Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Instafreebie

I’ve recently started putting stories on Instafreebie, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a site where, obviously enough, you can find free reads! It seems well organised and, from an author point of view, is another way of reaching new readers. Apart from the short stories I’ll continue to list as free on a permanent basis, I’m also putting books up for around a week at a time. If anyone knows anything I don’t know about Instafreebie I’d love to hear from you! At this stage I’m only using the free service; I know you can pay for different services.

These are my perma free stories at the moment and I intend to add another one very soon:

you never knew  You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

Brown Dog  Luke is flat broke and living in his car at the beach when an old mutt sidles up to him–the last thing he needs, or is it?

What Did You Say?  Not a short story but a small ebook to help with grammar and punctuation. Do you know the real purpose of the humble apostrophe?

I always tweet the temporary giveaways and you can find details on the right side of my blog posts or on twitter.

I’ve just been on my annual trek to my home town for my mother’s birthday. I do try to get there more often but never miss Mum’s birthday. She’s 97 now and still living at home (alone) and cooking her own meals. She does have some help with the housework as well as the garden but she still likes to potter around out there as well. There are lots of other family members who live much closer than I do, fortunately, including more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I can keep track of! It’s always nice to visit my old home town but it’s good to come back to the place that’s been my home for over 30 years.

Most of my books are available in print and ebook on Amazon.com and 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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Much ado about nothing

I had no idea what to write about today–didn’t really have anything to say so I decided to have a look at my first post. I started this blog last autumn (March here in Oz) and wrote about the weather and about writing. I had no idea what I wanted the blog to be about and I still don’t really. It’s about my adventures with self-publishing certainly and I still have to mention the weather sometimes, but we do, don’t we? In our everyday conversation, which is, after all, how I write, we always talk about the weather. It’s one thing we all have an opinion on. Is it cold enough for you? Nah, like it cold. Hot enough for you? Too bloody hot! I hate it. I love it. No politics, no religion–a safe subject.

It’s frosty here this morning, which makes a change from the rain at least–nice to see the sun shining through the window. It’s the first day in a while I’ve been able to see the keyboard without the light on. My typing speed is actually not too bad but I tend to look at the keyboard and just glance at the screen now and then rather than vice versa–this is where good old spell-check comes in handy. I did attend a couple of typing classes many years ago and at least one shorthand class–does anyone use shorthand these days? Do you type without looking at the keyboard?

At school, because I was fairly good academically I suppose, I was in what they called ‘Professional’ classes, which I suppose meant I could have gone on to university (which I did, 30 odd years later!) while my sister was in the more practical ‘Commercial’ stream, which taught useful things for girls, like typing. Ironically, she ended up in a profession, as a dental nurse, while I spent most of my working life working in various office jobs. I quite liked it too and didn’t particularly miss those skills but now the ability to touch type would be handy. Still, as I said, I manage pretty well.

I have no idea if they teach touch typing at schools now or if most kids just pick it up naturally, since they’d be typing now as soon as they can read–actually before they can read. My six year old grandson likes to type and I often write out words for him to type in. Like most children his age he has a natural ability and has already told me how to use my smart phone properly. I’m not exactly frightened of such things these days but when I first learnt how to use a computer I was always terrified I’d somehow manage to delete everything if I accidentally pushed the wrong button. I have actually deleted a day’s writing on at least one occasion but that was long ago. Last year! Fortunately I have lots of clever sons and now two grandsons so I’ll be okay!

‘Demented Mothers‘ is free from the 14th to the 18th July (USA) and ‘Her Flesh and Blood‘ is free one day only, the 14th. BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodThe first is my university Honours thesis, out of which evolved ‘Not Guilty’, the true story of the McCluskey murders, as well as “Her Flesh and Blood’, a fictionalized account of the same story. As a creative writer, although I was enthralled with the research about the case, I was frustrated by the story that was lacking, so eventually I decided to create one myself. I gave Camellia McCluskey a life prior to the murders and afterwards and blended fiction and non-fiction. I think it’s a good read and it’s free if you’re quick; if you like it, reviews would be much appreciated.

UK links: Demented Mothers

 Her Flesh and Blood


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What’s a good length for an ebook?

Is there one? I find I don’t have the same staying power reading ebooks as I do reading a paperback but maybe that’s just me. Not having read short stories in the past I now find myself actively searching for them on Amazon. I even published a collection myself but it hasn’t done as well as my novels have–‘Stony Creek’ at 60 something thousand words is still doing very well so maybe the length doesn’t matter as long as the story’s engaging. Of course that’s still quite short for a novel but I don’t think I’ll ever write a 100,000 word story–I’m more of a ‘let’s get to the point’ writer and reader.

My latest publication is around 11,500 words, which apparently qualifies it as a novelette–too long to be a short story but not long enough to be a novella. I think it’s a good length for an ebook, but certainly not long enough to be in print. I’d like to thank everyone who suggested titles for this one; I was tossing up between Innocents and Innocence but finally decided on Dark Innocence. It’s not the only book in the world with that title but I think it says more about what I’m getting at. Without giving away too much of the story it’s about teenagers in the sixties, in a country town in Australia; they’re all innocent, naïve really, but they cause things to happen and it’s their very innocence that prevents them foreseeing the possible results.

‘Dark Innocence’ will be free on Amazon from the 12th to the 14th May and I’d appreciate a quick review if you like it. I grew up in a country town in Australia in the sixties and it was kind of fun re-living some of that. Some of the language could be confusing to some people but I’m hoping most of you will understand that thongs worn on the feet have nothing to do with a g-string! In Oz we’ve been watching English and American movies and TV shows for many years and we understand the lingo–I hope you understand ours!

It was Mothers Day here yesterday and I realise it’s Sunday now for most of you, so Happy Mothers Day to all the mums. I have two sons who live locally and they both dropped in for a visit, which was lovely; I also have one currently honeymooning in Thailand who sent me a facebook photo/message and two others out of town who rang. And I rang my mum of course. So all good. Mothers Day for me is all about being in touch, in one way or another, not about new washing machines!

‘Dark Innocence’ link for UK

‘Stony Creek’ for UK

 

 

 


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Going back to school when you’re old.

I have five sons, all grown up now, but they kept me pretty busy at home for around twenty years and I was happy being a full-time mum. When my youngest started school though, I decided to do something else. I couldn’t decide whether to do a course in visual art, something I’d always loved, or something more practical, like an up-skill of the office work I used to do. I’ll leave it up to them, I thought. Just do the entry tests for both and if I pass one, that’s the course for me.

So I passed them both and had to decide for myself; the art course was impractical, a silly idea really, so of course that was the one I chose. And loved (almost) every minute. Strangely enough, the subjects most of the students hated, those that involved writing, I thoroughly enjoyed, and after two years full time and three years part-time I went on to a writing and editing class. Even more fun. So then I had a Diploma of Art and Design and a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. Should have been enough, right?

Then the local university made us an offer–our two year diploma would be counted as one year at university if any of us wanted to  attempt a degree there. Of course I did. It wasn’t that easy a decision–I gave it some serious thought. Probably part of my decision to go for it was I’d met so many people who had university degrees and, quite frankly, they didn’t seem any more intelligent than me!

So, to cut a long story short, I graduated, with Honours, from uni in 2005, and absolutely loved it. Not every minute–I didn’t love all the assignments and some of the lectures were better than others but most of them were fascinating. I studied History, Philosophy of Religion, Women’s Studies and Literature. If anyone is considering gong back to school I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.

My book, Not Guilty, evolved from my Honours thesis and I’ve decided to put the original thesis on Amazon as well. It is an academic thesis, not a commercial true crime, but I’m sure some will find it of interest. If you do, please take the time to put a review up. Demented Mothers is free from 21st (US time) to the 25th October.


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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  

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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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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.