Cafè Explores: Caffe Cherry Beans, Mt Druitt.

This morning, I decided to get to work an hour early and stop by the newish Caffe Cherry Beans in Westfield, Mt Druitt. This cafe used to be Espresso Warriors for the longest time and I haven’t been here since it changed.

Image borrowed from Google.

One of the things I love about this cafe is the long bench seat that runs down the entire wall. It’s comfy enough to sit on for long writing stints, that’s for sure. They also have a small single stemmed rose in a little bottle on the table which is super cute!

I ordered a fresh squeezed OJ, a flat white with lactose free milk, and a ‘small breakfast’. I’m glad I didn’t order the large! It was so good though – the eggs had subtle seasoning that really set them apart from other breakfasts I’ve bought out. They didn’t burn the bacon, either!

As for the coffee, my palate is used to Gloria Jeans coffee blend, so my taste was a bit off for this one. That’s ok though – it’s a me problem, not the barista’s fault. I firmly believe that if you switch from your regular coffee, it can be hard to adjust to the taste of different blends. For the longest time I couldn’t stand Gloria Jeans, but now they are my fave.

As for the chai latte, I didn’t order one (I needed coffee!) I’ll grab one take-away and update this post later with the verdict!

(Update: they gave me a normal latte not a chai latte. That’ll teach me for cheating on Gloria Jeans 😂)

Anywho, the staff were lovely and I felt most welcome. I will DEFINITELY come back here since it’s not far from work and life <3

A Sneak Peek

Hellooo!
I haven’t had much news lately to warrant posting an update, so I’ve been sharing my little cafe visits instead just to keep things fresh. Today, though, I finally feel like I can share with you a sneak peek of the cover of The Darkest Realm and a few other snippets!

So without further ado:

I am so freaking excited about this – I think I keep saying that same thing every time I post but it’s true!

NaNoWriMo

November is NaNoWriMo month, which sends authors into a frenzy to write an entire book in a month. I did this back in 2019 and it was a flop; November is a super busy month for me, especially with the increase in sales events at work (Click Frenzy / Black Friday / Cyber Monday). But this year, with the encouragement of Kon and #WRITEboyslove, I decided to participate in a slightly different capacity.

I’ve been doing a LOT of work on Tysion’s Story. Due to work, I actually started writing this in October, and was at around 30k words when NaNo started. My goal is to write the remaining 20k words to finish off the story (which I’m increasing – see the tracker on the right of the screen > )

A screenshot that shows progress for Tysion's Story during NaNoWriMo. Overall word count is 52,711 and word count for NaNo is 19,320.

I’ve created a private project for the overall count – since I started pre-November, I felt like I was cheating a little. I just don’t have time to write in Nov though so too bad lol.

This is a side story, sort of like Solo / Rogue One in comparison to Star Wars. Although it’s almost finished, I won’t be releasing this for a while.

Fair Day 2022

I have applied for a stall at Fair Day which is in Feb 2022. It hasn’t been confirmed whether or not FD will be going ahead yet, but if it does, Davo and I will be there. If I can’t launch The Darkest Realm sooner, then this will be my absolute deadline for a launch. Even if I have to go ahead with the unedited copy for now (which I really don’t want to do).


That’s about it from me for now. If you want to be first to see the full cover reveal, don’t forget to sign up to my Patreon. I’ll be adding the reveal there before the big launch. I’ll also be adding a video update on there hopefully this afternoon with the next chapter of Catalogue of Disaster.

So stay tuned, folks! Thanks so much for your continued patience and hopefully I’ll be ready to launch soon!

Much love <3

Cafè Explores: Max Brenner, Blacktown.

Today, my chai latte cravings took me to Westpoint in Blacktown. There are a number of cafès in this centre who do good coffee, but many of them are kiosks that makes writing a little harder.

My quest had me looking all over for a little place called Ricco’s, but despite trudging upstairs to lvl 3, I couldn’t find it. I may have been in the wrong place, so next time I’ll try again.

Coffee Club, one of my fave places in Westpoint, were busy, and I wanted to try somewhere I haven’t been for a long time. And so I decided to try Max Brenner, an old fave.

Image borrowed from Westpoint’s Facebook page.

As I mentioned to the lass who served me, it’s a little odd that a lactose intolerant person would choose to visit a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. They do good coffee though, and I love the spacious room and ambiance there.

This time, I got to sit in the back corner on a comfy padded bench seat, and sip at my chai latte. It was frothy in a fancy glass, and of course it was yummy.

This is a good place to sit and write. I totally intended to order more drinks and a bite to eat, but time ran away from me as the words finally started flowing. I managed to push through the wall that has been blocking my story’s progress for the last few days, so I’m really happy!

The ambiance was relaxing. I was there for a good half hour – 45 mins before I realised I’d forgoten to hit play on my music! It wasn’t til a group of ladies started laughing loudly that I realised I needed my word juice aka music 🤣

A few years back, Max Brenner went through some financial difficulties and many of their stores were closed. Blacktown is lucky to still have one, and out of the 3 I’ve been to, is by far the best. Overall, this was a great visit and I will definitely be back to write here!

Cafè Explores: piccolo me

After my long journey down the abandoned Church Street, my quest took me back to the Parramatta station, where I decided to explore the new underpass that leads to Parramatta Square. There are some cute little eateries there, including a burger place that I’ll try one day.

I seemed to remember a small cafe around the side of Parra Sq. building, but I couldn’t find it. There were two fancy restaurants on the ground floor, and finally I found the cute little cafè called piccolo me.

Looking back at the new building next to Parramatta station.
I think this will be the new council building? This open space was beautiful and peaceful to sit in and enjoy my chai latte.

The cafè had a number of small tables and chairs outside which drew me in. Inside it was a compact space, with 2 or 3 small tables, and one beautiful tiled table for four. The staff were lovely and made me feel most welcome. I ordered my lunch, the Classic Burger, and a bottle of peach iced tea.

The burger was simple but tasty! The size made it easy to eat without the juices running all over my fingers, and instead of chips, they served fries. These were seasoned and tasted great. I found them a little salty, but that’s a me-problem, not theirs.

Once lunch settled down, I used the QR ordering system to order a large Chai Latte. I was just about to pull out my laptop and I noticed they were closing up. I felt so bad ordering while they were closing – I totally forgot it was Melb Cup Day. The staff were lovely and apologised profusely, but I was more than happy to get out of their hair and have my drink to-go.

The Chai Latte was amazing, I might add!

This is a lovely little cafe and I would love to go back some time and chill out while writing. Definitely worth a visit if you want a quick bite to eat or a delish Chai Latte!

~ Amy-Alex Campbell.

Parramatta Church Street Upgrade

Last week I decided to visit Parramatta and check out the progress of the lightrail upgrade. I haven’t been there for probably 5 months, and after a friend posted some pictures on his Facebook, I decided to go and check it out for myself.

For those who aren’t in Sydney: a bit of backstory.

Over the last 5 – 6 years, our public transport and infrastructure has been getting a facelift. A new airport in Western Sydney, a new Metro driver-less train system, new B set commuter trains, and new long-distance trains. We’re also getting a new lightrail system which is already operating in the city, and stretches out to Parramatta.

Right next to the Parramatta Station is a tall new building that has been under construction for the last 3 or 4 years. I believe this will be the home of the Parra Council, library and archives. A new underpass links this building with the station, and also with Parramatta Square, another large building that has eateries and goodness knows what else.

Once upon a time when Church Street was THE place to go for a great night out on the town. Image from sydney.com.
San Churros is still there. I almost went in there, but I’m lactose intolerant so probably not a good idea! Image from fischerconsulting.com.au.

Church Street is what I liken to Lytton Street in Melbourne – packed with restaurants and eateries of different cultures, from Thai to Italian, Mexican to Indian. There are two sections of the street broken up by a large intersection in the middle – eateries one end, and essential-type businesses the other (the station end). These businesses included Chemist Warehouse, boozos, cheap shops, souvenirs, a sex shop, Cash Converters, and other little shops that were there forever.

The food end was THE place to go if you want a nice meal in Parramatta. Whether it’s late at night having cocktails or icecream and finishing with a stroll along the river, or a burger at Grill’d for lunch, there’s something there for everybody.

Or was.

My quest this 2021 Melbourne Cup Day was to find a nice cafe in Church Street where I could hang out with my laptop, sip coffee, and do some writing. I quickly realised it was not going to be the case.

Facing the business end of Church Street from the direction of the station.
The adult store is still there, but the surrounding businesses were mostly gone.

Sadly, after a four month lockdown and having the street closed to traffic, 80-90% (a guesstimate) of businesses were closed, their shop spaces empty. It felt like I was walking through the Docklands Shopping Precinct a few years back when the Sky Wheel wasn’t working. That place felt eerily abandoned with just a few stores open.

The business end.
The dining end.

Apologies for the wonky camera work. I was trying not to be obvious that I was filming and I was trying not to get people’s faces in the shots. You get the idea!

I was also saddened to see that a homeless man had moved his mattress into the former entrance of a store, set up a donation box with his name on it. Out of respect for him I didn’t take a photo (that would be so disrespectful), but I did leave what coins I had for him. I can only hope that he’s getting a decent sleep without the crowds passing by all night long.

The only people I saw apart from those in my pictures were a few drunk women glammed up for Cup Day, who quickly disappeared into the TAB, and the staff who were waiting to welcome diners into their restaurants. I can only hope that now lockdown is over, and once the lightrail construction is finished, people and businesses will once again return and restore Church Street to its former glory.

~ Amy-Alex Campbell.

Not Much to Report

I was hoping to have a huge update around now with dates for a cover reveal / launch for The Darkest Realm, and relaunch deets for The Lowest Realm, but unfortunately my publishing team have been super busy. I highly doubt that anything will be ready by November 9th as I’d hoped, but it is what it is. I just know it will be worth the wait 😀

I’m finally happy with my designs on Redbubble, so they will be ready to launch in time with The Darkest Realm. Just today, I’ve had issues with other ‘designers’ stealing my artwork and listing it as their own. Not cool – I paid a lot of money for the artwork and the exclusive license, so this person has breached usage rules. If you do go to buy something, please make sure it it’s from my account, AmyAlexCampbell.

I have commissioned another piece of artwork which I’m super excited about…but this one is a surprise 😀 It should be ready in a few days!

Yesterday I received my 2nd vaxx, so I will be returning to work on Tuesday 🙁
Being able to spend these last 4 months working on my writing has been the best 4 months ever. It has allowed me to focus on my stories and get them to a level that I’m happy and proud of. Unfortunately I need money to pay my bills, so until my writing pays enough that I can draw an income, leaving work isn’t an option (so cough cough please buy my books lol).

As for Tysion’s Story – I’m just over 30k words now. I’ve been a little slack on updating the tracker as I’ve had to stop and rework some of the back story to ensure it aligns with the main story. I’ve also had to build my cult from the ground up, and this has taken hours of watching vids of real cults. There was a lot to cover, but I’m confident my cult will be amazing 😛

Tysion’s Story is a spin-off, kind of like Rogue One / Solo in terms of Star Wars. It won’t be released until some time after The Darkest Realm. It is not essential for The Miscreant, but it is deep enough for a story and it’s one I love so freaking much.

Book 3 – The Final Realm is on pause while I work on Tys and Ashy, but not for too long. I hope to resume work on this real soon so I can tie it all off. At this stage we’re looking like it will be a trilogy – I’m praying to Am that I don’t get forced to write a book 4. Sometimes these things can’t be helped!

Patreon: I’m going to hold off on posting a Patreon update until I get more news. Remember that Patreons get exclusive early access to cover reveals, and instead of a boring page of text, you get to see a video of me rambling on about it! For ore info, check out my Patreon HERE.

That’s all for now. Hang tight my loves, I’ll have some proper updates for you all soon.

Much love,
AAC <3

Lockdown is Almost Over

After almost 4 months of being locked down, restrictions are finally about to lift as Sydney reaches its double-vaxxed target. On Monday the 11th, my store will finally reopen for trade.

This means that this week I have to go in and prepare the store for trade. Long story short, today was the first day and I’m already exhausted 😩

For me personally, my 2nd vax isn’t until Oct 23, so after this week, I can’t go back until I’ve had that dose.

Am I excited about going back?

The answer is no. It’s strange because all of my colleagues are bouncing off the walls dying to open and get back to work. For me, the passion just isn’t there any more.

For me, this entire lockdown has been about my writing. Every day, I did al least one thing that related to my business. I’ve written 1.5 books (hopefully I can finish the 2nd before I return Oct 25th), done all of my maps, done some streaming, worked on my website, and all those things that writers do when they’re not writing.

Lockdown 2.0 has been a time of self-reflection, but most of all, it has been 101 days (to date) I could dedicate to my passion. 101 days to become a better writer, and fix a lot of those beginner mistakes I made the first time around.

I was presumably one of the few people who leapt for joy (literally) when lockdown was announced, and upset that it’s ending.

During this time, I’ve also been studying still. The unit I just completed covered all those little things I need to find employment in my profession. As it turns out, applying for a library role is much more complex than applying for retail, so I’ve been doing it wrong all along.

My time in retail has run out. I’m done. The spark is gone. I want to do somethinng less intense so I can put more focus into my writing and really refine my craft. Unfortunately, changes like this don’t happen overnight, and one must work for it. I’ll keep you posted 💜

Updates!

I’m currently 22k words into Tysion’s story. I’m debating whether or not to brand it as The Miscreant 2.5 or 3.5. When the time comes, I’ll work with my beta reader and see what he thinks.

I should have another update by the end of the month and hopefully a cover reveal.

Until then, stay safe my friends 💜

Much love,

AAC

More Artwork & Maps!

Howdy folks! I’m so excited to show off the latest piece of artwork – this time it’s Ashavan and Tysion, who you will meet in book 2 and 3 of The Miscreant. Tysion will also be getting his own spin-off story too, but that’s for later 😉 To see the other artwork, go to The Miscreant tab above and navigate to Character Art
(or click HERE).
This artwork will be available on Redbubble on tees and other products, but I’m not launching that officially just yet. Stay tuned!

Maps, maps, maps! All of the ones needed for book 1 and 2 have been uploaded to the map section, plus a bonus rough doodle of a floor plan of the Monastery. Check them out in the map section under The Miscreant tab above (or just click HERE to save time).

Anywho, here’s the not-so-lovable Ashavan (who I love anyway) and Tysion <3

Ashavan on the left wearing his armour, and Tysion on the right wearing a simple tunic and hose, holding his hammer. Ashavan has blonde hair and stubble, and Tysion has brown hair and is clean-shaven.
Ashavan & Tysion

I’m up to date on my to-do list:

  • Suffer through writing a blurb
  • Work on the maps and get them ready for print.
    • World
    • Lorendia
    • Maikaden
    • Gri’Ran’s Gate
    • Kia-Mor
    • Bar’Am
    • Gri’Ran’s Rest
  • Edit and send it off to my beta reader.
  • Send info to my designer and commission the cover.
    • Booked for mid October
  • Update to cover of book 1
    • Booked and organised
  • More edits.
  • Send to proofreader.
  • Read through book 1, followed by a re-read of book 2, and ensure everything is right.
  • Finalise ornamental art for chapter and sections.
  • Set up interiors:
    • The Lowest Realm
    • The Darkest Realm
  • Send final page counts to designer.
  • Plan some sort of launch party
  • Set up preorders.
  • Launch.

Clearance!

I’m continuing to clear out copies of The Lowest Realm to make space for the updated copies. As such, these are now available for $12.50 each plus postage. Unfortunately, postage is still kinda high due to Aus Post. I’m continuing to try and find a cheaper method. Visit the SHOP to check it out.

20 Years On

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Twenty years ago, a major event occurred in the United States that shook the world. I was reflecting with hubs about this last night, and we both shared our stories of how it affected us when we heard the news. Remember, I’m an Aussie living in Australia and I was only 16 at the time, so my memory may be a little off.

At the time this happened, I was in year 11 (the 2nd last year of high school). Mum was working night shift at a meat factory, and Dad worked as a farm hand. Mum would get home around 3 or 4am and head to bed, while Dad and I would get up at 6am. He’d drop me at my Nan’s so I could have breakfast and finish getting ready for school, and he’d continue on to work. I should mention we lived in the country where I couldn’t just walk to school – it was a 10km drive from our place to the nearest town. Anyways…

Mum always left us notes on the bench, usually just saying that work was shit and she loved us. But this one morning, her note said something like:

“Big terrorist attack in America. Check the news. Bloody scary. Love yas.”

We listened to the news on the radio in the car on the way to Nan’s, but I don’t remember much. It wasn’t until I got to Nan’s that I saw what was happening on the TV. The Today Show was broadcasting live, and was replaying the two smoking towers and the collapse. I was just staring at it in disbelief, unable to comprehend that history was being written at that very moment.

And then at 7:21am (5:21pm Eastern Time US), the World Trade Center collapsed. I’m pretty sure this is what I saw live. I still remember the fear, the shock, and what I didn’t know at the time, the anxiety.

All day at school, the topic was the terrorist attack. The speculation that we’d be pulled into a retaliatory war, or something similar happening here. We were scared. Scared that we’d be targeted too.

My biggest memory from this day was when I was in my accounting class. My teacher Mrs Wright was known as The Dragon as she was strict and didn’t tolerate any bull crap. Myself and 2 other accounting students would sit at the back of her year 12 business class as there weren’t enough of us for a dedicated accounting class.

We were all fairly restless and no one could concentrate on the lesson. Mrs Wright put up her hand and stopped the class.

“Alright everyone. Let’s talk about this. We have just witnessed a major world-changing event and I think we all need to talk about it and debrief. Let’s get it off our chest so we can focus on moving forward and getting on with our day.”

One by one we went around the room and discussed it – the shock, the fear, the disbelief. There was no shaming or hanging shit on each other – in a way it was like a group therapy session for shared trauma (I’ve never been in group therapy but that’s what I imagined it to be like). Mrs Wright taught us about terrorism, what it is, and what to expect when the world would react to it. She explained how terrorism is aimed to strike terror into ordinary peoples hearts so we are living in fear of the next attack. Interesting to note: for some time after, even I avoided large events like concerts or cricket in the city because I never knew if there would be another attack. And even now, I find myself making a mental note of emergency exits, you know, just in case something happens.

So even though I’m in Australia and am far removed from what happened that day, I still feel this event deep in my very core. When I watched some footage just before writing this blog, I felt that same fear and anxiety that I felt on that day. My heart goes out to those poor people who died in those attacks, and their family members, the first responders, and everyone who was impacted by this event in any way.

I can only hope that we never see such a horrific attack again.

I will never forget.

Much love,
~AAC

Courtesy of Examiner

#WRITEboyslove

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One of the more challenging aspects of self publishing is marketing. Not everyone has studied this at a university level, and therefore has no idea on how to present themselves to the world and get their name out there. Another challenge is connecting with other writers in the same genre.

My Twitter bestie Kon Blacke (@BlackeKon) came up with #WRITEboyslove – to be used by writers of m/m work, so that readers and writers alike can find each other. This includes manga, fanfic, comics, and heck – if you’re an artist of m/m, I’m pretty sure we’d love to have you too!

SO! If you are a reader looking for new reads that are outside of the mainstream, simply do a search on Twitter for #WRITEboyslove and scroll through the juicy threads.

If you are a writer, follow myself and/or Kon, and keep an eye open for the daily prompts. We post them every day during September (and October when it comes around) at 12pm Aussie time, but you can respond to them at any time in any order. Simply include the # in your tweet so that other searchers will see your input when they search.

Note – this is open to anyone who writes man loves man. This includes bisexuals, pansexuals, trans people, anyone who does not spread hatred within the community.

You do not need permission to join in, there is no time limit, and no eligibility criteria apart from men loving men. We are not Centrelink <3

Your host Kon and I the co-host are both Aussies, so we aim to keep this a fun activity! The more lewd and naughty the better >:)

This is a fun way to connect with readers and writers alike. Feel free to interact and follow each other and hopefully make new friends!