Saturday, December 31, 2011

The author's resolutions, 2012 style

My resolutions for 2012:

I will take better care of myself in 2012.

This is something I slack on. Authoring -- typing -- is a sedentary profession with limited movement. I don't run, but I could walk -- even though there's a chance of getting shot in my hometown. I also haven't seen a cardiologist in quite a while. I resolve to set aside time in my daily schedule to walk at least a few miles every week, and to schedule a physical/consultation.

I will not put pressure on myself in 2012.

When I say put pressure on myself, it's mainly worrying about how many words I write in a day in a project. There are some authors who don't reach my daily output. I resolve not to stress over daily counts. I get what I get.

I will write more in 2012.

Interesting that I put this resolution after the one about not putting pressure on myself. Simply put, I only wrote two books, plus two novellas (one not published yet) and a few short stories. All told, I wrote about 210,000 words in fiction. I also wrote 122,412 words in sportswriting this year. The first half of 2011 mainly dealt with editing and releasing novels in my backlog. I finished Model Agent, wrote C is for Coulrophobia as well as Vam Yankees (unreleased). I resolve to use my time more productively, and write more novels. I'd like to write five this year.

I will rest more in 2012.

Another interesting one. Author mate Steven Savile always implores me to take a break every so often. I rarely watch TV. I've been watching movies the past few days at night. I resolve to recreate a little more.

I will (hopefully) sell more books in 2012, which will help me scale back my sportswriting commitments in 2012.

Sportswriting keeps me fed during this early portion of my career. I wrote over 122,400 words in sportswriting during 2011 -- the equivalent of one long book, or two short books. Think about it: I could have written two more books this year if I had that sportswriting time back. If sales are at a level that I can live with, I resolve to cut my sportswriting time and concentrate on writing fiction.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Sean

Hi ho (ho ho ho!) there, and welcome to yet another edition -- a Christmas edition, at that -- of The Notepad. I'm Sean, your host. Please, save your applause until the end.

Over the next few hours, people across the country will open a Kindle or a Nook or an iPad from underneath the tree. These are great gifts, and hopefully those proud recipients will add a Sean Sweeney title to them straight away. It would be a great Christmas present to yours truly. Just saying. 


Since tonight is Christmas Eve, I'll continue the Chinese food tradition once again, and for the third straight year, I'll hold a 10-hour, solo Christmas Eve Movie Marathon, all on DVD.

Here's the slate:

3:30 p.m.: Order/pick up food.
4:00 p.m.: The Charlie Brown Christmas special/It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown/I want a dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
6:15ish p.m.: Emmett Otter's Jug-band Christmas
7:15ish p.m.: A Year Without A Santa Claus
8:15ish p.m.: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)
10:15-10:33 intermission
10:33 p.m.: A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim version)
12:00 a.m.: The Ref

It is my sincere hope that everyone who has read my blog here in 2011 have been entertained. I hope you'll return in 2012.

Until next time, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sean's Annual Christmas Gift Giving Guide, 2011 edition

Early this morning, I put the capper on not one but two new releases for the first six months of 2012. They're formatted and ready to go. All I need are covers for them, and they'll be ready for your Kindle and Nook. So with that said, it's time to rela...

Oh shit, I didn't do my Christmas shopping yet!! Damn it, I knew I forgot to do something this year. I would have thought six new book releases would be enough.

Time for me to play Santa and dish out a few gifts for a few of my friends. Keep in mind these are actual gifts for actual people.

For Estee-Noel: More attention from me in 2012. I love you.

For The Wonder Cat: More sleeps and catnip.

For Steven Savile: More hours in the day to write GOLD, as well as every other project you're working on. And here I thought I was a prolific bastard.

For Bruce A. Sarte: A hat with the Kansas City Royals on one side and the New York Yankees on the other, so he doesn't have to worry about flip-flopping. The same can go to author Jarret Rush, except change Yankees to Texas Rangers.

For Willie Meikle: A snow blower and some Johnny Walker Blue label. It gets snowy up there in Newfoundland.

For Jeffrey Beesler: Vodka milkshakes at McDonald's. Can't you tell he's trying to feed his muse? (Quick aside: I never knew you were a lush!)

For reviewers Misty Rayburn, Misty Baker, Rachelle Gagne (and all of the others out there): Several extra sets of eyes for their reviews, so they can read more. (I'd give them more time in the day, but that went to Sav)

For Trisha Reeves and Lucia Antocci: A spark under their respective keesters.

For Jackie Hazeldine: A life-size cutout of her alter ego.

For Big Al of Big Al's Books and Pals: Another fantastic idea.

For David McAfee: Master Cole's hairline.

For David Dalglish: A bomb. You know where to stick it, brother.

For Daniel Arenson: The fourth Dragons novel already written for you. (Consider this your eighth day of Hanukkah present.)

For Mike Crane: The novel inside you. (I gave that to you last year, didn't I? Well...)

For Daniel Pyle: A beard trimmer.

For Jason Letts: A sandy beach somewhere far away... that may be difficult to fit into a stocking, Jay.

For Robert DuPerre: A generator. Or two. You know, so you can hook the Internet and your laptop in during October snowstorms and hurricanes.

For Amanda Hocking: A DeLorean. Enjoy the ride, kiddo.

For David Kruh: A scaled-down model of Scollay Square, with Scollay's Building right in the center instead of the pillbox.

For Imogen Rose: A complete Hermes makeover.

For Christin Mowery: Your baby girl home for good.

For Allie Burke: Toe socks and sparkles.

For Katie "River" Jordan: A poster of all your favorite author-type peoples.

For Kent Holloway: The drive necessary to continue his ME blogs.

For Dean M. Drinkel: A free pass from Tottenham Hotspur taunts.

For all of my fans: A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks so much for hanging with me in 2011. There is so much more to come from me in 2012! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Changing Over

If you haven't realized by now, the old site is dead and buried. As you've already read in this space back when I created this new blog, I had planned on changing over to a new website to end confusion over my author name. That new site will be Right now, it's empty save a closet with a shirt hanging inside and the words, "Coming soon - future home of something cool." If I do say so myself.

Until everything is propagated and sorted, my blog is my website. If you already know these things, I apologize in advance. There may be some who are new to my writing and don't know.

All of my books are available on Amazon for Kindle (books with an * are available in trade paperback), on Barnes and Noble for Nook, as well as Smashwords.

Books and stories by Sean Sweeney

The Jaclyn Johnson, a.k.a. Snapshot AGENT series 
Model Agent: A Thriller*
Rogue Agent: A Thriller*
Double Agent: A Thriller*

Royal Switch: A Major League Thriller
Zombie Showdown*

The Obloeron Prequel Series
The Rise Of The Dark Falcon
The Shadow Looms (Coming soon)
Krampel's Revenge (early 2013)

Short stories
Belief Debt: Paid In Full (Part of Christopher Nadeau’s Not in the Brochure anthology)
C is for Coulrophobia (Part of the Phobophobia anthology*)
Red Christmas (Part of the Bump in the Night 2011 anthology*)

As John Fitch V

The Obloeron Trilogy*
The Quest For The Chalice
The Return To Labergator
The Fall Of Myrindar

One Hero, A Savior*
Turning Back The Clock*
A Galaxy At War*
The Mastermind: A novella

Short stories
Amber Twilight

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a BCP BOGO deal for under your tree

With two weeks to go until Christmas, you're probably looking for those last-minute gifts. Truth be told, I haven't even started shopping, but that's beside the point. My publisher, Bucks County Publishing, wants to help you score some low-priced trade paperback books with a Buy One, Get One free offer on the company's fantastic titles, including Zombie Showdown, through the BCP Direct store. All of the titles you pay for are only $10! You have to pay $15 on Amazon, and probably a couple bucks cheaper on B& Through BCP Direct, only $10.

Just a note here: Most of the books that BCP offers are usually $15 for trade paperback. A BOGO deal where you pay only $10 plus shipping for two books that would normally run you $30? Count me in.

Here's the schedule:

Dec 12: Christmas Stories by Sandra Krajewski
Dec 13: The Star of Christmas by Bruce A. Sarte
Dec 14: Countdown to Grandma's by Sandra Krajewski
Dec 15: The Prophet by Kim Dahl
Dec 16: Zombie Showdown by Sean Sweeney
Dec 17: NonSense by Mark Davis
Dec 18: Lancelot by Steven Cross
Dec 19: Mouth to God's Ear by Christopher Grosso
Dec 20: Family Ties by Ottilie Weber
Dec 21: Fess Up, Jessup! by KP Wee
Dec 22: All of the above, if you missed those dates

Now, which books are in the free, get one category? Here's a listing:

Bump in the Night 2010 (with my short story, Vuvuzombie)
Murderous Intent by Kim Dahl
Towering Pines by Bruce A. Sarte
Sands of Time by Bruce A Sarte
Bump in the Night 2011 (with my story, Red Christmas, right at the front)
Naomi's Journeys by Sandra Krajewski
A Hot Dry Spell by H. Lindley

Once again, hit BCP Direct on the days marked above for a great deal. Two books for the price of one. Books make excellent presents for under the tree, next to the Menorah, or in the stocking.

And remember that Friday is my day, so swarm BCP Direct, especially on Friday. My bank account would be pleased.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reading, Reading, Reading!

Over the past few weeks, I've read a few great books on my Kindle. This is what is called getting caught up on one's reading that one missed out on while one wrote a book. I do this between projects because I have so many great books to read since I pick up quite a few of them while I work. Damn my one-click finger... but I digress.

Here's a list of books that I've read over the past two weeks:

The Star of Christmas by Bruce A. Sarte

This is a cutesie tale that tells of Anna, the star hand-picked by God himself to lead the three wise men to Bethlehem. It's a quick read with pictures -- the pictures are incredible sketches -- and sure to be a hit with your family every Christmas. Something you could read to your kids as a good night story on Christmas Eve? Who said I was a heartless bastard? :)

Traitor's Heir by Steven Savile

I gush about Young Sav's work quite a bit. Steve is talented, there are no doubts about that. He crafts a mean tale, whether it be a vampire tale or a thriller. But for this book, he's gone to Young Adult -- I need to blog about my plan one of these days -- and hits a solid six (cricket term) with this one. Ashley Hawthorne is en route to her "aunt" Elspeth's will reading, and there she is bequeathed several items. What happens next is a flight of fancy into a world she couldn't dream of. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

Initiation by Imogen Rose

Imogen is an incredibly talented author. Initiation is another YA tale that is a tad racier than the first Bonfire Academy book, Faustine. While Faustine is a character in this one, the tale centers mainly on Cordelia, Faustine's mentor when the latter arrives at BA. Cordelia is 17 and has the hots for a certain Student Body president right from page one. Imogen has an easy going style that allows the reader to fly through a book. Like Steve's book above, I can't get enough of this series.

Ghosts of Arlington by D.G. Gass

When I saw the cover of this book a few months ago -- a Stan Tremblay creation -- I found myself wanting to read the book. I had it read in only a few hours, and this was a rather awe-inspiring tale of a woman whose ex-military husband (she is ex-military, too) takes his own life while suffering from PTSD and follows her recovery from the ordeal. She meets a handsome reporter who eventually does a story on her situation, which gets noticed by Congress.

Etchings of Power by Terry Simpson

This fantasy novel literally exhausted me. It's a fairly long book, and it took most of five days for me to read. There are two main storylines here: that of Ryne and Ancel, two beings with parallel lives. This is a brilliant, well-crafted work by an up-and-comer in the fantasy genre. The world is plausible, and one can tell that T-Simps spent many a day world building before he even put his fingertips on the keyboard. And there is a second book coming at some point.

Today, I start beta reading Susanne O'Leary's newest book before I return to my Kindle later this weekend.

I just love reading, don't you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#SampleSunday -- Double Agent

Ten minutes later, Jaclyn and Tasha arrived at a small back alley just off the Strip, just to the west of Stratosphere. A bunch of abandoned buildings sat here, boarded up. Jaclyn knew no one would truly abandon these buildings. She was sure there were vagrants of all shapes and sizes inside, mainly to survive the elements when and if it rained. She was also sure there were drug dealers and pimps there, all trying to make an unclean living under the noses of Las Vegas Police.
After tonight, Jaclyn thought, Tasha won’t have to live there ever again.
The alley Tasha had brought her to was littered with empty bottles of booze, empty crates, as well as trash bags and weeds snaking from cracks in the pavement. And within the alley
“Hey Tasha, did you score some johns? Whoa,” a voice called. “And who is this?”
Jaclyn knew this was Tony as soon as he stepped into the light. Through her HUD, Jaclyn saw that Tony was the stereotypical pimp: He wore a wide-brimmed fedora that matched the color of vomit, as well as a matching vest and pants. The man had gold chains around his neck that dangled to his bare chest. The metal slapped against his pectorals in turn as he walked toward the two women standing in the alleyway entry.
“You must be Tony,” Jaclyn said. “I’ve always been interested in sex, and I just want to become a call girl under your tutelage.”
The pimp grinned. Gold-capped teeth shimmered in the weak light.
“Well alright!” he said. “I can never have too many girls to farm, and you look like you can satisfy. How old are you, baby?”
“I’m 16 1/2,” Jaclyn lied. “I’ve known Tasha for a while now, and she said tonight was the night that I get to meet the man behind the money.”
The pimp licked his lips. He rubbed the stubble that lined his jaw as he measured Jaclyn up.
“Of course she did, of course she did, baby. What are you in to? Girls? Guys? Both? You’ve got a BDSM look about you. We always get customers that like it a little rougher than most of my girls can handle. Right, Tasha?”
Tasha frowned. Jaclyn smiled.
“Well, I’m into fem-dom, actually. I really enjoy it.”
A blank look crossed Tony’s face.
“Fem-dom? I’m not familiar with it.”
Jaclyn grinned wider.
“It’s girls who treat men like the pussies that they are. Beat them up a little, call them names. Inflicting a little pain is their specialty.”
Jaclyn was glad that she had her iPad as she and Tasha walked to the alley so she could Google the term.
You learn something new every day, Jaclyn thought as she smiled at the look on the pimp’s face. Tony had blanched.
“Naw, we don’t do that shit here. We got ourselves high paying clients that like to do the girls rough, you know. Not the other way around.”
“We don’t have to do it right here, Tony,” Jaclyn countered. To the side, Tasha bit her lip in anticipation. “I bet you’ve always dreamed of having a strong woman standing over you as you pull your little dick.”
Jaclyn saw that Tony tried to make out what she had just said. She acted before he could react, bringing her right foot up and hitting him square in the groin. He bent over, his face contorted in pain, a groan escaping from deep within his gullet. He hit his knees. Jaclyn’s fist flew across and landed underneath his jaw, sending him to the ground. Not wasting any time, Jaclyn picked the bastard up and tossed him deeper into the alley. He landed ass over tea kettle, crashing into steel garbage bins. He moaned as his back collided with the receptacles.
Jaclyn tore her trenchcoat open and looked to Tasha.
“Do you remember what I said about not looking?” she asked, pulling a Walther from its holster and drawing the suppressor from within her utility belt.
Tasha nodded.
“Don’t look.” Jaclyn screwed the suppressor to the barrel as she stalked in on the pimp. Tasha did as she was told and turned her back to the alleyway.
Jaclyn held the Walther low as she paused only a few feet away from where Tony lay, crumpled against the dumpster. She stared at him as he writhed in pain.
“How does it feel to have your life taken away from you, Tony?” she taunted. “That’s exactly what you did to Tasha and the rest of the girls. How does that make you feel, whore?”
Tony didn’t answer her.
Jaclyn took his silence as an invitation to kick him in the mouth. His teeth snapped with the force of her boot meeting his face. He screamed as blood, bone and saliva poured out. He spat the remnants; a trail of saliva lingered from his bottom lip to the pavement.
Jaclyn felt potent from his screams. It charged her up. She felt the goosebumps rising underneath the Lycra. She felt she could do anything she wished, even though touching him would make her have to wash her hands afterward.
Then again, she thought, it could have been the coffee.
She knew no one would call the police here in this forsaken neighborhood, which meant she was free to torture the bastard as much as she pleased. She took two more steps and spat on his face, the saliva pooling on the side of his nose. She stepped on his throat and shoved the suppressor against his forehead.
The pimp’s eyes widened.
“Where did you get the girls? What sick fuck sold them to you?” She could smell his fear, as well as the blood and his bowels. “Answer me and this will be all over quick.”
“Don’t kill me,” the pimp pleaded.
“Oh, I’m going to kill you, Tony,” Jaclyn corrected. “I’m going to kill you just as soon as you give me a name.” She spun on her big toe, putting more pressure on the pimp’s larynx as she moved her left foot over and drove her heel into his now-sodden groin again. His moan came out strangled. “Come on, you little pussy,” she yelled. “Big pimping Tony’s going to rat out his suppliers so I can go and kill them, too. Those fuckers don’t deserve to live another day, and neither do you. Give me a name now and I’ll let you breathe again.”
Tony cried as he spoke the names and where they’re from. Jaclyn recorded the names to her HUD. She would deal with them in time; it wasn’t exactly priority one, but as soon as she had finished in Las Vegas, she would head for the San Fernando Valley. Tony’s face, she could see, had turned white from the loss of blood. She applied a little more pressure to his groin as she leaned back. She stepped off the pimp. He immediately inhaled until he coughed.
“You better pray there’s lube in hell, Tony, because the devil’s going to have a lot of fun with her new fem-dom bitch,” Jaclyn said, raising the Walther and squeezing the trigger before the pimp could make any of it out. The bullet buried itself in his forehead. He became still half a heartbeat later. “And I didn’t say how long I’d let you breathe for.”
Jaclyn took a deep breath as she unscrewed the suppressor. She stashed it inside her utility belt and slid the Walther into its home on her hip. She buttoned up her trenchcoat before she turned and walked back to where Tasha waited for her. It appeared the girl hadn’t turned her head, nor moved a muscle. At the very least, the girl knew how to follow directions.
“You didn’t look, did you?” she asked.
Tasha shook her head in the resoundingly negative.
“Nope. I didn’t hear a word of what you said about him needing lube in hell, either,” the young girl said. She winked.
Jaclyn grinned. She had the feeling that the police wouldn’t find Tony’s corpse for quite a while. She made a mental note to have Alex send in a containment crew. They’d take care of that for her just as soon as she had Tasha on a plane. That was more important than securing the body of a pimp who used girls for sex.
“Come on, Tasha. You’re getting out of Vegas.”
“Where am I going?” she asked as they walked back to the Dodge.
“A quaint little place on the east coast called Foggy Bottom,” Jaclyn replied.
Tasha paused. Jaclyn turned and looked at her.
“Foggy Bottom? Is that like an anal sex place you go to?”
Her seriousness and the questioning look on her face made Jaclyn laugh. She grabbed her by the arm.
“For some senators and select Congressmen, yes,” she said, pulling her young charge away from the alley. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gearing up for NaNo 2011

We're less than 11 hours -- on the east coast -- away from the beast known as NaNoWriMo 2011. Of course, I'll be taking part.

This year, I'm going a little bit out of my comfort zone of thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy for this year's tale. I'm writing a historical romance set in Boston's old Scollay Square during its waning years, mainly the 10-year period between 1953 and 1963. It's basically the story of a Boston Brahmin girl from a WASPish family who meets and falls in love with a West End boy... they fall out of love and don't see each other for eight years, right before the city of Boston begins the eminent domain process to take land for the new Government Center.

Government Center... yes, you've heard that before. I've written about Government Center before, mentioning it in two books. It held a great deal of the plot for Model Agent, and I mentioned it a few times in Turning Back The Clock. The line "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in MA references the demise of Scollay Square in 1963.

I'm excited and nervous for this project. Like I said, I'm going outside of my comfort zone. I've read my outline, and it looks mighty vague, especially on the third page of three. I have plenty of reference material to go with. And of course, I'm thinking there's no way in Hell that I'll get 50,000 words out of this story.

Of course, I've said that before. I just need to relax and do what I do best, and that's write and create.

Midnight can't get here soon enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Excited for new stories/releases

I just had the pleasure of checking out the PDF of the 2011 Bump In The Night horror anthology from Bucks County Publishing. As you know by now, BCP is the publisher for Zombie Showdown, and I've worked with BCP on its 2010 edition of BITN. My Christmas horror short, RED CHRISTMAS, is more like a novella: nearly 52 pages (in 5x8 book form) of blood and snow, set in my hometown of Fitchburg, Mass.

I just posted on Facebook about it: And I may seem a tad biased, but if you're not taking a deep breath after reading RC, then you need your pulse checked.

Red Christmas, if memory serves me, is coming out as a standalone ebook on Nov. 1, with the full anthology coming out on Nov. 15.

Soon after that, I have a short story coming out in Dark Continents Publishing's Phobophobias anthology. This was a great project to be a part of: 26 authors, mainly from the UK and a smattering from the US including yours truly, taking a letter of the alphabet and writing about a phobia beginning with that letter. I chose the letter C, and I wrote about Coulrophobia -- the fear of clowns. I put the clowns and the main character, Camille, in a cemetery, and, well... if you've read me, you know there's some sort of action involved. I'm excited for this release; it'll put me in front of a whole new audience.

Phobophobias comes out Nov. 25.

And of course, shortly after that, I'll release the third Jaclyn Johnson novel, Double Agent. This one is set in Las Vegas. I'll go into more detail in a couple of weeks, after edits are finished and everything is nice and straightened out.

Let's just say this: It's a big novel.

I can't wait to release it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ten personal book selling facts I want you to know

I updated my book sales spreadsheet this morning. I don't use Excel; I use a legal pad and a calculator. I'm so old fashioned that way. I wanted to share my findings with you all.

A couple of disclaimers.

First: Before this morning, I hadn't updated my spreadsheet since May. The fact that I've been busy with Double Agent's first draft, which I finished Friday afternoon, as well as the delay in Smashwords' reporting has delayed my updating. Since I know I've had some strong boosts via Smashwords and that I'm nearing 2,500 lifetime book sales (lifetime being since Nov. 1, 2009), I wanted to verify my counts before I threw a party. That would've sucked if I thought I had arrived... and then found out that no, I'm not there yet. It happened yesterday in South Africa; that country's football team thought it had qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations... but it didn't. So yeah, I want to avoid that at all costs.

Secondly: I had posted on Facebook back in July that I hit 2,000 books sold lifetime on July 2, which is what I knew at the time. At the time, my data did not include the numbers for my short story Vuvuzombie, which I had traditionally published through Bucks County Publishing (the same publisher for Zombie Showdown) as part of the Bump In The Night anthology. As soon as I started receiving numbers for ZS, I requested numbers for VVZ. My thought was since I'm including my trad-pubbed data in my sales reports to my IAM members, I might as well add VVZ to it, too. My new data updates that.

And third, I'm breaking this blog down into what information I know and what I'm thinking about that information. I hope this will help other authors on their sales journey, whether being a newbie to the publishing world or a traditionally published author making the jump to do-it-yourself.

All right, without further ado...

Fact No. 1: I've sold 1,788 books in 2011. Of those, 1,768 are digital books.

What I think about that fact: Holy shit! Little ole me sold that many? Wowza.

Fact No. 2: I've nearly tripled my overall sales from 2010 (659). Of those, 52 were ink and paper.

What I think about that fact: Once again, holy shit. I never dreamed that I would triple 2010. Let me breathe for a second here... OK. The numbers just kept going up and up. I've had some really awesome months and I've toppled many milestones, including 1,000 and 2,000 lifetime books sold. The 2,500 milestone is only 23 books away.

Fact No. 3: I've released five new books in 2011, with a sixth coming in December (as long as everything goes right).

What I think about that fact: Six books in one year? Really, Sean? Here's the beauty of independent publishing, my friends. As an independent publisher, I have the ability to put out as many or as few books as I like. I spent a good portion of 2011 going through my backlog, polishing my books to make them as good as I can before putting them out in the marketplace. Three of the books I wrote in 2010, one in 2009, and the other in 2007. I've only written one book in 2011, which will be out in December. I also have a few short stories that will come out in the next few months, one of which to what should be a new audience. I'm looking forward to 2012 with that one. As soon as my backlog is fully clear, I'm expecting to put out, at the very least, three new books a year: One of which will be an AGENT thriller. I know that much.

Fact No. 4: A few of my John Fitch V titles have received a new lease on life.

What I think about that fact: Amen. I never thought my JFV titles were exceptional. A few of them, yes. They were the books I cut my teeth with. The stories are solid. The writing isn't my best, but I've done my best to improve the titles, with the exception of the Trilogy.The covers do suck, with the exception of Galaxy. Part in parcel of that success could be my making The Mastermind free in December 2010, as well as contributing to my buddy David Dalglish's A Land Of Ash anthology.

Fact No. 5: A Galaxy At War is currently my personal best seller.

What I think about that fact: You want to run that by me again? My sci-fi novel on the JFV name is my best seller? I guess putting it at .99 cents/70 pence really helped. Through its first nine months of existence, Galaxy had sold 92 copies. Since January 3, when I lowered the price from $2.99 to .99 (and since back to $2.99 for a few weeks), I've sold 472 more copies. I've not made a lot of money on the book, but the fact that people are reading that book (I hope its not languishing on their Kindle or Nook) touches me more than you know. The fact that it's my personal best seller right now simply astounds me. Also see No. 4.

Fact No. 6: The AGENT series is currently my top series.

What I think about that fact: This doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that Rogue Agent only accounts for 114 of the series' 636 sales. It shouldn't surprise me, though: The snippet of Rogue Agent in the back of Model Agent says Rogue will be released at Christmas 2011. I changed my mind and moved it up, and I never updated the file. I don't have it listed on Goodreads, so that may also be a problem I need to rectify. I also think my dragging my heels to get an ENT slot for it has hurt that book's success. I expect it to rebound in a month (my ENT slot is Nov. 3). My mate Steven Savile has told me that sometimes readers don't pick up the second book for a variety of reasons. So far, I'm happy with the series' success. I'm a little troubled with RA, but I expect it to rebound, as I said. And Double Agent is coming. Big things will happen with that book. Stay tuned.

Fact No. 7: The Obloeron series is performing well.

What I think about that fact: Great cover art works. So does strong writing. But also, too, is great escapism fantasy. Since I've released The Rise of the Dark Falcon, the original trilogy has seen a boost, 155 books combined. That could be due to Land of Ash and Mastermind... but I think it could be due to the fact that I mentioned the trilogy in the product description in DF, as well as mentioned C.S. Marks as the cover artist. She is a great author and artist, and her artwork graces the cover of DF; I'm sure a good portion of those sales came from Christine's fan base. For those of you who mocked me for my original name of Obloeron, well, the mock is on you.

Fact No. 8: Turning Back The Clock still sells.

What I think about that fact: TBTC has sold at least one copy a month since its release nearly two years ago. Nine days into October, it's at 0. Still a lot of time left and I have faith. The Little Book That Could is perfect for baseball's postseason.

Fact No. 9: Royal Switch kind of sells.... but doesn't.

What I think about that fact: I think I fucked up with RS. I honestly do. Around the time that I had released Model Agent and saw the success of that book, I wanted to feed off its success instead of linking Royal Switch with the success of its predecessor, Turning Back The Clock. I put my real name on the cover instead of the pseudonym. I think I made a mistake. Then again, I haven't updated my files nor really promoted the book, so that may have a bit to do with it...

Fact No. 10: An author can't have great book sales without great readers.

What I think about that fact: Thank you. I really mean it. Great readers drive me to write great stories. I'll continue to do so. You can take that to the bank.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The New Kindles, broken down

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has always said he is out to revolutionize the book. He did so with the company's roll-out of the Amazon Kindle waaaaaaaaaay back when in November 2007. Four years later, Bezos and the Kindle Team continue to tinker the way we read.

After Wednesday morning's announcement of four new affordable e-readers, Bezos nudged Amazon in front of the e-reader wars yet again -- albeit a little late to the party, timing-wise. What puts Amazon ahead of the game is price.

Bezos and Amazon go ahead on price, every time. Bezos wants readers to come to Amazon because of price, and they can afford to do it. Bezos has always been willing to take a hit in the wallet as long as it works it in the long run. Undercut the competition -- i.e. Barnes & Noble and, in the case of the new Kindle Fire tablet, Apple -- and the money should roll in.

Let's start off with the Kindle Fire tablet.

At first glance, I was immediately reminded of B&N's Nook Color. It looks the same, weighs a little less than the Color (14.6 ounces compares to Nook Color's 16 ounces), and the battery life is on par with each other (8 hours). Nook Color is Android-based, while the Kindle Fire has its own web browser, Amazon Silk. I have yet to check out the browser demo, but I will. Both are touchscreen. One place where the Fire fails to deliver: no 3G wireless. It is strictly a wi-fi device.

But of course, the price: Nook Color is currently $249, with the Fire coming in at $199. You can't even get a used iPad at that price. Advantage: Amazon.

Here's what I think: I don't think that Amazon will draw from the Apple die-hards with the iPad. Apple Sheep are Apple Sheep, and are loyal to Apple. However, with everything that happened with Samsung and with Amazon's customer service being what it is (i.e., fantastic), customers looking for a tablet will edge toward Amazon, all due to price. Where does that leave B&N?

(That question is left hanging for a reason.)

Moving on...

Bezos also unveiled a Kindle Touch e-reader similar to the Simple Touch e-reader in B&N's arsenal. But like the Fire, it is priced lower than B&N. The Kindle Touch also comes with 3G and wi-fi versions. Much like with B&N, the battery life is two months with the wireless off. While the Simple Touch can hold only 1,000 books, the Kindle Touch can hold three times that amount.

But the price, ohhhh, the price: Kindle Touch 3G is $149, while the Kindle Touch wi-fi is $99; that is the with special offers (ads on the screensaver) price. The Simple Touch -- which is wi-fi only -- is $139.

Do I have to write who has the advantage? I didn't think so.

Finally, Bezos unveiled a simple Kindle e-reader for $79. It doesn't have a keyboard like the Kindle we all know and love, as it is only controlled by the 5-way controller. The Kindle 3 has been renamed the Kindle Keyboard. Same prices as usual. The $79 Kindle is available right now.

Of course, B&N is coming out with new devices later this year, a new Nook Color rumored to be among them.

Here's what I think B&N will do: panic. They'll see the writing on the wall and try to undercut Amazon like they did in Summer 2010. Amazon will then calmly cut the price of their devices even further, which they did after B&N brought out the 3G Nook. Bezos makes the guarantee: Amazon WILL have the lowest price ereader out there.

That is how you revolutionize reading. By being the affordable e-reader that everyone wants.

Let the holiday shopping begin.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Should my kid read your book?"

The above title is a question people ask about my books every so often. In fact, it was asked to me today by a reader who wanted to know just exactly what was in Zombie Showdown. I have friends who have kids, and some of my classmates and contemporaries have kids who are at the age where their parents are searching high and low for anything for the kids to read. Luckily, they have a friend who writes interesting books. Advantage: Me.

I don't really know how to answer this question, to be honest. I don't have kids, so for me to make a decision like this for them is really not my place. The bookseller in me says yes, buy the book... but the responsible adult in me says no, don't do it if you don't want your younger kids reading about older teen/mature situations. It's a hard line for me to straddle, because I don't want to say yes and then turn around a few days later and get blamed for giving their child nightmares or bad ideas.

I write adult fiction. That means there's a pretty good chance there will be obscene language, hot blonde women in their underwear, or even hot blonde women wearing nothing whatsoever. There will be swords (in my fantasy novels), blood, gore, guns, and really cool cars. There will be diabolical plots by diabolical terrorists who will use anything and everything to gain power, even if they have to kill people to do it. Occasionally I'll write young adult fiction, where I'll tone down the adult stuff BUT will write about situations that teens go through, i.e. hormones. I was a teen boy once, and I'm not that old that I don't remember what I went through back then.

Zombie Showdown, for example, is a YA book. YA is normally geared to readers aged 12-18. Most of my other books are adult books, but I know of readers as young as 11 enjoying Turning Back The Clock and 14 reading the AGENT novels.

So, to answer the question....

(Waits two minutes)

Shit, I still can't answer it.

Answering the question really isn't my place. I'm not your child's parent. I don't know whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the subject matter I present. I have some friends whose children can handle it, but I'm sure there are some whose children aren't ready for what I write. I'm not qualified to decide whether or not someone's child is ready. I'm not a teacher, and I'm not a parent.

A parent should know -- or place -- limitations. My parents put limitations on what I could read, listen to, or watch. I remember when Digital Underground's album Sex Packets came out. I had bought the cassette. It had a parents advisory warning on it. My father saw it and forbade me from listening to it. I'm sure that if he were still alive, he'd still forbid me from listening to it. Denying permission for me to listen to it made me want to listen to it more.

I think you know where I'm going with this... if you, as a parent, deny something to your children, they'll want to do it more.


OK, deny my books to your kids.

Just kidding.

I'm not the parent here. I'm not the one who has to make the decision. If you choose to let your child read the/my book, YOU should read it first to make sure it is something you want your children reading. The only other suggestion I can make is this: don't underestimate them -- they probably would get hooked on to reading even more after reading my words.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Putting it all together, Star Wars style

A funny thought hit me as I drove to Gardner for my nephew's 7th birthday party yesterday: Even when I don't intend to do it, I still take the George Lucas approach when it comes to my books.

As you probably know by now, I'm deep into the first draft of the third Jaclyn Johnson novel, entitled Double Agent. DA is just as action-packed as the first two. But did you know that I wrote Rogue Agent first?

If you've been following me for quite some time, you know this. I wrote Rogue Agent early in 2010, Model Agent late in 2010 (and into early 2011), and now here I am writing Double Agent, starting it in the second half of 2011.

Now, how does Star Wars relate to all of this?

Of course, I didn't have all three parts sketched out before hand, and I didn't split it all up into three movies. However, a quote of the late Irvin Kirschner hit me as I pulled onto Route 2 westbound: The second one can only be the second one.

Without even realizing it, I didn't want Rogue Agent to be "just a second one." I wanted RA to be a Empire Strikes Back-like tale, one that left the reader wanting more after two parts. So when I wrote Model Agent, I did several important things: I made MA be the warm-up act, much akin to how Star Wars Episode IV blew people away (21 5-star reviews now). I put in several one-time characters that would not make another appearance in the books -- albeit they've been named since.

And now I've moved on to the third installment. Jaclyn has grown deeper, and maybe a little bit resentful of her treatment in between books two and three. The action continues to grow.

And I can assure you: no Gungans.
Model Agent on US Kindle/trade paperback
Model Agent on UK Kindle
Model Agent on Nook
Rogue Agent on US Kindle/trade paperback
Rogue Agent on UK Kindle
Rogue Agent on Nook

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sample Sunday -- Zombie Showdown

The zombies stopped cold, right at the OK Corral, not 20 paces from the teens. Chris let a wry smile drift across his face as he noticed this. A couple of the zombies turned to look at the open lot, too.
The silence was eerie, and not even the night breeze could be felt. Only when one of the zombies stepped forward did their ears become quite attuned to their surroundings, as the dead man’s foot crunched the dirt underneath.
Chris quickly leveled the double-barreled shotgun at the zombie.
“Not another step, or I’ll blow what’s left of your face clean off!” he yelled.
The zombie gave pause, but then the dead man smiled at him as if he didn’t hear what Chris said.
“They are coming, little man,” it said, and its gravelly voice sent shivers down Rachel and Mackenzie’s spines. The zombie looked at the OK Corral again. “The Three are coming for revenge.”
Chris froze. He lowered the shotgun and just stared at the walking corpse, his eyes widening even though no one could see it.
“What did you say?” he asked. His voice shook.
The zombie laughed.
“Is that a touch of fear I detect, young whippersnapper? Afraid that the ones who were murdered are coming back to right the wrong committed against them? You should be afraid, tyke. You should be very afraid.” Then he laughed again, which preceded the laughter of the zombies behind him.
“Bubby,” Rachel said, a leer in her voice. “What does he mean by that?”
Chris ignored her, instead continuing to look at the zombie, whose laughter escalated. It sounded like Chris’s Halloween nightmares came true, even before he dreamed them.
“Chris?” Nick said. “You are scaring us, let alone the zombies scaring us. Answer your sister.”
Chris kept looking at the zombies; it was if the dead man’s voice petrified him.
“Chris,” Mackenzie said, more forcefully than the others. “Raise that shotgun again and blast them!”
“Chris,” they all said, before shouting “Chris!”
He finally turned, shaken from his reverie, to look at his sister and their friends. He kept the shotgun lowered, the barrel pointed at the ground. He looked pale under that black hat, as if he became a zombie; just seeing her brother like that made Rachel take half a step backward.
“Chris?” she said tentatively.
“I’m not afraid,” he said under his breath, but all three of them heard every syllable. “I’m not afraid of what’s coming.”
He stared at Rachel, and she immediately understood. She looked into his eyes, before she looked at the OK Corral, just like the zombies had done. Her eyes went wide.
“They are coming for revenge,” he said. “They must know we’re here.”
“So what are we going to do about it?” Nick interrupted.
Chris turned to his best friend and flashed a cocky grin his way, before he slipped the safety onto the shotgun.
“What do you think we are going to do about it?” he said. He stuck his thumb over his shoulder. “We’re going to turn these fuckers into dust, like they should have been years ago. Then we deal with what’s coming.”
All three of them gave Chris looks of determination and admiration.
“Ready?” Chris said.
They nodded.
“On the count of three,” he said. He hefted the shotgun up into both hands, his left on the barrel. He grinned. “One.”
“Two,” Rachel said, bringing her hands down to her slung low holsters.
“Two and a half,” Mackenzie said with a light, sing-song smile. They all looked at her. They weren’t smiling.
“What?” she said innocently. “Doesn’t two and a half usually come after two in situations like this?”
Chris, Rachel and Nick finally grinned. Chris gave her a little wink, before he turned to Nick.
Nick took a very deep breath before looking at Rachel and Mackenzie. Seeing they were ready to go, Nick said, “Three.”
Chris spun back to face the zombies and dropped the shotgun, moving his hands inside the trench coat, a blur of flesh as he acted. He had both revolvers in his hands and out of the holsters in a flash.
“Burn them down!” he cried, and as he squeezed both triggers, the sounds of gunfire erupted all around him as Rachel, Nick and Mackenzie all fired their weapons at the zombies.
The zombies in the front had no idea what hit them as the teenagers moved so quickly, catching the undead off-guard. Three went down with bullet holes in their skulls to match the ones in their chests, the wounds that sent them to Boot Hill Cemetery nearly 130 years prior. Three other zombiesone of them McGuirk staggered, as the teens’ shots struck them in the chest or arms, only causing a puff of dust to rise from their soulless bodies.
The kids cocked the hammer again and fired, Chris and Rachel’s guns blazing away, left and then right, right and left. They each took out several zombies, hitting them right in the head, rendering them dead for a second time; Rachel took McGuirk down. The zombies in the back of the bunch began climbing over the dead ones, trying to get at the obnoxious, gun-toting teens.
Chris saw this and held firm, not panicking. His mind, for the first time since a night ago, felt clear of confusion. He kept firing his pistols until they clicked, their chambers exhausted. He twirled the guns and put them back into their holsters before kicking the shotgun back into his hands, lifting it up with his right foot.
The zombies charged at him.
While the other three continued to fire, Chris calmly cocked the hammers of the double-barreled shotgun and flicked the safety back off.
He lined up his shot and waited for the lead zombie, one with four bullet holes in its chest, to get within five paces.
He pulled the trigger.
The zombie’s head blew clear off. The zombie dropped right to the ground. The other charging zombies gave pause as they saw what Chris did to the corpse of Lester Moore.
“Now that was fucking cool!” Nick exclaimed. “That was like popping a really bad zit!”
“You’re a really bad zit,” Chris said, busting his buddy’s chops even during the heat of the battle. “We need to run, and we need to run now!”
“What?! I thought we weren’t running away this time,” Rachel said as she emptied the chamber of her own weapons.
“I’m out of bullets, you’re out of bullets, and Nick and Mackenzie are out of bullets, so it’s time to improvise,” he replied. “We’re going back a few blocks; hopefully we’re quicker than they are.”
As the four of them took off, it took the zombies several seconds to realize what the teenagers were up to. The undead followed them slowly, their hunger for teen flesh sated only temporarily over the past two nights not abated in the least.

Zombie Showdown is available at, Amazon in both trade paperback and Kindle, as well as on Nook.

New name, new blog, new lease on a writing life

I've been meaning to do this for quite some time now. Over the past few months, I've been contemplating a full change in my writing life. If you've been following me since the beginning, you'll know that my first six novels were written under my pseudonym, John Fitch V, and since the start of 2011, I've released five novels -- seriously Sean, five novels in one year? -- under my real name, Sean Sweeney.

For the most part, the books weren't selling well under that name: sure, I sold a few copies here and there, and I tallied 689 books sold in 2010, all under the JFV name. Maybe it was due to the fact I had crap covers, or my writing (then) was crap, or the fact that I self-promoted myself ad naseum, that I didn't sell more. That's a debate for a different time.

But after I created Jaclyn Johnson and switched genres, I felt a change was needed. I wanted Jaclyn to succeed. With the "animosity" I inadvertently stirred up as JFV, I had the feeling Jaclyn wouldn't have found the audience she has now if I stuck with JFV. I had Trish put Sean Sweeney on the cover of Model Agent, and voila. It made sense to stick with the real name on the books once Jaclyn started selling the way she did.

To be honest, I struggled with this decision. Making the change would mean making a lot of other changes: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, my website, everything. There was the possibility of adding "Sean Sweeney writing as John Fitch V" on Royal Switch's cover in order to connect Turning Back The Clock to it, but I just thought that would have caused way too much confusion. In looking back, I think I caused quite a bit of confusion by going back to my real name in the first place. Last week's troubles with LiveJournal accelerated the thought process and brought me to this point.

I had a fun run under the JFV name. I wrote six novels under that name, as I said, as well as a few short stories and a novella. Not bad. JFV was a stage in my life. I originally intended it to be my writing persona for life, but with age and maturity, thoughts and perceptions change. It was a persona that I enjoyed, but I didn't enjoy being called "John" on Facebook or on the phone. Sean is who I am, and who I will continue to be. And while I will still sell the JFV novels as JFV (he lives on in the past!), today marks the beginning of the end of the JFV name. I switched my Twitter account a few months ago, and today I started a new Sean Sweeney, Author fan page on Facebook. You're on the new blog, which means I'll no longer use LiveJournal (I'll keep the page alive for archives, but I won't use it). The JFV Facebook pages will be deactivated soon. I will have a new website by the end of the year, which will effectively end my tenure as JFV. I'm sure there will be some tears when the change goes through, but I'll wipe them away and get writing again.

If you've been with me as John and continue to follow me as Sean, thank you for your support over the years. We've had a lot of fun, and we'll have some more under my real name. For those of you just joining me, thanks for hopping aboard. I promise a ride you're never forget.

I am and always will be,