Author Sara Murray talks with us about GeocacheBooks


As can be seen on the banner above, Author Sara Murray writes children’s fiction books set in real parks, and GPS coordinates will lead you to landmarks in the books. Like so many other interviewees on this blog, we first became aware of her when she made herself known in Geocaching social media circles. The blogger made an immediate note of this; future interview subject! We were originally going to wait for the interview until her first full length book came out, but upon seeing (on social media) that she attended the recent Geocaching Block Party as a vendor, we decided a concept and orgin interview was in order now, and another when the first full length book is released. Clicking the banner takes you to her website, and you can follow Geocachebooks on Twitter and Facebook. On with the interview. 


OCNA Blog: The usual first question: where are you from, when did you start Geocaching, and how did you hear about it?
Sara: I am from Minnesota. I started geocaching in 2009 with my daughter who was 4 at the time. I overheard some friends of mine talking about it and was very interested and so excited that there was little “treasures” hidden everywhere and I never even knew it! They were happy to explain and within a few weeks I bought my first handheld GPS and was enjoying tromping through the woods with my daughter looking for geocaches!

OCNA Blog: How did you first come up with the concept of children’s fiction books set in real parks?
Sara: When my daughter, Madison, was about four years old we heard about geocaching from a friend and decided to try it. We were instantly hooked. When she was 5 years old we started making up our own bedtime stories. We had, and still have, a lot of fun coming up with fantasy characters and neat magical things.

One day while we were at a park geocaching and just enjoying the outdoors I had an idea to start incorporating real landmarks from a real park into our bedtime stories. My intention was to surprise her in the near future by bringing her to that park and watching the story come to life. I used a park from my childhood that I knew well and that night I started incorporating the landmarks and being very specific with my descriptions.

Within about a month I felt I had built up enough of a story with enough landmarks to put the rest of my plan into action. I picked her up from school and told her I had a surprise for her and that we were going to a park.

We started walking up a path in the park where a lot of the landmarks were located. She pointed out a bench on the side of the path and said, “Hey mom, that’s just like the bench in your story.” She was still pretty calm at this point. She realized that the bench was across from a large pond just like in the story, and then she spotted another landmark and started yelling, “Mom! Mom! I know this place! I’m going to the Ravine!” and running for the area in the park where all the really magical stuff happens. It was extremely fun to see her make the realization that we were in the park where our bedtime story took place.

We spent a lot of time walking through the park and I showed her all the real things that I had used in the story. I turned what was a great magical land for exploring from my childhood into something similar for her. It was amazing to watch her imagination put all the elements together and I could see the wonder on her face as she remembered parts of the story and found the real places.

As she was exploring and I was standing in that park taking this all in and feeling very satisfied that it had all worked out as I planned, I had the inspiration to create this same experience for other children, and my very next thought was that I could use GPS and latitude and longitude coordinates to make that happen. It was a huge epiphany. I started brainstorming and outlining the stories that very night over two years ago now.

OCNA Blog: Will you be self-publishing the first book? I would imagine there are advantages to doing that versus pitching the book to publishers. 
Sara: My intention has always been to self-publish the books. This is something that I do in my regular job as a web master for my clients, so I feel comfortable having done it before. That being said, I am not against going the traditional rout with a publisher. You do, however, have a lot more control going the self-publishing avenue; you just have to be willing to do a lot of your own marketing etc…

OCNA Blog: Do you write the stories first, and then go to the parks to get the waypoints for the locations in the story, or vice-versa?
Sara: I have done both. With the first book I wrote the story, and then went out to set the waypoints after it was completed. I was confident in how I set up the story because knew the park very well from my childhood. I knew I might have to adjust some things in the story but overall it went smoothly. When I am traveling and writing the short stories, however, I have no idea what the parks I will visit will be like. So I write the story very loosely, visit the park and pick some points, and finish the writing process after. 

OCNA Blog: You’ve already written a couple short stories, and posted them on your website. Is this just to give people a feel for what the full length books are going to look like?
Sara: Yes, people are very curious about how this all actually works. They can see what it’s like and try it out. The short stories take place in the same “world” as the full length book, but they are told from a slightly different perspective. It also gives me something fun to do while I work on the full length book.

OCNA Blog: Are there any other short stories that will be published before the full-length book is available?
Sara: There will be at least two more short stories available before the book is out. One is about ten pages long and takes place in Eagan, Minnesota. The other is the conclusion to the two ultra-short stories that make up the Dream trilogy. The first of the three stories takes place in Minnesota, the second is in Seattle, and the third will be in Los Angeles, California.  I am sure there will be more of these as time goes by. To get the links to these stories you can visit my site, geocachebooks.com, and sign up there.

OCNA Blog: You’ve created a wordpress powered website and blog for the venture (great job, by the way), and you’ve put your name out there via Twitter and Facebook accounts. Do you feel this is important?
Sara: An online presence and social media is extremely important to generate a fan base and interest. I am familiar with the process and I know what a positive impact it can make for a business. People want to be in touch with you, and know you are a real person. It’s actually been very fun to watch the interest for the books grow, and get to know other geocachers and authors this way.

OCNA Blog: You recently traveled to the Groundspeak Block Party in Seattle, and had a vendor table. Did you get a good response there, as far as promoting the book? How about your overall impressions of the Block Party, just as an attendee?
Sara: I got an awesome response in Seattle at the Block Party. Spending the day talking about the books, and seeing the reaction once people understood how they work was great. My daughter and I had a blast walking around, meeting the Groundspeak staff and getting a tour of the offices. It was great to meet so many other geocachers and hear all kinds of great stories.

OCNA Blog: When can we expect to see the first full length book? 
Sara: I had hoped to get it into print and have it available for purchase before the snow flies in Minnesota, but I am not so sure about that anymore. It’s very important to me to put out a great book with great illustrations. The book is completed, and I am going through a second round of editing right now.  We are about half way through at this point. I am also working with an artist on the illustrations. There will be between 5-7 illustrations including the cover. So far two images are set to be completed, and the rest are in the concept art stage. Once I have the completed manuscript and art I can start the process of self-publishing which should take an additional 4-6 weeks. I think it will be published near the end of November or beginning of December.


We’d like to thank Sara for taking time out of her busy schedule, great interview! And our second consecutive interview with someone from Minnesota, that was just a coincidence, really. We definitely hope to chat with her again at the blog when the first book (title not yet definitely set) is released. In the meantime, be sure to visit her website, and follow her on Twitter and/or Facebook for updates on the progress.

Read More

(The GCDoc Video) 31-in-31 Days of GEOCACHING: COMPLETED!


Published on Sep 10, 2013
The Doc finishes his 31 days of GEOCACHING on top of a mountain (really just a big hill) and celebrates his 2nd Cachiversary!

31-in-31 GEOCACHING CONTEST VIDEO! —- http://youtu.be/X868jSBWLDU
—- PART 1 WINNERS! —- http://youtu.be/pBDXs-jcPkw

VIDEO LINKS FOR MOBILE VIEWERS 8.26.2013 —- http://youtu.be/ewS2PG8uNyg 8.27.2013 —- http://youtu.be/89LxMJsSVyI 8.28.2013 —- http://youtu.be/986yTzYuYlo 8.29.2013 —- http://youtu.be/w-1WDSfuRGM 8.30.2013 —- http://youtu.be/stEZPIdyZM0

SEE 1 YEAR AGO —- http://youtu.be/svLjBenVU3E

OTHER VIDEOS BY THE DOC! —- http://www.youtube.com/thegcdoc

CONNECT WITH THE DOC! 

http://pinterest.com/drjbroke

THE GEOCACHING NETWORK —- http://www.youtube.com/geocachingnetwork

Music by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com) and Tristan Scroggins
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Read More

An Interview with The Geocaching Doc

The GCDoc Logo

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noted we threatened to post the weekly content of a YouTube Geocaching Vlogger here as a guest blogger. We are thrilled to announce this Vlogger is none other than Justin, AKA The Geocaching Doc, AKA DrJBroke on Geocaching.com! He is a member of The Geocaching Network YouTube Channel, and is the member of that network with the second most subscribers to his own YouTube Channel. Although he needs no introduction to many Geocachers out there, we would like the introduce The Geocaching Doc (sometimes shortened to The GCDoc) via an interview, which he was nice enough to take the time to do with us. We will embed a couple of his more popular videos into the post to break up the text, and we will back date his very latest video (released late last week) to the day before this blog post, as his first “guest post”.

OCNA BLOG: Where are you from, when did you start Geocaching, and how did you hear about it? 
The GCDoc: I live in Minneapolis Minnesota, and started Geocaching August of 2011. I first heard about Geocaching in 2002 when I bought my first handheld GPS unit. Upon registering my GPSr I had clicked an option to receive a e-newsletter from a company called groundspeak. I recall setting up a geocaching account but never actually went out to find one, even though I had one close by. I ended up returning my GPSr as it had a defect, and lost touch with geocaching. Fast-forward almost 10 years later when I was going through my old email account and stumbled on the groundspeak newsletter sitting in my spam folder. I opened it, read it, and immediately created a new geocaching account. 2 or 3 days later I found my first cache and it’s been a whirl-wind of fun and adventure ever since! As of now I only have 657 cache finds with 14 hid, but I couldn’t imagine ever stopping!

OCNA BLOG: You introduced yourself to the Geocaching Vloggersphere (I just now made up that word) With a “Hello YouTube” Video on March 29th, 2012. You obviously live in the same general area as Mayberryman AKA The Geocaching Vlogger. Was he a major influence in you becoming a Geocaching Vlogger yourself? How about the late Sven, who made his last video about 2 months before you made your first? Were you familiar with his work? 
The GCDoc: That is true I do live very close to Joshua (the geocaching vlogger), in fact we live less than 2 miles away! The irony of our friendship is that we lived so close, but it took YouTube and Geocaching to meet one another! Joshua along with Sven were my main influences to become a geocaching vlogger. I first stumbled upon Joshua’s channel after having trouble finding a very evil cache in my area. Within the previous logs I found a reference to a YouTube video that hinted to what the container looked like. That video (which was one of Joshua’s), led me to video after video of his adventures! I was hooked! Then I found Sven’s channel which showcased a plethora of creative caches which enticed me to only make and hide top quality geocaches.



OCNA BLOG: You’re a charter member of The Geocaching Network YouTube Channel, created in October 2012. Do you think this “hub” is a good idea for Geocaching Vloggers all over the world, to help them to grow their channels, and get more exposure? 
The GCDoc: I think The Geocaching Network (GCNW) is a great way to introduce geocaching to world. The network was the brain child of Joshua, who approached me to see if I’d be interested in helping. It’s main goal is to create a global community of geocachers who enjoy filming themselves caching. It’s free and open to anyone that is interested! We often have conversations with other GCNW members as to why we feel it’s our “job” to document the things that we find for the world to see. For me, vlogging is a way to express my creativity and to tell a story for anybody who’s interested in listening. In order to have an audience that wants to watch, I needed a topic that I have a great passion for…of course…geocaching!

OCNA BLOG: OCNA BLOG: What is your gear that you use to make your Geocaching videos?
The GCDoc: I film my videos with a Panasonic DMC-FZ200 supper-zoom camera, and have a Sony Bloggie Duo as my back-up “point-and-shoot”. I edit all of my footage with Adobe Photoshop Premiere 10. I recommend to people who are interested in vlogging to start out with what you have available, to see if this is something you enjoy doing. Most smart phones take really good video, and there are a lot of free editing software out there. Good videos aren’t only made with great equipment, good videos are made with a solid story and passion for what you want to show the viewer.



OCNA BLOG: OCNA BLOG: How often do you post your videos? I see that The Geocaching Network Channel likes their members to commit to a new video at least every two weeks. Does this ever become a chore?
The GCDoc: At a minimum I post weekly. I have a very young family and a busy work schedule that limits my time for geocaching. So when I’m out caching I’m typically filming the experience and creating a story around our adventure, all at once! But the process never feels like a chore to me, caching and filming are my hobbies and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

OCNA BLOG: Did you know that fellow Geocaching Vlogger GeoPaul from the UK (Geocaching.com username: Dr Evil.) has been nominated for “Geocacher of the month”, and that voting is open now?
The GCDoc: I did know that he was nominated and immediately voted and “blasted” my social media with links to go vote! He is a solid geocaching youtuber and from what I read a really creative geocache hider. He definitely deserves the geocacher of the month award!

A little plug for Geopaul, of course. Thanks to Justin, The GCDoc, for the interview, and for agreeing to be a guest blogger on this blog! According to the description of his YouTube Channel, it was created to “to inspire, educate and entertain viewers on all aspects of this great hobby.” For example, his most viewed video (by far) is Homemade Cryptex Geocache Container (inspiring and educational). Above in this post you see the Illegal swag video (entertaining). Sometimes they’re inspiring, educational and entertaining all at once! We could go on, but all you have to do is just watch the videos for yourself, and you’ll see! Be sure Subscribe to his YouTube Channel, and of course starting now, you can view the videos every week right here.
 

Read More

(The GCDoc Video) GEOCACHER Finds A Pile of Bones!

 


Published on Sep 5, 2013
The Doc goes GEOCACHING with his kids, and they find something… UNEXPECTED!

OTHER VIDEOS BY THE DOC!
—- http://www.youtube.com/thegcdoc

CONNECT WITH THE DOC!
http://facebook.com/thegcdoc
http://twitter.com/thegcdoc
http://instagram.com/thegcdoc
http://pinterest.com/drjbroke

THE GEOCACHING NETWORK
—- http://www.youtube.com/geocachingnetwork

Music by incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Read More

The HikerJamz Geocaching Talk Show: September 7th, 2013


Join us as we discover new adventures in the field of geocaching every Saturday at 3:00 pm. EST on Blog Talk Radio with your host – Hikerjamz and co-host -Kenny Gibb.

Have a caching story to share? Want to learn more about geocaching? This is the place to be. Call in or use the chat to experience the great outdoor adventure of geocaching !

Read More

Updates to The Blog

We didn’t get an interview done this week, but we like to do at least one written (as opposed to media) blog post a week, so we’ll give you some updates on some goings on with the design of this blog. You’ll notice a new “woods” banner on top of the blog. You may have noticed we had a Desert scene banner up there for a few weeks. These are just two of five blog banners we have right now, and you can see them on the OCNA Blog board on our Pinterest page.

Those five blog banners, and of course the OCNA logo that is on them, were designed by our Graphic Arist extraordinaire, Patrick Williams. Patrick has done a lot of work for us in the last few months, including designing our soon to be for sale OCNA Pathtags (hopefully on the market in about two more weeks). We couldn’t be happier with his work, and highly recommend him. Most importantly, he is very reasonable! If any readers need any graphic arts work, we have plenty of examples on our website and this blog, and he himself has other samples of his work. Feel free to contact us through the Contact us/Our Team link on the new navigation bar near the top of this blog.

The navigation bar itself is also a new design tweak. We think it looks pretty good, although we like the design of our blog sidebar as well. After six months, we feel we’ve tweaked this blog design pretty well for a Blogger.com blog, and we’re very happy with the visual presentation. Because let’s face it, most serious bloggers use WordPress! It’s almost not even evident we use Blogger.com, as we have a custom domain name. Well, we just happened to have our own Geocaching website and domain name before we started the blog, so why not use it on Blogger.com too?

The slideshow of photos uploaded to our website on the sidebar (about halfway down the page) made it’s debut several months ago, but it really had the same 30 or so pictures for that whole time. We’ve saved the 15 best or so from the original thirty, and have added approximately fifty more. Our users have uploaded just under 1,000 photos to our website in our slightly more than three years of existence, so we have plenty of content for that slideshow. Remember though, we are a volunteer run and funded Geocaching website, we have a 100 Kb limit for each photo, and you have to resize them yourself before posting them. We present the same slideshow on the sidebar below as a 500 x 500 pixel embed into this blog post for your viewing pleasure.


Created with flickr slideshow.


We have the questions for two blog interviews out there, and we are very near to posting the content of our 2nd guest blogger. To refresh your memory, he is a Geocaching Vlogger, although we haven’t announced who he is yet. And don’t forget that you can catch the archived HikerJamz Geocaching Talk Show here tomorrow, shortly after the live broadcast. See you soon!

Read More