Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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The Future of English

 

 

 

I came across this article in my great, great, great grandfather’s scrapbook and thought it worth sharing. It’s interesting to see there were those in the 18th century who realised that migrating to other countries would change the way people spoke English there, as of course it did. The librarian’s solution–to set a standard pronunciation in English schools–was never going to take off in the colonies of course! Unfortunately I don’t have a date of publication or even the name of the paper but it was clearly English and was certainly published before 1885, when my ggg–grandfather died.

future of englishHe also notes that phonetic spelling is both rational and inevitable and I tend to agree with him there–USA spelling is quite common here now and even though I prefer the English spelling I grew up with it’s not a major issue for me. As far as pronunciation goes I tend to have trouble understanding some of the British accents and I wonder if they understand each other. I’m very thankful for the text option on my TV when I watch British shows.I’d love to hear from any Brits on this subject. There seems such a range of accents; even if we leave out the Scots and the Welsh, the different accents within that tiny little country of England are amazing!

The ggg-grandfather who compiled this scrapbook came out from Manchester, in 1841, and I have no idea how he spoke, or if I’d have had any problem understanding him. His scrapbook, which was originally started by my ggg-grandmother, who ‘neglected’ it, is a window to the 19th century, most of it not relating particularly to the family, and it’s also a little peek at his personality I think; the articles he considered worth cutting out and preserving for his 3 sons and 22 grandchildren ranged from local news to world news and random jokes, along with the odd recipe. He called it his odds and ends.

 

 

 

BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodkarinya cover

 

 


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Self-publishing with RSI

The great advantage of self-publishing is, of course, there’s no deadlines other than those you set yourself–always a good new the inheritance coveridea I think. Well, usually. Sometimes? I have vague deadlines, usually short term ones like so many words per day or per week, rather than ‘I must finish this book by whenever’. My output has dropped a lot this year because I’ve developed RSI, and yes, I’m well aware I’m not the only one and I’m curious as to how other writers deal with it.

no-one coverI tried a hand therapist, who fitted me with a brace thingy–I hated it but it helped a little, I think. I found it very awkward though and kept looking. My son, another RSI sufferer, had successfully treated his problem using pressure on trigger points. You find the trigger point, which is not the place you have the symptoms at all, but elsewhere, probably in your arms, but could be in your shoulders as well. You use various balls, such as tennis balls, and press your arm against a ball, exerting pressure on the point.

That’s probably a very bad explanation but I did find that helped. I also bought a wrist support for the computer keyboard and my husband removed the arms from my chair–I think they made my wrists position badly on the keyboard. As well as all that though, I’ve also reduced my writing time to about half of what I used to do and try to break it up throughout the day, instead of all at once. It’s not easy but I’m getting used to it.

doglastkinblogI’m off next week to my old home town of Mildura for my mother’s 95th birthday. Mildura is a focal point in several of my books–the Red Dust outback romance series as well as ‘Dark Innocence’, so I’m going to take photos this trip and post them when I get back. You’ll find them in my Pictures of Oz page.darkamazon

My children’s book ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’ is free on 15th and 16th of this month, and ‘Last Chance’, for older children, on 19th to 21st. For adults ‘The Inheritance’ is free on 22nd and 23rd April.


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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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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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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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Romance and Research.

I’m currently working on a rural romance–a retro rural romance–and it’s surprising how often I find myself stuck because I need to research some probably inconsequential thing. Maybe it’s because I actually have more of an interest in history than romance (as far as writing and reading goes!) but I do like a mix of the two. Perhaps most readers wouldn’t notice if the gears on the tractor my heroine is driving in 1970’s outback Australia are in the wrong place, but I would know.

Luckily for me, my husband drove tractors around that time and was able to give precise instructions on how to drive the typical tractor that was around then. I also have a sister and brother-in-law who spent most of their lives farming and a nephew who still runs their family farm. Still there have been other bits and pieces surprisingly hard to find out. Considering I had some personal experience with outback life myself I didn’t realise how ignorant I was.

Of course my experiences of what I call outback, which is an isolated station, not a farm near a town, are childhood memories. My best memory is actually romance and rural mixed together nicely, even though I was only eleven! I was staying on a station with family friends and we went to a wool-shed dance, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a dance held in a shearing shed.

It was, I think, 1963, and I vividly remember the dress I wore, a favourite at the time–pink checked gingham, with a frill down the front and stiff petticoat lining. I think I wore little white socks and black shoes. The band was an aboriginal group I’d seen perform at the local agricultural show, and the lead singer, a fourteen year old boy, was pretty good eye candy for a sheltered eleven year old.

I was swept off my feet, though, by a twelve year old boy from a local station. I’m not sure if we danced–probably–my main memory was of him spending what I considered a lot of money on buying me what there was to eat there. I was very impressed. The next day he swam across the river to spend some more time with me and later he sent me my very first love letter, signed, Your boy.

It makes me wonder why I’ve never written a rural romance before really! They obviously breed their men romantic out there in the bush.

My writing has been very varied and I enjoy trying different things–some of it comes very easily and some is a real struggle but the main struggle is simply having the discipline to sit at the computer every day and write something. I often find myself checking my email or facebook or even doing housework, rather than actually writing. Probably the most fun I’ve had writing was the fantasy I wrote for kids, ‘Beast of War’. I became so fond of the characters in that book I was more sad than relieved when it was finished. I’ll let you know when it’s up on the free promotion at Amazon later this month. I’d love some (good) reviews. Stay tuned and happy reading.