Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

Innocents or Innocence?


Innocents or Innocence?

Which title has the most appeal? My latest book, which is not quite complete, is about teenagers in a country town, which, although I don’t name it, is pretty much the town where I grew up. In my story, which will most likely be a novelette, a girl falls, or is pushed, off a station platform onto train tracks and the only suspects are a group of out-of town boys she’s been hanging out with.

The boys are in town for the grape harvesting season and that alone makes them immediately suspicious in small-town Victoria in the sixties, where seasonal workers, although essential, are viewed with distaste by many locals.

I think things are different now, although I haven’t lived in the area for over 20 years. I do visit though; most of my family still lives there and I’m going over next week for my mother’s 94th birthday.

Basing a story in my home town has been fun, especially since it’s set in the sixties and I’ve been able to use my own memories to set the scene. Memories of hot summer days, running across hot bitumen roads barefoot and hitch-hiking to the local sandbar. (Sorry Mum.) I’d be horrified if my kids hitch-hiked anywhere but we all did it in those days. And survived. I’m not sure if it’s just the rosy glasses of the past or if the world was really a much safer place then. Certainly bad things happened but we were not so aware of them unless they actually happened in our town. These days we hear of shocking incidents on a daily basis,  from all over the world, and I sometimes wonder if this is a good thing for our kids. The media generally seems to dwell on the bad and ignore the good. But I have to confess as a fiction writer I also tend towards the dark side, although I have written romance as well as murder and mayhem!

I’ve almost finished the first draft of Innocents (or Innocence), but it will certainly require a bit more work afterwards; I find if I get stuck on a scene sometimes it’s best to just go onto another one and I’ve done that a lot with this story. Now I have to go back and link them all together.

I have two books free on the 14th April, Last Chance and Sanctuary; both are science fiction and were intended for young adults, although Last Chance is for younger young adults and I’ve found it’s mostly adults who read Sanctuary.

Happy Easter to everyone and I hope you have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends and have a good break.

Innocents or Innocence?





Thanks for all the suggestions on Hell and Fury.

Late last year I asked for title suggestions for a novel inspired by a child murder case in 1910 Australia. I lost count of the BookCoverImageher fleshandbloodnumber of replies I had, mostly through Linkedin, but I wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions. My original title was ‘No Hell Nor Fury’, which had about as many positive as negative responses. One kind person suggested I check Amazon to see how many similar titles were already there and that was the main reason I changed it. I called it ‘Her Flesh and Blood’ which is a little more ambiguous and I prefer that. There were no other books on Amazon with that title at the time–might be now! Anyway that’s available now and I feel at last, after a thesis, a non-fiction book, and now a fictionalized account, that I’ve exorcised that horrific crime from my brain. To some extent.

My latest publication is another kids’ book which is a welcome change from all that and is free on Amazon from 23 to 27 February, ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’. It consists of 2 stories–one’s an adventure about Billy, who loses his mother on a train and gets into all sorts of trouble trying to find her again and the other’s about Sophie, who’s the only one in her family not good at sport. All her friends are good at sport and so is her little sister, but Sophie dreads playing sport at school because she’s just not good at it. Positive reviews would be appreciated!

My last publication was a rural romance, Stony Creek, which is selling well, and I’m currently working on something which will probably be more suited to lovers of horror–I do like to mix it up–but I’m not even sure myself yet where it’s going. The characters will let me know–all I can say now is that they’re teenagers and they’re about to have a seance. I have an idea it won’t go well for some-one.

It’s been a lazy summer for me–too hot to get my brain going–but I think the worst is over now and I hope to get back to work this week. Summer’s officially over in four days and autumn is just around the corner. I love autumn and although all the trees in my garden are evergreens there are plenty around town that are just stunning in autumn. I think Bendigo’s at its best then.

I notice there’s been a lot of new interest in an old blog of mine about a writing challenge, ‘Write a paragraph beginning with “It was a dark and stormy night”.’ Do you think we should start another challenge?

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Thanks for all the title suggestions!

I can’t believe how many people have tried to help me with a title for my new book–some here on my blog and many more via linkedin; thanks very much to you all. Whether you loved my ideas or hated them–whether you made new suggestions or just told me to try again–you all helped. You helped me to clarify in my own mind what I wanted from a title, which was to hint at what the book was about without actually giving away the main point of the story. You also helped by reminding me to check Amazon, to see how many books with the titles I had in mind were already there, and consider if mine would get lost amongst the crowd of ‘Hell Hath No Fury’s, for example.

I’ve at last come up with a title I’m happy with and I know not everyone will like it, but I think it does what I wanted in a title. It hints at what the story might be and, I think, piques interest, but doesn’t give too much away. The title is (drum roll) ‘Her Flesh and Blood’. I’m hoping it will be available on Amazon some time this month. I’m waiting on some art work for the front cover and also having someone read it through for me and I may need to do one or two things after that.

In the meantime I have to come up with a blurb. Blurbs and titles–why are they so hard? One of the problems of self-publishing of course is that you have to do everything yourself–why can’t I just write the damn book and someone else can do all those bits and pieces? The blurb, like the title, has to create interest without giving too much away and I’ll come up with something.

It’s almost the opposite of writing a novel if you think about it. My first forays into writing were short stories and I had to then learn the art of taking the story in different directions in a novel instead of getting straight to the point. To do a blurb I have to kind of shrink around 50,000 words to around 100–good trick! Wish me luck folks.

I’ll let you know when ‘Her Flesh and Blood’ is out. It will be free on Amazon for a few days and I’d appreciate some good reviews. 🙂


For Love or Money?

Do you write what you love writing or feel compelled to write? Or do you write what your publisher tells you to?

Those of you who’ve seen my books here will notice I write all kinds of things and I like doing that. I love trying new things and writing what interests me most of all. I’m also very much aware that publishers don’t like that approach to writing. If they find something that sells they want to stick with that, understandably.

My only hands-on experience with publishers has been as a co-author for three books written under a pen name and published by a US company. I wasn’t surprised by the restrictions put on us and I must admit it was a very worthwhile experience for me learning to discipline my thoughts in some way. But, although I certainly had some scope for creativity, it was work. Real work. Hardly digging ditches but very different to anything I’d done before. Not just the restrictions but also deadlines to think about.

The best thing about self-publishing is, of course, that you can write what you like. I think I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about self-discipline but the fact is whatever I choose to write next, some-one, somewhere in the world will read it! Some-one will hate it and some-one will love it. And I have no idea myself what it’ll be, but if it’s on Amazon, it will probably be something I enjoyed writing!

There’s also the compulsion, of course. My one and only non-fiction book, ‘Not Guilty’, was something I had to do. It evolved from a university thesis and I felt it was a story worth sharing with more people than just my lecturers! I also felt, after years of research and writing about Camellia McCluskey, that I needed to exorcise her from my head (and into yours, dear reader!).

Being a creative writer I was not satisfied with the factual version of the story though. I wanted to give her a life–try to make some sense of it all in a way and so I’ve written a fictionalized version of the story. I’ve included a lot of the facts but created a childhood and a life for her, before the drama that was to unfold later.

Thanks to everyone who suggested titles for me. I now have an artist working on the cover and will make a final decision when I see that. The current front-runners are ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ and ‘Retribution’.

Happy reading.

PS  On a totally unrelated note am I the only one who has trouble reading blogs with black backgrounds? Mine was originally black and when I started having migraines I eventually pinned it down to that. To everyone out there with a black background on your blog just be aware it may cause problems for some readers.

All my books are available on Amazon and most on other platforms as well. Please see the link above for more information or just check them out on Amazon.