Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Amazon-Friend or Foe?

A lot of writers hate Amazon–they’re big, corporate, money hungry and not at all like those small independent publishers who actually care about what they’re publishing, right? I can’t say I’ve loved every minute or that I’m thrilled with every aspect of the business but for a self-published author who doesn’t have money to burn Amazon is a godsend.

new the inheritance coverIt’s true they’ll sell anything–well, almost, and some of the self-published stuff is rubbish, I agree, but the same applies to small publishers who require hundreds of dollars from authors to produce their book. There are publishers who care about their books, of course; if they’re the ones paying the upfront costs it’s essential they publish only what they believe they can sell.

I’ve written about vanity publishers before and I won’t go into it again here; I sometimes feel as if I’m selling Amazon to writers out there and I have no intention of doing that. I promise I don’t have shares. I just want to let you know that it’s not so bad being a self-published writer on Amazon!

There’s also their Createspace department, where you can publish your book in POD form and they’ll distribute it to several other shopfronts for you. Then there’s Kindle Unlimited, which is a lending library. The customer pays a monthly amount and has to return the ebook, just like any other library, and the author is paid per page read. The amount, as far as I can ascertain, is not always the same, but at the moment my KU amount is about half as much per book as a sale would be, which is not bad.

Another thing I like is that it’s easy to make changes–for example I have a list in the back of each book, of all my other books, and when I publish a new one I add that to the list. I can also change covers if something better comes along, and fix typos if I discover them after my book’s published.(!) All in all, for me Amazon is invaluable and I’d be lost without it. Come and check out my Author Page or here if you’re in the UK.

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100 not out!

No, I’m not 100 years old and neither am I a cricket fan, but this is my 100th blog! Maybe not as big a deal as turning 100 but at least as good as 100 runs on the cricket field. Well, I did say I’m not a fan, right?

It’s been a little over 3 years–I just looked up my first blog and it was March, 2013. Since then I’ve written three books which have been more successful than I ever imagined (Red Dust series) and my family has grown considerably. I had two grandchildren in 2013, now I have four plus six step-grandkids!

At times I’ve struggled to find things to write about and my blogs became less regular as time went by–now I’m no longer trying to blog weekly or monthly. I only write when I have something I want to say. For some reason I’ve recently joined Instagram as well but I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. I might just spend my time writing books instead. The one I’m working on at the moment is based in the area I’m living in, which should make some aspects easier at least. The story starts in 2015 and then changes to the 1860s, much of which will be based on the goldfields here. Unless my characters decide to go elsewhere–you never know really!

The sun’s shining here and I can see a bird on next-door’s TV antenna–I think it’s a pigeon–but it’s freezing cold and apparently we’re in for a winter blast in the next few days. I’m sick of winter already but it’s nice to see the sunshine from the window in my cosy home office.

darkamazonNothing better than curling up by the heater on a cold day with a good book is there? I have a free ebook coming up on the 27th June (USA time), Dark Innocence. It’s quite short, novelette size, and inspired by some of my experiences growing up in the sixties in a country town. Check it out and feel free to leave a review on Amazon if you enjoy it!

For details on my other books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK.

 

 


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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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Book Review–Miss Debenham’s Secret by Sara Bennett

I’m not about to start writing regular book reviews. I’m a reader and a writer, so I have an opinion, like you and every other reader. If I don’t like a book I usually won’t finish it and, even if I do finish it, I won’t review it. Professional reviewers who are obliged to review a book whether they like it or not might have to write some less positive than others. I don’t, so I simply won’t review a book I don’t like.

Miss Debenham’s Secret‘ is a novella which is a sort of addition to the Husband Hunters Club series. The club is a group of girls at a finishing school in the early 19th century and each book tells the story of one of the girls. Miss Debenham is their teacher and it’s a nice little touch to tell her story as well but this is a stand alone story and it’s absolutely not necessary to have read any of the series.

Clarissa Debenham lives in a seaside village in Britain and, in the late 18th century, as an 18 year old teacher, she meets a sailor, Alistair Mackay, who’s staying temporarily while his ship undergoes repairs. A romance develops but Clarissa’s father is against the match and will do whatever he can to put a stop to it. He’s a bitter old man, whose wife died in childbirth, and who seems to think that was Clarissa’s fault; he’s also disappointed his only child is a girl and the only hope he can see for her is to marry the headmaster of the school where she teaches. Marly is a man not unlike Debenham himself, humorless and generally unpleasant, but Debenham has a great deal of respect for him. Alistair Mackay is as different from Marly as is possible–a Scot and a sailor, and a man who would clearly not see eye to eye with Debenham. Without giving away too much of the story Alistair goes back to sea, to fight against Napoleon Bonaparte’s navy.

Twenty years later, Clarissa has her own school, and is contented enough with her life as a single woman, when suddenly Alistair Mackay turns up again and her life is turned upside down.

‘Miss Debenham’s Secret’ is a sweet romance, well written and the characters are well-developed; Sara has managed to pack a lot of story into a small ebook. Thoroughly recommended for lovers of historical romance. Sara, I should point out, is a friend of mine and I’ve read a lot of her books; she’s been publishing romance with traditional publishers for many years but this time has decided to try self-publishing.


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Free Short Stories

My short story collection, Connections, is free on Amazon until October 31st. If you’ve read a previous version this one does have those stories in as well as several new ones. I’m posting a few excerpts to pique your interest in the hope you’ll download your free copy and then write a fabulous 5 star review on Amazon for me! You might not like all the stories but you’ll almost certainly like one–they’re all very different.  And if you like one I’ll be happy for you to review the one you like.

I’m rather pleased with the cover on this one. It’s a photo of the Pinnacles in Western Australia and has nothing to do with any of the stories but I think it looks good. It’s an amazing place and was part of an amazing holiday hubby and I took a few years ago–actually part of a trip to watch our youngest son perform in a national musical theatre competition. He won of course and it was our first time in Western Australia so it was just fantastic.

THE RUNT OF THE LITTER

© Christine Gardner 2013

The boy stood at the edge of the cliff, staring at the waves smashing onto the rocks far below him. His coat, handed down from his father, flapped around his ankles in the roaring wind. Hugh was small for twelve and an onlooker would think he was in grave danger of losing his footing and slipping over the edge at any moment, but he was accustomed to the wind and had stood in this same spot far too many times since the death of his father four years earlier.

Before his father’s death, Hugh and his sister and brothers would never go anywhere near the cliff top; their father built a wall of rocks to keep his children and his sheep safe from the dangerous precipice. Since his death the wall had crumbled somewhat from the harsh and icy winds raging across the Atlantic Ocean and the cliff top had become a sanctuary of sorts for Hugh; a place of quiet isolation. Away from his stepfather.

THE COLD TRUTH

© Christine Gardner 2013

The water was dark and cold and she wore a strapless gown of pure silk—white with pearls sewn onto the bodice. She could feel the icy water up to her knees and she clung to him, trying to draw on his strength and calm.

He was dressed in a tuxedo and, at last noticing her shivering, he took off his jacket and helped her into it; she held her arms out like a child and she looked childlike as she stood there, tiny and trembling in the man’s jacket.

GOING HOME

© Christine Gardner 2013

“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.

Of course the landlady didn’t believe me; she was a lot like my mother that woman. All that stand by your man shit; all very well, but did they have to be deaf, dumb and blind?

INDEPENDENCE DAY

©Christine Gardner 2013

I’d been driving along the dirt track for about an hour when the noise started—sort of a regular clunk, clunk, clunk. I ignored it for five minutes, having a long-standing theory that most unwanted noises will go away by themselves if only they remain unacknowledged. It is, I admit, an as yet unproven theory and was not to prove itself on this particular occasion. I then decided I must have picked up something on one of the tyres, which would of course eventually drop off without any interference on my part. When the shrieking noise began, somewhere under the bonnet, I had to rethink that idea; I would have thought of a perfectly reasonable explanation for that too if only the car hadn’t then just stopped.

A PERFECT STRANGER

© Christine Gardner 2013

“So you risked your life for a perfect stranger?” She smiled at the camera and managed a look of astonishment for Harry’s heroism.

“Dunno about perfect,” someone in the crowd muttered.

“Pardon?” said the blonde.

“Wouldn’t say old Dick was perfect.”

HELPING OUT

©Christine Gardner 2013

I think a lot these days; not much else to do really. I like to think about the old days; stands to reason I suppose. I was a child after all; life must have been easy mustn’t it? I can’t recall any time when my life was all that easy. My childhood?  Well some of it was easy enough but it certainly was never any golden age of happiness and innocence. My family wasn’t much like a TV family.

A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

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.

THE COST OF PEARLS

A dreadlocked head emerged from beneath the wildly coloured quilt. “I did?” The girl was sixteen and as emaciated as a model; heroin chic for real. She looked as if she hadn’t had either a shower or a change of clothes for at least a month; in fact it had been six weeks. Flora had been unable to persuade her to do either the previous night. She had only managed to put her to bed and remove her shoes. She would just have to wash the sheets today, that was all.

 

 Connections 99c at Amazon

 


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Ever heard of Ignaz Semmelweis?

It’s over twenty years since I first read ‘The Cry and the Covenant’ , by Morton Thompson, and at least ten years since I re-read it. It’s historical fiction based on the life of a Hungarian doctor called Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) and what still strikes me the most is that no-one has ever heard of him. It may be different in Hungary and Austria, where I believe there’s a statue of him.

We’ve all heard of Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur–Lister is acknowledged as the first surgeon to use antiseptic during surgery, in 1865. Ignaz died in 1865 so probably didn’t know of Lister’s achievement.

This man no-one know knows was vilified by his fellow doctors for his preposterous theory that the thousands of women dying across Europe after childbirth could possibly be saved if doctors were to wash their hands! Everyone knew childbed fever was caused by a miasma, poison floating around in the air and the method of wiping their bloody hands on their jackets allowed doctors some status–it showed how hard they worked.

When Ignaz was able to establish his regime the women themselves were offended when doctors began washing their hands, taking it as a personal insult! Every time he managed a step forward the medical profession dragged him back; even so he saved the lives of many women. I have no idea if Lister knew of his work and was inspired by it or if he came up with that idea on his own. The book is a novel and, as such, the reader can’t be sure  how much is fiction and how much is fact–the one thing that annoys me about historical novels. Why not a page or two at the end explaining some of the facts?

Anyway this book is amazing and, since it was written in 1949, may not be easy to get hold of. I’ve had three copies and lent them all out and now I don’t have any but that’s okay–I remember it! If you can get hold of it, it’s well worth a read.

It may be that I was especially taken with the book because I was mum to five young boys at that stage and it occurred to me that without visionaries like Ignaz I may not have survived the first one! My boys are all grown up now–and yes I still call them boys but then my 93 year old mother still calls her brothers ‘the boys’.

If you have any children in the 9-12 age bracket, my children’s novel, ‘Last Chance’ is free on Amazon till the 28th. Or you could read it yourself and write me a review if you like it! See my Amazon Author Page for info on all my books.

doglastkinblog Beast_of_War_Cover_for_Kindle chilli-great hunter no-one cover this one karinya cover


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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.