Infana Kolonia

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THE WRITER’S LIFE

Almost a year since moving in to the wonky bedsit above the crooked pub and after three months of intensive home-making following my financial win, my place is finished. With just one title still to be delivered, the Savage Cinema collection is complete, my old music collection replaced and the Cradle of Filth writing den is perfect: a real home office. All of the AV kit is in place in both rooms, down to a very good pair of wireless headphones, so that I can live in either room and drown out all background noise. Over the last couple of weeks, as things have taken up final positions, I’ve even managed to place some order of priority on writing projects and am able to observe a more focussed working day, albeit one which knows no boundary between work and leisure as writing is both.

I’m freelance; I’m self-employed. As such and with my previous experience of business, I’m finding that I’m running myself as one. Unfortunately, the enterprise is running at a loss. Quite simply, this is to be expected at this stage because I’ve had start-up costs: I put a bit of personal cash into promoting my books and I’m having my website worked on by an old business contact at mate rates.

Clearly, I have dropped any ambitions of being a professional chef, so that part of me is being removed from my website. In a few weeks, it’ll be purely about writing and this blog will be integrated into www.stevelaker.net. I’ll also have a shop where I sell books. The whole hosting deal is being moved over to my same old business contact. One of the first rules in business is, if you’re not big enough to cost-effectively handle a particular business process, outsource it. My whole print management business was based on out-sourcing, so I know when to do it and maintaining a website is not my core business.

Similarly, I’m not particularly good at drawing, so I’m talking to someone about a collaboration on the forthcoming children’s book of A Girl, Frank Burnside and Hailie Selassie. That collaborator happens to be one of the teenage girls and an example of how I treat them: with respect and admiration for their abilities and a recognition that they can be trusted with such a thing. The story was heavily influenced by her and the proposal has initially been willingly accepted.

Most of the short stories I’m currently working on are destined either for competitions or inclusion in my anthology of 42 short stories, due for publication later in the year. I continue to churn out pulp fiction but the webzine which I give almost exclusive rights to is in hiatus at the moment, due to a family bereavement for the editor. I could quite easily seek publication in another webzine but Schlock! have carried 32 of my stories so far, it’s where regular readers look for me and where I hope I’m a pull. It’s filler material for the ‘zine and exposure and marketing for me. Given the current hiatus though, my publishing output will be scant in the short term.

The overriding reason is – thank fuck – I’ve finally got into one of the many projects I was trying to juggle, almost to the exclusion of all the others. I still have to write the memoir of my time on the road and it’s at an early draft stage: that is a necessary evil and one which is difficult to get right. Another couple of planned books are at an even earlier stage, while the one which has taken off is the one with the working title at least of Bloodstained Knaves.

Bloodstained Knaves started out as a book and I wrote four chapters but it wasn’t going anywhere. To get it off of the back burner, I turned it into a short story. The latter has now been accepted for publication and a couple of beta reader comments got me thinking about taking the story in a different direction to that originally planned. I’m only a week in but that’s long enough for something to properly take over and the new book now has a synopsis and a rough chapter plan. I’m writing the first chapter now and will post it online for test readers who I’m unable to email: password protected of course. A note to readers: it’s going to be quite a deep book, with some need for analysis and there are some plot elements which need to be revealed only at specific times in the future. They may be relevant to the test reader to keep things in context and permit them a more educated view, so the ongoing draft will include “Reader / author notes” and spoilers. I will clearly label the drafts where spoilers are ahead, to give beta readers an informed choice of how much they feel they need to know in order to be the most help. I realise I could use more collaborative tools but some of my readers lack the means to use them and I’m a bit eccentric. It works this way, until I decide to change it.

Dust to Funky remains a labour of love and may take as long to write as the labour of love which is my little studio has taken to complete. The book publishing schedule is roughly, A Girl, Frank Burnside and Hailie Selassie in May; The anthology of 42 short stories (title to be decided) around August; and Bloodstained Knaves aiming for December. I’ll be including updates on my revamped website and taking pre-orders: I need book sales for the other part of this plan to work.

It’s a good job the whole home, job and life thing is now pretty much in place, as I’ve pretty much exhausted the funds. I have retained a residual amount of money in the bank and I still have my regular income. The lump sums went on repaying debts, rebuilding life and compensating some people. The sum I’ve invested in myself has included a not inconsiderable sum spent on my business, such is my faith and determination. I’ve looked after others, donated to charities and a few old debts caught up with me. I’m aware that there are still those to whom I’m indebted and I don’t forget.

Infana Kolonia is Esperanto for “infant colony”; new home: it’s the name of the fictional city where Bloodstained Knaves is set. With my new world created around me, I need to write of another.

The Paradoxicon is available in paperback and The Director’s Cut in hard cover from my Lulu store.

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