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.

Ups and Downs and How to Use Them

Picture this: (Because I saw it on Facebook a few days ago, and now can’t find it.)

Two short, wooden tracks for marbles. One starts high and flattens out, the other looks like a roller coaster with up and down bumps spaced perfectly apart. A marble is released at the beginning of each track. The first performs as predicted, the marble rolls down and to the end, losing momentum as it goes. The second surprises me. The marble goes down, hits the bottom of the hill and goes back up. Once up, it thunders back down, only to go up again. While it loses some momentum going up, the down hills keep it going. And, it makes it to the end before marble #1.

I feel like this is the perfect analogy for the momentum of my own creativity.

I always start out excited, barreling down the hill with all of the purpose in the world with the wind whipping through my hair and sunshine on my face. This can go on for a day or a week or a month, but eventually, the “something” occurs. It can be plot problems, it can be life problems, it can be family problems, it can be day job problems…the list goes on and on.

At this point I have to dig in. My momentum has waned, and the only thing to do is pull out the good old hard work. Sometimes it takes wading through plot problems for a week before I can get going again. Sometimes it takes ignoring the book for a while. Sometimes it takes forcing myself to sit in my office chair and write for an hour, even if it is total crap. Sometimes it takes doing every chore in the house so I don’t have an excuse to mess around anymore. Sometimes it takes all four and then some.

During this I usually feel things getting easier again. I crest the top of the hill, panting because going uphill is hard, and stupid, and look around. Before me I see my path and I am once again excited. I step off and it all starts over.

Back to my analogy. Not only does the roller coaster marble end up with more momentum, it actually goes farther than the other one. And, it gets there faster.

So if you’re feeling a little bi-polar about your creative process, remember that not everyone is the same, and maybe you’re a roller coaster creator, like me. Or maybe the long, slow burn process is your game. Either way, figure out how your process works and then figure out how you can make it work for you.

< Insert amazing blog post here >

Hello everyone! Momentum is a key element for success in completing any writing project, and this month has already be loaded with lots of good advice from folks who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. Some of their advice might contradict the advice I’ll be offering, but that’s part of the joy of writing. There’s no right or wrong way to do it – just the way that works for you.

I too have some advice to offer, something that works for me. This one simple trick, you might say, to avoid getting stuck in your path. (“Writer’s Blocks hate him!”) It may work for you, or it may not. In order to give my advice context though, I have to talk a bit about how I write. It’s a brief side road but I think the trip will be worth it.

Writers seem to be broken up into two general groups: the outliners and the pantsers. I have great admiration for pantsers, those brave souls who just sit down at the keyboard and make it happen live.

That’s amazing, but it will never be me. I am an outliner and I never sit down for my writing session with no idea what’s going to happen. I do several extensive outline passes of my plot and character arcs before I start page one. I often even have much of my dialog pre-written (or pre-recorded).

Once I start that first draft, I want nothing to stop me until I finish the novel. A story finished is a story fixable. I may be newer at this than some Fictorians, but I’ve had more than a few stories die from the blank screen of death because I stopped and just couldn’t get going again.

3,000 word days? Great. 1,000 words? No problem. 25 words? At least I moved forward. The only number I don’t want is zero. As long as I’m moving in any way, I tend to keep moving. It’s when I straight up stop that the problems begin

Yet even with the best outline you can run into issues. Maybe you realize a plot hole you didn’t count on, or dialogue that sounded great in your head just reads corny now that you see it on the page. Very common for me, you knew there was a fight scene here but you didn’t block it out and now it makes no sense.

Any of these can get me stuck, lead me to a zero day where the cursor blinks at me and I simply blink back. This is the one thing I don’t want. So, what do I do when I’m stuck?

I cheat.

I simply skip where I’m stuck by using my two best friends: left angle bracket and right angle bracket.

If you look at my completed first drafts, they will be riddled with these. A few examples from my first draft of SEAS OF EVEREST, Book 2 of the trilogy I am working on:

<finish this up>

<a little more here>

<describe the city>

<she gets upset>

<insert amazing mammoth fight scene here>

Yep, I used them to summarize an entire action scene. I was very stuck on the blocking of that scene (there was a wooly mammoth in it after all) and couldn’t just sit there and work all that out. I took a shot at it but realized my writer brain was not in ‘write action scene’ mode that day. I could stop and try to force it, or I could throw some angle brackets down and move on.

Move on. You know, keep my momentum. No zero days.

That’s exactly what I use them for. So I can maintain my momentum. Gots ta keep on keepin’ on or that book is never going to be finished. I knew that fight scene would come to me later, and it did.

When I finished SEAS OF EVEREST I went back and found I had 83 angle bracketed items to go back and fill. Some were quick and easy, others were decent projects. Closing those 83 items took me all of three days and I freely admit those days were pretty long.

But the book was done. The story was complete, I had got to the end of the tale. That is always the goal for me, get to the damn end. Once you’ve been there, you can always go back and clean up those items you left undone along the way.

If you stop and hammer out each one? Well, you might never get where you’re going.

Notes from Guy’s Momentum Peanut Gallery

Personal Health

My biggest momentum-killing foe is my health. I fight the good fight as best as I can, sometimes winning and sometimes losing the battles. Overall, every time I get something finished and sent off to a slush pile, that means I have won that particular war. Then the next deadline appears over the horizon and the fight continues.

One of my many medical issues involves a common writer’s ailment – carpal tunnel. When I first started getting it I did what most folks do: I ignored it. Then it evolved from a single soldier to a tank battalion running over my wrists every time I typed more than a page.

My first plan of attack was to get a new keyboard (a split version that kept my wrists at a better angle) and switching over to a trackball-type mouse (a Logitech thumb trackball marble). This allowed me to type more pages until the pain became distracting.

A friend of mine hikes the mountains of Colorado while dictating his 200K doorstop novels into a small recorder. He recommended that I look into using that type of setup. I picked up some quality studio equipment and Dragon Dictate 13. After training it by reading some of my books so it understood my writing style, I can now write very fast if I can remember the words I want to use. I just have to remember to say “period, new paragraph, open quotes” at the right time. Overall I’ve been quite happy with it and use it exclusively for longer projects.

Writer’s Block

Something that comes up on a lot of the convention panels are new authors suffering from writer’s block, which is a symptom of issues with resistance. I always say I think writer’s block is your brain’s way of telling you that you don’t really know what comes next, so you should let it percolate for a while in brain brine. At any given moment I have multiple projects in work at once, so if something needs more stewing I can switch over to something else. Heck, I can even just go and write a blog post or five and schedule them on my website or send them off to other blogs that I contribute to on occasion. Writing is writing, after all.

I know that not everyone can jump from a science fiction novel to a nonfiction article on worldbuilding to poetry, but that’s one of the few good things about being an Asperger’s author. I’ll take all of the positives I can muster!

Laziness and Goals

There are times when I’m just feeling lazy or I want to watch a movie. Instead of indulging myself, I use those longings to set up a small writing goal with the reward being what I want at that time. I force myself to do some work to earn the payoff. This also helps me to keep writing as a time priority, which I find vital as a professional writer.

Of course, now my evil inner momentum-killing foe wants me to go watch a movie as soon as I click the “post” button. We’ll see, my inner demons, we’ll see…


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, MWG, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.