From leave to stand down

Hello all you amazing people <3
Once again I don’t want to be the one who posts more about the “bug”, but I will say that we are facing unprecedented times. I’ve just been stood down from my retail job in a large company, along with 9,000 others.

I have been expecting this for weeks now, and I have mentally prepared for this very moment. I am (amongst other things) an academic and consider myself to be intellectual, therefore I have been addressing these challenges with logic while sifting through what is fact and fiction in the media.

So! I have roughly 4 weeks to get stuck into my studies, and to focus on fixing the problems in The Darkest Realm (to be honest, I am hating a few of the chapters, and am working to fix the abomination).

So, how was the holiday?

I was very careful in what I wrote for my last post, seeing as my mother reads this blog like a newspaper. Fave Being and I packed up the car and headed down to Central Victoria, where we surprised my parents with an unexpected visit.
Most of the visit was spent relaxing at home, watching the news, and spending time with the fam. I also took Fave Being around the area and showed him a lot of historic places.

Tarnagulla – This tiny historical town is a part of the Golden Triangle, and is home of so much history, especially from the gold rush days. This beautiful church was built in 1864, and has stood watching over the town for 156 years. Back before 2000, the church was purchased by a chap who filled it with second hand goods supposedly to sell (I remember people calling him a hoarder), Sadly in 2000, it burnt down. I remember being devastated as I loved that church.

Timor – This tiny town doesn’t have many buildings left, except for the general store / jail cell, school, and the remnants of the Grand Duke Mine. The town was mostly tents and temporary housing during the gold rush days, though there are a few houses there now.

St Arnaud – This town is a bit further from the Golden Triangle, but is another historic town with some amazing old buildings. This cellblock sits hidden behind the current police station, and the court house. The prisoners would be held here awaiting their court case.

St Arnaud – the railway station reminded me in many ways of Dunolly station. The towns folk are collecting donations to get their silos painted (a lot of the country towns have been commissioning an artist to paint giant murals on their silos to help entice tourists to the towns). The silo in the final image is the Colbinabbin silos, which is a work in progress.

I love that I grew up in Central Vic and got to explore a lot of these places as I grew up. This could be where my love of community histories and archives has stemmed from.
My inspirational bank as been replenished, and hopefully I get to work on The Darkest Realm.

Stay safe out there everyone – more importantly, unless you are working, please stay home. The sooner we get through these hard times, the better.
Take care <3

Disclaimer: The decision to travel at this time was not take lightly. At the time of leaving, there were no cases in our area, and we had been taking extra measures at work including wearing gloves, social distancing and spraying everything with Glen20 etc. I spoke to my GP before leaving and asked him if we should postpone our trip, and he advised us that we would be alright to travel.

Hooray for annual leave!

I’ve been counting down the days til I’m on annual leave, and finally that day has come! Work has been busy with post-back to school cleaning, product launches and maintenance, so I have been looking forward to this break.

Obviously there is a lot of talk about that “bug in the air”, so I don’t want to talk about THAT. I feel like that’s all we are hearing about at the moment on TV, Facebook and Twitter, so I thought I would just ramble on about some positive things 🙂

So, what have I been up to?

I’ve become fantastic at procrastinating when it comes to writing. I think because I’ve been so run down at work, I’ve been turning to the games on my phone as a distraction, which means I haven’t been as focused. Uni has also started, which I’m a little behind in. I’ll catch up over the next 10 days I’m sure.

I’ve been trying to get a little bit more active outside of work, and have switched my diet to be a little bit healthier. Therefore, the fave human and I have been going for a walk to the wetlands at the end of our street (he is a wildlife photographer). Now, keep in mind, this IS Australia, so there are creatures that try to kill us on a daily basis!

Eastern brown snake

This little guy (little as in 1.5 – 1.75 meters / 5.75 feet) is an Eastern brown snake, one of the deadliest in Aus. As we were walking towards home, we watched as a cyclist rode past us, then screeched to a halt just up the track. Mr Snakey casually slid across the path and disappeared into the grass as though it was slurped up like a noodle.

We also checked in on our friend, a black shouldered kite who hunts in this area; it was hunting time so we got to watch him do his thing. The local swamp harrier, dubbed Swampy, also paid us a visit. We get to see so much wildlife in this tiny escape from the sprawling metropolis known as Sydney.

Yabbie Dabbie Doo started behaving a little off the past few days, and had stopped eating. I noticed that his tail had separated from his torso, which means that he’s due to shed. Sure enough, I got home yesterday to find that he has shed his exoskeleton! He is extra aggressive and back to his territorial self.

I am still writing chapter 6 of The Darkest Realm, book 2 of the Miscreant. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on the terrain for Lorendia, as my heros travel from Loren Point to Sepheren. I have based this terrain on country Victoria, Australia. In my world, this area is very hot and leads to a dessert, so I felt that this would be appropriate.

This is the country I grew up in. Hard ground strewn with rocks and dried golden grass; the land is occasionally accented with a random box or iron bark tree, and ancient bone dry creek beds that flow once every 10-20 years after a heavy downpour. It is a harsh and unforgiving land, but those of us who grow up there, learn to respect the land and nature.

On the rare chance that I get to go back and visit, I feel like I become one with my home again, and I can understand why Indigenous people are so connected to their land. Australia is a beautiful country.

Here is a sneak peek at the map for Lorrendia:

I will aim to do another post towards the end of my week and a half off and share what I got up to. I hope I can get some writing done, and finally get this book written. Thanks for your patience xox.

Fair Day!

On Sunday I went to my very first Fair Day, which is a part of the Sydney Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras. I had a stall there with a friend who is a fellow writer / film director, and together we sold our wares to the masses.

I didn’t get to walk around much, except to use the loo, but I saw so many fabulous people. The vibe was amazing, I’ve never been a part of such a diverse and inclusive crowd before.

I was lucky to break even on the stall (just), and was happy with the number of books that I sold. Of course I would have liked to sell my entire stock, but one can dream.

I just wanted to say a huge thankyou to everyone who came over and supported me. It was so lovely to chat to you all – if all goes well, and the parking situation is improved, I’ll hopefully be back next year 🙂

From fires to floods…and a character reveal!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update. The busy time at work is finally over, but that means we have lots of cleaning and straightening up o do. We’re slowly getting the store back to normality.

The fires were all declared as extinguished just a few days ago, as we received torrential rainfall. We have literally gone from fires to floods, it’s crazy!

I live 5 or 6 houses up from the edge of a wetlands. There is a tiny creek that runs through the middle that is usually little more than a trickle. The rains flooded the entire wetlands; it even breached a small section of the road.

Just up the road is a wide floodway which captures the runoff from the new housing developments in the area. I’ve seen it flow before when we’ve had heavy rain, but nothing on this scale before.

Image 3 in the above gallery was taken at a flood retention wall about 30 minutes from here. The dry image was taken 2 years ago on a warm day. The wet image was taken 24 hours after the rains, it was still flowing steadily. The below video is not mine.

So yeah, it has been crazy in Sydney !

In other news, I now have two new pets. A mussel and another mystery snail. What weirdo critter will I bring home next!

And now for the character reveal…

I would like to introduce Yger (pronounced Yerrr), one of the supporting characters in Book 2, The Darkest Realm.

Yger is very close to my heart. She has her own deep ingrained motivations for joining with our heroes (yes there’s some past trauma, but hey, which character doesn’t have past trauma these days?), but she is a very strong-willed woman.

She is deadly with a crossbow, and has long deep purple hair. Her character is heavily inspired by Domitia, a hero in the game Empires & Puzzles which I play.

Not my image. Image by Small Giant – Puzzles & Empires

Yger is my first ever transgendered character. As with my other diverse characters, I don’t write that she’s trans. I leave that up to the reader to figure out; when we first meet her in the hands of the bad guys, they misgender her as ‘he’, which will probably be confusing at first but will begin to make sense a little further on.

I have seen some less-open-minded people ask on Twitter:
Why do you even need to include gay/trans characters?
I counter that with another question:
Why wouldn’t I?

Gender diverse people, including trans, enby, gender fluid etc, are all valid. I want to help to normalise gender diverse characters in literature; I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to read about a straight man and woman falling in love and living happily ever after. I want to read about characters which represent our world today.

(C) Amy-Alex Campbell

Straya Day

Forty years ago today, my parents said their vows and were married. They got married on Australia Day – “so that your father will never forget our anniversary.”

So a big shout out to Mum and Dad, for putting up with each other for so long!

Image by Wagga Wagga Council

It has been 2020 for 26 days now. In that time, we have had raging bushfires, flooding in some parts of Aus, a downed C130-J, a virus outbreak, an erupting volcano in the Philippines, and an earthquake in Turkey. Trump is on the verge of being impeached, and so far no tour has been announced for Mumford and Sons to visit Australia (yet).

I feel like 2020 is the start of book 5 in a series, opening with loads of drama and action, readying the reader for the finale of the story. I don’t mean this in a dooms day way; I’m sure there will be a sequel and spin off stories 😉

Speaking of sequels and series, Book 2 – The Darkest Realm is coming along nicely. I’m almost at 18,500 words.

I’ve been a bit challenged in the first 5-6 chapters of book 2. I don’t like the term writer’s block, but it was a form of bloc nonetheless. It turns out I had not sufficiently planned some of the background stuff, which is usually what causes block in the first place.

I spent some time jotting down notes, and I came up with a whole new ‘old magic system’ that will explain the underlying function of how my cult operates without being unbelievable. It also answered questions on how my villain can control his cult in the first place, without using the same form of mancery as Nika and Freyne.

I have two major scenes that I can’t wait to write – I don’t write out of sequence though, so my reward for powering forward will be to write these scenes. I get excited just thinking about them!

My heroes are about to meet my trans woman character Yger, and I’m so excited about this. I have been asked by some people why I’m including a trans character, and my response is:
“Why wouldn’t I? They are people too; if I don’t represent them in literature, who will?”
There is so much nasty, negative stuff out there, I want to break that and show folks that trans people are people, and deserve as much respect as everyone else. The only way to normalise it is by talking about it.

And finally, just a reminder that I’ll be having a stall at the Sydney Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day. If you are in Sydney, come along and say hi! I’ll have plenty of copies of books available to purchase, and I’ll happily sign them on request.

16th Feb 2020! Hopefully see you there!

Bidding has closed

My #AuthorsForFireys auction has closed at a total of $100. Every little bit helps, I’m stoked that it went for that much. The winning bidder has transferred the amount to me, and on the 31st I’ll transfer the donation PLUS the portions of my royalties to the CFA.

Progress on book 2 is going a bit slower than I had hoped. It is still busy time at work until Feb, so I just have to take each day as it comes. I’m up to just over 17,000 words, so that’s not too bad.

More recently, I commissioned one of my Twitter friends (Morgan Wright) to animate the cover of The Lowest Realm, and I am not disappointed.

The next thing on the cards for this writer is Fair Day 2020, which is a part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. I’m having a stall with one of my friends , and will be looking forward to meeting folks, and hopefully selling some books!

I’f you’re in Sydney, come along and say hi! Our stall is called Queer Queatives.

#AuthorsForFireys

I am pleased to announce that I am joining in the #AuthorsForFireys auction on Twitter.

What’s that you ask?

Authors are auctioning copies of books, or services such as editing/beta reading, as a way to raise money for bushfires in Australia. Instead of sending the author the money and being unsure of where it ends up, the winning bidder makes the donation directly to the charity, and sends the author a copy of the receipt. The author then sends the item / provides the service as promised.

I am auctioning one signed copy of The Lowest Realm. Just 28 mins after posting to social media, I have received the opening bid – $100!

This will be running until Saturday 18th January, 9pm Sydney time.

I will still be donating $1 from every eBook and $5 from every paperback during January – so far I’m sitting at $1 (I know that’s not much, but that’s 1 more $ and it all adds up).

Photo taken by Ja Worsley – Eye Products International.
The aftermath – Bilpin, Blue Mountains. NSW Australia
09/01/2020

My beautiful country is on fire

It’s a not-so-happy new year here in Australia. Our beautiful country is burning, our animals are dying, and our people are losing their homes and lives. Unfortunately, fire is a deadly reality that Australians must face every summer, and it’s very close to my heart.

Here is a little story that I can’t stop thinking about.

I grew up in a tiny town of Dunolly in Central Victoria. We lived on a 10 acre block of land 10km from town, in the middle of the bush. As kids, my brother and I knew our bushfire survival plan like the back of our hands.

One day, one of the neighbors was angle grinding on a total fire ban day, 42c heat, in a dry grassy area, and of course he started a grass fire. Our parents told us to stay home, and they drove off to help put it out.

My brother and I immediately thought the worse (we were kids), so we gathered up all the photo albums, some tinned spag and 2 min noodles, the pets, and made our way to the front dam where we waited. We could see the smoke in the sky, so of course we thought the worst.

Finally mum and dad came home, and when they couldn’t find us at the house, they drove down to the front dam to find us kids sitting there with the dogs and cats, wondering if we should go in the water yet.

For us it wasn’t a drill. It is part of the reality that comes with living in such a dry harsh environment.

Sitting here in Sydney, breathing in the toxic smoke and hearing that several friends have been evacuated has left me reeling. I want to help, but I’m not in the financial position to do so.

I hummed and harred a bit, and have decided to donated $1 from every eBook and $5 from every paperback to the RFS to go towards equipment and our heroes.

It’s not much I know, and a lot of weary Aussies are on the lookout for scams and businesses who are looking to profit from this disaster.

I will be taking a loss by doing this, but I don’t care about that. This is the one way I can give back. I aim to raise around $50 is possible. Like I said, it’s not much, but at this stage every cent helps.

More map making!

I hope you all had a great Christmas (or celebration). For me it was a day off…we did the obligatory visit to the inlaws, then went and watched the new Star Wars film.

After working insane hours in the leadup to Christmas, I am now enjoying 4 days off work. So today I finally started working on the A2 sized world map.

I’m going to mention that the scale of the assets (forests, mountains etc) are still not right – I do need to go A1 to get it right. But for now, I’m working on the A2, as it will enable me to continue with the story. In the photo below, you will see that the sizing is way too big in relation to the Eastern Isles. That’s ok, I’ll do a new one in the new year when I can get to Officeworks.

As always, I took progress pics as I went, just because I can.

Hopefully I’ll finish it tomorrow, but I’m not in a rush.

I’m sure some of the names will change as I write the story, and I’ll add things in / remove stuff.

You’ll notice to the north, a place called Gri’Ran’s Gate. I’m thinking of making this a fort, with a stone wall that stretches along the entire Living Forest. But we’ll see, I don’t have any back story regarding Dryads vs Humans, and Dryads would certainly not wish to storm a fortress.

Hmmmm.

I still have space for lots of names of cities and landmarks, so it’s your turn to get involved! If you would like me to create a name from your name, reply to this post, DM me on FB or Twitter, or email me at Amy-Alex.Campbell@outlook.com, and you could become a part of literature!

Have a safe and happy new year my peeps 💜

Some exciting news!

Today I’m visiting Westfield Penrith to get a few last minute things before Christmas. Today is my last day off before Christmas day, so it was nice to come out and do a bit of shopping.

Of course I can’t walk past Dymocks without dropping in for a look. They have an amazing fantasy section, and I couldn’t help but dream about them stocking my book.

I bought a Halo novel for my favorite human, and as I was paying for it, I asked if they ever stock books by independant authors. The lady who served me was so lovely, she pointed to another lady and told me to go and speak to her.

I showed her the proof copy that I just happened to have with me, and my author contact card. She was most impressed by the quality of the book, and loved my hand drawn maps.

They are more than willing to stock my book on consignment, all I have to do is deliver them 5 copies with an invoice and voila!

So guess who is dropping into Penrith tomorrow after work 😀

In other news: I am slowly working on book 2. I had hit a few minor walls in chapter 3 which somewhat blocked me, but I blame that on being so tired from working crazy hours with the Xmas rush at work.

I am up to chapter four, and I have started working on the names of kingdoms, cities and geography for the mainland.

I have 4 days off leading up to (and including) new years, so I’m hoping I can lock myself in somewhere and write write write!