Writing Romance

Most of my characters didn’t DO romance. Which is weird because I’m all about love. Between partners, family members friends. Love is very important to me. Yet in writing I struggle with it. I realized a few days ago why I avoided it – I was afraid of it! Or rather, I was afraid of doing it wrong.

After spit-balling some ideas around with a friend I decided to take the plunge with writing romance. Hold up, Seb, you just said you struggle with it – why dive into romance? Well, random voice inside my head – when you struggle with things it usually means you’re having to learn something NEW. Learning is cool.

Learning IS cool, right?

Here’s the beautiful bit, though: by pushing myself into one project outside my comfort zone I’ve been able to re-evaluate character relationships in another, far more developed story. I’ve been able to let my guard down and really get into the nitty gritty details of their imperfect, unlucky, but ultimately beautiful love.

I’m not sure if there’s a moral here.


That’ll do for now. Anyway, I’m really happy that I have this whole new window open to me. I’m not afraid of it any more. THAT’S IT!

Don’t fear the unknown, embrace it.

– Sebastyan

What is a ‘Good Writing Day’?

Trying to be creative is like skating on glass. When it goes well it’s amazing, but one wrong move and it feels like your confidence might fall away beneath you.

Everyone gets that fear, and anyone who claims they don’t are probably lying (see: fake it till you make it).

The important thing is to recognize WHEN you’re having a good day and embrace it wholeheartedly. When the words come easily get them down on the page. When you read something you wrote and enjoy it then radiate in the warmth of a passage well written!

Don’t give up, because if you do you’ll let yourself down, along with the people who might have loved what you created.


Keep writing!

– Sebastyan

Accepting Inspiriation

Weird title, right? What am I talking about?

I’m talking about the most fickle substance known to humankind – inspiration – and how to embrace it.

I think we all have an idealised idea of the ‘writer’s life’, where we envision ourselves sat, twirling a quill as we ponder the great unknown, looking for something to leap out at us.

The truth: it may feel like ideas come out of nowhere but that’s just not the case. We’re not wizards!


We’re people who want to create something that we enjoy, and which others enjoy, too. These things we create aren’t floating in a vacuum – we’re all at the whim of the events which buffet us through life and so are our ideas.

My next novel is called Proper Magic. It’s a light-hearted fantasy which doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s initial creation was based on a dream my partner had, aspects of it have things in common with Xena Warrior Princess and Labyrinth. There are a few references to Beatrix Potter and DnD.

One scene was even written immediately after seeing The Little Shop of Horrors live. When the book comes out you’ll know which scene!

Jeeze, Seb, you stole a lot of things, huh?

Nononono! Being inspired isn’t the same as stealing an idea. Creativity is infinite, and nothing can help charge you up than seeing the work of others. No-one creates in a vacuum. We are all inspired by what we read, what we watch, the world around us, our friends and family – even tragedy. Sometimes especially tragedy.

So let yourself be inspired, absorb the world around you and refashion it, improve upon it, augment it.

Next time you’re struggling with inspiration just let the world in!

… scary as that might seem…

– 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.


And here are some others:





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…


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.


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

Meeting Edits Head On

When I was in university I was one of those students who would get an essay back, only to skip to the end to get my grade and then never look at it again. My ability to write academically suffered because of this.

Years later during my Masters I had to really focus on my mistakes, but even then I struggled to really take it in.

Now that I’m pursuing creative writing it’s more important than ever. The hardest thing is trying to understand how I can make such simple mistakes? We’re all guilty of it, but I mean… the wrong kind of ‘Where/were’ in the first paragraph? How did I miss that!?


Haha, this sounds more negative than I meant it too. It blows my mind how blind we can be of our own work sometimes.


Proofreaders = vital

– Sebastyan

p.s. Like the cover image? Follow this link.

Setting Goalposts in Writing

Writing is lonely, even in a blogging rich community. When it all comes down to it the root of our passion begins at an empty word document with just our thoughts for company.
I enjoy structure, to a point. Writing has none. You can write and write and write and get nowhere in traditional writing. Then when you do get through things are out of your hands. You have to wait on other people’s timetables.
Self publishing is a little different. You can set your own goalposts because you have more control. In this case you have to rein yourself in to not go rushing off and putting stuff out there which is under-cooked.
What’s true for both is that when your doing all this, on your own, you have to set realistic goalposts. You can’t just say ‘I’ll write a novel’. That will drive you insane. That’s the end game, not the immediate goal.
Instead think along the lines of a set word count every day. I consider it a good day if I write 600 words and I have two novels finished and an anthology of short stories (anthology coming out soon!) so it does mount up to something.
Life is a series of journeys all made of little steps. We all get to the end eventually. There’s no need to rush ahead and lose your mind. Pace yourself.
Consistency is the key, find your dreams and stick to them – soon enough they’ll start sticking to you.
– Sebastyan