Kyle. </p>

<p>Suspended and under orders not to continue with the search for answers, threats to her life and those she holds dear force her in a race against time to clear her name. But will she avoid death long enough to prove her innocence and to uncover the truth behind the strange events? </p>

<p><b> Emotionally charged and gripping from the very beginning to an extraordinary and unforeseen, though satisfying twist at the end. It doesn’t get much better than this. An uncompromising and compulsive thriller from Declan Conner. </b></p>

Once uploaded it will look like this on Create Space, but for some reason the bold does not show on the kindle description.

Note. I am just in the process of changing all my description, so the formatting may not show yet on my actual books.

Missing: The Body of Evidence, is a gripping crime thriller. A story of secrets and deceptions, and one woman’s determination to discover the truth.

When rookie LAPD detective Nancy Roberts is called to the scene of a fire and the remnants of a body are discovered, CSI can’t be sure if it is the result of a suicide, accident, murder, or…. Well… kind of something else.

The CIA declare an interest and point everyone on the investigation in the direction of a freak accident. Nancy doesn’t buy the theory of spontaneous combustion put forward. Her own unconventional investigations point her in a different direction, but they are curtailed when she is framed for being on the take. This brings her into conflict with her fellow detective and boyfriend, Kyle.

Suspended and under orders not to continue with the search for answers, threats to her life and those she holds dear force her in a race against time to clear her name. But will she avoid death long enough to prove her innocence and to uncover the truth behind the strange events?

Emotionally charged and gripping from the very beginning to an extraordinary and unforeseen, though satisfying twist at the end. It doesn’t get much better than this. An uncompromising and compulsive thriller from Declan Conner.

An example of how I formatted my short story collection.

<p><b> Lunch Break Thrillers – Short Stories.  Twelve not so short stories. Also available as single short stories. </b></p>

<p> In this busy world where time is precious, no matter if you are taking a short journey or a lunch break and need to sit back and relax, what better than to read a short story to its conclusion, rather than to put a book aside and forget it. </p>

<p> Lunch Break Thrillers is a gripping mix of suspense, mystery, disaster and murder, all interlaced with memorable characters. </p>

<p> Designed to intrigue and satisfy, these tales will leave you with something to ponder, long after they fade into the dark corners of your mind. </p>

<p><b> The Mystery of the Crimson Robe.</b>

Rookie LAPD Homicide Detective, Nancy Roberts, has a strange encounter with a figure in a crimson robe. Ridiculed by her colleagues, she has more to contend with than a fancy colored garment. A story of overcoming self-doubt. </p>

<p><b> Hide and Seek.</b>

Carl didn’t believe in ghosts. Unless you want to count the Holy one? All that is about to change. </p>

<p><b> The End, or a New Dawn.</b>

For those worried about climate change. Maybe it’s all part of a grand design for a new start of biblical proportion. </p>

<p><b> Where There’s a Will, There’s a War.</b>

A tale of political intrigue and deception. This one is for conspiracy theorists. An interactive story that will have you opening your browser to search the net for answers. </p>

<p><b> Careful What You Wish.</b>

Ross Kellerman does not seem to have any luck at dating. Trapped 24/7 behind his bar, he turns to Internet dating. Big mistake. Luckily, his so called friends are at hand to help out.

<p><b> Downward Spiral. </b>

A cautionary tale and a Helter-Skelter ride for Annie in her fall from grace during rough times. </p>

<p><b> The Black Widow.</b>

When death comes a calling, it can take all shapes and sizes, especially where revenge is the motive. A noir Mafia tale. </p>

<p><b> Phoenix Rising</b>

Set in the backdrop of a bankrupt UK, a corrupt Federal European Union has taken control of the country. Can a failed British secret service agent unravel the mystery surrounding the death of a leading British industrialist?

<p><b> The Enemy Within.</b>

There is a war taking place, but where? It could be nearer than you think. They say to keep your friends close and your enemy even closer. But what happens in a society where you can’t tell one from the other? Would this cause you to become your own worst enemy? </p>

<p><b> The Silver Locket.</b>

A hypnotic tale of hope, from the depths of adversity. </p>

<p><b> Lost Baggage.</b>

How precious are your possessions? Worth risking your life for? Texas born, Rob Carter has the answer. </p>

<p><b> Who Am I? </b>

Worried about identity theft? If not, you should be. It could cost you your life. </p>

Once uploaded it will look like this on the Create Space description, but the Kindle description does not show the bold. If I wanted the text after the title to have started as a new paragraph, then I would sinmply have placed </p> after the title and the bold</b> . I would then start the text with <p>

Lunch Break Thrillers – Short Stories. Twelve not so short stories. Also available as single short stories.

In this busy world where time is precious, no matter if you are taking a short journey or a lunch break and need to sit back and relax, what better than to read a short story to its conclusion, rather than to put a book aside and forget it.

Lunch Break Thrillers is a gripping mix of suspense, mystery, disaster and murder, all interlaced with memorable characters.

Designed to intrigue and satisfy, these tales will leave you with something to ponder, long after they fade into the dark corners of your mind.

The Mystery of the Crimson Robe. Rookie LAPD Homicide Detective, Nancy Roberts, has a strange encounter with a figure in a crimson robe. Ridiculed by her colleagues, she has more to contend with than a fancy colored garment. A story of overcoming self-doubt.

Hide and Seek. Carl didn’t believe in ghosts. Unless you want to count the Holy one? All that is about to change.

The End. or a New Dawn. For those worried about climate change. Maybe it’s all part of a grand design for a new start of biblical proportion.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a War. A tale of political intrigue and deception. This one is for conspiracy theorists. An interactive story that will have you opening your browser to search the net for answers.

Careful What You Wish. Ross Kellerman does not seem to have any luck at dating. Trapped 24/7 behind his bar, he turns to Internet dating. Big mistake. Luckily, his so called friends are at hand to help out.

Downward Spiral. A cautionary tale and a Helter-Skelter ride for Annie in her fall from grace during rough times.

The Black Widow. When death comes a calling, it can take all shapes and sizes, especially where revenge is the motive. A noir Mafia tale.

Phoenix Rising Set in the backdrop of a bankrupt UK, a corrupt Federal European Union has taken control of the country. Can a failed British secret service agent unravel the mystery surrounding the death of a leading British industrialist?

The Enemy Within. There is a war taking place, but where? It could be nearer than you think. They say to keep your friends close and your enemy even closer. But what happens in a society where you can’t tell one from the other? Would this cause you to become your own worst enemy?

The Silver Locket. A hypnotic tale of hope, from the depths of adversity.

Lost Baggage. How precious are your possessions? Worth risking your life for? Texas born, Rob Carter has the answer.

Who Am I? Worried about identity theft? If not, you should be. It could cost you your life.

Good luck with your publishing.

Declan

For those who really don’t want to, or find the task too daunting, I am now offering a formatting service for Kindle eBooks and POD print books, using Word to a publishing standard. For a quote, email me at declanconner@hotmail.com


Basic tips on writing and self-publishing a thriller book..