Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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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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The plural of ‘you’.

It used to be Australians used the term ‘youse’ and some still do. I don’t think I do and it’s generally considered one of those ‘bogan’ words the rest of us avoid. Well-known Texan, Dr Phil, uses y’all, which has a nice ring to it if you have the right accent, but I suspect that’s the American version of youse and is not universally acceptable now in the US if it ever was.

So what is the plural of ‘you’? In the news today our Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has chastised people for using the term ‘guys’ to refer to people of both genders. I must admit I’ve never been offended by this. If you were to call me a guy, as an individual, I might be, but if, for example, I get a text saying “Are you guys home?” it’s clear that refers to both my husband and me. If the text said “Are you home?” then it refers to me only. I’d probably be offended, or puzzled at least, if I got a text saying “Are you men home?” but the term ‘guys’ has somehow become gender neutral, hasn’t it?

I have five adult sons and I tend to still call them ‘the boys’ but since they now all have wives or girlfriends I might use the term ‘guys’ if I’m talking about the guys and the gals together. I’d be interested to see some feedback from our friends in the USA, since we obviously took over ‘guys’ from you. Has the usage changed there? Is it more or less non-gender specific or are we just lazy? Maybe we should speak correctly and say “Are you and your husband at home?” Generally language issues do annoy me but in everyday speech and texts I think we should all just take a chill pill. The language is evolving and BookCoverImageconnectionsit will continue to. She’ll be right mate.

sanctuary cover 2014

‘Sanctuary’, my Sci-fi novel for young adults, is free right now (June 1-5) on Amazon and my collection of short stories, ‘Connections’, will be free from the 3rd to the 7th. For details on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon UK.

 

 

 


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Freebies on Amazon and Smashwords

Has anyone had any luck making their ebooks permanently free on Amazon? I have a couple of small ones free on Smashwords, one a short story, an excerpt from my short story collection, and the other a book on grammar and punctuation. The short story, obviously, is a promotional effort, leading to the collection, while the other one, at only 19 pages, I’d simply like to give away to help anyone who needs to improve their written English. It’s not, by any means, a comprehensive guide to the English language but I have a few little tricks to help remember where apostrophes go and indeed what they are actually for, among other things.

I read somewhere to go to the book’s page on Amazon and scroll down to Product Details and then below that to ‘tell us about a lower price’, then type in Smashwords URL and the price. I did do that and I also emailed Amazon, who said they can’t offer any books for free, apart from the 5 days through KDP Select. They do though and I suspect if I can get enough people to inform them of the lower price available on Amazon they will eventually match the zero price.what did

It might seem an odd request, to help me get my book prices lowered to zero, but I’d appreciate it if you take a minute to do that for me and I’ll let you know if it works.

The books in question are ‘Brown Dog’, at Amazon and at Smashwords, and ‘What Did You Say?’ at Amazon and at Smashwords.

My YA book, Sanctuary, is free on Amazon for two days, July 1st and 2nd, and I have a Countdown offer on Not Guilty, starting at 99c on June 30th and then 1.99 on July 1st. Not Guilty is a true story about a mother who killed her three children, in 1910, in a country town in Australia.

It’s freezing here, and wet. Winter is well and truly with us and I’ve had enough of it and am ready for some sunshine. Still it’s nice and cosy inside and I’ve been getting stuck into some writing–hit the 10,000 word mark in my latest novel today so pretty pleased with myself. Trying to discipline myself with a deadline of sorts and commit to 1000 words per day, except when I really have to go shopping or babysit, or anything else that comes along . . .


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Stuck in a time warp?

Do you tend to read or write in one particular era? I have an aversion to the 1920s, possibly because I’ve seen too many bad movies about that era. Other than that my first love was historical fiction, simply because I find history fascinating, and my second love was science fiction because I’m equally fascinated with the future. I’m always interested in the way different writers imagine our world in the future, or indeed other worlds.

When I started writing, my first novel was set in the 26th century and my second novel was set in both contemporary times and the 19th century, so no favoritism there! My latest two (Stony Creek and Dark Innocence) are set mainly in the 1960s and 1970s and I do find I rather enjoy writing about a time I have some personal memories of. I’ve just started another set in the 70s, which has some of my own experiences of living in Queensland and camping on the beach but most of it is pure fiction. I don’t have a name for it yet and I’ll probably be asking for help when I’ve finished, but that won’t be for a while yet. I’m not a very well-disciplined writer, unfortunately–life gets in the way sometimes. Often.

It’s looking like winter has arrived here and it is in fact the first day of winter so I can’t complain. It’s wet but not that cold yet–at least not inside! The trees are beautiful but they’ll soon be bare and we’ll be looking forward to spring. Not summer though. I don’t like summer much at all.

I have a couple of freebies for you this week–one from the future and one from the past! ‘Demented Mothers‘ is about infanticide in the early 20th century in Australia. This is not written as a true crime; it is a university thesis, so won’t be for everyone, but if you have an interest in the subject check it out. Free one day only, June 1st (USA time). Link for UK readers.doglastkinblog

The other one is ‘Last Chance’, which I wrote for pre-teen kids, but I’d be interested in others’ opinions as to what age it’s best suited to. It’s about a town destroyed by war and the aftermath, which sounds pretty grim, but ultimately it’s about hope. Anyway it’s free, so you may as well grab it, right? Free for 2 days, June 1st and 2nd. UK readers.

Cheers and happy first day of summer or winter, depending on where you are.

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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Kindle Countdown Deals–What do you think?

I haven’t given up yet. In theory I prefer the idea of a short-term discount on my books to giving them away. Give-aways are useful and I have one on now, Sanctuary, but only because its usual price is too low to qualify for the discount deal. They have to be at least 2.99 and most of mine are less than that. I cleverly thought, okay, I’ll increase the price of Sanctuary to 2.99 so I can then discount it to .99 for the Countdown Deal. Makes sense, right? And yet, for some unknown reason the system didn’t take on the price change. I waited patiently for a couple of weeks but it still didn’t happen so I made it free instead, until December 12th. This will be the last time it’s free because I’m taking it off Kindle Select and publishing it on Smashwords in January. I have a couple of books there now, including ‘What Did You Say‘, which is free all the time. There’s also an interview and I’d be happy for any suggestions you might have to add to that. Anything you think people might want to know?

The problem I have with give-aways, or problems plural, is that a lot of people, me included, download freebies and don’t get around to reading them and also I wonder if it’s off-putting for those who normally buy books to find the book they bought last week is free this week. So I’ve decided to make it a once only for any books now. When I download a new book, if it’s under 2.99 I’ll make it free for one week, once only and if it’s 2.99 or over I’ll discount it once only through the countdown deals. That sounds all lovely and organised doesn’t it? Then, after that exclusive 90 days with Amazon they’ll all go to Smashwords too. That’s a bit trickier and I’m not entirely sure it’s worthwhile but that’s the plan. Yay I have a plan!

Had a busy couple of weeks–Son number 4 was married on the 30th November, in Melbourne. It was a very unusual and wacky wedding and I loved every minute. Had a great time. I won’t bore you with all the details but I will say that the bride and groom entered dressed as a unicorn . . .

Then yesterday we had another trip to Melbourne to see son number 5 in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which was not what we were expecting at all. I tried to watch the 1996 movie the other night to get an idea of the story because I thought I’d have trouble following it on stage. The movie was so boring I gave up and I must admit I had reservations about the stage version, which turned out to not be exactly a stage version at all. It was in a book/coffee shop and the action was just everywhere. It’s impossible to describe without taking a couple of pages and I wouldn’t do it justice but it was funny and touching and just an amazing show, performed by new theatre group, The Carving Theatre Company.

So Christmas is nearly on us. My 5 year old grandson decorated our tree ( okay, I did tweak it a little after he left!) but honestly I don’t get the effort some people put into all that stuff. I love having all the family here and that’s the only thing that matters to me. We will eat a hot turkey and ham for lunch, no matter what the weather is, because that’s our family tradition. A lot of Aussies have swapped the turkey dinner for a barbecue or seafood and I’m not that bothered myself but we are having a Boxing Day barbie this year at son number 2’s new house, so that makes a change.

Sanctuary, by the way, is a sci-fi novel about a world in the 25th century, where two different cultures live–one underground and one in a converted shopping centre. No-one can live outside because the sun is deadly. It’s an adventure with a touch of romance–I wrote this one for young adults but I’ve found most of the readers are adults so don’t let the YA label put you off. If you’re in the UK, you can get it here. Positive reviews would be much appreciated!


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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  

Facebook Author Page  

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!


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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.


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Who reads Young Adult novels?

What is a young adult, really? In my state 18 has taken over as the official age of adulthood, which used to be 21. That means you have to vote (yes, it’s compulsory, whether you know or care anything about politics or not) and you are allowed to apply for a driver’s licence. It also means you can legally drink alcohol, so on the same day you get your licence you can get drunk. That doesn’t seem such a great idea to me but of course most ‘young adults’ drink well before it’s legal.

Of course when you apply for insurance for your car you might, as an 18 year old, be shocked to find your premiums considerably higher than those of a 25 year old. Insurance companies, like parents, know adulthood doesn’t start at 18. I’m not a psychologist and I’m not going to discuss the differences between men and women as far as maturity goes but everyone’s different. I think somewhere in the twenties is probably a more realistic figure for adulthood; anyway I digress. I want to discuss Young Adult books and who actually reads them. Clearly the term ‘young adult’ doesn’t refer to any legal definition of adulthood.

I studied Writing for Young Adults and many of us in the class felt that most YA novels were read by either other writers or kids at school who had to read them as part of the curriculum! That was when Harry Potter had just been discovered and before the Twilight series. A lot of YA novels tended to be a bit on the ‘preachy’ side and not what anyone really wanted to read. J.K Rowling found a great way of bridging that gap between children’s books and books for teens, by having her characters grow up with her readers, and I don’t know of anyone else who managed that so well.

There does seem to be a gap there–I filled that gap with comics and then teen magazines before I found adult novels I enjoyed. My sons mostly leapt from children’s books to huge fantasy books such as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, apart from the youngest, who was just the right age to grow up with Harry Potter.

So somehow, someone tried to fill in this gap with YA novels and there’s no doubt some of them have been very successful, both as books and as movies, like the Twilight series and The Hunger Games.

But at what age are children reading YA novels? There seems to be a disparity of age suitability within the YA group–some of them are more for pre-teens and early teens while others, such as those I just mentioned, are more for the older teens.

Would you be happy for your eleven year old to read the Twilight series or is this more for 15 and up? I don’t have any teenagers and would be interested to hear what age groups are reading YA fiction. I’ve written books for all age groups and have, on Amazon, two that I consider suitable for pre-teens and one for teens, called Sanctuary. I have that free on Amazon for one day only and would love to know what age you think it suits; it’s a science fiction novel set in the 25th century and the inspiration for it was a group of young homeless people I saw on a documentary years ago, living in an underground subway system. One of the girls was carrying a baby and I started thinking about what life would be like for that child if he actually grew up there–what if a whole generation grew up underground? Going on the basis that kids generally prefer to read books about people who are a couple of years older than they are I think it’s suitable for 14 to 16, and adults of course, who aren’t so fussy about age!

Happy reading.