Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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SELF-PUBLISHING WITH A BUDGET OF ZERO

This is an old blog I wrote for ‘The Self Publisher’ that still seems relevant. Not much has changed apart from the series I mentioned–it’s now complete, with three books, all of which are selling well on Amazon. The link to ‘Inheritance’ in the blog has been replaced by the cover image on this page. new the inheritance cover

by Christine Gardner (visit Christine’s blog here).

My first attempt at self-publishing was with lulu and I could never in a million years have done it on my own. My son did all the formatting and put the cover together from a background photo of a landscape (we spent an afternoon driving around looking for the perfect shot) and a painting I did of a cottage covered in roses, for my first novel, Inheritance. I was very happy with it at the time but it was horribly complicated and it was probably a year or so before I got my first (and last) cheque from lulu, for around $20. I’ve since re-published Inheritance on Amazon, with a new cover, a photo of a rose from my garden. Easy peasy. I do have a little background in Art and Design but my skills in drawing and painting are not really…

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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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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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Oranges and Wine–Title of my new book?

This is one of the hardest parts of writing a book–coming up with a title. It needs to grab attention and somehow indicate something about the content. I’m a long way from finishing this one but I’d appreciate suggestions if you have any.

This is the third and final book of my rural romance series (Red Dust Series); the first one is Stony Creek and the second, The Road to Karinya. Both of those titles use the names of rural properties involved in the story but that’s not an option for the current novel.

Like the first two books I have one heroine in the late 20th century and another much earlier and I need to find a title that suits both stories. Both women move to Sunraysia, an area on the Murray River which includes a small part of both New South Wales and Victoria. Clare, originally from a citrus property in Queensland, leaves her home in Sydney in 1985 to live in Mildura (Victoria), nearer Karinya Station, where her brother and his family live. She lives in a flat in a converted house, the other half of which is occupied by Fern, an elderly woman with her own story.

Fern left her home in Sydney in 1920 to marry George, who was one of the original soldier settlers in Curlwaa, New South Wales, and spent most of her life there on their citrus property. She sold the property and moved to Mildura as an elderly widow. Fern and Clare become good friends and Fern worries when she suspects someone is watching Clare.

Without giving away too much of the story, wine is an important part of Clare’s story which is why I’m currently using the working title of ‘Wine and Oranges’, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll end up keeping it. Is it catchy or boring? Opinions please.

Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle                 karinya cover


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The Future of English

 

 

 

I came across this article in my great, great, great grandfather’s scrapbook and thought it worth sharing. It’s interesting to see there were those in the 18th century who realised that migrating to other countries would change the way people spoke English there, as of course it did. The librarian’s solution–to set a standard pronunciation in English schools–was never going to take off in the colonies of course! Unfortunately I don’t have a date of publication or even the name of the paper but it was clearly English and was certainly published before 1885, when my ggg–grandfather died.

future of englishHe also notes that phonetic spelling is both rational and inevitable and I tend to agree with him there–USA spelling is quite common here now and even though I prefer the English spelling I grew up with it’s not a major issue for me. As far as pronunciation goes I tend to have trouble understanding some of the British accents and I wonder if they understand each other. I’m very thankful for the text option on my TV when I watch British shows.I’d love to hear from any Brits on this subject. There seems such a range of accents; even if we leave out the Scots and the Welsh, the different accents within that tiny little country of England are amazing!

The ggg-grandfather who compiled this scrapbook came out from Manchester, in 1841, and I have no idea how he spoke, or if I’d have had any problem understanding him. His scrapbook, which was originally started by my ggg-grandmother, who ‘neglected’ it, is a window to the 19th century, most of it not relating particularly to the family, and it’s also a little peek at his personality I think; the articles he considered worth cutting out and preserving for his 3 sons and 22 grandchildren ranged from local news to world news and random jokes, along with the odd recipe. He called it his odds and ends.

 

 

 

BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodkarinya cover

 

 


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State to State

I’ve just been back to my home town for a few days to visit family and especially my mother, who just turned 95. I was born in Wentworth and lived on a property in Curlwaa, New South Wales, for my first few years and then moved interstate to Mildura, the other side of the  Murray River. Most of my mildurawentworthcuz 058memories are of life in Mildura but I do have some memories of Curlwaa. The old school has gone and so has our old house but my sister and I drove around the area where they used to be. We also went to the Wentworth Hospital, where I was born and hadn’t seen since, so that was interesting. It’s popped up in my book Stony Creek so I wanted to have a look. I was delighted to find an old Ferguson tractor there, also in my book. The Fergies were used extensively in the severe floods that hit the area in 1956.

I didn’t particularly appreciate it when I lived there but I’m always blown away by the Murray River when I go home–it’s quite spectacular and is of course the whole reason Mildura and Wentworth, as well as surrounding areas, grew into what they are today. Both the Murray and the Darling were used as highways in the early days and there mildurawentworthcuz 053are still paddle-steamers operating, now for tourists. The area also relies on the river to irrigate the many different kinds of fruit and vegetables grown there. Known as Sunraysia the area is well known for its citrus and grapes–especially dried grapes but it also produces wine–as well as other fruit and vegetables. It was the first place in Australia to be irrigated, thanks to Canada’s Chaffey Brothers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Chaffey

Rain tends to be scarce and it’s usually the warmest place in the state, so it’s a popular tourist destination. Only problem is it’s a long trip from anywhere, including where I live now, with nothing much to look at along the way! I’ve put a few other photos on my Pictures of Oz page.

darkamazonMy novelette ‘Dark Innocence’ is free on April 29 and is set in Mildura, so have a look at  the pictures and a free read as well. Happy Reading!


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Back again Smashwords!

If you’ve read my previous posts about Smashwords you’ll probably find it hard to believe, but I’ve re-published one of my books with them and you won’t find it on Amazon anymore. It’s a very small ebook and when I wrote it I wanted it to be free–I did publish it first on Smashwords but then put it on Amazon and tried everything I could think of to get them to put it up as a permanent freebie, but nothing worked. The book is ‘What Did You Say?’ and it’s intended to be useful for people who want to improve their English grammar and punctuation. It’s not a comprehensive text book–just a little light-hearted guide for both English speakers who need a little help and also for those for whom English is a second language. You’ll find it now on Smashwords, which is clearly the place for free books! There’s also an interview, not about ‘What Did You Say?’, more of a general author interview.

Excerpt from ‘What Did You Say?’what did

Even more commonly misused is the apostrophe in that underrated little word ‘its’. I say underrated because everyone can spell ‘its’, right? There aren’t many words in the English language easier to spell than that one – not only does it have only three letters but it’s spelt the way it sounds, so how could there be any problem?

 

The problem, of course, is that many people get confused with the possessive apostrophe. They know that if we talk about Jill’s hat or Joe’s room or the dog’s bone we use an apostrophe to indicate possession. We can also indicate if the bone belongs to more than one dog, simply by moving the apostrophe to the other side of the ‘s’. More on this later.

Possessive pronouns like his, her and their don’t require an apostrophe. Most of us understand that because these words have no use apart from the possessive form.

‘Its’ however, marches to its own drum to a certain extent and I do have some sympathy for people who have a problem with its misuse. It is a pronoun, like she and he, but, unlike them does not have a separate form for its possessive use and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of slipping that apostrophe in. It’s essential to remember that every time you use an apostrophe in ‘it’s’, you are in fact stating ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. There is no reason ever to use an apostrophe in the possessive form of its. It is simply the possessive form of the pronoun it, in the same way as his is the possessive form of the pronoun he.

***

Apart from this one and a short story, both free on Smashwords, all my books are at Amazon–free at the moment is my book of short stories, ‘Connections’, which ranges from romance and humour to murder, so something for everyone.

BookCoverImageconnections

Connections‘ in the UK.

Happy Reading.


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Sorting Fact from Fiction

Does anyone else get a bit annoyed when they’re reading a book which purports to be non-fiction but is clearly riddled with fiction elements–the way people are feeling, for example, or what they were thinking about? It’s possible, if the writer is using diary entries, to stick to the facts and still include such details, but generally they must be invented. I don’t object to that style of writing at all–it makes the characters seem more real and makes the book more interesting, but I do like to know what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my all-time favourite genres is historical fiction–I’ve always been fascinated with history but even more so when it’s interpreted by a great writer. Some writers do let the reader know at the end of the story just what’s real and what isn’t and that’s what I did in my historical fiction, “Her Flesh and Blood”. BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I attended university a few years ago as a mature age student, majoring in history. I loved it, especially the research, which I expected to find horribly boring. I admit some of the books were, but the primary research was absolutely fascinating. Reading newspapers over 100 years old and handling original letters written by a murderess before she committed her crimes, in 1910, I felt incredibly privileged! I wrote my Honours thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder; as I said, the research was amazing, but writing within the boundaries of a university thesis was a hard slog.

After I graduated I felt I had to use the material I hadn’t been able to use for my thesis, that the story needed to be told, and I wrote “Not Guilty“, the story of the worst of the cases I studied, which, coincidentally, took place in the town where I live. This is a true account and the newspaper accounts are very creative but, as a writer with a fiction background, I was frustrated by what, in spite of all my research, I could not find out about my protagonist, Camellia McCluskey, so I not guilty 2014 coverblogdecided to give her a life of her own and wrote a fictionalized account. Having been somewhat obsessed with this horrific crime for several years it was a bit like an exorcism when I wrote “Her Flesh and Blood“. I was able to say what I wanted to, without the restrictions and I made sure I noted at the end of the book what was factual and what wasn’t! I also published my original thesis, “Demented Mothers“, on Amazon, for those who like all the facts and the sources and especially for anyone who might be studying the topic.

It’s the last day of 2014 here in Oz–Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful.

My grammar guide, “What Did You Say?” and my children’s book, “No-one’s Good at Everything“, are free from December 31 to January 2.


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Blog Hopping!

Thanks to Sandy Curtis for tagging me for this blog hop.

Sandy Curtis lives on Queensland’s Central Coast, not far from the beach where she loves to walk and mull over the intricate plots in her novels. Her husband says he doesn’t know how she keeps it all in her head, and her friends think she must be far more devious than she appears.

Actually, after having dealt with the chaos involved in rearing three children, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a kookaburra (teaching it to fly was murder), creating complex characters, fast-paced action and edge-of-your-seat suspense is a breeze for Sandy.

Her first five novels were published by Pan Macmillan Australia, were nominees in the Ned Kelly Crime Awards, and two were finalists in the mainstream section of the Romantic Book of the Year Award. They were also published in Germany by Bastei Luebbe, and are now available as e-books from Clan Destine Press. Her sixth thriller, Fatal Flaw, and seventh, the recently released Grievous Harm, are published by Clan Destine Press in print and as ebooks.

Sandy was a magazine feature article writer for two years, a newspaper columnist, and has had short stories and serials published in leading Australian women’s magazines.

She was a member of the Management Committee of the Queensland Writers Centre for four years and has presented many writing workshops, including the 10-day USQ McGregor Summer School Creative Writing course. She has organised WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival, since its inception in 2005. In December 2012 she was presented with the Johnno Award by the Queensland Writers Centre for her “outstanding contribution to writing in Queensland”.

Interviewers often ask Sandy to describe her normal writing day. “Normal is when the chaos in my life subsides to frantic rather than frenzied. I once told a friend that I must have a chaos attractor glued on my forehead and she said that creativity hovers on the edge of chaos, to which I replied that I’d long ago fallen off the edge into the middle.”

Her various occupations, from private secretary to assistant to a Bore Licensing Inspector, as well as hitch-hiking around New Zealand and learning to parachute, have given Sandy lots of people and research skills. It’s the paperwork going feral in her office she has trouble with.

Now I’m going to answer some questions about my current novel, ‘The Road to Karinya’, which should be out before Christmas.

MEET THE CHARACTER

Answer these questions about your main character from a finished work or work in progress:

1.) What is the name of your character?

Prue King

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Fictional

3.) When and where is the story set?

Prue’s story is in the 1970s—her mother Ellie’s story is also told, set mostly in the 1940s. The story begins with Prue and her friend Sally leaving Sally’s home in Mildura, country Victoria—the girls head off on a road trip that takes them to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Ellie’s story starts in Adelaide, South Australia, and finishes at Karinya Station in New South Wales.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Prue is nineteen, young and innocent, having spent most of her life on the outback station with her parents and six sisters. She wants to experience life away from the station where she grew up and has worked briefly in Mildura and Melbourne but always missed her home. The road trip with her best friend is her way of forcing some distance from her family and growing up; she wants to be an independent woman.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

A violent incident happens on Prue’s road trip around Australia and it has a devastating effect on her and on her budding romance with Dan.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

She wants independence and to do something different to the rest of her family. Other than that she really doesn’t know what she wants until the end of the story.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?  ‘THE ROAD TO KARINYA’

Readers of my rural romance ‘Stony Creek‘ might remember meeting Prue briefly as a fifteen year old—this is not a sequel but I decided Prue should have a story of her own. Although this is also rural in the true sense of the word, it’s not about station life in the way ‘Stony Creek’ was. Instead it’s about a station girl heading out to experience life away from home.karinya cover

Prue King is nineteen and lives on Karinya Station, one of seven girls. She and her friend Sally decide to go on the adventure of a live time—a road trip, right around Australia. Neither Prue nor Sally is in any hurry to settle down, unlike some girls their age. They want to see the country and be independent. When they meet brothers Dan and Steve on the Sunshine Coast Prue is stunned by her feelings for him, but her plans remain the same. She and Sally are determined to get to Perth where they will live for at least a few months and decide what their futures hold. When the girls leave the brothers behind though, a horrifying experience will change their plans and their lives, perhaps forever.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

I expect to have it finished within the next couple of weeks and published on Amazon before Christmas.

I’d like to introduce author Tony Riches, who I’m tagging to be next in line for this blog hop.

 About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, by Tony Riches

The year is 1441. Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, one of the richest men in the country and next in line to the throne, hopes to one day become Queen of England. Then her interest in astrology and the dark arts, combined with her husband’s ambition, leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king.

The beautiful Duchess Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. For ten years, she lives as the king’s prisoner in the finest palaces in the country, such as Leeds Castle in Kent, to some of the worst conditions, in Peel Castle on the windswept Isle of Man.

Finally she is taken to the Welsh fortress of Beaumaris Castle on the Island of Anglesey. More than a century after her death, carpenters restoring one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle discover a sealed box hidden under the wooden boards. Thinking they have found treasure, they break the ancient box open, disappointed to find it only contains a book, with hand-sewn pages of yellowed parchment.

Written in a code no one could understand, the mysterious book changed hands many times for more than five centuries, between antiquarian book collectors, until it came to me. After years of frustrating failure to break the code, I discover it is based on a long forgotten medieval dialect and am at last able to decipher the secret diary of Eleanor Cobham.

Henry VI. Part 2, Act 2, Scene 3:

King Henry:

Stand forth dame Eleanor Cobham, Glouster’s wife.

In sight of God and us, your guilt is great:

Receive the sentence of the law, for sins

Such as by God’s book are adjudged to death.

You, madam, for you are more nobly born,

Despoiled of your honour in your life,

Shall, after three days’ open penance done,

Live in your country here, in banishment.

The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available now in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK and Amazon US and in all popular formats on Smashwords

A short book trailer for The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available on YouTube


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Aussie Slang–Do I need a Glossary?

The novel I’m currently working on, ‘The Road to Karinya’, is written primarily from 1st person point of view, and, as the story is about two girls travelling around Australia, I am using slang occasionally. I don’t think I’m overdoing it and the truth is we’ve become so Americanized now that I’m not even sure which is ours any more! What I’m wondering is should I put in a glossary of slang terms?karinya cover

On the one hand I don’t want to treat readers as idiots–clearly if there’s a word or a term they don’t understand they can google it–and I’m not keen on the whole glossary thing. I don’t think I’d even fill one page with the slang I’ve used and it just seems silly. On the other hand I don’t want to alienate anyone who might have a problem with the lingo.

As I said I don’t think I’ve used that much slang–I’ve just read through the first ten pages and found eight examples that may or may not be Aussie slang. I don’t think the first pages are indicative of the novel over all and there’s probably less slang as the story progresses. I’d appreciate all opinions as to whether these terms need explanation:

barbie; (not my) cup of tea; in good nick; cuppa; goodies; big smoke; write-off; town bike.

They’d all be easier to understand in the right context of course and I think it’s pretty clear that ‘barbie’ isn’t referring here to a doll:

‘We were up bright and early, all ready to head off by eight o’clock. I’d said my goodbyes the day before to all my family; we had a barbie and my four older sisters all managed to turn up, with various husbands, boyfriends and my three nieces.’

Tell me what you think–are readers willing to look up terms they don’t understand?

My collection of short stories ‘Connections‘ is free on Amazon 1st and 2nd November–UK readers here.

Ditto my novel, a story based on a murder trial in 1910 Australia, ‘Her Flesh and Blood‘–UK readers here.

Reviews would be much appreciated, providing they’re positive ones of course!