Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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The plural of ‘you’.

It used to be Australians used the term ‘youse’ and some still do. I don’t think I do and it’s generally considered one of those ‘bogan’ words the rest of us avoid. Well-known Texan, Dr Phil, uses y’all, which has a nice ring to it if you have the right accent, but I suspect that’s the American version of youse and is not universally acceptable now in the US if it ever was.

So what is the plural of ‘you’? In the news today our Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has chastised people for using the term ‘guys’ to refer to people of both genders. I must admit I’ve never been offended by this. If you were to call me a guy, as an individual, I might be, but if, for example, I get a text saying “Are you guys home?” it’s clear that refers to both my husband and me. If the text said “Are you home?” then it refers to me only. I’d probably be offended, or puzzled at least, if I got a text saying “Are you men home?” but the term ‘guys’ has somehow become gender neutral, hasn’t it?

I have five adult sons and I tend to still call them ‘the boys’ but since they now all have wives or girlfriends I might use the term ‘guys’ if I’m talking about the guys and the gals together. I’d be interested to see some feedback from our friends in the USA, since we obviously took over ‘guys’ from you. Has the usage changed there? Is it more or less non-gender specific or are we just lazy? Maybe we should speak correctly and say “Are you and your husband at home?” Generally language issues do annoy me but in everyday speech and texts I think we should all just take a chill pill. The language is evolving and BookCoverImageconnectionsit will continue to. She’ll be right mate.

sanctuary cover 2014

‘Sanctuary’, my Sci-fi novel for young adults, is free right now (June 1-5) on Amazon and my collection of short stories, ‘Connections’, will be free from the 3rd to the 7th. For details on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon UK.

 

 

 


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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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Who’s been sleeping in whose bed?

I recently wrote a blog on the misuse of the apostrophe with possessive pronouns; I’ve just realised I missed ‘whose’, which is another word that causes problems for some. The rule is the same–if you’re using an apostrophe you need to understand what it’s for. If the word you’re using is ‘who’s’ the meaning is ‘who is’ or ‘who has’: “Who’s going to take the rubbish out?” (Who is going to take the rubbish out?)

If you want to indicate possession the correct term is ‘whose’: “Whose rubbish is it?” (Who does the rubbish belong to?) When we know the owner of the rubbish we do use an apostrophe: “It’s Jimmy’s rubbish. He can take it out.” When we know whose it is but not his name, we might point to the owner and say: “It’s his rubbish.” No apostrophe is needed in his, whose, or its when used as a possessive pronoun. An apostrophe always indicates something missing and, for those of you who didn’t read my previous blog on apostrophes, the practice dates back to an old form of English when possession was written in a more complicated way. To indicate possession a writer would have to say “Jim, his rubbish,” and we now use an apostrophe to replace that pronoun ‘his’. (Jim’s rubbish)

A lecturer told me that when I was at uni and whether it’s actually true or not it’s quite a useful way of remembering which is the correct form of ‘its, whose, and their.’ For more easy to understand help on grammar I have a free ebook on Smashwords.

It’s Good Friday here today and autumn at last! I think we’re all happy to see the end of summer. Autumn is lovely here in central Victoria but with such a late start it won’t be long before we’re complaining about the cold! Time to curl up with a good book in front of the heater. My sci-fi for young adults, Sanctuary, is FREE today only at Amazon and I have others coming up free next month, Beast of War, Connections, and The Inheritance so keep checking in. For all info on my books on Amazon check out my Author Page.

 

 


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In the Top 100

All three books in my Red Dust Series are in Amazon’s Top 100! For their category, that is, but I’m pretty happy with that. The category is ‘Historical Australian & Oceanian Fiction’ and I’m in good company there. Stephanie Laurens has several on the same page as my ‘Road to Karinya‘, while ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘Red Wine and Summer Storms‘ share a page with Peter Carey and Catherine Gaskin, among others. Red Wine is the last book in the series and it’s been selling well from the start but it was good to see the first review on Amazon last week:

      By Amazon Customer on February 16, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

THIS IS A MUST READ STORY. IT HAS SUSPENSE, DRAMA, ROMANCE AND SOME SERIOUS MOMENTS AND LOTS OF CARING FOR OTHERS FEELINGS. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED EVERY PAGE

 

Amazon reviews are much appreciated by writers, at least good ones are! We take particular risks when we put books up free for promotions. The first time I did that was years ago; 6000 people grabbed a copy of ‘Inheritance’, and around 20 or 30 reviewed it.
Most were positive but not all–not everyone likes an unexpected ending! It was interesting that negative reviews often came from readers whose grasp of spelling and punctuation were sadly lacking and I tend not to take them too seriously.
        I went to a play last week, an independent production in Melbourne, in a small venue. The actors were fantastic and the play was hilarious and I was surprised to read a review online criticising the director. Even had I read it before I went I’d have taken no notice though because the spelling and punctuation were absolutely awful! When I see that I disregard the source as being some loner who thinks he knows something about theatre but actually doesn’t.
       Am I what didwrong to assume anyone who actually reads ought to be able to spell? And there’s Spellcheck. Typos I understand; we all do that, but if you’re not a good speller, do use your computer’s help. I have a small ebook, ‘What Did You Say?’, permanently free at Smashwords,which might be of use as well, especially for grammar and punctuation.
      Summer’s nearly over here and autumn will be very welcome. We have a very hot day forecast for tomorrow but it’s quite cool today and I’m hoping they’re wrong. Anyway one stinking hot day isn’t so bad. It’s when it goes on several days in a row and stays hot throughout the night it’s hard to take. Bring on winter!

 


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If Smart Phones were Smarter . . .

I bought a new smart phone a couple of days ago and I’m not going to go into the make and so on–not advertising or reviewing phones. Even if I wanted to I clearly don’t know enough about them to attempt that. I thought all I wanted from a phone was to talk to people and text. Then with my last phone I discovered how convenient it was to check emails and facebook without getting out of my lounge chair. I had that phone for 2 years and since we were due to renew the phone contract we decided to get me a flash phone with a bigger screen. One thing I knew I wanted was a decent camera which also allowed me to use Skype. The old one had no front camera and although it took reasonable photos outside the indoor ones were rubbish.

So the phone arrived, very promptly, the morning after we ordered it online. It’s not guilty 2014 coverbeautiful–all the bells and whistles, big screen but not too heavy–very thin and it does take nice photos. All good, smarter than me no doubt. What I want to know is if it’s so smart why couldn’t it just connect with the old phone and automatically upload all the settings and info that’s there? Why do I have to start all over again learning how it works and how to get what I need on it?

I confess I did virtually nothing; passed it over to hubby who spent all day mucking around and talking to a call centre (I suspect in India). Fortunately he quite likes playing with new technology. I just want it do what my old one did, but better. Is that too much to ask? I now have all my contacts on it and facebook etc. set up so it’s all good but, to be perfectly honest, if it had been up to me to set it up I’d have repackaged it and returned it to the sender long before the day was out. Hopefully I’ll be right now for another 2 years.

‘Not Guilty’, a true story about the brutal murder of three children by their mother in Australia, 1910, is free on Amazon from 11th to 13th of February.

RED DUST SERIES: Stony Creek, The Road to Karinya, Red Wine and Summer Storms.


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Agony and Ecstasy–Designing your own book covers

Beast_of_War_Cover_for_KindleI finished my latest book a week or so ago and decided to spend some time before I start the next one working on covers, one in particular. I’ve done all of my own covers and currently have 15 books on Amazon; most of them I’m reasonably happy with but the children’s books in particular are really crying out for an artist. There’s no way I’m ever going to find an image of 3 teens, one who’s green and extremely tall and thin, one blue and muscular, and one tiny with white skin and pointy ears, for ‘Beast of War’!

When my youngest son started school I did too and I spent a few years studying art before I decided writing was more my forte. It was fun and hard work and I think the design aspect has proven worthwhile but unfortunately my drawing skills are just not up to scratch, certainly not now if they ever were. Then again my handwriting has deteriorated a lot since I started spending so much time on a computer too and that might be part of it.

Anyway, back to the drawing board–or at least the free photos at morguefile. I did find a picture there that I used for a new cover on ‘Beast of War’, which gives it a fresh look at least. Maybe next year I’ll try the local community college–see if I can find an artist who’ll work for nothing!

 

The only cover I’ve paid for is ‘Inheritance’ and I’m very pleased with that one (from fiverr). I had planned to get the same designer to do my latest new the inheritance coverbook, ‘Red Wine and Summer Storms’, and since it’s book 3 of a series I wanted the other 2 re-done so they’d all sort of match up. I wasn’t happy with his design and I realise now what I actually love about the design of ‘Inheritance’ is the actual picture, which was from one of those sites that sell them, so I went looking for pictures and found one I liked at istock for around $14. Then I redid the titles on the others so they match up reasonably well.

not guilty 2014 coverMy favourite cover, for ‘Not Guilty’, is one of my own photos and the layout is one of Createspace’s, which is considerably easier than using your own.

I’d love to hear from other self-published writers about your cover design stories.

‘Beast of War’ is FREE on Amazon from 4th to 6th December (USA time) and ‘Not Guilty’ is free 4th and 5th. My book of short stories, ‘Connections‘, if free right now, today only.

 

 

 

 

Sunset Vineyard


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Edgar Allan Poe

What poem or story have you read that stays with you for years? I confess I don’t read a lot of poetry and have made very few attempts to write it. I went to a public reading once, where all the poets told us about the agony of their lives, and all I can remember from that now is that there was a lot to do with their toilet habits in one way or another. Weird.

‘The Raven’ is one of the very few poems that has always impressed me–I don’t know enough about poetry to analyse it and I have no wish to anyway. I just like it. Obviously it’s about grief–he’s lost his partner, Lenore, and the raven’s one and only word ‘Nevermore’, emphasises the permanence of that loss.

It’s a little bit spooky, which is good, and a little bit sad, but I particularly love the language and the rhythm of it. If you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it lately, do yourself a favour and read it aloud. Shut yourself away somewhere, or shoo the kids outside and just read it as if you were singing in the shower!  Here’s a link if you don’t know where to look: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178713

My favourite book of all time, which I’ve mentioned before, is ‘The Cry and the Covenant’, just a bit more modern than ‘The Raven’, although written about the 19th century, by Morton Thompson. My love of this book has little to do with the writing style though and everything to do with the subject matter; it’s a fictionalized biography of Ignaz Semmelwiess, a Hungarian doctor who tried to prove that the lives of mothers and babies could be saved if only doctors would wash their hands! He had limited success, with both doctors and mothers offended by his inference they were unclean, but he did manage to lower the deaths in his own hospital ward. He died in an asylum at the age of 47. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis If you’ve never heard of him, do look him up at least.

I have several freebies this week–it’s Spring here and Autumn for most of you and doesn’t that make you want to curl up somewhere with a book? If you like what you read, I’d appreciate a review on Amazon. If you don’t, feel free to keep it a secret!

‘Last Chance’ is for the kids who are able to read chapter books; it’s about life after a war, in a future world, and I think is suitable for children around 11 and up. It may be best if you read it yourself first so you can determine if it’s suitable for your child. It’s really about hope, and not as depressing as it sounds! I’d love some feedback on this one, especially from kids. Free 18/19 October

For the adults ‘The Inheritance’ is about a woman, Jo, who, after a bad breakup, starts a new life in a country cottage left to her by her great uncle. Things don’t go the way she planned though and when she finds a diary hidden by someone long ago, she unravels the history of the cottage but pays the price. Free 21/22 October

‘No-one’s Good at Everything’ is another one for the kids, slightly younger–suitable for any age as long as they can read reasonably well. There’s two stories in this book–the other story ‘I’m Starving, Mum’, is aimed at boys and is an adventure. Again, I’d love some feedback from kids. Free 24/25 October

doglastkinblog    new the inheritance cover   no-one cover


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Opening a Can of Worms–Daylight Saving

I know a lot of people love daylight saving and if you happen to live in a cool climate where you absolutely relish that extra hour of sunlight, then lucky you! Daylight saving absolutely makes sense for you. If, on the other hand, you live in a country where temperatures can get to the mid 40s (Celsius–100 plus Fahrenheit) and beyond in some areas, what on earth is the point? Why would anyone in their right mind choose to take an hour of the coolest part of the day, when they could be sleeping, and add it on to the hottest part of the day?

Now, to be honest, it doesn’t affect me a great deal these days; I’m lucky enough to have air-conditioning; I rarely have to get up  to an alarm clock and my kids are all grown and flown. The coop. But I remember what a nightmare it was getting little boys to bed when the sun was still shining in their bedroom windows. I don’t know if parents still do that or if they’ve given up and let the kids stay up until the sun goes down and then have to drag them out of bed in the morning for school.

Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland have all had the good sense to abandon daylight saving–I think they all tried it and it proved unpopular. I suspect the reason it succeeded in the south east states is more to do with our large city population than the fact that our climate is a bit milder than up north. City workers seem to like it because, I suppose, they have a chance to get home or even go to the beach before dark. Since more Victorian voters live in cities than the country I know it’s a lost cause but I still feel for those parents trying to get their kids to bed.

Daylight saving starts here tomorrow morning and I don’t even have to put the clocks forward any more–it’s automatic. I’d be interested to hear from other readers why they love or hate daylight saving, or wish they had it if they don’t.

It’s also footy finals today and ‘my’ team is playing. And winning. Sometimes I wish I cared, but it’s just a group of Aussie blokes playing another group of Aussie blokes and either way, we win, right? Now if we were playing New Zealand, or the UK, or USA, I might be more interested!

I’m getting on with Book 3 of my Red Dust rural romance series and will almost certainly have it finished by Christmas; I’m moving into a new office shortly which will make it easier, I hope. I’m currently working in the lounge-room and, with three empty bedrooms, I decided to bite the bullet and clean one out. I’ll be able to work with no interruptions and will get heaps done–at least that’s the theory! ‘Dark Innocence’ is FREE on the 4th and 5th of October–it’s quite a small book and will definitely keep you interested!

Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle          karinya cover           darkamazon


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How much of you is in your writing?

Most of us have mercifully little experience of murder, espionage and so on, not to mention the lives of people who lived hundred of years ago, but the characters we write about in such stories can still be built from ourselves and people we know and it’s inevitable our life experiences will affect our writing.

BookCoverImageconnectionsWhat about using our own experiences deliberately? I taught creative writing at a community college a few years ago and the first exercise I set the students was to write about an episode in their own lives. The next step was to turn that into a story, which they could do by simply changing the point of view or they could choose to make it more fiction, retaining just some elements of the initial story, which is what they all did. It’s a good exercise for anyone who wants to write but doesn’t quite know how to get started. We all have a story to tell–even if you think your life is boring and nothing ever happens, to someone else with a very different life it might be riveting!

One of my short stories, ‘Brown Dog’, while not at all about me, includes lots of my life experiences. When we were very young newlyweds my husband and I went from our home town in Victoria to Queensland, two states away and around 2,000 kilometres. Our first destination was Munduberra, a tiny inland town where we already had work and accommodation lined up on a citrus orchard. We stuck it out for a few weeks but, to cut a long story short, it didn’t meet our expectations and we headed for the coast. We spent a couple of years living around the Sunshine Coast, including Marcoola Beach, which is not only the basis of ‘Brown Dog’. but also a large part of ‘The Road to Karinya’, the second bookdarkamazon of my Red Dust rural romance series, as is Mundubbera itself.

In ‘Brown Dog’ Luke is broke, living in his car and almost suicidal when he comes across a stray dog on the beach and his life is turned around. After a cyclone wiped out our tent we also slept in our car for a while, but I don’t recall being particularly depressed–we had friends and work wasn’t that hard to find. We did pick up a stray dog during that time though and we did have to let him go after a few days and we also spent some time beachcombing; I remember well the joy of finding a glass ball amongst the driftwood!

You can read ‘Brown Dog’ and my other short stories free from 23rd to 25th June and ‘Dark Innocence’ on 29th June to the 1st July. ‘Dark Innocence’ is another story where I used some of my own memories, growing up in a country town and hitchhiking down to the river at weekends. And having seances with Vegemite glasses and cut out scraps with letters and numbers written on them!

I admit I can be a teeny bit pedantic at times and am easily annoyed by misused apostrophes and so on, but where do these words come from? Did someone just wake up one day and decided the word ‘regardless’ just doesn’t work anymore, so let’s call it ‘irregardless’ instead? Sometimes what seems just plain wrong to my ears can be American English, while in Australia we speak UK English. Well, we did, but we’re becoming more and more Americanised, which doesn’t bother me too much; it’s inevitable so there’s no point losing sleep over it. When I started hearing people say they were ‘in agreeance’ my first thought was that it was plain wrong, then maybe that it was American. It’s not in any of my dictionaries and certainly doesn’t pass my computer spellcheck, but when I Googled it I found it may have actually been used once upon a time and has been replaced with ‘agreement’.

That opens up another argument about the evolution of language; we know English has changed and is continuing to change, whether we like it or not. I’ve heard the word ‘literally’ has been misused so much that it’s now accepted to mean–well, not literally at all, so nothing really. Nope–I’m not accepting that one.

If you want to say we’re in agreeance, please say we’re in agreement, or better still, simply say we agree! I suspect many people make mistakes with their language because they’re trying to sound better educated than they are; they use phrases like ‘at this point in time’ rather than ‘now’ and ‘back to back’, which always reminds me of a silly poem my father used to amuse us kids with:what did

One fine day in the middle of the night 
Two dead boys got up to fight 
Back to back they faced each other 
Drew their swords and shot each other 

It goes on for several verses, but anyway, I digress, as usual. While I’m griping about the misuse of words, my all time favourite is ‘myself’, which so many public speakers use when the correct word would be ‘I’ or ‘me’. For more on this and other easily fixed language problems, check out ‘What Did You Say?’ FREE all the time at Smashwords.  See my Amazon page for all my other books.

 

this one book2 karinya ebook  new the inheritance cover darkamazon not guilty 2014 coverblog BookCoverImageher fleshandblood