Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Paperbacks (well, some of them) Are Coming

You may recall that in the days before last weekend and the turn of the calendar, I posted my list of writing resolutions for 2017. One of my resolutions, right in the middle, was to learn how to do wraparound book covers for paperback books through CreateSpace.

As I wrote in that blog: Honestly, I should know how to do a wraparound.

Of course, there's a reason why I didn't, and as always, I'll be honest with you: I was scared. Scared to fuck up what is supposed to be one of the most important parts of a book. I can tell you that looking at the specs in order to create a cover--and this was before I discovered they had templates to do your wraparounds--I easily felt my rear end pucker with fear.

So with that known, I decided to outsource my paperbacks to people more competent in PhotoShop. First Trish, then D.W. Bruce gave me an awesome cover to Zombie Showdown. They delivered quality work, and I was proud of what they easily created.

But as my own PhotoShop skills increased, I felt I needed to learn how to do them myself, especially after last year's local Comic Con--July 29th, this year--made me realize that I needed more on-hand product. And as I wrote in early August, I wanted the product out in time for this past Christmas sales, but that didn't happen: the interior files I did that week, but I couldn't do the wraparounds. I sat on them. I decided just before the New Year that I needed to watch a tutorial on YouTube--seriously, there is a tutorial for everything on YouTube--and learn how to do it.

I found some time for the tutorial this past Friday, and right after that, I got bold: I did the wraparound cover to The Lone Bostonian, a book I've wanted to get into paperback for a while. It took me about half an hour or thereabouts, and I managed to create a solid wraparound.

Still, I wanted to puke afterward.

Saturday afternoon, I did the wraparounds for An Invitation To Drink... Or To Die: A Murder Mystery Novella and Scollay Love: A Romance, the latter under my D.L. Boyd pen name. The novella went through without a problem. Scollay Love, on the other hand... I didn't use the .psd for the front cover, since I deleted it a while back, and I found out earlier this morning there were bleed issues on the ebook cover version, which I used. As soon as I can afford to re-download the cover, I will re-do the .psd in order to get the paperback out there. So right now, Scollay Love is on hold for paperback.

And this morning, I did the covers to the Small Town P.I. series' individual books. Those went like clockwork, and probably took an hour of time. I'm expecting those five finished paperbacks, three novels and two novellas, to be available for sale by the end of this week.

I'm holding off on a few of the last books I need to do for now: Royal Switch, like I wrote in the resolutions blog, is on hold until the summer: I want to do a full revision on the story and move a few things around, quite possibly after I write the first draft to the ninth Jaclyn Johnson novel. In addition, I want to improve the cover and see what I can do with it.

In addition, the Obloeron novels aren't ready for singling--i.e., I don't have individual covers yet--so there are no Obloeron paperbacks at present. There are also no Obloeron single ebook versions yet, either. One thing at a time.

Still... getting these five books out is a great relief.

Now... about getting certain books out in hardcover--we're working on that.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Author's Resolutions, 2017

Over the last few days (hell, the last month), I’ve begun thinking about not only the 2017 business plan, but also my resolutions for the new year.

I have to be honest: I didn’t do well with my 2016 resolutions—I will blog more in 2016? Blogs were down from 41 to 29, not including this post. Significantly reduce my time on social media? You’re having a laugh—and I wondered if I would even do a list of resolutions because of this. Besides, I already did a post in early August about my goals for the next 12 months. I didn’t really need to do one.

But the great thing about setting goals and resolutions is that you have the ability to re-evaluate them at certain intervals, adjust things, and move on. And that’s what I’m doing today. Away we go:

I will write 250,000 words in 2017

I wrote approximately 219,000 words in 2016 over the course of two-plus books (the last 17,000 or so in The Peg-Legged Privateer, plus 101,437 in Ticket Agent, and the first 100,000 in Persuaded By The Reflections). I expect I’ll get another 25,000 words in Persuaded written before I wrap it up, but at 70,000 words I thought I would need only 50,000 more to finish; we can re-evaluate that when we get closer. It’s quite possible that Persuaded will surpass Redeemed in published words (132,000+), and maybe even Redeemed’s first draft total (140,177); I think it might. I don’t really know where the count will end up, and I’m hoping the first draft will be done by the end of February. That’s not a drop dead deadline for the book, but that’s my hopeful ending point. The end of February will mean a late summer edit, i.e. July or August, and a late December release. For March through June, I’m planning on writing the ninth Jaclyn Johnson novel, and I’m still up in the air about what I want to do in the second half of the year. Quite possibly the new series I mentioned this past August.

I want to publish two books, along with freshening up some of the back list, in 2017

Ticket Agent is currently with Kim—it’s her birthday, by the way, so happy birthday to Kim!—and I’ve given her until the end of January to get back notes and corrections to me so we can have a February release, much like we have had for Chemical (mid-February 2016) and Ticket (late January 2015) in recent years. Persuaded won’t be ready until late 2017, but I’m not going to publish it until it’s absolutely perfect. I’m also not going to go up against the holiday season. My hope is that the book will be published before the year is out, though. It could need some work after I do the editing, or it could be one of the greatest things I’ve ever written (after taking seven months to write the first draft, it might be). But not only that, I want to take some time to freshen up some of my older work; I may give Royal Switch a pass-through, mainly to see if I can fix the opening to the story and move that sluggish info dump somewhere else. I want to go back through two of my old John Fitch V titles and see if they can be fixed up and brought into my current writing level; I also want to freshen up the cover for A Galaxy At War, and possibly re-title it. And I want to get Furball & Feathers re-issued by the summer, too. I’ve done a sketch of potential cover art for it, but is it good enough to be published? I’m not too sure.

I want to learn how to do wrap-around covers for paperbacks in 2017

You’ll recall in August I declared that all of my work needs to be in paperback following my successful appearance at the Plastic City Comic Con on July 31. The second one is coming on July 30, 2017, in my hometown of Fitchburg. So far, 12 of my titles, including the entirety of the AGENT series, are in paperback, and I wanted to have the entire catalogue out in paperback by Thanksgiving in order to sell for the Christmas holiday. That didn’t happen, and that’s my fault. Honestly, I should know how to do a wrap-around; I can do a flat cover easily, and do it on the cheap, but not making it look cheap. So what I need to do is look for a tutorial in my spare time—what’s that?—and learn this important book creating tool.

I want to have The Obloeron Saga out in single copies for ebook and paperback in 2017

Pretty easy to do. I need covers for those, and I need the money to buy the artwork. That will happen when I can afford it.

I want to do better convention prep in time for PCCC in 2017

This will be some of the things I do in the first half of the year: get the Square credit card reader, get book stands, and, little by little, buy product for the event, i.e. ordering 10-15 copies of Zombie Showdown by the end of January and having them on-hand and ready, buying X of Ticket Agent and all the others, etc. In order to have an even more successful con, I need to have all of these things ready to go.

I want to get the rest of the AGENT series out in audiobook in 2017

Not exactly something in my control: this is akin to wanting 10,000 or more book sales in a year, because that’s something I can’t control. Laura Jennings has done a marvelous job on the first five audiobooks in the series, and I’m hoping she’ll continue in 2017.

I want to advertise more in 2017

I’m still here. I’m not going away any time soon. But still—my sales numbers do not reflect the numbers a full-time author should make, but again, that’s something that’s partially out of my control; I can’t rip people’s arms out of their sockets and make them buy my books. While I can turn a phrase with the best of them, my marketing skills are dreadful. I’ve relied mainly on word of mouth, Facebook links, Twitter, and—before 2012 and meeting my wife—ebook advertisers in eReader News Today and Kindle Nation Daily to varying degrees of success. I heard recently that one author got a BookBub ad without the pre-requisite review numbers, and I’m hoping I can do the same this coming year. Also some Facebook ads to encourage mailing list signups, Amazon ads, Twitter ads, and ENT/KND/BookGoodies/etc. I desperately need to re-claim my audience!

We’ll re-evaluate as the year goes on.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cleaning off the desk, 2016 style

Earlier this afternoon, I hit the 100,000-word mark in my current WIP, Persuaded By The Reflections; Persuaded is the follow-up to The Long Crimson Line. Tallying that count up with the first draft count of the forthcoming Jaclyn Johnson novel Ticket Agent, plus the estimated ending of The Peg-Legged Privateer that I wrote in January, I end 2016 with about 218,596 words of fiction written. Rounding it up to a cool 219,000 sounds pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

Now, with only a few days remaining in the calendar year, I'm taking the time to recharge--in lieu of IBC Root Beer, I'm celebrating the 100K-word plateau with some reading and no fiction until at least January 2.

But in the meantime, it's not bad to look back on what I did this year, and also raise a beer in celebration:

In addition to 219K words written, I published three books. Yup, I released the seventh Jaclyn Johnson novel Chemical Agent, along with the third (and more than likely final) Alex Bourque mystery, Beach Blanket Bloodshed. Not only that, I also re-launched the two other books in that particular series with new cover art, as well as a bundle of those three books.

Earlier this month, The Peg-Legged Privateer launched.

And if you missed it, I had an awesome Plastic City Comic Con back in July. I've also had Jaclyn Johnson optioned for TV and film.

To say that I hit writing and publishing goals is an understatement. When I plot out my goals, I work my ass off to hit them. That has been my mantra since I started writing. I had a good year.

Sales goals, of course, is a different story. I took a loss this year, and I'll be re-assessing my sales goals--or deciding whether or not having them is a good thing to begin with--within the coming days.

I'll be sure to let you all know as the business plan comes into clearer focus--2017 is on the horizon.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Book Day, and Avast me hearties! THE PEG-LEGGED PRIVATEER is here!

Back at the tail end of January, you’ll recall I penned a blog entitled “Twenty-five First Drafts.” I had just finished writing the first draft to The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel, and I was pretty happy with the job I did. And in the last few weeks, I’ve talked about the characters involved, the creatures they encounter, and I even wrote up a short storyleading into the novel proper.

And now, it’s time to release Paulina out into the world.

Yes, folks, it is time. For the 25th time, it is time to celebrate Book Day.

Here’s what the book is all about:

Long in the service of the 12th Baron Wilton, the privateer known as Paulina has reached her limit. Between a township that doesn’t care for her, the Baron assuring her pledge that she’ll go down with her last ship, and his lascivious advances toward her newest paramour, Paulina plots to betray him.

She just needs a little help in the form of her all-women crew to do it.

Taking four ladies along with her, Paulina takes the Good Queen Bess for her maiden voyage through the Caribe, where mystical beings and scoundrels alike look to thwart her and send her to the Realm of the Locker.

But they don’t count on the steel and magical energies this quintet utilizes to stain the wine-colored waters an even darker shade.

Set in a parallel world to ours and in the Golden Age of Piracy, The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel will quicken your pulse in more ways than one. It features the fast-paced action you’ve come to expect out of me, as well as a brash female protagonist—again, what you’ve come to expect from me.

And how about a little sex? It wouldn’t be a Sean Sweeney novel without a little hanky panky: Paulina considers herself heteroflexible, and her lover is also a woman. Can you say smokin’ hot lesbian pirates? Smokin’ hot lesbian pirates.

Get your copy in either ebook or trade paperback (trade paperback available only from Amazon at the mo) today, and remember: paperbacks make great stocking stuffers.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


About a week or so ago, I introduced you to the characters that make up the dramatis personae in The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel, which releases tomorrow (TOMORROW!) on all ebook retailers (it's even available as a trade paperback, and pirate books make great Christmas presents, wink wink, nudge nudge). Today, I want to glaze over the creatures that are involved in this fantasy tale.

The Lusca

The Lusca is only mentioned a few times and doesn't truly make an appearance in the book, but it is a massive part of the opening. A creature with the arms of an octopus and the head and body of a shark, the Lusca has rammed Paulina's most recent ship entering the novel, has killed Baron Wilton's nephew, and has caused a great loss of life.

The Leviathans

The servants of Maricote, and by extension, the servants of Onyx Wren. Bettina calls them the "Squigglies." The Leviathans are massive water serpents who protect the Bess at Onyx's command.

The Water Walkers

A group of undead who are at the command of an unknown entity in Dominica; they attack the Bess mid-Caribe. Yes, they are re-animated magically to walk over water.

The rock troll and the serpents on the Isle de Mordre

In looking for Battleneck Bruce's booty, Paulina and her shipmates must navigate through an island of pitfalls, and these two particular beasties come one right after another.

How do they survive against all of this? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Getting to know the characters of THE PEG-LEGGED PRIVATEER

With Book Day approaching rather rapidly and will be here before we know it (Monday, Dec. 12), I thought it would be nice to introduce the characters you'll encounter when The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel hits the virtual shelves.


Paulina is the Captain of the Good Queen Bess, and starts the novel as a privateer for the 12th Baron Wilton, William Weaver. She is deceptive and witty. Can be brash in stressful situations. She is also slender yet busty, red hair, green eyes, with skin the color of milk. Her most dangerous feature? She has wears a golden foot from just below right knee. The story of that incident may be told at a future time. She was, however, orphaned at the age of 5; parents’ ship crashed and sank. She was in turn picked up by Weaver. She is heteroflexible, meaning she likes to have a go with both genders. Entering the story, she hassurvived her third ship sinking. Believes in the goddess Amphitrite.
Bettina Brewer
Starting the story, Bettina is a barmaid at a pub she owns in Port Regret, and becomes first mate to Paulina on the GQB. Her father was a privateer for Weaver before he drowned, and she left Spicer's Bay at 18 years old. When Paulina approaches her, she has grown tired of what she calls, "the land lover life." Built like an ox, many sailors have tried to woo the great barmaid, but they have all had their failings exposed by her broadsword. She is brash, yet insightful; a strike-first type of gal. 
We meet Molly when Paulina arrives in Spicer's Bay, where she is a scullery maid to Weaver; was Paulina’s replacement in Weaver’s household/bed when the latter became a privateer; is Paulina’s current paramour. Molly is coy and demure, but also insightful. She is slender with black hair, and is busty.

I haven't explored Molly's backstory prior to her arrival, but it more than likely wasn't adventurous.

Sally Songspinner
Sally joins the crew of the Bess following an incident at a brothel called Regret's Pure Delights, where she stood as a strumpet; she becomes the unofficial second mate of the Bess. Blonde and slender with small breasts, Sally seems coy and demure at first but is easily angered when the situation calls for it. At the start, when wooing a pirate in the Delights, has a clipped, regular accent, but that accent turns salty when angered. Utilizes twin blades in combat.
Onyx Wren

The ebony-skinned witch doctor on the Bess. Onyx is an interesting character; she speaks without the use of contractions, and is a voice of reason and a calming influence on the Caribe. We learn that her parents were witch doctors who, like her, believed in the god Maricote; her mistress, at age 5, told her she has the ability to harness Maricote’s power. She uses powders to concoct cloud-like view screens, as well as particle drones from these powders to spy on approaching ships. Meditates, too. Uses balls of magical energy (“Maricote’s blessings”) to defeat enemies. She even has a pair of Leviathan snakes swimming around to do her dirty work.
And finally, William Weaver
As we've explained, Weaver is the 12th Baron Wilton of the Crownlands’ Wilton barony. An erudite and snobbish man, we learn that Weaver is a schemer. In the narrative, Weaver has been Paulina’s benefactor for many years, and he practically owns Spicer's Bay.

The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel will be released on Dec. 12, 2016--one week after J. Kent Holloway's Tombstone Voodoo: A Tattered Sails Novel.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Casting Question: Who would play Jaclyn Johnson?

After I announced the optioning on Facebook last Friday, my pal Stephen Campbell suggested we play a little game called “Who will play Jaclyn Johnson?” in a potential future movie. Of course, I don’t know if I would have a say in casting should a studio pick the series up. Still, it’s always fun to throw around names.

Remember: this is just for fun. Others may have different thoughts, and by all means, add your thoughts to the comments section.

As Jaclyn: Hayden Panettiere, Ashley Eckstein, or an unknown up-and-comer

Wlad Klitschko’s wife and the voice of Ashoka Tano in Star Wars Clone Wars could fit the bill: both are relatively young and around Jaclyn’s age when she first appears in Model Agent. And both are blondes, so that works. I’ve always said I would want Panettiere as the lead, but Eckstein has the same qualities. A toss-up.

Of course, we may want to go with an unknown actress that audiences can grow to love instead of banking on automatic star power.

As Alex Dupuis: Geena Davis, Tea Leoni, or Jennifer Aniston

Alex’s character has to be not only tough, but a veteran actress who would command instant respect of not only the rest of the cast, but the audience, as well. Alex’s character resides between the ages of all three, and either could portray the no-nonsense director.

As Sarah Kendall: Kim Basinger

Vicki Vale is indeed presidential in my opinion, and Basinger has the ability to play a--spoiler alert--one-off character.

As Tom Messingham: Daniel Radcliffe or Matthew Lewis

For Jaclyn’s British boy toy, we would need an actor with dark hair, one who is recognizable, and one who can be the strength and comfort she needs in private without truly needing the spotlight; remember, Harry Potter never wanted it, and Neville Longbottom didn’t seem to mind the background. 

And if you think I mentioned that stuff for the Google hits, well, you know me too well.

As Melanie Ruoff: Sarah Michelle Gellar or Jessica Alba

We would need an actress in her late 30s/early 40s or thereabouts to portray the White House Chief of Staff. Gellar or Alba are right there.

As Eric Forrister: Unknown

I’ve never really given consideration as to who would play President Forrister before now, but he has to have that icy stare down for when he looks out over the South Lawn.

As Parkerhurst: Also unknown

I’ve always thought of Parkerhurst being a John Cleese-type of character, but I would have to think we need someone much younger, in the area of Jaclyn’s age or maybe a little older, in order to portray the CIA quartermaster.

As Salt: Also unknown

Another good question! We would need someone in his early 20s to portray the computer whiz.

What do you think? Do you think that’s an agreeable cast?