Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


4 Comments

The plural of ‘you’.

It used to be Australians used the term ‘youse’ and some still do. I don’t think I do and it’s generally considered one of those ‘bogan’ words the rest of us avoid. Well-known Texan, Dr Phil, uses y’all, which has a nice ring to it if you have the right accent, but I suspect that’s the American version of youse and is not universally acceptable now in the US if it ever was.

So what is the plural of ‘you’? In the news today our Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has chastised people for using the term ‘guys’ to refer to people of both genders. I must admit I’ve never been offended by this. If you were to call me a guy, as an individual, I might be, but if, for example, I get a text saying “Are you guys home?” it’s clear that refers to both my husband and me. If the text said “Are you home?” then it refers to me only. I’d probably be offended, or puzzled at least, if I got a text saying “Are you men home?” but the term ‘guys’ has somehow become gender neutral, hasn’t it?

I have five adult sons and I tend to still call them ‘the boys’ but since they now all have wives or girlfriends I might use the term ‘guys’ if I’m talking about the guys and the gals together. I’d be interested to see some feedback from our friends in the USA, since we obviously took over ‘guys’ from you. Has the usage changed there? Is it more or less non-gender specific or are we just lazy? Maybe we should speak correctly and say “Are you and your husband at home?” Generally language issues do annoy me but in everyday speech and texts I think we should all just take a chill pill. The language is evolving and BookCoverImageconnectionsit will continue to. She’ll be right mate.

sanctuary cover 2014

‘Sanctuary’, my Sci-fi novel for young adults, is free right now (June 1-5) on Amazon and my collection of short stories, ‘Connections’, will be free from the 3rd to the 7th. For details on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon UK.

 

 

 


1 Comment

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.

 

 

 


Leave a comment

SELF-PUBLISHING WITH A BUDGET OF ZERO

This is an old blog I wrote for ‘The Self Publisher’ that still seems relevant. Not much has changed apart from the series I mentioned–it’s now complete, with three books, all of which are selling well on Amazon. The link to ‘Inheritance’ in the blog has been replaced by the cover image on this page. new the inheritance cover

by Christine Gardner (visit Christine’s blog here).

My first attempt at self-publishing was with lulu and I could never in a million years have done it on my own. My son did all the formatting and put the cover together from a background photo of a landscape (we spent an afternoon driving around looking for the perfect shot) and a painting I did of a cottage covered in roses, for my first novel, Inheritance. I was very happy with it at the time but it was horribly complicated and it was probably a year or so before I got my first (and last) cheque from lulu, for around $20. I’ve since re-published Inheritance on Amazon, with a new cover, a photo of a rose from my garden. Easy peasy. I do have a little background in Art and Design but my skills in drawing and painting are not really…

View original post 672 more words


Leave a comment

If Smart Phones were Smarter . . .

I bought a new smart phone a couple of days ago and I’m not going to go into the make and so on–not advertising or reviewing phones. Even if I wanted to I clearly don’t know enough about them to attempt that. I thought all I wanted from a phone was to talk to people and text. Then with my last phone I discovered how convenient it was to check emails and facebook without getting out of my lounge chair. I had that phone for 2 years and since we were due to renew the phone contract we decided to get me a flash phone with a bigger screen. One thing I knew I wanted was a decent camera which also allowed me to use Skype. The old one had no front camera and although it took reasonable photos outside the indoor ones were rubbish.

So the phone arrived, very promptly, the morning after we ordered it online. It’s not guilty 2014 coverbeautiful–all the bells and whistles, big screen but not too heavy–very thin and it does take nice photos. All good, smarter than me no doubt. What I want to know is if it’s so smart why couldn’t it just connect with the old phone and automatically upload all the settings and info that’s there? Why do I have to start all over again learning how it works and how to get what I need on it?

I confess I did virtually nothing; passed it over to hubby who spent all day mucking around and talking to a call centre (I suspect in India). Fortunately he quite likes playing with new technology. I just want it do what my old one did, but better. Is that too much to ask? I now have all my contacts on it and facebook etc. set up so it’s all good but, to be perfectly honest, if it had been up to me to set it up I’d have repackaged it and returned it to the sender long before the day was out. Hopefully I’ll be right now for another 2 years.

‘Not Guilty’, a true story about the brutal murder of three children by their mother in Australia, 1910, is free on Amazon from 11th to 13th of February.

RED DUST SERIES: Stony Creek, The Road to Karinya, Red Wine and Summer Storms.


1 Comment

How much of you is in your writing?

Most of us have mercifully little experience of murder, espionage and so on, not to mention the lives of people who lived hundred of years ago, but the characters we write about in such stories can still be built from ourselves and people we know and it’s inevitable our life experiences will affect our writing.

BookCoverImageconnectionsWhat about using our own experiences deliberately? I taught creative writing at a community college a few years ago and the first exercise I set the students was to write about an episode in their own lives. The next step was to turn that into a story, which they could do by simply changing the point of view or they could choose to make it more fiction, retaining just some elements of the initial story, which is what they all did. It’s a good exercise for anyone who wants to write but doesn’t quite know how to get started. We all have a story to tell–even if you think your life is boring and nothing ever happens, to someone else with a very different life it might be riveting!

One of my short stories, ‘Brown Dog’, while not at all about me, includes lots of my life experiences. When we were very young newlyweds my husband and I went from our home town in Victoria to Queensland, two states away and around 2,000 kilometres. Our first destination was Munduberra, a tiny inland town where we already had work and accommodation lined up on a citrus orchard. We stuck it out for a few weeks but, to cut a long story short, it didn’t meet our expectations and we headed for the coast. We spent a couple of years living around the Sunshine Coast, including Marcoola Beach, which is not only the basis of ‘Brown Dog’. but also a large part of ‘The Road to Karinya’, the second bookdarkamazon of my Red Dust rural romance series, as is Mundubbera itself.

In ‘Brown Dog’ Luke is broke, living in his car and almost suicidal when he comes across a stray dog on the beach and his life is turned around. After a cyclone wiped out our tent we also slept in our car for a while, but I don’t recall being particularly depressed–we had friends and work wasn’t that hard to find. We did pick up a stray dog during that time though and we did have to let him go after a few days and we also spent some time beachcombing; I remember well the joy of finding a glass ball amongst the driftwood!

You can read ‘Brown Dog’ and my other short stories free from 23rd to 25th June and ‘Dark Innocence’ on 29th June to the 1st July. ‘Dark Innocence’ is another story where I used some of my own memories, growing up in a country town and hitchhiking down to the river at weekends. And having seances with Vegemite glasses and cut out scraps with letters and numbers written on them!


10 Comments

Self-editing for self publishers

Okay–first of all, if there’s any way you can afford an editor, hire one! Secondly, if you do, make sure you do some research first. I’ve seen self-published books where the writer has acknowledged the help of an editor and the first page is riddled with errors. I spent a couple of years editing free-lance and I belonged to an organization called The Victorian Society of Editors, which may or may not still be around. There’s bound to be some kind of association, preferably in your own country, that can help you find a professional editor. However you find someone it’s a good idea to ask them for a sample edit of a few pages, and make sure you communicate exactly what you require. Don’t just rely on terms like ‘substantive edit’ or ‘copy edit’; make sure you tell them exactly what you are hoping for.

Let’s assume you are not going to hire anyone. You’re quite sure you can do it yourself. You probably can’t, so at least get as many people as possible to read your book. You might be surprised at how something that makes perfect sense to you makes little or no sense to a reader who doesn’t know what you’re thinking. Sometimes things are so obvious and we don’t want to treat our readers as dummies but we have to realize they can’t read our minds, only what makes it to the page!

If you can find a writer’s group in your local area, or online, who will read your work and give you an honest opinion, that’s a step up from your best friend who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Always remember opinions are subjective and not everyone will love your story–take criticisms with a grain of salt, but if several people are dubious about the same thing maybe you can rethink it.

All right, you have no friends, no writers’ groups, no family members whose opinions you value, or you just don’t want anyone to read your story (other than the whole world, after it’s published), at least read it aloud to yourself. If you can, record it and listen to it. You know how your voice sounds like someone else’s when it’s recorded? If you can distance yourself enough to hear what you’ve actually written, rather than what you thought you’d written, that’s a good start. Update on this–if you have Word, use Text to Speech to have a somewhat robotic voice read your book aloud to you. I found a couple of errors in my own book after many self-edits. One I recall was ‘whole’ instead of ‘while’. Very different when spoken but so similar in writing, especially when the i and the o are next to each other on the keyboard!

Now your story’s perfect and you’re up to the nitty gritty. So many self-published novels are riddled with errors. Please don’t think I consider myself perfect–I was reading through an old blog the other day and realized I’d written ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’! We all make mistakes and every book I take off the shelf at the library has at least one; we can only try to do the best we can. At least, as self-published writers, we can always go back and correct our mistakes; it’s never too late.what did

Obviously use your computer spell-check but don’t rely on it–if in doubt use a dictionary. The spell-check won’t pick up ‘dairy’ instead of ‘diary’. Again, reading aloud helps but we tend to see what we think we wrote, not necessarily what’s there. We also get caught up in the story and miss errors of spelling or grammar. If you print it out–yes the whole thing!–you may be able to spot errors better. Sit at the table with your manuscript and a dictionary in front of you and use a ruler to read one line at a time and prevent you from reading ahead. Then start again, this time from the back of the book, again one line at a time–this helps to get away from the story line and concentrate on each sentence. Another update! I’m now editing again, for Australian writers only. More details on my Editing page.

My ebook ‘What Did You Say?’ on grammar and punctuation, is available at Smashwords and may be of some use–it’s free anyway, so why not?

My books are now available on most digital shopfronts, including Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo via Draft2Digital.

Paperbacks and ebooks are also available on Amazon.


Leave a comment

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


6 Comments

Stuck in a time warp?

Do you tend to read or write in one particular era? I have an aversion to the 1920s, possibly because I’ve seen too many bad movies about that era. Other than that my first love was historical fiction, simply because I find history fascinating, and my second love was science fiction because I’m equally fascinated with the future. I’m always interested in the way different writers imagine our world in the future, or indeed other worlds.

When I started writing, my first novel was set in the 26th century and my second novel was set in both contemporary times and the 19th century, so no favoritism there! My latest two (Stony Creek and Dark Innocence) are set mainly in the 1960s and 1970s and I do find I rather enjoy writing about a time I have some personal memories of. I’ve just started another set in the 70s, which has some of my own experiences of living in Queensland and camping on the beach but most of it is pure fiction. I don’t have a name for it yet and I’ll probably be asking for help when I’ve finished, but that won’t be for a while yet. I’m not a very well-disciplined writer, unfortunately–life gets in the way sometimes. Often.

It’s looking like winter has arrived here and it is in fact the first day of winter so I can’t complain. It’s wet but not that cold yet–at least not inside! The trees are beautiful but they’ll soon be bare and we’ll be looking forward to spring. Not summer though. I don’t like summer much at all.

I have a couple of freebies for you this week–one from the future and one from the past! ‘Demented Mothers‘ is about infanticide in the early 20th century in Australia. This is not written as a true crime; it is a university thesis, so won’t be for everyone, but if you have an interest in the subject check it out. Free one day only, June 1st (USA time). Link for UK readers.doglastkinblog

The other one is ‘Last Chance’, which I wrote for pre-teen kids, but I’d be interested in others’ opinions as to what age it’s best suited to. It’s about a town destroyed by war and the aftermath, which sounds pretty grim, but ultimately it’s about hope. Anyway it’s free, so you may as well grab it, right? Free for 2 days, June 1st and 2nd. UK readers.

Cheers and happy first day of summer or winter, depending on where you are.


5 Comments

Going Home. And coming back home again.

I’ve just been back to my home town, a trip I’ve been doing at least once a year for my mother’s birthday. She turned 94 and is well, but I’m always very conscious of the fact it could be the last time I see her. Of course I could die tomorrow myself but you know what I mean. Mum has already outlived her parents but her grandfather was 98 when he died, so we have good genes.

It always feels a little odd going home, because of course it’s not my home anymore. I’ve lived in Bendigo now for over 20 years and this is home but Mildura is where I spent most of my childhood and those teenage years I remember so well. It’s curious how places I’ve lived and people I knew pop up in my stories, almost of their own accord. Not that I would deliberately use any actual person in any of my fiction stories, but they are all influenced in some way by real people. At least the best ones are.

Place is something I’ve certainly made use of in stories and experiences of my own, like hitch-hiking to the river on a hot day and running across burning bitumen with bare feet, both of which I’m using in the story I’m working on now, ‘Dark Innocence‘. My last book, ‘Stony Creek’, is a rural romance and I used my own memories of living in Melbourne as well as attending a wool-shed dance in the outback as a child. I did grow up in a country town, but I had to research for that one, my knowledge of life in the outback being minimal. Quite a lot came from the recesses of my memory locker though! I suspect writing in 1st person makes it easier to access those memories and I chose to do that, as doubtful as I was at how that would be received. It’s actually doing very well on Amazon so there are clearly plenty of readers who are happy to read in 1st person.

So after driving around Mildura and visiting some of the old haunts with my sister, as well as a very nice new art gallery, and seeing my other siblings and a couple of nephews and nieces, I’m back home and happy to be here.

Details on all my books at Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Happy reading.

 

 


2 Comments

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?