Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Lost Words

Are we all becoming vanilla flavoured with our speech? I’m not talking about texting, using acronyms or shortening words to speed up the process of sending a text or an email. That’s a whole other subject and I’m not getting into that, other than to say sometimes it’s fine but if your phone has a reasonable predictive text it’s just as easy to use complete words. new the inheritance coverWhat I’m talking about here is language, the spoken word; how many words have we simply stopped using? I may live a sheltered life but as far as I can see, or rather hear, everything these days is either awesome or amazing. Nothing is ever marvellous or splendid or even terrific. Fantastic? Maybe, but what about delightful or even extraordinary?

As a writer I know I’m guilty of using mostly everyday language, because I want my books to be accessible and enjoyable to read, not a chore. Perhaps I can sneak in the odd ‘marvellous’ in the dialogue of someone in the 1860s? My current book is about the Bendigo goldfields around that era so, yes, I believe I will do that. At least one ‘marvellous’!

I am well aware language is constantly evolving but it does seem somewhat of a shame to lose words such as ‘delightful’ just to re-interpret words like ‘sick’, or even ‘cool’, but that’s one that been around for long enough to have earned its place. I haven’t heard ‘sick’ for a while; hopefully it’s already gone. Does it seem more like devolution of the language rather than evolution?

‘Her Flesh and Blood’ is FREE on Amazon from the 24th to 28th May (USA dates). For more information on my books please check out my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

 


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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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Sorting Fact from Fiction

Does anyone else get a bit annoyed when they’re reading a book which purports to be non-fiction but is clearly riddled with fiction elements–the way people are feeling, for example, or what they were thinking about? It’s possible, if the writer is using diary entries, to stick to the facts and still include such details, but generally they must be invented. I don’t object to that style of writing at all–it makes the characters seem more real and makes the book more interesting, but I do like to know what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my all-time favourite genres is historical fiction–I’ve always been fascinated with history but even more so when it’s interpreted by a great writer. Some writers do let the reader know at the end of the story just what’s real and what isn’t and that’s what I did in my historical fiction, “Her Flesh and Blood”. BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I attended university a few years ago as a mature age student, majoring in history. I loved it, especially the research, which I expected to find horribly boring. I admit some of the books were, but the primary research was absolutely fascinating. Reading newspapers over 100 years old and handling original letters written by a murderess before she committed her crimes, in 1910, I felt incredibly privileged! I wrote my Honours thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder; as I said, the research was amazing, but writing within the boundaries of a university thesis was a hard slog.

After I graduated I felt I had to use the material I hadn’t been able to use for my thesis, that the story needed to be told, and I wrote “Not Guilty“, the story of the worst of the cases I studied, which, coincidentally, took place in the town where I live. This is a true account and the newspaper accounts are very creative but, as a writer with a fiction background, I was frustrated by what, in spite of all my research, I could not find out about my protagonist, Camellia McCluskey, so I not guilty 2014 coverblogdecided to give her a life of her own and wrote a fictionalized account. Having been somewhat obsessed with this horrific crime for several years it was a bit like an exorcism when I wrote “Her Flesh and Blood“. I was able to say what I wanted to, without the restrictions and I made sure I noted at the end of the book what was factual and what wasn’t! I also published my original thesis, “Demented Mothers“, on Amazon, for those who like all the facts and the sources and especially for anyone who might be studying the topic.

It’s the last day of 2014 here in Oz–Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful.

My grammar guide, “What Did You Say?” and my children’s book, “No-one’s Good at Everything“, are free from December 31 to January 2.


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Blog Hopping!

Thanks to Sandy Curtis for tagging me for this blog hop.

Sandy Curtis lives on Queensland’s Central Coast, not far from the beach where she loves to walk and mull over the intricate plots in her novels. Her husband says he doesn’t know how she keeps it all in her head, and her friends think she must be far more devious than she appears.

Actually, after having dealt with the chaos involved in rearing three children, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a kookaburra (teaching it to fly was murder), creating complex characters, fast-paced action and edge-of-your-seat suspense is a breeze for Sandy.

Her first five novels were published by Pan Macmillan Australia, were nominees in the Ned Kelly Crime Awards, and two were finalists in the mainstream section of the Romantic Book of the Year Award. They were also published in Germany by Bastei Luebbe, and are now available as e-books from Clan Destine Press. Her sixth thriller, Fatal Flaw, and seventh, the recently released Grievous Harm, are published by Clan Destine Press in print and as ebooks.

Sandy was a magazine feature article writer for two years, a newspaper columnist, and has had short stories and serials published in leading Australian women’s magazines.

She was a member of the Management Committee of the Queensland Writers Centre for four years and has presented many writing workshops, including the 10-day USQ McGregor Summer School Creative Writing course. She has organised WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival, since its inception in 2005. In December 2012 she was presented with the Johnno Award by the Queensland Writers Centre for her “outstanding contribution to writing in Queensland”.

Interviewers often ask Sandy to describe her normal writing day. “Normal is when the chaos in my life subsides to frantic rather than frenzied. I once told a friend that I must have a chaos attractor glued on my forehead and she said that creativity hovers on the edge of chaos, to which I replied that I’d long ago fallen off the edge into the middle.”

Her various occupations, from private secretary to assistant to a Bore Licensing Inspector, as well as hitch-hiking around New Zealand and learning to parachute, have given Sandy lots of people and research skills. It’s the paperwork going feral in her office she has trouble with.

Now I’m going to answer some questions about my current novel, ‘The Road to Karinya’, which should be out before Christmas.

MEET THE CHARACTER

Answer these questions about your main character from a finished work or work in progress:

1.) What is the name of your character?

Prue King

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Fictional

3.) When and where is the story set?

Prue’s story is in the 1970s—her mother Ellie’s story is also told, set mostly in the 1940s. The story begins with Prue and her friend Sally leaving Sally’s home in Mildura, country Victoria—the girls head off on a road trip that takes them to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Ellie’s story starts in Adelaide, South Australia, and finishes at Karinya Station in New South Wales.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Prue is nineteen, young and innocent, having spent most of her life on the outback station with her parents and six sisters. She wants to experience life away from the station where she grew up and has worked briefly in Mildura and Melbourne but always missed her home. The road trip with her best friend is her way of forcing some distance from her family and growing up; she wants to be an independent woman.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

A violent incident happens on Prue’s road trip around Australia and it has a devastating effect on her and on her budding romance with Dan.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

She wants independence and to do something different to the rest of her family. Other than that she really doesn’t know what she wants until the end of the story.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?  ‘THE ROAD TO KARINYA’

Readers of my rural romance ‘Stony Creek‘ might remember meeting Prue briefly as a fifteen year old—this is not a sequel but I decided Prue should have a story of her own. Although this is also rural in the true sense of the word, it’s not about station life in the way ‘Stony Creek’ was. Instead it’s about a station girl heading out to experience life away from home.karinya cover

Prue King is nineteen and lives on Karinya Station, one of seven girls. She and her friend Sally decide to go on the adventure of a live time—a road trip, right around Australia. Neither Prue nor Sally is in any hurry to settle down, unlike some girls their age. They want to see the country and be independent. When they meet brothers Dan and Steve on the Sunshine Coast Prue is stunned by her feelings for him, but her plans remain the same. She and Sally are determined to get to Perth where they will live for at least a few months and decide what their futures hold. When the girls leave the brothers behind though, a horrifying experience will change their plans and their lives, perhaps forever.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

I expect to have it finished within the next couple of weeks and published on Amazon before Christmas.

I’d like to introduce author Tony Riches, who I’m tagging to be next in line for this blog hop.

 About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, by Tony Riches

The year is 1441. Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, one of the richest men in the country and next in line to the throne, hopes to one day become Queen of England. Then her interest in astrology and the dark arts, combined with her husband’s ambition, leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king.

The beautiful Duchess Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. For ten years, she lives as the king’s prisoner in the finest palaces in the country, such as Leeds Castle in Kent, to some of the worst conditions, in Peel Castle on the windswept Isle of Man.

Finally she is taken to the Welsh fortress of Beaumaris Castle on the Island of Anglesey. More than a century after her death, carpenters restoring one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle discover a sealed box hidden under the wooden boards. Thinking they have found treasure, they break the ancient box open, disappointed to find it only contains a book, with hand-sewn pages of yellowed parchment.

Written in a code no one could understand, the mysterious book changed hands many times for more than five centuries, between antiquarian book collectors, until it came to me. After years of frustrating failure to break the code, I discover it is based on a long forgotten medieval dialect and am at last able to decipher the secret diary of Eleanor Cobham.

Henry VI. Part 2, Act 2, Scene 3:

King Henry:

Stand forth dame Eleanor Cobham, Glouster’s wife.

In sight of God and us, your guilt is great:

Receive the sentence of the law, for sins

Such as by God’s book are adjudged to death.

You, madam, for you are more nobly born,

Despoiled of your honour in your life,

Shall, after three days’ open penance done,

Live in your country here, in banishment.

The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available now in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK and Amazon US and in all popular formats on Smashwords

A short book trailer for The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available on YouTube


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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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Which of these titles makes you want to know more about the book?

‘Journal of a Loving Mother’, ‘Milly’, and ‘Hell Hath no Fury’ are all possible titles for my latest novel, which I’m planning to not guilty 2014 coverblogpublish on Amazon next month. I keep changing from one to another and would really like some input on this. The story is part fiction and part fact, loosely based on the life of Camellia McCluskey, who murdered her three children in 1910. The reason she gave was purely one of revenge for her partner’s behaviour and I’ve already written the factual story and published it on Amazon. (Not Guilty) It may seem strange that I felt the need to then write a fiction version of the same story but I am first and foremost a creative writer.

I first wrote about Camellia as part of a university thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder and found the restrictions placed on academic writing extremely frustrating! I then wrote the non-fiction book but, although I found a lot of information, there were of course lots of holes in the story and I decided to fill them up myself. I dislike those so-called true stories where the writer embellishes the facts so my embellishments must be fiction. I wanted to flesh out the person who was Camellia–maybe even try to get a glimpse of what drove her to such an horrific act as to kill her two year old twins and her four year old daughter with an axe.BookCoverImageher fleshandblood Of course the girl I wrote about was not really Camellia, just a fictional character, but in fictionalizing the story I like to think I can give the reader a deeper understanding than the non-fiction version can.

To make the characters, especially Camellia herself, real people with real feelings. I also had the title ‘Camellia’ as a possibility but I didn’t want any possible confusion with Camilla, Prince Charles’s wife! She later called herself Mildred and I’ve chosen to call her Milly. The story is told mostly from her journal entries and one thing that stood out to me amongst the newspaper reports was a statement by one witness who called her a loving mother. When I do publish it I’ll have the ebook version free on Amazon for a few days and I’ll mention it here, so stay tuned.

Update–The fictionalized account, now available on Amazon, is called ‘Her Flesh and Blood’.


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Not Guilty–Images from 1910

The images here will be of particular interest to those who have already read my non-fiction crime history, Not Guilty, or intend to. Central Victoria (Australia) has a strong history of mining and Bendigo is called the City of Gold and Dragons, due to the influx of Chinese miners in the 19th century. As a mining town it was pretty rough in the early days of course, but by the turn of the century it had become quite civilized, with theatre, cinema, shops and public transport. There are some spectacular buildings built by those who prospered from the gold and lots of quaint little miners’ cottages still standing.

You know how it is when you live in a place you tend not to do the tourist things? I have made a bit of an effort but I’d not heard of the Oak Forest until my four year old grandson went there a few weeks ago with some friends. Yesterday being a nice sunny autumn day my husband and I went for a drive. I wanted to make sure we got there before all the trees were bare, and it was well worth the drive. I’ve put one photo up on my Pictures page, as well as one of the view from Mt Alexander near by. Back to history–in 1910 Camellia McCluskey moved to Bendigo with her de facto, who I’m calling George. He has a large family and I’m keeping his identity under wraps for their sake. Camellia has no descendants and I am using her name.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They had three children at that stage and Camellia was very unhappy when she found out George was having an affair. He was already a married man with a family but separated from his wife before he met Camellia. It’s a tragic story and, I should warn you, I have used newspaper reports and public records including the report from the coroner. I don’t think any newspaper today would print the detail they did then. I did have some reservations about including some of it but I wanted to tell the story as it was told then and I have.

The following letters and the photograph of Camellia are from the trial briefs held by the Public Records Office Victoria: McCluskey, 1910, VPRS 30/P/0000, Unit 1556, Case 426, PROV.

McCluskey, 1910, VPRS 264/P0000, Unit 27, PROV. Copyright State of Victoria. Reproduced by permission.

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Photograph of Camellia McCluskey, probably around 1900.

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial plaque was placed at the children’s gravesite just a few years ago by a member of the father’s family.

 

 

Not Guilty and my other books are available at Amazon as ebooks or paperbacks and for UK readers here. 

Australian readers will find my books on Amazon.com.au. They’re all over the place because we don’t have author pages as such in Australia. Not Guilty is available here.

Ebooks are also on most other digital shopfronts via Draft2Digital.