Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Happy New Year?

It’s the first day of 2017 here in Oz; according to my world clock it’s still last year elsewhere, but Happy New Year wherever and whenever you are!

I sometimes think the millions of dollars spent on New Year celebrations, especially fireworks, is a complete waste of money and could be used more effectively elsewhere. I’ve not been to any of the city firework shows and they look amazing but the effort put in to getting a good spot is ridiculous. People come from all over the world to camp out overnight around Sydney Harbour; one young man from Taiwan, the first in line, had been there from 6 am the morning before New Years Eve. I hope it was worth it for him! I also think all that smoke would drive me nuts, not to mention the crowds. 500,000 people were there, in spite of, or maybe because of, terrorist threats!

I am, of course, a grumpy old woman, and if I was in my twenties and lived in Sydney or any major city, I’d probably be there, drink way too much and regret it the next morning. But I’d have a ball, of course. And to see so many people of all colours, children and adults, enjoying themselves together and loving the spectacle makes me think perhaps it is worth the money. Maybe we should have more such celebrations that everyone can agree on.

When I was a kid, in the country, we always celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. Generally there was a vacant block of land somewhere in the neighbourhood and we’d get together with family and friends and write in the air with our sparklers while Dad and the other men lit rockets and wheels that were pinned on to poles and spun around, throwing sparks everywhere. It’s a fond childhood memory, but gatherings like that are now against the law and while a part of me thinks that’s a great pity, the fact that two men died last night using illegal fireworks makes me agree we probably can’t go back to that. I have no idea if anyone was killed back in the days of my childhood from firework accidents although I’m quite sure there were injuries. Now I doubt there could be such a family occasion without alcohol, which would be disastrous.

I enjoyed a celebratory can of bourbon and coke and managed to stay awake long enough to watch the Sydney fireworks on TV and I’m happy with that. I did consider driving into town and standing around watching the fireworks–I live in a regional city and they do put on quite a good show–but my recliner was more appealing. Now the new year is here and Christmas is over and I really must get back to work this week; I have a book half finished and the other half is swirling around in my head! I wish you all a great 2017.

I have a couple of books for the kids free on the 2nd and the 8th of January and I’ll post the links then to my Facebook page or you can check my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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Inheriting

Some people inherit millions of dollars and some just their dad’s blue eyes or their mum’s bandy legs (Yep–that’s me!). My mum is 96 and still lives at home, on her own, although she does have some help now. She’s constantly trying to pass all her worldly goods to her family and when I saw her recently (I don’t live nearby) she was very insistent that I sort through her odds and ends and take anything I or my kids might like.

It might seem odd inheriting stuff while the benefactor is still alive and well but actually I can see my mother’s side of it now. She knows how much I love old stuff and she has so much that belonged to her parents. Her father was a ships’ engineer and travelled the world, often bringing back gifts for his family. I’m not talking about things of material value–just interesting bits and pieces. We had a lovely afternoon going through everything and she was really pleased, knowing some of her things had a new home, because I think she was afraid they’d be trashed. I’m not sure how much value my children will place on the family heirlooms but hopefully some of the stuff will survive. It is, after all, just stuff, and we either remember our grandparents or we don’t. My paternal grandparents died before I was born so I have no memories of them but my family research on them has been interesting just the same.new the inheritance cover

I have a free ebook this week–a rather different look at inheritances! ‘The Inheritance’ is free on Amazon until the 21st of August. It tells the story of a young woman, dumped by her long term boyfriend, and unhappy in her career, who inherits a charming country cottage when her great uncle dies. She loves the picturesque Rose Cottage and decides to make a complete life change–she’ll quit her job and start her own business from home. There’s something not quite right about Rose Cottage though and Jo’s life will never be the same again.

For information on all my books please visit my author page at Amazon.com or Amazon UK


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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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Going Home. And coming back home again.

I’ve just been back to my home town, a trip I’ve been doing at least once a year for my mother’s birthday. She turned 94 and is well, but I’m always very conscious of the fact it could be the last time I see her. Of course I could die tomorrow myself but you know what I mean. Mum has already outlived her parents but her grandfather was 98 when he died, so we have good genes.

It always feels a little odd going home, because of course it’s not my home anymore. I’ve lived in Bendigo now for over 20 years and this is home but Mildura is where I spent most of my childhood and those teenage years I remember so well. It’s curious how places I’ve lived and people I knew pop up in my stories, almost of their own accord. Not that I would deliberately use any actual person in any of my fiction stories, but they are all influenced in some way by real people. At least the best ones are.

Place is something I’ve certainly made use of in stories and experiences of my own, like hitch-hiking to the river on a hot day and running across burning bitumen with bare feet, both of which I’m using in the story I’m working on now, ‘Dark Innocence‘. My last book, ‘Stony Creek’, is a rural romance and I used my own memories of living in Melbourne as well as attending a wool-shed dance in the outback as a child. I did grow up in a country town, but I had to research for that one, my knowledge of life in the outback being minimal. Quite a lot came from the recesses of my memory locker though! I suspect writing in 1st person makes it easier to access those memories and I chose to do that, as doubtful as I was at how that would be received. It’s actually doing very well on Amazon so there are clearly plenty of readers who are happy to read in 1st person.

So after driving around Mildura and visiting some of the old haunts with my sister, as well as a very nice new art gallery, and seeing my other siblings and a couple of nephews and nieces, I’m back home and happy to be here.

Details on all my books at Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Happy reading.

 

 

Innocents or Innocence?

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Innocents or Innocence?

Which title has the most appeal? My latest book, which is not quite complete, is about teenagers in a country town, which, although I don’t name it, is pretty much the town where I grew up. In my story, which will most likely be a novelette, a girl falls, or is pushed, off a station platform onto train tracks and the only suspects are a group of out-of town boys she’s been hanging out with.

The boys are in town for the grape harvesting season and that alone makes them immediately suspicious in small-town Victoria in the sixties, where seasonal workers, although essential, are viewed with distaste by many locals.

I think things are different now, although I haven’t lived in the area for over 20 years. I do visit though; most of my family still lives there and I’m going over next week for my mother’s 94th birthday.

Basing a story in my home town has been fun, especially since it’s set in the sixties and I’ve been able to use my own memories to set the scene. Memories of hot summer days, running across hot bitumen roads barefoot and hitch-hiking to the local sandbar. (Sorry Mum.) I’d be horrified if my kids hitch-hiked anywhere but we all did it in those days. And survived. I’m not sure if it’s just the rosy glasses of the past or if the world was really a much safer place then. Certainly bad things happened but we were not so aware of them unless they actually happened in our town. These days we hear of shocking incidents on a daily basis,  from all over the world, and I sometimes wonder if this is a good thing for our kids. The media generally seems to dwell on the bad and ignore the good. But I have to confess as a fiction writer I also tend towards the dark side, although I have written romance as well as murder and mayhem!

I’ve almost finished the first draft of Innocents (or Innocence), but it will certainly require a bit more work afterwards; I find if I get stuck on a scene sometimes it’s best to just go onto another one and I’ve done that a lot with this story. Now I have to go back and link them all together.

I have two books free on the 14th April, Last Chance and Sanctuary; both are science fiction and were intended for young adults, although Last Chance is for younger young adults and I’ve found it’s mostly adults who read Sanctuary.

Happy Easter to everyone and I hope you have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends and have a good break.

Innocents or Innocence?

Innocents

Innocents


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Back to Smashwords

I’ve decided to re-publish some of my books with Smashwords, just to see how they go. I like the idea of having more options and not being locked into Amazon’s rules, although one of my major reasons was that Smashwords allowed the use of various reading devices, like smartphones, while Amazon ebooks only worked on kindles. I’m pleased to see they’ve changed that and you can now download kindle books to any kind of reader. There’s a link at Amazon to do that and it’s free so if you thought you had to buy a kindle to read Amazon ebooks, that’s no longer the case. Good news.

Anyway, another reason I had was that I wanted to make my little ebook on grammar, spelling and punctuation, ‘What Did You Say?’ free all the time and Amazon doesn’t give me that option.  I wrote this one, not as a comprehensive teaching tool, but as a collection of useful tips about common errors people make that some of us find very annoying. Grocer’s apostrophes for example. Grocers who put signs out the front of their shops advertising ‘Tomatoe’s and Potatoe’s’. Sign-writers are pretty good at that too, only they do it in much bigger print. Have a look and feel free to share ‘What Did You Say?’ with all your friends. I also have a brief interview on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ChristineGardner

I have a free book on Amazon, from the 5th to the 9th of November, called ‘Beast of War‘, a fantasy for kids. This is one of my favourites–I really enjoyed writing it and was kind of sad when I’d finished. I even had a sequel in mind but it’s hard to find a market for kids’ books. If you know anyone between the age of 9 and 13 I’d love their opinion on Beast. Or yours.

One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can edit even after your book’s published–or is that not a good thing? Debatable, I suppose. I have no desire to keep editing the same book for the rest of my life! I have been doing a bit of editing though, on my true crime, ‘Not Guilty’ and I decided to play around with the cover as well. I only meant maybe a change in the background colour really but I kept playing with it until I lost the original cover and, more importantly, the photo on it. One would think I had a copy somewhere but the only one I can find is too small to use. I suspect my computer holds lots of secrets, as does my house, of missing bits and pieces, never again to see the light of day.

I decided then to do something different–I have some rather nice photos of a certain place where my protagonist spent some months, under lock and key, after her crime, and I thought one of those might make a nice cover. Much to my surprise I was denied permission to use them (my own photos) as the organization didn’t like the association. Now I’m waiting to see if I can get permission to use a photo of the courthouse where she was tried. Hopefully they’ll be more accommodating. If not, I’ve found a rather good on-line site for free pictures http://www.morguefile.com/archive and there’s one there that will do. Most such sites seem too difficult and have all kinds of conditions attached but this one’s good.

Happy reading.


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Free Sanctuary! Ebook on Amazon 15 to 19 July.

Sanctuary is a sci-fi book for young adults, set in the 25th century. It’s a post-apocalyptic story, a subject which always fascinates me; I love to read different writers’ ideas about the future of the world. My future world is not a pretty one but there is hope and the qualities which make us human are still there. Although I did write it for young adults I know plenty of adults enjoy YA fiction–it’s easy reading and, hopefully, enjoyable. If you do find the time to read it and enjoy it please take another few minutes to write a brief review, either on Amazon or Goodreads or both.

On a slightly different subject, but still about the future of our world–a certain 5 year old, who shall remain nameless, was visiting the other day and an ad came on the TV–one of those ubiquitous ads displaying the wonders of some exercise machine–and he told me he wanted to get one when he grew up. I asked him why and he said because he wanted to ‘get fit’! I should point out that this child never sits still-is constantly running everywhere, is tall for his age and has not an ounce of extra fat anywhere on his body. Yet already he’s getting the message that he needs the latest gadget to improve himself!

My children are adults now but I do remember talking to them about advertisements, especially those on TV, and pointing out the ridiculousness of some of the claims made. It’s sad, but parents, you really have to tell your children that sometimes people lie.

All good parents are careful about the programs their children are allowed to watch on TV, but do they notice the commercials? I think we’re so accustomed to them, especially those that seem to be on all the time, that we tend to tune them out. I know I do. Just be aware that your kids may not have the same filter and that they can’t read the disclaimer that tells us, for example, that the miracles we see in front of us are actually the result of a combination of diet and exercise, rather than ten minutes a day on a magic machine!

Morning television here in Australia is full of both exercise machines and life insurance ads, neither of which are suitable viewing for children. Is this is a time you put your feet up and watch TV while your child plays near by? Perhaps you could just push the mute button when the ads are on–you might think your child’s not taking any notice but he probably is! I know, from experience, how convenient it is to put your child in front of the TV, while you get on with whatever you have to do, and I’m not saying that’s a bad idea. Just be careful and don’t forget to read books to them. This is beginning to sound like a mummy blog!

Happy reading.