Create your digital profile

I’m running a workshop for the Tasmanian Writers Centre in Hobart on the 27th of November on creating a digital profile.

This is a comprehensive hands-on workshop to create an author brand that reflects your style and personality. You will learn how to create a professional author blog, and maximise your social media presence, with your own unique look. Readers like to know more about their favourite authors and your digital author profile is an engaging way to develop an ongoing fan base.

This workshop will cover:

  • creating a simple website and blog to promote your book and author profile
  • how to create pages, style content, create menus, upload images and video, links to Amazon (if you have a book to promote) and embed social media pages including Facebook and Twitter on your blog.
  • the advantages of a self-hosted blog to normal blog on WordPress
  • adding plugins and widgets using social media – Facebook and Twitter account – to support your profile

For further information and to book a place go to the following link:

Create Your Digital Author Profile with Sue Bell

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Why you must attend the next self-publishing workshop at MONA

Recently, the wonderful MONA gallery played host to TasRes and an assortment of visual artists and writers at a weekend-long workshop for self-publishers.

The focus was on software training for writers and artists keen to improve their technology skills.

Ensure your book is proof read

Julianne demonstrating Photoshop

The weekend kicked off with artist Julianne Clifford delivering a grammar quiz. Participants strained a few brain cells punctuating sentences and correcting grammatical errors.

The highest score was 18 out of 20 questions while the average was 10 to 12. Quite obviously, grammatical errors are a common problem for self-publishers. This means that even the most accomplished author needs an editor who can proofread a manuscript prior to publication.

Slate as a social media tool

Dr Tim Kitchn

Next, Dr Tim Kitchen spoke about Adobe Slate, an iPad-compatible product that turns images and messages into stories. A URL is generated to share quickly and easily and is helpful in establishing an online presence.

Keep book covers simple

monaworkshopbrett

Brett Kent followed with how to create Photoshop book covers and he encouraged participants to use original images to avoid copyright issues.

He took a book template cover (which can be downloaded from CreateSpace and Blurb) and filled it with text and images. He then altered its composition by selecting, masking, blending, and refining the edges.

Brett encouraged participants to keep book covers simple because too much clutter, color and typography looks amateurish and deters readers.

Photoshop tips

After lunch it was back to Julianne who demonstrated easy Photoshop techniques — such as adjustment layers and curves —  to improve images.

Creating flip books is fun

I delivered Day One’s last workshop on how to create a flip book in InDesign. Flip books are really quite simple and with a bit of InDesign savvy, self-publishers can create brochures, catalogs, picture books, albums and those cute little page curls that simulate page turning.

Day 2

Avatars make a memorable online presence

Brett Kent encouraged everyone to create an avatar for their social media pages. Building on techniques used in previous sessions, participants used textures and color to enhance their image and create an avatar to complement their online presence.

Video inspires

Tim Kitchen directing

Tim Kitchen followed with a popular session on promotional videos. Tim demonstrated green screen, audio recording, lighting and editing in Premiere Pro. The video was then exported and ready to upload to social media pages.

This workshop inspired many to create their own videos to use as an effective promotional tool.

Residencies are cool

Julianne concluded the weekend by discussing the value of artists’ residencies and how these events can inspire artists and provide plenty of networking opportunities. Her most recent residency was in Budapest where she came away with a wonderful collection of photographs and artwork.

The Venue

MONA was a fantastic venue to host a self-publishing residency. The highlight was the outstanding catering and the mixture of sweet and savoury dishes created by the gourmet chefs.

If you were unable to attend this unique event then please check out TasRes for upcoming news.

Lisa would smile at this MONA: Why you must see Tasmania’s MONA Gallery

mona lisa

It’s carved from a sandstone cliff on the edge of Hobart’s Derwent river. Its owner is a public-spirited mathematical genius whose talent for gambling made him a fortune and gave him the means to build an art gallery like no other.  It’s called MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) gallery and since it opened in January, 2011, it has become Tasmania’s biggest tourist magnet.

After encountering this strange and mysterious place recently, I see why.

To visit MONA is to experience a shift in consciousness without recourse to drugs.  MONA’s surreal, dream-like atmosphere is due to three main things: its design (the gallery’s three levels are all underground), the way in which people must navigate its terrain (with a high-tech gizmo) and the startling nature and placement of its art (the old and the new are juxtaposed in unexpected ways).

On entry, I was given earphones and an iPhone-like gadget with a GPS that tracks your movements through the gallery.  A staff member explained that, as all the art is unlabeled, you must use this device to obtain details about each work (and its artist) as you encounter it.  You may also record whether you like or dislike each exhibit and your opinion is compared with other MONA visitors.

What became apparent as I stepped from the elevator and began exploring MONA’s subterranean depths was the way in which all my senses were engaged – often in confronting ways.  I was especially revolted by an exhibit mimicking the human digestive system – an enormous apparatus occupying an entire room – which smelled, sounded and looked appalling.  My gizmo explained the artist’s idea was to expose the degree to which “all modern art is shit”.  I left the room, took a deep breath and continued on my way.

I found works of mesmerizing beauty.  My favourite was Julius Popp’s Bit.fall.  I stood for ages watching a waterfall of short phrases  – taken from recent news headlines –   that formed in the air, stayed for a second, then dissolved and cascaded to the floor below.  The artist’s intention, explained my navigation device, was to illustrate how we are all awash in information, most of which we struggle to process

Time barely existed as I travelled from floor to floor. At one point, I found myself in a long, dark and narrow tunnel that reminded me of a birth canal and each step I took made sounds that echoed eerily off the walls.

More surprises appeared: Egyptian mummies placed beside sparkling modern art; a white library; a room full of light bulbs flashing to the heartbeats of individual gallery visitors; drawers that speak to you as they are opened.

It all felt as if I’d fallen down the rabbit hole into a psychedelic version of Alice in Wonderland. Its owner, David Walsh, calls MONA “a subversive adult Disneyland” and it certainly took me on a wild ride. Even the toilets are magical.

One thing’s for sure.

I’ll be back.

A town like Wynyard

I’d never heard of Wynard until I bought a small acreage nearby on Tasmania’s North West Coast.

Wynard (population 4,800) could never be mistaken for a hip and happening place and its streets and green rolling hills certainly exude the tranquil melancholia common to small, isolated hamlets.

Yet, there’s more to this quirky place than meets the eye.

In the early years of white settlement, Tasmania’s North West Coast was a popular destination for missionaries and religious zealots. With a fervour unseen since, they built churches and schools and attempted to convert the local indigenous population.

Just about every denomination exists  in Wynard including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anglican, United, Catholic and Presbytarian — although with the population overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon, there is little chance a synagogue or mosque will open any time soon.

The Exclusive Brethren also have a school here and female students are occasionally spotted in the local supermarket with long skirts covering their ankles and walking meekly behind the males.

Like many farming communities, the annual show is an opportunity for locals to display their cooking produce — including cakes, biscuits and scones — and their agricultural prowess with giant pumpkins, prize birds and all things woolly, beefy and four-legged.

There is also the ‘Bloomin’ Tulip Festival held annually over a September weekend. The festival itself is part of a larger promotional campaign called The Colours of Wynard which celebrates the beautiful coastal spring flowers.

The tulip farm on nearby Table Cape is a popular tourist destination and a tulip festival is held in Gutteridge Gardens on the banks of the Inglis River.

Prior to the festival, tulips are planted in flower beds along the streets of Wynard, leaving no doubt as to the event’s purpose. Over the weekend, a variety of stalls offer local produce such as wines, cheeses and honey while others sell hats, scarves and jewellery.

Bands, often led by high school students, keep everyone entertained between general announcements and activities.

During the summer and autumn there are water sports on the Inglis River and visitors can learn to sail for $5 a lesson. (I doubt you would find another sailing club that offers lessons any cheaper.) Manouvering and tacking on the river is actually quite simple and children are frequently captaining their own small boats.

Tranquil walking trails wind alongside the river and the track to Fossil Bluff is a popular destination for those interested in dinosaur prints preserved for millions of years.

And then there’s the Wynard market.

Every second Sunday Australia’s worst market opens for business. The locals cling to the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and so there’s an awful lot of junk for sale. It’s worth a trip, however, just to gawp at the outrageous prices stallholders expect for items that should have been taken to the tip long ago.

A dis-used train track runs the length of the coast. If the State Government funded a light rail it would be one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. Yet the will and money is lacking and there is now talk that it will become a bike track. This would be a fantastic use of the rail line but, like many things on the North West Coast, the talk is rarely accompanied by action.

There is a small airport at Wynard and Rex Airlines flies in three times a day.  Rex is an excellent regional airline whose planes each seat about 30 people. I like flying Rex, but be prepared for a bumpy ride as small aircraft offer little protection from turbulence.

In summer, the coast gets more lively as people travel from Hobart to their holiday houses at Boat Harbour and Sisters Beach, stopping in Wynard to grocery shop on the way.

After six years here, I’ve noticed this influx of people makes the whole place seem almost cosmopolitan.

So if you’re planning a trip to the North West Coast, it’s worth spending a day or two in Wynard. At the very least, you can tell your friends about the small town with the really, really bad market.

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The Magic of Stanley

The Nut

If Stanley didn’t exist then you would have to invent it.

This quirky town (population 428) sits on the North West Coast of Tasmania. It derives its name from former British Prime Minister Lord Stanley and was originally claimed by the Van Diemen’s Land Company and settled in 1826.

Situated in Circular Head, Stanley has a thriving scallop industry and is the North West Coast’s main fishing port. You can see evidence of the local industry at the wharf where a makeshift conveyor belt, comprised of a garden hose, plastic water tubs and various tubes, processes the scallop shells and loads them into trucks. These shells are then distributed to local farms for fertiliser while the scallops are destined for dinner tables.

But these days may soon be over as fishermen are being hit by the dual evils of red tape and mining. Gas exploration companies detonate charges off-shore and the shockwaves kill millions of scallops. In addition, Hobart bureaucrats insist that fishermen stop at midnight — usually mid-haul — to complete paperwork.

Besides the fishing industry, Stanley relies on tourism. Many travellers venture to see the Nut, an extinct volcano that dominates the skyline. The Nut can be accessed either by a track with a steep incline or a chairlift and its summit provides a panoramic view of the coastline. There are walking trails on the volcano which take the visitor through a wealth of flora and fauna.

At the bottom of the Nut penguins come to lay eggs. On this particular day I saw two chicks inside their burrow waiting for their parents to bring home dinner.

A possum was chewing grass nearby.  Normally a nocturnal animal, it had no fear of our approach and continued to nibble as we stopped and took photos.

In the bay, dolphins were leaping out of the water as they herded fish towards the shore.

A lone puffer fish, which looked more dead than alive, was swimming slowly around the rocks by the wharf.

Seal tours run throughout most of the year but are closed for winter. The seals no doubt seeking warmer climes to escape the chilly, windy winter that plagues this coastline.

Whales pass through Stanley during the spring, en-route from the Antarctic breeding grounds and many birds nest here over the year.

Visitors can watch the frolicking sea life from the many cafes and fine-dining restaurants that overlook the sea.

Many artists have settled in and around Stanley and the art galleries feature paintings, sculptures, clothing and jewelry made from local material.

There is also Provedore 24 which, with its mixture of clothes, shoes, accessories and luxury food items, is a truly marvelous find in a small town.

Stanley is one town away from world’s end. Not far from here is Arthur River, a town that greets visitors with a plaque that informs them they have reached ‘the edge of the world’.

Tourism provides a steady income for Stanley and tourists take pictures of the sign proclaiming it to be the tidiest town in Australia.

Joseph Lyons, a former Prime Minister,  grew up here in one of the many neat cottages with barely a blade of grass out of place.

Yet, Stanley’s perfection could be the inspiration for a horror story. Who knows what darker secrets lurk behind its serenity?

The Nut, once a raging volcano but now a backdrop for less violent forces, is like a metaphor for life.

There is peace to be found at Stanley. It is a place at the end of the world but certainly not forgotten.

Links:
 Stanley Tourism Centre