Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


Leave a comment

Crazy Teenage Magpies

I’ve never seen a baby magpie but we have a family or two of maggies that hang around constantly and their behaviour is quite fascinating. They all look the same size but the younger ones have slightly different feather tones and, while the parents sing their lovely little magpie melody, these badly dressed teenage birds squawk non-stop. They stand side by side with their long-suffering parent, who, in spite of the size of their offspring, still has to supply them with all their daily needs (most  from our dog’s bowl). I no longer have teens myself but I can empathise with the parents and cheer them on when, rarely, they fly off, seemingly after they’ve had enough of their child’s non-stop whinging. I don’t think our magpies are related to the UK magpies at all–I’m sure ours are much more tuneful, as adults at any rate.

It’s summer and nearly Christmas, but nice and cool today. For the first time in more than twenty years we’re not having Christmas at home–it’s the start of a new era. It becomes more and more difficult to co-ordinate a family dinner when all five of our boys have partners now and in-laws to fit in with plans. And three of the five live out of town. So this year it’s lunch at my eldest son’s, around 60 kilometres away, and then dinner at our second son’s, with his new wife, about two kilometres away! A busy day even though I won’t be doing much of the cooking.

I’ve just started a new book, which doesn’t have a name yet, but for those of you who’ve read ‘The Road to Karinya‘, the story karinya coverI’m writing now is Clare’s story, Book 3 of my Red Dust Series. Book 1 is ‘Stony Creek‘, which is doing amazingly well.

I was asked to write a guest post for a blog on self-publishing recently which was kind of fun–check it out here: http://theselfpublisher.wordpress.com/

Merry Christmas to everyone–help yourself to a free ebook for the holidays:

Sanctuary, Not Guilty and Last Chance at Amazon.com

Sanctuary, Not Guilty and Last Chance at Amazon UK


6 Comments

Apologies to Createspace

It looks as if most of my formatting problems have been, and still are, my fault. As I’ve said before I’m hopeless at reading instructions–it’s just gobbledegook to me. I’m one of those people who has to learn hands on, which, in this high-tech age, is probably rather unfortunate! I generally stumble along and eventually the penny drops and I get to point B. Taking most of a year, though, is a bit extreme, even for me. So anyway, it turns out that after all my formatting woes with Createspace, they actually have a template; who knew? My latest endeavour, for which I’m still awaiting cover art, I just copied and pasted into the template and hey presto, it’s done! Almost. I did have to do the page numbers, which has been another source of angst–getting the numbers to start at the page I want, rather than the default first page. I did read instructions for that, which I found online, but it didn’t work until I fiddled around with the format page option as well. After I did that once, I was sure I’d remember the next time, but I didn’t. Then I eventually figured it out again and was sure I’d remember the next time and I didn’t. The third time I jotted down some extra notes and put them in my desk drawer so the next time will be easy, won’t it?

beastfromkindlecoverHaving so easily (relatively) formatted the new book I thought I’d re-format all of them, just to make sure they were all good. I know the kindle versions are fine but the PODs, although they’re okay, could maybe be even better using Createspace’s own template, I reasoned. I started with ‘Beast of War‘, a kids’ book I wrote a few years ago, and it was a complete disaster. Instead of the easy copy and paste I expected it came back with 5 errors and they were not easy ones. I tried again and then thought, ‘Bugger it. It was fine before.’ I have emailed Createspace and asked if we could just forget about all that–pretend it never happened and just revert to the copy that was already there! I’ve never sold PODs of that particular book in any case, only kindles, but I suspect they’ll tell me I have to re-do the whole thing. I think the problem is the original formatting. I wrote that, as I said, a few years ago and probably used a lot of tabs and so on instead of proper paragraph formatting, so I might have to nuke it. Won’t kill me anyway.

One of these days I’ll get back to some actual writing–I seem to spend all my time formatting and editing and creating covers. I do enjoy doing the covers–it’s both challenging and kind of fun. I dabbled in art and design for a few years, before I found I was better at writing, and while I would never in a million years paint my own cover art I have used some of my own photos. I’ve also found a good free source of photos online that I used for ‘Stony Creek‘ my most recent publication. I have mentioned it before but for those of you who missed it,  Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindleit’s http://www.morguefile.com/archive. Most of the others that are supposedly free aren’t and there’s lots of free pictures on this one.

Nine days till Christmas. I should probably start doing something Christmassy. We do have a tree up, so that’s something. And we’ve worked out who buys whose Kris Kringle this year. Now I have to find the perfect gift for mine, as well as something for our two grandsons. I have my mother’s present all ready to post at least–a copy of ‘Stony Creek’! Nice being able to give her something no-one else can. Hopefully I’ll have another one ready by the time her 94th birthday rolls around in April.

In case I don’t have time next week, Merry Christmas to everyone and stay safe.


8 Comments

Kindle Countdown Deals–What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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