Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Fake News or Gossip?

Some of you will have heard about Rebel Wilson’s win in court against a magazine publisher, who apparently published an assortment of fake news, or gossip, about her, which damaged her career. I presume it’s not news to many of us in Australia that magazines publish complete garbage but for some reason people buy them and are entertained by them.

My 97 year old mother has been a loyal reader of at least two of the most popular magazines for decades and believes every word of it. I’m sure they weren’t always like they are now. I came across one last year that was around 30 years old and it was totally different–full of recipes and fashion, and photos of royals but very little in the way of gossip. Mum often tells me something she’s read about some celebrity and I have told her it’s probably not true at all, but I don’t think she quite understands. If it’s published it must be true, right? Ha!

I write mostly fiction myself, so I don’t have to check the facts, although writing historical fiction still requires a hell of a lot of research. My latest book, which will be out later this year, is set mostly in the mid 19th century and I constantly had to stop writing and check what people were wearing, what buildings were in Melbourne and Bendigo and what food was available on the goldfields. So many bits and pieces and although it’s hardly news, I do like to get my facts straight.

I only read magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms these days and they’re so old most of the gossip has already done the rounds and proven to be wrong, which is kind of amusing. Apparently most celebrities don’t take publishers to court because it’s not only very expensive but very time-consuming, so good for you, Rebel! If more celebs would stand up maybe magazines might be worth reading again.

Please visit my Amazon Author page for all details of my books: Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 

 

 


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Smart Phones–Agony or Ecstasy?

I’ve had my smart phone for something over a year–it’s a Samsung, which means an android, apparently, even though I still think of an android as being a kind of human-like robot. Which makes an android phone kind of sci-fi and cool, I guess, so that’s one good thing about it.

My husband talked me into getting a smart phone because I spend a fair bit of time on my computer, which is in my office, and he knew a smart phone would be handy to check many things while I’m not in my office. And it is of course–oh so handy. Especially in the lounge-room beside my recliner. I can Google the identity of which actor we’re arguing over in the movie we’re watching, for example, without leaving my chair. I can check Facebook in the ad breaks, again without leaving my chair. Since I have 5000 friends there’s always something to look at. Every ad break.

My last phone was one of those little flip ones–cute and easy to carry around, but one thing I did want from a new phone was a good camera and I have to say I’m very happy with that. It’s at least as good as my actual camera which I no longer use at all.

My little flip phone, though, never caused me any pain. Mind you, I used it only for phone calls and an occasional photo. My smart phone has become something of an addiction and I don’t think I’m alone there. My hands, and especially my thumbs, have been hurting quite a bit and I’ve realised it’s the way I hold the phone when I’m texting etc., so now I’m trying to wean myself away from it. Instead of leaving it next to my armchair I’m leaving it on the other side of the room, so when I do want to check it I have to actually walk over there and I can look at it without picking it up! Does anyone else have phone addict pain?

My Red Dust Series and most of my other books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK as both ebooks and print.


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Instafreebie

I’ve recently started putting stories on Instafreebie, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a site where, obviously enough, you can find free reads! It seems well organised and, from an author point of view, is another way of reaching new readers. Apart from the short stories I’ll continue to list as free on a permanent basis, I’m also putting books up for around a week at a time. If anyone knows anything I don’t know about Instafreebie I’d love to hear from you! At this stage I’m only using the free service; I know you can pay for different services.

These are my perma free stories at the moment and I intend to add another one very soon:

you never knew  You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

Brown Dog  Luke is flat broke and living in his car at the beach when an old mutt sidles up to him–the last thing he needs, or is it?

What Did You Say?  Not a short story but a small ebook to help with grammar and punctuation. Do you know the real purpose of the humble apostrophe?

I always tweet the temporary giveaways and you can find details on the right side of my blog posts or on twitter.

I’ve just been on my annual trek to my home town for my mother’s birthday. I do try to get there more often but never miss Mum’s birthday. She’s 97 now and still living at home (alone) and cooking her own meals. She does have some help with the housework as well as the garden but she still likes to potter around out there as well. There are lots of other family members who live much closer than I do, fortunately, including more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I can keep track of! It’s always nice to visit my old home town but it’s good to come back to the place that’s been my home for over 30 years.

Most of my books are available in print and ebook on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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More on Self-Editing: Text to Speech

I’ve just discovered a new tool for self-editing which you may already know about; I tend to not go looking for any secrets my computer may have unless it’s not doing what I want it to. I’d heard of software that could turn text to speech but had never looked into it and assumed it would be something I’d have to buy and install and all that stuff that I just don’t want to bother with. I often read some of my book aloud, particularly dialogue, and I have suggested to others it’s even better if you can persuade someone else to read it to you, or record it and play it back. Probably not practical for an entire novel though and my latest novel has grown to over 80,000 words, quite a bit longer than my previous ones.

Someone mentioned on facebook that there was a Word option for Text to Speech and I still assumed it was an extra that I’d have to buy, install, etc., but it’s not! It’s just there and is super easy to use. It’s probably best that I don’t try to tell you how to use it because explaining technology is not in my list of talents, but if you have Word just ask the help button and they’ll walk you through it. Take my word for it, if I can follow it, you can.

Tex (I decided to call him Tex, because, why not?) and I spent the weekend editing my book. He’s American, but not hard to understand, and has quite a pleasant voice for a computer, even if he does have trouble pronouncing the occasional word. He doesn’t understand Mmm, or Hmm, or Mr and doesn’t understand I want a pause when I use an ellipsis or a long dash, nor will he point out any errors to you. BUT he also won’t skip over the typos we all make, like you and your friends will (maybe even your editor). It’s just the way our brains work; when we see the word ‘out’, in a sentence where it should have been ‘our’, we just know it’s meant to be ‘our’ and may not even notice the mistake. Tex doesn’t notice it either but when he says it out loud, you will notice it.

Tex is certainly not the only self-editing tool you need–he won’t tell you if you’ve written the wrong version of too, or to, or the wrong version of your, or their, but just because reading aloud is so much slower than reading silently I did pick up several things myself that I decided needed improving and he’s my new best friend. I don’t usually have a problem with spelling or grammar but typos? Absolutely!

For some of the things Tex can’t help you with I have a free ebook, ‘What Did You Say?’ on Smashwords. It’s just a little one but there’s some things that will help if you’re unsure about punctuation or grammar. Especially the correct use of apostrophes–do you know what they’re actually for? A lot of people don’t! For all my other books please visit my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK

 


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Happy New Year?

It’s the first day of 2017 here in Oz; according to my world clock it’s still last year elsewhere, but Happy New Year wherever and whenever you are!

I sometimes think the millions of dollars spent on New Year celebrations, especially fireworks, is a complete waste of money and could be used more effectively elsewhere. I’ve not been to any of the city firework shows and they look amazing but the effort put in to getting a good spot is ridiculous. People come from all over the world to camp out overnight around Sydney Harbour; one young man from Taiwan, the first in line, had been there from 6 am the morning before New Years Eve. I hope it was worth it for him! I also think all that smoke would drive me nuts, not to mention the crowds. 500,000 people were there, in spite of, or maybe because of, terrorist threats!

I am, of course, a grumpy old woman, and if I was in my twenties and lived in Sydney or any major city, I’d probably be there, drink way too much and regret it the next morning. But I’d have a ball, of course. And to see so many people of all colours, children and adults, enjoying themselves together and loving the spectacle makes me think perhaps it is worth the money. Maybe we should have more such celebrations that everyone can agree on.

When I was a kid, in the country, we always celebrated Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. Generally there was a vacant block of land somewhere in the neighbourhood and we’d get together with family and friends and write in the air with our sparklers while Dad and the other men lit rockets and wheels that were pinned on to poles and spun around, throwing sparks everywhere. It’s a fond childhood memory, but gatherings like that are now against the law and while a part of me thinks that’s a great pity, the fact that two men died last night using illegal fireworks makes me agree we probably can’t go back to that. I have no idea if anyone was killed back in the days of my childhood from firework accidents although I’m quite sure there were injuries. Now I doubt there could be such a family occasion without alcohol, which would be disastrous.

I enjoyed a celebratory can of bourbon and coke and managed to stay awake long enough to watch the Sydney fireworks on TV and I’m happy with that. I did consider driving into town and standing around watching the fireworks–I live in a regional city and they do put on quite a good show–but my recliner was more appealing. Now the new year is here and Christmas is over and I really must get back to work this week; I have a book half finished and the other half is swirling around in my head! I wish you all a great 2017.

I have a couple of books for the kids free on the 2nd and the 8th of January and I’ll post the links then to my Facebook page or you can check my author pages on Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 


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Self-Publishing: Designing your own covers

inheritance-cs3rdBack to the trials and tribulations of self-publishing! One of the best things about self-publishing print on demand or ebooks is that you can always make changes. A tweak here and there, or fixing typos you’ve missed when someone else points them out to you after your book’s published! One of the worst things about self-publishing PODs or ebooks is that you can always make changes, which means, of course, nothing is ever quite good enough.

I’ve always had an interest in visual art and spent several years studying before swapping over to writing. That doesn’t mean I was good at it, just that I do have enough knowledge to make me frustrated at my limitations! So tweaking book covers is my weakness. Or is it my strength? I’m not sure on that one! I’ve been able to either use my own images or find free ones online until last year, when I paid a designer on fiverr.com for a cover for ‘Inheritance.’

Next I paid for an image for the cover of ‘Red Wine and sanctuary_cover_for_kindleSummer Storms’, and did the text myself; it was around $14, but I forget where I bought that. There’s a lot of online images available but often you have to buy a bulk number, rather than just one at a time. I have discovered one site I’ve used now for two new covers for old books, ‘Sanctuary’ and the POD image for ‘Inheritance’. They’re called CanStock Photo and both images I used were $7 USD each.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen of course you have to go through the whole uploading process again, which, after three or four years I still find very frustrating, but it’s worth it, if only because it makes me feel better. Until I get another idea. I’ve also built another new cover for the thesis I wrote when I was at university, 2005. It’s called ‘Demented Mothers’ and it is a thesis, not a light read, but definitely interesting. This cover has one of the mothers, Camellia McCluskey, in a ghostly effect using Pixlr, a free kind of photo shop, which is a lot of fun to mess around with.

‘Sanctuary’ is free on Amazon and Amazon.UK, from December 1 (USA time) to December 5.


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Writing Challenge–2nd person point of view

My writing is focused on novels these days but I do enjoy trying something different now and then. Think of it as a creative cleansing. The idea of writing a novel in the 2nd person is awful but I’m sure it’s been done. Try a paragraph or two and see where it takes you. As usual this is a challenge with no prize but feel free to add links to your paragraph in my comments section. Here’s my effort:

YOU NEVER KNEW

(c) Christine Gardner 2016

You probably think this story’s about you, don’t you?

You never knew what hit you. When you got up that morning you took your new suit off the hanger and carefully pulled it from the plastic covering. It looked schmick, you thought; the young bloke in the store had been right. It was nice to have a change from that funereal black you wore all the time. You weren’t so sure about the shirt—it was pale pink and you held it in front of you in the mirror and pulled a face. With your hair starting to grey at the sides and your beard definitely grey you wondered if you looked too much like a grey and pink galah.

You took one of your white shirts from the walk in robe you shared with nobody anymore and hung it on the doorknob. Old Dolly had done a good job of washing and ironing it, as she did all your clothes these days. She looked after you so much better than a wife would. And much cheaper. Also she knew when to keep her mouth shut, which was most of the time.

Your favourite tie, the grey one with the swirls of different shades of blue, would look perfect with the grey suit and the white shirt. You glanced over at the pink shirt again and shook your head. Definitely the white one; the pink one might do one day with one of your black suits, or jeans even. You hung it in the wardrobe and walked into the bathroom where you stood under the steaming hot shower and let your mind go to places usually banned. The shower was good for that, and bad. You didn’t really want to think about her but sometimes you needed to. Sometimes you just had to remember.

She was the prettiest thing you’d ever seen, natural blond with the most enchanting green eyes, like a fairy-tale witch, you teased her.  You’d simply had to have her; it wasn’t difficult. She was young and naïve and you were neither. You sent her flowers at first, then jewellery, and you took her to the best restaurants where you educated her palate with the best wines on the menu. You even bought her a brand new grey BMW; not the garish red one she wanted because you were trying to teach her what good taste was. You knew what was best for her and it wasn’t long before she did whatever you asked of her. Anything.

Then you got bored. She was, after all, very naïve. No matter what you tried to teach her she was just a pretty face with an empty head. In the bedroom she was magical; outside it she was as useless as a Christmas decoration at Easter time.

You looked in the bathroom mirror and smiled as you dried yourself. Not bad at all for an old bloke of fifty two, you thought. Not bad at all. You sprayed yourself with deodorant and splashed aftershave here and there, even though you weren’t shaving. The Armani one. Dropping the wet towel on the floor you went out to the bedroom and pulled on your Calvin Klein jocks and socks and then dressed in your white shirt and new grey suit.

The full length mirror showed all of you from your perfectly styled hair to your black Gucci loafers, which were your favourites. Easy to slip on and off, but still smart. You looked a million bucks, you thought. Almost too good for such an occasion.

You looked out the window and frowned as the rain started, then smiled. Perfect really, just the right weather for it. You grabbed your umbrella from the stand inside the front door and had one last look in the hall mirror before you left your apartment.

The doorman knew you well enough to guess you wanted a taxi; he also knew where you were going and why. He just nodded and waved a taxi down and you handed him a ten dollar note and got in.

The journey was only around thirty minutes, not bad considering the weather; it wasn’t raining heavily and it wasn’t cold, but dreary with intermittent showers, just like the redhead on the weather show earlier had promised. Perfect.

When you arrived there were a handful of people waiting, most of them no more than familiar faces that you couldn’t give a name to and didn’t care to. Her friends were of no interest to you and never had been, nor her family. You’d whisked her away from that and given her everything any woman could want and she hadn’t needed her family around her, or friends. You never really felt the need for friends yourself; it was all about business for you. You had associates, that was all.

The service was short, as you’d requested; you were paying for it after all. It was subdued and people were quiet for the most part. Everyone was staring at you of course, and whispering about you, but you didn’t care. The police had been satisfied she’d taken her own life and there was no way you could be blamed for that. Everything was tasteful and properly solemn—tranquil.  At least until some woman you didn’t recognise at all started bawling just as the casket was wheeled out of the chapel. You looked over at her and frowned, then stood up and walked, upright and with dignity, behind the casket, ignoring the obnoxious woman and her companions, who were comforting her and making her worse. You hoped she wouldn’t follow the ceremony right to the grave site.

You didn’t need to worry though. As you stepped out on to the road to get into the limousine, which was, of course, on the wrong side of the road, you looked up under your umbrella just in time to see a familiar grey BMW hurtling towards you. You would have jumped out of the way but the face behind the wheel made you freeze in mid-step. A face, unusually pale, but beautiful, with blond hair and stunning green eyes, bright with hate and, strangely, laughter. It can’t be, was all you had time to think, before it was all over for you. When the car stopped, after it hit you and then hit the hearse behind you, there was no driver and there was a lot of speculation in the press as to who had been driving the car that ended your life. Even the best forensics were not able to find any prints or DNA apart from yours and your late wife’s and they eventually decided it must have rolled when you parked it; that in your grief you’d neglected to put the handbrake on.

The pathologist who cut the new suit from your body noticed the label; he also noticed your shoes and even your Calvin Klein underwear, blood soaked as it all was. It was his job to notice such things of course and, were you looking down on the procedure, you’d have been happy you’d been so well dressed for the occasion.

For more information on my books please visit my author page at Amazon.com or Amazon. UK.