Book Sale!

For a limited time, I am offering signed copies of The Lowest Realm for $15 when purchased direct from my online store.


Since I am clearing out some stock to make room for future releases, this offer will only be available in Australia (Sorry! Postage is anywhere from $60 – $80 AUD to send internationally. If you really want a signed copy at this price, email me for a quote).

CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW

Life on an offshore oil rig is grueling hard work. For Nika the hard work, isolation and discipline is ideal.
On the eve of flying back to the mainland for a two week break, disaster strikes, and Nika is thrown into darkness.

When he awakes in a strange world, with no memory of his past, he finds himself in the presence of monks, who offer to help, on one condition. Nika must deliver an urgent message to the king, and in return, the mysterious monks will help him recall his memories and find a way home.
Instead, Nika is sent on a long journey with his new friend Freyne, and the spoilt Princess Iryna, to fulfill a prophecy that will restore balance to the world.

Nika must adjust to more than just a new world; as his body undergoes a transformation he does not understand, he must also deal with being hunted, forbidden love, mancery, and gods he’s never heard of.

Note: This story features queer characters and relationships.

I Now Stream On Twitch!

I finally did it! I finally got my butt into gear and set myself up for streaming!

For those who don’t know, I’m a gamer at heart. I draw a lot of inspiration for games like Diablo, Vampire, Borderlands, and even Tomb Raider back in the day. My current addiction is 7 Days to Die, a zombie first person shooter.

Hardcore! I’ve been playing Diablo since #1 was released years ago!
So why I am posting this on my writing blog?

I’m glad you asked 😛 I have been dabbling in making videos of my map making, and thought it would be cool if I could actually stream some sessions. Another author I met through Twitter also told me that some writers live stream their writing sprints, which I thought might also be cool. Mind you, my sprints are more of a slow walk through the field of distractions…anyone watching me write will probably be treated to YouTube, random Google searches, and probably some porn too (just kidding…..maybe).

Follow me on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/amyalexcampbell

This is all a work in progress, so I’m not going to promise amazing regular content (yet). But I will do my best to keep things interesting, so that those of you who want to, can join me on the journey as I race to meet my 31st July deadline for The Darkest Realm.

That’s all for today. Take care <3

Much love
~AAC

Fantasy Maps and Seasons

As some might know, I’ve resumed my work on The Darkest Realm. Similar to book 1, the map is a work in progress as I write, as some things need to change as I go. I thought I’d do a post regarding those extra things to consider when making fantasy maps / writing fantasy stories.

When working on a fantasy story and map, we need to consider so much more than just forrests and the story; we need to take into account science while we’re at it.

Regardless of your type of fantasy world, it is likely to exist on a planet and have a sun. Therefore, you need to consider seasons, time zones, hemispheres and an equator. Basic rules of physics and astonomy still apply, so we have to consider the planet’s rotation in relation to the sun, etc. Once you have these pencilled in, you can start to consider what biomes would exist.

I use our own Earth as a reference so my climates and biomes are more realistic. For example, I wouldn’t find a scorching desert right next to the southern pole…unless it’s caused by magic!

My characters have just finished crossing the Lorendian Desert, and are entering a savanna, which is roughly where South Africa would be in relation to Australia. So today I’ve been looking up to check seasons and all that good stuff. It turns out that the African savanna tends to have a dry and wet season instead of summer, autumn winter and spring. Good to know.

As my characters head into the south / west hemisphere, I’ll have to flip the seasons around and give them appropriate weather and climate. These things may sound minor, but to me they can be the difference between being totally immersed in an alternate fantasy reality, or being jolted out of the experience thinking ‘Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right!’

There are some really useful guides online. Gardening and farming guides are good such as the one below. My dad was a farmer for years before retirement, so I learnt to always trust gardeners and farmers when it comes to the true seasons. Also, check out this video on YouTube (I’ll embed it later) to see how our Earth experiences seasons and why.

The final thing I want to add in is the use of a calendar. I know that every writer does things differently, so it may not be your cup of tea. But for my fantasy stories, I have a calendar and track every single day of their journey. That way can keep track of the seasons and ensure travel times and speeds are realistic, etc.

My next step for this calendar is to flip seasons as they prepare to head into the northern hemisphere.

One final point to mention. For those who enable long distance travel in their magic systems, remember that if your person is way up in the north and it’s lunch time, if they teleport to the opposite side of the world, chances are it will be dark.

I hope this helps in your fantasy work!

For those who have pre-ordered The Darkest Realm, I’m super sorry but I need to push back the date. I’m not going to make it for the 1st of June release 🙁 Tonight I will push back the date to August 1st, which will give me a bit more time to get things finished and set up. Thanks for understanding!

I’ll also be making this post into a podcast, so stay tuned!

Much love,
~ AAC <3

My New Office!

Morning!

I’m just keeping it short and sweet today. Between uni, assignments, and life in general, I haven’t had the motivation to sit down and write. For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been sitting at the kitchen table to write.

Urgh. There are so many distractions, that I just can’t concentrate. So I’ve finally cleaned out the spare room and made it into a proper office!

I now have a space for writing, cartography, and chilling in general. It’s still a bit of a mess, but meh, mess can be cleaned.

I’ve been working on The Darkest Realm – I know the progress bar on this page doesn’t seem to be moving, but that’s mainly because of edits. One scene just isn’t sounding right, so I’ve been working on fixing it and fixing it. Last night I got to start writing the next scene which is from my sexy new guys POV (I’m so in love with him 😍).

Still taking me a while to fully plan Between the Lines. Since I am writing a Maori character, it is only right that I buddy up with some people and have a chat so I don’t write anything that is insensitive, accidentally racist, or just plain wrong. My neighbor is a New Zealander, and has kindly offered to introduce me to some of his friends. It will just take time, that’s all.

Thankyou to those people who have been visiting this site a lot in the last few weeks. I see you, and I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to visit 🙂 Thanks also to those who recently purchased / read Beneath the Grandstand too 💜

That’s all from me for now. If you haven’t already, please sign up to the newsletter. I’m waiting until I get a decent number if subscribers before I start with content. As per my promise, it will only ever be used for upcoming launches and exciting big news, so don’t worry about it being spammy 🙂

Take care everyone! Much love, AAC 💜

Inspiration Board

First of all, Happy Easter! I hope you all had a safe long weekend and didn’t eat too much chocolate 🙂

I’ve been in a bit if a slump lately and haven’t written anything for a couple of months. I’m hesitant to call it writer’s block, because I know I’ve written myself into a wall and haven’t planned this chapter very well. (See my post on this here)

So what do I do when this happens? I think about the scene and play with it in my mind until I have some sort of visual. I also find images help inspire me to get out of the slump.

Currently, Nika, Freyne, and their friends are in the Lorendian Desert, traveling across the Great Causeway. I have totally stuffed up the chapter, so I have been working on rewording parts to make it work. Instead, I have to scrap the entire chapter and start it again.

Here are some random photos I found online that have helped to spark the creative juices. This set includes different types of desert.

This set contains different stone bridges. The Causeway is one long raised bridge across the desert, with regular shelters to protect those who cross.

And of course, the Fens! The character who lives here is awesome, and I can’t wait to introduce you to him!

I’m also hung up on the name for one of my cities that my characters will soon be visiting. If you have any suggestions, leave it in the comments below!

Anywho, here’s hoping I can crawl out of my funk and get this finished in time for the June release!

Take care all <3

~AAC

What an Eventful Month

I thought I would share another quick update just so you know where I’m up to.

  • I’m still working on The Darkest Realm (thankyou to the person who has already pre-ordered a copy!).
  • I’ve plotted most of Between the Lines, I’m just figuring out the actual start of the story.
  • Podcast is getting loads of listens, I’m super impressed!
  • Participating in March on Soldier on Challenge to help raise money for Aussie veterans. I’m walking 96km during March which is the length of the Kokoda Trail. You can check it out HERE.
  • I’ve had a few tech issues with my iPad not syncing with Dropbox. I finally made the switch to a different cloud service until Microsoft fixes the Word apps, so here’s hoping I can get my productivity back on track!

It has been a crazy few weeks. Our car was written off (not our fault, thank god everyone is ok) which meant the stress of dealing with insurance and getting a new car. As of tomorrow we’ll have a nice Kia Cerato to hopefully last us a few years.

My mental health has not been good. I have PTSD from an accident just over 10 years ago, and although I wasn’t in this one, it did bring up a lot of painful memories, flashbacks and graphic imagery. PTSD sucks, and has its own stigma surrounding it. I have a great support system though, whom I love and appreciate. It’s ok to not be ok 💜

This week we are having a rain event here in Sydney / NSW, and today we are seeing lots of flooding in areas. The last time it flooded was in Feb 2020 – I posted about it HERE. During that time we had a visitor, Riley Tortopolous, who was washed up onto the road. Hubby brought him home, and I set him up in a quarantine tank to ensure he was unharmed. Once the flood waters receded, we released Riley back into his pond. I think of him often – such a gorgeous little guy!

Riley Tortopolous, a wild turtle who was rescued from the floods.
Riley Tortopolous

I have the next week and a bit off work, and hope to get some serious writing done. You’ve all been so patient, waiting for the next story, and I thank you so so much 💜

Now, I’m going to eat my pizza, and get some writing done!!

Much love,
~AAC

Where Do I Start?

One of the main questions I get asked by new writers is, “Where do I start?”
You have an amazing story idea in your head that you just KNOW is a best seller, and you’re dying to get it down on paper. But when you sit down at your laptop / computer / notebook, your brain freezes, and you have no idea how to proceed.

One of the first things to consider is whether you are a plotter or a pantser.

A plotter is someone who sits down first and plots out their story. You have a clear beginning, a middle and end, and each chapter mapped out. All you have to do then is sit down and actually write the story. This method is (in my opinion) important for genres such as sci-fi and fantasy where world building is a must. You need to know your backstory, your magic or tech systems, and if you’re a dick-head like me with characters over 1,000 years old, you need your timeline!

A pantser is someone who has an idea of the story, but sits down and just writes it as it comes to them. I used to be a pantser when I was younger, but as I started getting serious about fantasy, it ultimately led me to hitting a brick wall.

There is no right or wrong way. It is a topic that is debated amongst writers, but ultimately, we are all different, our brain processes all work in different ways. You do you.

Writing style alignments diagram.

What software or device should I use?

There are some great software packages out there that some writers swear by. Here are just a couple options to look at before you start.

Scrivener is popular as it allows you to organise characters, scenes, objects etc., but it does come with a price tag. It was primarily built for Mac, but it can be installed on Windows. It comes in at $77AUD, which might be out of some people’s budgets. I have never used it, but I have heard lots of people talking about it. Check out the website here.

yWriter is something I can only assume is similar to Scrivener. I dabbled with it for a while, and it is pretty cool, but I didn’t like that it’s not actually a word processor. I started organising my word count, characters and scenes, but after a while I grew tired of copy & pasting. But still, it’s free, so if you want something to help you stay organised, give it a crack. I do like this program, and will probably use it again in the future for a not-so-epic fantasy. Check it out here.

OpenOffice is a free package that is similar to Microsoft Office. This package by Apache is fantastic if you don’t have the luxury of Microsoft, but need something that is useful and powerful. I have used it many times over the years in workplaces and on spare PCs that didn’t have Microsoft. The UI is probably different, but it pretty much gets the job done. You can download it here.

Word is my go to. I am lucky enough to have a free subscription through my university, so I have the full package installed. This means I can log in on any of my devices and access my files instantly. I have my files stored in Dropbox, which means I can write some of my story on my laptop, save it, then go into the lounge room and open it on my iPad or phone and pick up where I left off. Good old Word is still (in my opinion) the most powerful word processor, and it will always be my go-to.

Dropbox? Why bother?

I am going to point out right now that you need to BACKUP YOUR WORK! At least once a week, I see writers have lost their entire book or collections due to catastrophic hard drive failure, fire, or theft. While I am still not 100% sold on cloud technology, I use Dropbox to keep up to date copies, plus I email myself my draft on occasion just in case. I also back up my work files to an external hard drive – this includes my book interior setup files, covers, artwork, and anything important. Some of these files are expensive, for example book covers, and if you lose them you may have to pay for a whole new one. So BACK UP YOUR WORK!

Ok, what now?

I’m not going to go into actually writing your book. That’s up to you. You will find that at first, your writing my be stiff and not flow as well as you’d like. Don’t worry. As you progress through your story, your writing will develop and you’ll get into the hang of things. Don’t do what I do and spend hours trying to edit one paragraph – if it doesn’t work, highlight it and move on. Eventually when you go back over it, you’ll be able to fix it up and make it amazing. Focus on getting that story written down, worry about fixing it up later.

I’ve finished my draft. How do I publish it?

There are a number of things you need to do from an admin perspective. Once you finish your manuscript, you need to go over it with a fine tooth comb and check that it’s ok. If using Word, do CTRL F and do searches for and and, to to, they they etc. Also do one for two spaces – you’ll be surprised how often we leave gaps in our work. When you are 100% sure it’s ready, it’s time to look for an editor.

Editors are expensive, but given the amount of hours they pour into our work, it is justified. However, it can be hard finding an editor within our budgets. I spent $200 on one on Fiverr, and that didn’t go so well. If you have read The Lowest Realm, you will see that first hand. I now have my amazing editor/ typo hunter going through it to prepare for a re-release.
You can ask around in writing groups or on Twitter, and most will edit 1,000 words for you so you can see how they work. But choose wisely. If you honestly think your writing is super good and doesn’t need an editor, skip this step for now. We’ll come back to it.

Beta Readers are like test readers. You may prefer to engage with betas before an editor, or after. I go with them before, so if there is a major issue, I can catch it before I waste the editor’s time. You can find betas on Facebook in dedicated groups, or on Twitter using the right hashtags. More recently, I’ve been working with readers who I have built up relationships with, so I get honest feedback from them.
Don’t ask your friends or family to do this! Friends and family think we are amazing, and no matter how crap our work might be, they will say it’s good. You need someone who will be honest and point out the plot holes and parts that don’t make sense.
This also brings me to another point: be prepared for negative feedback. You are a first time writer, not Stephen King, so be prepared to take on the feedback. This doesn’t mean all of it – I collate the feedback, then pick and choose which points I’ll change. I usually have around 3 betas, but the more the merrier.

Use these hashtags on Twitter to help find beta readers there.
Try some of these groups for recruiting betas. You will need to join the groups and abide by their rules.

If your beta readers point out some major issues, or even small ones, go back and fix them. Read your story again with fresh eyes, and make sure you’re happy with it. My number 1 hot top for this stage is to invest in a text to voice app, and spend time listening to your story. I use an app called Natural Reader (on my iPhone). It cost a few $$, but was totally worth the investment. I can catch any typos as they come through as weirdly pronounced words, and catch any double-typed words.

Once you have beta’d and edited, it’s time for a proofreader. Even if your typing is immaculate and you skipped the editor, I highly recommend you hire a proof reader. This is soooo important, a step I missed on my first book (hence why I’m doing it now). I have a friend who I hire for mine (whom I met on Twitter). You can find someone online or check out Fiverr, but make sure you vett them first and are sure you work well together. Be careful.

While you wait for your proofreader, it’s time to sort out admin and publishing options. I’m going to speed ahead and assume you are publishing ebook with Amazon, and paperbacks with IngramSpark. I don’t use LuLu or any of the others, but I highly recommend Ingram. Ingram (again, my opinion) are THE most professional self-pub option out there. Some writers don’t like the strict setup options, but if you want your books in the local bookstore, it’s the way to go. This is what you need:

  1. Your blurb. This thing is the most horrid thing to write, but you need to write it.
  2. ISBN. In Australia, buy them from Thomas Bowker. Get yourself a 10 pack, and DO NOT BUY THE BARCODES!
  3. Book cover design! I highly recommend thebookcoverdesigner for pre-made covers. You pick one you like, buy it, and the designer will work with you to add your title, blurb, etc. Check with them what attribution they will require (they should be credited on the copyright page of your book),
  4. Internal setup. If you are handy with inDesign, great! get yourself over to IS and download their file specs, and have your way with it. If not, you will need to hire someone to do it for you. There is so much to consider here, so check out this post for some design considerations. You can also contact me at my publishing page if you wish to hire me for this. The best way to contact me is via email. Once you have this file including your trim size, you can relay this information to your cover designer (along with your ISBN).
  5. Uploading files is where it might be a bit confusing. You need to create an account with IngramSpark and do your paperback there. DO NOT use their ebook conversion service, this was a $300 mistake I made. You will only upload your paperbacks here. Check to see if IS are running any promo codes at the time – sometimes they have free setup and/or free revising of files. There are enough video guides on doing this, I’m not going to post the how-to’s here. You will need to fill out tax forms and financial stuff too.
  6. For ebooks, you will need to create an account with Amazon KDP. There are lots of forms to fill out for tax purposes. I also recommend using a major bank account such as the Commonwealth so you are not charged transfer fees for royalties. Download the software called Kindle Create, and import your clean manuscript into the software. This will create your Kindle file for free. The file output is what you upload to KDP.

Congratulations! You’re now a published author.

The hard work doesn’t stop there. You will get some sales for the first month of publication, but after that, your sales will flatline. You will need to promote your work at all times to ensure people will see it. No matter how many times you post your links to your social media, your friends will rarely buy your work. You now have to start building your brand – you, as an author, are your brand (especially if you write under a pen name). You will need:

  1. Author website. Build it in WordPress and pay to upgrade to the $10 a month option (charged annually). This removes WordPress branding and gives you your own domain. The commercial option which I have for this website is closer to $300 a year so I can have my own web store.
  2. Social media. At minimum, Twitter, Facebook Page, and Instagram. Some writers have reported success on Tik-Tok, but that’s not for me. (Ok ok I have a Tik-Tok, but it will be used for booky-type vids and my maps.)
  3. Amazon Author Central profile. Make it here. This is tied in with your KDP account and is important to maintaining a professional image on Amazon.
  4. Jump on Goodreads and create a profile there as well. You will need to go to the author section and apply to be a Goodreads author. Once approved, you can then add your cover work and book details, so readers can find you and leave reviews. Hot tip: NEVER respond to reviews! It is poor etiquette and frowned upon in the community. Reviews are for the readers. You can use the feedback to improve your future work, but never confront a reader.

There is so much more I could say, but for now I think I have covered the basics. If you want to learn how to market your work and make money, you can find the group 20Booksto50k on Facebook. They have some amazing tips on there, but be sure to do the readings first.
Other groups worth joining:
Writers helping Writers
Fiction Writing
Writers group Australia
Australian Self Published Authors

And of course, make sure you follow me on Facebook, my blog, Twitter, everywhere. I’ll be making more guides on writing soon, so stay tuned for more! if you have ANY questions, please reply to this blog or shoot me off an email (or message me on FB or Twitter).

Final note of the day: You are NOT an aspiring writer. You ARE a writer! Remember that, always.

Much love,
AAC

New Podcast

Howdy!
I came across a new feature of WordPress that allows me to convert my posts into podcasts. This is so cool from an accessibility stand point. So now people can listen to a robot ramble on and on instead of having to read it!

To celebrate this awesome (new?) thing, I have converted chapter one of Beneath the Grandstand – for free! Click the play button below to listen.

https://anchor.fm/amyalexcampbell/episodes/Beneath-the-Grandstand—Chapter-1-eqsbtd

I’ll update my site to have its very own podcast page. Meanwhile, you can also subscribe to it on whichever platform you choose to listen on:

Breaker, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and Spotify.

Much love,
AAC <3

Market Day!

Today was the big day!
I dragged my butt out of bed at 4:30am, packed Davo’s car, and we headed off to market. Thankfully the roads are somewhat abandoned at 5:30 in the morning, so we were making good time.
Until I sent us the wrong way and we ended up on the M4 motorway heading towards Penrith!!

Thankfully we were able to get off at Wallgrove rd and back track, and made it to the market with plenty of time to spare.

I was most impressed by how well this market is run. There were signs out already, directing us where to go, and the staff were most helpful and organised. In no time, we had our space and were able to set up. I hired a marquee just in case it rained, and soon had our little stall ready to rock.

We went a little QR code crazy seeing as they are cool again, then sat back and waited.

And waited.

Sadly, there wasn’t nearly as much foot traffic as usual. Of the 138 pre-booked sites, only 55 turned up. The threat of rain was enough to warn off most stall holders and even visitors, not to mention Covid. The day ended up being hot as buggery and not a drop of rain. It was lovely that a few people dropped in to say hi and have a chat, but sadly we didn’t get the chance to meet many others.

This occasion has been a great learning experience. We now know the busiest days of the year, and have agreed that we need more signage to help pull customers in. No one could see our bundle deals from the walkway, so we’re looking into big signs that say ‘Meet the Author’ and ‘Meet the Director’. We also want a sign to say ‘support independent artists’.

From the walkway, it looks bland and uninviting. Next time we’ll add some red sale signs, and announce who we are.

For those who are worried about planning events and having no one show: there is always a possibility that you won’t get a single visitor or sale. Take a friend with you and turn the whole thing into something positive. There is nothing wrong with not drawing a single customer; this means you now have valuable market research data, and can analyse it to better target your audience.

We learnt today that the two main demographics were mostly non-English speaking folk, who were there to buy antiques and bargains, not queer books and films. We came at the wrong time of the year and didn’t stand out enough.

I’ll be uploading some hot specials to my store over the next couple of days. so keep your eyes tuned and don’t miss out!

Much love,
~AAC

Upcoming Event!

Now that Covid restrictions are lessening here in Sydney, my film director friend and I have decided that it’s time to host a meet and greet. Due to Fair Day being cancelled this year, we’ve had to look outside the box for ideas.

We’ve decided to book a stall at the Blacktown Drive-in Market!

Sunday
February2021
Market Meet & GreetCome and meet local author Amy-Alex Campbell and film director Davo Hardy. Copies of their work will be available to purchase on the day. Cash or Card accepted. This event is free, however you will need to pay to enter the market.

To drive in: $2 per person or $5 per car.
To walk in: $1 per person.

For more info, click HERE.
6:30am – 2.30pmSkyline Drive, Blacktown

To visit the Facebook event page, click HERE.