Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Amazon-Friend or Foe?

A lot of writers hate Amazon–they’re big, corporate, money hungry and not at all like those small independent publishers who actually care about what they’re publishing, right? I can’t say I’ve loved every minute or that I’m thrilled with every aspect of the business but for a self-published author who doesn’t have money to burn Amazon is a godsend.

new the inheritance coverIt’s true they’ll sell anything–well, almost, and some of the self-published stuff is rubbish, I agree, but the same applies to small publishers who require hundreds of dollars from authors to produce their book. There are publishers who care about their books, of course; if they’re the ones paying the upfront costs it’s essential they publish only what they believe they can sell.

I’ve written about vanity publishers before and I won’t go into it again here; I sometimes feel as if I’m selling Amazon to writers out there and I have no intention of doing that. I promise I don’t have shares. I just want to let you know that it’s not so bad being a self-published writer on Amazon!

There’s also their Createspace department, where you can publish your book in POD form and they’ll distribute it to several other shopfronts for you. Then there’s Kindle Unlimited, which is a lending library. The customer pays a monthly amount and has to return the ebook, just like any other library, and the author is paid per page read. The amount, as far as I can ascertain, is not always the same, but at the moment my KU amount is about half as much per book as a sale would be, which is not bad.

Another thing I like is that it’s easy to make changes–for example I have a list in the back of each book, of all my other books, and when I publish a new one I add that to the list. I can also change covers if something better comes along, and fix typos if I discover them after my book’s published.(!) All in all, for me Amazon is invaluable and I’d be lost without it. Come and check out my Author Page or here if you’re in the UK.


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He said, she said.

what didWhen we’re writing, especially a novel, we seem to use ‘said’ an awful lot and, if we don’t, we try very hard to come up with alternatives, such as argued, yelled, whispered, spoke, declared and so on. The problem then is that using those kind of words can draw attention away from the dialogue they relate to. I completed a 2 year Diploma in Writing and Editing and we were taught that it’s better to use ‘said’ most of the time because it’s actually very unobtrusive. It becomes almost invisible to the reader, even though it seems overused to the writer, while substitutes can be used, of course, but too many actually detract from the story by being too ‘showy’.

A dialogue between two people doesn’t require ‘he said, she said’, every time each one speaks. We know if Joe said something the reply will come from Fred, because they’re the only two there. If the dialogue becomes too long it might become confusing but you can always include some action, such as Fred glared at Joe.”What the hell are you talking about?” Too much dialogue without action is usually a mistake in any case, as is too much action without dialogue. The same technique can also be used for larger groups of course, for example, Diane entered the room, “What are you two up to now?”

I’m not saying you should never use words like ‘whispered’ and so on, and you can easily overdo the action technique. Just don’t neglect that useful little word, ‘said’.

My ebook, ‘What Did You Say?’ on grammar, punctuation, etc. is free permanently on Smashwords and will help anyone who’s not sure about the correct use of apostrophes and a few peculiarities in the English language. There are other books as well as websites with similar information; mine is easy to follow and attempts to explain things in a way that’s easy to remember as well. My other books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

Stony Creek book2 karinya ebook

 


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Snakes and Spiders in the Land of Oz

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of a huntsman spider dragging a mouse up a fridge door.

I’m not surprised it’s gone viral; we all love to talk about our creepy crawlies here and to be perfectly honest I’d be pretty freaked out by that sight myself, but I’m easily freaked out by mice anyway. If we had a resident huntsman capable of killing mice I’d be okay with that, though I’d rather he did it in the dead of night. Fortunately we don’t have mice and any huntsmen I see are nowhere near that big.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or . . . what? when I heard some Americans had cancelled their planned holidays to Australia after seeing that video, but given that most of my readers are from USA I thought it worth explaining a few things about our creepy crawlies. Huntsmen, first of all, are common but perfectly harmless, unless you’re an insect. Or a mouse apparently! And they’re not usually that big.

I spent my very early years living in a house surrounded by orange trees, quite a few miles from the nearest town. The little school I went to was also surrounded by trees, or grape vines–I’m not sure now, but I do remember sitting on the ground with my friends eating lunch and drinking rain water from a red plastic mug. The rain water often had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in it and no doubt a few things we couldn’t see but they didn’t do us any harm.

Most of my schooling was after we moved to a bigger country town–we used to swim in the river and I spent quite a lot of time at the farm when my older sister married a farmer. I’ve also lived in Queensland, both on the beach and inland. Would you like to know how many snakes I’ve seen? Not counting zoos, none!

I’m not suggesting visitors (or anyone)  should run around the  bush barefoot, or approach snakes or spiders to test if they’re venomous, but generally they prefer their own company. I’m hardly an expert of course, just an average Aussie with a healthy respect for our wildlife–I was once kind of attacked by a kangaroo at a park, so my mother tells me, but I don’t remember it. They can actually be quite dangerous, but like most of our wildlife they don’t actually like us much and stay away. So if you want to go Oz but you’re frightened of spiders and snakes just stay in the civilised areas, or go with a tour, and you can be pretty sure they’ll stay away from you.

For details on my books please see my Non-Fiction and Fiction page or visit my Author Pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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Vanity Publishing

I’m constantly surprised at how many writers don’t seem to understand the difference between traditional publishers and vanity publishers. I often read writers proudly announcing they’ve been accepted by a publisher and they’re thrilled at how easy it was and pumped by how enthusiastic the publisher is to publish their very first novel.

Most self-published writers, I presume, get unsolicited offers from publishers these days; we’re always accessible on Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever. We all want to have the next ’50 Shades of Grey’, or at least that kind of success and it’s nice to hear any kind of praise for anything we do, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at how many writers respond to these kind of publishers.

BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodLet me make it clear–traditional publishers don’t ask writers for money! They actually pay an advance to the writer which immediately puts them in a position where it’s to their advantage to distribute the book and sell as many copies as possible. The writer is still expected to make use of social media and other publicity but the publisher doesn’t make any money unless the book sells.

A vanity press is a publisher who asks the writer to pay for everything, from editing right through to distribution, while a traditional publisher pays for all of this. The vanity publisher in fact makes his money directly from the writer, whether their book is a success or not. The traditional publisher makes money only if the book is successful enough to cover the writer’s advance, the costs of editing, printing and so on with some net profit at the end of it. It’s not hard to understand why it’s so difficult for new writers to find a place in the world of traditional publishing.

I’m not necessarily saying all vanity publishers are scammers, just that writers should understand the difference. It may be that you think it’s worth paying someone to do all that’s required to produce your book for you, but if you do choose that road at least make sure you do lots of research and try to find someone with genuine recommendations from other writers. This is why I self-publish–all things considered it seems the best option for me. I can do what I like when I like, and if I do choose to pay someone for a book cover design or any of the many things a self-published writer has to do, it will still be my decision.

If you have any experience, good or bad, with vanity publishers, I’d love to hear about it.

‘Her Flesh and Blood’, a fictionalised version of my true story ‘Not Guilty’, is FREE from the 14th to the 18th of October. For more details about this and my other books please see my ‘Fiction and Non-fiction’ page or visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

Excerpt from ‘Her Flesh and Blood’: We had a blazing row when George finally got home. He was drunk and he called me names that I would never say, let alone write down, even here in the privacy of my journal. I slapped him and he hit me hard across the face. I fell over and hit my head on the table. The children were asleep but we were arguing so loudly that Dolly woke up and came out crying. She cried out to George to stop hurting her mumma and he came to his senses then. He picked her up and then helped me to my feet and we both said we were sorry and put her back to bed. He refused to discuss what happened at the factory, except to tell me never to go there again. I know he was humiliated. I’m sure Mr Leggo gave him a good talking to and the workers were no doubt amused by the whole event. I don’t care. Now those women are gone and we can get on with our lives. My children will have a father.

 


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Writing Challenge–Future tense

Hubby and I went to Melbourne on the train the other day for a show and on the way back, in the dark, with nothing to look at, I started thinking about story ideas. I tend to write in both first person and third person in my novels but I do like to mess around a bit with the occasional short story. I’ve done one in the present tense and I decided to try the future for a change. If you’d like to join in the challenge there’s no prize but you’re welcome to put a link in my comments section so everyone can have a read. Here’s my effort:

Tomorrow

© Christine Gardner

 In the morning I’ll get up at six o’clock. Steve won’t even notice; I’ve been getting up during the night lately and he’s a heavy sleeper anyway. If he does wake up he’ll presume I’ve gone to the toilet and go straight back to sleep. He will never imagine I could leave.

I have my bag packed and hidden in the linen cupboard, with just some essentials that will do for a couple of days until I get sorted. He never looks in there. I always make sure there’s clean towels in the bathroom and clean sheets on the bed, so why would he? I won’t stop for breakfast, just in case. I’ll just grab my bag and head out to the car. My little Pulsar. I won’t take Steve’s BMW because, after all, he’ll still need it for work. And I don’t need it, not really. Mine’s a little dented from when Steve backed into the fence but it runs okay; he’s very good at stuff like that. Everything in our house is well oiled and runs perfectly. Everything except me.

Will he be sad or relieved? Of course I know the answer to that; he’ll be furious. He’ll try to ring me first and then he’ll start driving around looking for me.

I’ll go to Maccas for breakfast, but not the one near us; I’ll drive over a suburb or two, maybe Richmond. I don’t know. I’ll find a Maccas somewhere, or a Hungry Jacks. Somewhere I’ll be ignored and I can just eat whatever junk food I want with no-one looking over my shoulder. Steve doesn’t like me eating junk food, especially now, but he’s always been a stickler for healthy eating while I just like to have a breakout occasionally. Mostly I eat healthy food but just now and then I like a change. Not Steve. He might be more horrified at my eating junk for breakfast than at me actually leaving him!

He’ll think I’m just doing it to annoy him; he thinks I deliberately push his buttons but I don’t. I try so hard to do what he wants—to be what he wants me to be. I’m just not that person—not Mrs Perfect—and I’ll never understand why, or how, he thought he could make me into something I’m not. Maybe he’ll find her once I’m out of the way.

After breakfast I’ll head over to Mum’s house and she’ll be surprised to see me so early, but glad Steve’s not with me. When I tell her I’ve left him she’ll be flabbergasted; she’s been nagging me for months to do just that and she doesn’t even know anything really. I never let her see me with black eyes and it’s easy enough to come up with a story about broken bones; she says I was always terribly clumsy as a child.

Then she’ll insist I call the police and I’ll say no, so she’ll call them. I’ll cry, I know, and she’ll probably shed a few tears as well, more for herself and her own memories than for me though.

The police will come—no doubt there’ll be a sympathetic female cop and a male who looks as if he can handle any irate husband. They’ll take my statement and suggest I move to a shelter for women like me—somewhere safer than my mother’s home. She, who protected me throughout all my childhood, can’t protect me anymore. I’ll agree of course, because I don’t want to put my mother at risk, but she’ll be at risk anyway. Steve will look for me there and won’t believe she doesn’t know where I am. He and Mum never really see eye to eye about anything, even though they both love me. It’s my fault. Steve’s right about that, I know. I have said bad things to Mum about him and of course she doesn’t like him. She thinks he’s a monster like my father but if I was better, a better wife, he would be perfect. And he’ll be a wonderful father.

The police will probably take me somewhere and then go to arrest Steve. There’ll be bail though and if he gets out he’ll go after my mother. If he doesn’t get out then he’ll go to gaol for a while and then be released and look for me again. And my mother.  And my child. My child will be born while her father is in gaol. How long will he be there for? Will she understand why her father’s not with us or will she grow up thinking he deserted her? Will I take her to see him in prison and have her know her father’s in gaol? That he hit her mother? That he had no regard for her safety, tucked away in her mother’s womb?

I sigh and pull the quilt further up around my neck. My child moves inside me and my husband, sound asleep, throws one arm over me, as if to prove ownership. My woman; my child. In the morning I won’t be leaving. I can’t condemn my child to a future with a father who’s in gaol; I’ll be a better wife. I’ll try harder to make my marriage work. Life wasn’t meant to be perfect; I can do better, I know I can.

***

For information on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com and Amazon UK

 


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Inheriting

Some people inherit millions of dollars and some just their dad’s blue eyes or their mum’s bandy legs (Yep–that’s me!). My mum is 96 and still lives at home, on her own, although she does have some help now. She’s constantly trying to pass all her worldly goods to her family and when I saw her recently (I don’t live nearby) she was very insistent that I sort through her odds and ends and take anything I or my kids might like.

It might seem odd inheriting stuff while the benefactor is still alive and well but actually I can see my mother’s side of it now. She knows how much I love old stuff and she has so much that belonged to her parents. Her father was a ships’ engineer and travelled the world, often bringing back gifts for his family. I’m not talking about things of material value–just interesting bits and pieces. We had a lovely afternoon going through everything and she was really pleased, knowing some of her things had a new home, because I think she was afraid they’d be trashed. I’m not sure how much value my children will place on the family heirlooms but hopefully some of the stuff will survive. It is, after all, just stuff, and we either remember our grandparents or we don’t. My paternal grandparents died before I was born so I have no memories of them but my family research on them has been interesting just the same.new the inheritance cover

I have a free ebook this week–a rather different look at inheritances! ‘The Inheritance’ is free on Amazon until the 21st of August. It tells the story of a young woman, dumped by her long term boyfriend, and unhappy in her career, who inherits a charming country cottage when her great uncle dies. She loves the picturesque Rose Cottage and decides to make a complete life change–she’ll quit her job and start her own business from home. There’s something not quite right about Rose Cottage though and Jo’s life will never be the same again.

For information on all my books please visit my author page at Amazon.com or Amazon UK


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What a Wonderful Wacky World of Words

It may be just me–I am a reader, a writer and an editor after all, but do you ever just sit and think about words? I’m not talking about their meaning, at least not right now, but about how we use letters in different ways to make different sounds. I don’t claim to have any knowledge of languages other than English, apart from the residue of high school French lessons. And I can count to ten in Japanese. Also you can’t help but pick up the odd Italian expression such as ‘ciao’, but I digress. What I want to talk about is the letter ‘w’.

This feels a lot like Sesame Street and I promise I’m not going to discuss a different letter every day, but it seems to me that ‘w’ is a particularly interesting one. It seems to affect the way we pronounce the letters after it. Take ‘water’ for example. Later and cater sound as you would expect, with a long ‘a’ sound, while water sounds more like ‘wor’, as in war. When we use ‘wor’ as in word, it sounds more like ‘er’. Why is it so? Why is it car, bar, tar, but war? Why cot, lot, pot, but what? I understand our language evolved and is still evolving but I’m curious as to how this particular peculiarity began. I get it that we have another word ‘waiter’, so we can’t pronounce water as waiter, but then why is it not spelt ‘worter’?

As I said, perhaps it’s only me who sits in front of the TV sometimes and just thinks about words, but it is weird, don’t you think?

For info on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.UK