Evolution of my Maps

I’ve been asked to show some fellow writers my hand drawn maps, so I thought I would post the evolution of The Lowest Realm’s maps.

I started writing TLR about 17 years ago, and at the time I was good at drawing maps, but only on a basic level.

To counter this, I painstakingly used paint with an ordinary mouse to recrate the outline of my maps. I had in my mind that it would look amazing, but in all honesty it was quite crap.

My first attempt at digitising my map

I also made a mockup with terrain for some reason. At the time I thought they were cool.

The Roman numerals indicate that I hadn’t thought of names for regions. A lot of the place names for things are Dutch words as I was learning Dutch at the time. A lot of these names have since changed.

Coloured terrains

When I revisited the work 17 years later, I knew I needed to fix the maps and bring them up to date. I signed up to Inkarnate and once again recreated the maps.

I love the look of Inkarnate, but they are impractical for my book. The bright colours make it look very dark when printed in black and white.

And so I bought Wonderdraft, and dabbled in their software. I like the platform, but wasn’t happy with the look. Plus I couldn’t get the sizing of the assets right.

I think at this point I threw my hands up in despair and said ‘fk this!’

In my world, there are no computers or digital maps, so it made sense to go back to the start and redraw them.

Makeshift light box

To do this, I traced the printed maps to preserve the coastline, using 0.2mm fine liners on high quality art paper.

I liked this a lot, it just needs some edits. This I did in paint.

This was my test piece so I didn’t destroy the good copy.

Here is the Isle Bar’Am. It was almost ready to publish….but still not 100% happy with it. So I’ll be adding some coastlines.

I plan to erase the inside content, and overlay the coastlines onto the edited copy.

Since I am now working on book 2, I needed to expand my world map. I enlarged one of the continents using word and a printer, and pencilled in some basic details. This continent is half a world, so the details will be very basic. I will do zoomed-in higher detailed maps for each area later on.

Another update and a character release!

I’m sure anyone who actually reads my posts are probably sick of seeing me write ‘I’m almost there!’. Heck, I’m sick of myself haha!

I’m still doing a lot of those little in-between jobs. Last night I applied for US tax exemption so I don’t have to pay their taxes; seeing as I will have to charge GST here, I would be handling two lots and I don’t want to have to lodge a USA return.

Amazon KDP has one small form to fill in. IngramSpark have 9 comprehensive forms, each one must be filled out and signed, before scanning and uploading. Pretty crazy!

Here’s the rest of my to-do list:

  • Commission a greylead sketch. ✅
  • Commission my book cover designer to do the graphics for the title page.✅
  • Create smaller copies of my world map and the Eastern Isles. *TONIGHT*
  • 2 days to go until:
  • Apply any editing changes when the ms returns from editor.
  • List on IngramSpark and hopefully order myself a test copy.
  • Order author copies and post out a few copies.
  • Upload to Amazon as an eBook.
  • Have a launch on November 9th!
A sneak peak of my title page, courtesy of my amazing graphics designer Warren Design.
The sketch I commissioned on Fiverr by IMarts.

So now for another reveal that I haven’t released on my other social media channels.

This sketch will be found on the first page of the book. This cat was our family cat when my brother and I were growing up.

When we moved to the country, we lived on 10 acres of land right on the edge of ‘the bush’. Everywhere we kids went, the cat would come too. He wasn’t our pet, he was subordinate to no one.

And so I present to you Arnie Swartzenegger, who is honoured as Arnie-Kyn in The Lowest Realm.

His cattitude and sarcasm I present is everything I imagined as a child. He would join us on adventures, and always take over the bed if he slept inside.

Love you Arnie 💜

Longest 10 days of my life

I never knew 10 days could take so long!! I feel like time is dragging on, it’s killing me!

I’m halfway there, 5 days to go until I get my manuscript back from my editor. I even made a countdown timer (which has made time drag even worse haha).

Countdown timer

In the meantime, I’m keeping myself busy with all the little things that need doing before publishing. This is what I’ve achieved in the last week:

  • Created author account and listed my book on Goodreads.
  • Created a Twitter account. As of right now, I have almost 1,000 followers.
  • Added title and metadata to assigned ISBN.
  • Collated beta reader feedback.
  • Ransacked a different bookstore to compare prices of similar books to mine.
  • Emailed the store where I want my signing/launch (I feel like they will say no or not reply).
  • Found some random blog that lists which large chains are open to stocking self published Aussie authors.
  • Re-hand-draw all my maps and scan them in 600dpi, and add them to the InDesign book file.
  • Go through the InDesign files and fix all the page headers that shuffled around after adding the maps (I may have been up til almost midnight doing this…).

I guess I have five long days to do the final stages of prep:

  • Commission a greylead sketch.
  • Commission my book cover designer to do the graphics for the title page.
  • Create smaller copies of my world map and the Eastern Isles.
  • Apply any editing changes when the ms returns from editor.
  • List on IngramSpark and hopefully order myself a test copy.
  • Order author copies and post out a few copies.
  • Upload to Amazon as an eBook.
  • Have a launch on November 9th!

Sigh. 5 more days…..

Homemade light box for tracing the original maps. I used a sheet of strong glass over two books, and an aquarium light underneath. Hey, it worked!
Perfect scan of part of my map. I cleaned it up in paint with crisper icons and typed names. Yeah, I don’t do photoshop.
I’m now a Goodreads author. No peeking until the cover reveal!

The Beginning is in sight

I say the beginning is in sight, not the end. Because this book being published is not the end of the journey. It’s truly the beginning.

This week has been crazy at my day job; being in retail, we are starting to get busy with the leadup to school holidays next week, and then Christmas. I am out of routine with writing, and have hardly touched my manuscript for a week. I’m stuffed. I need a break.

My ms is with the editor until October 5th, I’m eager to see the results but also a bit nervous. My editor is really nice and helpful though, so I feel like I’m in good hands.

I received the feedback from another beta reader which was positive. The reader was confused by a few things, so hopefully the editor picks up on that.

This morning, I assigned the title to ISBN, so in a few days my book should be searchable. This means I can then add it to Goodreads and set up my author profile on the platform.

And finally, I had been seeing a lot of talk about NaNoWriMo, and had no idea what this was. NaNoWriMo stands for National No el Writing Month, and takes place during November. The goal is to write a novel on 50k words during the month. So we’ll see if I can’s smash out at least half of The Darkest Realm in that time 😀

I’m aiming for the book launch to be on November 9th. I chose this date as my MC’s birthday, because it’s the same day as my eldest axolotl, Chernobyl.

As it turns out, the birthday of my friend whose name I used for the character, also has his birthday on that date! I had only been told this 17 years ago, so I was freaked out when Gregg mentioned it.

The other freaky thing: I made a random sinple name for the wife of one of my characters. It turned out that I used the real name of his real wife! I didn’t realise this til I saw him tag her in something on FB.

No wonder I’m so tired, my subconscious has been working relentlessly behind the scenes!!

I’m almost there…just a few minor things to do and I’ll finally be published!


Right now I feel like I am in limbo- stuck between two places and can’t proceed.

I have done all I can on The Lowest Realm for the moment, I just need it professionally edited and I can then publish.

I have written a few paragraphs of book 2, The Darkest Realm, but it’s shit and I haven’t really planned anything as far as plot goes.

So as I stare at my iPad screen, I’m not feeling motivated to work on my WIP. Instead, I’m allowing myself to become sidetracked by social media, especially Twitter.

Yes. I’m now a Twitter twat. I’ve found the writing community on the platform is amazing. In just over a week I’ve gained over 600 followers.

I guess for now, I need to focus on getting that map done, so I can do some basic planning . I can’t leave Nika and Freyne sailing on the Scruffy Mongrel forever….

A trip away

I managed to score the weekend off work, so hubs and I drove a few hours north to visit a friend on the coast.

Currently, my novel is in the hands of beta readers, so I haven’t done much writing for the past week or two. But I have set up the book in InDesign, and have organised a cover. All that’s left is proofreading.

Last night, I received fantastic feedback from one of the beta readers, who couldn’t put the book down. She was up until 1:30am and her coffee went cold three times. I’m very chuffed 😁

This little trip has helped to recharge my batteries and re-inspire my writing. Just a few more weeks until I finish up Uni for the year, then I can delve into book two.

All images (c) Amy-Alex Campbell


If you need a friend and are feeling alone,
Want to cut deep, right to the bone.
Put it away, it doesn’t have to be,
I’ll be there, just come to me.

Perhaps you’re feeling like a worthless flea,
Like your life has no meaning, you’ve no place to be.
There is one angel who will always be there,
Don’t give up, I really do care.

Homelife is crazy and you just want to die,
Day by day, you break down and cry.
Blow your nose and dry your tears,
Just come to me, I’ll ease your fears.

Nothing in life is going to plan,
Feel like a failure, a lesser man.
Do not despair, that isn’t true,
I’ll be there to comfort you.

I’ll be an angel and watch over you,
Cheer you on with whatever you do.
You are amazing, can you not see,
Just how much your friendship means to me.

This one was for one of my gamer friends who was dealing with some deep issues. I helped to keep him from self harming just by listening.

(C) Amy-Alex Campbell