Thursday, December 4, 2014

Authors Behaving Badly, Yet Again

It seems to me that there are some authors out there who just don't know how to behave when things don't go their way. A few months ago, I wrote about an author being a douchebag to their potential readers. There have been plenty of other well-documented cases of an author bitching out a reviewer because the author didn't send the final copy; it made the reviewer go viral, made him inundated with review requests.

Today, I'm writing about an author who threw a temper tantrum on Twitter because she wasn't nominated for a New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2014" list. Go read that for a few minutes.

Wow, huh?

Look, lady. We authors, traditionally published and indie, we all work hard. We all work with the ferocity of a wolverine, creating worlds over the course of months and sometimes years, only to have them gobbled up in a matter of hours or days. Sometimes word spreads of how good they are; sometimes, word spreads of how shit they are. We are not guaranteed success, or a spot in the New York Times, regardless of how many good reviews we get. You should know this. You are one of the authors New York has deemed fit to publish.

What did you hope to accomplish with your rant? Do you think that the New York Times is going to see this, take pity on you and put together a new list, or remember to put you on the next one? No, I highly doubt that's what will happen. I'm not going to come up with a hypothesis, either: I'm just going to work on my next book, something every author should be doing.

And they say that only indies don't know how to behave....

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Boston, 2115

It sounded as if someone followed him.
The echoes of his hurried footsteps against asphalt caromed high off the glass-and-steel buildings, the tall structures hurtling the noises, amplified and just as artificial as his surroundings, back his way. He immediately shifted his confusion, his momentary disorientation, to the side as he wondered from just which direction the people coming for him came. With a slight gasp that he seemingly had to pry out of his throat, he looked over his shoulder every few steps, skirting puddles. He grit his teeth and kept going. An elusive shadow, one from which he wished to escape, held his heart in an iron grip, one that did not loosen even as it thumped against his inner breastbone. His gun, a Sig-Sauer antique used by the Secret Service a century prior, was in his coat pocket, but he did not draw it for fear of being seen—or recognized for his true self. Halfway through the passage, he pulled his long gray trench coat tighter about him. The air was swollen and heavy, and inside this tight, manmade chasm, it felt even more oppressive to the government paper pusher. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck, the ones the coat’s collar didn’t cover, stood up with droplets of dew-like perspiration hanging off the ends. He smelled himself, the aroma curling up from his body and dancing inside his nasal cavity. He suppressed the need to vomit, for whether the fetid stench was truly from his body or from fear, he did not know.
His lip curling, he put his head down and walked toward Downtown Crossing, away from the area known a century and a half ago as Scollay Square. It was only natural that Bostonians had returned to calling that neighborhood by its proper name, long after revolution had taken the city by storm and cut off what had been deemed progress—the pathetic brick wasteland known to generations as Government Center—returning the city to its true roots. He used a somewhat roundabout route, walking through a neighborhood once affected by blight in the middle of the 21st Century and renovated within the past fifty years to its more modern, 22nd Century look. He ducked right, turning onto Spring Lane from Devonshire, and with a quick turn, allowed his eyes to dart back and forth across the narrow expanse. He saw nothing behind him, save a few cars sliding around Dock Square. He wondered when their minions would jump him. Doing so here would be the first thing he would expect; it was a darkened alley. He leaned against a steel cornering post, and without thinking about it, he swallowed his spit. He grimaced; the inside of his mouth had the taste of metal. He felt a stitch developing in his chest. Even as he rubbed the flesh over his heart, he took heavy gulps of air. He needed to get away—and quickly.
Here, practically at the foot of historic Beacon Hill, he was too close to them. He bit back a curse as he pushed away from the building, eager to put plenty of space between himself and his pursuers. Another puddle stood in his way. He sidestepped it instead of splashed through; it had rained earlier today, and puddles were sure to be found throughout downtown.
“Got to get to Washington,” he breathed as he stalked away. “They need to know. They need to prepare. They need to respond.”
He took one more look over his shoulder, then made the left-hand turn onto raucous Washington Street. He saw no one, just like before.
For some reason, one that he couldn’t begin to explain, that didn’t ease his growing anxieties. He reached into his pocket and flipped the safety off with his thumb.
The man tried to regulate his breathing and his heart rate even as he walked south along Washington. He also tried to keep his gait even as the growing crowds milled about in this refurbished and expanded Combat Zone. The old historical monuments along this stretch had burned ninety years prior, replaced by dance clubs and bars. It was late at night, and the scantily-clad revelers of both sexes paid him no mind—for a while. No one even looked twice as they headed into the clubs, presumably for uncontrolled debauchery. He wondered if he looked like a pervert to them, what with the trench coat and all; one then yelled to him.
“Flash us, Silver Surfer!” he crowed.
He ignored it. Some, he saw, crinkled their noses as he approached, giving him a wide berth as they stepped out of his way.
He caught a whiff of fresh marijuana on the air as he slipped past Franklin Street, and received a face full of blue-gray smoke as he meandered through a group of partiers congregating in an outdoor tavern. He inhaled deeply, coughed once, and within moments, he felt lighter in the head and in the heart.
“Maybe we should go back eighty years and rethink that whole making weed legal thing,” he muttered. “Damn, that was fresh off the plant.” He slapped his lips together; his mouth had turned arid.
He shook his head as soon as he made it to the Downtown Crossing subway stop on the Inner Belt Rapid Transit system, as if he tried to remember his task through the fog. He pulled his thin phone out of his pocket and held it up to a scanner next to the gates. The gate immediately beeped, his electronic currency proven. Servos and gears whirled as the doors slid apart, thudding into the jambs. He headed downstairs to the station proper, his steps rapid.
Within a minute, and after many furtive glances around him, he found himself on the North-to-South Express train, headed back the way he came. He had figured that the easiest way for him to evade the target’s security detail would be to walk as far away from the nearest subway stops to the factory, all while they searched the surrounding area: there were plenty of places in the old Faneuil Hall Marketplace for him to give them the slip. He only stayed on that train for one stop, getting off at State Street and transferring to the East Boston Express Line. He saw no one waiting for him on that platform, and he let a long breath leave his lungs: He had hoped they wouldn’t think of delving underground to search for him, and he was right—at least so far. Walking toward the platform’s edge, he saw blue paint, faded and cracked, covering the walls on the eastbound half of the station. His heart raced as he waited for the next train, for he knew that at any moment, the target’s lackeys could enter the station from above, capture him, and drag him off to the factory for some aggressive questioning. A few minutes later, a train pulled into the station from Scollay Square up the street. He boarded, thankful that the IBRT’s trains ran on time.
The train’s doors snapped shut. To his ears, the sound resembled the closing of a tomb.
He swallowed hard.
“Next stop, Aquarium.”
The man nibbled his bottom lip as his anxieties returned in full force. His heartbeat matched that of the wheels turning underneath him. He didn’t know if he was alone, if there were any other passengers in other compartments. He hoped he was. He had an important message to send, and no one in the city save himself had a security clearance high enough to read it. If anyone got on at this next stop, he would have to wait a little longer before doing what he had to do. Security, as it was, was paramount.
As it turned out, no one boarded when the train made its last stop in Boston proper. Once the train slipped away from Aquarium Station and into the tunnel underneath Boston Harbor, he sighed again and pulled out his government-issued tablet, turning it on with a light press and a swipe of his index finger. It was the approximate size of an ereader, but this one wasn’t for books. He immediately rested it in his lap before touching his email folder. It burst open, and after touching for a new message, the screen shuffled once. The email screen looked like a digital index card. He began typing with two fingers, the tips bouncing off the screen.


It is as the Bureau has feared. The targets have done it, and it’s only a matter of time now before they execute their plans. I have only just escaped, and I write to you from the subway. I write fast, for the reasons we have privately discussed. If everything we have hypothesized comes true, I will not be around much longer. I fear that they are on to me, and I shall die by their hand. Even as I sit here and type this, I can feel cold, anxious sweat pouring down my face. It is only a matter of time, Alisha.  You need to alert the higher-ups immediately.

He wiped his brow and brought his fingers back to the tablet, where he resumed typing—until he noticed that the screen had mysteriously turned silvery-white, as if he had smudged it. He felt a drop slip off the tip of his nose a second later, then another, and then saw, as if his eyes had finally deceived him, that silver liquid rapidly covered the screen. He tried blinking his confusion away.
But that was half a moment before he felt his flesh grow numb, as if he had mistakenly plunged himself in a barrel of ice water.
“Strange,” he said as he rubbed his fingertips together. “I can’t feel them.”
The numb feeling continued growing, spreading across his flesh until he couldn’t feel his hand any longer. He brought his eyebrows together.
“What the devil—?”
He didn’t realize that as he spoke, his speech grew slurred. He didn’t even recognize it as his own.
Only a few seconds had passed since he had touched his face, and he soon felt his eyes widening and watering, the flesh freezing as if paralyzed. The tablet dropped to the subway floor as he tried to stand up, but instead he fell atop the device as spasms quickly wracked his body. Something—his mind told him that it was the tablet—snapped.
“What’s—going—on?” he breathed, his voice raspy. His breath choked him, his lungs squeezing with the force of a python. He then felt a jabbing pain somewhere near his bowels, just before he felt an unnatural fluttering in that same region. “Oh, fuck.”
A flatulent chorus soon filled the train. Feces filled his pants a split second later.
“God,” the man whispered, closing his eyes for what he figured was the final time. He couldn’t tell if his lips moved, or if his words came out in a garbled rush. To his ears, it all sounded as if the words came from under water. “God, help me, please. Stop them, whatever you do, stop them. Stop the Ch—”
His plea went unanswered, his vocal chords undone.
The message on his tablet went unsent.


Here's what the readers are saying about THE LONE BOSTONIAN:

"This was a thrilling story. I was gripped from the first page, and couldn't put the book down. The idea was an interesting one, and one that could so easily happen which makes for unsettling reading! I felt for Terry as he made his perilous journey to find other survivors, and his devastation at losing everything that mattered to him. The pace was spot on and the ending was brilliant. A good sci-fi thriller that kept me glued to the page."

"Excellent dystopian novel, that goes a lot further than the last one I've read by this author, Redeemed. Instead of just destroying an unjust societal system...well, Sean Sweeney takes it on in a big way. Well-written and capably plotted, it was a pleasure to read an novel like this that didn't have any frickin' zombies, or marauding hordes, or even survivalist nutcases - just interesting characters and proper storytelling. It brought to my mind visions of a modern Pat Frank or Nevil Shute. Definitely recommended!"

"If you've read Sean Sweeney's books before, you'll not be disappointed! If you haven't, I suggest you start. Fast paced, twists & turns are his hallmark and this book had them. I'm hoping for this one book to turn into a series. Terry and Brianne CAN be continued!"

Get your copy of THE LONE BOSTONIAN from these great eTailers:

Monday, November 10, 2014


Introducing THE LONE BOSTONIAN, a Dystopian novel set in the city of Boston in 2115.

The description:

One hundred years in the future, after a world war and another economic downturn, the United States is in recovery. A Chinese company, Gong & Dinow, manufactures inexpensive tablet computers. Everyone has them.

Little does everyone know, those devices will lead to the destruction of the East Coast.

A man from Boston survives the carnage and rows to what was Washington D.C. in order to inform the president... and to begin the healing.

US Kindle
UK Kindle

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Are there rules for writing? Not at all.

I usually talk to Jen's cousin Foster three or four times a week. As I've previously explained, Foster is an up-and-coming author that I've taken under my wing these last two years. His first novel, a mountain lion of a story, is expected out soon--whenever Foster decides the book is ready and it's time to publish. I can't wait to celebrate the release of this first full story.

We talked yesterday morning (yesterday evening for Foster, as he's in China). He was a touch depressed regarding his writing process; in a mood, he called it. I told him that it's OK to take a break every once in a while--especially when dealing with a project such as Apprentice of the Rain.

Basically, our conversation went like this:

Me: "Drinking coffee, getting geared up to write."
Him: "Trying to edit... can't force it. Well, real writers can."
Me: "And you're not a real writer? I call bull shit."
Him: "I don't know, man... real writers can write X thousand words a day, every day. That's been elusive for me."
Me: "Dude, I piss on that logic and that theory."
Him: "And yet you do it."
Me: "Did I write yesterday? Did I write Saturday? Yeah, in a perfect world, I'd write every day. Saturday, I changed my mother's oil in her car, covered a football game... went home, wrote the gamer, collapsed. Sunday, I wrote three pieces for the weeklies out west, then veged all day. I could have written something (fiction), but I decided to re-charge. We all need a re-charge."
Him: "They say amateurs write when they're in the mood; professional writers put themselves in the mood, and write X amount of words everyday, usually at the same time."
Me: "Who says that? I think that's bunk."
Him: "I've seen that advice everywhere, from every author I know except you."
Me: "Write when you can. Edit when you can."
Him: "My goal is to be a pro. Make writing my full time job."

About eleven hours later, my friend Nickie Storey, another protege of mine, stumbled across a Facebook post from New York Times bestselling author Anne Rice. In the post, Rice said the following:

On giving writers advice, offering "rules."  I'm asked a lot about this, and people bring great lists of rules for writers to the page all the time. What do I think? I can't say it loud enough. There are NO RULES for all writers! And never let anyone tell you that there are. Writers are individuals; we each do it in our own way. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you're not a "real" writer because you don't follow their rules! I can't tell you how much harm was done to me early in life by others judging me in that way. I was told in college I wasn't a "real" writer because I composed on a typewriter; I was condemned later on in damn near apocalyptic terms for "not writing every day." "Real writers" are those who become "real writers." That's all there is to it. And again, we each do it in our own way. For me, stubbornness has been as important as any talent I might possess. I ultimately ignored the people who condemned me, ridiculed me and sought to discourage me. I laughed or cried over it in secret; and went right on writing what I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. I knew of no other way to become the writer of my dreams. If you want to be a writer, go for it. Critics are a dime a dozen, and people who would love to see you fail are everywhere. Just keep on going; keep doing what works for you. Keep believing in yourself.

Understanding Foster's frustration from earlier in the day, I sent Rice's diatribe to him. He answered, "Good stuff. I need to find my way." I replied, "Yes. FUCK. THE. RULES." He wants to be the writer in his dreams, and I think that's great. It's great to have a goal. Getting there--the process--is one that he has to set for himself. It's what every author out there has to set for himself or herself.

I know many authors, all of whom have different processes. My process: I wake up, have coffee, and write. I try to do it every day. If I write a thousand words, great. If I write fifteen hundred words a day, fantastic. Two thousand, excellent. If I write more, awesome. After I had that initial conversation with Foster, I proceeded to write two thousand words. I wrote another five hundred and change, and finished a chapter this morning. Will I write more today? Possibly. I don't know yet. Right now, I write about four days a week. Sometimes five. I still put out a few books a year. If I wrote seven days a week, I'm sure I'd put out another book a year: but I have other responsibilities other than writing.

Kevin J. Anderson, an author whom I aspire to match in output one day (and I suspect I will die trying to catch), works daily, dictating finished prose into a digital recorder while hiking. Jim C. Hines spares his lunch hour to write, and will write at home after work. The same with David Forbes. Other authors may have a different approach than these three. They are all pretty damn successful in their own way.

And remember, gang: there are some so-called "real writers" out there who put out only one book a year. It varies from author to author. Not every author is the same, and you as an author shouldn't compare your writing process or speed to any one author. You're still going to finish your book--at your speed. Not every writer is going to write every single day. Not every writer is going to edit every single day. Not every writer is going to do something writing-related every single day. Not every author is going to publish more than one book a year. Not every author is going to put out a book every five years: Martin makes a shitload of bank, shall we say, doing it this way. Same with Rowling.

I think it's a misconception that non-writers have of writers, one that I know won't stop after this blog post: the whole, "If you have so much time on your hands, why aren't you doing it each day, every day?" It's just rubbish. We're not machines. We're human.

There are no true rules. If there are any rules, it should be these three:

Repeat as many times as necessary.

That's it.

Basically: Pace yourself, and set your own rules for yourself.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The 2014 Memorial Vegetable Garden--The Results

As many of you know, I garden along with being a rather kick-ass novelist. To me, they are a lot alike: much in the same way I cull needless phrases and passive voice in my writing, I do away with weeds and other headaches from interfering with the things that'll go in my belly.

Over the past few years, my garden has grown from a small, plastic bucket oasis into something much larger for two people (my wife and I) to manage on our own. After two years of plastic buckets, we ended up planting in the ground last year, and we managed to have a bumper crop of cucumbers and tomatoes.

This year, we went over and above what we've done in the past. After receiving a Johnny's Seeds catalog for Christmas from my in-laws, we ordered a bunch of seeds: several types of squash, beans, and cucumbers, mainly. We roped off a 39x25 section of the horse paddock, banged posts in the ground after the long-awaited thaw, and then fenced it in. After clearing the area of old hay, my father-in-law rototilled it, and then we began planting the next day. Keep in mind, there is plenty of fertilizer in the way of horse poo there. We really didn't add any to it. For irrigation, I started off the first two weeks or so standing with a hose and spraying the ground until the seeds germinated and sprouted. It's always pretty fun to see everything sprout. Once everything had germinated, I laid down about 225 feet of soaker hose, and connected it to the house spigot with a 100-foot garden hose.

We planted May 18. Looking at the garden from the outside, we planted two rows of beans on the side closest to the lawn. We planted a 33-foot row of Providers and about that similar length of several different varieties of pole beans, with the pole beans growing up the fence. In addition, we planted Carson beans (yellow beans) in the raised bed next to our kitchen. To the right-hand side, we planted numerous tomatoes and peppers, and eventually Jen planted leftover basil from my in-laws.Well after the wedding, Jen planted sunflowers and some gladiolas. But moving on, we also planted delicata squash a few feet to the north of the beans; those plants grow wide. To the immediate left-hand side, two plantings of pattypan squash. Those squash look like UFOs. On the other side of the delicata going toward the opposite fence, we planted zucchini and summer squash. Some time after the wedding, we eventually got our potatoes in grain bags. Jen also planted onions on May 18. We also put the cucumbers in the trench near the kitchen, along with some lettuce, onions, and carrots.

And now, the results...

In a word: wowsa.

Our yield this year was beyond outstanding. I began picking, snapping, blanching, and freezing green beans (the providers) by July 6, the pole beans two weeks later. The providers had exhausted themselves fully by the end of August (so a good seven-week harvesting period), and the pole beans produced until about a week or so ago (again, seven weeks; they would have continued to go well into October if I continued watering the garden after Labor Day). By Labor Day, I had picked, snapped, blanched, and froze 104 two-serving bags of beans (we're figuring that 3-4 scoops of beans is about two servings for us). Over the last few weeks, we've given away several plastic bags worth of beans to Jen's co-workers. The only real expense for beans is plastic bags, so we've spent about $20-$30 on beans. The chest freezer downstairs is jam-packed.

Squash. Holy moly. We drowned in zucchini. We gave zucchini to my father-in-law for our Saturday dinners. We ate squash every day for three weeks, and that was a mix of the three summer squash varieties. In addition, we started putting zucchini in marinara. We sliced up summer squash and had it for a snack. We're down to our last few zucchini and pattypans. Suffice it to say, we probably saved ourselves quite a few bucks this summer growing our own instead of buying it at the supermarket.

The delicata squash, we just harvested it last week, and we have about 20 squash on a shelf in our basement. Delicata keeps rather well, and we'll eat that all winter, along with beans and corn.

Tomatoes, we did rather well with them, too. Cherry tomatoes, we put them in salads or just ate them for a snack. Larger tomatoes went into salsa and gazpacho.

Cucumbers did well. We still have a few out there in the trench, and we've used several jars of pickles already this school year. The hope is to have enough pickles to last us until March 2015, then we'll start buying them again.

Onions and potatoes, I don't believe we did well with those. Some grew and produced. I think the late start on the potatoes didn't help (three weddings in three weeks) and since we didn't have a real way to irrigate the bags, I think that didn't help, either. Another few feet of soaker hose should be a big help next year. I think we're done trying onions. I know we can grow potatoes in the bags: just our timing was off, and we didn't have proper irrigation. Better luck next year.

With a garden that size, weed control was a pain in the rear end. Next year, we're planning on a mix of black plastic, salt marsh hay, and newspaper, which should suppress weeds. Alas for Roxie the Garden Cat, who liked to lay in the weeds near the sunflowers.

The harvest is pretty much done. There are still some peppers out there, one more usable delicata, and sunflowers. Everything else has exhausted itself. Very soon, the sunflowers will get cut, the gladiola bulbs dug up, the soaker hoses pulled in, the fence removed, the stakes pulled up. The horses will tread through there again.

And while the work was hard and the fruits of our labor tremendous, the 2014 Vegetable Garden is done for another year. It will live on in our memories--and in our bellies.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don't Be a Douchebag To Your Readers

About a year and a half ago, the lovely and talented Pam Stack had me as a guest on her Authors on the Air podcast. It was our first chat, and a good forty minutes into the show, she had asked me about book reviews. Not a breath later, Pam had asked me if I respond to them.

Of course, I said no, as that leads to a whole different can of B.S. It also led to what has to be one of my favorite diatribes of all time:

"If you're going to be in the public eye, you can't act like a douchebag! If you're going to be in the public eye, you have to act with decorum. If you're going to be a douchebag in the Internet Age, the Internet is going to grab a hold of you. Once the Internet grabs a hold of you, it's not going to forget."

The reason I bring this up today? Yup, an author acted like a douchebag--to their potential readers.

Now I'm not going to quote the author in question. It has gone viral, like it should, and the author issued an "apology." I'm not familiar with this particular author or this author's work, and quite frankly, I'm not going to get familiar with it. I'm pretty sure this author doesn't care if I do, either. I've seen plenty of authors who have been jackasses to potential readers, and their behavior has caused me to ignore their work. Just add this author to the tally books.

But I do have a point to make regards to being an author and being a douchebag.

There are plenty of authors out there who simply don't know how to act in the public eye, and are just asking for it. I feel for them, I really do. So if there is any piece of advice that I could give to any aspiring author, it is this: Don't be a douchebag online, and don't be a douchebag to prospective readers online.

If you get a shit review, don't respond; a review is subjective and doesn't represent the entirety of the reading community. If someone emails you and asks for information about your books, be polite and give it to them: after all, it's a potential sale and a potential reader you're trying to impress. If you're going to be a douchebag, that reader will take their money elsewhere.

Basically, don't be rude. Being rude just makes you look like an asshole.

And the Internet will remember you for being an asshole. And for being a douchebag.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Author Interviews--Karen Cantwell

We're back from vacation, and one of my favorite mystery authors is in the hot seat. Karen Cantwell is an incredible woman and she has an equally-incredible series featuring Barbara Marr, a rural Virginia housewife-cum-movie blogger with the knack of finding trouble when it really isn't timely, shall we say.

Karen, welcome to the blog.

Sean Sweeney: Barbara Marr is a doll of a housewife, an expert on movies, and a crack amateur sleuth! How did Babsy come into being?

Karen Cantwell: One day, while scribbling vague, preliminary ideas for a humorous mystery series, Barb whispered in my ear, "Hey, hey. If you need some crazy stories, tell mine." I wasn't keen on the idea at first, I admit. I mean, a soccer mom, living in the suburbs? How crazy can her life get? I kept working on other, more sensible characters, but Barb kept pitching me. She was tenacious, I have to say. Finally, I gave in and the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series was born.

SS: Is there a little of you in Barbara? I'm sensing there is.

KC: There's probably more of me in Barb than I'd like to admit. I'm a movie lover, so is she. I have curly hair, so does she. I'm a mother, she's a mother. She often says things out loud that I would only think quietly to myself. On the other hand, Barb gets kidnapped quite frequently and I do not. And while my husband is a handsome fellow, he does not look like George Clooney. Most importantly, Barb remarkably courageous while I possess a remarkable amount of cowardice. And thank goodness for her bravery, or the stories would be very short and very boring.

SS: Other than the lovely Mrs. Marr, you have quite a few, shall we say, quirky characters. Let's talk about all of them. You have one mobster-turned-chef, another housewife that has her undies in a twist, and another that may be a tad, shall we say, loony. Let's talk about their formations and how they all came about.

KC: Their formations are rather simple. I think of a basic type of person who should be in Barb's life, give him or her a name, and some small personality trait, then start to type. What happens after that is a magic I just can't explain. They develop lives and personalities and quirks all on their own. It's like watching a friend grown before my eyes. That aspect of the writing process is the most fun and most exciting for me, I have to say.

SS: One of the things that I love about your books other than the plot or the characters: it's your branding! You have movie titles and turn them into parody titles, along with bright, vivid imagery on your covers. How did all that come about?

KC: The movie title parodies started when I wrote Take the Monkeys and Run. Since Barb was a film lover, I decided to take a movie title and give it a fun twist. Now I try to do that for all of my titles. Not only is it very fun to do, but I also think readers love connecting to a title through the familiarity.

SS: Tell us a little about Karen Cantwell the mom and housewife, and how does the mom and housewife compete for time with Karen Cantwell the author (or is it the other way around? Does Karen Cantwell the author compete for time with Karen Cantwell the mom and housewife)?

KC: Oh boy, you're opening a can of worms with that question!! All I can say is, it ain't easy man, it ain't easy. Both Karen Cantwell's compete and clash on a daily basis and it's usually not a pretty sight to behold. 

SS: I know you've been a starlet with the ebooks.... how is B.M. handling the audiobooks?

KC: I have been very lucky, indeed, that Barb's stories have done really well in the ebook world. As for the audio experience, having a talented and professional actress bring Barbara Marr and my other beloved characters to life has been a joy. I'm really looking forward to getting the next three books produced for audio as well. I hope audio readers enjoy them as much as I do.

SS: What's next in Barbara's adventures?

KC: In just a couple of weeks, readers will have a chance to see what happens when Howard and the girls leave town and Barb finds herself alone for a few days. The book is the fifth in the series, Dead Man Stalking, and Barb will meet possibly the quirkiest characters to date.

Thank you for interviewing me about Barb, Sean!! I'm very honored.

SS: No, thank YOU, Karen. It's an honor to have a great storyteller in my hot seat.

Folks, check out for more information on Barbara Marr!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The 2014 Blog Tour With R.P. Steeves And Others....

Welcome to Blog Tour 2014! Here's how it works: One author writes a blog post asking a few of his or her friends to join in, and then you go down the rabbit hole, figuratively, with some of the most fascinating authors in the business.

My pal R.P. Steeves nodded my way earlier this week, and I am now carving a few minutes out of my precious vacation to talk. Rich (R.P) talked about his fantastic Misty Johnson character in his piece. So thanks, Rich... you're in trouble. :)

1. What am I working on now?

At this exact moment? This blog post. I'm currently on vacation... but as you all know, an author can never truly turn off his or her mind. The mind of an author is an exciting one, and we're always conjuring up settings and worlds and characters and story lines that make readers want to turn pages. The plotbunnies, aye, they be a-mulitplying.

I am always working on something: I'll be diving into edits of INCINERATION quite possibly tonight or tomorrow, depending on if I find anything to read at one of the used bookstores in Provincetown (edited to add, which I did: two Robert B. Parker Spenser novels, DOUBLE DEUCE and SUDDEN MISCHIEF. I love me some Spenser for Hire.). I finished the first draft to TRAVEL AGENT, the sixth Jaclyn Johnson thriller, about eleven days ago. And I have the potential start to a new Alex Bourque mystery novella in my mind, which should take me a couple of weeks to write. I haven't written an Alex Bourque in a while. It would be great to dive back into his world.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

A good question to which I may not have the answer. I'm a detail-oriented author, which means I love to give the reader a solid feel of where the story takes place--and I do this in several different genres. Detail is everything to me; it is second to plot, character, and substance. There are some books that leave out the detail, and that hurts my eyes. I want to be pulled into the book with the visual details. A good majority of the comments in favor of my books are the details. Then again, there are some readers who don't like the details. Caveat emptor.

Or is that fourth? I don't know. I love keeping readers on the edge of their seat, turning pages so they can see what Jaclyn or Alex or Connor Wood or (fill in the blank here) does next.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because daddy needs to keep the food on the table? No, but seriously....

Thrillers are a rather popular genre, and I had abandoned the fantasy genre mainly because I didn't have the money to hire an artist to give me a colorful-yet-bloody cover, much in the same vein as the R.A. Salvatore novels. I started out as a fantasy author, because at the time, I loved writing about fantastical worlds. I still love reading fantasy; I always will.

I've also dabbled in mystery, historical romance (now under my pen name, D.L. Boyd; there will be more coming from "her" in the future), and sci-fi. I just love to write what moves me! After the aforementioned novella is done, I have a horror-thriller in mind that'll knock everyone's socks off--if I do the legend justice.

4. How does my writing process work?

The process. It's a great mystery to many as to how an author works. Some think that authors simply have a bottle of Jack Daniels or something even stronger next to them.

My process is simple: I cut open a vein and bleed onto the keyboard.

I'm a detail-oriented, plot-driven author. I know the outcome of the story even before I start writing it. I look at maps of real places--if my book happens to be set in a real place--and I delve deep into the setting; the characters have to go somewhere, and my readers connect best with real places. I want to see the rolling hills, the gentle curve of asphalt, the towering hills on other side of the road, and I have to make sure that the description is just right: if it's a real place, readers can see that and if they tell you that they saw it perfectly in your description, then you've done your job.

My process involves keeping readers on the edge of their seats, as I've said. And that means bringing in the very best in my literary arsenal onto the pages. I want the readers to feel the sweat, to hear the sounds. I want them to use their senses--and truthfully, I want them to go into sensory overload by the time they've finished reading my books.


And now it's my turn to spread the love, so to say. I've tagged the following authors.

Let's see: Terry Simpson, Nickie Storey, and up-and-coming author Ted Flanagan. That should do it. :)

Now Rich, can I enjoy the rest of my vacation?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Author Interviews: E.H. Walter

In our most recent edition of the Author Interviews, we bring a dear, dear lady and an excellent author in London native Elizabeth "E.H." Walter into the hot seat. She has a fantastic series in PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS, set in her native London. Liz and I met during the 2009 NaNoWriMo, where she wrote PI1 while I penned Zombie Showdown. We've been friends ever since.

Sean Sweeney: 'Ello, Love! You have a rather excellent series going, one that I love--not because you mentioned the sexy counterterrorism agent in the first book. Let's talk about Paranormal Investigations: What's it about, how you got the idea, etc.

E.H. Walter: I love Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files and wondered what a British, female version would be like. Thus Leo and her world came into being. I didn’t have much time for research, as I wrote all of Paranormal Investigations 1 during Nanowrimo one November, so set it where I lived and in the places I saw every day. Leo also took on some of my theatrical background. I guess other ideas must have been bashing around my subconscious for a while because it was very easy and enjoyable to write. Quickly after PI1 was published I realised there was a demand for more, so I kept going and have written three more to date.  I love writing them but with every book Leo’s world gets a bit bigger and there are more characters to remember – it gets harder!  I know the writer Jasper Fforde struggles with the same thing and has his wife helping him, covering books in notes and post its.  I think I need a wife!

SS: One of the underlying themes of PI is her deal with the Fae, and it turns out she has been warned, time and again, about this. What is it about this series of events involving the Fae that keeps readers turning pages?

EHW: The Fae weren’t really meant to be so important in PI, but they have now got their own thread running throughout the series which will become clearer in PI6.  I blame Jamie really, he keeps building his part up.  I don’t know why the Fae catches readers’ interest, but the paranormal generally holds a great deal of fascination for people – myself included. 

SS: Let's talk about some of your other books, because you have a few solid tales that don't involve Leo. Break them down for us. 

EHW: I try and write one PI book and one non PI book a year.  Non-PI books include: Fallen – what would happen if Lucifer fell into modern London and tried to get revenge on God?  The ReedBed – two mismatched individuals fall in lust in the Victorian countryside.  Snowbound (to be published soon) – a London teenager gets snowed in rural Wisconsin as the world ends.  I also publish a few short stories and have about three other novels to edit and publish at some point in the future (a historical fiction, a Victorian crime/thriller and a YA werewolf trilogy). I’ve also written a film script.  It’s about the Scottish football team full of amateurs taking on the World Cup, when the professionals get fired for asking for too much money, but haven’t had any takers on it yet. I like to write something completely different every time which can be a problem for mainstream authors as publishing houses are notorious for pigeon holing you into one specific genre.  Being self-published gives you a great deal more freedom.  I can write the stories I want to tell, the stories I want to read – which are spread across many genres.

SS: Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about the changes that I've gone through as an author these last few years, and I know that you've gone through a few changes, too: You've become a mother, you've moved from Barnet to a cozy flat, etc. Let's talk about the changes that you've had to make regarding the writing, and balancing it with motherhood.

EHW: Wow.  Motherhood.  People insist on telling you how hard it is going to be and you never listen.  The thing is, they weren’t right when they told you how tough it was – no one can; it’s worse!  I managed 60 000 words last November by writing as soon as my then-four-month-old fell asleep.  I wrote in bed on my iPad (which presents its own problems) and set myself a strict daily target.  I’ve since managed to finish that novel (Snowbound) but you definitely need discipline. I also find bets based on cake and coffee are good motivators with other writing friends.  I don’t like giving away cake.  I like eating it.

SS: Who were your literary heroes/heroines growing up? I'm sure there are loads of great characters in British literature that pulled you into their worlds.

EHW: My favourite ever books growing up were the Anne of Green Gables series – I just loved them.  I read them so many times the spines were lined and the covers bent which says something as I’m one of those people who never cracks spines!  I also read the classics such as the Brontes, Austen, DuMaurier, Conan Doyle and tried Dickens, who I have never gotten on with.  I have a theory you must read the classics by the age of twenty one because life gets in the way afterwards.  

SS: Let's go back to Leo's world for just a tick. There's something about one of the stories that so reminds me about my work, because like you, I love digging through the layers of history to uncover little known nuggets in order to help move the story along, and in PI3, I believe, you have Leo and her pals delve into an abandoned portion of the London Underground. What was that experience like, in regards to the research?

EHW: I’ve had a fascination with the London underground since my first trip on it aged nine.  I remember it clearly because I was terrified of escalators and at Knightsbridge there was this enormous one.   It seemed to stretch for miles underground and so steep you couldn’t see the bottom.  I just stood there terrified, blocking everyone – until my Aunty Rita shoved me on and I sailed down loving every minute!  It was shortly after that trip that there was the dreadful fire at Kings Cross which finally led to a lot of modernisation on the underground and so this old, rickety world began to be lost.  Wooden escalators were replaced and smoking banned!  Some stations were too difficult to modernise and the smaller ones, such as Aldwych, were gradually closed.  They joined the platforms and whole stations that have been mothballed and are sealed pockets of history.  Some haven’t been used since World War Two and still bear the posters from that era.  It’s a strange feeling to stand on the platform at Holborn and know through that foreboding, thick, grey door is a whole extra part of the station never used.  The abandoned stations are sometimes open for limited tours and, although I’ve never managed to get on one, I study the photos of those who have.  I also walk around London a lot and the Piccadilly line stations are easy to spot as they were all bricked in what is called ‘ox blood red’.  London is dreadful for destroying its own history in the name of progress so I like to hold on to these little bits that remain. 

SS: You're giving me 100 quid when I arrive in London. What am I doing?

EHW: Take a walking tour tailored to your interests.  There are lots of different options: a literary tour of Soho, Jack the Ripper’s East London etc.  That would only cost about a tenner per person per walk so I guess you could spend the rest on a good play at one of the better theatres (the National or the Old Vic – or for a fiver you can be a ‘groundling’ at the Globe but pick a shorter Shakespeare play or your feet will ache!) and then a walk along the canal in Camden, the Thames or around the London parks.  To be honest, you could just walk around London for the day and spend nothing, just taking it all in.

SS: I'm giving you $100 when you arrive in Boston. What are YOU doing?

EHW: I want to see history!  Show me where it happened!  I also like to be by the water so a walk along the waterfront?  Then let me collapse and gorge myself at the best vegan restaurant Boston has to offer.

SS: What is up next for you?

EHW: Next up is the writing of Paranormal Investigations 5: A Faint Whiff of Wet Dog as well as getting Snowbound ready for publication.  After PI5 I’ll write something different (probably in November) before cracking on with PI6 and then PI7.  I already have titles and the main plot idea for them and can’t wait to get started!

Thanks for stopping by, Liz!