Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bruny Island

With only a couple of hours driving south of Hobart you can find your way to the beautiful Bruny Island. The island is about 100ks long, with two distinct sections, north and south. They are connected by a long narrow sandy neck.
Before even coming to Tassie, my old man gave Jen and I a voucher for accommodation and a cruise on the island for a Christmas present, score us! 

When first arriving on the island, you'll come across a whiskey place. We were pretty hungry, so bypassed this location. Instead our first destination was the Bruny Cheese and Brewing company. We had some cheeses to snack on, and Jen grabbed a paddle of beers—I was the deso! The cheese went down alright, but the beer wasn't so great. The chocolate shop was also a massive let down—more of a fudge and novelty store like you'd find in the city.
This average start left us a little worried, we felt as though we were falling into a very generic tourist trap! Fortunately though, everything from this point on was pretty much awesome! 

Once we had checked into our cabin down in Adventure Bay, we went for a nice stroll along the beach and relaxed for the arvo. We decided to head down to the pub for tea. There's only the one pub on the island, but it's a bloody ripper of a place! 
We sank a few Moo Brews, then decided to share a big plate of local seafood. All the while, enjoying a beautiful sunset. It was a great one, so great that Jen took 27 photos of it! We chose this one (The one you can see on the top right) for the blog, but like most beautiful glimpses of scenery, the photo does little justice of the magical sunset.

The next day we set off for a hike. We weren't really sure of what—or where—to go, but we had an island to ourselves for the day! Nothing like exploring an island to keep yourself occupied. The hike went for a few hours, and took us up to a radio tower on the south island. Afterwards we checked out the "Jurassic Gardens" as they had Jurassic in the name, and I was hoping to see some dinosaurs. No dinosaurs, but some pretty plants and info on the geology could be found.

We brought our 5mm wetsuits along, and had pondered on going for some snorkelling. It was cold, and we sooked out, choosing to go look at a lighthouse instead. The Bruny Cape Lighthouse is pretty awesome, and I'd well recommend it. For only $10, you can go up the lighthouse on a tour. We were pretty forutnate, getting the lighthouse to ourselves with some absolutely spactacular views. Our guide—who I've forgotten the name of now—was awesome! Very insightful and knowledgable on the area. He did also warn that it is quite easy to rock up to Bruny as a visitor, then suddenly stick around and become a local!
As much as we loved the island, and this whole island state, I think the warmer weather will be calling us back to the mainland next year! 

Our final day in Bruny Island was the only one that we had a plan for. The day of our cruise! We went with a mob called Penicott Cruises. Departing from Adventure Bay, the cruise went for about 3 hours, educating us on the geology (especially dolarite), and the way the locals have interacted with the native flora and fauna. Andrew and Nick were the names of the blokes who took us around. They both had great knowledge, told a good yarn, and gave a good dose of tongue in cheek humour. The perfect type of tour guides for this country! 
We looked inside dolarite caves, drove alongside fur seal colonies, saw some birds—albatross flavoured—and even managed to spot a pod of dolphins!

Does this look like anything to you? If it does, let us know in the comments!

Friday, 14 April 2017

First Impressions of Tasmania!

Crikey, I've been down in Tassie for almost three months now! Time flies when you're having fun!
We've still been exploring plenty, just haven't set the time aside for writing on the blog. I've been writing plenty though, polishing off The HolturEnigma, finishing the first draft of the third—and final—Necrosanguin instalment, and also making a start on TheHoltur Curse. Yep, Holtur's getting a trilogy!

Anyways, Tasmania has been a beautiful state for writing in. The place is covered in forest-covered mountains, spectacular waterfalls, lakes, and many breathtaking views! When I first entered the state, via the Spirit of Tasmania, I was immediately enchanted. Driving through the tiny towns, forests, and mountains, on both sealed and dirt roads alike, was an amazing experience. One thing I learnt early, is that despite Tasmania's small size, the drives are all long and windy, but this all adds to its charm!

I've settled down in Queenstown, which is my base of operations for writing now. It's a little cold here, but the place we are renting is surrounded in green. It's a very special feeling. We have wild blackberries growing around our house, which the black birds and Jen both love! She's even baked a few delicious blackberry pies! Yummo!

Another great thing about our new place, is that it doesn't take long to head into the wilderness. Within hours are places you could spend an entire day without passing another human being, or even hear a vehicle drive or fly by.. Within half an hour of our place there are views that would take your breath away. It is all sensationally motivating experience for one bringing their own fantasy world to life. 



While our blog releases this year won't be nearly as common as they have been, I will try to continue at a rate better than once every three months!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Turning a Story into a Self Published Novel on Amazon

December became quite busy for Jeni and I, as did January, and the almost finished month of February! We travelled back to the east coast, and are now in Tasmania. We've decided to base ourselves in Queenstown for the year. I am working hard on the story front, full time, with the intention of releasing 3 or 4 books this year. Jeni is working at a beautiful resort called Pumphouse Point.

To keep you up to date on my stories, last year I finished the second episode of the Necrosanguin series, Silvaste's Spear. I also did a massive overhaul of Amulet of Aesterus, releasing a second edition. This year, I've written a new action adventure, called The Holtur Enigma. This new story is being released as a free online serial through Wattpad, and is an awesome free introduction to my fantasy world.

A while back I wrote the article, How to Turn an Idea into a Story. Now, due to people asking me how I self published my story, I am writing a follow-up to that post. There are many aspects to self publishing, and while this won't be a complete guide to ultimate success, it is a great starting point.

1. Editing
The first thing you need to do is get that story into tip top shape. Editing can be done a number of ways. You can pay an editor, or ask for help from friends or social groups. Editors can be expensive, and if you choose not to use them, whatever you do, don't do all the editing yourself. A friend with a good eye for detail, that has the ability to be honest with you, should be fine for a final proof read. There are also writing communities online that should be able to assist with other things. Whether that is posting snippets that don't feel quite right, asking questions, or even asking for in depth crits. One of the benefits with self publishing is that you can go back and fix things up as you improve. Although it's still much better to have your story in a polished state before continuing.

2. Creating the Cover
Amazon does have a nice little cover creator, but books created through it appear unprofessional. If you have artistic ability, that is awesome, but if not there are cover designers for all genres. A lot of cover artists use a huge database of images to work with, mashing them up and tweaking them to create original covers. If you are in a genre that requires a bit more of a personal touch, you can find artists to draw up your concepts. For Amulet of Aesterus I hired a friend's brother. For Silvaste's Spear and The Holtur Enigma I hired an artist through Deviant Art.

3. Formatting
Your story is reading great and now you need to make it look pretty. Word and other writing documents can do the job, however, I would highly recommend Scrivener. Part of Amazon's terms and conditions state that you must have a ToC (Table of Contents) for navigating your book. Scrivener makes setting this up nice and easy. Once you are happy with how your file is looking, compile it as a .mobi file, then double check it through a preview program. Of course, there are other programs you can use, Vellum being a big name for Mac users, I just find Scrivener works fine for myself. If you can't figure out the formatting game, you can also pay a formatter to do it for you.

4. Create an Amazon KDP account
Kindle Direct Publishing is the place for us self publishers to set up our account. It's all pretty straight forward, however, you will need your tax/business details. As an Aussie I needed an ABN.

5. Create New Title
Time to upload your book! From the KDP dashboard, click +New ebook. From here you will go through the prompts to put your book up for the world! The first page is where you insert all the details for your story. The second page you will upload your files. Lastly your pricing, between $3-10 is generally best as you get the best royalty. Once you submit your book, Amazon will need to check through it, make sure you have the rights to the story and what not. After a day or two it will be live, congratulations, you are now a self published author!
There is also a program called KDP Select. I'm not a fan of it myself, but plenty of people love it. It basically puts your book into Kindla Unlimited, a subscription service where users can rent your book. If you use this however, you cannot upload your book anywhere else.

6. What Happens Next
Now you have only just begun! You could go to Createspace to create print on demand copies of your book (nothing feels better than your very own story in your hands!) for yourself, friends, family, or to sell at markets. You could also go wide, putting your books up in new locations online. Utilise ACX (Currently not available for Aussies) for audiobooks. There are heaps of other things you could try to.

7. Marketing
This is a massive subject, which I'm learning more about every day. I'm no pro in the field, however, I would say the most important thing to do is create a mailing list (MailChimp is an awesome start) as soon as possible. A mailing list is easily your best marketing tool. Sign up incentives could be through something like Instafreebie, or by offering some cool gift for people who sign up.

I hope this post helps you turn that story into a self published novel!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Esperance


With its long sunsets, silica beaches, and the lovely Cape Le Grand National Park not too far away, Esperance truly is a picturesque part of Australia. If you are crossing the Nullabor, it may be the first, or last, big town you go through if you take the southern route through WA. It has all the stuff you need to stock up, but a word of warning, the tap water is far from the best tasting around. There is also a really good mechanic workship in the area called Stagg's Mechanical Repairs. If you need to get something checked after the Nullabor, or want something looked at before, I'd highly recommend him.
We made it our home base in southern WA for about 3 months. Although between writing my third book, completing the finishing touches of my second book, Silvaste's Spear, and working an evening job, I really didn't explore the place as much as I would have liked.
Esperance is home to the awesome Lucky Bay Brewery and some really nice beaches, Twighlight Beach being the local favourite.
A lot of the days between September and December were quite cold, and incredibly windy, and if going for a swim was on the agenda, you either had to go early in the morning, or wait for the easterly winds. We did go in the drink on a couple of occaisons, and the crystal clear waters make it truly worth it.
Another interesting thing to see in Esperance is "Pink Lake" despite it's name, it is very rarely actually pink, and from what I've heard from the locals, it is pink about as often as the Todd River flows! We had a bit of time to spare one sunny evening, so took a photo with it as pink as it gets, well the sky was pink anyway! It is still worth taking a quick stop to enjoy the view, just don't get your hopes up for it to be pink!