Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Smashwords, Passions and Freebies

Thanks to everyone for their comments,on linkedin, especially, on my post about Smashwords: one writer pointed out that by leaving my most successful book, Stony Creek, off KDP Select I was missing out on their lending program so I’ve since removed all my books from Smashwords apart from one free short story.

It’s Grand Final day here today–that is AFL football, which is Australian Rules and quite different to American football. There’s no helmets involved and I appreciate it is a game of skill. I might even watch it for a while since my husband will but there’s no way I’d leave the lounge-room for the experience. I was watching one of the breakfast shows this morning and they showed crowds of keen footy fans already lined up to get their seats for a game that starts at (I think) around 2.30 this afternoon. The reporter mentioned that they could put stickers on their seats and then leave for a while. I’m not sure if he meant they could actually leave the stadium or just the seat; I noticed the fans were mostly men and I’m guessing that some will probably be saving seats for their families to join them later. I understand some people are very passionate about football but is it really worth lining up and waiting for six hours? Apparently it is for many fans.

Other people line up for hours, even overnight, to be one of the first to get the latest mobile phone, which is seriously wacky! They’ll make plenty, people, just wait till tomorrow!

I kind of understand fans lining up overnight to get tickets for their favourite band; these are limited after all and I’ve been to some excellent shows myself, but never had to line up for hours–not sure I was ever that keen.

Then of course women are supposed to be passionate about shoes but that’s never caught on with me either–not that I don’t admire them–some are a real work of art, but we’re not meant to torture ourselves in the name of fashion, ladies!

Other people collect all kinds of things–you name it, someone will be passionate enough about it to collect it! I find the older I get the less material things matter to me. I’d probably like to collect holidays, all over the world, but that’s not very likely. I’m off on my first overseas trip next month, to Vanuatu, which is not very far away but it’s a start!BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I have a couple of freebies on offer at the moment: Not Guilty, a true story about a mother who murdered her three children in 1910, and Her Flesh and Blood, which is a fictionalized account of the same story.  Not Guilty evolved from my Honours thesis on infanticide and child murder and involved a huge amount of research. I do consider myself more a fiction writer though and found the restrictions in writing non-fiction somewhat frustrating, so I then wrote Her Flesh and Blood and gave my characters a life before the murders.

Not Guilty is free 28 and 29 September and Her Flesh and Blood from 28th to 30th September.

UK Readers: Not Guilty, Her Flesh and Blood


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Stuck in a time warp?

Do you tend to read or write in one particular era? I have an aversion to the 1920s, possibly because I’ve seen too many bad movies about that era. Other than that my first love was historical fiction, simply because I find history fascinating, and my second love was science fiction because I’m equally fascinated with the future. I’m always interested in the way different writers imagine our world in the future, or indeed other worlds.

When I started writing, my first novel was set in the 26th century and my second novel was set in both contemporary times and the 19th century, so no favoritism there! My latest two (Stony Creek and Dark Innocence) are set mainly in the 1960s and 1970s and I do find I rather enjoy writing about a time I have some personal memories of. I’ve just started another set in the 70s, which has some of my own experiences of living in Queensland and camping on the beach but most of it is pure fiction. I don’t have a name for it yet and I’ll probably be asking for help when I’ve finished, but that won’t be for a while yet. I’m not a very well-disciplined writer, unfortunately–life gets in the way sometimes. Often.

It’s looking like winter has arrived here and it is in fact the first day of winter so I can’t complain. It’s wet but not that cold yet–at least not inside! The trees are beautiful but they’ll soon be bare and we’ll be looking forward to spring. Not summer though. I don’t like summer much at all.

I have a couple of freebies for you this week–one from the future and one from the past! ‘Demented Mothers‘ is about infanticide in the early 20th century in Australia. This is not written as a true crime; it is a university thesis, so won’t be for everyone, but if you have an interest in the subject check it out. Free one day only, June 1st (USA time). Link for UK readers.doglastkinblog

The other one is ‘Last Chance’, which I wrote for pre-teen kids, but I’d be interested in others’ opinions as to what age it’s best suited to. It’s about a town destroyed by war and the aftermath, which sounds pretty grim, but ultimately it’s about hope. Anyway it’s free, so you may as well grab it, right? Free for 2 days, June 1st and 2nd. UK readers.

Cheers and happy first day of summer or winter, depending on where you are.


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Thanks for all the suggestions on Hell and Fury.

Late last year I asked for title suggestions for a novel inspired by a child murder case in 1910 Australia. I lost count of the BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodnumber of replies I had, mostly through Linkedin, but I wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions. My original title was ‘No Hell Nor Fury’, which had about as many positive as negative responses. One kind person suggested I check Amazon to see how many similar titles were already there and that was the main reason I changed it. I called it ‘Her Flesh and Blood’ which is a little more ambiguous and I prefer that. There were no other books on Amazon with that title at the time–might be now! Anyway that’s available now and I feel at last, after a thesis, a non-fiction book, and now a fictionalized account, that I’ve exorcised that horrific crime from my brain. To some extent.

My latest publication is another kids’ book which is a welcome change from all that and is free on Amazon from 23 to 27 February, ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’. It consists of 2 stories–one’s an adventure about Billy, who loses his mother on a train and gets into all sorts of trouble trying to find her again and the other’s about Sophie, who’s the only one in her family not good at sport. All her friends are good at sport and so is her little sister, but Sophie dreads playing sport at school because she’s just not good at it. Positive reviews would be appreciated!

My last publication was a rural romance, Stony Creek, which is selling well, and I’m currently working on something which will probably be more suited to lovers of horror–I do like to mix it up–but I’m not even sure myself yet where it’s going. The characters will let me know–all I can say now is that they’re teenagers and they’re about to have a seance. I have an idea it won’t go well for some-one.

It’s been a lazy summer for me–too hot to get my brain going–but I think the worst is over now and I hope to get back to work this week. Summer’s officially over in four days and autumn is just around the corner. I love autumn and although all the trees in my garden are evergreens there are plenty around town that are just stunning in autumn. I think Bendigo’s at its best then.

I notice there’s been a lot of new interest in an old blog of mine about a writing challenge, ‘Write a paragraph beginning with “It was a dark and stormy night”.’ Do you think we should start another challenge?


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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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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.