I grew up in Effingham, Ill and has heard all the “Effin- jokes” before. I’ve been a Shamrock, a Flaming Heart, a Blueboy and a Panther. Yes, my high school letterman’s jacket has a big red flaming heart on the sleeve.
Academically, I earned my Master’s in Speech Communications from Eastern Illinois University and a Bachelor’s in English/Creative Writing from Illinois College. Running cross-country for Illinois College, I was the first four-year letter winner and captain my senior year. During my time at IC, I was a member of the Sigma Pi Literary Society, which is way cooler than the fraternity that stole the name.
In my diverse and varied career, I’ve excelled at being a Yellow Pages sales representative, national magazine editor/writer, ad agency hack, speech teacher, web content writer/designer and burger flipper. Amazingly, I have 15 years of marketing and promotional experience including managing diverse activities from event planning and promotional copywriting to web site creation and teaching. Take a peek at my work experience at Zerply profile.
With Grant Chastain, I’m a co-founder of the virtual studio, Chance Avenue Productions. My mind is furiously working on half a dozen creative endeavors none of which I can talk about right now.
I was married once, but it didn’t take. I’ve got a daughter. No, you can’t date her.
I’m not nearly as famous as some of the people I’ve met including Gene Simmons (KISS), J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5 creator), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), Mandy Amano (the Pepsi girl), Dee Brown, Luther Head & Deron Williams (NBA and Illinois Basketball), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times), George Perez (comic book artist extrordinaire), Mark Waid (Boom Studios head honcho), several Star Trek people (Walter Koenig is really short and Peter David messed-up one of my books with his autograph) and some skinny chap named Barack Obama.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers to questions you never knew you needed the answers for. Or something.
How do you pronounce your name?
‘Sean’ is a Gaelic name, not an English name. That explains its unusual pronunciation: the ‘s’ equals ‘sh’ and the ’e’ is silent. It is Gaelic for John. Sean rhymes with dawn. I was named after Sean Connery. As I understand it, there are a few people who pronounce it like ‘seen,’ which is just dumb.
McDevitt is not McDivitt. The “Dev” sound is the same as devil minus the “il.” There once was an astronaut named James McDivitt. No relation, obviously.
What did you study? Where?
I attended Illinois College and received my undergraduate degree in English – Creative Writing, which is a unique degree because it isn’t a journalism degree nor is it a literature degree. I wanted to work for advertising agencies/marketing departments, which is pretty much what I’ve done for the past 15 years. I also have a Master’s degree in Speech Communications, which I thought was a great companion to the creative writing.
Who inspires you?
Any writer I’ve read over the years had a hand in inspiring me to write. Lately, I’ve been reading more online content than actual books (My novels and non-fiction to read pile looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa). The following are some of my must reads:
• John Scalzi Wrote his first novel online for free and it got picked up by a real publisher. His blog always has interesting comments on the day’s events.
• Kevin Smith Some people hate Kevin Smith. Some people love him. I think he’s figured out how to tap into his core audience. Looking forward to see how his movie distribution model works out as it has such a strong social media component.
• Leo Babauta His quick notes on his blog have helped me get a grip on my out of control life. You really need to read focus.
• Mark Morford The best gonzo pop culture writer of the day. His columns are perfect little morsels of ingenuity and deviance. Go buy The Daring Spectacle.
• Mark Tupper His writings on the state of the University of Illinois basketball and football teams is top notch. Others cover it, but he’s always got a winner of a column.
• Matt Taibbi The most insightful political writer today. His pieces for Rolling Stone are always excellent.
• Rich Johnson Not everyone’s cup of tea as he tends to try and be the Nikki Finke of comics. Still his finger is on the pulse of comicdom.
• Roger Ebert Simply one of the best writers on the planet. I expect his blog will someday be turned into a collection of writings and comments. If you think it’s all movies, think again.
• Warren Ellis I love it when Mr. Ellis writes essays about as much as when he writes prose and graphic novels. More imagination than most and a firm grasp of the future just out of reach.
• Wil Wheaton More than anyone today, Mr. Wheaton has inspired me to become a better writer. He and I would no doubt have similar feelings about our non-fiction and fiction.
How much of your talent do you feel you were born with and how much do you feel is learned?
I honestly don’t know. I do know the only way to get good is to keep practicing and keep doing. A writer gets better the more he or she writes. Same with athletes, musicians, designers… you have to keep at it to get better. Still there has to be some level of talent to proceed past the simple understanding of how to make a layer in Photoshop or the fingering of a G chord on a guitar. My advice is to do a lot of different things and find out what you like and what gets your juices flowing.
I think some people are obviously more talented than others. However, once you reach a certain level where there’s parity, a college basketball player who dominated in high school now contending with better or equally skilled opposing players is a good example, you have to work to get better. Robert Half said, “Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy” and I believe it.
How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. For me, I’m inspired by music or a great line of dialogue or quotes. Photographs inspire me, but also the real world. Take a look and really see what’s out there and take notes. Being open to experiences is the only way.
What do you do if you can’t think of an idea?
I think and think and think. I also think some more. Personally, I’ve found that bouncing an idea off my other writer friends usually sparks solutions or prompts things I hadn’t considered before. It’s good to have friends who can be critical without bashing.
How do you maintain focus (on work, dreams, goals, life)?
I’ve tried to write a daily goal, weekly goal, quarterly goal and then yearly goal. The yearly goals are usually big picture items – find a position that values my talent, experience and work ethic. Quarterly goals tend to be ones that I can achieve in the time frame by setting up the daily and weekly goals toward the outcome.
I also think the word multitasking is ridiculous because no one can really answer the phone, write an email, read a memo and check twitter at the same time and hope to accomplish anything but mediocre results. One thing at a time, bucko.
How do you promote yourself?
I’ve been in the promotion bidness for ages. Creating a website, some social media, maybe an ad or two can generate awareness, but that doesn’t quite equate to action. You have to motivate people into action. You can’t just tell people you are great, you have to show it. Which means you have to do something compelling.
People are consuming creative content on the internet everyday. What do you have to offer that’s unique or insightful or relevant? If you make it better, they will come.
It’s what I’m trying to do here – write creative and interesting things about the subjects I love. It’s never work when you do something you love.
Can I ask you more questions?
Knock yourself out. Email me at email@example.com. No promises of a response, but if you take the time to write I’ll do my best to respond.