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I was away for two and a half months. I cannot put all the photos I took on the trip here. Maybe if I had blogged the trip I could. Alas, I did not do that. I put most photos on Facebook over the period.

So without much blather about this and that, I’m going to put some photos up here. We were located in Saltdean for the first part, not far from Brighton. We did a short trip to York and Nottingham, as well as a few places around Sussex, such as Scotney Castle (Kent) and Tunbridge Wells, Charleston House (Bloomsbury set), Monk House in Redmell (Virginia Woolf’s house) and the Burlington Gap.

We’ve stayed in Saltdean before but had not explored the bridle paths behind the suburb. The weather as you can see was amazing and I believe that is linseed/linen growing behind me.

 

It was so peaceful walking in the bridle paths and it seemed like we were alone forever. Here are some views of the fields and to the sea. See the poppies growing wild? I love UK for the wildflowers.This was a short kind of wheat growing here.

A lovely shot of the linseed, looking across to the rear of Saltdean, not far from Telscome Tye (the common).

A look along the bridle path. If you don’t know what a bridle path is, it’s a public right of way through private lands brought about by the historic use of these paths for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Some are just walking paths. This one you can ride horses.

This is a shot from Burlington Gap of the Seven Sisters. It is being eroded at a fast pace as the cliffs and most of the Southdowns are made of chalk with flint in it.

 

The next is a shot of my daughter and granddaughter as they went down the stairs to the beach. We had good tea and cake here in the cafe. The rocks are the flint from the chalk.

A view along the coast from our walk to Brighton Marina along the footpath.

Just to break the monotony of these gorgeous landscapes! This is the largest internal waterfall inside a mall at Singapore. The mall is attached by a walkway to the airport. We broke our journey from Canberra in Singapore and stayed at the Crowne Plaza. We were totally spoiled and hung out at the pool. Sadly just one night.

A few local places we went to next.

A very old pub in Alfriston, the George Inn, where they serve the most amazing Welsh Rarebit. And next, Monk House in Rodmell Village, Virginia Woolf’s own room.

A bust of Virginia Woolf that was at Charleston cottage and Monk House.

A short trip to York, which was so great. Our apartment was right in York, near the river. We thoroughly recommend Jorvik and we also saw another place, Barley Hall. Here is me in a kids’ dress up.

Here is me at the York Assembly Rooms, which is an Ask restaurant. Ask is very similar to Zizzi’s so not overly expensive.

Here is the obligatory shot of the Shambles in York.

Two shots of Scotney Castle, near Tunbridge Wells. My second visit. This is an iconic shot of the ruins.

Scotney has a Victorian house and then the old castle was ruined to make a folly. This is a view from the front of the house down through the amazing gardens.

Nottingham. I don’t seem to have a lot of photos from Nottingham. I did a tour of the caves under the mall. My daughter got claustrophobia and couldn’t do it. This was my second visit. The tour guide was great.  The photo is from the caves, which contain the oldest tannery, from about the 12C or something. Nottingham was visiting friends and family and a spot of shopping.

After leaving Nottingham we went to Southwell for the morning. There is a cathedral there, a minster actually and it is said the least well known. We fell in love with this village. So quaint and lovely.

The Southwell cathedral is famous for a gargoyle that looks like Donald Trump.

There are a few walks around Southwell, one that takes you to one of Lord Byron’s houses.

Near Southwell, actually within walking distance, is the first workhouse. In later years it was for assisted housing, but this workhouse served as a model for others. It was seen as a way to save money in looking after the poor.

 

These are some of the highlights. Part Two will have to be Cornwall, Lyme Regis and a few great houses.

See you later for the next instalment.

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I really should blog more. That way I don’t cram up important posts with all the things I’ve been up to.

I’m currently marking for Uni so that’s something I have to do. It’s going okay and I’ll finish in time. Yesterday was a fasting day so not a good time to be reading lots of stories that I have to grade without the aid of chocolate and chips. However, I have survived so far.

My partner and I just finished a film making workshop with Dan Sanguineti from Sanguineti Media. We had three nights 6-9pm, to plan a two to three minute movie, including brainstorming ideas, come up with a script, actors (Dan supplied those), storyboard and plan the shots and lighting and so on. Then we filmed the movie on Saturday night 6- to 11.30pm with cold temperatures etc. Then on Sunday, we edited the film and did the sound. High five to Shauna O’Meara and Craig Cooper and to Josh and Dan. Just under two minutes! The Key now exists. Later on in the year I’ll share it. Right now it will be doing festival rounds etc.

Doing the workshop was amazing. It is a really hard thing to come up with a story that has a beginning, middle and end in two and a half pages of script. Writing a script was on my bucket list– so tick. I want to thank my partner, Matthew, who basically found the workshop, paid the fees and encouraged others to come along. I did not think I’d have a short film to my credit until now. I didn’t have much idea of how the workshop would pan out but it was great. I learned so much. I have heaps more to learn obviously and more scripts to write.

That brings me to now. Last year I drafted a novella in the Silverlands Series while I was in Perth. Recently, I polished it up and had it proofread and found an amazing cover. Vorn and the First Comers is available now in most large eretailers and it’s free. Yes, that’s right…free!

The novella is a few things. It’s part of a larger collections of stories from Argenterra. One of the characters in Argenterra is Kushlan Silvertongue and he’s a storyteller. If you are familiar with Argenterra, the first book, you know that tales from the past are very important to the narrative and important to the people of Argenterra. I had the idea that Kushlan would be tasked with writing these down. Vorn and the First Comers is the first of these. There will be others…such as Goslien of the Valley, Faruni’s Triplets, Shabra’s Curse and so on.

I’ll be releasing each of these tales before combining them into a collection.

This then is part of a gift to my readers. You get Vorn and the First Comers for free.

The other function of the novella is for readers to get a taste of Argenterra and then get the rest of the series if it interests them.

Here is the Amazon link.

Here is the Apple Books link.

Here is the Kobo link

Here is the Barnes and Noble link

Here is the Googleplay link.

My next task is to get this novella in My Books section.

Blurb and cover (from Patty Jansen)

A choice between life or death…

Kushlan Silvertongue has been commissioned to write the Tales of the First Comers, Tales of Argenterra.

This novella is the story of Vorn and the First Comers and their journey from violence and death to the beautiful magical land of Argenterra, the Silverland.

Mighty warrior, Vorn, leads the survivors to a new land and sets in motion a civilisation that lasts for over one thousand years.

Discover the origins of the given magic and how the first comers made the oaths that secured that magic forever.

 

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Currently I am living with my partner and his father.

I am pretty much an on the go person, except when I’m not. Recently I have been on the go. Baking bread, trying to weave (both fixed heddle and four shaft), write, bake, teach, study…

I fear I probably need a sedative as I am interesting to watch apparently. Maybe I don’t know how to relax.

Meanwhile, I am finding it hard to focus on the PhD novel. This post is probably an example.

It is just that there is so much to do and life is so short and I know I’ll never get to do all the things…and it makes me anxious!

Maybe I should just take a pill or meditate on what is important and reasonable.

Here is a picture of my 100 per cent Rye bread, first time ever. It’s all gone too. So yummy.

IMG_4680 2

I’ll be posting about my new novella next.

 

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It’s been a long time between posts and I really don’t have an excuse. Life if just hectic at times. I’ve also decided that my daughter and her new baby will come first this year. That decision requires refoccusing. And I’ve been baking bread, particularly sour dough. It’s therapeutic!

Still on the writing front things have been plodding on. At times, I do not understand this industry. I love writing and making up stories but at times it is hard to be positive about the longer term. Selling a book a day is not sustainable. I will try though to keep positive!

Emerald Fire, Cry Havoc Book Two was free on Amazon for five days and people downloaded a lot of it (635). I was shocked. Ruby Heart , Cry Havoc Book One, hardly had any downloads in comparison and that was the book one (about 120). I umed and ahed about putting a book 2 on for free but I did and I’m not sure what it all means. I think my newsletter subscribers are waiting for Ruby Heart to be discounted again so they can have the set. I love writing this series so much. So much fun and research. I will be discounting Ruby Heart in May, which Emerald Fire goes wide.

Meanwhile, Argenterra, Silverlands Book one, has been 99 cents on all platforms for the whole of April. The sale ends on April 30. I even had a paid promotion and I’ve only shifted like 25 copies all up. That’s with newsletter shares and so on. The weird thing is the sell through on Argenterra appears pretty good. People do buy the next books in the series. I love the new covers. I’ll put links below in case you are tempted to sample.

I love the Silverlands series. Argenterra was the first fantasy I tried to write. My second novel ever, rewritten many times before it was ever published. I love the Argenterra world and the characters and the stories of the history.

You have until April 30 to get your 99 cent copy.

Buy links

amazon ibooks Kobo Google Nook

I have a collection of stories from Argenterra planned, ostensibly told from Kushlan Silvertongue’s point of view as commissioned by King Oakheart. A bit of a literary conceit there, having a story teller tell the story.

I’ll be releasing the stories one by one, at first, to introduce readers to the world of Argenterra and an extra for fans of the series. When they are done I will release them as a collection in one volume. They will be free or 99 cents.

The first one of these will be released in a couple of weeks as it is with the proofreader right now. That tale is Vorn and the First Comers, an appropriate place to start. I have thought about writing Vorn’s story as a prequel novel so the novella doesn’t cover the war, just the trip to Argenterra and early settlement. Here is the cover below. It’s from Patty Jansen’s premade cover store and I’ve been eyeing it off for ages.

It is stunning. It is a generic fantasy cover, I know, but evocative and beautiful.

Over the Easter break I did some writing, well technically revision as this novel was drafted years ago and I’m still working on it. I had feedback that meant I needed to change the title and confirmation of my thoughts on this SF romance of mine.

It’s a story that wants to be just SF without the romance, or it’s an SF romance that wants to be romance. In the end, I’ve decided to make it SF with romance on the side. You might think there is no difference, but there is.

Anyway I spied this cover on Patty’s site and I had been eyeing it off. My partner, Matthew, thinks Deleen’s pose is too sexy, but I think the cover is deliciously retro looking and reminds me some 80s’ covers of books say from Lois McMaster Bujold.

My great author buddy, Nicole Murphy, asked for the draft and she read it in one day. I’m gobsmacked! She gave me some great feedback and came up with the new title. The old one was ‘Cold Soldier’.

Patty was really good about retitling this cover many times. I haven’t got a blurb for this yet. They usually come last. I’m still working on the story too. This book having an identity crisis borked me from getting very far into the rewrites over the years. Now, I’m two thirds in and I’ll need to revise it again, but I feel I have better direction. It is also part of a planned series but not a trilogy. The stories should work on their own. Awakening should come out later this year. After I’ve done a few things like this blog post, I will return to it today.

No blurb as I said, but a bit of a teaser.

On peaceful Colony Five there is a coup in progress. The administrator is mysteriously replaced and security advisor, Deleen is sent on forced leave.  Previously unknown cryo soldiers are being taken out of people’s basements and burned in the city parks. People hiding the cold soldiers are being taken away and charged with treason. Disturbing as this is for Deleen, she senses danger as a kind of martial law is being enforced in the city. Then she starts having dreams of a man asleep in a glass case-a suppressed memory that is forcing its way out. She escapes the city her abandoned homestead to confront the past and save the present.

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For a while now I have had this thing that I thought was old age creeping up on me. Tiredness, fatigue, headaches on waking and feeling generally slow. Feeling like I couldn’t drive for more than half and hour. Really struggling with everything. I was tested for mysterious diseases and as I have Hashimoto’s disease, my thyroid (which is mostly good on its own atm) and zero. Nothing in the blood work to explain it.

We had suspected sleep apnoea as I snore and it’s been getting worse. My partner noticed choking in the night and I had too.  I was put on the waitlist at the Canberra Hospital to see the sleep clinic people. I was told by the hospital that I had been triaged to a six month appointment. It’s been 14 months and I still haven’t got an appointment date.

So there is a wait list for the wait list for a sleep study. I guess the ACT government doesn’t advertise the first wait list just the one when you get on the waitlist.

I get insomnia and restlessness and I had been sleeping less and less.  I put this down to getting older.

Anyway, the chemist had a 50 per cent off deal on sleep studies. You take a machine home and wear it for the night. It measures your oxygen levels, your breathing etc. I had the worst night’s sleep that night and had some insights into my sleep besides the suspected apnoea. I was staying up later and later watching Netflix. I played with my phone and if I woke up I’d pick up my phone until I felt tired again and I was drinking caffeine before bed. I realised that these were bad habits that were affecting what little sleep I was allowing myself.

Then I got the results back. I thought there would be none due to the appalling sleep but there were. I had sleep apnoea. Moderate but considering how badly I had the machine on, I was surprised that there were any readings at all. My oxygen lows were into the 80 per cent and I had around 20 obstructions and narrowing of airways per hour. Now wonder I was feeling mentally and physically low.

I’m still waiting for my appointment at the hospital as I have a range of sleep issues and the chemist tests don’t pick up the neural issues-when your brain forgets to tell you to breathe.

I decided to trial the ACAP machine. This is a new generation machine apparently as it doesn’t blow constant air, but ramps up the pressure when it feels a narrowing or stop breathing thing.  I am trialling this machine. I don’t find it obtrusive. It’s not noisy at all. I have a nose only mask and it’s a soft silicone so no hard bits. At times I think I forgot to put it on but when I touch my face it is there. Sometimes I think it’s not working and lift the mask off and air blows all over me. Anyway, I manage to wear it for 7.5 hours on average. Apparently that’s good. My obstructions have dropped to 4 to 5 per hour.

Before I started the trial I changed a few habits that I had developed. Only decaf tea after about six in the evening or a milo/hot chocolate. I turn Netflix/DVD watching off before 10.30. I don’t look at my phone in bed and I try to read a paper based book for half an hour before I sleep. This has worked for me too, mostly. I still get some insomnia and go for a walk around the house. I suspect the waking up is me choking at night and the machine has woken me when it is blasting me with air to open a blockage or to make me breathe. I’m hoping the sleep specialist if I ever get to see one will know more about that.

But best of all, I feel great. I am so energetic and mentally alert. It’s like I’ve dropped ten years in a week. I feel so much better I feel that I can cope better with the bad knees (also wait listed for an appointment for them!) and the other dramas life throws at us. Just getting more air at night has made such a difference.

I really, really can’t believe how good I feel.

I’m so happy with the result. Now if I could tackle the insomnia (which has improved) and the restlessness (mmm) my sleep would be great.

Now I just have to find the money to buy the machine when the trial is up.

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I know it’s only October but…

Things speed up this time of year.

I was going to China for two weeks at the beginning of November and then to Perth for the last week of November but that’s changed. My son has to go to the USA so we cancelled my China trip. I’m kind of sad about that because I miss my son and it’s hard knowing that the rhythm of his life is so different to mine. However, I am extremely lucky my two daughters live close by and all my grandchildren have been living close too.

Now that I will be around for most of November, I can do NaNoWriMo! Happy dance.

I have finished editing up Ruby Heart, which I got back from my agent. It didn’t sell obviously. But after cutting out some superfluous sex and violence, I think the fault is mostly mine and maybe some of it is the industry. I know so much more about the market when I wrote it and when it got taken up by the agent. It was sort of YA and then leaped into adult and back to YA. After the slashing it is now YA/cosy level I think. There’s still a bit of action and violence but nothing like before. Ruby Heart is a steampunk/paranormal romance, with gothic horror and cosy mystery tropes. It features Jemima Hardcastle who is way too clever for her own good.

I commissioned covers for Ruby Heart and the sequel Emerald Fire. As Emerald Fire is only half written, so guess what my NaNoWriMo project is. I have to believe I can get this done around my other commitments. I’ve done my tax return and that usually frees up my mind. And I will certainly do a cover reveal when I get the covers.

I also commissioned new covers for the Silverlands series and we will see how that goes. I’m going to rework the blurbs for that series too.

Anyway, I must return to the grindstone. I’m meant to be focussing on uni and the PhD today.

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but as I’ve just put in my tax return  the timing seems right.

First up, self publishing/indie publishing has been great for me on many levels. I’ve never felt so good about my writing. It’s liberating, hard work and fun. I’m not rich. I’ve not made it big. But I’m happy!

I also scored a short listing for Beneath the Floating City, my collection of SF stories. That was a lovely surprise.

My sales figures are not to hand but I’ll try to give an indicative account.

My Bookbub last year allowed me to give away 27,000 copies of Shatterwing. I was also book of the week on ibooks Australia

I also used Instafreebie (now called Prolific Works) to give out free copies and to build my newsletter subscribers. That’s a bit harder to count but it is in the thousands as well. I also give away Argenterra and Beneath the Floating City. If you are looking for freebies then the newsletter sign up below will give you access to those.

Earnings from royalties from books and direct cash sales is $4500 approximately.

My expenses were $6300 approximately. Most of that was on editing, proofreading, a new laptop, toner and other product related things. So I made a loss. I thought I made a profit because I still had money in my book account, but then I realised I had invested more money in my books before the end of the financial year.

I had a international Bookbub for Dragon Wine Volume One-a box set of the first two books for 99 cents in July this year (so not included in the figures above). That wasn’t huge but the investment by readers in the series has been great. I’ve had the best response in people buying the rest of the series, particularly in the UK. I sold 327 books in July. In the UK that was 160 of my box set. I didn’t get a USA Bookbub so did some newsletter swaps and had sales of Dragon Wine in the USA too, but without the hefty price tag. In the following month I sold 360 books on Amazon. In the USA that was 142 sales, UK 173 and in September sales were around 63 units across the Amazon stores.

The upshot is I have money in the bank and I’m thinking of using it to put new covers on the Silverlands series. Argenterra doesn’t sell as well as it should and I think that’s because the cover I asked for was trying to depict what was going on in the novels, rather that speaking to the genre. They are epic fantasy and I need covers that call out to epic fantasy readers. An expensive newbie mistake.

These earnings amounts are small. Yes. That’s true. But they are also a damn sight more money than I saw through traditional publishing.

I haven’t invested in a big way with advertising. I might try that next year. I have done Bookbub, Bargain Booksy and newsletter swaps this year. All have been worth it to find new readers.

For the quarter July, August and September I earned $1500. I had a book launch so that accounted for quite a bit of that, but there were expenses of the launch too.

Right now I’m thinking about my strategy and tasks for 2019. I hope to build on what I have done this year.

I have these books out

Traditional published with Harlequin

Spiritbound by Dani Kristoff

Bespelled  by Dani Kristoff

Invoked by Dani Kristoff

Rayessa and the Space Pirates under my name

Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures under my name

Self/indie published under my name

Opi Battles the Space Pirates

Shatterwing

Skywatcher

Deathwings

Bloodstorm

Skyfire

Moonfall

Argenterra

Oathbound

Ungiven Land

Beneath the Floating City (short story collection SF)

Through These Eyes (short story collection Magic realism)

Under Dani Kristoff

A Sorcerer’s Spell

I have also put out

Dragon Wine Volume One, Two and Three, which are box sets of two dragon wine books. I’ll be putting out a complete set but like the Silverlands Series that will only be available on Ibooks and Kobo.

That’s 13 books put out by me and 5 with traditional publishers. But a lot more when you include box sets by way of products.

I’m hoping to put out 2-4 books out next year. Stay tuned.

Here is the amazing cover art for the complete series of Dragon Wine.

 

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