Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Self-publishing with RSI

The great advantage of self-publishing is, of course, there’s no deadlines other than those you set yourself–always a good new the inheritance coveridea I think. Well, usually. Sometimes? I have vague deadlines, usually short term ones like so many words per day or per week, rather than ‘I must finish this book by whenever’. My output has dropped a lot this year because I’ve developed RSI, and yes, I’m well aware I’m not the only one and I’m curious as to how other writers deal with it.

no-one coverI tried a hand therapist, who fitted me with a brace thingy–I hated it but it helped a little, I think. I found it very awkward though and kept looking. My son, another RSI sufferer, had successfully treated his problem using pressure on trigger points. You find the trigger point, which is not the place you have the symptoms at all, but elsewhere, probably in your arms, but could be in your shoulders as well. You use various balls, such as tennis balls, and press your arm against a ball, exerting pressure on the point.

That’s probably a very bad explanation but I did find that helped. I also bought a wrist support for the computer keyboard and my husband removed the arms from my chair–I think they made my wrists position badly on the keyboard. As well as all that though, I’ve also reduced my writing time to about half of what I used to do and try to break it up throughout the day, instead of all at once. It’s not easy but I’m getting used to it.

doglastkinblogI’m off next week to my old home town of Mildura for my mother’s 95th birthday. Mildura is a focal point in several of my books–the Red Dust outback romance series as well as ‘Dark Innocence’, so I’m going to take photos this trip and post them when I get back. You’ll find them in my Pictures of Oz page.darkamazon

My children’s book ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’ is free on 15th and 16th of this month, and ‘Last Chance’, for older children, on 19th to 21st. For adults ‘The Inheritance’ is free on 22nd and 23rd April.

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Surprise endings

For the first time in months I’ve read not one, but two books that I actually enjoyed. One was ‘The Brave’, by Nicholas Evans, the writer of ‘The Horse Whisperer’, which was what caught my attention. The other was ‘Fractured’, by Dani Atkins, who I hadn’t heard of before. ‘Fractured’ is really a love story, but, without giving too much away, it’s more than that. It’s a mystery, set in two different time zones, about Rachel, who appears to be living in two different dimensions. Apologies to Dani Atkins if that’s not a good way to describe it; it’s hard to describe without giving too much away. The main thing is that I loved the ending and it was unexpected.

‘The Brave’ is about Tom, who we meet as a child, early on in the story, when he visits his mother on death row. That’s quite a hook and it’s not until we near the end of the  book that we start to get an inkling of the truth about her. Like ‘Fractured’, ‘The Brave’ is also set in two different time zones, apart from that the two books have little in common, but I do love a book that keeps me reading because I don’t know how it will end.

Horror was my favourite genre for many years and Stephen King my favourite author. When I wrote my first book for adults,new the inheritance cover ‘The Inheritance’, I wanted to write like him, although I very quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. I was happy with the book though and still am–the ending is not entirely unpredictable but, judging by some of the reviews, shocked some readers. Most reviews were positive though and two who didn’t like it compared it to a Stephen King novel, so, as you can imagine, I was pretty happy about that.

My current writing is rural romance–I’m working on Book 3 of a series, the first two being ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘The Road to Karinya‘, and if there’s one rule of romance it’s that there must be a happy ending. Still, there’s no reason there can’t be a few surprises along the way.BookCoverImageconnections

Surprise endings work especially well in short stories and my short story collection, ”Connections‘, is free right now on Amazon, as is my YA sci-fi novel ‘Sanctuary‘.

sanctuary cover 2014


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Roo Poo

It’s autumn here in Oz–my favourite time of the year—not a fan of the summer heat, and winter, although welcome in the beginning, soon outstays its welcome. Autumn is perfect, warm days and cool nights developing into cool days and cold nights. And the trees changing colour before they lose all their leaves and become drab. We don’t have any deciduous trees in our garden, just natives, all of which are evergreen, but I don’t have to walk far to enjoy the autumn display.

I’ve just been to a small park nearby and soaked up the smell of eucalyptus–it’s great when the eucalypts are damp from the rain. I was strolling along with my nose in the air when I happened to glance down and realised I needed to watch where I was walking. There was roo poo everywhere!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

There’s a national park area not far from where I live and there’s been a lot of new homes put up since we moved here around 15 years ago. I did see a few kangaroos on my walks in those early years and it’s nice to know they’re still around. Obviously we’ve stolen some of their territory but, be assured, they’re not at risk.

For those of you who don’t know much about Australia, it must look like a sparsely populated country, with plenty of room for more people. Which if course it is, in theory. The trouble is most of us tend to cling to the coastline or at least places with some kind of civilization. I live in a regional inland city which only really came about because of a gold rush many years ago. We don’t even have a river, much less a view of the coast, and it would be very difficult to live in any such area without the assurance of a water supply.

Much of inland Australia is desert and uninhabitable, at least to those of us who likekarinya cover water and power. So we keep building more houses near already established towns and we do rob the wildlife of their habitat; at least we are aware of the problem now and hopefully we can find some way around it. I hear conflicting stories–our koalas are dying out in some areas because of chlamydia, while in other areas they’re being culled because there’s just too many and they’re in danger of starving to death.

That’s a grim note to finish on but I’m very hopeful the experts will find a solution and I do know they’re trying. My last couple of years I’ve been writing stories based in the outback and I’m on the last one of the series, which, as yet, is nameless. The first two are ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘The Road to Karinya‘.


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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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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!