Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Back to Smashwords

I’ve decided to re-publish some of my books with Smashwords, just to see how they go. I like the idea of having more options and not being locked into Amazon’s rules, although one of my major reasons was that Smashwords allowed the use of various reading devices, like smartphones, while Amazon ebooks only worked on kindles. I’m pleased to see they’ve changed that and you can now download kindle books to any kind of reader. There’s a link at Amazon to do that and it’s free so if you thought you had to buy a kindle to read Amazon ebooks, that’s no longer the case. Good news.

Anyway, another reason I had was that I wanted to make my little ebook on grammar, spelling and punctuation, ‘What Did You Say?’ free all the time and Amazon doesn’t give me that option.  I wrote this one, not as a comprehensive teaching tool, but as a collection of useful tips about common errors people make that some of us find very annoying. Grocer’s apostrophes for example. Grocers who put signs out the front of their shops advertising ‘Tomatoe’s and Potatoe’s’. Sign-writers are pretty good at that too, only they do it in much bigger print. Have a look and feel free to share ‘What Did You Say?’ with all your friends. I also have a brief interview on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ChristineGardner

I have a free book on Amazon, from the 5th to the 9th of November, called ‘Beast of War‘, a fantasy for kids. This is one of my favourites–I really enjoyed writing it and was kind of sad when I’d finished. I even had a sequel in mind but it’s hard to find a market for kids’ books. If you know anyone between the age of 9 and 13 I’d love their opinion on Beast. Or yours.

One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can edit even after your book’s published–or is that not a good thing? Debatable, I suppose. I have no desire to keep editing the same book for the rest of my life! I have been doing a bit of editing though, on my true crime, ‘Not Guilty’ and I decided to play around with the cover as well. I only meant maybe a change in the background colour really but I kept playing with it until I lost the original cover and, more importantly, the photo on it. One would think I had a copy somewhere but the only one I can find is too small to use. I suspect my computer holds lots of secrets, as does my house, of missing bits and pieces, never again to see the light of day.

I decided then to do something different–I have some rather nice photos of a certain place where my protagonist spent some months, under lock and key, after her crime, and I thought one of those might make a nice cover. Much to my surprise I was denied permission to use them (my own photos) as the organization didn’t like the association. Now I’m waiting to see if I can get permission to use a photo of the courthouse where she was tried. Hopefully they’ll be more accommodating. If not, I’ve found a rather good on-line site for free pictures http://www.morguefile.com/archive and there’s one there that will do. Most such sites seem too difficult and have all kinds of conditions attached but this one’s good.

Happy reading.


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Connections–Do you read short stories?

I haven’t written short stories for some time but since I bought a kindle a few months ago I’ve found I like reading them more than novels. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with the kindle format or just because I’m busier these days.

I spent a very large chunk of my life bringing up five boys so I’ve always been busy and always managed to find time to read novels, so not busy-busy, but maybe it’s because my brain is more occupied these days with my writing. Occupied in a different way–I assure you it was very much occupied bringing up the boys!

Or maybe it’s the format. No page numbers. No feeling the book in your hands and seeing how far you have to go at a glance. But you can see what percentage you’ve read, so it can’t be that.

Perhaps I’ve just become more particular about what I find enjoyable. I know I’m very put off by poor writing, as I’m sure everyone is, but I found my most recent library expedition, even with favourite authors, disappointing.
I’ve downloaded a few short stories for the kindle, some good, some bad, but at least if I don’t like something I don’t feel I have to give it 100 pages just to make sure! It’s only a very small time investment to read the whole thing. Maybe that’s the secret.

After selling a couple of short stories to a USA audio magazine I decided to go through all my short stories and put some on Amazon as a collection. I’ve called it ‘Connections’, which is the name of the first story and also applies, in a way, to all of them. It’s what life’s about isn’t it?

I was going to put one on my blog but I realise they’re all very different so one story wouldn’t give you much idea of the book overall. Instead I’m including a few samples here. If you’d like to have a look at Connections, it’s free now. If you like it, reviews would be very welcome. (If you only like one story, feel free to review that one only!)

CONNECTIONS

Sophie’s heart was speeding up as the train was slowing down. She had a momentary thought, about the human heart as an alternative power source. It was a pump after all, wasn’t it? And surely that would be great for the planet; the greenies would love it. The self-distraction wasn’t working; she was still nervous as hell. Shit-scared, actually. She didn’t have to go through with this. She could just take a look and keep walking. He was probably some old sleaze.

STUDY IN BLUE ©Christine Gardner

George Arnold got up at six thirty Wednesday morning. He had set the alarm for 6.45 but his inner clock had woken him at six. He lay under his warm eiderdown for half an hour, thinking through his plans for the day, then he jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom. He allowed himself an extra five minutes in the shower since he was up so early and he soaped his obese body thoroughly, lifting up his hanging belly to lather underneath, making sure he was scrupulously clean.

GOING HOME
© Christine Gardner

“Get the hell out then!” she screamed at me through the screen door. So much for worrying about the neighbours. That was another ‘home’ I’d lost, the third in as many months. This one had lasted exactly two weeks; two weeks of tip-toeing around the house so as not to disturb the ‘man of the house’ who worked nights, and trying to avoid his blatant advances when he was awake.

BROWN DOG (Available permanently free at Smashwords)
©Christine Gardner

It was the ugliest dog Luke had ever seen. He was standing at the edge of the sea, not really contemplating suicide (but oh, what a seductive sea it was, just walk on in and don’t look back). The dog ambled over to him and just sat beside him, uninvited and unwanted. It was skin and bone, with long legs like a greyhound. All brown, with no relieving patches. Just an old brown dog. It whined and wagged its tail back and forwards across the sand.

‘Connections’ is available now.


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Easter Weekend

Next weekend is Easter–a big weekend here for tourists and locals, especially if they have children. We have lots of activities revolving around egg hunts as well as rides for all ages. This used to be in the main street, where traffic was blocked off for 3 days and made the whole centre of town a carnival but it’s been moved to a sporting oval not far away. I think it’s a pity because the street carnival was a point of difference and with two separate processions in the street as well, it was quite an event. I must admit though I haven’t been to the main procession for years; once my boys grew out of it I was happy to give it a miss. I did attend the torchlight procession a couple of years ago for the first time with my grandson and enjoyed seeing it through his eyes.

The Chinese lions and dragons are the most exciting part of both processions, especially for the children of course. Bendigo has a predominantly Caucasian population now but there were many Chinese miners here in the 19th century and their presence lives on with the dragons and an excellent Chinese museum.

I don’t expect to be going to the carnival this year but you never know. We’re going to an outdoor wedding on the Saturday and I’m just hoping the weather holds up for that, never mind the carnival! Autumn weather is tricky at the best of times with beautiful sunshine one day and rain the next.

I’ve been reading through some of the reviews on my Amazon site; isn’t it odd how people can read the same book and interpret it in totally different ways? When you put your work out there you have to be prepared for all sorts of opinions. Fortunately most are positive. I suppose it’s like food–our taste-buds are all different somehow. I’ve recently bought a kindle and have availed myself of quite a few stories on the free list at Amazon. Before I download anything I read one or two reviews and then the sample as well as the blurb. If I don’t like the writing style or the story doesn’t grab me straight away I don’t bother. If I do read a story I like I will be sure to post a good review but if I don’t like it I’ll keep it to myself. Self-published writers need all the help they can get and if you like a story it only takes a few minutes to write a review.

Happy Easter and happy reading.