Why Do I Write? – A Series of Reasonable Events

I started seriously writing at the age of 23. By then I had my first degree, and a masters, and I’d toyed with the idea of a few professions. Nothing really held my interest. I’m awful at focusing on a thing I’m not captivated by.

I can’t remember where the decision came from – I’d always enjoyed writing, but actually writing books was something which happened to other people.

My first attempt was a steampunk story. It was called The Death of Yantian Drow and it ended up being 140,000 words long. That’s an insane number, looking back on it. I forced myself to write 1000 words a day and somehow I kept up!

I still have it saved somewhere, and I imagine I’ll take a look at it again at some point. It never even made it to the proof reading stage.

My second attempt was called Spire and I even made it to the submitting stage. I have a page full of rejections from agencies! It was quite the learning curve. As with anything – rejections will wear you down after a while. Here’s the important thing – don’t let it jade you. Don’t become bitter. Bitterness is the enemy of life.

As a break I tried short stories and actually had a little success with that. A story of mine called Husk will be published as part of a collection some time this year.

Bolstered by this I turned back to long form writing. By this point I had a dozen little projects half made and I realized I needed more focus. To this end I wrote up a list of those I really wanted to get finished. You can read a little about these here.

Coming next month I’ll be dipping my toe into the dark waters of self publishing. This will be a collection of short stories called Death Echo and will come out on Amazon.

Depending on the experience I might stick with self publishing, or return to the wheel of submissions – or both! … Probably both.

Where was I going with this?

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Oh, right.

Why do I write?

I like to make things up and I dislike reality.

That’s not to say I dislike MY reality. I have brilliant friends and a partner who couldn’t be more perfect – but reality is generally a bit disappointing. There are less dragons and spaceships around than I hoped there would be.

Writing is my way of coming to terms with that.

I write – not because it’s the only thing I’m good at – but because it’s the only thing I WANT to be good at. If I’m good at writing then I can really knuckle down on ignoring reality and building my own little world.

If others end up wanting to come with me to these little worlds then that’s even better.

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Sorry for the self indulgent ramble… everyone needs one now and then!

Over to you – why do you write?

– Sebastyan

Self Publishing and Imprints

We’ve all seen them. Imprints are key part of publishing. As readers we might not really care about them, but as a writer, especially as a self published writer, they become more important. Below are the various imprints from Penguin and Random House after their merger.

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And here are some others:

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An imprint of a publisher is a trade name under which it publishes a work. A single publishing company may have multiple imprints, often using the different names as brands to market works to various demographic consumer segments.

Some of those above are established publishers with offices and staff, others are self publisher imprints. The trick is – if you look professional then people will assume you’re professional. Also BE professional… obviously…

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In a previous post I talked about how buying your own ISBNs and how when you do this you are prompted to give a Publisher Name. Picking a name is one thing, but you should also think about your imprint design. One publisher can have multiple imprints if the genres it publishes are different enough; often having one for children’s book, one for horror etc.

You can pay an artist, or make your own via various free design programs online and it’s not too hard to come up with something striking. The Penguin logo was originally a doodle by a junior member of staff!

The key is to make sure the image doesn’t fly in the face of the content matter. You might not want a fluffy cloud slapped onto your horror novel.

Crimson Key Publishing is my own publishing house, and the featured image above the blogpost is my imprint. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

Happy writing!

– Sebastyan

 

What’s In A Name: Crimson Key Publishing

A few weeks ago I shared a post describing ISBNs and how to approach them. Here’s a fun little titbit – when you buy your ISBN you are prompted to supply a publishing name.

It’s not legally binding, and the site does say that it’s up to you to make sure the press doesn’t exist (Google to the rescue!). Yet it still feels like a big and very real step. This is the name and imprint that will appear inside your self-published work. It’s important that it’s not too incongruous from your topic, or any future topics you intend to publish (I still find it strange to see a horror cover with the cute little ‘Penguin’ logo). Having your own name is a little bit noobish so it’s best to go all out and have a proper title.

I’m a keen gamer, and I can spend hours on a character creation screen trying to decide the right name, so to be faced with a choice when it’s something that will really matter… well… it was nerve-wracking.

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An hour of Google translate trying to find a decent word in Latin got me nowhere. By that point it was the early hours of the morning and I was getting annoyed at myself. Fortunately my beloved came to the rescue with her addiction to keys (which is pretty damn phallic if you ask me, but anyway) and we came up with the above.

My first self published work will be under the imprint of Crimson Key Publishing.

I like it. It could be fantasy based, it could be horror based, it’s ambiguous but interesting.

Now to design the imprint…

– Sebastyan

Treating Writing as Work

Writing is bloody hard. Sure, it comes easily some days – the words spew out of you onto the page and if all of writing was just first drafts then it would be great. The problem is it isn’t just about first draft. Most of the writer’s I speak to have writing schedules which consist of editing more than anything else.

Literally so much time will be spent of every page. It might take a few hours to slam out a couple of thousand words (on a good day, a VERY good day), but that is nothing compared to the time spent beating it into shape.

When you blow this up to novel size you might wonder where anyone finds the time.

Personally this is how my life is laid out:

I work two different jobs every weekday which occupy me 9am-6pm. I do this because I need money. I’m lucky in that I enjoy both my jobs, but this only leaves me a few hours every evening where I can work on my writing.

You could argue I have three jobs. Two that run from 9am to 6pm and then writing which runs from 6pm to 10:30pm.

I don’t do this evening job every day, but I do know that if I miss an evening I have to work more over the weekend. to catch up This might sound awful – except I love writing.

What I’m saying is whatever you love doing you have to pursue it actively. Once you find the thing you love MAKE time around the other aspects of your life to make it happen. You might not feel creative every day but there are still things you could be doing to further your craft.

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Remember to live, remember to love, but also remember that your dreams require work and sacrifice if you want them to be anything more than dreams.

If it’s truly your passion then it won’t feel like sacrifice ^_^

 

– Sebastyan

 

p.s if you have a loved one who supports your art – hold them close and never take them for granted. You may have to focus a lot on your work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spare the time to give them attention (if they support your crazy ass then they deserve it!)

Death Echo From a Distance

In the next few weeks I hope to provide a release date for Death Echo. In the meantime I shall be making little posts about the project as it enters the final stages. To start with lets look at the story titles and order –

1/ Pandemonium

2/ Human Shaped

3/ Dearheart

4/ Death and the Maiden

5/ The Crystal Tower

6/ Machine Monk

7/ Old Oceans

8/ Stench

9/ Loch Morar

10/ Desert Shadow

11/ The Decadent Beggar

12/ Ediol and Visitant

Of course, you can’t tell much from a list of titles. Some of the above might change after it’s been sent to proof-readers but I’m pretty happy with the order as it stands.

Let the information teasing begin!

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– Sebastyan

Death Echo – Explained

A previous post of mine teased at something called Death Echo and I was deliberately vague about what it meant.

It’s a little bit convoluted but if you have the time I’d like to explain what it all means.

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It all began half a year ago when I got into short story writing. It was a new world to someone who mainly reads, and (tries to) write, novels. I found it an uphill struggle but struggled on all the same. Though I submitted a few I never really managed to work up any kind of rhythm with it. I wrote far more than I was submitting.

The result was a number of stories which had no home.

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I was happy with them (or as happy as any writer can be) but I had no drive to slog through the list of magazines I’d found that might accept them.

Last year, just before Christmas, my Grandfather died. He is, to date, the first of my grandparents to die. It left me feeling hollow. It was like the true weight of people being there one day, then gone the next, had never really registered.

Whenever I have to deal with complex emotions I turn to writing. Short, reflective stories about loss and death and absence flowed out of me. That’s when it struck me…

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ALL of my short stories were about death, or the loss of something. I had not been writing a series of unrelated short stories – but rather an anthology of stories, all bound by the same undercurrent of emotion.

I ruminated on this for a time, mainly worried about the slim chances of getting an anthology of stories through an agent or publisher, but quickly came to a decision:

These stories were my babies.

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Hear me out – I had written these stories without any real goal of getting them traditionally published. Then I’d written more as a means of getting through my emotions. What mattered wasn’t getting accepted by a publisher but keeping them together.

I’ve been hesitant about self publishing before, but Death Echo is not a project intended for mass appeal. It’s personal, but that doesn’t mean the stories in it won’t resonate with you, or someone you know.

Death is a strange subject. It’s a struggle for us to really understand it on an emotional level.

All any of us can say for certain is that an emptiness opens up. Where once someone was very much alive now they are gone.

When someone dies they leave behind a void, and that void has an echo which most wouldn’t notice, but for those of us at ground zero it is deafening.

 

Death Echo is a collection of stories that all deal with this void from a dozen different perspectives. Some are more surreal, some are grizzly, and some fantastical. Others are quite real.

So what’s my plan? Edit and perfect a dozen or so stories. Fashion them into some kind of order. Send it out to proof readers. Then I’ll be self publishing Death Echo for free via Amazon.

That’s not all though! I’ve already got the Cardiff Based artist, Jade C Andrews on board. She’ll be providing the cover art, along with smaller images scattered throughout the collection ^_^ Below are some links to her previous work:

This is Jade’s Tumblr

And this is her Instagram

I think her work and her style will really tie up the collection.

As for a time frame there’s still a few months of work to go yet. At the earliest it’ll be a release at the end of March – but I’ll update people via this blog.

Thank you for reading – I really appreciate it.

– Sebastyan

The Importance of Deleting Words

I know. It’s blasphemous. As a writer, whether published or not, deleting words is the hardest thing in the world to do. I could easily wax lyrical about every word being a beloved child but that’s simply not the case. Every word is another soldier for the grinder, driving you towards your goal. But not every battle can be won. Sometimes sacrifice is needed.

In my first proper attempt at a novel things were going really well until the 40,000 word mark at which point I dramatically changed the direction of the story. The main characters went from being survivors to action heroes. I suppose I wanted more to happen in the plot but in doing so I belied the original intention of the book and made caricatures of my protagonists.

Yet I ploughed on into new plot developments, all the while worrying about where it was going. Before I knew it I had reached 60,000 words. But I wasn’t happy, and I felt that I was in too deep now to really turn back. I was stuck between not being able to carry on and not wanting to get rid of everything I’d written.

I remained in this no-man’s land for ages. Never writing, never reading. Always thinking about it. Then I bit the bullet. I deleted it. I knew the point that it all changed and I deleted everything I’d written after that point. Then I read through it and deleted more. I went on a delete-fest. I deleted myself raw. If the delete button had a mind it would…

Well I suppose it would have an existential crisis, not unlike this one:

But less fruit orientated.

I digress.

When the red haze dissipated I was left with around 35,000 words. With my goal being around the 80,000 word mark this set me back considerably. But that doesn’t matter: because I got back into it and ended up on 89,000.

It’s bloody difficult. But not half as hard as what my characters are going through. And without me they’ll never get to the end. So I guess it’s the least I could do…

– Sebastyan