Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Life Without Power

There’s been massive storms in the last day or two, especially in South Australia, where the whole state was left with no electricity and several thousand homes are still without power. Commiserations to all South Aussies! The storm was forecast to hit us in Victoria last night but nothing happened; now they’re saying some time today but it won’t be as severe as it was in SA. I quite like storms but not blackouts. No-one likes blackouts, except maybe burglars.

Most of us have had the experience of being without electricity for an hour or two; it’s inconvenient and, mostly, boring. If the weather’s okay you can go out, although driving can be a bit risky if the traffic lights are out of action. Have you ever considered how your life would change if the power never came back on?

A few years ago something happened to the gas supply–I forget what, but it was a big deal. Big enough that we had no gas for a couple of weeks. Our house runs mainly on electricity but we do have gas heating and hot water; I don’t think it was particularly cold and we were lucky we have an electric stove and were able to heat water for baths but it wasn’t much fun. There were a few public places with electric hot water systems that allowed people to use their showers and we went to the nearest one, the jockeys’ showers at the race track! It was clean I suppose, but pretty awful and once was enough for me.

I have no idea how I’d survive without electricity though; no stove, no fridge or freezer, no air-conditioner, no TV, no computer, no internet. My phone would work for a little while on 4G but how would I recharge it? When I was a child most of those things didn’t matter and when my mother, who’s now 96, was a child, most of those things didn’t exist and those that did weren’t in every home. People were a lot more self-sufficient. I’m not pining for that kind of lifestyle at all–I like my comforts–but it’s a little scary to think just how dependent we are on other people and machines.

I doubt I’d be writing at all if I had to use a manual typewriter, let alone selling books to be read on kindles on the other side of the world!

For details of my books please see my ‘Fiction and Non-Fiction Page‘ or my Author pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.UK.


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100 not out!

No, I’m not 100 years old and neither am I a cricket fan, but this is my 100th blog! Maybe not as big a deal as turning 100 but at least as good as 100 runs on the cricket field. Well, I did say I’m not a fan, right?

It’s been a little over 3 years–I just looked up my first blog and it was March, 2013. Since then I’ve written three books which have been more successful than I ever imagined (Red Dust series) and my family has grown considerably. I had two grandchildren in 2013, now I have four plus six step-grandkids!

At times I’ve struggled to find things to write about and my blogs became less regular as time went by–now I’m no longer trying to blog weekly or monthly. I only write when I have something I want to say. For some reason I’ve recently joined Instagram as well but I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. I might just spend my time writing books instead. The one I’m working on at the moment is based in the area I’m living in, which should make some aspects easier at least. The story starts in 2015 and then changes to the 1860s, much of which will be based on the goldfields here. Unless my characters decide to go elsewhere–you never know really!

The sun’s shining here and I can see a bird on next-door’s TV antenna–I think it’s a pigeon–but it’s freezing cold and apparently we’re in for a winter blast in the next few days. I’m sick of winter already but it’s nice to see the sunshine from the window in my cosy home office.

darkamazonNothing better than curling up by the heater on a cold day with a good book is there? I have a free ebook coming up on the 27th June (USA time), Dark Innocence. It’s quite short, novelette size, and inspired by some of my experiences growing up in the sixties in a country town. Check it out and feel free to leave a review on Amazon if you enjoy it!

For details on my other books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK.

 

 


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Good bye and good riddance, Daylight Saving

This morning saw the end of daylight saving for now; it will unfortunately be back some time in spring. I’ve never been a fan and I’m always pleased to see the end of it. Given that we live in a hot country and most of us whinge about the heat in the summer I don’t know why we choose to extend the hot days and have less of the cool nights.

Yes, I am aware we don’t actually change the length of the days, just our clocks, but summer itself does that already. I don’t have to rush off to a job in the mornings and I no longer have little kids to force in to bed when the sun’s still shining, so it doesn’t affect me as much as it does some. I had a particular hate for it when my kids were little.

As far I can fathom, longer summer evenings are nice for those who live in the cities and have to commute some distance for work, but they’re going to be going home in the dark in winter anyway, so may as well get used to it, hey? Mid summer sunset without daylight saving is closer to  8 than 7, I think, so plenty of time for most workers to get home. Wouldn’t that extra hour in bed in the morning, when you’re finally cool and comfortable, be more appreciated than in the heat of a summer evening?

Queensland and Western Australia, I believe, both had trial runs of daylight saving and decided they didn’t want it–interesting that they’re both very large areas of land with smaller cities than the southern states. I do think it’s the city folk that make the decisions for the rest of us here in Victoria, because more people live in the capital city, Melbourne, than the rest of the state. In Queensland it’s the country population that’s bigger than that in their capital city, Brisbane, so city folk there don’t have as much influence.

Well, that’s my whinge out of the way for now and yes, we do have bigger concerns, I agree. On the subject of my home country, I’m delighted to see Australian readers have found me on Amazon! I’ve been published there since 2012 but almost all sales have been in the US and UK, with just a few at home. Since I published the last book of my Red Dust series, set in Outback Australia, my sales here have grown tenfold! Thanks everyone!

For sales and all details on my books please visit my Amazon Author Page, or here for UK readers. 

 

 


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Who’s been sleeping in whose bed?

I recently wrote a blog on the misuse of the apostrophe with possessive pronouns; I’ve just realised I missed ‘whose’, which is another word that causes problems for some. The rule is the same–if you’re using an apostrophe you need to understand what it’s for. If the word you’re using is ‘who’s’ the meaning is ‘who is’ or ‘who has’: “Who’s going to take the rubbish out?” (Who is going to take the rubbish out?)

If you want to indicate possession the correct term is ‘whose’: “Whose rubbish is it?” (Who does the rubbish belong to?) When we know the owner of the rubbish we do use an apostrophe: “It’s Jimmy’s rubbish. He can take it out.” When we know whose it is but not his name, we might point to the owner and say: “It’s his rubbish.” No apostrophe is needed in his, whose, or its when used as a possessive pronoun. An apostrophe always indicates something missing and, for those of you who didn’t read my previous blog on apostrophes, the practice dates back to an old form of English when possession was written in a more complicated way. To indicate possession a writer would have to say “Jim, his rubbish,” and we now use an apostrophe to replace that pronoun ‘his’. (Jim’s rubbish)

A lecturer told me that when I was at uni and whether it’s actually true or not it’s quite a useful way of remembering which is the correct form of ‘its, whose, and their.’ For more easy to understand help on grammar I have a free ebook on Smashwords.

It’s Good Friday here today and autumn at last! I think we’re all happy to see the end of summer. Autumn is lovely here in central Victoria but with such a late start it won’t be long before we’re complaining about the cold! Time to curl up with a good book in front of the heater. My sci-fi for young adults, Sanctuary, is FREE today only at Amazon and I have others coming up free next month, Beast of War, Connections, and The Inheritance so keep checking in. For all info on my books on Amazon check out my Author Page.

 

 


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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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State to State

I’ve just been back to my home town for a few days to visit family and especially my mother, who just turned 95. I was born in Wentworth and lived on a property in Curlwaa, New South Wales, for my first few years and then moved interstate to Mildura, the other side of the  Murray River. Most of my mildurawentworthcuz 058memories are of life in Mildura but I do have some memories of Curlwaa. The old school has gone and so has our old house but my sister and I drove around the area where they used to be. We also went to the Wentworth Hospital, where I was born and hadn’t seen since, so that was interesting. It’s popped up in my book Stony Creek so I wanted to have a look. I was delighted to find an old Ferguson tractor there, also in my book. The Fergies were used extensively in the severe floods that hit the area in 1956.

I didn’t particularly appreciate it when I lived there but I’m always blown away by the Murray River when I go home–it’s quite spectacular and is of course the whole reason Mildura and Wentworth, as well as surrounding areas, grew into what they are today. Both the Murray and the Darling were used as highways in the early days and there mildurawentworthcuz 053are still paddle-steamers operating, now for tourists. The area also relies on the river to irrigate the many different kinds of fruit and vegetables grown there. Known as Sunraysia the area is well known for its citrus and grapes–especially dried grapes but it also produces wine–as well as other fruit and vegetables. It was the first place in Australia to be irrigated, thanks to Canada’s Chaffey Brothers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Chaffey

Rain tends to be scarce and it’s usually the warmest place in the state, so it’s a popular tourist destination. Only problem is it’s a long trip from anywhere, including where I live now, with nothing much to look at along the way! I’ve put a few other photos on my Pictures of Oz page.

darkamazonMy novelette ‘Dark Innocence’ is free on April 29 and is set in Mildura, so have a look at  the pictures and a free read as well. Happy Reading!


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Self-publishing with RSI

The great advantage of self-publishing is, of course, there’s no deadlines other than those you set yourself–always a good new the inheritance coveridea I think. Well, usually. Sometimes? I have vague deadlines, usually short term ones like so many words per day or per week, rather than ‘I must finish this book by whenever’. My output has dropped a lot this year because I’ve developed RSI, and yes, I’m well aware I’m not the only one and I’m curious as to how other writers deal with it.

no-one coverI tried a hand therapist, who fitted me with a brace thingy–I hated it but it helped a little, I think. I found it very awkward though and kept looking. My son, another RSI sufferer, had successfully treated his problem using pressure on trigger points. You find the trigger point, which is not the place you have the symptoms at all, but elsewhere, probably in your arms, but could be in your shoulders as well. You use various balls, such as tennis balls, and press your arm against a ball, exerting pressure on the point.

That’s probably a very bad explanation but I did find that helped. I also bought a wrist support for the computer keyboard and my husband removed the arms from my chair–I think they made my wrists position badly on the keyboard. As well as all that though, I’ve also reduced my writing time to about half of what I used to do and try to break it up throughout the day, instead of all at once. It’s not easy but I’m getting used to it.

doglastkinblogI’m off next week to my old home town of Mildura for my mother’s 95th birthday. Mildura is a focal point in several of my books–the Red Dust outback romance series as well as ‘Dark Innocence’, so I’m going to take photos this trip and post them when I get back. You’ll find them in my Pictures of Oz page.darkamazon

My children’s book ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’ is free on 15th and 16th of this month, and ‘Last Chance’, for older children, on 19th to 21st. For adults ‘The Inheritance’ is free on 22nd and 23rd April.


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Roo Poo

It’s autumn here in Oz–my favourite time of the year—not a fan of the summer heat, and winter, although welcome in the beginning, soon outstays its welcome. Autumn is perfect, warm days and cool nights developing into cool days and cold nights. And the trees changing colour before they lose all their leaves and become drab. We don’t have any deciduous trees in our garden, just natives, all of which are evergreen, but I don’t have to walk far to enjoy the autumn display.

I’ve just been to a small park nearby and soaked up the smell of eucalyptus–it’s great when the eucalypts are damp from the rain. I was strolling along with my nose in the air when I happened to glance down and realised I needed to watch where I was walking. There was roo poo everywhere!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

There’s a national park area not far from where I live and there’s been a lot of new homes put up since we moved here around 15 years ago. I did see a few kangaroos on my walks in those early years and it’s nice to know they’re still around. Obviously we’ve stolen some of their territory but, be assured, they’re not at risk.

For those of you who don’t know much about Australia, it must look like a sparsely populated country, with plenty of room for more people. Which if course it is, in theory. The trouble is most of us tend to cling to the coastline or at least places with some kind of civilization. I live in a regional inland city which only really came about because of a gold rush many years ago. We don’t even have a river, much less a view of the coast, and it would be very difficult to live in any such area without the assurance of a water supply.

Much of inland Australia is desert and uninhabitable, at least to those of us who likekarinya cover water and power. So we keep building more houses near already established towns and we do rob the wildlife of their habitat; at least we are aware of the problem now and hopefully we can find some way around it. I hear conflicting stories–our koalas are dying out in some areas because of chlamydia, while in other areas they’re being culled because there’s just too many and they’re in danger of starving to death.

That’s a grim note to finish on but I’m very hopeful the experts will find a solution and I do know they’re trying. My last couple of years I’ve been writing stories based in the outback and I’m on the last one of the series, which, as yet, is nameless. The first two are ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘The Road to Karinya‘.


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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  

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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!