Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Instafreebie

I’ve recently started putting stories on Instafreebie, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a site where, obviously enough, you can find free reads! It seems well organised and, from an author point of view, is another way of reaching new readers. Apart from the short stories I’ll continue to list as free on a permanent basis, I’m also putting books up for around a week at a time. If anyone knows anything I don’t know about Instafreebie I’d love to hear from you! At this stage I’m only using the free service; I know you can pay for different services.

These are my perma free stories at the moment and I intend to add another one very soon:

you never knew  You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

Brown Dog  Luke is flat broke and living in his car at the beach when an old mutt sidles up to him–the last thing he needs, or is it?

What Did You Say?  Not a short story but a small ebook to help with grammar and punctuation. Do you know the real purpose of the humble apostrophe?

I always tweet the temporary giveaways and you can find details on the right side of my blog posts or on twitter.

I’ve just been on my annual trek to my home town for my mother’s birthday. I do try to get there more often but never miss Mum’s birthday. She’s 97 now and still living at home (alone) and cooking her own meals. She does have some help with the housework as well as the garden but she still likes to potter around out there as well. There are lots of other family members who live much closer than I do, fortunately, including more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I can keep track of! It’s always nice to visit my old home town but it’s good to come back to the place that’s been my home for over 30 years.

Most of my books are available in print and ebook on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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More on Self-Editing: Text to Speech

I’ve just discovered a new tool for self-editing which you may already know about; I tend to not go looking for any secrets my computer may have unless it’s not doing what I want it to. I’d heard of software that could turn text to speech but had never looked into it and assumed it would be something I’d have to buy and install and all that stuff that I just don’t want to bother with. I often read some of my book aloud, particularly dialogue, and I have suggested to others it’s even better if you can persuade someone else to read it to you, or record it and play it back. Probably not practical for an entire novel though and my latest novel has grown to over 80,000 words, quite a bit longer than my previous ones.

Someone mentioned on facebook that there was a Word option for Text to Speech and I still assumed it was an extra that I’d have to buy, install, etc., but it’s not! It’s just there and is super easy to use. It’s probably best that I don’t try to tell you how to use it because explaining technology is not in my list of talents, but if you have Word just ask the help button and they’ll walk you through it. Take my word for it, if I can follow it, you can.

Tex (I decided to call him Tex, because, why not?) and I spent the weekend editing my book. He’s American, but not hard to understand, and has quite a pleasant voice for a computer, even if he does have trouble pronouncing the occasional word. He doesn’t understand Mmm, or Hmm, or Mr and doesn’t understand I want a pause when I use an ellipsis or a long dash, nor will he point out any errors to you. BUT he also won’t skip over the typos we all make, like you and your friends will (maybe even your editor). It’s just the way our brains work; when we see the word ‘out’, in a sentence where it should have been ‘our’, we just know it’s meant to be ‘our’ and may not even notice the mistake. Tex doesn’t notice it either but when he says it out loud, you will notice it.

Tex is certainly not the only self-editing tool you need–he won’t tell you if you’ve written the wrong version of too, or to, or the wrong version of your, or their, but just because reading aloud is so much slower than reading silently I did pick up several things myself that I decided needed improving and he’s my new best friend. I don’t usually have a problem with spelling or grammar but typos? Absolutely!

For some of the things Tex can’t help you with I have a free ebook, ‘What Did You Say?’ on Smashwords. It’s just a little one but there’s some things that will help if you’re unsure about punctuation or grammar. Especially the correct use of apostrophes–do you know what they’re actually for? A lot of people don’t! For all my other books please visit my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

 


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Self-Publishing: Designing your own covers

inheritance-cs3rdBack to the trials and tribulations of self-publishing! One of the best things about self-publishing print on demand or ebooks is that you can always make changes. A tweak here and there, or fixing typos you’ve missed when someone else points them out to you after your book’s published! One of the worst things about self-publishing PODs or ebooks is that you can always make changes, which means, of course, nothing is ever quite good enough.

I’ve always had an interest in visual art and spent several years studying before swapping over to writing. That doesn’t mean I was good at it, just that I do have enough knowledge to make me frustrated at my limitations! So tweaking book covers is my weakness. Or is it my strength? I’m not sure on that one! I’ve been able to either use my own images or find free ones online until last year, when I paid a designer on fiverr.com for a cover for ‘Inheritance.’

Next I paid for an image for the cover of ‘Red Wine and sanctuary_cover_for_kindleSummer Storms’, and did the text myself; it was around $14, but I forget where I bought that. There’s a lot of online images available but often you have to buy a bulk number, rather than just one at a time. I have discovered one site I’ve used now for two new covers for old books, ‘Sanctuary’ and the POD image for ‘Inheritance’. They’re called CanStock Photo and both images I used were $7 USD each.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen of course you have to go through the whole uploading process again, which, after three or four years I still find very frustrating, but it’s worth it, if only because it makes me feel better. Until I get another idea. I’ve also built another new cover for the thesis I wrote when I was at university, 2005. It’s called ‘Demented Mothers’ and it is a thesis, not a light read, but definitely interesting. This cover has one of the mothers, Camellia McCluskey, in a ghostly effect using Pixlr, a free kind of photo shop, which is a lot of fun to mess around with.

‘Sanctuary’ is free on Amazon and Amazon.UK, from December 1 (USA time) to December 5.


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Lost Words

Are we all becoming vanilla flavoured with our speech? I’m not talking about texting, using acronyms or shortening words to speed up the process of sending a text or an email. That’s a whole other subject and I’m not getting into that, other than to say sometimes it’s fine but if your phone has a reasonable predictive text it’s just as easy to use complete words. new the inheritance coverWhat I’m talking about here is language, the spoken word; how many words have we simply stopped using? I may live a sheltered life but as far as I can see, or rather hear, everything these days is either awesome or amazing. Nothing is ever marvellous or splendid or even terrific. Fantastic? Maybe, but what about delightful or even extraordinary?

As a writer I know I’m guilty of using mostly everyday language, because I want my books to be accessible and enjoyable to read, not a chore. Perhaps I can sneak in the odd ‘marvellous’ in the dialogue of someone in the 1860s? My current book is about the Bendigo goldfields around that era so, yes, I believe I will do that. At least one ‘marvellous’!

I am well aware language is constantly evolving but it does seem somewhat of a shame to lose words such as ‘delightful’ just to re-interpret words like ‘sick’, or even ‘cool’, but that’s one that been around for long enough to have earned its place. I haven’t heard ‘sick’ for a while; hopefully it’s already gone. Does it seem more like devolution of the language rather than evolution?

‘Her Flesh and Blood’ is FREE on Amazon from the 24th to 28th May (USA dates). For more information on my books please check out my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

 


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Sins of the Media

 

Live television is to blame for many grammatical errors and I don’t envy those brave souls who put themselves in that position. The occasional mistake, such as ‘getable’ or ‘most remotest’, which I’ve heard recently, should probably be expected with the pressure of being put ‘on the spot’.What annoys me more than these one-off errors are the continual mispronunciations, such as Antartica, instead of Antarctica and def’nally, instead of definitely. It appears to be laziness but it might be that the speakers are not aware of their mistake, in which case their employers or the viewers should point it out to them! Our children are watching and unless we want them to pick up bad habits we need to take a stand.

Pollie speak, such as ‘the end of the day’ and ‘at this point in time’ have also crept into the media and into everyday life and hopefully are only temporary. They are annoying but not incorrect. What is becoming more common in the media is the phrase ‘one of the only’, which is not only annoying but poor grammar. It doesn’t make sense, people! What they mean is ‘one of the few’, which is fine, or they could say ‘one of only a few, or a small number’. Please, not ‘one of the only’.

Another common mistake is using ‘unique’ with any intensifier—unique means the only one of its kind. It is not possible to be ‘very unique’ or ‘slightly unique’. A thing is either unique or it isn’t. If that one word is not enough for you, choose a different one.

 ‘Literally’ is another example of a commonly misused word. Some throw it around as if it were a meaningless word that just emphases their statement.  ‘I literally died of shock when I saw my ex in the street!’ No, you didn’t or you wouldn’t be here to tell us about it. Nor did you literally become incontinent when you were similarly shocked by such an event. Or perhaps you did, but if you’re using that word, literally, it means what you are saying is the truth, not an exaggeration.

The Subject of the Verb.

Growing up, John Watson was the principal of the school.

 Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before being brought down in a hail of bullets.

He was hit by a man wearing a balaclava that was armed with a machete.

 His wife and niece intervened.

 The above sentences are all examples of media mangling, with changes to minor details. Yes, we know what they mean, but why on earth can’t they say it? The first sentence tells us that John Watson was the principal of a school while he was growing up. Is that likely? What the speaker meant was that the other person he had referred to in a previous sentence was a student at the school when John Watson was the principal. In this sentence though, the subject of the verb is clearly John Watson.

The next sentence tells us police were brought down by a hail of bullets and is quite a possible scenario and therefore a more confusing one. The rest of the news story made it quite clear that it was the gunman who was shot, not the police, but in this sentence the subject of the verb is not the gunman but the police. The gunman is the object of the verb – police kept gunman at bay. In order to have this sentence actually say what was intended it could read: Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before they brought him down in a hail of bullets. Not a particularly good sentence but it is at least clear.

The next example is amusing and obvious – we know the balaclava wasn’t armed with a machete! Neither could we say: He was hit by a man wielding a machete wearing a balaclava. Clearly the machete wasn’t wearing a balaclava any more than the balaclava was wielding a machete!  An easy correction would be simply to say he was hit by a man wearing a balaclava and wielding a machete.

The last sentence would be correct if the man was married to his niece. More likely it’s another example of lazy speech. His wife and his niece intervened is more likely what the speaker meant.  Again, we know what they meant, but why not say that? It’s entirely possible that some people listening would presume that the man was married to his niece.

 Every day I see examples in the media of poor grammar and misuse of words and I urge you again to please encourage your children to read—whether they’re reading the classics or Harry Potter or the Twilight series, get them reading!

The above rant is an excerpt from my free book at Smashwords: What Did You Say?

Please see Amazon for details on my other books.

http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

this one book2 karinya ebook

 


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Its and the Decorative Apostrophe

‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun, just as ‘his’ and ‘hers’ are.  If you add an apostrophe to its it is no longer a possessive pronoun. It’s means it is or it has.  Always. Adding an apostrophe to its is no different to adding an apostrophe to any other pronoun. Apostrophes are always there for a practical reason, not to decorate the page. Many people laugh at the ‘grocer’s apostrophe’, which is frequently seen on signs at the front of all types of stores but sometimes even on major signs by professional sign writers. I’m talking about the use of apostrophes seemingly thrown in at random, usually before an ‘s’ at the end of a word. Most readers and writers know better than that but there are very many who don’t get their ‘its’ right!

While I’m ranting about apostrophes and pronouns I’d better give ‘their’ a mention. Their is a possessive pronoun too and is probably next in line for causing the maximum error rate. They’re means they are. Always. Not a possessive pronoun. There means not here, but over there, and I’m including the reference to ‘here’ because the similarity makes it an easy one to remember. If you add ‘t’ to ‘here’ it becomes ‘there’, right? Easy.

I’m not sure about the veracity of this, but if a university lecturer is a good enough source–an apostrophe always takes the place of something else; it indicates something is missing. Once upon a time people spoke and wrote English quite differently and they would say, or write, ‘the dog, his bone’, rather than ‘the dog’s bone,’ as we do now. The apostrophe was introduced in place of ‘his’ in this example. If we move the apostrophe across, as in ‘the dogs’ bone’, we know there’s more than one dog sharing the bone. Of course when using a pronoun there’s no need for the apostrophe because it makes no sense to say ‘It, its bone’ or ‘Him, his bone.’

That’s the end of my rant for the day–please feel free to pass this on. It’s a small thing, an apostrophe, but whether you’re a signwriter, a book writer or just have a facebook account, please don’t use the poor little misunderstood mark to decorate your page.

Please visit my Amazon author page for details on all my books.