Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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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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You say ‘morl’, I say ‘mal’!

I had an interesting discussion with my grandson recently; I don’t recall how it started but I said something about the mall and he said, “It’s not mal, it’s morl.” I disagreed and he asked if someone offered me $700,000,000 to say it right what would I say and of course I said ‘mal’.

Now my grandson, who I’ll call RK because I’m totally paranoid about using children’s names or photos on the internet, is seven years old and I’ve been an editor and writer many more years than he’s been born. Also I’m his nanna so of course I’m always right!  Right? Mall is one of the words I’m in disagreement with lots of people about though so just to make sure, and so I could show RK the evidence of my superior knowledge, I looked it up in the dictionary.

Turns out we’re both right! Either pronunciation is acceptable, which was a little disappointing for me, but there was a brief explanation of the origins of the word–it started with a game played in an alley and using a mallet. The game was named after the mallet and I believe the alley was then named after the game, so clearly it would have been pronounced ‘mal’, not ‘morl’.

RK then asked if I’d pronounce it ‘morl’ if someone gave me $700,000,000 and I said ‘Absolutely!’

I think ‘morl’ is the usual pronunciation in the US, isn’t it? What about the UK, anyone?

Another mispronunciation I find annoying is ‘Antartica’ rather than ‘Antarctica’; for some reason some people leave out the middle c. I try not to be too bothered by these things though–as I said to RK, people around the world and even around the country have different accents and different pronunciations and even different words for the same thing. For some reason what we in Victoria call potato cakes people in New South Wales call potato scollops. I was born in NSW and grew up mostly in Victoria, with a couple of years as an adult in both Queensland and South Australia.

When I went to school in NSW in year 9 I was somewhat shocked that the acceptable school bag was actually a case, something no-one would be seen dead with in Victoria, or at least my home town. Very nerdy. Not only that but they called it a port, not a case. I refused to use such a thing and had to have the other acceptable substitute, a leather briefcase. Back home we all used what were then airline bags, a zip up bag with a long strap.

Spring has sprung here at last and we’ve had a few lovely days of sunshine–back to dreary again today but I’m well aware it’ll be too sunny and too dry and way too hot soon enough. I don’t look forward to summer but I do love spring.

Happy reading.

Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle   karinya cover   BookCoverImageher fleshandblood


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Oranges and Wine–Title of my new book?

This is one of the hardest parts of writing a book–coming up with a title. It needs to grab attention and somehow indicate something about the content. I’m a long way from finishing this one but I’d appreciate suggestions if you have any.

This is the third and final book of my rural romance series (Red Dust Series); the first one is Stony Creek and the second, The Road to Karinya. Both of those titles use the names of rural properties involved in the story but that’s not an option for the current novel.

Like the first two books I have one heroine in the late 20th century and another much earlier and I need to find a title that suits both stories. Both women move to Sunraysia, an area on the Murray River which includes a small part of both New South Wales and Victoria. Clare, originally from a citrus property in Queensland, leaves her home in Sydney in 1985 to live in Mildura (Victoria), nearer Karinya Station, where her brother and his family live. She lives in a flat in a converted house, the other half of which is occupied by Fern, an elderly woman with her own story.

Fern left her home in Sydney in 1920 to marry George, who was one of the original soldier settlers in Curlwaa, New South Wales, and spent most of her life there on their citrus property. She sold the property and moved to Mildura as an elderly widow. Fern and Clare become good friends and Fern worries when she suspects someone is watching Clare.

Without giving away too much of the story, wine is an important part of Clare’s story which is why I’m currently using the working title of ‘Wine and Oranges’, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll end up keeping it. Is it catchy or boring? Opinions please.

Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle                 karinya cover


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The Future of English

 

 

 

I came across this article in my great, great, great grandfather’s scrapbook and thought it worth sharing. It’s interesting to see there were those in the 18th century who realised that migrating to other countries would change the way people spoke English there, as of course it did. The librarian’s solution–to set a standard pronunciation in English schools–was never going to take off in the colonies of course! Unfortunately I don’t have a date of publication or even the name of the paper but it was clearly English and was certainly published before 1885, when my ggg–grandfather died.

future of englishHe also notes that phonetic spelling is both rational and inevitable and I tend to agree with him there–USA spelling is quite common here now and even though I prefer the English spelling I grew up with it’s not a major issue for me. As far as pronunciation goes I tend to have trouble understanding some of the British accents and I wonder if they understand each other. I’m very thankful for the text option on my TV when I watch British shows.I’d love to hear from any Brits on this subject. There seems such a range of accents; even if we leave out the Scots and the Welsh, the different accents within that tiny little country of England are amazing!

The ggg-grandfather who compiled this scrapbook came out from Manchester, in 1841, and I have no idea how he spoke, or if I’d have had any problem understanding him. His scrapbook, which was originally started by my ggg-grandmother, who ‘neglected’ it, is a window to the 19th century, most of it not relating particularly to the family, and it’s also a little peek at his personality I think; the articles he considered worth cutting out and preserving for his 3 sons and 22 grandchildren ranged from local news to world news and random jokes, along with the odd recipe. He called it his odds and ends.

 

 

 

BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodkarinya cover

 

 


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Something for a rainy day.

It’s mid winter here in Oz and the heads on TV keep telling me we’re suffering a particularly severe cold spell from the Antarctic–personally I have no intention of going outside to check it out. They have mentioned snow in unusual places and if it happens to snow in our garden I’ll go outside but otherwise I’ll stay right here with the heater thank you very much. I will have to leave the comfort of my lounge room tomorrow but it’s Sunday here today and I’m staying put.

I realize it’s Saturday and summer for most of you and I don’t envy you that either–autumn and spring are the best times of the year here. I will admit winter is good for sleeping, for those of us lucky enough to have a nice cosy bed.

In my last blog I wrote about how my experiences affect my writing and mentioned my time on a Queensland beach–as a young couple my husband BookCoverImageconnectionsand I slept in a tent until a cyclone wrecked it and then in our car for a while. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds now and I think it’s great to have life experiences that are perhaps a little removed from the mundane. I wrote a short story ‘Brown Dog’, in which I used some of my memories of beach-combing and being broke, away from home. Unlike Luke, the protagonist in my story, I was not friendless, nor suicidal! Fortunately we were able to find work and accommodation before too long; some of that work–like cutting sugar cane by hand (we lasted half a day)–is probably worthy of a place in one of my stories at some stage.

For now, enjoy ‘Brown Dog’, from my short story collection, ‘Connections‘.

Brown Dog

(c) Christine Gardner 

It was the ugliest dog Luke had ever seen. He was standing at the edge of the sea, not really contemplating suicide (but oh, what a seductive sea it was, just walk on in and don’t look back). The dog ambled over to him and just sat beside him, uninvited and unwanted. It was skin and bone, with long legs like a greyhound. All brown, with no relieving patches. Just an old brown dog. It whined and wagged its tail back and forwards across the sand.

‘Get lost, mutt,’ Luke said, with no real animosity. ‘I’m not in the market for a dog. I can barely feed myself.’

Delighted at being addressed, the dog sidled up closer to Luke and pressed itself against his bare legs. Luke felt himself being dragged unwillingly out of his black mood and somehow he was sitting down beside the dog, which was ecstatically licking his hand and jumping all over him. He laughed out loud, and was startled by the unfamiliar sound of it. He’d had precious little to laugh at lately.

Luke was living in his old EJ Holden, his tent having been wrecked by a severe hailstorm a month earlier. He was flat broke, existing day to day on whatever he could get from beach combing. This was meant to be a working holiday, but there was no work, and it sure didn’t feel like a holiday. A month earlier he’d put in half a day on a vineyard, picking grapes, after some loud mouths at the pub had been bragging about all the money they’d made. It was forty degrees by mid-morning and Luke had felt the sun burning his face to a crisp. By lunchtime he’d had it. His tally had earnt him the grand total of five dollars and he hadn’t even bothered to pick it up. Too embarrassed to face the blockie he’d just got in his oven-hot car and driven off.

Since then things had got steadily worse. In desperation he’d gone to the local social security office, only to be informed that he was not a local, and as this was an area of high unemployment he would have to wait for six weeks before being eligible for any financial assistance.

‘How am I supposed to live for six weeks with no money?’ he’d asked the pompous counter clerk. ‘Or is that the idea, I starve to death and then I won’t need any assistance?’

The clerk was not amused and suggested Luke go back home and apply at his own local office. Luke didn’t bother telling her he had no money to get home on. It would be at least $150 for petrol, and anyway there was no home really. He’d burned his bridges there.

The only hope came from a dirty looking young couple with matching dread-locks who were behind him in line and heard his conversation with the clerk. ‘Look man,’ the male said, ‘I know how you can make a few bucks if you’re hungry.’

Luke was dubious, but he was also hungry. ‘What’s that mate?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘Hey man, nothing heavy. It’s just beach combing, we do it all the time, hey babe?’ He looked at his female counterpart who nodded enthusiastically. ‘There’s a guy at the Island Bar pays ten bucks a bag for cuttlefish, y’know, for budgies? And sometimes there’s other stuff. Glass floaters are like gold; they’re off the big fishing nets, and the yuppies like to, y’know, hang ‘em on the front verandah to impress the neighbours.’

Luke thanked the young couple and headed straight over to the Island Bar to check the facts. He found the man he needed to see with no trouble at all; he managed the bar and also lived there. Big Al, as he was known to the locals, fitted in nicely between the beer barrels, being of a similar shape. His interior was probably similar as well, as he was almost never without a beer in his hand. No one had ever seen him drunk, but few had seen him sober. He was just the same any time of the day and in any state of inebriation—morose. Some bartenders are good listeners, and drinkers like to pour out their troubles while the bartenders pour out the beer. They soon learnt that Big Al, while he was prepared to listen, could top any sad story with one of his own much worse tales.

‘Look,’ he said to Luke, ‘I get bugger-all out of this cuttlefish business, but since I also get bugger-all for this job here, every little bit helps. What I really like to see is those glass balls; I can give you 40 bucks for one of them, and 20 for the plastic ones.’ He gave Luke a sugar bag and told him to bring it back when it was full of cuttle­fish. He also suggested a few likely beaches, and Luke went off straight away to try his luck.

That had been two weeks earlier, and he’d been able to survive, but only just. One day he’d managed to fill two bags with the dried-out cuttlefish bone lying on the beaches and he’d bought a small packet of cigarettes, which had made him feel almost human again. Usually he was lucky to fill one bag, and half the money had to go in the petrol tank. He tried to vary his diet; mostly it was either baked beans or sardines, as well as bread. A loaf of bread lasted a couple of days if he was careful. He was always hungry though, and always depressed. The only person he really spoke to was Big Al, which didn’t exactly ease his depression. He knew if he told Al his life wasn’t worth living, Al would not only agree, but list all the reasons why his own was so much worse.

The brown dog followed Luke down the beach, bounding here and there to check out interesting smells, and rushing to the water only to back off when the waves covered his feet.

‘Chicken!’ Luke laughed. ‘It’s only water; you could probably use a bath. Come to think of it, so could I.’ He stripped off and plunged into the waves, yelling as the impact of the cold water hit him. Then as he became used to it he relaxed and began to enjoy himself, body-surfing in with the waves. The dog barked excitedly from the shore, and then hesitantly crept in to the water. ‘Here boy!’ Luke called, and the dog swam eagerly out to him.

When they emerged, the dog shook himself vigorously and then ran around and rolled in the sand. Not having a towel handy Luke decided he had the right idea, and ran along the beach until he was warm and dry. When he’d dressed again, he felt better than he’d felt in months. Alive again. The dog was dashing back and forwards across the sand and had found a particularly fascinating pile of seaweed and driftwood. Luke strolled over to him and the dog scratched something out of the pile which rolled towards Luke. It was a glass ball.

Luke was convinced now. This dog had been sent to help him, an answer to his desperate pleas to whomever or whatever was listening. He felt on top of the world and immediately went to see Big Al, dog in tow. Then with his new-found wealth he bought a bag of dry dog food, as well as a huge bone from the butcher’s shop in the main street. He left the dog beside the car with his goodies and went shopping for his own needs. He bought a pouch of tobacco which he knew would last at least a week, a few cans of baked beans and Irish Stew for when he was broke again, and best of all, fresh meat and vegetables. There was a public barbecue nearby in the park and Luke and the dog feasted on steak, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Neither of them could remember when they’d had a better meal.

That night the dog slept on the front seat of the car, with Luke on the back seat. The car stank of cuttlefish, which was always carried in the boot, and Luke had sprinkled curry powder everywhere in an effort to improve the smell. It now smelt like curried cuttlefish, but that was a slight improvement. The dog sneezed several times, but then went to sleep happily enough. The following morning brought rain, but nothing could dampen their spirits. They ran down the beach in the rain and then ran back to the car, shivering. Luke changed his clothes in the car, and left the dog outside to shake himself dry under a tree. Having declared the day a holiday Luke drove around for a while, looking for somewhere that would provide free shelter for man and dog. Usually on rainy days he hung around the indoor shopping centres, but the dog wouldn’t be allowed there.

They were strolling along under the verandahs of the main street when the dog stopped in the doorway of a bakery, drinking in the wonderful aromas. Luke smiled. ‘Yes, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread, is there boy?’ Then he noticed the sign in the window: Help Wanted. Accommodation Provided. Leaving the dog outside, he entered the shop and approached the middle-aged woman at the counter.

‘Hi, I was wondering about your “help wanted” sign?’

‘Yes dear, have you ever worked in a shop? Do you know how to use a cash register?’

‘Oh sure,’ Luke lied, ‘I used to work in a supermarket.’ He had in fact spent a week once helping in his uncle’s fish-shop and was reasonably confident he could work the register.

Mrs Thomson showed him the room upstairs which was large and comfortably furnished. There was a ceiling fan above the bed, a big sliding window with a view of the beach, and a desk with a portable TV. There was also a little kitchenette area and a door leading to a tiny but scrupulously clean bathroom. Luke felt like he’d died and gone to Heaven. And it was all thanks to the brown dog. He was going to be one spoilt mutt. Mrs Thomson was still talking, and Luke tuned in again. ‘Of course health regulations mean you can’t have pets here, but I don’t suppose you have any, do you?’

‘Pardon? I’m sorry Mrs Thomson, what did you say?’

‘No pets dear. You can’t have pets here.’

‘Oh. I see … no, that won’t be a problem.’

‘That’s good, only I saw a dog out the front when you came in and I wondered ….’

‘No, it’s not my dog.’

‘Just sniffing around the bakery then, we get a lot of strays.’

Luke agreed to start work the next day and Mrs Thomson said he could get his things and move in right away.

Sitting on the beach where he had first met the brown dog Luke tried to explain the situation to him. ‘I’ll come and look for you every day after work. You can hang around here and sleep on the beach. It’s not that cold. I’ll bring you meat pies and cream cakes.’

The dog just looked at him, his brown eyes reproachful and all-knowing. ‘Oh dog, what can I do? They won’t let you stay there. I’m sorry.’ He walked away and left the dog sitting alone on the beach right where they’d found each other. He sat in the car and put his head on the steering wheel, a lump in his throat. Then he sat upright. ‘No, dammit! I won’t do it. It’s like selling my soul. I’ll find some other job.’ He ran back to the beach calling out to the dog. The beach was empty, except for a stray sea-gull foraging amongst the shells. He ran along, whistling and calling. For an hour he wandered the beach.

The brown dog was gone.

For information on my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 


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Self-editing for self publishers

Okay–first of all, if there’s any way you can afford an editor, hire one! Secondly, if you do, make sure you do some research first. I’ve seen self-published books where the writer has acknowledged the help of an editor and the first page is riddled with errors. I spent a couple of years editing free-lance and I belonged to an organization called The Victorian Society of Editors, which may or may not still be around. There’s bound to be some kind of association, preferably in your own country, that can help you find a professional editor. However you find someone it’s a good idea to ask them for a sample edit of a few pages, and make sure you communicate exactly what you require. Don’t just rely on terms like ‘substantive edit’ or ‘copy edit’; make sure you tell them exactly what you are hoping for.

Let’s assume you are not going to hire anyone. You’re quite sure you can do it yourself. You probably can’t, so at least get as many people as possible to read your book. You might be surprised at how something that makes perfect sense to you makes little or no sense to a reader who doesn’t know what you’re thinking. Sometimes things are so obvious and we don’t want to treat our readers as dummies but we have to realize they can’t read our minds, only what makes it to the page!

If you can find a writer’s group in your local area, or online, who will read your work and give you an honest opinion, that’s a step up from your best friend who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Always remember opinions are subjective and not everyone will love your story–take criticisms with a grain of salt, but if several people are dubious about the same thing maybe you can rethink it.

All right, you have no friends, no writers’ groups, no family members whose opinions you value, or you just don’t want anyone to read your story (other than the whole world, after it’s published), at least read it aloud to yourself. If you can, record it and listen to it. You know how your voice sounds like someone else’s when it’s recorded? If you can distance yourself enough to hear what you’ve actually written, rather than what you thought you’d written, that’s a good start. Update on this–if you have Word, use Text to Speech to have a somewhat robotic voice read your book aloud to you. I found a couple of errors in my own book after many self-edits. One I recall was ‘whole’ instead of ‘while’. Very different when spoken but so similar in writing, especially when the i and the o are next to each other on the keyboard!

Now your story’s perfect and you’re up to the nitty gritty. So many self-published novels are riddled with errors. Please don’t think I consider myself perfect–I was reading through an old blog the other day and realized I’d written ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’! We all make mistakes and every book I take off the shelf at the library has at least one; we can only try to do the best we can. At least, as self-published writers, we can always go back and correct our mistakes; it’s never too late.what did

Obviously use your computer spell-check but don’t rely on it–if in doubt use a dictionary. The spell-check won’t pick up ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’. Again, reading aloud helps but we tend to see what we think we wrote, not necessarily what’s there. We also get caught up in the story and miss errors of spelling or grammar. If you print it out–yes the whole thing!–you may be able to spot errors better. Sit at the table with your manuscript and a dictionary in front of you and use a ruler to read one line at a time and prevent you from reading ahead. Then start again, this time from the back of the book, again one line at a time–this helps to get away from the story line and concentrate on each sentence. Another update! I’m now editing again, for Australian writers only. More details on my Editing page.

My ebook ‘What Did You Say?’ on grammar and punctuation, is available at Smashwords and may be of some use–it’s free anyway, so why not?

My books are now available on most digital shopfronts, including Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo via Draft2Digital.

Paperbacks and ebooks are also available on Amazon.


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Old Book, New Look.

new the inheritance cover This is the brand new cover for my book, ‘The Inheritance‘, the 2nd edition, or an update, on ‘Inheritance’, which I decided needed a make-over. For the first time I actually spent a little money (very little) on getting someone else to do the cover for me. I actually quite enjoy the process of cover design but it doesn’t always work as well as I hope and it’s difficult at times to find the right image. When my son suggested this site, www.fiverr.com, I decided it was worth $5 for a trial run and I am very pleased with the result. With the Aussie dollar so low at the moment it cost me a little over 7 AUD but I’m not complaining.

I know I’m not the only indie writer who doesn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on book covers but does want a great, professional looking cover and I think this is an excellent service. There’s quite a few designers to chose from, as well as other services, and different prices, but each one has to provide a basic service for $5. My designer says it can take up to 6 days but mine was back in 3–I also had the option to request changes but I’m happy with it just the way it is.

‘The Inheritance’ is about revenge first and foremost. Jo, a successful advertising executive, is suddenly dumped by her long term partner for a younger woman. When her uncle dies and leaves her his home she decides to start a new life in the country, with her own business. Rose Cottage seems ideal, in a beautiful setting just above Hope Valley and not too far from the city, but secluded and peaceful. Something happens to Jo though, as soon as she moves into the old stone cottage. She becomes obsessed with the cottage and nothing else, not even her career, matters anymore. When she finds a diary hidden within the walls she learns more than she ever wanted to know about the original inhabitants of Rose Cottage and her obsession will lead her to unimaginable horror.sanctuary cover 2014

I have a young adult sci-fi free on Amazon at the moment, ‘Sanctuary’. It’s set well into the future, when the sun has made it impossible for anyone to survive outdoors. While one high-tech civilization, Thrallia, lives in an enclosed environment above ground, they are mostly unaware of another more primitive society, the Centrals, who live underground in an old rail system. The Supers, who are the rulers of Thrallia, not only know of the existence of the Centrals, but have plans that will wipe out the other civilization altogether. Two young Thrallians find out the truth and realise they are the only hope the underground society has to survive.

You don’t have to be a young adult to read Sanctuary–I think it’s a good read if you like sci-fi that’s not too technical!

Sanctuary for UK readers.

Happy Reading.


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Back again Smashwords!

If you’ve read my previous posts about Smashwords you’ll probably find it hard to believe, but I’ve re-published one of my books with them and you won’t find it on Amazon anymore. It’s a very small ebook and when I wrote it I wanted it to be free–I did publish it first on Smashwords but then put it on Amazon and tried everything I could think of to get them to put it up as a permanent freebie, but nothing worked. The book is ‘What Did You Say?’ and it’s intended to be useful for people who want to improve their English grammar and punctuation. It’s not a comprehensive text book–just a little light-hearted guide for both English speakers who need a little help and also for those for whom English is a second language. You’ll find it now on Smashwords, which is clearly the place for free books! There’s also an interview, not about ‘What Did You Say?’, more of a general author interview.

Excerpt from ‘What Did You Say?’what did

Even more commonly misused is the apostrophe in that underrated little word ‘its’. I say underrated because everyone can spell ‘its’, right? There aren’t many words in the English language easier to spell than that one – not only does it have only three letters but it’s spelt the way it sounds, so how could there be any problem?

 

The problem, of course, is that many people get confused with the possessive apostrophe. They know that if we talk about Jill’s hat or Joe’s room or the dog’s bone we use an apostrophe to indicate possession. We can also indicate if the bone belongs to more than one dog, simply by moving the apostrophe to the other side of the ‘s’. More on this later.

Possessive pronouns like his, her and their don’t require an apostrophe. Most of us understand that because these words have no use apart from the possessive form.

‘Its’ however, marches to its own drum to a certain extent and I do have some sympathy for people who have a problem with its misuse. It is a pronoun, like she and he, but, unlike them does not have a separate form for its possessive use and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of slipping that apostrophe in. It’s essential to remember that every time you use an apostrophe in ‘it’s’, you are in fact stating ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. There is no reason ever to use an apostrophe in the possessive form of its. It is simply the possessive form of the pronoun it, in the same way as his is the possessive form of the pronoun he.

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Apart from this one and a short story, both free on Smashwords, all my books are at Amazon–free at the moment is my book of short stories, ‘Connections’, which ranges from romance and humour to murder, so something for everyone.

BookCoverImageconnections

Connections‘ in the UK.

Happy Reading.


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How relevant does your book cover need to be?

Is it important the picture on the cover of your book tells the reader something specific about your story or is only important that it’s an attention grabber? Should it just indicate the genre of the book? We all know what to expect if we see a couple on a front cover–depending on their posture it’s either a sweet romance, a bodice-ripper or erotica. Is it important the couple actually looks like the couple described inside? Sometimes book designers working with traditional publishers get it wrong and I’m not sure how much it matters to readers; if I’m engrossed in the story I’m not going to check back to the no-one covercover. A friend of mine has had several books picked up by overseas publishers who change the covers to what they feel best suits their readership and the covers sometimes seem totally irrelevant. As a self-publisher it’s all up to me and I do try to make the covers relevant to the story but it can be difficult. I do have some training in art and design but I prefer to use photos, some of my own and some from online. The beauty of this is that I can always change it if I find something I like better. Apologies to anyone who finds this annoying! I’m considering changing the cover of my children’s book, ‘No-one’s Good at Everything‘, which currently has a train pulling into a station. There’s two stories in the book, for middle primary kids–one about Billy, who is on a train with his mum until she disappears, and the other about Sophie, who isn’t good at sport like her friends and family are but she is very good at something else. Daffodils are relevant to Sophie’s story, hence the cover I’m now thinking of–the reason I’m considering changing it is that it’s been pointed out to me that the train I’ve used on the cover is a Canadian goods train, which would never be used for passengers in Australia! So does it matter? It’s a much better looking train than Australian passenger trains and it is a book for kids, after all. I’d appreciate your opinion on this one and if you have kids, I’d really love their opinions too! Thanks.


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Changing Book Covers on Amazon—again

One thing I really like about self-publishing ebooks is that I can change my mind as often as I like. It’s possible that’s not necessarily a good thing because I’m very indecisive and I do tend to change my mind, quite frequently. Luckily creating book covers on Amazon using their cover creating program is very easy and kind of fun. I enjoy that aspect of book creation–it’s the icing on the cake; after all those months of writing and editing and formatting it can be fun doing that final step of making a cover.

I should mention it’s not quite so simple if you want a print copy of your book, although if you’re going through Createspace, and you’ve managed to find your way through to getting the interior of the book formatted perfectly, you shouldn’t have too much trouble designing a cover using their program. If you’re using your own photo and fitting it into their design, which I find a good compromise between doing it all yourself or having them do it all, you just need to make sure the photo is high enough in pixels. I know next to nothing about pixels so I just keep making the photo bigger and bigger, (using Paint on my version of whatever it is, Office? Microsoft?) until finally it’s given the okay. Seems to work. All the print copies I’ve seen have been fine.

Getting back to ebook covers, again all you need to do is upload your own photo, if you want to use your own photo. They’re not nearly so fussy about pixels as Createspace and it’s very simple to select a design, upload your photo (or use one of theirs) and choose the colours and fonts that you want. You can play around a bit and, as I said, it’s very easy. If you don’t have your own photos you can download free ones from http://www.morguefile.com/archive; most of mine are from there. Of course if you do go through Createspace you don’t need to worry about your ebook version at all, they’ll put it through for you.

Sometimes when you are at that stage, having just completed your book and designed the cover, you might just want to get it done and out there to the world, so your cover design might not be as big a priority as the book itself. Number one reason why I often change mine at a later stage. Or you might not be able to find the perfect picture for the cover and if you come across it later you don’t have to live in regret, wishing you could do it again. You just do it! Again! Easy. Just go to your bookshelf and click on ‘Edit Book Details’ and upload your new cover with their cover creator.

beastfromkindlecoverMy latest re-do is my children’s fantasy, ‘Beast of War‘. It’s not the first time I’ve changed the cover on that–without paying for an artist it’s not easy to find something suitable for a story about three teenagers who aren’t human, on a journey to fight a beast! When I saw the photo of a run-down cottage in the woods I thought immediately it was perfect; there is such a cottage in my story and although it’s not a big part it is pivotal so I think it works. Of course I might change my mind in a few months, who knows?

Check out my new cover and tell me what you think.  Beast of War is free on the 8th and 9th of January and ‘Last Chance‘, another children’s story, is free 7th and 8th January.doglastkinblog

Beast of War UK Readers.

 

 

Last Chance UK Readers.