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:

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. 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


Something wicked this way comes.

This is my favourite line in literature and I don’t care that it’s Shakespeare. I’m not even terribly concerned that it’s spoken by a witch in Macbeth and that she’s speaking of Macbeth himself. Nor am I particularly concerned that the first part, which I often forget, is ‘By the pricking of my thumbs’. That’s good too, but there’s just something delicious about the phrase ‘something wicked this way comes.’ It brings to my mind something hidden, something mysterious but certainly evil. Supernatural evil, not just human badness–something hard to define, beyond our understanding. And it’s coming. Look out–it’s behind you! Did I mention I’m a fan of horror?

Do you have a favourite line, something that stays with you, or is that a peculiarity of mine? I do realise not everyone cares for horror and I’m sure I’ve read other lines that impressed me greatly at the time but none have stayed with me quite like that one. I’m not especially a fan of Shakespeare but he did have a way with words. I don’t think his work is meant to be read though or studied at school. I’ve seen a few of his plays, some better than others. Most recently I saw a production of Twelfth Night by a young group of actors in Melbourne, not in a theatre, but a bookshop. It wasn’t a play I knew anything about and I attempted to watch a movie version once, which was awful. I also read a bit but was not impressed.

When I saw the play performed live it was absolutely fantastic–funny and obviously well-written. I couldn’t help thinking Will himself would approve, that this was the way his work should be seen and enjoyed by the audience, not suffered through! I should mention my son was in the show–I don’t generally make the trip to Melbourne to see a show unless one of mine is involved, but they were all excellent.

It’s autumn here now and the weather is generally lovely, if a bit confused. I’m still working on my story which may be a novella or a longish short story, which is no doubt why I keep going back to that line of Shakespeare’s. There’s definitely something wicked coming. Sales have been going well for ‘Stony Creek’ and I’ve put a review on the ‘Books‘ page here. I wasn’t planning to write more romance but now I’m considering a kind of sequel. We’ll see. First I need to finish with my wicked story.


Autumn Sunshine and Vitamin D.

I’m not going to whinge about the weather today. Okay it is a bit chilly, and with two heaters running the gas bill is going to be horrendous, but after what seems weeks of continuous rain and threats of rain we at last have some beautiful Autumn sunshine. I have nothing against rain; I was brought up in a very dry part of the state and I still love the arrival of a great rainstorm. Throw in a bit of hail too and I certainly won’t complain but after a few days I’m more than ready to see the sun again.

I hope all our farmers have had enough–they always seem to want more rain and I’m happy  they’ve had a good dose but we all need a bit of sunshine. It seems odd that Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world but we also have many people lacking in Vitamin D. Can it be that half the country spends too much time in the sun and the other half not enough?

It’s hard when it’s cold and impossible when it’s raining so I try to make the most of it when the sun shines, by sitting outside with my kindle and soaking up some D. I was never much of a sun-worshipper. I tried, as a teenager, to bake out in the sun and get those lovely brown legs but I became bored and uncomfortable long before I was sufficiently cooked. Not that I never got burnt but that was more likely to happen if I was out at the pool or the beach and it was never a good experience! Our beach was a sandbar at the river but the sand was just as hot there as at any other beach and so was the sun. More often on a hot day I’d be curled up under a tree somewhere with a book. In those days there was no talk either about skin cancer or the lack of vitamins. People in general didn’t seem quite as obsessed with their health as they are now. They just worked hard and ate home-cooked meals and generally got on with things.

I suspect some of our statistics in relation to Vitamin D can be explained by the change in immigration over the past few years; darker skins require more sunshine, apparently, for the absorption of Vitamin D than lighter skins do. The public messages we’ve been getting here are more about the prevention of skin cancer, which may be confusing to people of African origin, for example. Also the population is aging and older people may be less inclined to spend time outdoors. Anyway, I’m not an analyst and have no desire to be–just opening up the subject for discussion. What’s the situation in your country? Is there a similar trend?

On a very different note and with no segue, my historical novel, Inheritance, is free at Amazon for one day only, June 18th, so why not download it and spend some time in the sun? Or curl up under a tree. I always have trouble placing this novel in a genre. It’s partly contemporary Australia and partly 19th century and it might be best described as a novel of revenge but I’ll leave that up to you.

Happy reading.