Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Sorting Fact from Fiction

Does anyone else get a bit annoyed when they’re reading a book which purports to be non-fiction but is clearly riddled with fiction elements–the way people are feeling, for example, or what they were thinking about? It’s possible, if the writer is using diary entries, to stick to the facts and still include such details, but generally they must be invented. I don’t object to that style of writing at all–it makes the characters seem more real and makes the book more interesting, but I do like to know what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my all-time favourite genres is historical fiction–I’ve always been fascinated with history but even more so when it’s interpreted by a great writer. Some writers do let the reader know at the end of the story just what’s real and what isn’t and that’s what I did in my historical fiction, “Her Flesh and Blood”. BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I attended university a few years ago as a mature age student, majoring in history. I loved it, especially the research, which I expected to find horribly boring. I admit some of the books were, but the primary research was absolutely fascinating. Reading newspapers over 100 years old and handling original letters written by a murderess before she committed her crimes, in 1910, I felt incredibly privileged! I wrote my Honours thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder; as I said, the research was amazing, but writing within the boundaries of a university thesis was a hard slog.

After I graduated I felt I had to use the material I hadn’t been able to use for my thesis, that the story needed to be told, and I wrote “Not Guilty“, the story of the worst of the cases I studied, which, coincidentally, took place in the town where I live. This is a true account and the newspaper accounts are very creative but, as a writer with a fiction background, I was frustrated by what, in spite of all my research, I could not find out about my protagonist, Camellia McCluskey, so I not guilty 2014 coverblogdecided to give her a life of her own and wrote a fictionalized account. Having been somewhat obsessed with this horrific crime for several years it was a bit like an exorcism when I wrote “Her Flesh and Blood“. I was able to say what I wanted to, without the restrictions and I made sure I noted at the end of the book what was factual and what wasn’t! I also published my original thesis, “Demented Mothers“, on Amazon, for those who like all the facts and the sources and especially for anyone who might be studying the topic.

It’s the last day of 2014 here in Oz–Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful.

My grammar guide, “What Did You Say?” and my children’s book, “No-one’s Good at Everything“, are free from December 31 to January 2.


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Smashwords, Passions and Freebies

Thanks to everyone for their comments,on linkedin, especially, on my post about Smashwords: one writer pointed out that by leaving my most successful book, Stony Creek, off KDP Select I was missing out on their lending program so I’ve since removed all my books from Smashwords apart from one free short story.

It’s Grand Final day here today–that is AFL football, which is Australian Rules and quite different to American football. There’s no helmets involved and I appreciate it is a game of skill. I might even watch it for a while since my husband will but there’s no way I’d leave the lounge-room for the experience. I was watching one of the breakfast shows this morning and they showed crowds of keen footy fans already lined up to get their seats for a game that starts at (I think) around 2.30 this afternoon. The reporter mentioned that they could put stickers on their seats and then leave for a while. I’m not sure if he meant they could actually leave the stadium or just the seat; I noticed the fans were mostly men and I’m guessing that some will probably be saving seats for their families to join them later. I understand some people are very passionate about football but is it really worth lining up and waiting for six hours? Apparently it is for many fans.

Other people line up for hours, even overnight, to be one of the first to get the latest mobile phone, which is seriously wacky! They’ll make plenty, people, just wait till tomorrow!

I kind of understand fans lining up overnight to get tickets for their favourite band; these are limited after all and I’ve been to some excellent shows myself, but never had to line up for hours–not sure I was ever that keen.

Then of course women are supposed to be passionate about shoes but that’s never caught on with me either–not that I don’t admire them–some are a real work of art, but we’re not meant to torture ourselves in the name of fashion, ladies!

Other people collect all kinds of things–you name it, someone will be passionate enough about it to collect it! I find the older I get the less material things matter to me. I’d probably like to collect holidays, all over the world, but that’s not very likely. I’m off on my first overseas trip next month, to Vanuatu, which is not very far away but it’s a start!BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I have a couple of freebies on offer at the moment: Not Guilty, a true story about a mother who murdered her three children in 1910, and Her Flesh and Blood, which is a fictionalized account of the same story.  Not Guilty evolved from my Honours thesis on infanticide and child murder and involved a huge amount of research. I do consider myself more a fiction writer though and found the restrictions in writing non-fiction somewhat frustrating, so I then wrote Her Flesh and Blood and gave my characters a life before the murders.

Not Guilty is free 28 and 29 September and Her Flesh and Blood from 28th to 30th September.

UK Readers: Not Guilty, Her Flesh and Blood


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Freebies on Amazon and Smashwords

Has anyone had any luck making their ebooks permanently free on Amazon? I have a couple of small ones free on Smashwords, one a short story, an excerpt from my short story collection, and the other a book on grammar and punctuation. The short story, obviously, is a promotional effort, leading to the collection, while the other one, at only 19 pages, I’d simply like to give away to help anyone who needs to improve their written English. It’s not, by any means, a comprehensive guide to the English language but I have a few little tricks to help remember where apostrophes go and indeed what they are actually for, among other things.

I read somewhere to go to the book’s page on Amazon and scroll down to Product Details and then below that to ‘tell us about a lower price’, then type in Smashwords URL and the price. I did do that and I also emailed Amazon, who said they can’t offer any books for free, apart from the 5 days through KDP Select. They do though and I suspect if I can get enough people to inform them of the lower price available on Amazon they will eventually match the zero price.what did

It might seem an odd request, to help me get my book prices lowered to zero, but I’d appreciate it if you take a minute to do that for me and I’ll let you know if it works.

The books in question are ‘Brown Dog’, at Amazon and at Smashwords, and ‘What Did You Say?’ at Amazon and at Smashwords.

My YA book, Sanctuary, is free on Amazon for two days, July 1st and 2nd, and I have a Countdown offer on Not Guilty, starting at 99c on June 30th and then 1.99 on July 1st. Not Guilty is a true story about a mother who killed her three children, in 1910, in a country town in Australia.

It’s freezing here, and wet. Winter is well and truly with us and I’ve had enough of it and am ready for some sunshine. Still it’s nice and cosy inside and I’ve been getting stuck into some writing–hit the 10,000 word mark in my latest novel today so pretty pleased with myself. Trying to discipline myself with a deadline of sorts and commit to 1000 words per day, except when I really have to go shopping or babysit, or anything else that comes along . . .


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Fun and Games with Amazon–again.

Why do I do this to myself? I should obviously wait until I’m 100% happy with all aspects of my book, including the cover, before I publish. I’m quite patient up to a point and then I think it’s all good but I tend to change my mind. I’m still waiting for CreateSpace to sort out my new cover for Not Guilty. Although they assure me it’s all done it’s not displaying on my author page with the new cover–the kindle version is. Weird.

So I decided to do the same thing with my new novel, Stony Creek. What a brilliant idea! I just wasn’t really happy with the cover and found something I liked better. After much mucking around I had a cover I was happy with and that CreateSpace accepted. Yay! But my author page now shows the new cover in the initial display but then the old cover when you click on the kindle. If you click on the POD you get the new front cover and the old back cover!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

Weird or what? I’ve emailed Amazon of course. I’m also waiting for them to remove the odd phrases that somehow magically attached themselves to a couple of my books, again just on the author page. They’re described as Inspector Banks novels! They certainly don’t contain any reference to Inspector Banks and are not detective stories at all. Amazon assure me they’re fixing it but I don’t know why it’s taking so long or how it could happen. I’m sure the creator of Inspector Banks wouldn’t appreciate it any more than I do but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder, Demented Mothers, is on a countdown deal for 0.99, starting on 25th November. It is a university thesis rather than a commercial true crime and is where my true crime book, Not Guilty, had its origins. For those of you who like the facts and the sources etc. I’m sure you’ll find this an interesting read. If you prefer more of a narrative I’m hoping to have the fictionalized version available before Christmas. More on that later.

Happy reading.


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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.