Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Happy New Year?

It’s the first day of 2017 here in Oz; according to my world clock it’s still last year elsewhere, but Happy New Year wherever and whenever you are!

I sometimes think the millions of dollars spent on New Year celebrations, especially fireworks, is a complete waste of money and could be used more effectively elsewhere. I’ve not been to any of the city firework shows and they look amazing but the effort put in to getting a good spot is ridiculous. People come from all over the world to camp out overnight around Sydney Harbour; one young man from Taiwan, the first in line, had been there from 6 am the morning before New Years Eve. I hope it was worth it for him! I also think all that smoke would drive me nuts, not to mention the crowds. 500,000 people were there, in spite of, or maybe because of, terrorist threats!

I am, of course, a grumpy old woman, and if I was in my twenties and lived in Sydney or any major city, I’d probably be there, drink way too much and regret it the next morning. But I’d have a ball, of course. And to see so many people of all colours, children and adults, enjoying themselves together and loving the spectacle makes me think perhaps it is worth the money. Maybe we should have more such celebrations that everyone can agree on.

When I was a kid, in the country, we always celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. Generally there was a vacant block of land somewhere in the neighbourhood and we’d get together with family and friends and write in the air with our sparklers while Dad and the other men lit rockets and wheels that were pinned on to poles and spun around, throwing sparks everywhere. It’s a fond childhood memory, but gatherings like that are now against the law and while a part of me thinks that’s a great pity, the fact that two men died last night using illegal fireworks makes me agree we probably can’t go back to that. I have no idea if anyone was killed back in the days of my childhood from firework accidents although I’m quite sure there were injuries. Now I doubt there could be such a family occasion without alcohol, which would be disastrous.

I enjoyed a celebratory can of bourbon and coke and managed to stay awake long enough to watch the Sydney fireworks on TV and I’m happy with that. I did consider driving into town and standing around watching the fireworks–I live in a regional city and they do put on quite a good show–but my recliner was more appealing. Now the new year is here and Christmas is over and I really must get back to work this week; I have a book half finished and the other half is swirling around in my head! I wish you all a great 2017.

I have a couple of books for the kids free on the 2nd and the 8th of January and I’ll post the links then to my Facebook page or you can check my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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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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Going Home. And coming back home again.

I’ve just been back to my home town, a trip I’ve been doing at least once a year for my mother’s birthday. She turned 94 and is well, but I’m always very conscious of the fact it could be the last time I see her. Of course I could die tomorrow myself but you know what I mean. Mum has already outlived her parents but her grandfather was 98 when he died, so we have good genes.

It always feels a little odd going home, because of course it’s not my home anymore. I’ve lived in Bendigo now for over 20 years and this is home but Mildura is where I spent most of my childhood and those teenage years I remember so well. It’s curious how places I’ve lived and people I knew pop up in my stories, almost of their own accord. Not that I would deliberately use any actual person in any of my fiction stories, but they are all influenced in some way by real people. At least the best ones are.

Place is something I’ve certainly made use of in stories and experiences of my own, like hitch-hiking to the river on a hot day and running across burning bitumen with bare feet, both of which I’m using in the story I’m working on now, ‘Dark Innocence‘. My last book, ‘Stony Creek’, is a rural romance and I used my own memories of living in Melbourne as well as attending a wool-shed dance in the outback as a child. I did grow up in a country town, but I had to research for that one, my knowledge of life in the outback being minimal. Quite a lot came from the recesses of my memory locker though! I suspect writing in 1st person makes it easier to access those memories and I chose to do that, as doubtful as I was at how that would be received. It’s actually doing very well on Amazon so there are clearly plenty of readers who are happy to read in 1st person.

So after driving around Mildura and visiting some of the old haunts with my sister, as well as a very nice new art gallery, and seeing my other siblings and a couple of nephews and nieces, I’m back home and happy to be here.

Details on all my books at Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Happy reading.

 

 

Innocents or Innocence?

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Innocents or Innocence?

Which title has the most appeal? My latest book, which is not quite complete, is about teenagers in a country town, which, although I don’t name it, is pretty much the town where I grew up. In my story, which will most likely be a novelette, a girl falls, or is pushed, off a station platform onto train tracks and the only suspects are a group of out-of town boys she’s been hanging out with.

The boys are in town for the grape harvesting season and that alone makes them immediately suspicious in small-town Victoria in the sixties, where seasonal workers, although essential, are viewed with distaste by many locals.

I think things are different now, although I haven’t lived in the area for over 20 years. I do visit though; most of my family still lives there and I’m going over next week for my mother’s 94th birthday.

Basing a story in my home town has been fun, especially since it’s set in the sixties and I’ve been able to use my own memories to set the scene. Memories of hot summer days, running across hot bitumen roads barefoot and hitch-hiking to the local sandbar. (Sorry Mum.) I’d be horrified if my kids hitch-hiked anywhere but we all did it in those days. And survived. I’m not sure if it’s just the rosy glasses of the past or if the world was really a much safer place then. Certainly bad things happened but we were not so aware of them unless they actually happened in our town. These days we hear of shocking incidents on a daily basis,  from all over the world, and I sometimes wonder if this is a good thing for our kids. The media generally seems to dwell on the bad and ignore the good. But I have to confess as a fiction writer I also tend towards the dark side, although I have written romance as well as murder and mayhem!

I’ve almost finished the first draft of Innocents (or Innocence), but it will certainly require a bit more work afterwards; I find if I get stuck on a scene sometimes it’s best to just go onto another one and I’ve done that a lot with this story. Now I have to go back and link them all together.

I have two books free on the 14th April, Last Chance and Sanctuary; both are science fiction and were intended for young adults, although Last Chance is for younger young adults and I’ve found it’s mostly adults who read Sanctuary.

Happy Easter to everyone and I hope you have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends and have a good break.

Innocents or Innocence?

Innocents

Innocents