Author Archives: Frank Morin

About Frank Morin

Frank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he's often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on his sci-fi time travel Facetaker novels, his popular YA fantasy novel, Set in Stone, or other upcoming book releases, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Fictorians Interview – Sean Golden!

War Chronicles Book 1War Chronicles Book 2War Chronicles Book 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we’re kicking off the Fictorians interview process again. It’s been a few months since we’ve highlighted one of our own to help you all get to know us better. Today I interviewed Sean Golden.

Frank: When did you join the Fictorians?

Sean: I’m not 100% sure. It was last summer, I believe. My first posting as a full Fictorian was on August 10, 2016: Fish Magic

Frank: Where do you find inspiration? (surroundings, music, family, other. . .)

Sean: Lots of places. Part of it is just that I have always believed that I was a born writer. I love words. I love stories. I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on, from Jack London to Homer, with wide swings into almost every genre imaginable. I always wanted to add my voice to the human story experience.

Frank: How is your writing going right now? What projects are you most excited about?

Sean: I am well into my fourth novel. I tend to be very focused on my current WIP, so that’s what I’m excited about. I am still excited about the success of my first epic fantasy trilogy, and I hope that I can at least duplicate that with my next book.

Frank: What’s the greatest challenge you face these days in getting things done?

Sean: Since moving into our new house, we’ve been insanely busy with getting the house finished and making it a home. I still have a lot to do with that, but we’ve finally gotten to the point that I can write a few nights a week anyway.

Frank: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about productivity that you can share with readers?

Sean: There’s no secret, really. Apply butt to chair and fingers to keyboard. If you get stuck, write something else. I work from an outline so I can jump ahead or behind to write different scenes if I am stuck on a current scene. I believe that success breeds success, so if you are stuck, just try to do little things, and those little things will add up to be big things. And once your confidence is back, you can tackle anything.

Frank: Do you have a favorite story you’ve written, or that you’re currently working on?

Sean: Not really. I have certain scenes that I’ve written, where I feel like I managed to create exactly the user experience I was trying to. Those are not as common as I would like, but it’s getting more common as I learn to be a better writer.

Frank: What hobbies do you enjoy?

Sean: Too many. It might be easier to say what hobbies I don’t enjoy, but so far I’ve never encountered one. I am the sort of person who dives fully into anything I do, so when I do find a hobby, it can be a huge time sink as I immerse myself in the activity. Having said that, the hobbies I tend to focus on the most would be fishing, playing guitar, star-gazing, gaming, sculpting, and building stuff with power tools.

Frank: So there’s a lot of debate about music when writing. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Music or silence? Instrumental only, or lyrics? Soft or rattling the windows?

Sean: Like most things, I don’t really have a preference. Sometimes I like to listen to music, sometimes I find music distracting. Sometimes I like to have the TV on, sometimes that’s distracting. When I do listen to music, I tend to want the music to reflect the mood I’m trying to project in the scene. When I do watch TV, it’s usually either golf, baseball or some movie I’ve seen so many times I can quote the dialog without thinking.

Frank: What’s your favorite blog post you’ve written for the fictorians?

Sean: Again, I’m not much for favorites. My favorite would be the one that the most people liked. Based on the comments and feedback, that would probably be the one on Setting as Character.

Frank: Do you feel it’s harder or easier to embark on a writing career after having worked in other fields for so long, rather than starting out, maybe right in college?

Sean: I really can’t answer that since I didn’t pursue a writing career out of college, so I don’t have anything to compare to. My suspicion is that it is harder to start a life with a family and mortgage right out of college as a writer, than it was for me as a programmer. And at that time providing for my family was a higher priority than pursuing a writing career. Had I been single, perhaps the calculus would change. Either way, it definitely wasn’t easy for me to take the path I took to become a writer at the age of 55, but at least I had more reserves and options to lower the risk.

Check out Sean’s War Chronicles series.

And learn more about Sean and his projects, sign up for his newsletter, and check out his blog, all at https://seandgolden.wordpress.com/

Sean Golden Bio: Sean Golden
I’ve had a long and varied career outside of writing, starting as a construction worker putting glass in high-rise office buildings while I was working my way through college seeking a degree in physics. After graduation I ended up writing Macintosh programs and creating a Mac software product for a software company. Eventually I took over as Publisher of all of the software products before leaving to become a project manager of software development in a Fortune 500 company. That led to a 20 year career in corporate software development that ended in December of 2014 when I decided it was time to retire from the corporate rat race. During all of those years I wrote and published technical articles and stories for the local newspaper. But I never published my first novel until January 2015. Now I am writing full time and intend for this to be my last career. I have had stories half-written or outlined in my desk for decades, and now it is time to get them on paper and out to the public.I am happily married, and have been for almost 30 years now, and have raised two kids. My literary interests are varied, but I primarily read and write science fiction or epic fantasy.

Using Deadlines to Drive Momentum

Momentum quoteWriting is an act of creation.

Building a poem, a short story, or a novel is a project that requires continuing effort for sometimes months or years.

Completing that project is not easy. I’ve seen statistics that suggest maybe 1% of all the writers who begin a novel ever actually complete one. For those of us who do, one important component of success is building momentum.

For me, as a story begins to grow and develop into a fully-formed adventure, I get more and more excited to see it finished. I love the brainstorming process and the intense bursts of writing as I pour words on the page and create the first draft. I’ve even grown to enjoy the opportunity to revise and edit and polish that initial draft into a finely-tuned, well-crafted piece of art that will draw readers into my world and plunge them into amazing adventures.

The process is not easy, but the daily effort builds momentum to keep going. Some days are admittedly easier than others, and like everyone else, I have had to develop ways to help keep motivated and to keep generating momentum. Several ideas have been mentioned by other fictorians already this month, so be sure to check out their excellent posts.

I also like to use deadlines.

A deadline is a tangible line in the sand, a goal to help focus my energy over short periods of time. Even when they’re self-imposed, deadlines create a sense of purpose and the threat of consequences if I don’t succeed. Setting a deadline helps me avoid falling into the trap of thinking I can take as long as I like on the next novel.

I can’t. I have a deadline.

Sometimes I set very aggressive deadlines, and even if I know I can’t possibly accomplish them, they still help motivate me to try. When I first started releasing books in 2015, I set the goal of eight books in eight months. That’s a super-aggressive goal that turned out to be physically impossible, but it helped me work extremely hard to get my indie-publishing process off the ground and dive in and do it, rather than hesitating and wasting time with unproductive doubts.

A great deadline is scheduling time with an editor. I use the amazing Joshua Essoe to edit most of my novels. He’s booked out over a year, so I have to schedule my time with him far in advance, which requires planning my work and knowing my pace. Let’s just say I’m still working on perfecting that bit, especially since most of my novels end up running long.

I was due to deliver a manuscript to Joshua in July, but I had gotten bogged down editing another novel. Six weeks before the deadline to deliver the draft to Joshua, I had to set aside that other project and get to work. I had waited perhaps too long. The goal was 160,000 word first draft.

I got it done. Mostly. I delivered about 130,000 words to Joshua, and wrote the final 50,000 words of that epic story over the three weeks that he spent editing the first part.

Do I recommend doing a first draft that way? Sure – as long as that draft’s not due immediately to the editor. Writing a first draft that fast was an amazing, if exhausting process, but I should have started sooner so I could do some initial polishing and revising before submitting it. I could have better used Joshua’s time that way.

Lesson learned.

But that extremely tight deadline was undeniably effective at getting me to write, and to find ways to write faster than ever. That’s 180,000 words in about two months – probably the fastest I’ve produced such a long work. I am already setting new deadlines for revising and editing, because I’m planning to release the novel in Q4 of this year.

I recognize that not everyone likes to work under tight deadlines, and that the added stress of having aggressive deadlines can be counter-productive, but don’t ignore deadlines. If you don’t set a goal, you limit your ability to move forward and get things done. I recommend everyone use some kind of deadline. Without them, there’s no accountability, and far less sense of purpose to drive a project forward.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Using Setting to Reinforce Plot and Character

Pile of rocksA distant explosion jarred Mike out of bed. He stumbled upright in the dark, groping for boots with bare feet as he reached for his weapon.

Where this scene goes next depends on a lot of things, including who Mike is, his profession, and state of mind. It also depends on what type of story we’re telling and which events will move the plot forward.

It also depends upon setting.

If the setting is 1800s wild west, then the explosion was probably from dynamite in a nearby mine, his boots will probably be cowboy style, and his weapon will be a six-shooter, double-barreled shotgun, or lever-action 30-30. If it’s a future space war, the explosion might be an unexpected encounter with the alien pirate space slugs, his boots an armored hovering model, and his weapon a plasma laser.

If the setting is an episode of My Little Pony, well, I’m not entirely sure where I’d go with that one yet.

That setting will also heavily impact the type of plot we can expect to enjoy. As we’ve explored through some really excellent posts this month, developing an effective, engaging setting is a critical component to building a great story.

Setting also plays an important role in reinforcing plot and character, helping to lock the readers into the world, and suggest certain expectations that we as the author can fulfill, exceed, or flip on their heads.

Set in StoneIn my YA fantasy, Set in Stone, the setting grew in sync with the character, the plot, and the magic system, reinforcing all of them and creating a rich tapestry upon which to tell the tales of Connor and his friends.

The magic system came first – based on plain old rocks. So where better to set the story for a rock-based magic system than a quarry? Placing Connor in a small quarry village up in the mountains helped define the type of characters we’d likely see, as well as their level of education and exposure to the world. With that understanding, I more easily identified directions the plot would likely need to flow in order to educate the characters, challenge them, and threaten their world.

Could I have set the story in a grassland, with the nearest rock a hundred miles away? Sure, but that would have dramatically altered the plot and my characters. I didn’t want the story to be about the quest to find magic. I wanted to explore the fun aspects of the magic system, so I needed lots of rocks. Plus in that world, the quarry becomes an important commodity.

So as you build your stories, begin defining your plot, and start bringing your characters to life, make sure you weave the significance of your setting into all of it. That helps bring the world to life, gives reason and continuity for your characters, their histories, and their choices, and helps tie them into the plot and the world you are building.

For pantsers, when you’re free-writing and exploring the fun world you’re creating, it’s important to understand that as cool aspects of your world and setting become clear, they will impact your characters and your plot. Take a moment to scan back over your story and identify ways to leverage those new aspects to setting. Your story will be stronger for it.

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Lessons Learned from Indie Publishing

Whipsaw PressI started writing over a dozen years ago, when indie publishing wasn’t really a viable option. The flood of services, tools, and channels available now is astonishing and exciting.

At first I didn’t care.

Like many new writers, I was convinced my first book was ‘The Next Big Thing’, and only a huge deal with a big traditional publisher would do.

Yeah, good luck with that.

My writing has improved since then, as has my understanding of what it means to publish, and what this journey really means. After logging my dozens and dozens of rejections, slogging through a really painful experience with an agent that wasted three years I could have been releasing books, and with the markets changing so much, I finally realized what I had to do.

Time to indie publish.

I love the fact that there are so many options today: traditional deals with big publishers, deals with small presses, pure indie publishing, and hybrid options. The market is changing, and we need to be open minded and flexible to keep up.

For me, it made sense to indie publish. I had several novels complete, and honestly that turned out to be a good thing. My writing improved a lot through those novels, and I’ve since gotten very good at rewrites and edits. They are your friend.

Set in StoneI released Set in Stone, book one of my fun YA fantasy series, The Petralist, in May of 2015. The past two years have been hectic and busy and fun. It’s quite a journey, and indie-publishing is not for the faint of heart, but it is very accessible for those willing to learn to wear a lot of hats. Here are a few of the top things I’ve learned indie-publishing:

  1. Quality first. Many people beat the drums of Publish Fast, and there is some truth to what they say. To build an audience, new writers can’t set a publishing schedule like George R.R. Martin. But most new authors are in a rush to get their book out, and that rush can lead to cutting corners. Don’t be one of those authors who spent so much energy to get a book to 90%, only to skip the effort to really finish it and make it amazing.
  2. A good editor is worth every penny. We may not have big budgets, but we all have blind spots. Don’t self-edit. Better to burn your manuscript over a fire. At least that way, you might get a S’More out of it. And don’t ask your cousin who once took a college English class to check it over, or ask your grandmother what she thinks. I write big books, so they’re expensive to edit, but it simply has to be done. You wouldn’t build a house, but skip all the finish work inside. Don’t do it to your book.
  3. Memory HunterInvest in a Good Cover. Everyone judges a book by its cover. Clip art or badly photoshopped images are a disservice to your book. There are many great places to get covers, and this is another item that is absolutely worth the investment.
  4. Indie publishing is a business. We all love sitting in a coffee shop or hiding in our closet with our laptops, typing away and bringing our stories to life. That’s the writing. We also have to edit, revise, manage social media connections, monitor finances, hire editors, cover designers, figure out marketing, schedule events, and much more. All those other aspects of publishing are business aspects. Learn the business and learn to treat your intellectual property as an item you are trying to sell, not as a piece of your soul.
  5. Learn Marketing. Those of us who aren’t marketing people usually hate or fear this word. Marketing is tough, but it’s important. Yes, the most important marketing we do, especially at first, is to write our next book. But that doesn’t mean we can’t begin learning other aspects of marketing. We do want to support ourselves at this one day, so we have to learn to sell.
  6. Write what you Love. If you don’t enjoy your story, readers won’t either. And by the time you finish rewriting and editing however many times, if you don’t love your story, you’ll end up hating it.
  7. Become part of the community. Many writers are introverts and we’re content to hide away with our laptops and work everything alone. Don’t. There is a thriving community of people involved in writing and publishing great stories, and I’ve found writers to be some of the nicest, most encouraging, and quick to share advice and experiences than just about any other group. Become part of this community. Learning together is a lot faster than trying to figure it out all alone, and it’s a lot more fun.
  8. Enjoy the journey. I set a very aggressive publishing schedule for myself when I plunged into indie publishing. It helped motivate me to stay focused, to press ahead through the steep learning curve, and get things done, but it also added a lot of stress on top of existing family, church, and day job responsibilities. I’ve had to remind myself to take a deep breath and look for ways to enjoy every day. This journey is long, sometimes arduous, but it can always be fun.

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org