Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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He said, she said.

what didWhen we’re writing, especially a novel, we seem to use ‘said’ an awful lot and, if we don’t, we try very hard to come up with alternatives, such as argued, yelled, whispered, spoke, declared and so on. The problem then is that using those kind of words can draw attention away from the dialogue they relate to. I completed a 2 year Diploma in Writing and Editing and we were taught that it’s better to use ‘said’ most of the time because it’s actually very unobtrusive. It becomes almost invisible to the reader, even though it seems overused to the writer, while substitutes can be used, of course, but too many actually detract from the story by being too ‘showy’.

A dialogue between two people doesn’t require ‘he said, she said’, every time each one speaks. We know if Joe said something the reply will come from Fred, because they’re the only two there. If the dialogue becomes too long it might become confusing but you can always include some action, such as Fred glared at Joe.”What the hell are you talking about?” Too much dialogue without action is usually a mistake in any case, as is too much action without dialogue. The same technique can also be used for larger groups of course, for example, Diane entered the room, “What are you two up to now?”

I’m not saying you should never use words like ‘whispered’ and so on, and you can easily overdo the action technique. Just don’t neglect that useful little word, ‘said’.

My ebook, ‘What Did You Say?’ on grammar, punctuation, etc. is free permanently on Smashwords and will help anyone who’s not sure about the correct use of apostrophes and a few peculiarities in the English language. There are other books as well as websites with similar information; mine is easy to follow and attempts to explain things in a way that’s easy to remember as well. My other books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

Stony Creek book2 karinya ebook

 

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Duvet Cocoon

Love it Jess! Reblogging.

Jess Writes

It was worse than ever that morning as you climbed out of the duvet cocoon, its comfort superficial but desperately appreciated, and the despair hit straight away. A tidal wave – no, too clichéd, you preferred to think of it as a syrupy, dripping liquid which seeped further and deeper into your pores with every movement, rapidly enough to overwhelm you in an instant but languidly enough to make you feel its burning stickiness creeping over and permeating every muscle and cell.

You couldn’t remember the last thing you’d eaten, the last thing you’d done before you went to bed. Had you brushed your teeth the night before? Who knows. But you knew how many of the little pills you’d taken, and the length of time their uplifting effect had lasted. Not as long as the last time. And not really that uplifting either.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, you whispered…

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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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Hell is in Hello

That phrase is from a song called ‘Born under a Wandering Star’, from the movie ‘Paint your Wagon’ and sung by the late great Lee Marvin.

‘Do I know where hell is, hell is in hello
Heaven is goodbye forever, it’s time for me to go
I was born under a wandering star
A wandering, wandering star.’

I came across something the other day and it got me thinking–I often think about the origins of words, especially the ones we use every day. It was suggested the word ‘goodbye’ was a contraction of ‘God be wi’ ye’, which makes sense to me. Now I tend to say ‘See ya’ or ‘Bye’, being even lazier, or perhaps less formal, and I don’t think that’s just me.

Of course, as an Aussie, my overseas friends might think I say g’day all the time but the truth is I think we’re more likely now to say ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. I noticed when I went for a morning walk a few days ago at a popular walking spot, everyone greeted me with something different. I tend to say ‘Morning’ in those situations and I had one or two reply the same, a couple of hellos, a hi or two and one g’day.

Anyway, back to the origins of words. I remember some of the books I read as a child, usednot guilty 2014 cover the spelling ‘hullo’ or ‘hallo’, whereas now ‘hello’ has become more commonplace. From my five minute internet research it seems the origin is either French or German, and was a word (hola) used to hail a ferryman. Something like ‘whoa there’ or maybe ‘hey!’ The invention of the telephone made it a common greeting which seems weird until you give it some thought; it would be weird not to have some kind of phone etiquette.

Another particularly interesting thing about the word is that is has, at various times, been spelt with every vowel in the English language, even ‘i’. I’m not aware of any other word with that claim to fame!

My true crime book, Not Guilty, is free until some time tomorrow, so if you have any interest in social history grab it now, and if you find it as riveting as I do a review on Amazon would be appreciated.  For more information on all my books on Amazon please visit my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK. All the best for Christmas and stay safe.


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Self-Publishing: Designing your own covers

inheritance-cs3rdBack to the trials and tribulations of self-publishing! One of the best things about self-publishing print on demand or ebooks is that you can always make changes. A tweak here and there, or fixing typos you’ve missed when someone else points them out to you after your book’s published! One of the worst things about self-publishing PODs or ebooks is that you can always make changes, which means, of course, nothing is ever quite good enough.

I’ve always had an interest in visual art and spent several years studying before swapping over to writing. That doesn’t mean I was good at it, just that I do have enough knowledge to make me frustrated at my limitations! So tweaking book covers is my weakness. Or is it my strength? I’m not sure on that one! I’ve been able to either use my own images or find free ones online until last year, when I paid a designer on fiverr.com for a cover for ‘Inheritance.’

Next I paid for an image for the cover of ‘Red Wine and sanctuary_cover_for_kindleSummer Storms’, and did the text myself; it was around $14, but I forget where I bought that. There’s a lot of online images available but often you have to buy a bulk number, rather than just one at a time. I have discovered one site I’ve used now for two new covers for old books, ‘Sanctuary’ and the POD image for ‘Inheritance’. They’re called CanStock Photo and both images I used were $7 USD each.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen of course you have to go through the whole uploading process again, which, after three or four years I still find very frustrating, but it’s worth it, if only because it makes me feel better. Until I get another idea. I’ve also built another new cover for the thesis I wrote when I was at university, 2005. It’s called ‘Demented Mothers’ and it is a thesis, not a light read, but definitely interesting. This cover has one of the mothers, Camellia McCluskey, in a ghostly effect using Pixlr, a free kind of photo shop, which is a lot of fun to mess around with.

‘Sanctuary’ is free on Amazon and Amazon.UK, from December 1 (USA time) to December 5.


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Writing Challenge–2nd person point of view

My writing is focused on novels these days but I do enjoy trying something different now and then. Think of it as a creative cleansing. The idea of writing a novel in the 2nd person is awful but I’m sure it’s been done. Try a paragraph or two and see where it takes you. As usual this is a challenge with no prize but feel free to add links to your paragraph in my comments section. Here’s my effort:

YOU NEVER KNEW

(c) Christine Gardner 2016

You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

You never knew what hit you. When you got up that morning you took your new suit off the hanger and carefully pulled it from the plastic covering. It looked schmick, you thought; the young bloke in the store had been right. It was nice to have a change from that funereal black you wore all the time. You weren’t so sure about the shirt—it was pale pink and you held it in front of you in the mirror and pulled a face. With your hair starting to grey at the sides and your beard definitely grey you wondered if you looked too much like a grey and pink galah.

You took one of your white shirts from the walk in robe you shared with nobody anymore and hung it on the doorknob. Old Dolly had done a good job of washing and ironing it, as she did all your clothes these days. She looked after you so much better than a wife would. And much cheaper. Also she knew when to keep her mouth shut, which was most of the time.

Your favourite tie, the grey one with the swirls of different shades of blue, would look perfect with the grey suit and the white shirt. You glanced over at the pink shirt again and shook your head. Definitely the white one; the pink one might do one day with one of your black suits, or jeans even. You hung it in the wardrobe and walked into the bathroom where you stood under the steaming hot shower and let your mind go to places usually banned. The shower was good for that, and bad. You didn’t really want to think about her but sometimes you needed to. Sometimes you just had to remember.

She was the prettiest thing you’d ever seen, natural blond with the most enchanting green eyes, like a fairy-tale witch, you teased her.  You’d simply had to have her; it wasn’t difficult. She was young and naïve and you were neither. You sent her flowers at first, then jewellery, and you took her to the best restaurants where you educated her palate with the best wines on the menu. You even bought her a brand new grey BMW; not the garish red one she wanted because you were trying to teach her what good taste was. You knew what was best for her and it wasn’t long before she did whatever you asked of her. Anything.

Then you got bored. She was, after all, very naïve. No matter what you tried to teach her she was just a pretty face with an empty head. In the bedroom she was magical; outside it she was as useless as a Christmas decoration at Easter time.

You looked in the bathroom mirror and smiled as you dried yourself. Not bad at all for an old bloke of fifty two, you thought. Not bad at all. You sprayed yourself with deodorant and splashed aftershave here and there, even though you weren’t shaving. The Armani one. Dropping the wet towel on the floor you went out to the bedroom and pulled on your Calvin Klein jocks and socks and then dressed in your white shirt and new grey suit.

The full length mirror showed all of you from your perfectly styled hair to your black Gucci loafers, which were your favourites. Easy to slip on and off, but still smart. You looked a million bucks, you thought. Almost too good for such an occasion.

You looked out the window and frowned as the rain started, then smiled. Perfect really, just the right weather for it. You grabbed your umbrella from the stand inside the front door and had one last look in the hall mirror before you left your apartment.

The doorman knew you well enough to guess you wanted a taxi; he also knew where you were going and why. He just nodded and waved a taxi down and you handed him a ten dollar note and got in.

The journey was only around thirty minutes, not bad considering the weather; it wasn’t raining heavily and it wasn’t cold, but dreary with intermittent showers, just like the redhead on the weather show earlier had promised. Perfect.

When you arrived there were a handful of people waiting, most of them no more than familiar faces that you couldn’t give a name to and didn’t care to. Her friends were of no interest to you and never had been, nor her family. You’d whisked her away from that and given her everything any woman could want and she hadn’t needed her family around her, or friends. You never really felt the need for friends yourself; it was all about business for you. You had associates, that was all.

The service was short, as you’d requested; you were paying for it after all. It was subdued and people were quiet for the most part. Everyone was staring at you of course, and whispering about you, but you didn’t care. The police had been satisfied she’d taken her own life and there was no way you could be blamed for that. Everything was tasteful and properly solemn—tranquil.  At least until some woman you didn’t recognise at all started bawling just as the casket was wheeled out of the chapel. You looked over at her and frowned, then stood up and walked, upright and with dignity, behind the casket, ignoring the obnoxious woman and her companions, who were comforting her and making her worse. You hoped she wouldn’t follow the ceremony right to the grave site.

You didn’t need to worry though. As you stepped out on to the road to get into the limousine, which was, of course, on the wrong side of the road, you looked up under your umbrella just in time to see a familiar grey BMW hurtling towards you. You would have jumped out of the way but the face behind the wheel made you freeze in mid-step. A face, unusually pale, but beautiful, with blond hair and stunning green eyes, bright with hate and, strangely, laughter. It can’t be, was all you had time to think, before it was all over for you. When the car stopped, after it hit you and then hit the hearse behind you, there was no driver and there was a lot of speculation in the press as to who had been driving the car that ended your life. Even the best forensics were not able to find any prints or DNA apart from yours and your late wife’s and they eventually decided it must have rolled when you parked it; that in your grief you’d neglected to put the handbrake on.

The pathologist who cut the new suit from your body noticed the label; he also noticed your shoes and even your Calvin Klein underwear, blood soaked as it all was. It was his job to notice such things of course and, were you looking down on the procedure, you’d have been happy you’d been so well dressed for the occasion.

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

 


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Snakes and Spiders in the Land of Oz

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of a huntsman spider dragging a mouse up a fridge door.

I’m not surprised it’s gone viral; we all love to talk about our creepy crawlies here and to be perfectly honest I’d be pretty freaked out by that sight myself, but I’m easily freaked out by mice anyway. If we had a resident huntsman capable of killing mice I’d be okay with that, though I’d rather he did it in the dead of night. Fortunately we don’t have mice and any huntsmen I see are nowhere near that big.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or . . . what? when I heard some Americans had cancelled their planned holidays to Australia after seeing that video, but given that most of my readers are from USA I thought it worth explaining a few things about our creepy crawlies. Huntsmen, first of all, are common but perfectly harmless, unless you’re an insect. Or a mouse apparently! And they’re not usually that big.

I spent my very early years living in a house surrounded by orange trees, quite a few miles from the nearest town. The little school I went to was also surrounded by trees, or grape vines–I’m not sure now, but I do remember sitting on the ground with my friends eating lunch and drinking rain water from a red plastic mug. The rain water often had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in it and no doubt a few things we couldn’t see but they didn’t do us any harm.

Most of my schooling was after we moved to a bigger country town–we used to swim in the river and I spent quite a lot of time at the farm when my older sister married a farmer. I’ve also lived in Queensland, both on the beach and inland. Would you like to know how many snakes I’ve seen? Not counting zoos, none!

I’m not suggesting visitors (or anyone)  should run around the  bush barefoot, or approach snakes or spiders to test if they’re venomous, but generally they prefer their own company. I’m hardly an expert of course, just an average Aussie with a healthy respect for our wildlife–I was once kind of attacked by a kangaroo at a park, so my mother tells me, but I don’t remember it. They can actually be quite dangerous, but like most of our wildlife they don’t actually like us much and stay away. So if you want to go Oz but you’re frightened of spiders and snakes just stay in the civilised areas, or go with a tour, and you can be pretty sure they’ll stay away from you.

For details on my books please see my Non-Fiction and Fiction page or visit my Author Pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK