Yes, the time has arrived! To celebrate the date I was supposed to be born, all my m/m romance stories on Amazon are free for today only! Just click the button below to be taken to my author page.
I'm a big fan of GameTee, a UK tabletop / video game merch company run by two sisters. They consistently come out with some of the most attractive and inventive products you can find, from game-related pin badges to dice and handmade scented candles, and they do Kickstarters for their newest products.
This is one of their Kickstarters: a D&D-based deck of cards that can be used for anything, from game outcomes to in-game, uh, games. It has uses outside of D&D too; personally, I bought this for use with my NaNo group, since my tarot deck is very sarcastic and takes no prisoners. (I guess that's what you get for buying a deck from The Works...)
In theory, you can divine from anything... but when you're in a café it's a little hard to work from flocks of starlings, and I'm not sure the art of reading coffee foam is as venerated as tea leaves. And for all that writers tend to be a sceptical bunch, you'd be surprised at how popular the tarot deck was for asking questions about plot holes.
Which is (partially) where this comes in. I didn't just buy it for my NaNo group, but as a handy prompt tool for writing, to sit alongside the tarot cards, the Storymatic cards (which I'll admit I did buy just for my NaNo group) and my Story Dice (which I keep misreading upside-down; I thought a flame was a dragon).
Not that I've used it for that yet... I mostly used it to ask whether I should attempt Camp NaNo (a very emphatic no with the Ruin card, and sage advice too as I think I've completed it all of once, finishing The Reconstruction of Kirill) or whether I should continue with drawing (a tentative yes with the Knight card), and whether I should work on a story that's just started forming in my head (an enigmatic yes).
The thing with these cards is, they pretty much ooze quality. The card's nice and thick, well-backed and solid-feeling. The reflective side is incredibly reflective: I showed them to writing friends last Saturday and they were startled too. For reference: the bright blue highlight in the photos is my old Nokia phone cover... which was around a meter away and about a foot below the edge of the desk.
These are seriously nice cards. GameTee's products are always so nicely made so the high quality shouldn't be a surprise, and yet when you handle these cards you're surprised again by just how fantastic something as mundane as a set of cards can really be.
As an aside, they also go beautifully with their purple metal dice. Just in case you needed a little encouragement one way or the other.
I’ve had crushing writer’s block for over a year, despite having forced myself to fix a short story into something approaching almost-decent and rewrote three or four chapters of a story, faffing with a few others, because I realised the main character was somehow an insufferable, self-entitled shit. (Person reading it at the minute hadn’t realised they’d been rewritten and was surprised when I said so... hoping that’s a good sign.)
But it’s just irritating now. I started writing about a sculptor who’s starting to think he’s haunted (possibly by a statue he’s working on, possibly by one giant, sentient rat, but that might just be the heat...) a year or two ago, and stopped because the last half of the story hadn’t yet bothered to turn up in my head.
Now the second half has finally appeared, and I wanted to rewrite it because the original is choppy; I was already struggling at the time.
And I keep having to give up. No rewriting should ever make something worse.
I’m going to sit with my earphones on listening to my thematically coloured songs for a while in the hope I can finally turn what I’m seeing into actual words.
On the subject of thematically coloured songs... I was redoing my music playlist to remove all the wrong-coloured songs and ensuring everything on it is orange- or yellow-sounding... went to add an ADHDS song and wiped the whole damn thing. I just stared at it blankly for half the song, then had to set to work rebuilding it again.
I think it worked out for the best, because I could add in some songs I'd forgotten about the first time. I'm making myself take it as a victory.
(Although technically Steam Powered Giraffe's Ghost Grinder is green, but I like it too much. I'll remove it if it distracts me, but I don't think it will...)
I was a 10-month baby. Apparently I was so comfortable I just didn't want to be born, and because I was so small the doctors refused to believe that it was 10 months. Yes, they apologised after the fact, when I was delivered with lots of hair, fingernails so long they had to be immediately trimmed and zero amniotic fluid left.
One weird side effect of this is I have no idea what star sign I should be considered. I mean, I was supposed to be born in July. I was just... well, lazy. What am I? Cancer? Leo? Who even knows any more? I'm the soggiest fire sign ever, that's for sure.
So to celebrate this most unceremonious of events, you get the bonus* of two sales: one on my actual birthday of the 15th of August, and my unBirthday on the 15th July! You can pick up all my books on Amazon for free on both these dates and help me celebrate the day I should have been born as well as the time I (eventually) was.
See you on the 15th!
* You may disagree with that choice of words.
One of the many, many fun things about being autistic is the inability to relate to other people.
And I don't mean like an inability to be empathetic to people, because (sometimes) I do to a ridiculous degree. And objects. It's funny how people assume autistic people are logical to a fault and can't empathise with people, but we can. We just need you to not be so goddamn stupid (my main failing with empathy, including with myself).
Which makes life... difficult. Particularly if you didn't know you were autistic up until your early 30s. And a lot of autistic people discover they're autistic because they have kids on the spectrum and they see the symptoms in themselves but, y'know, there's nothing for adults who discover this by themselves. They don't have kids because they're trans, massively dysphoric, and can't eventually work out if they're trans because they're trans or if they're trans because they're autistic — because there's a high correlation between being autistic and gender dysphoria.
But most of all this trans adult, who was born in the 80s, wants to scream and rant, why wasn't this noticed before? Why did every single teacher ignore what turned out to be a massive red flag so large a herd of bulls could've charged right through it?
And I'm angry, like you would not believe. Because I look back on my life and I see everything I know now about, and how all these people in power over me should've seen them, but they couldn't fucking be arsed because I'd been conditioned since the age of five to shut my fucking mouth and get the fuck on with it. I didn't act out (for the most part) because I'd have copped hell in my home life (because telling my parents repeatedly I was a boy got me told it was "just a phase;" can you imagine what full-on autism would've been? even though in retrospect everyone agrees my father was autistic?) except for a couple of times, most notably when I bit someone. Isn't it funny how the biter gets in trouble when they were being physically assaulted in their school seat by the bitee?
i'm angry and resentful and there's nowhere for this anger and resentment to go. Where can it go? The schools that failed me are all run by other people. My mother couldn't care less unless it revolves around her.
I can't speak to anyone normally any more. I'm always looking for the 'right' answer. I used to play RPGs, tabletop games; I was still always looking for the right answer, the answer that would make people like me. Well that's impossible. People hate me for breathing. For existing. I don't know why I thought I could roleplay.
I'm just sick of everything. What's the point when every single little thing is stacked against you? You can't sell books because you're not personable on Twitter or Facebook, because you're always looking for a right answer that nothing in your life will ever supply. No one gives a single fuck about you because you're so autistic you can barely function — and yet you have to function, because you're also a full-time carer who works full time, and incidentally you have no friends at work and increasingly fewer shifts because of the above. In fact, all you've got out of work is the need for a wrist brace.
You don't even really have any friends. No one around you cares enough to check in on you (unless they want something, in which case having got it they vanish). Your neighbours dump their cuttings over your fence because they're inconsiderate bastards who already make your garden stink like an old pub — but that's okay because... what? Because they're a waste of space? Because. much like your mother, they think they world revolves around them and all the hedge waste they've thrown into your garden will miraculously clear itself up without them doing a thing?
Ain't life wonderful?
And people wonder why people commit suicide.
I complained a while ago about how EU privacy laws and US anti-spam laws involve having to publicise your address on every email newsletter you send out, even if it's your home address, or risk a fine of $42,530 per email under the US's CAN-SPAM Act or a max fine of €20 million or 4% of your global turnover, whichever's higher, under EU rules. (That giving out my home address per-email would be a breach of GDPR is a bit of irony, I guess...)
While I can see the logic, kind of, it's... not something any LGBT person feels safe doing. Nothing like hanging a big sign over your door and yelling "hey, here I am" by handing out your home address willy-nilly, right? I'm only a writer who barely sells a couple of books a year, not a massive company like Facebook who, incidentally, have already begun appealing their £500,000 fine over Cambridge Analytica, not something I think l'il old me could get away with.
The advice most often given on sites is "get a PO Box." Unfortunately, it's advice usually given by American writers who have a massive range of variable prices for them, ranging from as little $34/year (£26) for little ones in small towns to ~$150-200 (£115-154) for larger areas.
In contrast, a Royal Mail PO Box in the UK, if you travel out to pick up any mail yourself (you're screwed if you don't live near an accessible delivery office) is £270 ($351) a year. If you want them to forward your mail on to you, then it's £342 ($444) a year.
So... bearing in mind my stunning book sales, that is... well, bluntly, it's one hell of a rip-off. (But it's the Royal Mail, so what did I expect? I have a hard enough time stopping them from stealing my deliveries as it is. They had another Kickstarter reward away a few months ago, the thieving bastards. With the value of goods they've stolen from me now, I should be good for a whole free year of collect-your-own...)
So I figured that was it, I'd just give up. As the Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock said, "If at first you don’t succeed, quit, quit at once." It's a bit galling though, especially when everyone's banging on about how 'every author needs a mailing list' but it's out of your reach because of pricing and privacy issues.
Well, I can't remember what I was irritably Googling last night, but I remembered the whole thorny problem and eventually stumbled over UK Postbox, a non-Royal Mail PO box with a wide variety of plans including crucially, one that gives you a PO Box and only charges you for the mail you receive (£1.20): they open it and scan it for you (£1.20 per letter) and you can decide if you want it forwarding on to your home address.
As it's priced per letter it could easily add up to be expensive if you were expecting a deluge of post, but as I suspect that at even ~£2.40/letter it'll be under £12/month, the Pay As You Go tier is the best for me. There are other prices available, as well as other services (you can pay to have a fancy London address, for example, should your audience be more on the snobbish side) and on the whole it beats having a Royal Mail PO Box. Particularly as, with the price of petrol (or indeed the extortionate cost of the Skylink to Derby, which is a whole separate rant regarding Trent Barton's misleading advertising practices) I don't think I'd actually be saving money on fetching the post myself.
Unless I suddenly become massively popular and end up needing a proper PO Box, but if that ever happens then I'd hope the book sales might, just might, cover it...
Until that day so distant on the horizon it might as well not exist... at least this is another thing now out of the way.
The problem with it in particular is how very not-fixed it is — shifts can change and be assigned while I'm asleep. For instance, while I slept this morning another two hours were added to my working day today (which is going to make voting fun) and five hours were added to tomorrow, bringing the working day up from five hours to ten.
Which is why I have RSI.
The brace does seem to be working, although now my left wrist has started hurting. Can't tell if it's psychosomatic or compensation or just a sore wrist though. I'm starting to get paranoid.
And no, there's nothing I can do about the hours. If I complain then I start to get much fewer (which is what happened a couple of years ago when they'd drop shifts on me every day at short notice — they don't much like people complaining) and I do need the money, but it eats into literally everything else.
Like the drawing I planned to work on today, for instance, or the nice dinner I'd planned to make tomorrow that I now can't because I've had five hours dropped on me at short notice. I guess I should've known better than to plan to do something.
It's funny really. All these years of desk jobs and writing and the most I've ever had is a little twinge or two, soon gone again. Hell, I've been doing this job for eight or nine years now and I've been fine.
Four months of 10-hour days doing little more than pointing and clicking?
Bang. Pain down all my fingers and my thumb, that goes all the way up to the elbow. Even just typing this has made my first knuckle and my little finger start to tingle. Even daily chores have become, well, a chore (not that there's a snowflake in hell's chance of getting out of them), so I've had to order* the Instrument of Torture up there in the right hand corner: an RSI / carpal tunnel wrist brace. It kinks up at one end because it's got a metal bar in to stop me bending my hand down — which is now at war with my arm because apparently I bend my hand down way too much.
It may only be psychosomatic but I feel like it's starting to help already. I finish work in less agony than usual, although my thumb's been getting more painful. I suspect it's trying to compensate for restricted movement elsewhere. It's likely to take months, however, and it does make typing very awkward — I never realised how much my hand moves around the keyboard, although it's probably good practice for writing in its own way.
At least now I have an excuse for my dismal failure of Camp NaNo, I guess.
* I haven't visited the doctor about this, because it's a six-week waiting period for an appointment. I just know Repetitive Strain Injury when it bites me.
I'm running a promo running Friday to Monday inclusive and making everything on Amazon free for the long Easter weekend. Because it's Easter, so why not?
Hit the button beneath to be taken, by the power of magic and some nifty coding, to your local Amazon store.
...is very little.
I vary wildly between plotting and pantsing, and while I like both for various reasons, sometimes I still struggle. I pantsed Gabrys because it wasn't supposed to be anything more than ~600 words of fluff for the A-Z Challenge. That it turned into over 20k words was a bit of a shock for all concerned. And I used to pants most of my stuff, particularly the NaNo events, because November has a bad habit of being insanely busy at very short notice.
But at the same time, I do like having a plan. I planned out both Kirill novels in full (although it still ended up allowing for a little wiggle room), but that was an odd experience — a kind of dreaming out the story that allowed me to take the plot, turn it and examine it from every angle until I found the right approach, and then write its outline down for actual writing. It felt odd and constricting at the time, and it was difficult to force myself to sit and write what I'd already 'written' in my head... but when it came to writing Reconstruction, it turned out to be beneficial: I'd got to chapter five, keeled over from a variety of reasons, and left it for a couple of years. Eventually I decided to finish it for Camp NaNo, dug out the notebook I'd written it in (harder than you'd think.... took a while) and, with my carefully-plotted notes, worked through and finished it.
It is, to date, my only Camp NaNo win. Me and Camp NaNo don't get on.
I don't think I'd have finished at all if it wasn't for my meticulous notes, but when an extra scene presented itself, I could still add it in because it worked in context.
So I know plotting works — particularly if there's a big gap between plotting it and writing it, because plotting it then writing it feels like a massive effort in redundancy... which is, perhaps, why I'm not a good plotter.
Either way, it's Camp NaNo again, so I'm trying to plot out my story. It's... not going well. The main character told me his name quite happily, he even named his business, but I feel like writing might actually propel me along the plot line better than plotting is.
But without a plot to write, I feel paralysed. It doesn't help I don't have the space or time to sit and dream out the plot like I did with Kirill, because without going into too much detail, that amount of time and quiet isn't not really an option any more. Honestly, any sort of writing at all is difficult these days. I'm trying to edit Gabrys and... yeah, it's not going well, and all I want is something half-decent to bind myself, but actually being able to sit uninterrupted and work on it simply ain't happening.
Sooooo I don't know. Do I sit with half a plot and start writing to see where it takes me? Or do I try to work through it properly?
Who the fuck knows? It's only four days into the damn event, right? *groan*
Asexual, aromantic, and transmasc non-binary. No, I have no idea how I ended up writing romance either.