Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Lost Words

Are we all becoming vanilla flavoured with our speech? I’m not talking about texting, using acronyms or shortening words to speed up the process of sending a text or an email. That’s a whole other subject and I’m not getting into that, other than to say sometimes it’s fine but if your phone has a reasonable predictive text it’s just as easy to use complete words. new the inheritance coverWhat I’m talking about here is language, the spoken word; how many words have we simply stopped using? I may live a sheltered life but as far as I can see, or rather hear, everything these days is either awesome or amazing. Nothing is ever marvellous or splendid or even terrific. Fantastic? Maybe, but what about delightful or even extraordinary?

As a writer I know I’m guilty of using mostly everyday language, because I want my books to be accessible and enjoyable to read, not a chore. Perhaps I can sneak in the odd ‘marvellous’ in the dialogue of someone in the 1860s? My current book is about the Bendigo goldfields around that era so, yes, I believe I will do that. At least one ‘marvellous’!

I am well aware language is constantly evolving but it does seem somewhat of a shame to lose words such as ‘delightful’ just to re-interpret words like ‘sick’, or even ‘cool’, but that’s one that been around for long enough to have earned its place. I haven’t heard ‘sick’ for a while; hopefully it’s already gone. Does it seem more like devolution of the language rather than evolution?

‘Her Flesh and Blood’ is FREE on Amazon from the 24th to 28th May (USA dates). For more information on my books please check out my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

 


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Its and the Decorative Apostrophe

‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun, just as ‘his’ and ‘hers’ are.  If you add an apostrophe to its it is no longer a possessive pronoun. It’s means it is or it has.  Always. Adding an apostrophe to its is no different to adding an apostrophe to any other pronoun. Apostrophes are always there for a practical reason, not to decorate the page. Many people laugh at the ‘grocer’s apostrophe’, which is frequently seen on signs at the front of all types of stores but sometimes even on major signs by professional sign writers. I’m talking about the use of apostrophes seemingly thrown in at random, usually before an ‘s’ at the end of a word. Most readers and writers know better than that but there are very many who don’t get their ‘its’ right!

While I’m ranting about apostrophes and pronouns I’d better give ‘their’ a mention. Their is a possessive pronoun too and is probably next in line for causing the maximum error rate. They’re means they are. Always. Not a possessive pronoun. There means not here, but over there, and I’m including the reference to ‘here’ because the similarity makes it an easy one to remember. If you add ‘t’ to ‘here’ it becomes ‘there’, right? Easy.

I’m not sure about the veracity of this, but if a university lecturer is a good enough source–an apostrophe always takes the place of something else; it indicates something is missing. Once upon a time people spoke and wrote English quite differently and they would say, or write, ‘the dog, his bone’, rather than ‘the dog’s bone,’ as we do now. The apostrophe was introduced in place of ‘his’ in this example. If we move the apostrophe across, as in ‘the dogs’ bone’, we know there’s more than one dog sharing the bone. Of course when using a pronoun there’s no need for the apostrophe because it makes no sense to say ‘It, its bone’ or ‘Him, his bone.’

That’s the end of my rant for the day–please feel free to pass this on. It’s a small thing, an apostrophe, but whether you’re a signwriter, a book writer or just have a facebook account, please don’t use the poor little misunderstood mark to decorate your page.

Please visit my Amazon author page for details on all my books.

 

 

 

I admit I can be a teeny bit pedantic at times and am easily annoyed by misused apostrophes and so on, but where do these words come from? Did someone just wake up one day and decided the word ‘regardless’ just doesn’t work anymore, so let’s call it ‘irregardless’ instead? Sometimes what seems just plain wrong to my ears can be American English, while in Australia we speak UK English. Well, we did, but we’re becoming more and more Americanised, which doesn’t bother me too much; it’s inevitable so there’s no point losing sleep over it. When I started hearing people say they were ‘in agreeance’ my first thought was that it was plain wrong, then maybe that it was American. It’s not in any of my dictionaries and certainly doesn’t pass my computer spellcheck, but when I Googled it I found it may have actually been used once upon a time and has been replaced with ‘agreement’.

That opens up another argument about the evolution of language; we know English has changed and is continuing to change, whether we like it or not. I’ve heard the word ‘literally’ has been misused so much that it’s now accepted to mean–well, not literally at all, so nothing really. Nope–I’m not accepting that one.

If you want to say we’re in agreeance, please say we’re in agreement, or better still, simply say we agree! I suspect many people make mistakes with their language because they’re trying to sound better educated than they are; they use phrases like ‘at this point in time’ rather than ‘now’ and ‘back to back’, which always reminds me of a silly poem my father used to amuse us kids with:what did

One fine day in the middle of the night 
Two dead boys got up to fight 
Back to back they faced each other 
Drew their swords and shot each other 

It goes on for several verses, but anyway, I digress, as usual. While I’m griping about the misuse of words, my all time favourite is ‘myself’, which so many public speakers use when the correct word would be ‘I’ or ‘me’. For more on this and other easily fixed language problems, check out ‘What Did You Say?’ FREE all the time at Smashwords.  See my Amazon page for all my other books.

 

this one book2 karinya ebook  new the inheritance cover darkamazon not guilty 2014 coverblog BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

 


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Another one bites the dust . . . And the joys of self-publishing

Whew! Finally finished, formatted and uploaded my latest book, ‘The Road to Karinya’. What with RSI and my son’s overseas wedding in the middle of it I was starting to think it wouldn’t happen. The formatting with Createspace is so much easier now, after 13 books, but that page numbering is till a source of pain. Trying to get Word to start the numbers on page 3 instead of the title page. I did it with nothing but persistence last time around and even wrote notes for myself for next time; obviously not very good notes because it was still ridiculous. Eventually I succeeded but I don’t really know how so I won’t know any better next time.

Anyway I’m happy with the book, so that’s what counts. It would be lovely to hand it over to a publisher to do all the formatting and so on but, on the other hand, I am a bit of a control freak and as difficult as the process is I do find satisfaction in doing it all myself. The covers are fun as long as I can find the right picture and I’m happy with this one. Galahs in a gum tree is about as Aussie as it gets.

‘The Road to Karinya’ is Book 2 of my series ‘Red Dust’, the first of which was ‘Stony Creek‘. We met Prue King briefly in Stony Creek, as a 15 year old neighbour on Karinya Station. I decided she was worthy of her own story, set a few years later, and instead of a city girl going to live on a station, Prue is an outback girl who sets off on the ultimate road trip around Australia, with her friend Sally. She finds romance and trouble and grows up along the way.

Quite a few of the settings are based on my own experiences around the country–I certainly haven’t been everywhere but I lived on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for a while, as well as Mildura, where Prue starts out. I was born at Wentworth, where Prue and her six sisters were born and I have been to Perth, as well as Brisbane and Adelaide. I worked at the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast and will never forget those tropical sundaes we had for morning tea every day! I also picked oranges with my husband in both Mundubbera, Queensland and Waikerie, South Australia, but not for long–it’s  really not in my skill set!

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Karinya-Red-Dust-Book-ebook/dp/B00QNTFV38/ref=la_B00AY80A08_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417990463&sr=1-9

UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Road-Karinya-Red-Dust-Book-ebook/dp/B00QNTFV38/ref=la_B00AY80A08_1_14_bnp_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417992054&sr=1-14


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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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Something wicked this way comes.

This is my favourite line in literature and I don’t care that it’s Shakespeare. I’m not even terribly concerned that it’s spoken by a witch in Macbeth and that she’s speaking of Macbeth himself. Nor am I particularly concerned that the first part, which I often forget, is ‘By the pricking of my thumbs’. That’s good too, but there’s just something delicious about the phrase ‘something wicked this way comes.’ It brings to my mind something hidden, something mysterious but certainly evil. Supernatural evil, not just human badness–something hard to define, beyond our understanding. And it’s coming. Look out–it’s behind you! Did I mention I’m a fan of horror?

Do you have a favourite line, something that stays with you, or is that a peculiarity of mine? I do realise not everyone cares for horror and I’m sure I’ve read other lines that impressed me greatly at the time but none have stayed with me quite like that one. I’m not especially a fan of Shakespeare but he did have a way with words. I don’t think his work is meant to be read though or studied at school. I’ve seen a few of his plays, some better than others. Most recently I saw a production of Twelfth Night by a young group of actors in Melbourne, not in a theatre, but a bookshop. It wasn’t a play I knew anything about and I attempted to watch a movie version once, which was awful. I also read a bit but was not impressed.

When I saw the play performed live it was absolutely fantastic–funny and obviously well-written. I couldn’t help thinking Will himself would approve, that this was the way his work should be seen and enjoyed by the audience, not suffered through! I should mention my son was in the show–I don’t generally make the trip to Melbourne to see a show unless one of mine is involved, but they were all excellent.

It’s autumn here now and the weather is generally lovely, if a bit confused. I’m still working on my story which may be a novella or a longish short story, which is no doubt why I keep going back to that line of Shakespeare’s. There’s definitely something wicked coming. Sales have been going well for ‘Stony Creek’ and I’ve put a review on the ‘Books‘ page here. I wasn’t planning to write more romance but now I’m considering a kind of sequel. We’ll see. First I need to finish with my wicked story.


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More problems with CreateSpace.

I love CreateSpace–I really do, but why is it so difficult to make changes once your book is published? I’m not sure if the BookCoverImageconnectionsproblem is CreateSpace or Amazon or me. I had a small short story ebook published with Amazon, called Connections, for a while. Then I decided to beef it up with more stories and make it available as a POD as well, through CreateSpace. The system seemed very confused that I used the same name even though I had a different cover and it took several emails and quite some time before the cover matched the new content.

not guilty 2014 coverNow I have the same problem with Not Guilty, my true crime book. It’s always been a POD and an ebook and I just wanted to add a couple of things and do some minor edits but then I decided I wanted a new cover as well. I spent weeks mucking around with that, mainly trying to find out who I needed permission from to use photos. After one rejection I went with a photo of the court house where the trial was held and I’m quite happy with that. Finally put it up on CreateSpace and Amazon.

The ebook is fine but the POD, while it shows the new cover on my author page, shows the old cover and content when you click on it. So far I’ve written several emails, which is always a bit frustrating because it takes some time to get a reply, probably because I’m in Oz and they’re not. I even considered unpublishing it and starting over but you need to make quite significant changes to do that with CreateSpace, including changing the name of the book. Has anyone else had problems like this?

I live in hope it will eventually be resolved and at least I sell way more ebooks that Stony_Creek_Cover_for_KindlePODs anyway. I’ve also just published a new story, Stony Creek, which is free from the 18th to the 22nd November; it’s a romance set in outback Australia, mostly in 1970. Those of you who’ve read Not Guilty or Inheritance might think romance is an odd genre for me to dabble in but I do like variety and I have actually co-authored a couple of romances published traditionally.

My son’s getting married in less than two weeks and I’ve been looking around for an outfit for a month or two–pleased to say I’ve found something I’m actually happy with. Woo-hoo!


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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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Having a break from murder . . .

I’ve been writing short stories lately, after spending the last few years on true crime and novels, and rather enjoying the change. For some reason though, my creative thoughts keep turning to murder. Those of you who’ve looked at my book list may not find that so strange but the beauty of writing short stories is the variety and I don’t want to get stuck on the one genre.

‘A Twist in the Tail’ is a step away from that then and, since I have nothing to write about today, I thought you might like to read a little tale.

A Twist in the Tail

© Christine Gardner

Shelley sprawled her lithe body on the black rock, trailing the fingers of one hand in the waves as they caressed the shore. It was a glorious spring day and she stretched luxuriously and arched her body, her naked pert breasts pointing skywards.

She smiled secretly to herself. They would all be watching, she was well aware. And Daniel would pretend to be cross at her public display but she knew he was proud of her and pleased that everyone envied him. He was the most handsome of all the guys and they were the undisputed leading couple at the school.

She’d known Daniel pretty much all her life and had always known they were destined to be together, but it wasn’t until they hit puberty that they became a couple. Their relationship developed from friendly flirting to secret kisses and at last to passionate lovemaking. Both sets of parents were happy with the pairing and, since they’d waited until they were both sixteen before their first sexual encounter, had no problem at all with their connection.

Daniel was like the other half of Shelley; everything about him was the opposite of her. His hair was black like the rocks here at their favourite bay and his eyes, she told him, were like the ocean on a stormy day—green and grey and somehow changeable. His temperament was serene and not at all like the stormy sea, while Shelley could be, she admitted, somewhat tempestuous.

Shelley, Daniel said, had eyes as blue as the ocean on a calm summer’s day, and her hair, which was silky and fell to below her waist, was the colour of the white sand on the beach. Together they were complete; together they had everything.BookCoverImageconnections

Today was a special day. Daniel didn’t know yet but he and Shelley would be leaving the school—leaving their friends behind. She stroked her flat stomach, smiling her secret smile. When a girl became pregnant she and her partner had to join the family group and they’d see little of their old friends at the school until, each in turn, they would also join the family group.

Shelley and Daniel would no longer be the unofficial king and queen at the school but Shelley was looking forward to becoming a mother and she knew Daniel would make a great father. He had a lot more patience than she did.

She sat up at last. Daniel would be thrilled with her news and she suddenly couldn’t wait a minute longer to tell him he was going to be a daddy. She turned around to face the ocean and slid into the water. Gracefully she dove under the waves, swimming well underneath the white surf, and the cool water was welcome after the warmth of the sun.

Daniel and the rest of the school had watched her enter the water. He smiled, relieved; she tended to overdo the sun at times.

When she reached the group she emerged from the waves with a joyful jump into the air and the others joined in, playing like dolphins and showing off their blue-green tails, sparkling in the sunshine. None of the school noticed when Shelley took Daniel by the hand and led him away to their secret place to tell him her news. It was time for the school to find new leaders and time for Daniel and Shelley to join the family group and nurture their own little mermaids.

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Study in Blue–A very short story.

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.BookCoverImageconnections

He shaved his underarms, his chest, his legs and as much as he could reach of the rest of his body. When he’d finished showering, he shaved his face, and then very carefully his head. He looked at his bushy eyebrows and then whipped them off with the razor as well.

He stood, naked and relatively hairless, in front of the full-length bathroom mirror. Then he picked up the spray can and began to paint himself blue. It took him a good 20 minutes. Every time he thought he was finished he would spot another bit of white flesh. He shut his eyes tight and sprayed his face. He sprayed his ears, hoping the paint wouldn’t block the ear canals. He needed to hear especially well today. He sprayed blue paint on all his most private parts, parts no one but himself had seen. Well, not for 50 years anyway. He had certainly looked considerably different when his mother had changed his nappies.

When he was quite sure he was totally blue and dry, he opened the front door, and walked straight out into the bright sunlight. He held his head high, and his eyes front. He saw Mrs Jones in her front garden from the comer of his eye and said “Good Morning”, but she didn’t answer. She was a little deaf, after all.

George was beginning to enjoy himself. It was cold, but the paint kept him warm to some extent, and it was very liberating feeling the fresh air where he’d never felt it before. He had lived in this street all his life; he knew every house would have a curtain opened and a face peering out. He just looked straight ahead, all the way to the end of the street.

When he knocked on the door of number 35 Rose opened it, her mouth gaping wide open at the spectacle on her doorstep.

George knelt on the prickly welcome mat. “Rose, you were right. I have led a boring life up to now. I thought I was too old to change, but I was wrong. You see me now as I can be, free and uninhibited. Now will you marry me?”

Rose laughed and grabbed his hands to help him to his feet. She put her arms around his immense bulk, drew him inside and shut the door. “George,” she said, “How could I resist this gorgeous body? Of course l’ll marry you.”

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