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

And Now For Something Entirely Different…

Death Echo: Vol 1 is out there and accruing some lovely reviews. But as ever with creative exploits one must drive forwards and not dawdle.

Death Echo: Vol 2 is most definitely underway and if things go well it might even come out before this year is done (no promises!). I have a huge amount of ideas as to where to take the series and the feedback has been massively helpful.

But enough about that! For the time being it’s back to novels for me! I’d like to introduce my next big project:

Proper Magic

A Kingdom Obscurer Novel

I wrote Proper Magic last year and it came to around 65,000 words. By the end of it I was happy with the characters, the world, and most of the events, but I found the story itself lacking. I felt like I hadn’t done them justice. An important part of writing is knowing when to delete and rewrite your work. This was one of those occasions.

So I set myself a task – now knowing the characters and the world I had to do it all over again, but with better pacing, action, development and world building. I just reached 15,000 words and it feels amazing. I feel like this could be the one, not to jinx it or anything…


Proper Magic is a sword and sorcery/heroic fantasy with a comical, quite often subversive edge. So expect related blog post to be coming from me about the process. I’ll be going into more depth about the characters as things develop with this second run.

That’s all from me for now. Oh, and Happy Easter for Sunday!

giphy1– Sebastyan

One Week Later: Death Echo: Vol. 1

It has been a week since Death Echo: Vol. 1 launched. As many of you know this was my first real launch of a title. It has done really well, with over 100 downloads/paperback sales in the first four days! Considering I don’t have much reach this really surprised me, especially the paperbacks!

I’ve not really checked back after that, because I don’t want it to turn into a numbers game (that way madness lies!).

All in all it’s been a really good first experience, and the few bad things I heard about Amazon KDP and the new physical print option have been thoroughly dispelled – it all ran smoothly. Formatting was a bit of a struggle but I think that was mainly down to my own mistakes (Thanks to Nicole and Bryony for helping me to fix it!).

So where next? Well, I have a novel to keep working on, and then there’s Death Echo: Vol. 2 ;D

Plenty to be getting on with!

I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to all the people who downloaded and bought the book.


Seriously, your support means everything to me! The reviews have started filtering back on Amazon and Goodreads and they’ve all been very complimentary.

I’d also like to say a massive thank you to my illustrator, Jade. Her work really brought the whole project together and the cover alone has had so many compliments! I look forward to working with her again in the rest of the Death Echo saga!

TD:LR – The launch was a success, I’m hugely motivated to keep going and to improve my writing. You’re all amazing!

– Sebastyan

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?


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.


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.


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

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.


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!)