Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A little flash fiction for you

A few months ago, before I started the stretch run in GLORIOUS SLIP, I needed to get my fingers back into fiction mode after X amount of time away from it. This flash fiction piece was the result; I had seen a cartoon on Facebook depicting this scene, and I figured it was a good exercise to get the writing muscles re-attuned.

Hope you enjoy.

Copyright 2019, Sean Sweeney


Death Meets An Alien

Passing the TV, Bob flicked the porn off as he returned to his bed, feeling plenty lighter in his groin. He had just left the bathroom, content with his clean-up abilities for the present, the tissues wadded and sent to his septic tank. Traces of his seminal fluid remained on his skin, matting the thin hairs between his groin and navel to his body. He didn’t care about that; the cleaning job was to make sure that his baby-making goo didn’t coat the inside of his underwear and turn it into a crusty mess; the rest, he figured, would come off in the shower tomorrow morning.

“Ah, lesbians are like plumbers,” he said as he slid under the covers again. “They never cease to help clear my pipe.”

Bob’s head hit the pillow a heartbeat later. As soon as he closed his eyes, the scenes from the porno replayed over and over again as he drifted off, a dreamy smile tracing along his lips. He saw their bodies collide together, their legs scissoring as they mashed their groins against the other. He didn’t remember anything else after the duo separated and approached him; two pairs of breasts, full and fake and coming to rest alongside each other, came crashing down across his conscious self before sleep claimed him.

The heavy clunk of metal against the wall jolted Bob from his heavy slumber hours later, the breath catching in his throat as he jerked from the mattress. He didn’t make a move for the slick goop lingering in the corner of his eye, focused he was on the open door and the darkness beyond it.

“Hello?! Who’s there?!”

No answer came. Bob ground his teeth together.

“I’m calling the police!” he shouted.

“The police won’t help you.”

Bob felt the blood draining from his face, replaced by cold clamminess. The voice came through high-pitched and Arctic, and with such force that it felt all the air in the room had departed. He couldn’t help but notice just how his body shivered from hearing it; he clenched his buttocks almost on instinct, as if preventing his bowels from voiding its contents into his jammies.

The creature slipped into the bedroom a moment later, and Bob didn’t hear his floorboards shifting under the being’s weight. He heard nothing over the sound of his blood thundering in his inner ears.

But the being’s voice sliced through the din with utter sharpness, with the force of a razor grating against Bob’s nerves.

“I have come for you, Robert Wellington,” it said half a moment before the door closed of its own volition. “Your time has reached its end.”

Bob tried to speak. He did his best to pry open his jaws and let sounds flow, but the fright at the being’s presence — a long black cowl shielding its face from anyone’s gaze, along with the scythe it held in one bony hand — reverted him to mere babble. His throat felt as if a python had slithered across and held him within its mighty grasps, for his breath felt choked. His chest ached from the fierce beating his heart gave the inside of his sternum. He continued his lengthy shiver, even as he did his best to shrink underneath the heft of his comforter.

“Why?” Bob squeaked. He thought he had shouted the word, but it came through his lips like a whisper.

“Do not ask why,” the specter of death hissed. “Accept.” It moved forward, easing itself toward Bob’s left foot. It lowered the scythe, almost bringing it parallel to the bed. “Accept. Your soul is mi—”

Crack. The door flung itself open again, the knob driving into the wall. This time, the angel of death spun to see who dared intrude; Bob glanced that way and saw rays of bright light streaming into his room — along with fog rolling and rising.

Bob blinked.

What the f—? he thought, his mind spinning.

The fog cloud grew in size and density until it filled the threshold to Bob’s bedroom. Bob blinked again, then glanced at the specter; it kept whatever served as its gaze fixed on the doorway.

Can I get away? he wondered. Its concentrations are now elsewhere; surely I can slide out of bed, open a window, crawl out, and shimmy down the drainpipe. And without making a single noise.

The thought disappeared as eerie tones resembling a long, throaty whistle purred from the hall. The resonance made Bob recall the times he watched War of the Worlds, right before —

He sought out the bedclothes and grasped them, hard, until the cartilage in his knuckles popped.

Then, Bob stared deep into the fog as it shifted, and through the vapor stepped an extra terrestrial, an alien, its ovoid head and beady black eyes seeking one thing — him, its own gaze landing right on him, almost immediately upon entry.

“Robert,” it said, its voice almost sounding computerized, “we have come to take you away from Earth. The information you have garnered for us resides in the probe we inserted into your rectum the last time—”

Bob wanted to scream.

“Which Robert are you looking for?” the specter of death interrupted, gliding toward the alien.

The alien, to its credit, blinked its eyes and turned to face the specter.

“Gilbride. He lives here, right?”

Bob blinked as the alien pulled what looked like a map from hammerspace; the being wore no pants. All extraneous sounds save Bob’s racing heart and that of the paper unfolding disappeared.

“See, our information led us here. Robert Gilbride lives here.”

“No, no,” the specter rebutted. “He doesn’t live here any longer. I took his soul ages ago.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite positive. Once you’re mine, you’re mine. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

The alien threw up its hands, almost in defeat.

“Rats. You didn’t happen to retrieve a probe, did you?”

“That,” the specter replied, “is not in my purview.”

“Damn it. That information is critical to our intended invasion. But onto other matters: Since you are so in-the-know, do you happen to know where Evelyn Bulfinch lives?”

“Why yes, she’s in the next town. Double chimney, satellite dish. Colonial home. Scheduled for reclaiming in October 2025.”

Bob noticed the alien almost grinned when the angel of death gave the month and year.

“We’ll have her back well before that,” it said. “You have my guarantee.”

The alien then crossed its thin arms against its chest and raised its head toward the ceiling. It shimmered into nothingness, almost as if it defragmented itself. The fog cloud fizzled away, and the supernatural light retreated, leaving everything dark — almost too dark for Bob’s liking.

Then, the specter spun again, facing the bed, and Bob knew this was it. The end of the road.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Second draft was -- surprisingly -- enjoyable to write

By a general rule, I do not like to do massive changes to a story once the first draft is written. I just don't. Pulling at a plot thread leads to unraveling, and soon I have a mess on my hands. I prefer to make cosmetic changes -- i.e. grammar, word choice, punctuation, expounding on certain thoughts -- and let the book go from there.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule: I obviously made massive changes to THE OBLOERON SAGA a few years ago; I re-wrote the opening to MODEL AGENT, but didn't do a massive re-tooling of the book. I believe that I'm going to do something similar to TURNING BACK THE CLOCK this summer, and get it out in time for the book's 10th anniversary -- not to mention the 100th anniversary of the Black Sox Scandal and the Sale of Babe Ruth -- in October.

But I couldn't do that with GLORIOUS SLIP. There were some egregious errors -- stuff that just wasn't realistic -- in the first five chapters (well, from Ch. 2 to Ch. 5, and into Ch. 6) that just needed changing. I couldn't let them stay.

And to my surprise, the second draft as a whole was actually pleasurable to write. I believe that it was more pleasurable than writing the first draft. I actually felt more alive during the second draft than I did pulling teeth for the first.

Now don't get me wrong; the first draft read well despite the problems, but now I believe that the book is absolutely solid and I don't believe I'll have much to change when I re-read the book in June. Of course, I could be wrong and that there will be loads to do, putting the kibosh on me working on TBTC's 10th Anniversary edition.

If all goes well and we get a cover that is fire for this book, it is entirely possible that this book will be available for September 2019.

Again, and I keep saying this... I can't wait to show you the book.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

First draft to GLORIOUS SLIP finally done, on to the second draft

Phew. That took a while, didn't it?

This past Wednesday afternoon, I put the capper on the first draft to GLORIOUS SLIP, the first book in my planned men's adventure time travel series. The draft checked in at 189 pages, and at 81,850 words, it is my shortest full-length novel. And with the exception of THE QUEST FOR THE CHALICE, my first novel (part of THE OBLOERON SAGA), the 15 months it took me to complete the first draft was the longest I've ever needed to do so.

Take a bow? Not quite yet.

On Friday, I dove into the start of the second draft, added about 101 words to the prose, tweaking the first chapter and a half. I stopped after coming to a part which will need all my attention in the next few days: a massive re-write of a 1,900-word scene that just doesn't make sense to anything resembling a realistic happening -- or realism, period. I suspect it shouldn't take me more than a few days to straighten out, but there are some other threads attached to this scene in the next chapter or so which also need re-writing; you pull at one thread, and the entirety of the project falls apart, right?

That can happen, but I don't think that will necessarily happen here: this activity should oh-most-definitely turn the start of the narrative to titanium.

So why did it take me so long to write? You have to remember something: when I started this novel back in November 2017, I ran into some issues that I didn't foresee whatsoever.

There was The Great Root Canal post Thanksgiving, which took me out of service for a couple of days (seriously, so many dental issues that took up a lot of time between then and this past Christmas... 13 months of driving back and forth to my dentist in Holden, about 45 minutes or so each way).

There was the fact I really couldn't get a handle on this project; I wanted to tell a complete story, like I always do, and I wanted to do so in a completely different voice, so it made the writing feel like I was pulling teeth.

I also had two trips to my hometown every week to do a pair of local sports radio shows, which also demanded on my time, especially when it came to teams that I didn't cover personally; I couldn't write afterward, because those trips and shows took a lot out of me emotionally.

And in April of last year, I took on a wonderful dream job: on top of covering the local high schools, I started covering the New England Revolution soccer team, and even though it's considered part time, I threw myself into it like I always do. All of those things wrapped into one, unfortunately, and it meant GLORIOUS had to go on the shelf. I did get a little written during the tail end of the World Cup in July, but that was it for the first draft until the offseason began -- and even then I was still busy with high school sports until December. And even then, with me taking some time off from the high school sportswriting because the newspaper owed me so much money from November alone, it was still a challenge to open the file and get some words in.

With the Revs spending the preseason in Spain and now in Florida, and with what appears like no streams of the matches in sight, I resolved at the end of January to get the first draft, at the very least, completed by the start of the regular season on March 2. That's accomplished, yes, but I'm not giving the story time to breathe like I usually do; I feel that with the time I have afforded to me, I should at the very least try to get most of the book's issues sorted -- which, like I always say, are in the first half of the book.

Will I get the full second draft completed by the start of the regular season? Probably not. Maybe; I'm not counting on it, though. I should be able to crank the re-writes out this week, and then there's some additions to the story that I came up with a couple of weeks ago: some Doc Brown-esque letters by the protagonist to his parents that wouldn't be delivered until after he had disappeared, so I have those to write. If I get the second draft finished by then, fantastic. If not, it won't bother me until June, when the Revs have a few weeks off due to the Gold Cup. I don't suspect that there will be too much to re-write in the second half of the novel, but you never know.

In all seriousness, I don't want to rush such an important book. It's the first in a planned trilogy, with a lot of the action happening in books two and three. This is a set-up book, to hook the readers and get them to buy books two and three, whenever I get to write them (and if something else gets in my way, it may be a few years before I get the opportunity to sit down and churn out the pages). I'm going to take my time with these re-writes and revisions (read: small tweaks, such as grammar or expounding on other things), and make sure the book is pure fire before I send it to Kim for her edits. I may send it to Bruce, too. He's a history buff, and I'm sure that he'll have things to contribute, advice-wise.

I really can't wait to show you the first book. It's going to be some time, though, so please be patient with me.

Thanks for your time, as always.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Getting into my new hobby

Just a couple of paintings that I've done over the last week or so. I bought the Bob Ross "Liquid White," and that has helped with my mountains. I've wanted to do the wet-on-wet technique, but I don't think my paints--$6 paints at Michael's--have the firmness he requires. So I'll do what I can with what I have.

One of the things I've also wanted to do: self-painted book covers for the Obloeron Saga. So that's a possibility.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Scouring Agent: A Thriller, now available for pre-order!

It's getting to be about that time! 

And what time is it? You guessed right: it's time for a new Jaclyn Johnson novel!

Scouring Agent: A Thriller, the ninth Jaclyn Johnson adventure, is ready for pre-order at all ebook platforms. A trade paperback edition is coming, too.

Here's what it's all about:

A well-timed string of attacks and events in Washington, D.C. has President Eric B. Forrister and the CIA scrambling for answers in the ninth Jaclyn Johnson thriller novel.

How well-timed are they? It just so happens the attacks occur as Jaclyn is out of the country, on her honeymoon in Wales.

With Tasha Verkler, Jaclyn’s ward and confidante, at the head of the investigation alongside Desmond Daly, a.k.a. Salt, the duo look to discover who’s behind these brazen attacks—the new Supreme Court Museum has been bombed, two Justices dead; the Senate Majority Leader killed by a sniper—until the unthinkable occurs: Jaclyn and Tom’s ride home from Heathrow is also bombed.

Do Jaclyn and Tom make it back to the United States, or does Tasha manage to solve it herself?


Get it at the following links!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking back at 2017, my hopes for 2018

Over the last few years, I've resolved to do this, or set out to do that, as the calendar turns from the old year to the new one. You can look back at my archives for them.

As we enter 2018, I resolve to do none of that. Instead, I look toward hope.

I'll be honest: 2017 was a rather mixed bag for this author. I was successful in several ways. I achieved my resolution of publishing two books during the course of the calendar year, which is usually an assurance from me; accomplishment, sure, but when I'm doing two and sometimes three books a year, it gets to be old hat. I had a successful Plastic City Comic Con at the end of July, where I sold 20 books, many to local friends who had never bought a book of mine before. And I think I prepared well for it. I found several new readers, all of whom I hope I'll keep as 2018 winds it way toward 2019, and so on.

Where did I fail?

How much time do you have?

Many of my failings occurred due to my financial situation. As a freelancer sportswriter, my income is dependent on the amount of stories I write, as well as the newspaper's budget. If the weather sucks--hello, potential Snowicane later this week--and games get cancelled, I'm out X amount for that day. If the paper doesn't have anything for me, then I don't work. And I only work for one paper now exclusively, plus two one-hour appearances on the local radio station. The radio money helps, but it's not enough to devote extra funds toward making my publishing business as successful as it can be.

I'm also responsible for a certain amount of the bills/expenses here. Let's just say that with our expenses, none of which we can really cut, coupled with a limited amount of sports stories and subpar book sales (only 400 this past year, down from 2016 by about a third), I wasn't able to do everything I set out to do publishing-wise last year.

Buy artwork for covers in order to freshen up the backlist? Couldn't do it. The Obloeron Saga, Royal Switch, Scollay Love, and the Furball and Feathers children's series remain ebook only for the time being, and Furball and Feathers are on the shelf until I can get the money for new covers.

Advertise more? Couldn't do it. Reclaim my audience? You're having a laugh.

With certain entities such as Kindle Unlimited/KDP Select limiting single copy ebook sales (I refuse to go narrow and exclusive, as I have fans that use Nook, Kobo, and Apple), as well as Facebook limiting organic reach on my posts (and with Facebook doing more to limit organic reach in 2018) and Twitter sending me emails every day to spend money to advertise with them, sometimes I feel like I'm pretty much yelling into a funnel cloud when it comes to everything marketing-related. You have to spend money to make money, yes, that's a given... but you can't spend what you don't have. Without large amounts of money coming in the door, I'm just treading water.


I hope to get what I didn't get done in 2017 done in 2018. This isn't a resolution, per se. If I get it done, fantastic. If I can't, well... there's nothing else I can say except for people reading this to buy books, review them, tell people about them, buy them as gifts, and keep buying them, since my outside fiction writing income isn't growing by any stretch of the imagination.

But there's plenty more that I hope to accomplish in the next 364 days and some change roll on.

* I'm in the midst of a new men's adventure/historical romance series--the Glorious series--which I'm planning on releasing under the D.L. Boyd pen name. It's Outlander-esque, but not as long-winded, I hope. I'm about 17,000 words or so into the story, and I suspect the first book will take me until the end of March to write. Of course, I'm trying not to rush the story, so I'm writing about a page or so a day (because the early portion of the series is slow-going, too, and I want to make sure it's right; plus my time has not really been my own, between re-learning how to balance my time after this past fall, as well as dental issues which kept me away from my manuscript). I'm also trying to be careful of minutiae, while utilizing a different voice for the story. If all goes well, book one's first draft, like I said, will be done by the end of March. That's three more months. Book two will take me until the end of July/early August, while the third book should take me through the end of the year. Again, if everything goes right. The release schedule is a little more complicated, but we'll see how everything falls into place. Of course, I could get all three written rather quickly, but I doubt that will happen. Just going by the last couple of years.

* If there's time, I hope to get a few other projects revised and out for human consumption, such as a currently not published princess piece I wrote a few years ago involving my cousin's daughters. They are a little older now, so I want to give them something a little older, and possibly edgier. I need a solid cover for it, too... which involves money.

* With that type of schedule planned, plus all of my other commitments between sportswriting and radio commentary (planning the garden, actually carrying out the garden, taking up a great deal of time and preparation, I may be biting off more than I can chew when I say that I want to do other things writing-wise. I would like to plan out the third Ricky Madison novel, and I'd like to write an erotic thriller, like the old Skinemax late-night flicks of the 1990s (don't lie, you watched them, too). Those two thoughts may get pushed to 2019, dependent on how I do with the Glorious series and other projects.

Definitely on the writing/publishing agenda in 2018:

** Write the first Glorious novel, finishing the first draft in late March
** Publish Scouring Agent: A Thriller in mid-to-late February

** Write the second Glorious novel
** Publish the first Glorious novel (fall)
** Write the third Glorious novel
** Possibly publish the second one by the end of the year

Anything outside of that plan, I'm going to consider gravy.

It's a lot, and I hope I and come out of 2018 happy and accomplished.

Happy New Year, 2018.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Book Day (A Little Late)!

This week has been such a whirlwind that I didn't have time to write this blog post until today. Two days ago marked Book Day of Persuaded By The Reflections: A Thriller, my 27th novel.

Think about that for a second. Twenty-seven novels, done and dusted. Twenty-seven opportunities for readers to be entertained.

And in about two months or thereabouts, we'll have novel No. 28--the next Jaclyn Johnson novel, the ninth overall--available for readers to sink their teeth into. Imagine that.


So how did Persuaded come about?


My father's cousin Anne had read The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller during a family trip to the Caribbean last summer, and she gave me great feedback on her return. She also wanted to see the storyline continue--which was interesting to me, because I hadn't plotted out anything beyond Ricky sitting at that Causeway Street bar with Amanda Kovack. The Long Crimson Line, to my eyes, was a standalone.

However, after thinking about it for a few weeks--and knowing how standalones don't really sell, looking at my sales numbers for that particular book, which is a shame since TLCL has some of my best writing--and after getting more feedback from other readers, I came up with the storyline I put forth in this novel. TLCL is now the first book in a potential trilogy, currently a duology. I have a potential third book involving Ricky percolating in the back of my mind, and more than likely would write the book in late 2018-early 2019. We'll see, depending how the Glorious series evolves.

(And I'll tell you more about Glorious when I feel a little more confident about the story.)

One of my pre-readers and good friends Ted Flanagan called Persuaded "gritty." I liked that. He also called the setting--Worcester, Mass., a place I visited in Model Agent: A Thriller--an underutilized resource. It's quite possible I will use Worcester again. I don't know how, but I may.

And so, Persuaded is in the wild, and we're having a great launch so far. I hope you'll give this book a shot.

It's like nothing I've written before.