Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Building your own Website.

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert but, after several attempts with different providers, I’ve finally built my own website! Two actually, since I’m a freelance editor as well as a writer.

Do I need them? I have no idea but there were no costs involved, apart from a couple of days work and quite a bit of stress. It just bugged me a little when various sites wanted my website detail so now I have one. Two.

I found this company so much better to deal with than others I tried. I doubt I was speaking (text) with the handsome young man pictured, but I’m pretty sure it was a human and he was very prompt and very helpful. They have images of three young men with big smiles and their names are there as well but, seriously, I doubt very much that’s who I was dealing with.

I went with my editing site first and that was pretty simple, but when I started the author site it became more complicated because I wanted to show my books and also add some links. I had to compromise a little but all in all I’m pretty happy with them both.

The company I’m with is SITE 123 and these are my links. They also have options you can pay for, but I always try free when that’s an option!

Editing Indies

Christine Gardner, Author

My books are available on Amazon as PODs as well as ebooks and on Apple, Kobo and others as ebooks. Stony Creek, the first book in my Red Dust series, is free and can be read as a standalone.


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Surprise endings

For the first time in months I’ve read not one, but two books that I actually enjoyed. One was ‘The Brave’, by Nicholas Evans, the writer of ‘The Horse Whisperer’, which was what caught my attention. The other was ‘Fractured’, by Dani Atkins, who I hadn’t heard of before. ‘Fractured’ is really a love story, but, without giving too much away, it’s more than that. It’s a mystery, set in two different time zones, about Rachel, who appears to be living in two different dimensions. Apologies to Dani Atkins if that’s not a good way to describe it; it’s hard to describe without giving too much away. The main thing is that I loved the ending and it was unexpected.

‘The Brave’ is about Tom, who we meet as a child, early on in the story, when he visits his mother on death row. That’s quite a hook and it’s not until we near the end of the  book that we start to get an inkling of the truth about her. Like ‘Fractured’, ‘The Brave’ is also set in two different time zones, apart from that the two books have little in common, but I do love a book that keeps me reading because I don’t know how it will end.

Horror was my favourite genre for many years and Stephen King my favourite author. When I wrote my first book for adults,new the inheritance cover ‘The Inheritance’, I wanted to write like him, although I very quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. I was happy with the book though and still am–the ending is not entirely unpredictable but, judging by some of the reviews, shocked some readers. Most reviews were positive though and two who didn’t like it compared it to a Stephen King novel, so, as you can imagine, I was pretty happy about that.

My current writing is rural romance–I’m working on Book 3 of a series, the first two being ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘The Road to Karinya‘, and if there’s one rule of romance it’s that there must be a happy ending. Still, there’s no reason there can’t be a few surprises along the way.BookCoverImageconnections

Surprise endings work especially well in short stories and my short story collection, ”Connections‘, is free right now on Amazon, as is my YA sci-fi novel ‘Sanctuary‘.

sanctuary cover 2014


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Is it time to drop the apostrophe?

I don’t know if this is a problem everywhere or just in Australia, so do let me know. It’s become a major annoyance (okay, probably only to people like me–grumpy old women) how much the apostrophe is misused. It’s quite clear that there are many people out there who don’t actually know what it’s for! They just seem to throw it in anywhere. It’s randomly stuck in before any old ‘s’ in signs out the front of fruit shops: tomatoe’s, banana’s etc. Even professional sign writers sometimes abuse the poor little apostrophe like that at times.

I often use the text option while watching TV because my hearing’s not great and I don’t expect good grammar or spelling with that but when someone has paid for an ad which includes huge letters across the screen you would think someone would make sure the spelling and grammar are okay first, wouldn’t you?  Perhaps they use a good old computer spellcheck–we all know how effective that is, don’t we?

Don’t get me wrong–I love spellcheck–I’m shocking at typos; my fingers seem to work independently of my brain, but it’s the first stage of editing, not the last and certainly not the one and only. Words such as who’s and whose and its’, it’s and its are not always picked up by computers.

So is it time to give up? Has our education system totally failed our kids who now think ‘should’ve’ is ‘should of’ and have no idea of the purpose of an apostrophe? Should we just stop using it altogether? Or should we somehow get the message out there that the apostrophe does have a purpose? An apostrophe takes the place of one or more missing letters. Who’s means who is and it’s means it is. There is no apostrophe in the possessive form of ‘its’, any more than in ‘his’ or ‘hers’.

One of the more memorable things I learnt in my literary classes at university was that the apostrophe does, indeed, always indicate missing letters, even in the case of the possessive. The professor told us that many years ago people would say: The dog his bone, or Adam his apple and that this evolved into The dog’s bone, Adam’s apple etc.

We could take to the streets with placards–should they say ‘Rid the world of the apostrophe!’ or should they say ‘Stop abusing the apostrophe?’ My frustrations went into a little ebook, which is free for everyone at Smashwords, What Did You Say? It could be subtitled ‘Words of Wisdom from a Grumpy Old Woman’.


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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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Free Sanctuary! Ebook on Amazon 15 to 19 July.

Sanctuary is a sci-fi book for young adults, set in the 25th century. It’s a post-apocalyptic story, a subject which always fascinates me; I love to read different writers’ ideas about the future of the world. My future world is not a pretty one but there is hope and the qualities which make us human are still there. Although I did write it for young adults I know plenty of adults enjoy YA fiction–it’s easy reading and, hopefully, enjoyable. If you do find the time to read it and enjoy it please take another few minutes to write a brief review, either on Amazon or Goodreads or both.

On a slightly different subject, but still about the future of our world–a certain 5 year old, who shall remain nameless, was visiting the other day and an ad came on the TV–one of those ubiquitous ads displaying the wonders of some exercise machine–and he told me he wanted to get one when he grew up. I asked him why and he said because he wanted to ‘get fit’! I should point out that this child never sits still-is constantly running everywhere, is tall for his age and has not an ounce of extra fat anywhere on his body. Yet already he’s getting the message that he needs the latest gadget to improve himself!

My children are adults now but I do remember talking to them about advertisements, especially those on TV, and pointing out the ridiculousness of some of the claims made. It’s sad, but parents, you really have to tell your children that sometimes people lie.

All good parents are careful about the programs their children are allowed to watch on TV, but do they notice the commercials? I think we’re so accustomed to them, especially those that seem to be on all the time, that we tend to tune them out. I know I do. Just be aware that your kids may not have the same filter and that they can’t read the disclaimer that tells us, for example, that the miracles we see in front of us are actually the result of a combination of diet and exercise, rather than ten minutes a day on a magic machine!

Morning television here in Australia is full of both exercise machines and life insurance ads, neither of which are suitable viewing for children. Is this is a time you put your feet up and watch TV while your child plays near by? Perhaps you could just push the mute button when the ads are on–you might think your child’s not taking any notice but he probably is! I know, from experience, how convenient it is to put your child in front of the TV, while you get on with whatever you have to do, and I’m not saying that’s a bad idea. Just be careful and don’t forget to read books to them. This is beginning to sound like a mummy blog!

Happy reading.


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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.