Bundle story: “Bad House Spirit” by DeAnna Knippling

Carrie used to clean houses for a living. Mostly it was hard work but it was all right. But there was one house that was bad. Not the cleaning, although it was. But the house itself, from the creepy pictures to the barred and tinfoil-covered windows to the KEEP OUT signs all over the doors to the thing breathing down the back of Carrie’s neck…
“Bad House Spirit” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She started out as a farm girl in the middle of South Dakota, went to school in Vermillion, SD, then gravitated through Iowa to Colorado, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of putting together haunted houses in the basement of her grandparents’ house with her cousins, and taking flying leaps off haystacks and silage piles in the middle of winter with her brother. She was in charge of coming up with the “let’s pretend” ideas when they were kids, at least in theory. But then no plan survives contact with the enemy. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and mystery for adults under her own name; adventurous and weird fiction for middle-grade (8-12 year old) kids under the pseudonym De Kenyon; and various thriller and suspense fiction for her ghostwriting clients under various and non-disclosable names. Her latest book, Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, combines two of her favorite topics–zombies and Lewis Carroll. It’s the story of a tame zombie who told a little girl named Alice a story that got them both in more trouble than they could handle. Her short fiction has appeared in Black Static, Penumbra, Crossed Genres, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and more.

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Create a Vellum template for Word

Vellum is a tool that creates both ebooks and print books from a Microsoft Word .docx file. You can export to this format from Scrivener and other tools. If you work directly in Word, you can create a Vellum template using Vellum’s custom styles. This will reduce the amount of work you need to do once your manuscript has been imported into Vellum.


You have both Word and Vellum installed.

Create a Vellum template in Word

  • Download Vellum’s sample documents from this link. (This is an official Vellum link, and is referenced in their tutorial.)
  • Open the file ‘Vellum Book Style.dotx’. Note the .dotx extension, which means this is a Word template tile. The file will open in Word.
  • Click on the File menu, then Save As. In the ‘Format’ dropdown, select ‘Word Template (.dotx)’. Navigate to wherever you want the template to live, then click ‘Save’.

Note: In theory, you can put your template anywhere. I found that unless I saved mine to the default location (/Users/ username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates) it wouldn’t show up in ‘My Templates’ when I created a new document.

Using your Vellum template in Word

  • To create a new file using this template, select ‘File’ and then ‘New from Template.’ Your template will be listed in ‘My Templates’ in the Word Document Gallery.
  • You can now either write your manuscript in the new document, or copy/paste from another document into the new one. If you do the latter, make sure to apply the Vellum custom styles to your text.

The sample material Vellum provides gives clear and detailed examples of the different styles and when to use them.



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Bundle story: “Waltzing on a Dancer’s Grave” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

When Greta arrives at Grayson Place with her ballet company, her memories haunt her. Karl Grayson died there twenty years earlier, but she returns to the mansion for the company’s fiftieth-anniversary gala anyway, just as he wished.

Karl’s death freed her once. Or did it?
“Waltzing on a Dancer’s Grave” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award.

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Bundle story: “Silver Dust” by Leslie Claire Walker

Memory. Curses. Shadows.

Silver had it all—eternal life, long-term memory, and a real sweet princess gig as the heir to the Faery King’s throne. But then the Faery realm caught a terrible disease, and she tried to save her people by taking the sickness into herself. She ended up banished with a price on her head and only days to live. The cure cost her memory and left her in hiding, a stranger to herself.

When her one friend in all the worlds disappears while trying to help her find a way home, Silver must come out of the shadows to save him. She must face the danger and the unknown lurking in the Human and Faery realms—and in her own strange heart and soul.

A deadly curse and its terrible cure. A faery princess with a price on her head. A chance to save her world. Silver Dust is a standalone story in The Faery Chronicles series and a companion to its prequel, Phoenix.

Enter the treacherous world of Silver Dust, and the magic of The Faery Chronicles.
“Silver Dust” is in The Faerie Summer bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

Leslie Claire Walker grew up among the lush bayous of southeast Texas. She lives in the spectacularly green Pacific Northwest with cats, harps, and too many fantasy novels to count. She takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, and music ranging from Celtic harp to heavy metal. Her short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies.

Leslie is the author of The Faery Chronicles series, including the young adult urban fantasy novels Hunt, Demon, and Faery. The first book in her Soul Forge urban fantasy series, Night Awakens, debuted in 2016.

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Interview: Marcelle Dubé, on “Backli’s Ford”

Meet Marcelle!

Marcelle Dubé loves speculative fiction and mysteries. In Backli’s Ford, she has created a fascinating alternate history with strong characters, an unusual situation and an alien species stranded on Earth.

Backli’s Ford

In the early 1700s, an A’lle generation ship crashed in the woods of Lower Canada. Survivors stumbled out of the wreckage to find French settlers working the land. While many of the colonists sheltered the injured A’lle, some reacted with fear and loathing. Two centuries later, nothing much has changed.

This is the world Constance A’lle, first A’lle investigator for Lower Canada, must deal with when she investigates the beating death of an A’lle boy in the small village of Backli’s Ford.

Set in 1911, Backli’s Ford follows Constance as she survives an ambush that would have killed a human, fights prejudice in the constabulary, and discovers a terrible secret that risks destroying the delicate balance that has endured for two centuries between A’lle and humans.

Backli’s Ford is the first book in Marcelle’s A’lle Chronicles Mysteries.

The Interview

The fear and discrimination the A’lle face from the humans in Backli’s Ford has parallels to many situations throughout human history where people are faced with someone or something that is ‘different.’ What inspired you to create a world in which an alien race is forced to live among humans, many of whom are not at all welcoming?

It wasn’t intentional. I’m a premise writer – what would happen if…? That’s what happened here. I found myself wondering what would have happened if aliens had crash-landed in Canada when the settlers were setting up a colony? The rest – the prejudice, fear and hatred… and the understanding, compassion and acceptance – well, they came from knowing human nature.

The A’lle Chronicles begin in the early 1700s in Lower Canada. Why did you choose to set the story in this time and place?

I’ve always been fascinated by the early days of Canada. My own ancestors came to Canada from France in the mid-1660s and had to build a life for themselves from practically nothing. It was brutally hard work and the colonists had to help each other if they were to survive. Additionally, the Catholic Church had an overbearing presence in the colony, a presence that ruled the colonists with an iron fist. So, I found myself wondering what would have happened to the colonists–and the Church – if aliens had suddenly appeared? How would people have reacted? And then I wondered what ongoing effect these aliens would have in a society that had to deal with their arrival – assuming the colonists didn’t kill them on sight… Backli’s Ford is actually set in 1911, two hundred years after the A’lle crash landed – plenty of time for adaptation to occur, and biases to develop.

You’ve written many wonderful mysteries, including the Mendenhall Mystery series. What do you enjoy most about writing mysteries?

Figuring out whodunit and why. I never know the answers when I’m starting out. I write to find out. There’s something satisfying about starting from a point of chaos – the murder or crime – and ending with chaos set right. Or right-er.

When does the next book in the A’lle Chronicles come out, and can you give us a sneak peek as to what it’s about?

Plague Year, Book 2 of the A’lle Chronicles, is due out in spring 2018. In this one, Constance A’lle’s sister Gemma comes to Montreal to study nursing, much to Constance’s dismay. This is a dangerous time for the A’lle, especially in Montreal where A’lle have been disappearing, only to be found later, dead. The conspiracy Constance and Chief Investigator Desautel discovered in Backli’s Ford now takes an even more sinister turn, a situation worsened by the emergence of plague in the city.

“The Man in the Mask” is an A’lle Chronicles short story set in the Klondike area of Yukon territory. How does this story tie in with Backli’s Ford, and what made you decide to set it in the Yukon?

I loved the idea that someone would have come searching for the lost A’lle, only to end up as a refugee, too, but at the other end of the country. I live in the Yukon, so it was natural to choose the territory for a dramatic setting. To my surprise, the story ended up with a steampunk flavor (It has airships! In the Yukon!) and a “pulp” feel.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about writing it/them?

I’ve just finished the fifth in my Mendenhall Mystery series, featuring Mendenhall Chief of Police Kate Williams. I love Kate and her intrepid constables. Kate is smart and capable, and she has a good sense of humor, which helps with some of the situations in which she finds herself. Every novel has a different adventure, of course, but in this one Kate has to deal with the theft of bull semen and vandalism at a construction site. No title yet–I’m hoping inspiration will strike!

I’m also working on Plague Year, which is well underway, and have plans for at least three more in this series, plus at least one more set in the early years, when the A’lle first arrived. I love this whole juxtaposition of the Quebec I know with the Lower Canada of the stories, altered because of the presence of the A’lle.

And then, there are the short stories. I always seem to be working on one…

Marcelle Dubé writes speculative fiction and mysteries. Her novels include the Mendenhall Mystery series as well as fantasy, science fiction and suspense novels. She lives in the Yukon, where people still outnumber the carnivores, but not by much.

Find Marcelle at:

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Bundle story: “The Bifurcated Man” by Louisa Swann

Celia Briggs. Daughter, assistant,and apprentice to San Francisco’s most successful personage, the venerable Dr. Joseph Briggs, physician and warlock extraordinaire.

Celia detests the new constable in town, but when an unusual corpse shows up on the autopsy table, she tries to set aside her dislike and help track down the killer, a task that would be much easier if she could actually work a little magic.

“The Bifurcated Man” is in the Witches’ Brew bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

While “discovering” herself as a writer, Louisa experimented with a variety of day jobs, including slush reader, editor, and managing editor, gaining insider information on the world of writing and publishing. At the same time, she built her writing skills by not only writing, but taking classes, attending conferences, chatting with other writers, and … writing some more.

Louisa is the chaotic imagination behind a wide variety of writings, from Star Trek short stories to quirky fantasy, from humor-laden tales to dark, shadowy noir, the kind of imagination that resulted in nightmares when she was small, “stage plays” when she was a teeny bopper (do they even use that term anymore?), angst-filled poetry in her teens, and short stories and novels when she finally realized that same imagination could actually prove useful. Modern “country/western” comes to life under the pen name Jonesey Carlson and dark fantasy/noir under the pen name Lisa Gaines — everything else is Louisa’s “game.”

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Bundle story: “Paper Trick” by Brigid Collins

Everyone recognizes Claire Krane’s artistic gift when she’s working with paper. Everyone except her parents, that is, who are too busy with work to have time for her. Her nanny is the only one who knows the true extent of Claire’s ability to bring her paper creations to life, and she’s stressed the importance of keeping the magic a secret.

But with the school play coming up, and her parents hinting they might actually have time to come see it, Claire is willing to pull out all the stops to impress them. The only problem is how little control she has over her mischievous paper tricks, and when they go rogue on her, they might ruin more than just the climax of the school play.
“Paper Trick” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

Brigid Collins is a fantasy and science fiction writer living in Michigan. Her short stories have appeared in Fiction River, The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, and The MCB Quarterly. Her fantasy series, Songbird River Chronicles, are available in print and electronic versions on Amazon and Kobo.

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Bevel and Emboss basics with Photoshop

Beveling and embossing is a way to create shading and simulate shadows that make your text look three-dimensional.

Here’s the same text without and with beveling/embossing.

And here’s a close-up so you can see how different the same text can look.


  • You have Photoshop
  • You have an existing text layer in a .psd file.

How to bevel and emboss text

  • Right-click on the text layer you want to edit, select Blending Options, and then select Bevel & Emboss.

  • Adjust the settings as desired, then click OK.
    Here are the settings used in the examples above.

  • In the layer view, right-click in the Effects section under the layer name, and then select ‘Bevel & Emboss’.


What do all those options mean?

The best way to find out is to try them out. You can see the text effects in your document if you check the Preview box.

The advantage of this approach is that by experimenting you’ll see firsthand how everything works, and you might come up with a combination of settings that you wouldn’t have found otherwise; the disadvantage is that experimenting takes time.

But never fear – here’s a cheat sheet! 🙂

There are three groupings of settings:

  1. Bevel & Emboss
  2. Contour
  3. Texture

Bevel & Emboss

Bevel & Emboss options are broken up into the categories Structure and Shading.

  • Structure
    • Style
      • Inner/Outer Bevel – applies the bevel to the inside or outside of the text.
      • Emboss – applies the bevel to both the inside and the outside of the text.
      • Pillow Emboss – applies the bevel to both the inside and the outside of the text, but in opposite directions from the regular ‘Emboss’ setting.
      • Stroke Emboss – applies the bevel only to the stroke (this only works if you have a stroke effect applied to the text).
    • Technique
      • Smooth – creates a smooth, rounded edge.
      • Chisel Hard – creates a hard, chiseled edge.
      • Chisel Soft – creates a rough, chiseled edge.
    • Depth
      Increases the three-dimensional depth. A higher value creates a larger amount of depth.
    • Direction
      Specifies whether the bevel & emboss should be extruded toward or away from you.
    • Size
      Specifies the overall size of the bevel & emboss on your text. A smaller number will limit the bevel/emboss to slower to the edges of the text, whereas a larger number covers more of the text.
    • Soften
      Specifies how soft the edges should be.
  • Shading
    • Angle
      Specifies the horizontal position of the artificial light source.
    • Altitude
      Specifies the vertical position of the artificial light source.
    • Gloss Contour
      Allows you to create glass and metallic effects.
    • Highlight Mode
      Specifies the blend mode for your highlights, as well as the highlight color and opacity.
    • Shadow Mode
      Specifies the blend mode for the shadows, as well as the shadow color and opacity.


Contour allows you to specify the shape of your bevel.

  • Contour
    Specifies the shape of the bevel.
  • Anti-aliasing
    Smooths the contour.
  • Range
    The range percentage modifies how much of the bevel the contour should apply to.

In this example, every setting is the same except for the contour shape.


Texture allows you to add a texture to your text.

  • Pattern
    Select a texture pattern to apply to the text.
  • Scale
    Increase or decrease the size of the pattern.
  • Depth
    Adjust the three-dimensional depth.
  • Invert
    Check this box to invert the pattern.
  • Link with Layer
    Lock the pattern to your text layer so if you later move your layer, the pattern will move with it.

In this example, every setting is the same except for the texture.


Photoshop version

The version of Photoshop used for this post was the 2017.1.1 Release of Adobe Photoshop CC, 20170425.r.252 x64, on OS X 10.10.5.


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Bundle story: “Old Spice Love Knot” by Steve Vernon

“She formed from the shadows, like a whisper of smoke braiding together into a physical form. She was standing there in front of me, a drab and lonely looking girl with long straight black hair that was gently smoked with a hide-and-go-seek of gray.
Shaking her head as if to tell me that this was not the thing to do.”

A short and eerie ghost story of the love that a maritime father had for his only daughter.
“Old Spice Love Knot” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

Steve is a writer and an oral tradition storyteller; he learned the storytelling tradition from his grandfather, and regularly tells stories to in-person audiences ranging from 5 to 5,000 spectators. He writes horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, and ghost stories, and specializes in the fine old art of booga-booga.

Think of Steve as that old dude at the campfire spinning out ghost stories and weird adventures and the grand epic saga of how Thud the Second stepped out of his cave with nothing more than a rock in his fist and slew the saber-tooth tiger.

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Formatting KDP book descriptions using Ablurb

Ablurb is a simple tool that allows you to preview the formatted description (blurb) for your book before making it live on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

If you’re comfortable with HTML, you might not need to see a preview. If you don’t regularly write HTML, or if you just want to verify that what you wrote works before making it live, Ablurb is a quick and easy way to preview what you’ve written.

Here’s what it looks like when you write a blurb in the KDP editor. You can use HTML tags, but can’t see what the final version looks like.

How to use Ablurb

Go to Ablurb, type your text in, and the formatted version will appear at the bottom of the page. The allowed HTML tags are listed underneath the text box.

Once you’re happy with it, copy and paste the text from the text box (i.e. with the HTML tags) in to the description field for your book in KDP.

There are lots of things you can do – use headers, italicize text, even change the font color. Just remember to not go too crazy. 🙂



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