Author Archives: Sean Golden

About Sean Golden

After a degree in physics, then a 35 year career in Information Technologies, I am now focused on writing. My first epic fantasy series, "The War Chronicles" is available on Amazon.com.

Role Playing as Story telling

Welcome to Agnara

Welcome to a story that has been growing, evolving and branching into new lands, new realms and new worlds for going on forty years now. Pretty much every part of this continent has been part of the story, as well as other continents and islands not shown here. But it’s all one story.

Yes, it’s a Role Playing Gaming campaign. But “campaign” is too small a word for it. It probably left “epic” behind a dozen years ago. Hundreds of characters have been created, lived, died and a few have become demigods in their own right.

It all started here:

If you look close, you can see a small black star that marks the location of both the first D&D session I ever ran, and the first story told in this world.

The thing is, that this story is not my story. It’s a story with dozens of writers, all working together to create a sweeping tale of triumph, tragedy and humor. But all of that follows a thread, and occurs on a stage that I did create, and continue to create to this day.

It’s a world with dark secrets, powerful and evil villains, and great heroes. The first campaign followed the near extinction of the entire race of dwarves, and the heroism of a now-legendary party who fought to the very gates of hell to restore dwarvenkind to the world.

But that was merely the start. From there the story spread across seas, and even across worlds. The great heroes are immortalized in legend, song, monuments, even the names of cities. Ceorl the half-elf wizard, Drax the Defender, Dane the Deadly, and finally Forkovr the dwarf, whose exploits were so astonishing that he rose into the ranks of the divine, and whose followers now rival the size of other sects.

While heroes tend to come and go, the great villains are somehow never fully defeated, rising from the ashes again and again to threaten new generations of Agnarans.

I started this world around 1980, and it has hosted campaigns using several RPG rules systems. But the story goes on.

This isn’t all fun and games. Although it mostly is. I learned a great deal about story telling, about conflict, about character development and plot. Most of that works as well in novels as it does at the game table. I also learned how to create highly detailed, imaginative worlds filled with a diverse collection of races, political intrigue, economic systems and entire mythologies. My novels and short stories are much richer for the experience.

I like to tell people that running D&D campaigns was the best training I ever had to be a project manager. It was also great training to be a writer.

The story isn’t over. I’ll be starting a new chapter soon. Who knows where that will take the story? I don’t. That depends as much on my players as it does on me. But wherever it goes, it will become more history for some future campaign.

Sound like fun? Then let’s roll some dice!

The Goal Post

I’m a football fan. Apparently that’s somewhat rare in the world of writers. I love a lot of different sports, including baseball, golf, basketball and swimming. By some crazy coincidence I am writing this post smack in the middle of the NFL playoffs. And this month’s Fictorian’s theme is all about goals.

So, this post is about goals, ergo, it is the goal post. See what I did there?

OK, I’m sorry. Still, it’s a decent lead in, and the sports reference is useful too. Because I happen to be one of those people who think goals are a critically important part of life. Goals give us something to strive for, something to measure our performance against, and something to appreciate when they are achieved.

Sports is famous for setting goals. If you talk to just about any world-class athlete, they will pepper you with their goals. Each goal achieved is one more step forward in their quest to achieve the greatness to which they aspire. Each goal achieved opens the door to new goals beyond.

I approach writing that way. Well, I approach a lot of things that way. But writing is one of them. That doesn’t mean I always achieve goals, but if I don’t achieve a goal, I don’t abandon my dreams, I re-calibrate and reset. Then I work toward my new goals. The more goals I achieve, the closer I am to the dreams I have.

Goals can be far-reaching and ambitious, like “I’m going to write a novel.” Or they can be direct and practical, like “I’m going to write 1,000 words tonight.” Then, the next night, “I’m going to write 1,000 words tonight.” If you string enough successful 1,000 word nights together, you can achieve your over-arching goal, “I’m going to write a novel.”

When I started writing, I used to keep a spreadsheet of how many words I wrote every night. I had nightly, weekly, and monthly goals for words written. If I came up short one night on a nightly goal, I could buckle down the next night and get back on track for a weekly goal.

Some people give themselves rewards for reaching goals. That’s fine, it probably helps some people, but for me the main reward for reaching a goal was… you guessed it, reaching the goal.

I’m just now wrapping up my fourth novel. I’m already planning my fifth. I remember when my loftiest goal was “I’m going to write a novel,” and that goal seemed light-years away and nearly impossible to reach. In truth, it wasn’t really that much effort, it was mostly all about sticking to my goals until I achieved them.

One of my favorite Robert Browning quotes is “Ah that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” That’s one way of saying that goals can help us achieve great things. It’s similar to “Reach for the stars, if you fall short, you might still reach the moon.”

Set some goals. Make them specific. Make them meaningful. Track your progress. Reward your successes. That’s not a bad way to get through life in general, and it just might finish that novel you’ve been working on forever.

Holiday Reflections

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Colorado and back for Christmas. A major part of the trip was to carry all my daughter’s stuff up there from Arkansas since she has just moved into an apartment. That meant hauling my trailer, which keeps my max highway speed somewhere around 65mph, or less. We left Saturday morning, got there about 2am Sunday morning after dealing with blizzard conditions for the last four or five hours (guessing why I left Colorado?) and almost being the victim of a spinout in front of us on I-70. Then after spending Christmas eve unpacking and helping my daughter set up her apartment, we spent most of Christmas day doing Christmas stuff. Then we headed back around 6pm, taking two days to get back since I have to get to work tomorrow morning and didn’t want to deal with coming home at 2am and getting up at 6am to go to work.

So…

Image result for Frodo it's over

Now, having said all that, I do have some thoughts about the holiday season in general, and specifically as a writer.

I find it difficult to write during holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are so many demands on a person’s time, between shopping, getting together with friends or family, cooking, driving from one place to another and back… I generally consider Thanksgiving through New Years as “down time” and any writing I can get done is a bonus.

I figure there’s more than enough stress in the holiday season without adding writing 2,000 words a day to the list. I know there are many writers who have no problem with that. I don’t appear to be one of them. At least not this year.

If other writers are struggling with the same thing, my advice would be to try to avoid the stress of the additional demands of self-imposed deadlines on projects that are not committed, especially not financially committed. Just as business folk are reminded frequently that nobody ever wished they spent more time at the office when on their death bed, even writers can look back and wish they had spent more time with their families. Especially on the holidays.

Digging Out

2017 is coming to a close. Endings always give us a chance for reflection and review.

For me 2017 was a year of regrouping in many areas of my life. I spent a lot of time working on my new house. While I still have a long way to go, I also did complete a lot of major projects. When we moved in at the end of 2016 our basement was completely unfinished. I mean completely. My windows and external doors were installed, but there was no trim, no internal doors, no window sills or framing… It took me a couple months, but I got all that done, and more.

I built a wet bar, using my first fantasy trilogy as the theme. I installed a TV mount, and wired it for internet. Lots of things. The same was true for my job, and both of my children moved out.

It’s been a year for sure.

I know a lot of people are upset about politics. I’ve long ago learned that people are always upset about politics. Sometimes it’s one side, sometimes it’s the other side. When power shifts, attitudes shift to match. I try not to get caught up in all the hysteria of either side.

So why is this titled “Digging Out?”

Because 2016 was a very difficult year for my family. Building a house is stressful. Finishing an epic fantasy series in the middle of that is stressful. Losing a brother is stressful. Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I think I reached one of the lowest points in my life personally, professionally, emotionally and physically in January-February of 2017.

Since then it’s been one long effort to dig out of one mess after another. Many, many times I wondered if the effort of digging was worth it. And I’ve got a lot of digging left to do. But things have steadily improved since February, and now I’m about to wrap up my first sci-fi novel. I have high hopes for this book.

So I am going to be optimistic about 2018. And I’m going to just keep digging out.