Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Negative Reactions Toward New Time Lady Simple-Minded, Not Shocking

Like many people around the world, I waited for news about the 13th incarnation of The Doctor, the protagonist in the long-running--54 full years on Nov. 23!--British sci-fi television show Doctor Who. Being in the United States, I didn't get to watch the announcement live on the BBC; I would have thought BBC America had it, but I guess not. Even so, I learned the identity of the new Doctor--Jodie Whittaker--around 12:30 p.m. while walking around the grocery store; I had to make a quick stop on my way home from a radio appearance in my hometown.

Doctor Bae.

My first reaction to Miss Whittaker was a resounding YES. I have never seen Broadchurch, another BBC show on which she appears as a series regular, nor any of her other work, so I don't know exactly her acting chops--I presume her acting is on another level in order to land this iconic role. My emphatic YES is over the fact that a change in The Doctor's gender was acknowledging what was becoming a mere formality at this point:

John Simms' Master: "Is the future going to be all-girl?"
12th Doctor: "We can only hope."

There were other signs, too, beyond 10th Series dialogue: the fact The Master became The Mistress--and seriously, how fucking fantastic is Michelle Gomez as an actress?--and the General from the Time War regenerated into female form for what was to be his/her final regeneration of this cycle. And don't forget the minisode that preceded the 50th Anniversary special, where the Sisterhood of Karn gave Paul McGann's 8th Doctor the option of choosing his next incarnation: "Time Lord science is elevated here on Karn; the change doesn't have to be random. Fat or thin? Young or old? Man..... or woman?"

Plain and simple, this was HAPPENING, like it or not; from a storytelling perspective, it sends the narrative into interesting directions. And yes, there have been plenty of criticism about it from the Small Penis Brigade.

I haven't seen the angry responses to Jodie Whittaker signing on as the newest Time Lady; if I'm being honest, I really don't care to see them. I know some of my friends have seen them.

Of course, it's typical anti-feminist bullshit. These are the same people who bitched about the potential relationship between Rey and Finn--or because Finn is a black stormtrooper?--in Star Wars. Perhaps these people never realized there have been Time Ladies in the past, such as the Rani, or Romana. Or... River Song? Ever hear about her?

Oh yes--the Doctor's wife. One of the best Time Ladies to ever wield a sonic screwdriver, who also blew kissy noises into her microphone Sunday when she found out Whittaker is the new Doctor. A return for River to find out her husband is now a drop dead gorgeous blonde--not ginger, my only complaint--Time Lady between now and 2021? My pulse is pounding simply thinking of THAT particular scenario.

Hello, Sweetie? Hellooooooo, Sweetie!

Doctor Who is not going to be ruined by this welcome change. If you think so, you have every right not to turn on the television every Saturday. Honestly, I think you're going to miss out--and it will be your loss, not ours.

Doctor Who as a woman? Doctor Why Not?

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Recipe Wednesday: Chicken Parm on the Grill

A year and a half ago, you may recall that I posted a simple baked chicken parm recipe. We like our poultry here at the Farm, and probably have chicken twice a week along with pasta and sauce, steaks, fish, and pork chops. We never starve, even though I'm technically a starving artist. Take that as you will.

In that post, I mentioned that I've done chicken parm on the ol' grill, putting foil on the grate and letting Jen do up the fixings on the chicken; mainly tenderizing and dipping the chicken in beaten egg and coating it with bread crumbs. Seven minutes a side on high, and it's cooked through in a third of an hour.

About two weeks ago, I discovered a different way on Facebook (perhaps you've seen the video), and I decided to give it a try.

In a word, it's delish.


I started with two pieces of Pam-drenched foil before I cut and arranged summer squash slices; I would have used sliced zucchini, but I don't have any ready from the garden, and I used the zucchini I had bought on the Fourth of July with steak. I seasoned the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little Italian seasoning to give it a little kick.

After that, I opened my chicken breasts. We've been using the Purdue Perfect Portions lately, so I don't even have to tenderize or trim it. Place the chicken atop the squash, then apply salt and pepper.

Then you add your marinara on top of that.

You can use whatever sauce you want. If you want to use store bought sauce out of a jar, have at it. I prefer to make my own, as I have said before. I ladle the thick gravy onto the chicken, then top it with cheese. I didn't have any provolone on hand, so I just used shredded mozzarella. Then I wrap it all up and set it aside.

I'll then prep my pasta. On this particular day, I just used spaghetti, but I'm sure this will work with angel hair, penne, farfalle, or rigatoni. Your choice. I only made half a pound for the two of us, and that may have been too much. I salt my water to get it boiling faster.

While the water is heating up, I light the grill and wait five minutes to allow it time to heat up. Once ready, I turn the heat to its absolute lowest--you don't want to scorch the squash!--and toss the chicken parm packets on.

With this particular recipe, I don't flip the packets. I keep it on the squash side for 18-20 minutes, and in that time, the chicken will be cooked through. Remove from the heat and let it rest; those foil packets will be hot.

And obviously stir your pasta. Drain, and serve as close to immediately as you can. If you need to wait, drizzle olive oil over it and stir it in.

We added a little grated parmesan and romano cheese to ours, and tucked right in.

Jen loved it, so I have permission to make this again. I definitely will, and will use zucchini.

Bon appetit.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Come on Seany, Finish What Ya Started--And I Did!

You may recall that in early May 2016, I took a little time away from the first draft of Ticket Agent in order to do the first bit of yard work for the year; we had just finished a mild winter, with the exception of late March/early April, and since I had been sick in mid-March and had lost too much time writing due to that illness, I didn't do anything outside during the month of April in order to catch up on the writing. I took about four days after Mother's Day to get a lot of yard work and the first real mow of the year completed, ignoring Jaclyn's calls to let my fingers dance.

One of the yard work projects was a long-term one that, at times, required my full attention. As I explained last May, our house abuts a man-made pond. Over the years, little had been done with the maintenance near it: Jen and I had tried to slash through the brush maybe four years ago, but we didn't get far, and it eventually returned. It returned to the point that our view of the pond from our living room grew marred with brush.

There's also another reason why we stopped: we didn't have a proper, working push lawnmower in order to keep that area maintained and under control. We only had a riding mower, and that section slopes down to the pond. I would mow up to the slope's beginnings with the ride-on, even as I felt gravity pulling me toward the left, and that was it. So yes, it was rather overgrown.

In August 2015, our riding mower had an issue with starting; it's an old riding mower, probably from the 1980's, and it's owned by Jen's uncle, our landlord. After being unable to start the thing and not wanting to bother him with it, I went down to Lowe's and bought a brand new Toro push lawnmower for about $100, and I managed to get the lawns cut in a few hours. I even got to dig a little deeper into the pondside's slope, eating the brush away a little at a time--but it was still too dense to completely mow it down.

By spring 2016, I had made the decision: with our still relatively brand-new push lawnmower, I would get the project underway at some point. I also decided that I would document my progress with photos... because, Facebook.

Taken April 23, 2016. Two weeks before the start of the project. Take note of the red brick near Jen's perennial garden.
Then Mother's Day rolled around. I got a little antsy after a week's work of rain, and after getting the fixed ride-on mower off the back porch and pulling the push mower out of the cellar, and with the sun breaking through early in the afternoon, I got outside while the Momma of my horses and cats took a little nap.

After the first hour or so of work. A little less overgrown.
Two days later, I had made some progress in clearing it.


And May 11, after some guidance from my bride regarding what was a perennial and what was crap that needed clearing, I made some more.

Definitely looking better...
The next day, I finished stage one of the clearing.


As you can see, in just four days, about five hours of work, I managed to get that area pretty much clear. The green spot right in the middle are a patch of daffodils, and if I hit those, Jen would have been pissed at me (she moved them out of there this past April). Closer to the rock are plants; daylillies by the tree to the left-hand side.

Here's another view:


Nice and clear. My skin, though, was a different story: as a result of this, I contracted a rather nasty case of poison ivy, from my collarbone to my waist. I was absolutely covered in it, and I was rather uncomfortable for about three weeks.

Now, I could have just as easily laid down a fresh layer of topsoil right then and seeded it and called it a day... but I didn't. A lot of what I had cut out still had anchors in the ground, i.e. stumps. I had to cut those out in order to make sure the brush didn't return. Alas, I managed to cut out a few in June after I returned to Ticket Agent's first draft for a few weeks and after getting the vegetable garden planted, and letting the poison ivy rash vanish; some of those stumps were too close to the pond's edge, and I weedwhack those area now instead of digging the damn things out.

Those stumps were stubborn bastards, let me tell you!

Here's one of them:


This one was dead center of the slope. I dug and dug and dug, trying to pry it loose. In the end, I managed to move enough soil to clip the thing out, then filled the hole with the remaining dirt, as well as some composted horse manure. I would take the other one out a few days later. I could have seeded then... but we hadn't had any rain for quite some time, and we were in the start of a drought; last summer was an incredibly hot one! I made sure that when I did mow, I went over to the pondside area and mowed down anything that came up.

By October, I still hadn't done anything else to pondside, seeing as I was deep into Persuaded By The Reflections' first draft; September was uber busy, between writing, game coverage, and family obligations on consecutive weekends. With Halloween approaching, it was too late to do anything else to it, seeing as the growing season had come to a close.


Winter came next.

Pondside is in the direct center of this panorama I took in February.
As spring approached, I told Jen, "I'm going to finish the pondside project. That's top of the agenda." And in order to do that, I had to make sure that there was a barrier between my grass and her perennial garden. We dug a small trench which wound around the perennials, the borders an old brick shaped with a bend.

We did that on April 23, one year to the day that I took that first photo and decided that I was going to do something about it:


You will also notice a little darker soil near the border to the perennials: I also laid down two bags of topsoil in an attempt to make that area a little more level. I kind of succeeded, but not quite. I also contracted a second case of poison ivy this day, but as I'm thinking about it, I believe that was from doing some work on the top lawn, not pondside.

Then I finally laid down the seed that day, and Jen and I put down some light mulch (hay) in order to keep in moisture. With the rainy spring we had, I only had to stretch the hose twice: once on the 23rd, and probably four or five days later to make sure it had enough water.

Nine days later....


GRASS!

On May 16, we had enough grass in order to give it its first haircut.


You will also notice the line of leaves at the top of the slope that really never got mulched up enough by any of the mowers. About a week or so after this, I raked all of that up, then raked up the dirt to stir it up and prepare it for a second seeding. I seeded it in the middle of June, laid down some more hay in order for the seed to retain moisture, and watered it a few times.

And now.....


Ta-da! Pondside is complete!

After 14 months of on and off work, I can safely say that the pondside project is finally done. There is very little I can do to add to it; I could seed right down to the water's edge, and I might do that this fall, but I have to acknowledge the mower will only go so far, and remember that there are a few leftover stumps in that section. There is another section to the left of the above tree (you'll see it in the last picture) that I could clear and risk a third case of poison ivy, but now is not the time for long sleeves and long pants.

There is another project that I want to accomplish this fall, and it entails getting rid of the thin trees and brush from the other side of pondside headed toward the rear corner of the property. That will allow me the ability to get the push mower in to keep the grass--and more importantly, ticks--away. That'll involve a lot of cutting, and a lot of raking. I also have to complete the perennial garden border on the other slope, then re-seed the newly-created bare spots. Will I have the strength to do three massive landscaping projects this fall, plus writing fiction, keeping up my fitness, and covering games? Probably not, but we'll see.

But not only was this a nice exercise in improving the property value-slash-curb appeal, I also see it as an allegory to writing. One of the lessons I've learned is "You can edit crap. You can fix broken sentences."

Consider the first picture as a crappy page. I massaged it and cut out the loose crap, and eventually got to clip out a hard phrase, erm, stump. Then I finally polished it up and laid down grass seed.

And now, it's done... and published.

Another work of art.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Time to get my edit on

If you're a fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper--one of mine and Jen's favorite shows--you all know Chip Gaines' favorite day of them all: Demo Day. The day where it's time to gut the kitchen, uncover the shiplap, and expose the problems hidden behind the sheet rock prior to Chip fixing everything up and Joanna making it their clients' dream home.

(Seriously, I may watch this show a little too much.)

Today, with JJ9's first draft soaring over 95,000 words yesterday, I start doing a little demo work on my next release, Persuaded By The Reflections: A Thriller, the follow-up to The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller; call it Edit Day, if you will. Except I won't gut it all the way down to the studs and completely re-work it, nor will it take me a full day; that would be suicide, ladies and gentlemen.

This project will take me upward of a week, I believe. It's a 331-page, 135,000-plus word behemoth of a story that I haven't looked at since before noon on February 6, and it's time to look at this with fresh eyes. There will be new words added, I know this: there is detail I didn't put in the first draft, detail I snagged while driving through Worcester in March. And I'm sure there will be some words which don't fit the story carved out.

From what I recall in showing bits and bobs to author friends, they love the writing, so it is my hope that I won't have to do too much to it. But I'm not relying on that thought; I have to make this book better than it already is--this could be the book that does more than define me.

It could be the book that sends me into the stratosphere.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A few loosey-goosey updates

Since I don't have much time to spare this weekend--today is an errands-and-laundry day, and tomorrow is the first day of the Clark High School Basketball Tournament and I'm working it all day; and Monday is a travel day--I wanted to go over a few things with you that I haven't mentioned here recently.

First off, Persuaded By The Reflections is finished. The first draft is, anyway. The MS clocked in at a little over 135,000 words, and let me tell you: I'm overjoyed by that total. At it stands, its first draft total is slightly less than what I wrote for Redeemed, but I published that book at 132,000 and some change. I don't expect to make any cuts to Persuaded; if anything, I'm going to enhance the story and add to it. Since I finished it on Feb. 6--the day after my Patriots won the Super Bowl--I'll give it a respectful three months to June 6 before I start editing.

If everything goes correctly, and if the pre-readers I have lined up give me the feedback I need and do so by the end of August/middle of September, I see no reason why this book can't be in your hands by the end of November. The pessimistic side of me says January or February of next year, which would mean nearly a year between releases.

And maybe in hardcover? We'll see about that.

Secondly, the launch of Ticket Agent went fairly well. There was one day this week where I didn't sell a copy, but so far, so good. Would love more eyes on it. I'd actually like more eyes on the entirety of the now-eight book series: I think I've said this before, that if half the people who downloaded Model Agent for free liked it and moved on with the series--it's $2.99 for each digital book, people--I would be a happy miser indeed, and I wouldn't have to cover high school sports again (although there's a part of me feels that I'm being pushed out of that profession right now, but that's another story). That's the ultimate goal, to get out of sportswriting on my own terms. Getting solid sell-through in the Agent series will aid in me achieving that goal.

Third, I have an outline for the ninth Agent novel, Scouring Agent, printed up. I've been thinking about what I'm going to do in Scouring Agent since November--actually, I had an inkling of one scene back in February or March of 2016, and it just built from there--and I've finally put it all together. I made the outline linear yesterday; before, the file was just a jumbled, out-of-order series of notes. Now it's a four-page treatment of awesome, and today I can see the book clearer than I did last year. This novel will have a different feel to it--at least that's how I intend it--and I'm planning on starting it next Thursday, after I get back from Cape Cod. What I may do is similar to what I did for Ticket: write a short story leading into it that I'll give away here on the blog, one that doesn't have the pop of the novel proper but gives the reader insight to what's happening, then start the novel proper.

Fourth, I've already started doing some brainstorming on my next series, which I plan to release under the D.L. Boyd name. Can't say much more on that right now.

And finally... I've lowered the price on The Peg-Legged Privateer's digital version, i.e. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks. I had it listed at $4.99 from its December 12 release until earlier this week, and at that price, I only sold 15 copies. While I am grateful for those who bought it at $4.99, I hadn't sold a single copy in about a month, and let's admit it, folks: this is a volume business. I've expressed misgivings in the past about being able to command a price higher than $2.99 and do so with regular volume, and I think this experiment proves that I can't command a higher price. I feel this book--my return to the fantasy genre--is better than anything in The Obloeron Saga, and should have a chance to perform well, especially if I want to write a second book using these characters. At $2.99, I'm hoping to do volume sales. If you haven't taken Paulina and the Good Queen Bess out for a spin yet, you can do so at this link. A good price for a good book.

Enjoy your weekend, and by all means, pick up a solid read.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Book Day 26: TICKET AGENT is here

The day that everyone loves is here.

And no, I'm not talking about Valentine's Day--although if that's the way you roll, consider this your Valentine's gift from me. Simply put, it's St. Jackie-tine's Day!

In other words, Ticket Agent: A Thriller is now here and available and all that!

In the eighth full-length adventure of the blonde bombshell, Jaclyn and Tom are split up by a devious international tycoon who has his fingers in several entities, and they are following the clues laid out--and with the help of Tasha and Salt, the clues that aren't exactly out in the open.


You can get your copy at the links below:

US Kindle
UK Kindle
Nook
Kobo
Apple iBooks

Please note: the trade paperback files have not been approved yet. When they are, they will be under the Kindle links. I will update the blog when it is listed.

Happy reading, and Happy Valentine's Day!

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

Monday, February 6, 2017

A First Look: The cover to TICKET AGENT

As I promised on my Facebook fan page late last week, since the Patriots won the Super Bowl, I would post the cover to Ticket Agent: A Thriller today.

And since I'm a man of my word--well, if you were registered for my mailing list, you would have seen it Saturday evening--here it is:


It's coming VERY soon.

Special thanks to David Wood for the cover.

If you want to know when it's available for purchase, register for the mailing list. Newsletter recipients are the first to know EVERYTHING.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com

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.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com