5 Quick Tips for Indie Writers: Formatting


One complaint I’ve heard about Indie novels is lack of proper formatting. While this is usually one of the services provided by a publisher, when you’re an Indie you’re on your own unless you want to hire someone to do it for you.  Otherwise such oversights, ignorance or perhaps laziness contribute to a poor reputation which hurts everyone. Here are a few simple formatting tips which will help your work shine:

  1. The first paragraph of a new chapter typically begins with a letter that is larger than the others and called a “dropped cap.” This gives it a more professional appearance. This does not necessarily work for some formats, however, where this larger letter will increase the leading (e. spacing) between the lines. For print format, however, this is the convention.
  2. The first paragraph of a chapter is flush with the left margin; it is NOT indented. This is also true for each new section and provides a stronger visual clue than doubled spacing, which is sometimes inadvertently introduced into ebooks by a page break in the original file that doesn’t necessarily indicate a new scene or viewpoint has begun.
  3. Along these same lines, it’s easier on the reader if you demarcate the end of a section with some sort of indicator whether it’s a few asterisks or some other design.
  4. Speaking of section breaks, when you change viewpoint from one character to another or start a new scene you should start a new section unless the entire book is written in omniscient point of view that switches from one person to the next continually. Remember, however, that you don’t necessarily have to get into everyone’s head to know what they’re thinking. Describing a character’s expression or body language can convey what they’re thinking or feeling just like it does in real life. Clearly is you’re writing in first person you can’t read another person’s thoughts directly and would use visual clues.
  5. Book design refers to the fonts used for chapter headings and text, your paragraph indentation style, line spacing, page number and heading placement, and so forth. Paying attention to these details gives your book a more professional appearance. For ebooks these details don’t show up but if you’re publishing in a print copy they make a tremendous difference as far as presenting your work as that of a professional.

What’s Behind the Science in Science Fiction Part 5: The Matter – Consciousness Interface

Now we’re getting to the good stuff and I hope you can see why I gave you all that background information leading up to it. In order to fully appreciate something, whether it’s good music or literature, you need a foundation, no matter how rudimentary it may be. And believe me, it was, even though your eyes may have glazed over. My previous posts were a whirlwind tour of physics for dummies but you are now much better informed than most people out there, assuming you read it. Congratulate yourself! I will try to reward your efforts by building on that information so that anyone who skipped it will be entirely lost and need to go back and suffer through it like the rest of you.

Quantum theory was mind-blowing because it introduced the possibility that an observer could influence how light and even matter behaved. This, of course, was only proven on a very small scale, yet the influence was there. Suddenly the world of physics and metaphysics were starting to overlap.

150px-feynman3 150px-feynman-stamp     

One of my heroes in the physics world is Richard Feinman because he demonstrated an interest in so many things besides physics. I believe he was as brilliant as he was to the point of winning a Nobel Prize was because he was so open-minded and had the courage to see things differently. That is how breakthroughs come about.  I’ll be forever grateful to him for his “Lectures on Physics” which helped tremendously when the textbooks fell short.


Another great physicist who seemed to grok the concept that there was more to life than one’s own very specific discipline was Werner Heisenberg, also a Nobel Prize winning physicist with an actual phenomena named after him that relates to quantum theory, i.e. the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. He stated, “It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human cultures, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions: hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.”


Hello? Ya think that maybe quantum theory would be a good one for collaboration with other disciplines? Scientists need to talk to one another! Here we have physicists scratching their heads over whether consciousness and matter interact while we have psychologists such as Dean Radin researching psi phenomena which may well be the mechanism that causes that interaction between consciousness and matter. Rather than treating these researchers with about the same respect at Dr. Venkman (played by Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters, maybe they should get together over a pitcher of margaritas and see what they come up with.

Quantum entanglement is the term used to describe two particles which become tied up with each other enough, kind of like atomic soulmates, that even when they are separated by long distances, if something happens to change the state of one, the other reacts also. This happens instantaneously, i.e. the communication occurs faster than the speed of light, a barrier that was never supposed to be breached. Psi is also instantaneous. Does this imply that we become entangled with others at the quantum level? This is especially enticing when you think of the stories of identical twins who originated with the same genetic material and are also connected at the psychic level.

Along similar lines is the concept known as NLP or neuro-linguistic programming. It has also been called “the power of positive thinking,” and described in a movie called “The Secret” and promoted by a plethora of motivational speakers who declare that you can create your future by visualizing what you want on an consistent basis such that you will eventually draw that situation to you from the Universe at large. If psi has the power to manipulate matter and create not only matter but circumstances, doesn’t that sound as if it has something to do with quantum theory?

Weird, you bet. But it works. We can, indeed, draw circumstances to us in this manner. Which bring me to favorite quote of mine from science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke: “Technology sufficiently far advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” What would Isaac Newton think of your smartphone?

However, there was one rather large problem that comes down to one, little three-letter word: EGO.

Scientists tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to their own field of study. I remember hearing once that as a person comes closer to a PhD that their IQ actually goes down. This does not mean that they are losing brain cells from overwork and losing intelligence. The typical IQ test assesses how much a person knows about a broad spectrum of knowledge and as a person narrows their interests down to the level required to pursue a PhD they get in the realm where they know a lot about a little which actually jeopardizes their IQ. This also means that they start blocking out anything that doesn’t relate to their chosen subject. They can become arrogant as they become experts and sabotage their colleagues who are seen as competitors for needed research funding. There is also the status issue. If you’re proven wrong you are probably through. After all that work getting to that pinnacle, the last thing you want is some upstart to push you off.


Breaching this obstacle is likely to require what has been described as “progress by funerals.” In other words, as the old farts die off and those new upstarts take over, things will move along much faster.

At least until the upstarts scale that pinnacle and replicate the cycle.

(c) Copyright 2014 by Marcha Fox All Rights Reserved

Review of Susanne Leist’s “The Dead Game”


By the time you finish this suspenseful tale you feel as if you know the streets of the resort town called Oasis as well as all the people who live there. The one thing you don’t know, however, is who is what they claim to be and who’s not, whether they are good or bad, and what will happen next. There is an excellent mix of reality and paranormal which lends more credibility to the story. It gives you a lot to think about, particularly if you live by an old, seemingly abandoned house with a spooky reputation. If you enjoy moderately scary stories populated with a variety of characters you will enjoy this book. I particularly liked Mike’s sarcastic remarks which had me laughing out loud more than once.

Final cover


Interview with Author T.L. Chester

T.L. Chester is a highly creative individual with an exceptionally original and captivating style in both her literary and photographic endeavors. I found To Penetrate one of the most intriguing and suspenseful books I’ve ever read. Her first published work, a book of poetry, entitled “Strap In, Hang On,” is an apropos description of what it was like to read her novel, a warning of sorts which certainly reflects upon an amazing and interesting author who bears watching.

MF: Your first published work of poetry, “Strap In, Hang On,” obtained some excellent critical reviews and then spawned a rather lengthy and lively discussion amongst the reviewers, many comments of which were deleted by Amazon. What was your take on all the fuss?

TC: This was my first publication, and the expression itself was more for the love of it, and I can only hope readers sincerely enjoyed it. Grady Harp is notorious for Amazon reviews and has been slated to determine the fate of future authors. In my case, the review was very critical, such that his fans didn’t appreciate it, and I greatly appreciated their support, it became a controversial matter on Harp’s turf.

MF: It appears that your poetry was an outlet for painful experiences and events in your life, much of which was quite personal. What motivated you to share that with the world?

TC: We all have these things we must overcome over long term, and event inspired. It was an accumulation of all those events that the only justified thing to do was a creative outlet. We are all going through something; we are all experiencing this rollercoaster. It was therapeutic in nature, and turned into sharing. Sharing these thoughts in community speaking events, online through blogs and various outlets created a demand and that’s how the first book was born.

MF: Your novel, “To Penetrate,” is described as “a deeply chilling tale of psychosomatic secrecy and unveiling, “and a psychological thriller suitable for the “instinctual reader who appreciates nonlinear stories.” I found it yanked me in and didn’t let me go until the last, incredible page. How did you come up with the idea for this story?

TC: My thought process is certainly fragmented, but I thoroughly enjoy organizing processes. Though I had done various works with short stories for publications, I had never created a book like this. My thoughts for this book came through various concepts, a song might have inspired a chapter, a symbol had relevancy to the characters, so I kept notes, what inspired this and what I planned to do with it. The story was just somehow always there. After noting all these concepts over time, the book wrote itself, it was the transitional pieces that took time; this very much explains why there are so many eggs.

MF: What is your favorite part about the creative process?

TC: Purging is my favorite part of the creative process. I’d be lying if I said there was no part of me in what I write. It’s a creative expression of what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes, feeling life in a manner that I may not understand, or see things from a perspective I don’t currently know. Getting a peep of the world in a way that I may not yet comprehend gives me a truly deep appreciation for what I have been through in life, and some faith that we are all connected. Capturing that, making note of it and putting it back out in various works is the only thing that gives this meaning for me.

MF: What are you working on currently and when do you plan to have it released?

TC: I am working on a precursor for To Penetrate. This book is not as subtle in story, I am aware that To Penetrate in comparison is methodical and sometimes gory, but slight in giving clues for those who love to pick up the pieces. Other works currently include a complete biography that I am currently ruminating on, and a philosophy book.

MF: Can you tell us a little bit about it so we know what to look forward to? Will it be similar to “To Penetrate” or entirely different?

TC: The next book is a precursor to a series of events in To Penetrate & can be a lot to take in; it’s probably comparative to the movie Se7en in terms of being in your face and has explicit adult content. The biography is another work that is personally significant. My philosophy book is to shed light and criticism on current affairs and hopefully will create conversation around dogma.

MF: You also have two photography books out, “Miscellany,” and ”Idiosynkrasia,” which provide another dimension of your talents. Was there anything in particular that inspired them?

TC: I had begun writing as a result of my involvement in various events that created a demand, after publishing and my works started to receive reviews, I would then get requests to be the critic, or participate in entertainment pieces, political satire, and the like. I have always had a natural interest in photography, and it’s just too easy if you are as inclined with technology as it stands. Needless to say as I had participated in entertainment journalism I would naturally take pictures, sparing my stint in photojournalism that turned into more publications over time.

MF: Can we expect any more photography books in the future?

TC: I may be inspired as I developed more as a photographer and would like to do so; currently I am producing material for brochures, calendars, contributing pieces for entertainment publications and so forth.

MF: How would you describe the synergy between your writing and photography?

TC: These are such incredible questions. My photography, at its best captures a feeling that can’t be described, but we all can feel just in observing, “that moment”. I hope my writing, captures what we can’t see and need the picture painted.

MF: What else do you enjoy doing besides photography and writing, as if that isn’t enough! Any other creative endeavors or outlets?

TC: I promise I am not an adrenaline junkie, I am not. I do find that I need inspiration. I have always enjoyed exploring. Currently I enjoy flying lessons; I also have begun diving, as well as a variety of dancing sessions. I am a foodie, and like to try new restaurants. I am fortunate in that people in the community know me, and I am called upon to participate in writing or photography of events and that gives me a lot of exposure, maybe more than I care for at times. I very much enjoy the heavens, astronomy, astrology, and the like. If you ever have to wonder about my writing, and are in the know, my Pluto is in the 5th house, & Mars Conjunct Jupiter are an aspect in my chart, and if you’re not, there’s always Google.

To Penetrate
To Penetrate: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-penetrate-tl-chester/1111341865?ean=9781105692048
Strap In, Hang On
Strap In, Hang on: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strap-in-hang-on-t-l-chester/1015235916?ean=9781435700871
Miscellany: http://www.amazon.com/Miscellany-Tl-Chester/dp/0557058090
Idiosynkrasia: http://www.amazon.com/Idiosynkrasia-TL-Chester/dp/0557038715

Website: http://tracylchester.wix.com/tlchester#!__bio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TLChester/294383153916470
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/4289805.T_L_Chester
Blog: http://journalistauthortlchester.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/sensual-jams/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tracy_chester

Strap In, Hang On: http://www.prleap.com/pr/98273/
To Penetrate: http://www.prleap.com/pr/186187/

Review of “To Penetrate” by T.L. Chester

To PenetrateTo Penetrate by Tl Chester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This dark, gripping and occasionally gruesome tale was impossible to put down. It grabs you from the first page, taking you on a wild ride through the miasma of emotions roiling within a woman known as Sam who has killed her lover–exactly as he requested. Obediently following his last directive, she embarks on a mysterious quest in the form of a haunting roadtrip during which she discovers more about his sordid past with each mysterious stop. While trying to deny and suppress her guilt and inner turmoil she gradually confronts her demons and the various insecurities behind them.

This novella-length story is intense, believable and presented in a highly original style which takes you inside Sam’s psyche as if reading her diary as she pursues this dark journey of self-discovery. While the premise is tragic, it is nonetheless softened by an ample dose of humor throughout, even as it shields the protagonist from the maelstrom she’s experiencing inside.

I’m usually picky about such things as grammar and spelling but in this case any “mistakes” were effective as a deliberate ploy to capture the essence of this antiheroine as she spills forth her story in an utterly believable first person narrative. While it’s unusual to start a story with a murder where you know who the perpetrator was, the suspense throughout is nearly tangible, right up to the last heart-stopping page. This story’s depth is not to be trifled with, its impact troubling as you realize how, when all is said and done, that Sam could be the true victim of this clever albeit unsettling tale were it not for her transformation along the way.

View all my reviews

What’s Behind the Science in Science Fiction – Part 4: Light Behaving Badly

Last time covered how sometimes light behaves like a particle and others like a wave along with how the double-slit experiment was used to demonstrate these properties. For example, if a steady light comprised of numerous individual photons hit a plate with one tiny slit to allow them through, rather than getting a line that matched the slit on the opposing wall it would be spread out in a pattern that was concentrated toward the center and fuzzy around the edges. (See picture below.)


When they used a plate that had two slits a single photon would leave a dot, as expected, but by continuing to release them one at a time they would eventually form an interference pattern, the same as what resulted from a steady light source. It was as if each photon had a mind of its own yet collectively they would arrange themselves in a certain pattern. While exactly where each photon would arrive couldn’t be predicted, the pattern itself could be, based on the wavelength of the light. Thus there was a certain probability that a photon would arrive in a certain place, some more than others, but which exact one would go where was unknown.

It was apparent they couldn’t predict exactly where a single photon would land but if it was a discrete particle of light then it followed that it would go through one slit or the other. (Remember that the interference pattern resulted because there were two slits so the waves could overlap.) Thus, scientists, the first of whom was Thomas Young (1773-1829), decided to find out which slit of the two choices each photon went through. To do so they polarized the light going through each slit in a different way with the detector on the other side capable of telling the difference. The photon could still theoretically “choose” which slit (or both) it would go through, but they would be able to tell which one by its polarization when it arrived on the detector.

Sneaky. But outsmarting Mother Nature is not an easy task.

Much to their surprise, when they sent one photon at a time toward the slits where it was polarized the interference pattern did not emerge!


Instead, they got random spots of light which indicated individual particles. Polarizing the light did not destroy its ability to build interference patterns so this didn’t make sense. The results implied that when they set things up so that they’d know whether the photon went through one slit or the other that the individual photons lost their right to choose and behaved like a particle. In other words, the probability wave function had collapsed when the final result would be determined.

In other words, the photon can change from a wave to a particle when someone is trying to figure out exactly what it’s going to do. When someone is watching, it behaves like a particle that not only goes through one opening or the other but loses its wave properties as well.

Say what?

Back then the expression WTF? didn’t exist yet, but something along those lines was definitely what was going through numerous scientific minds. By all appearances, if someone was watching, i.e. measuring the outcome, then the probability wave collapsed and the photons acted like particles.

Thinking perhaps this was because they were polarizing the photons before they went through one slit or the other, even though they knew that didn’t stop the light from forming an interference pattern, they rigged things up to determine which slit it had gone through afterwards. Much to their surprise they got the same result as before, a rain of itinerant particles, as if each photon had either known in advance or perhaps even went back in time, deciding how to behave.

This introduced the concept of an observer affecting the outcome. Suddenly consciousness was part of the mix, or at least seemed to be since there was no other explanation. Of course physicists who deal exclusively with the physical world were less than enchanted by all this woo-woo stuff. Thus began the philosophical notion of whether or not a tree that fell in the forest made a sound if no one was there to hear it. May I remind you that these are very intelligent people we’re dealing with here and while some of them may not be wrapped to tight as they walk the genius-insanity interface; nonetheless, they are a whole lot smarter than the rest of us.


Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance” and didn’t believe it, even though he was the one who theorized that energy and matter were essentially the same as expressed by his famous equation E=mc2. To this day people are still arguing about this aspect of quantum theory with different conclusions. Is it possible that an observer or some form of consciousness can influence physical matter? Do we, indeed, create our own reality?

What do you think?

(Diagrams courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

Return Match With Marcha Fox!

I totally agree with what John says here about history. Pardon the cliche which writers are supposed to avoid but “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I also appreciate the plug at the end. 🙂

Center Stage With John Reinhard Dizon

marcha Recently Marcha was kind enough to invite me to participate in a Blog Tour. I gladly obliged, which resulted in the opportunity to not only hawk my new project, Philistia, but allow my fab followers to learn more about one of indie lit’s best and brightest new sci-fi authors!

Here’s Marcha’s questions along with JRD’s answers:

1. What are you working on at the moment?

Philistia is a young adult speculative fiction Christian novel centering on a 21st century reappearance of Samson and Delilah. They find themselves in the desert outside of Bethlehem and get picked up by the police after terror attack warnings have been issued due to hostilities along the Gaza Strip. They escape and become ‘persons of interest’ to Shin Bet (the Israeli Bureau of Investigation) as well as Hamas, who know that Samson’s superhuman strength can be of use in their terror campaign. The couple…

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Interview with Elle Klass, Author of the “Baby Girl” Series


Elle Klass is the author of the popular “Baby Girl” series of short stories which chronicle the quest of Cleo, a girl abandoned at a young age, who’s in search of her true identity, literally and figuratively. Her adventures span the globe and take the reader along for a wild ride filled with increasing mystery and intrigue as the story progresses. Elle’s characters are believable and engaging with Cleo’s growing maturity and self-identity slowly emerging with each exciting episode. The third installment, “Baby Girl 3: City by the Bay” is being released for Kindle today, July 15, 2014, with its precursors also on sale so this is your chance to grab all three.

MF: Where did your idea for the Baby Girl series originate?

EK: I was on summer break from work and had an itch to write. The story formulated itself and the characters evolved as I wrote. I get all kinds of ideas in my head for absolutely no reason and write them down. I have tons of rough drafts awaiting revival so they can become full fledged novels.

MF: The Baby Girl series has grown in suspense and complexity with each episode and gathered considerable momentum through its many interesting twists and turns. Has the story evolved as you’ve written it or did you know from the beginning where it was going?

EK: When I first wrote it all I had was a very rough draft that I put on a shelf for several years. I dusted it off last fall and began reworking it. I decided to publish it in short stories form because it seemed more time efficient to break it down. Each segment has grown by 5,000 to 10,000 words from my original draft. Each short has taken on a life of its own as well as my characters. Reworking the draft I knew how the story ended. When I first began the story all I had mentally was a beginning and an end. It was how she got from point A to point B that surprised me.

MF: Besides Cleo/Justine/Shanna i.e., her various pseudonyms, who is your favorite character and why?

EK: Cleo, she is and always will be Cleo even though she hides out and disguises herself. I had the most fun with Cleo-Shanna. In book 3 she finally comes into her own on her own. She realizes she is an adult and her life is hers to direct. She does a lot of growing up and finally finds a place in her life that works for her. She wants the mystery of her birth resolved and plunges forward. In book 3 she also makes friends that she keeps. Until this book the only friend she ever kept was James. She has attachment issues but I guess most of us would if we had been abandoned at a young age and had someone stalking us .

MF: Will Baby Girl 3 complete the story with Cleo finally discovering who she really is or will it be an ongoing series?

EK: In Baby Girl 3 she doesn’t find all the answers. She does fit a lot of the pieces together. The rest of them come together in Baby Girl 4 when she discovers the secrets she’s been searching for. I don’t want to give away too much. The story is ongoing and this November I will be finishing Baby Girl 4 and the sequel to it. The sequel is about half done. What I can say is another mystery blasts her in the face and she has to rescue La Tige from a ghost of her past.

MF: As a teacher of junior high age youth and an author, what advice would you give parents who have a child with an interest or talent for writing?

EK: Let them write, read their work, encourage them. I have students who bring me their stories to read and ask about how to publish a book. I critique their work and have found some very talented youths that I hope pursue their creative writing talents. Junior high students aren’t as autonomous as they like to display. They seek encouragement and support from adults with their interests. I would also recommend checking out the public library. Sometimes they have workshops and writing groups that meet.

MF: What is your favorite part of the creative process?

EK: Free writing! That’s how all my stories start. I have a rough idea in my head that materializes. Once I start writing the words flow, creating more than I expect. Free writing allows the monsters, goblins and frightened little girls to rise to the surface. Equally as entertaining is taking the free write-rough draft and further developing the characters. I love each one even the lowdown- evil ones.


Amazon author page- http://www.amazon.com/Elle-Klass/e/B00F2Y48C0/
Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Blog- https://thetroubledoyster.blogspot.com
Website- https://elleklass.weebly.com
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/ElleKlass
Twitter handle- @elleklass
Tumblr- http://elleklass.tumblr.com


Baby Girl 1: In the Beginning

Baby Girl 2: Moonlighting in Paris

Baby Girl 3: City by the Bay

Pre-release Review of Elle Klass’ “Baby Girl 3: City by the Bay”

Tomorrow, July 15, is the big day for Elle Klass’ latest sequel in the “Baby Girl” series. Here’s my review:

“Baby Girl 3: City by the Bay” continues the saga of Cleo, a girl abandoned as a child and on a quest to discover her true identity. This latest installment of the popular series of novellas finds Cleo, now known as Shanna Nu, in San Francisco where she hopes to uncover more information pertaining to the disappearance of the woman she knew as her mother. Cleo is acutely aware of cryptic letters the woman left behind warning her that her life could be in danger as she nonetheless persists, more determined than ever, to discover who she is. She conveniently obtains a job with a seasoned ex-cop turned private investigator named La Tige where she acquires a variety of new skills as well as access to new information in police files. As she gradually unravels the past the more tangled it becomes as she continues to pick through the various threads and close in on the truth.

This episode is filled with additional mystery, intrigue and adventure as the story and plot deepen. Amid the challenges and sometimes shocking revelations, Cleo is gradually discovering who she is at the core even if her actual identity still eludes her. Readers following this series will enjoy the ride as new dimensions of the story are revealed as well as witnessing Cleo’s evolving maturity. She still may not know her legal identity but she is beginning nonetheless to know exactly who and what she is, a discovery that everyone must encounter sooner or later.

baby 3 cover 2a