“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!

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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™‚

July!!

Hey, come here! Gotta tell you something.

It’s July.

That’s right, July, and that means the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is on now. There are some serious bargains to be had.

FYI the ENTIRE Byte Series is on sale – if you hop through the link you will notice that there are 11 books listed in the series (so far) that is because Snakebyte has now taken its rightful place as 5.0 BUT the site only accepts integers so it had to be 6 which has a flow on effect. We also have sale prices on the boxed sets. Remember the Boxed Sets have additional content. You get an extra story in each boxed set. In in-between Bytes category Dead Flowers is free, the others are already very very reasonable. [The in-between byte are stories for series fans who already know the characters.] Just a little note: Snakebyte was missed out of the boxed sets so it still needs to be purchased separately. Despite being a novella it is an important story and a vital part of the series. πŸ™‚

Don’t daly! Now’s the perfect chance to get in there and meet Ellie or pick up the next book in the series. (You could probably get the whole series for two cups of coffee, not even joking.)

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen the 15 second videos created for each book in the series. There are more to come so keep an eye out!

xxx

My life is a book …

Seriously! Saw a text from TBH when I woke this morning about strange noises and something/one outside our house – in the front yard. She also said it sounded like something ‘heavier than a bird’ landed in the tree.

The tree in question is a huge camellia tree, right outside my bedroom window. Yeah, I was asleep.

It’s still dark – I have yet to open the curtains to discover what may or may not be in my tree. Of course last night I read a passage in KILLERBYTE about something in a tree (while looking for a few sentences for a graphic). I can assure you that I am in NO hurry to check out the camellia tree this morning. No hurry whatsoever.

As a special treat The Byte Series Boxed Sets are 50% off via smashwords. Until June 1st. Don’t daly. Get in there are enjoy. The Boxed Sets have additional stories – they’re not just three books sandwiched inside a glorious umbrella cover. πŸ™‚ So if you fancy 9 books for well under $10, grab them now.

A lot of you know that Romeo (my faithful greyhound companion) crossed the rainbow bridge on May 5th. He was involved in the writing process of flashbyte, soundbyte, snakebyte, databyte, eraserbyte, psychobyte, metabyte (he was the rock that helped me write that ending), qubyte, cryptobyte … and all the Byte shorts that go along with the series, including the poetry book. Ro was my sounding board. He very much approved of readers reading the Byte Series.

Here he is rocking his killerbyte bandana (original cover)

Walking in sunshine

Stunning albeit cold day today. The walk to the bookshop was all sunshine and glorious. Don’t mind cold starts when the day is lovely!

So, what’s been happening here?

I have the proofs for snakebyte and the new version of Whispers in the Water. Whispers needs some tweaks. Which I knew and had already mostly done … then I had another idea. So, now it’s twenty pages longer. ha! Guess I’ll be re-doing the cover now. πŸ™‚ Same amazing image – but a slightly wider spine. Kinda a fun project to be honest. Might do it next weekend when I’m home in Mahau. At this stage the books won’t be in the bookshop until July.

There is an important thing I need to remember before we leave on Thursday. THA doesn’t sail well. [She’s the only one of us that doesn’t.] So she’ll need good ol’ phenergan for the trip. Weather forecast is for wind, so it could be a wee bit bumpy out in the Strait. Best to be safe than sorry especially as immediately after the 3.5 hours on the sea we’ll be sitting in a car going over windy roads for 40 minutes! I’m all good on the sea – but man even I hate those twisty freaking roads. πŸ™‚

I did try the whole ‘outlining’ thing for a new novel [non-byte]. Failed. It killed my desire to write and I shelved it. Pretty annoying really, because I was looking forward to this particular story. I might go back to it at some stage. I know it’s good. I know it’ll be fun to write. I just lost the will to do so with the whole outlining process. Maybe I need to find a different way of doing it?

Meanwhile, I’m back working on the 12th Byte novel. And that is fun. No outlining, no messing around at all. Just fun.