Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


16 Comments

Giving Smashwords one more try

I decided I may have been unfair to Smashwords, writing them off as too much work for too little return. I have several books with them but not as many as I have with Amazon; much easier, with formatting etc and besides they just sell a lot more books!

Still, the books I’ve had problems formatting with Smashwords have been mostly those I wrote some time back, when my own Word formatting was pretty rough; also I hadn’t put any of my top sellers on there, partly because of formatting issues and partly because I thought I just might want to make use of Amazon’s KDP Select, which requires exclusive rights.

I’ve now put my outback romance, Stony Creek, on Smashwords, which I think is giving them as good a chance as I can. It’s doing very well on Amazon and apart from a few minor hiccups I had no problems with the formatting, so we’ll see how it goes. Since I have absolutely no intentions of giving any away I decided there was no reason for it to be exclusive with Amazon–haven’t seen any results yet though and I have to say Amazon absolutely rules! One thing I like about Smashwords is that I can make books free whenever I want and I have a small ebook on grammar, What Did You Say? and a short story free. There’s also an interview with yours truly and if you have any suggestions as to what I might add to that I can do that at any time.

not guilty 2014 coverIs there a particular type of book that does well there, I wonder? I’ve found with Amazon my non-fiction, Not Guilty, has done very well as has my outback romance. The others have all sold a few but no-where near the numbers of those two. I’d quite like to put Not Guilty on Smashwords but I think the formatting would be too hard, because it contains different fonts and different spacing for newspaper reports and public records etc. It’s all easy on Amazon, although I must admit Createspace was tricky. I have most of my books on Createspace for PODs and it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it but it’s not too bad now. Amazon ebooks are very simple but if you go through Createspace they can send it over to Amazon and convert it for you.beastfromkindlecover

I have one freebie this week on Amazon, Beast of War, a fantasy about three teens in a land called Breeland. There are three different tribes–different kinds of ‘people’, farmers, cave-dwellers and those who live off the sea, and they are all at risk.  According to prophecy only Terrus, Cener and Airien can save Breeland; they must put aside tribal differences and prejudices and journey together to fight the beast in his lair. I did write this for kids but I’m finding adults enjoy it as well–I know I loved writing it and was rather sad when I finished it and had to say goodbye to the characters! It’s free from the 16th to the 18th of June, so check it out.


15 Comments

What’s your favourite genre?

Do you have a favourite genre? A favourite author? Or do you like to browse the bookshelves and try something different each time you buy a new book? Maybe go for the latest thing?

My first favourite genre was fantasy, although I don’t think it was called that then. I spent many pleasurable hours reading Enid Blyton’s tales of the Magic Faraway Tree and I think this evolved into an interest in all things English. I loved to read books about girls in boarding schools when I was a bit older and perhaps my love of historical fiction, which was usually based in the UK, had its origins there. It’s hard to remember all the writers whose works I loved although I do recall looking for more by Anya Seton and Victoria Holt. I always thought I would never want to write historical fiction because there’s too much research involved and that, I assumed, was work, while the writing was … something else?

When I went to university (as a mature age student) I found out that actually research was the best part! Getting my hands on the original records–reading letters written a hundred years ago–was fascinating! I’m still a fan of fiction rather than non-fiction but I do love history and I like to know what parts are true if I’m reading historical fiction. My own historical novel, ‘Her Flesh and Blood’, is a mix of fact and fiction, being inspired by a murder trial in Australia, in 1910. It’s free for two days this week, 17th and 18th March.

I still read historical fiction but I find it harder now to find something I really enjoy. I tend to get a stack of books from the library and a couple will be what I think are safe options, either favourite authors or some kind of historical fiction I’m pretty sure I’ll like. I also like to try new authors and different types of stories. This has led me to such gems as Chasm, by Stephen Laws, The Watchers by Charles Maclean and my latest find, Home Front, by Kristin Hannah. I’d not heard of Kristin before and clearly she’s sold a lot of books, so I probably should have, but I will be certainly looking for more.

My childhood love of fantasy evolved into a love of science fiction and I did read adult fantasy as well, although I haven’t for a while. I’m always looking for something different–something I can’t guess the ending to, which is why, as much as I loved Enid Blyton books about the Five Find-outers, I’ve never been a fan of adult detective stories. We know how it’s going to end, don’t we?

My writing has been as varied as my reading and the most fun I’ve had writing was my children’s fantasy, Beast of War, which is free at Amazon from the 16th to the 18th March. I grew to like the characters so much I was quite sad when it ended and I had to say goodbye to them!

I’m currently writing something that may be a novella or may be a longish short story. It’s about a séance and is set in a mythical town, but it’s very much the town I grew up in, in the era I grew up, so I’m using a lot of teenage memories of my own, which is fun. I’ve written about ghosts before, in my novel Inheritance, but this is a more contemporary ghost. Maybe. I’ll find out soon and also find out just how much damage she can do.

For UK readers the links to this week’s freebies — Beast of War        Her Flesh and Blood


51 Comments

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!


6 Comments

Mapping Fantasy–and a free book, ‘Beast of War’.

My reading tastes change frequently–sometimes I like horror–I used to love Stephen King; sometimes I prefer historical fiction. I’m always looking for something different and it’s hard to find. Jodi Picoult’s always interesting; she clearly does lots of research on her subjects. I enjoyed fantasy for a while and love Game of Thrones but I must confess I haven’t read the books.The only trilogy I ever read was The Axis Trilogy, by Sara Douglass, a very successful Australian fantasy writer, who died in 2011. I knew I had to read three (huge) books but I expected each to have some kind of an ending; I didn’t expect that I would have to drive around to my son’s house one night as soon as I’d finished book one so I could borrow the next one in the series. I did at least have the foresight to grab the third one at the same time but I vowed never to read another trilogy! Not because I didn’t enjoy it but because I spent that week or so basically living in that fantasy world, scarcely functioning in the real world. That sounds a bit extreme but if you’re a keen reader you’ll know what I mean. Some books are very hard to put down and when you really have to you’re still thinking about that other world. Sara’s world was so fascinating I was totally caught up in it.

I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop of hers, in which she told us the basics of writing a fantasy. She always started with a map. When she said that I groaned inwardly; not a good start for me. Geography was never my strong point, and maps? I could barely read one, let alone draw one. (And yet I love travel and have just started adding some photos on a new page here.)

The other point I recall from that workshop was that all fantasy is about a quest and as I was, at that time, studying writing for children, I began with that map and found it worked beautifully. As soon as I had the (very rudimentary) map drawn I could see what kind of creatures would live there and what kind of quest they would have to go on. Beast of War was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book and it’s free from the 20th May to the 22nd. Let me know what you think. It is for kids but my intention was to reach the Harry Potter audience, which seems to range from around 8 to 80.

http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

Image

Happy reading.