Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Beta Readers–yes or no?

I’ve just finished my latest novel, House of Dreams, which has taken me around two years, for various reasons. I had an operation this time last year but I was also in a bit of a writer’s block phase for quite a while. I had an ephinany, watching something on TV, when I realised I had to kill one of my tradies!

What that all meant was that I knew my final draft would need a lot of work. I’d forgotten names and had to keep checking back–Did I actually write that or did I just think about it?–Did I forget I killed that guy and mention him again?—Did I mention this before?–Lots of things that I knew I could easily miss myself.

My two elder sisters read all my books, usually in paperback form, so of course after they’re published, and invariably find at least a typo or two. Neither of them are really computer savvy; one does have a laptop but really bad internet. I sent her a USB with my story on it when she agreed to read it for me, and she was my first Beta reader! I also found two more in a Facebook group and all three were helpful in different ways, so I would say yes, find beta readers if you can. No matter how many times you read through your book you will miss things. And of course get an editor, but you’ll make things much easier for them and perhaps cheaper for you, if you get everything as clean and tidy as you can first.

Again because it had been two years since I published my last book, The Letter, I was unaware of the changes that had been made to the software I’d used before to build a cover. If I had no sons to help out I would not have been able to make a paperback cover at all. I refuse to buy Photoshop, since I don’t make covers often enough to spend that much and also it looks way too complicated. I do use GIMP, which is free, but have been using Pixlr as well. To cut this story a little shorter–Pixlr has ‘upgraded’ to a service that doesn’t do what I need but fortunately I was able to do everything on GIMP, which is fantastic!

This was also the first time I published a paperback without Createspace–going straight on to Amazon. I actually found it pretty good, possibly easier than CS was. I was a bit concerned though when I noticed the page count on their site for my ebook was 70 pages less than my paperback! I’d already sold some by then and I emailed Amazon first, then went through it all again myself. I’m still not exactly sure but I think they changed the spacing between lines. They’ve fixed it now so I’m happy with it all, at last. Whew!

All my books are available on Amazon, most as paperbacks as well as ebooks.

https://author-christine-gardner.site123.me/

 


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Sharing Previews

I’ve just found out I can share previews of all my books on Amazon. I have no idea how long this has been available but it seems like quite a good idea. The only one I’ve tried so far allowed a free read to well into the fourth chapter so readers should have a pretty good idea by then if they want to buy the book and read the rest. Or if it’s more suitable for their mother for Mothers Day, or their teenager. I’m going to attempt to list all my books here with the links to FREE previews.

STONY CREEK

THE ROAD TO KARINYA

RED WINE AND SUMMER STORMS

THE GIRL WHO LIVED UNDERGROUND

THE LETTER 

HER FLESH AND BLOOD 

THE INHERITANCE

NOT GUILTY

RUNT OF THE LITTER

WONDERLAND

BEAST OF WAR

DARK INNOCENCE

Maybe not all then, but if anyone wants a preview of any of the others I’m happy to provide one. Happy Mothers’ day!

                                                                                                                                                     


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Finding Lost Books and other friends

Do you have a book that you’ll never forget but you can’t remember the name of it, or the author? I like to try new (to me) authors and different types of books and those that have stuck in my mind tend to be by authors I haven’t read before. One that I only remember a little of was about people travelling to another planet by hot air balloon–I know, right? Sounds ridiculous but I enjoyed the weirdness, the fresh ideas of that book. I had no idea until yesterday even who the author was, since it was at least 2 decades ago that I read it.

I love Google and look up all sorts of things so I tried a pretty random search for a book ‘about people travelling to a different planet on a balloon’, without much hope, and found it! https://biginjapangrayman.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/the-ragged-astronauts-1986-by-bob-shaw/  Apparently I have quite good taste as it won an award and he was quite a prolific author. It’s probably one of those books that people either love or hate and I wouldn’t read it again because I might hate it now. I just really appreciate writers who can come up with bizarre ideas and somehow make them work.

Another book I loved years ago, for the same reason, and wouldn’t read again, for the same reason, is The Watcher. The name, strangely enough, popped back into my head a few years ago and that made it easier to find, although it’s not the only book by that title. It’s too weird to describe but well worth a read if you like horror/fantasy/psychological thrillers. https://www.amazon.com.au/Watcher-Charles-MacLean-ebook/dp/B006C3Q13O

There’s another book stuck in my head, something about people living on the edge of a chasm, but I can’t find it. There’s a number of books with Chasm in the title but I don’t remember enough about it–it may not even have that in its title.

I’ve also found, not on Google, but on Facebook, two people, one a cousin and one a friend, I haven’t seen in over 40 years, so the internet’s working well for me!

When I’m not on Facebook or Google, or learning French on Duolingo, or writing, I like making new covers for my books. Here’s the latest. You can find all my books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08herfleshandblood

 


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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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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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Writing Challenge–Write a paragraph beginning with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’.

I’ve just started writing short stories again and, in the pursuit of a topic, I was trying to think of a random first line. Years ago I was in a class for short story writing and the teacher used to give us a line, usually before our coffee break. It was great fun to see what different stories everyone came up with, starting with that same line. Trying to think of a line myself, that old favourite from the 19th century, ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ kept popping into my head, so I thought okay, why not? I wrote what I think is not a bad story and I thought it would be fun to see how many of you would like to join in the challenge. Maybe just a paragraph but don’t be surprised if it turns into a story. Here’s mine. (Search my archived posts for more writing challenges.)

 

A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

It was a dark and stormy night . . . Lorna pushed the delete button and chuckled out loud. I really am getting desperate, she thought. She pushed her chair back from the desk and stretched her arms above her head.  Definitely time for a coffee break. It wasn’t dark and neither was it stormy. It was late morning and the sun was shining brilliantly. That was a large part of the problem, she thought, as she topped up the kettle and rinsed her coffee cup. She needed dark and stormy. Who could write on such a glorious day? Her novel was meant to be full of horror, with evil and a good deal of gore thrown in for good measure. Trixie weaved himself around and through Lorna’s legs, looking for attention, and she bent down and picked him up. “I’m not finished though, Trix. Just because I’m not at the computer doesn’t mean I can sit down with you for the rest of the day.”

She did sit down with him, though, on their favourite armchair by the big window overlooking the lake. He curled up on her lap and she sipped her coffee, staring vacantly out the window and stroking the big tomcat with her spare hand. Trixie had turned up on her doorstep as a young cat—not a kitten exactly, but not full grown either. More like a teenager, Lorna told everyone. For some reason she’d thought he was female, perhaps because, once she’d cleaned him up and brushed his long, matted ginger fur, he was just so pretty. So she’d called him Trixie and when he’d turned out to be male, well, he wasn’t worried, so why would she be?

Lorna’s life had taken a sudden turn for the better a year ago when her partner had decided to fly the coop. Their relationship had become—not violent—but certainly fiery.  Lorna admitted she had a tendency to take things too far sometimes; she was hard to please, a perfectionist, and was better off living alone. She and Trixie got along well. On the spur of the moment she’d decided to quit her job as well as the flat they’d shared and look for a house in the country. She was only a couple of years short of pension age but she cashed in her super and some investments she had and bought a brand new computer and a nice little cottage; she had enough to live on for a couple of years if she was careful. She was going to be a professional writer, just as she’d always wanted.

Everything was set up, but her life now was too easy. She was too content. She wanted to write about murder and mayhem but the sun was shining, the birds were singing and she couldn’t, just couldn’t, think murder and mayhem on such a day. There was a knock on the door and she put down a reluctant cat. It was very unusual to get visitors out here in the summer. It was a cottage meant for the snow season and somewhat isolated in the summer, which was why Lorna chose it. She wanted to be alone while she waited for the inspiration she knew would come. Eventually. 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.

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am, Miss . . . Mrs?”

“Lorna will do fine.”

He held his hand out. “I’m Pete. Pete Woodross. I just came up for a look around. On holidays, you know, down in the village.”

She nodded. “Not much to do around here in the summer.” “

You’re telling me!” He looked around the bright and airy room. “Nice place you’ve got here though.”

She nodded again. “I like it.” She gestured to the phone on the wall beside the little entrance table. “The phone’s over there. You don’t have a mobile?”

He took it out of his pocket to show her. “Yes, for all the use it is. No reception up here at all.”

“Really? Maybe you should change providers. Mine seems to work all right.” She reached her hand out but he put the phone back in his pocket. “You go ahead and make your call.” She still held her half empty cup in her hand and felt obliged to ask, “Would you like a coffee . . . or tea?”

He grinned. “I’d kill for a cup of tea, thanks.”

She tipped her now lukewarm coffee out and made them both a cup of tea; she put them on the kitchen table and then got the tin of cookies out of the pantry and put a few on a plate. She could hear him talking on the phone in the foyer.

“Hello. Yes. I’m a member.” He said a rather long number and then gave the street name nearby where he said his car was. Then, “An hour? But . . . surely . . . It’s not that isolated! How busy can they be?”

Lorna sat at the table and at last he came out and joined her. “How did you go?” she asked.

“Oh, okay,” he answered, his mouth full of homemade choc chip cookie. “Be a while though. At least an hour.” He looked around the room again. “Mind if I hang out here? I won’t get in your way.”

She frowned, not knowing what to say.

“I could just sit there and watch TV, if that’s okay? Or read a book? Got any good books?”

She nodded slowly. “Probably. What sort of books do you like?”

He flashed his teeth again, now slightly less white, with the remains of the chocolate chips showing here and there between them. “Murder’s my thing. Probably not yours though, I’m guessing. You look more like the romance type.”

Lorna shook her head vigorously. “Definitely not. I’m far too level-headed for that; seen far too much of life.”

He nodded slowly, looking at her carefully. “That’s good,” he said quietly. “Excellent.”

For some reason disturbed, Lorna got up hastily and went to the bookshelf in the lounge area partitioned off from the kitchen only by a wall unit. The young man followed close behind her but she didn’t look back. Not even when she felt his breath on her neck did she turn around. Instead she closed her eyes, not wanting to see the bright airy room, not wanting to look at Trixie, who still sat on the armchair, watching his mistress and the visitor. As the young man’s hands went around her neck and squeezed the life from her it started raining outside and everything became black; there was thunder too, or was it just in her head? No matter. Her last thought before she lost consciousness was ‘It was a dark and stormy night’.

Please visit my author page for more info on all my books on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk  

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Author Website

Also at other digital stores, including Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble: Books2Read 

More information on my Book Page.

Stony Creek is free–the first in a series but can be read as a standalone. Of course I’m hoping you’ll buy the other two, but because you like book 1 and want more, no cliffhangers!