The learning curve

This morning I was thinking about all the changes in the last 8 months. Some are good and definitely for the better, some sparked a steep learning curve, and the last one was an expensive lesson. Didn’t need that. At all.

Without going into detail: Lesson learnt and sometimes (professionally) change isn’t a good thing. Now I know exactly what I need to do for Vaporbyte next year, and I best start saving!

One of the other changes was a trackpad malfunction which has forced me to use a mouse again. This is not a good situation. Two weeks into this new hell and my wrist is more fucked than usual and now I remember why I made the switch to total trackpad use four years ago. 😦 Would be nice to get this trackpad sorted but it’s ridiculously expensive and I’d have to send my Mac away and I can’t work without my Mac. Catch 22 and then some.

Right now, I’m going over notes for todays writing group. And quite excited to meet the participants. It’s nice having a week day group. Hopefully this will help the next few weeks race and I’ll be in Perth before I know it.

Readers, I’m a bit over this ‘being apart’ bullshit because this is a long stretch and it’s no fun. The sooner we’re back together the better.

You know what would help cheer this author up and keep me motivated to move forward despite the stress of the last few months? Come on, I bet you do … yeah, see, you got it. Buy a book! πŸ™‚

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“How do you start to write a story?”

Now there’s a question and a half. It’s something I’m asked fairly frequently and I still don’t think I have particularly helpful answer, even after writing 16 novels and countless short stories. Yes, I said, 16. Four still sit on a flashdrive and remain hidden away from the world. Those four were the beginning; my teething novels, my sandpit, and actually where the Byte Series began. Those four novels are about Cait O’Hare. If you’ve read any of my Byte books then you’ll know who she is. Setting those aside for now … How do I start a story?

Generally, I have a question and uncovering the answer requires writing. The question can be anything. Over the years I’ve answered these ones (and more): What’s the worst case scenario here? What happened to the children? Who killed the jeweler? What is the Wayward Son Protocol? What does Devil’s Breath do? What if … there’s almost always a ‘what if’. In Terrorbyte the what if was, ‘what if the initial crime conceals another crime?’.

How do I know there’s a question and what that question is? Well, that, Readers is an entirely intuitive process for me. Before I even know there is a question (and there is always a question, in fact many questions) I have usually glimpsed a partial scene. Sometimes what I see makes the question more along the lines of ‘ What the actual … is going on here?’ For example when I started writing Qubyte the scene I saw first was Ellie waking up to a call from Kurt and realizing something had happened to the Director. Straight up there’s a question, right? What happened to Director O’Hare? And that, Readers, was the first question. That question was the foundation of an entire novel. 95,000 words or thereabouts because I needed to know the answer. Pretty soon there are questions popping out of questions and words on the page. (Without those words on the page there is no story, folks. It’s that simple.)

You’ve probably seen a few posts on the ol’ social media regarding Cryptobyte and might even know that the release date is Nov 10 (which is Terrorbyte’s official 10th birthday). The question posed early on in Cryptobyte came about because of a conversation on the way home from the bookshop with THA. I can’t even remember how it started but by the time we reached home I knew more than I wanted to know about a woman and her strange hobby and that lead to a question, ‘How did the families disappear?’ and then, ‘What did the families have in common?’ and eventually, I found, ‘Why?’

Stories can start from anything but I find there is always a question or thirty that require answers. πŸ™‚

The answer to where I start is … I answer the questions and I keep an open mind, it’s pretty rare for everything to be as it appears. And sometimes the beginning isn’t.

Where to start? Start with something that makes YOU want to know more. It doesn’t have to be the beginning, you might start in the middle and work out, or the end and work back, or maybe you’re more like me and start close to the beginning and work to the end. Pick a place. Write. Because the thing about stories is they don’t write themselves no matter how often you hear that from people. Just write the story and edit it once you have all those words out. πŸ™‚

FYI we have a Facebook group now attached to my Facebook page. Come on over!

A possessed MacBook

This weekend I discovered my MacBook is possessed. Yep. Or at least something has possessed the cursor and it does whatever the fuck it wants whenever it wants.

It moves around so much and moves my screens so much that it makes me feel ill. I have zero control over it when it does that. None of the ‘fixes’ from the Apple Community worked. The usual turn it off and back on. Did nothing. Using an external mouse seemed to work, but in reality it did not. Stopping the ‘shake to find’ thingy on the cursor – seemed to work, but it did not.

Resetting the PRAM … didn’t even try to work.

Which leaves me with a possessed MacBook. It can freak out for a few minutes and then be perfectly fine and behave as normal. Or, it can freak out on and off for an hour or so – each little meltdown lasting five-ten minutes, then be perfectly fine. WTF?

I can use it – but I cannot trust it. And that there is the problem. I have a book to format – and I don’t know when my lovely Mac will decide to flip control and a/ not allow me to save my work b/run a muck all over my screen until I feel sick or c/refuse to let me do anything. I’m also six chapters into book 12. I’d like to be able to write without fear!

It’s headache inducing and frustrating as all hell.

Ramon and Jonni – you can both piss off and leave my Mac alone … thanks.

Do I like you?

Welcome to ‘things I think about on my way to work’ Wednesday.

There’s a chance I do like you. A very good chance.

About the only time the answer will be an outright no, is if you are a digital pirate. If you are, you can fuck right off and get your sticky little fingers off my work. Yes, I am aware that makes me narrow-minded and that pirates are (supposedly) people too. Don’t even try and discuss piracy with me, thanks. They’re evil fuckers who steal from others. End of story.

My criteria for friends is simple. 1. Don’t be an arse (or a pirate). I could add be a reader because I believe reading is extremely important. It teaches us empathy and enables us to see into other lives and worlds. We learn from reading. Perhaps I should add read ‘purchased books’. πŸ™‚

Things that I have no business knowing (but if we know each other well I probably do know.): Your religion. Your political views. Your job status. The bathroom you use. What’s in your pants. Your mental health. Who is in your bed. Your preference when it comes to Vegemite or Marmite. That list could go on and on. None of those things are friendship criteria.

If you are an arse then you’re an arse and we will not be friends. So don’t be an arse and let’s grab a coffee. πŸ™‚

It was Crashbyte …

This morning I opened a file called ‘Crashbyte’ – that’s what Vaporbyte was always supposed to be called. Book 12: Crashbyte. Somewhere as I was following the story, (and it happened pretty fast – two chapters in) I realized Crashbyte wasn’t going to be book 12. It may not ever be an anything. That’s okay, it happens. I left the file and a few days later I saw an entire scene – nothing at all to do with the two chapters I’d written.

I started writing. I knew straightway it the beginning of something. By the third chapter I knew it was something called ‘Vaporbyte’. Great.

This morning I opened that other file, the Crashbyte one. As I read, a slow dawning occurred. By the time I’d finished I knew what I was looking at. It’s not a nothing at all. It’s part of Vaporbyte. It’s the other story thread.

Apparently I’m writing again. Need to catch up? Then, here …

Bear with …

Here are a few of the 15-sec videos made for the Byte Series … YouTube seems to think they have all been uploaded, they have not. YouTube is kinda a dick sometimes.

But here’s a link to go along with them! Byte Series Awesomeness

Five of the videos:

killerbyte
terrorbyte
exacerbyte
Flashbyte
soundbyte

Life versus writing

Funny how things change. Used to be writing that was my happy place. Now it’s Perth. I have little time for writing and am struggling to find a reason to carve that time out. Finding writing time has been increasingly difficult for the last four years. The only real writing time I get is when I’m in Perth.

I’m too tired to go back to writing late at night and way too tired to get up earlier than I already do.

My days are spent helping other writers, that can be fun and rewarding, I guess. BUT I cannot write in the bookshop – not effectively. Some days I can, but mostly I cannot. Interruptions are rife. Now if they were interruptions because people were buying books, it’d be okay and worth it! But generally, they are not. They’re time consuming phone calls or people coming in asking for directions or browsing (but not buying) or in people calling in for help. Days like yesterday when it was probably a perfect writing day – our internet and phone were out. So, no writing. Hard to work when you work in the cloud and the internet is shitty. And it’s often shitty. Thanks for that Spark.

Smashwords store wide sale is on this month. Fantastic, right? Usually, yes. This time around. 12 days without a sale. I have no idea why or what is going on. The only thing that changed is Facebook pretty well suppressing all links to the outside world and not letting anyone ask for posts to be shared. But I don’t know if that is what made a difference.

I am tired of hearing how great my books are. If they were THAT great then sales would reflect that, right? And people would take two minutes and write a review on a platform that actually helps other people make a choice (and NOT post it on GOODREADS or AMAZON).

Or is it that everyone just tells me but not other people, because I’m accessible?

Sometimes it feels like Ellie is still a fucking secret? This is my 10th as a published author, for almost all of the 10 I was with the same publisher.

I don’t know what it is. I do know that it’s hard to generate sales without money and without sales there is no money (that goes for me personally and the bookshop). Catch 22.

If you have any ideas that do not involve ANY money, because neither the shop nor I have any. In fact, my stupid positive thinking means I have less now than I did before. Yeah, I had more 2 more titles printed for the shop – thinking they’d sell. AND I’ve got an editor to pay for a book that I’m wondering if I should even release. It’s a fabulous story but who will read it?

The same five people?

Well, hey, that’ll pay for the cost of printing! πŸ™‚