Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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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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Free Short Stories

My short story collection, Connections, is free on Amazon until October 31st. If you’ve read a previous version this one does have those stories in as well as several new ones. I’m posting a few excerpts to pique your interest in the hope you’ll download your free copy and then write a fabulous 5 star review on Amazon for me! You might not like all the stories but you’ll almost certainly like one–they’re all very different.  And if you like one I’ll be happy for you to review the one you like.

I’m rather pleased with the cover on this one. It’s a photo of the Pinnacles in Western Australia and has nothing to do with any of the stories but I think it looks good. It’s an amazing place and was part of an amazing holiday hubby and I took a few years ago–actually part of a trip to watch our youngest son perform in a national musical theatre competition. He won of course and it was our first time in Western Australia so it was just fantastic.

THE RUNT OF THE LITTER

© Christine Gardner 2013

The boy stood at the edge of the cliff, staring at the waves smashing onto the rocks far below him. His coat, handed down from his father, flapped around his ankles in the roaring wind. Hugh was small for twelve and an onlooker would think he was in grave danger of losing his footing and slipping over the edge at any moment, but he was accustomed to the wind and had stood in this same spot far too many times since the death of his father four years earlier.

Before his father’s death, Hugh and his sister and brothers would never go anywhere near the cliff top; their father built a wall of rocks to keep his children and his sheep safe from the dangerous precipice. Since his death the wall had crumbled somewhat from the harsh and icy winds raging across the Atlantic Ocean and the cliff top had become a sanctuary of sorts for Hugh; a place of quiet isolation. Away from his stepfather.

THE COLD TRUTH

© Christine Gardner 2013

The water was dark and cold and she wore a strapless gown of pure silk—white with pearls sewn onto the bodice. She could feel the icy water up to her knees and she clung to him, trying to draw on his strength and calm.

He was dressed in a tuxedo and, at last noticing her shivering, he took off his jacket and helped her into it; she held her arms out like a child and she looked childlike as she stood there, tiny and trembling in the man’s jacket.

GOING HOME

© Christine Gardner 2013

“Get the hell out then!” she screamed at me through the screen door. So much for worrying about the neighbours. That was another ‘home’ I’d lost, the third in as many months. This one had lasted exactly two weeks; two weeks of tip-toeing around the house so as not to disturb the ‘man of the house’ who worked nights, and trying to avoid his blatant advances when he was awake.

Of course the landlady didn’t believe me; she was a lot like my mother that woman. All that stand by your man shit; all very well, but did they have to be deaf, dumb and blind?

INDEPENDENCE DAY

©Christine Gardner 2013

I’d been driving along the dirt track for about an hour when the noise started—sort of a regular clunk, clunk, clunk. I ignored it for five minutes, having a long-standing theory that most unwanted noises will go away by themselves if only they remain unacknowledged. It is, I admit, an as yet unproven theory and was not to prove itself on this particular occasion. I then decided I must have picked up something on one of the tyres, which would of course eventually drop off without any interference on my part. When the shrieking noise began, somewhere under the bonnet, I had to rethink that idea; I would have thought of a perfectly reasonable explanation for that too if only the car hadn’t then just stopped.

A PERFECT STRANGER

© Christine Gardner 2013

“So you risked your life for a perfect stranger?” She smiled at the camera and managed a look of astonishment for Harry’s heroism.

“Dunno about perfect,” someone in the crowd muttered.

“Pardon?” said the blonde.

“Wouldn’t say old Dick was perfect.”

HELPING OUT

©Christine Gardner 2013

I think a lot these days; not much else to do really. I like to think about the old days; stands to reason I suppose. I was a child after all; life must have been easy mustn’t it? I can’t recall any time when my life was all that easy. My childhood?  Well some of it was easy enough but it certainly was never any golden age of happiness and innocence. My family wasn’t much like a TV family.

A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

A young man stood at the door, car keys dangling in his hand. He smiled, showing sparkling white teeth; he was well dressed and nice-looking, with neatly trimmed hair. So Lorna ignored the little niggling warning bell in her brain and said of course he could come in and use the phone. His car had broken down a kilometre away and hers was the first house he’d come across.

THE COST OF PEARLS

A dreadlocked head emerged from beneath the wildly coloured quilt. “I did?” The girl was sixteen and as emaciated as a model; heroin chic for real. She looked as if she hadn’t had either a shower or a change of clothes for at least a month; in fact it had been six weeks. Flora had been unable to persuade her to do either the previous night. She had only managed to put her to bed and remove her shoes. She would just have to wash the sheets today, that was all.

 

 Connections 99c at Amazon

 


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Having a break from murder . . .

I’ve been writing short stories lately, after spending the last few years on true crime and novels, and rather enjoying the change. For some reason though, my creative thoughts keep turning to murder. Those of you who’ve looked at my book list may not find that so strange but the beauty of writing short stories is the variety and I don’t want to get stuck on the one genre.

‘A Twist in the Tail’ is a step away from that then and, since I have nothing to write about today, I thought you might like to read a little tale.

A Twist in the Tail

© Christine Gardner

Shelley sprawled her lithe body on the black rock, trailing the fingers of one hand in the waves as they caressed the shore. It was a glorious spring day and she stretched luxuriously and arched her body, her naked pert breasts pointing skywards.

She smiled secretly to herself. They would all be watching, she was well aware. And Daniel would pretend to be cross at her public display but she knew he was proud of her and pleased that everyone envied him. He was the most handsome of all the guys and they were the undisputed leading couple at the school.

She’d known Daniel pretty much all her life and had always known they were destined to be together, but it wasn’t until they hit puberty that they became a couple. Their relationship developed from friendly flirting to secret kisses and at last to passionate lovemaking. Both sets of parents were happy with the pairing and, since they’d waited until they were both sixteen before their first sexual encounter, had no problem at all with their connection.

Daniel was like the other half of Shelley; everything about him was the opposite of her. His hair was black like the rocks here at their favourite bay and his eyes, she told him, were like the ocean on a stormy day—green and grey and somehow changeable. His temperament was serene and not at all like the stormy sea, while Shelley could be, she admitted, somewhat tempestuous.

Shelley, Daniel said, had eyes as blue as the ocean on a calm summer’s day, and her hair, which was silky and fell to below her waist, was the colour of the white sand on the beach. Together they were complete; together they had everything.BookCoverImageconnections

Today was a special day. Daniel didn’t know yet but he and Shelley would be leaving the school—leaving their friends behind. She stroked her flat stomach, smiling her secret smile. When a girl became pregnant she and her partner had to join the family group and they’d see little of their old friends at the school until, each in turn, they would also join the family group.

Shelley and Daniel would no longer be the unofficial king and queen at the school but Shelley was looking forward to becoming a mother and she knew Daniel would make a great father. He had a lot more patience than she did.

She sat up at last. Daniel would be thrilled with her news and she suddenly couldn’t wait a minute longer to tell him he was going to be a daddy. She turned around to face the ocean and slid into the water. Gracefully she dove under the waves, swimming well underneath the white surf, and the cool water was welcome after the warmth of the sun.

Daniel and the rest of the school had watched her enter the water. He smiled, relieved; she tended to overdo the sun at times.

When she reached the group she emerged from the waves with a joyful jump into the air and the others joined in, playing like dolphins and showing off their blue-green tails, sparkling in the sunshine. None of the school noticed when Shelley took Daniel by the hand and led him away to their secret place to tell him her news. It was time for the school to find new leaders and time for Daniel and Shelley to join the family group and nurture their own little mermaids.

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Study in Blue–A very short story.

STUDY IN BLUE

©Christine Gardner

George Arnold got up at six thirty Wednesday morning. He had set the alarm for 6.45 but his inner clock had woken him at six. He lay under his warm eiderdown for half an hour, thinking through his plans for the day, then he jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom. He allowed himself an extra five minutes in the shower since he was up so early and he soaped his obese body thoroughly, lifting up his hanging belly to lather underneath, making sure he was scrupulously clean.BookCoverImageconnections

He shaved his underarms, his chest, his legs and as much as he could reach of the rest of his body. When he’d finished showering, he shaved his face, and then very carefully his head. He looked at his bushy eyebrows and then whipped them off with the razor as well.

He stood, naked and relatively hairless, in front of the full-length bathroom mirror. Then he picked up the spray can and began to paint himself blue. It took him a good 20 minutes. Every time he thought he was finished he would spot another bit of white flesh. He shut his eyes tight and sprayed his face. He sprayed his ears, hoping the paint wouldn’t block the ear canals. He needed to hear especially well today. He sprayed blue paint on all his most private parts, parts no one but himself had seen. Well, not for 50 years anyway. He had certainly looked considerably different when his mother had changed his nappies.

When he was quite sure he was totally blue and dry, he opened the front door, and walked straight out into the bright sunlight. He held his head high, and his eyes front. He saw Mrs Jones in her front garden from the comer of his eye and said “Good Morning”, but she didn’t answer. She was a little deaf, after all.

George was beginning to enjoy himself. It was cold, but the paint kept him warm to some extent, and it was very liberating feeling the fresh air where he’d never felt it before. He had lived in this street all his life; he knew every house would have a curtain opened and a face peering out. He just looked straight ahead, all the way to the end of the street.

When he knocked on the door of number 35 Rose opened it, her mouth gaping wide open at the spectacle on her doorstep.

George knelt on the prickly welcome mat. “Rose, you were right. I have led a boring life up to now. I thought I was too old to change, but I was wrong. You see me now as I can be, free and uninhibited. Now will you marry me?”

Rose laughed and grabbed his hands to help him to his feet. She put her arms around his immense bulk, drew him inside and shut the door. “George,” she said, “How could I resist this gorgeous body? Of course l’ll marry you.”

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