Thursday, January 29, 2015


Now that Travel Agent has been on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo the last few days, and now it's on its way to Apple iBooks and there will be a paperback on Amazon soon (it's on CreateSpace, and I'll give a link at the bottom of this blog), it's time to take a look at see just what the sixth full-length adventure is all about.

1. An old friend is back.

Not to really give a major spoiler here, but we haven't seen this character in some time. In fact, his name is mentioned in the first sentence of the book. He's off desk duty and back into the game--to a point.

2. Jaclyn, Tom, and Tasha are on vacation.

But that doesn't stop someone from setting Jaclyn up to take the fall for an assassination.

3. All's not right in Washington, D.C.

But it's not on Capitol Hill. It's involving someone close to Jaclyn, someone who has grown weary of their current life.

4. What would a Jaclyn Johnson book be without Parkerhurst or Salt?

They're back in their minor roles, and Parkerhurst does make the cross-Pacific trip with some toys and cars--plural--for Jaclyn and the old friend.

5. And who just happens to be our antagonist?

A gentleman by the name of Resnick, a man with great political aspirations. He's the main guy, but there are a few underlings... because what psychopath isn't without those to do his will?

6. How explosive is Travel Agent?

Kaboom? Kaboom.

7. I hear there's some tear-jerking moments in this one. Is that true?

Why yes. Yes there are.

Get your copy of Travel Agent: A Thriller at all eTailers:

US Kindle
UK Kindle
Australia Kindle
Canada Kindle
CreateSpace paperback

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowbound And Hunkered Down: The Blizzard of 2015

I took this photo Wednesday morning of our driveway/parking area.

At 37, I'm too young to remember the infamous Blizzard of '78. I was less than a year old for that storm, which seemingly came out of nowhere and blanketed the metropolitan Boston area with several feet of snow, along with high snowdrifts.

Alas, the Blizzard of '78 is just a memory to many now, but it's a memory that has many Bostonians and residents of surrounding towns scurrying to the grocery store whenever snow is mentioned. For us here, it's called "Got to get the Bread and Milk," something that everyone needs. As my wife so eloquently says every snowstorm, "Do these people just make French toast during snowstorms?" But I digress.

(Quick aside, this video here basically shows the mentality of every single Massachusetts resident when it comes to these grocery store runs pre-snowstorm. Go on, give it a view. It never gets old.)

When we heard about the upcoming snowstorm, we had just received a healthy sheet of about six inches of snow on Saturday. On Sunday, Jen and I delivered a snowblower to my brother-in-law in Connecticut, a drive of about 100 minutes or so, give or take a few minutes. When we got home, we had to unload a bed, and we were both weary from the drive that the only storm prep we did was hit the package store in Berlin, Mass. on our way back. I picked up a 12-pack of Samuel Adams Winter Lager as well as a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio for Jen.

I eventually did storm prep on Monday, which included filling jugs with water in the event the power went out, and at 7 a.m., I ventured out to our local Market Basket grocery store to pick up a few storm essentials--yes, including the bread and milk. I also picked up some bananas and coffee. Afterward, I published Travel Agent, to the joy of many. When Jen came home from school, we filled some buckets with water for flushing the toilet in case the power went out.

Just before we went to bed Monday, the storm began.

We found our south-facing windows frosted over when we awoke on Tuesday, and loads of snow outside. I found my sister-in-law's car practically buried, and while our cars weren't covered, there was plenty of snow building behind them.

My sister-in-law's car, buried.
Looking out at the horse paddock beyond the blueberry bush. Can you imagine snow up to your hips?

Jen's truck, the bed full of snow with more piling around it.

We went out to feed the horses immediately. Walking to the paddock, the snow was already up to my knees at 7:30 a.m., but when we got into the paddock, the snow was nearly up to my hips. The snow just kept coming. The horses, luckily, were smart enough to stay at the shed while I trudged through it, making a path for Jen. I had to catch my breath before going back.

Jen and I simply stayed indoors as the storm raged outside. Jen's uncle came by with a front-end loader and plowed a good portion of the snow aside. We went out again at 4 p.m. to feed the boys, then came in. The storm seemingly stopped after 7 o'clock.

Jen's uncle, clearing snow mid-storm.

Wednesday morning, we fed the boys, and then we started digging the cars out. I had our new car dug out in a couple of minutes, but the truck took a little longer. Jen drove them out, then we dug Bethany's car out, plus a path to the water troughs. Some time later, Jen's uncle came by again and plowed the rest, giving us room to turn the cars around and head down the driveway. There is still a little more shoveling to do, especially in front of my sister-in-law's apartment.

All told, we got quite a bit. The National Weather Service said Bolton received 26 inches of snow, while one town over received 36 inches. I think we got more than 36, but what do I know.

And now we have some snow coming Friday, and more Monday.

I am--well, my knees are--crying uncle.

The Diva Kitty and Ziggy Puff and unconcerned about weather events.

OK, OK. Yes. NOW you may call me "Prolific"

I blogged a little while ago about authorial labels and why I'm pretty indifferent about them; if you want to call me a writer, call me a writer. If you want to call me an author, call me an author. Writers write, while authors are read. It really doesn't make a difference to me.

However, there's one authorial label that, over the course of my now 12-plus-year fiction-writing career, I have absolutely abhorred its usage in reference to my writing, and me in general.

And that word, ladies and gents, is prolific.

*suppresses a full body shiver*

No, don't worry about me. I'm OK. Really.

See, over the first 12 years or so, people have called me prolific because of my dedication to my craft: I write pretty much every day, for several hours, taking the words in the dictionary, re-arranging them into sentences, stacking those sentences into paragraphs, and those paragraphs into chapters. In 2011, I published six novels, pretty much one right after the other. It got to the point where I could upload to Amazon's KDP site blindfolded.

After I published Double Agent at the tail end of 2011, my friend Bill Gilman--who edited Literary Agent and had suggested the plot for Travel Agent--said, "OK, now you're bordering on prolific." At that point, I had published nine or ten books, not including short stories and novellas.

In 2013, after I released Redeemed, I went on Stephen Campbell's Murders, Mysteries, and Mayhem podcast, when the P word came up: Stephen said, "You're not just prolific; you are very prolific." I had to stop him, explaining my feelings.

I'll be honest: I've just never thought of myself as prolific. I thought of myself as a hard-working author looking to simply entertain my readers. That word, in my estimation, should be reserved for Kevin J. Anderson or R.A. Salvatore, or other authors who have churned out large amounts of fiction, their books considered doorstops. Me? I've gone over 100,000 words in a book maybe four times in my career. Maybe five? Anderson and Salvatore do that with regularity, and here I am, punching out 80,000-90,000 word stories. Of course, that builds up. Maybe one of these days, I'll add up all the words I've written--and I can guarantee you that it would only be a fraction of Kevin and Bob's totals. Yet I remind and bitch-slap myself: do NOT compare yourself to any author out there.

Well, there you go. As I sit here after publishing Travel Agent on Monday, my 20th novel, I think I can withstand people calling me prolific and not having my mind shut down from disbelief that my name and that word are used in the same sentence.

Go ahead, call me prolific. Call me someone who writes a lot. Call me someone who only hopes to entertain people, to give them an escape.

I don't mind any longer.

I. Am. Prolific.

And now if you'll excuse me... I have another book to write.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


TRAVEL AGENT: A THRILLER, the sixth full-length Jaclyn Johnson adventure, has hit eTailers everywhere.... and the CIA's blonde bombshell has her hands full yet again.

Jaclyn, British secret agent Tom Messingham, and Tasha are vacationing in Australia, but little does Jaclyn know that she is being set up to take the fall for an assassination in Sydney. The trio, together with an old friend, must find out who's behind it before the true terrorist's ultimate gambit comes to fruition--all while Jaclyn learns that not everything is all right in Washington, D.C.


The first reader review for TRAVEL AGENT is in; it's amazing how it takes a month to brainstorm/plot, three months to write (thanks, weddings and World Cup), then the editing process.... and the first reader breezes through it less than 24 hours.

"He's done it again! Great read, another awesome installment in the Agent series. Some unexpected twists and a great ending. Can't wait for book 7!"

5 stars.


Get your copy at these links:

US Kindle:

UK Kindle:

Australia Kindle:

Canada Kindle:



Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes--First round, finished

I've spent the last couple of days finishing up the first round of work on The Obloeron Trilogy's re-writes, and as of Friday afternoon, the first round is done. Thursday and Friday, I spent my time tightening up The Fall of Myrindar, because that's really all that needed doing. There was some head-hopping, and that I eliminated. In fight scenes, my Third Person Clusterfuck POV was strong.

(Yes, it's a POV I made up.)

The writing in The Fall of Myrindar is strong, stronger than the first two books. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and with repetition comes experience. Every book you write, you develop your skills. You can tell that Quest is a first book. Return to Lowbridge is a decent second. Myrindar is a stronger book in order to wrap up the series.

There is, of course, more work to do in the series. I have to go into the prequels and make some character/place changes, which I will do this week. I also have to check the currently yet-to-be-published third prequel and check certain scenes for continuity, and make sure that stuff gets adequately described in Myrindar. I also have to go into Return to Lowbridge and strengthen certain portions.

The series WILL be better for this hard work.

As for now, I'm taking a day or so to re-charge, and I may get back to work Monday. If not Monday, Tuesday.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes--Two-thirds through, and Revelations

Today I finished a read-through and a clean-up of the second Obloeron novel, re-titled The Return To Lowbridge. After a hard clean-up of The Quest For The Chalice last Friday, I jumped into Return on Monday.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but yes, I admit it: I was a bad writer a decade ago. Passive voice, head hopping... those two dreadful writer no-no's littered my prose from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, page to page. After a month and a half of work, I've removed them to the best of my ability through the first two books. I now know what an old author friend meant when I made the same mistakes book after book, and I'm glad that part of me is finally gone. Still, I want to bash my head against the wall when I re-read my writing from that time in my life, if only to remind myself that I'm a different writer, a better writer, a decade after the fact. So far, with the edits I've made in both books, the story is a thousand percent better than it was five-plus years ago when it came out on Kindle. I'm thoroughly convinced of this.

I lost about 5,000 words--quite a few pages, to be precise; mostly of passive voice and head-hopping--in Return, and with the words I added in Quest I'm currently -2,000 or so in the hole as I head into the final book of the original Trilogy, The Fall Of Myrindar, which I may start tomorrow or Friday, depending on how long it takes to handle the beta notes of Travel Agent--yes, Jaclyn will be back soon. I also want to wait a few months before I return to Return--did you see what I did there?--in order to see how much I can add to this middle story. I believe I can use one of the short stories as a flashback like I did in Quest, but the problem with that is I'd make one chapter some 10,000-15,000 words longer; it would have the feel of Tolkien's chapter in Rivendell where everyone's trying to decide what to do with the Ring before Frodo goes to Mordor. I don't really want a 40-page chapter. I'm willing to bet you don't want to read a 40-page chapter, either.

(And if you think I added the words Tolkien, Rivendell, Frodo, and Mordor just to get Google hits.... you don't know me very well.)

Back to work soon, and the light at the end of the tunnel for this first stage of the re-writing/revising process grows larger.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Obloeron Re-writes--The Salvaging Stage

I reached 50,000 words in what I had originally planned as a re-write of The Quest For The Chalice today, which to some may seem rather rapid: only a week ago, I was at 20,000 words and going slow, re-writing away. I wasn't even in Ch. 4, in which the chapter the first big battle of the series occurred.

After a few more days, I've gotten to the point where re-writing from scratch is a waste of time, as there is quite a bit of good story that I can salvage. And that's something that I consider as a good thing!

When I started the project a month ago, if you'll recall, I wanted to re-write a great deal of this book, seeing as I had believed that the writing in it wasn't exactly my best. As it turned out, it was the writing in the first few chapters of the old version that wasn't the best; now that I'm in Ch. 9 of the original version (which has become Ch. 16 in this new version), the writing is better (at least I think so), the descriptions just a touch crisper, than in the first few chapters; I've noticed that in books that I've edited, where a majority of the problems are located in the first few chapters. The only thing I'm taking out now is head-hopping and writing out the passive voice, making the actions stronger and active.

There was, however, quite a bit of passive voice in the old version, which I thought my editor at the time had removed back in 2009. The editor had assured me that it was gone. I'm shrugging, moving on, and reminding myself that I am better for this endeavor.

If I stay focused, Quest's new first draft will be done by the end of the month. Then I'll move on to The Return To Lowbridge (remember that Labergator, the dwarven homeland, has changed to Lowbridge) in February, with The Fall of Myrindar right after. I don't believe that I have to add any more of the short stories to Quest. It will be long enough with what I've added.

We'll update closer to the end.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Obloeron Re-write--A snippet of change

How has 12 years as a novelist changed the first book I ever wrote? Simple. I know what to do now.

When I wrote The Quest For The Chalice back in 2003, I simply had no idea how to truly write. I knew how to write sentences and stack them into paragraphs, but I didn't get show vs. tell; that was a completely foreign concept for me. Now, 12 years later, my writing has come full circle, and if you've been paying attention to this blog, you know that I'm in the process of re-writing the first book (and maybe even the next two).

Here's a snippet of what I've just changed in Quest's fourth chapter, now chapter seven... notice some distinct differences?

The before:

The alliance was taking few, if any losses, having the orcs on the run, trying to avoid the blades as well as the stalagmites on the cavern floor and arrows raining down from above. But when one of the dwarf soldiers ran passed a drow statue, he found his head separated from his body, scimitars slashing through his throat like butter.
“The drow have come alive!” Radamuck screamed to his men as he noticed one of the first of his army’s losses. The king had taken out a few orcs, and now set his eyes at the closest drow, not more than ten feet away.
The drow, too, was looking at the king, his mace twisting in his strong, ebony hand. Radamuck charged in shield-first, blocking the mace as the dark elf attempted to pound down on the king. The force of the blow brought Radamuck to his knees, but fortunately this gave the king an unseen advantage over the drow. Swinging one-handed with all his might, his axe came in low, chopping the legs out from underneath the drow, the elf unable to counter the move.
As the dark elf fell, a grimace across its face, the dwarf king stepped on the drow’s mace-hand, took his axe into two hands and drove the blade deep into the young dark elf’s heart.

After now, the re-write:

The dwarf spun the axe and sent the clean blade up into another orc’s groin, but at that moment, as the orc’s face contorted into something resembling pain, Radamuck noticed that the tall edifices of drow had seemingly changed positions. Instead of standing with their stony arms crossed in front of their chests, the beings had lowered their arms and had their hands on the hilts of their swords.
Then, as a dwarf rushed past one while yelling for the king, a drow drew its scimitars and slashed through the dwarf’s neck in one quick, sharp motion. The head flew backward and slammed against the wall, dropping into the human male’s lap like a stone.
“By the gods,” Radamuck breathed, before he raised his voice over the din. “Beware of the drow! Battle the orcs, but beware of the drow! They’ve moved!”
At this, the sounds of steel scratching against steel wailed through the cavern as Radamuck saw the drow draw their weapons.
“Me and me big mouth,” he whispered as he caught the gaze of one drow who, instead of a sword, held a heavy, spiky mace in its ebony hand. The drow stepped from its pedestal, the mace spinning as its wrist twisted away.
Flexing his fingers on his shield, Radamuck raced toward the drow.
The drow sent the mace down in an arc. Radamuck brought his shield up and felt his arm shiver, the nerve endings tingling, as the weapon made contact. The force of the blow made the king’s knees buckle a little bit, but Radamuck recovered with a bit of a push. He brought his axe in at a low angle, the blade tearing at the bone and sinew of the dark elf’s knee joint. The drow exploded in a rage as it found itself toppling over to its left, the mace handle falling from its hand as it tried to break its fall.
His lip curling, Radamuck stepped on the drow’s hands before grasping the axe in both of his. He lifted it over his head and drove the bloodied blade into the elf’s chest cavity. A black bubble quickly came to its lips and burst, a line of residue encircling its mouth as it grew still. Radamuck wrenched the axe free.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Recipe Wednesday: Sean's Chicken Parm

For those that don't know, I do a lot of the cooking here on the Farm. And while I usually get into a meal routine, sometimes I like to try a few new things to change things up.

Today was one of those days.

I will do a grilled chicken parm, usually on my Foreman grill. The chicken is usually done in about nine minutes, then top it with the provolone cheese and let the heat from the open Foreman melt the cheese for about a minute. I've done grilled chicken parm on the backyard grill, but that involves some tin foil over the grate.

Today I baked the chicken instead, and it was absolutely delish.

First, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees. I have a slow-heating oven, so I didn't start preparing the chicken until about 10 minutes after I preheated. I sliced my two boneless chicken breasts in half, trimmed the fat, and then tenderized the chicken. Jen likes it tenderized, so I tenderize it.

I applied some Pam to the glass pan, then salt and peppered the breasts before I sprinkled some bread crumbs on top of the chicken. I like grinding my salt and pepper. I tossed it in the oven for about 35 minutes.

Once 35 minutes had elapsed, I removed the chicken from the oven and covered it with my homemade marinara before applying slices of provolone. I put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Here's the final product:

I served it with plain rotini and green beans from the garden. I'm sure penne or spaghetti would have worked, too, and any other vegetable works. Your choice.


Monday, January 5, 2015

The Obloeron Re-write--So Therapeutic

Over the course of the past month (with the exception of the last two weeks, because... Christmas), I've begun the long-awaited re-write of Obloeron: The Quest For The Chalice. So far, I've re-written the first few chapters of the original book, streamlining things and eliminating the dreaded head-hopping that appeared in the novel I started writing 12 years ago this past weekend. As of this afternoon, I'm 19,202 words into the re-write. I'm making the story better. Chugging along, but if Christmas didn't exist, I would be much further along in the re-write. Alas....

So far, I'm enjoying this process, much more than I thought I would.

Here's how this all went down:

In November 2013, my dear friend Deborah Levinson asked me if I had ever gone back to look at what I had previously written, now that I've become a better writer than when she first met me back in 2010. I said I hadn't, but it got me curious: Just how far have I come?

Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but yeah, I've come a long way.

About a day or so later, I looked into the file for The Obloeron Trilogy, and I couldn't read it. The writing burned my eyes: the original writing from 10-12 years ago in the first book was complete and utter adverse shit. I have no problem admitting that. I then proceeded to take the books off sale. I didn't want anyone to see them. I was saddened by this, but I realized I had to do it. The books weren't good enough. I promised myself that at some point, I would try to revise them, using the skills I had acquired in order to better serve the story.

After I finished the first draft to The Long Crimson Line a month ago, and after a conversation with C.S. Marks and Matthew Verish (two authors who I know have gone through massive re-writes of their own fantasy series), I decided that I would finally go back into the Obloeron world, starting off by re-reading what I could stand. At first I decided that it would be too hard of a process and almost let it stay buried in a desk drawer. But after that false start, I looked into the short stories that revolve around this world (I had written them after I finished the prequels). I then made the decision to employ some of those short stories into this new version of the trilogy. I think that when the finished product is done, the readers will find it a boon for the series and will answer a few questions, i.e. why Radamuck went searching for the Chalice in the first place. Also, the writing will be 100 percent better than the writing from a decade ago. I'm convinced that it will be better.

With the re-write comes a few changes that I'm sure will be confusing to readers. I've changed the name of the dwarven homeland from Labergator to Lowbridge, mainly to eliminate the needless mispronunciation of the former; this means that when I'm done with this, I have to go to the first two prequels and replace those references. One of the main characters' names has been changed, mainly to eliminate the adolescent overtone of the character's original name. There will be a few other changes, too: the journal entries that started the sections are gone. I will make no apologies for this.

I expect that the first book's re-write will take me through St. Patrick's Day as I'll be shifting between the next round of edits for Travel Agent and that book's release, as well as the first major round of edits for The Long Crimson Line and the brainstorming for the seventh Agent novel, which I'll write this summer. Whether or not I do a re-write of the second and third books remains to be seen; I'm sure I will, though.

It is my full hope that The Obloeron Trilogy will return to eTailers around this time next year.

Until then, read.