Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Author's Resolutions for 2016

For my past resolutions, see 2012 and 2013.

As 2015 comes to a close and 2016 takes her first bow, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a few years: I'm going to make certain resolutions for my writing which I'm planning on keeping throughout the calendar year--and hopefully beyond.

I will use my time more effectively in 2016.

Notice I didn't say "I will write more" or "I will publish X number of books" in 2016. Even though I've hit those two particular goals in the past, I have to say my time management skills have rather atrophied, especially as 2015 developed. The lure of the Internet and Facebook and Twitter and (insert your favorite sites here) have contributed to my ADHD, and I always find myself behind the eight ball when it comes to my word counts. I have to scold myself to get back on track. That being said...

I will significantly reduce my time spent on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media in 2016.

Always a toughie, especially when us authors are expected to cultivate a following and need to breed our relationships with our readers, interacting with them through social media. And I have to be honest (and my wife will agree with me): I spend way too much time on social media. I've started to limit my time on my sportswriting Twitter (there's a reason for that), but I'm not seeing an increase in my writing productivity. I resolve that I will spend only a few minutes on social media, then get to work. And when I'm on it too much, I resolve to whack my ass with a boat paddle and do something constructively with my extra time, i.e. start brainstorming other projects instead of whittling my time away on Facebook. (We'll see how this one goes.)

I will blog more in 2016.

I wrote 40 blogs in 2015, which is the most I've written under this account (my John Fitch V account, well... I blogged a lot. Whether or not it was anything of substance, well....). I will provide more raw snippets of my writing, more thoughts about the industry, more food (I supplied readers with four tasty dishes in 2015), and just about anything else that tickles my fancy in 2016. I try to stay away from blogging about my favorite sports teams a la George R.R. Martin does, since I'm a New England/Boston sports fan, and right now New England/Boston sports fans are a rather hated group of people. I want to draw potential readers in, not turn them away simply due to my sports allegiances. Simply put: I resolve to write 52 blogs--one a week--in 2016.

I will look into other avenues to spread the word about my books in 2016.

I've blogged about it in the past, and we already know the hard truths of publishing in the current state of things: I've recently realized Facebook's organic reach is at minute levels, and the platform has done its best to squeeze out small businesses from reaching their customers. Facebook was, at my peak, the best way to reach readers. Nowadays, hardly anyone sees my links even on my personal page. I'm looking into growing my newsletter mailing list and doing a more direct route to readers, letting readers who want to know about the books know about them; after all, isn't that why I went indie? To reach readers directly, without a middleman? I resolve to reduce my reliance on just posting links to Facebook--however, I do plan on taking out Facebook ads and hope to grow the mailing list with a free novella tease at some point in 2016. It's working for others, so I have to really test the waters. I've stuck a toe in, but I need to dive further in. I will do this in 2016.

Thanks for being with me in 2015. I resolve to do better in 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

State of the Author, 2015

And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain.... on the year 2015.

For this author, 2015 was a roller coaster year of successes and trials, of realizations, and tough decisions.

On the publishing front:

In 2015, this author published several novels, and revised a few of his older works: Travel Agent: A Thriller, The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller, and the revised Obloeron Saga, including the previously unseen third prequel novel Krampel's Revenge, all reached readers' eyes in January, June, and November, respectively. In revisions, I took a long, hard look at several pieces, tightening Scollay Love (under my D.L. Boyd pen name), Zombie Showdown, Cold Altar, and Voir Dire, then re-published the lot in August. I feel that, on the revisions, I've made those books better on the eye.

On the writing front:

In addition to the revisions to the Saga, I wrote Chemical Agent: A Thriller (which is now available for pre-order), the first and second drafts to Beach Blanket Bloodshed: An Alex Bourque Mystery (in the same series as Cold Altar and Voir Dire), and I'm well into the first draft of a fantasy story unrelated to Obloeron. 2016 is shaping up to be a solid year, publishing-wise.

On the business front:

This was the massive trial I spoke of earlier. In 2015 (as of 7 p.m. on Dec. 30), I've sold 732 books, which doesn't include the Apple iBooks update for the month of December. That number is, by far, the worst sales year I've had since 2010, when I only had four books out and only sold 758 books that year.

I wrote back in June that it's time to re-evaluate the business plan, and I'm starting to implement some of my findings as we enter the new year. I've spent a little money so far, and the plan is to spend some more in order to re-claim the fan base and my audience. It will be a slow process; my hope is that by the summer, I'll be able to focus my efforts on doing just that, mainly with Facebook and Twitter ads in order to let readers know of my improvement, and that I'm still here.

I'm not going anywhere, ladies and gentlemen. I will continue to publish great books in 2016 and beyond.

I'm glad you're with me on this tremendous ride.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A look back at my 2015 blogs

I'm going to come right out and say this wasn't my original idea. No, my pal Jim C. Hines came up with this idea the other day, and I thought, "If it's good for Jimmy, then it's good for me." And notice how I get all my excellent ideas from Jim?


In 2015, I wrote 38 blogs prior to this one. I did a hodge-podge of books and food, as well as a trip to Cape Cod. Which ones were the most popular? You'll be surprised.

10. The Obloeron Re-writes: Back at it (69 views)

We can't escape Obloeron! This blog from late June--right after the end of Chemical Agent's first draft and the release of The Long Crimson Line--tackles the start of the second stage of the Re-writes.

9. Inside Travel Agent (72 views)

I answer a few questions about the contents of the sixth full-length Jaclyn Johnson novel.

8. Recipe Wednesday: Crock pot Pork Chops (79 views)

A blog post unrelated to books! I know, it's a miracle. Getting hungry re-reading this particular piece.

7. Cape Cod pictures from Ballston Beach in Truro (84 views)

A nice little photo spread of our trip to Truro back in April.

6. Cover reveal and pre-order links for The Long Crimson Line (86 views)

Pretty self-explanatory. I revealed the cover design--which was much better than my original idea, which was a rear view of a leggings-wearing woman holding a knife--for The Long Crimson Line, and gave folks to opportunity to pre-order it.

5. Sample Sunday--Travel Agent: A Thriller, Chapter 1 (94 views)

Again, pretty self-explanatory: Chapter 1 from what was the newest Jaclyn Johnson novel, Travel Agent.

4. The Obloeron Re-writes: A snippet of change (106 views)

One of the blogs I wrote back in January--OK, a few of them I wrote in January--dealt with the first stage of my re-writes in The Obloeron Saga. This particular blog showed how I improved one particular passage in The Quest For The Chalice.

3. An author, re-assessing his business plan (121 views)

In what was my longest blog post of 2015, I rambled about the current state of affairs in book-selling, as well as how I'm going to tackle it. I really still haven't tackled it, but we're getting there.

2. Have you pre-ordered The Obloeron Saga yet? (127 views)

Our second most popular blog came in late October. And while you can't pre-order it any longer, it is still available at 99 cents... for now.

1. Coming soon--The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller (156 views)

Amazing: my most popular blog was a snippet of Chapter 1, and it came on my birthday, to boot! Happy birthday? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

And there you have it: A look back at my 10 most popular blogs of 2015.

Will I match my blog output in 2016? Will I surpass it? You'll have to come back next year to find out. Keep reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

COMING SOON--CHEMICAL AGENT: A THRILLER, now available for pre-order

It's just in time for Christmas.

Well, maybe it's a late Valentine's Day 2016 gift, but still... work with me here.

CHEMICAL AGENT, the seventh full-length Jaclyn Johnson thriller adventure, is now available for pre-order on both Kindle and Kobo, and will be ready for you to download on Feb. 16, 2016. For those of you with Kindle, you will more than likely get it on Feb. 15, if things go as they usually do. I will upload the Nook version on Feb. 13 in time for a Feb. 16 release.

A trade paperback edition and an audiobook are also planned; the trade paperback ready for release day, the audiobook in 2017.

Here's what it's all about:

The first trip home for Jaclyn Johnson was supposed to be a memorable one: Gone from Seattle for well over a decade, she was home to attend the unveiling of a statue for her father, killed on 9/11. 

Instead, her trip turned into a memory she would rather forget. 

Thrust into an awkward position following a tragic murder at their hotel, a murder she couldn’t stop, the CIA counterterrorism agent must do something of which she had never dreamed in this, her seventh full-length adventure: reconcile with her nearly-forgotten past, all while moving forward in life without one of her closest allies. 

Reserve your copy here today:

Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK

Friday, December 4, 2015

Check out this balsamic chicken and veggies dish

It's been a while since I've blogged, and since no one really wants to hear how I'm struggling a little with the current WIP as of late, I'm going to write about food instead.

One of my high school contemporaries--and in a Six Degrees of Separation angle, the mother of one of my wife's math students--had posted a recipe for One Pan Balsamic Chicken from Tasty on Facebook over the weekend, and it was so mouth-watering that I needed to try it. My mom also posted it, so that must have been a sign. I made it Thursday, and I altered the directions a little. Instead of one pan, I used two to keep everything relatively warm.

Doesn't this look fantastic?

Here's what you'll need:

As many chicken breasts that you and your family will eat, tenderized and sliced into no more than 1 1/2-inch wide lengths
An 8-ounce package of mushroom slices
Green Beans, between a quarter of a pound and half a pound
A cup of grape tomatoes, halved the long way
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1-2 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinaigrette

In the first frying pan, coat with olive oil and toss in your mushrooms, cooking them down on high for a few minutes, stirring and tossing. They should go from their pale gray coloring to a darker shade of sandalwood. Add your green beans to this, turn the heat to low, and cover.

In the second frying pan (once the first is covered), coat with olive oil and toss in your chicken breasts, adding salt and pepper to taste. We tenderize our chicken, so it's relatively flat; also, I had put the breasts into the oil whole without slicing, which led to the chicken being slightly undercooked and I had to zap it for about 50 seconds to finish it off. When the outside edges of the chicken grow white, turn the chicken. Keep doing this every few minutes in order to cook the chicken through, probably four turns or so, especially if your chicken is sliced (you live and you learn). As you're waiting for the chicken, remember to stir the mushrooms and beans a few times. Once done, set the chicken aside.

In the same pan that you used to cook the chicken, it's time to make your balsamic glaze. Don't worry if there are little pieces of chicken still in the pan: use that to your advantage! Add the Italian dressing, then the honey, then the Balsamic vinaigrette. Cook it on high for a few minutes, stirring until the concoction is all dark and bubbly.

By now, the mushrooms and beans should be ready. Toss the chicken in, along with the halved grape tomatoes. Then, pour your balsamic glaze over the top of it, then stir and cover for about two minutes.

I served this with white rice, drizzling some of the extra glaze over it to give it some additional flavor.

My bride thoroughly enjoyed this, so I'm being allowed to make it again. This next time, I will totally trim the chicken down to size.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Book Day--Remembering the last 13 years of Obloeron

Update: The Nook link is at the bottom. -- SMS

When I was in the closing stages of this renewed edition of THE OBLOERON SAGA, I had promised myself that I wouldn't cry. I didn't cry when I finished the final edits (both times). I didn't cry when I finished the first drafts, save the first one--and there were plenty of emotional moments during those two-plus years, let me tell you. I don't cry often (at least that's what I tell you here).

So you may be a bit shocked to hear that I cried the other day. Yup. I did.

I was in the office upstairs, getting everything finished and nice and tidy for you. I had all of my files, all four of them, formatted. I had inserted Deborah Levinson's wonderfully written Foreword into all four files. I had the blurb and all the details about the SAGA ready. The cover? Ready to go.

I uploaded to all four simultaneously (Nook, however, wouldn't process until this morning). Kindle and Kobo went straight to publishing for pre-order.

Smashwords... ah, Smashwords. It was while Smashwords' famed "Meatgrinder" went about its business of getting the book out there that all the memories of the last 13 years came whizzing through my mind......

The memory of wanting to write a simple story about a halfling. I had percolated in my mind for a few months while I sold cell phones at the mall. I then recall sitting down in my bedroom on Jan. 4, 2003, my first Gateway computer fired up. I had named the initial file YanosKingsfoil.doc. The first four chapters came formed, and I wrote them in a few weeks. I had the first line of what was then chapter five written... and then I stumbled.

I eventually finished chapter five some six months later, in between dad's funeral and his burial.

Dad, I hope you're watching. I hope you're proud of the author I have become. I did it.... and I miss you.

I had put those first five chapters on the shelf afterward and let the story marinate a bit. It wasn't until I heard R.A. Salvatore speak at the Westminster Public Library a year or so later did I decide to return to the novel--I had told my mom as we left the library that I would finish that book after I heard Bob say that "There is no such thing as writer's block." Less than a week later, I had my brainstorm about Krampel Paddymeyer. It was just an idea and didn't come fully formed at the time. I pressed myself to write those last 80,000 words or so in THE QUEST FOR THE CHALICE; I celebrated hard when I made it to 100 pages of manuscript.

I had wept Christmas Night 2004, when I thought I had lost the entire manuscript (friggin' 3D models of the save icon). I breathed a sigh of relief when I had recovered it.

I worked and worked and worked until I had my manuscript. I got right to work on book two.

I wrote book two a little faster than book one. I wrote book three, and I had my trilogy. After a few other books, I started writing my prequel stories. I wrote a series of short stories in 2009. I remember family of friends taunting me for my weird-sounding character and places names.

I published the original trilogy shortly thereafter. I felt so proud of what I had done. I did the same with more books, and more books. My skills improved.

I recall re-reading it in 2013 and discovering that it was crap. I shelved it. I removed it from sale.

I didn't want it to see the light of day again.

And then... I decided, with my present skills, to return to Obloeron. It was time. I took the short stories I had written and figured how to weave them into the story. There was a question of taking one and attaching it to the end of the third--then unreleased--prequel, but instead I decided to use it as a connecting piece. I took another, polished it up, and attached it to the start of my first novel from nearly 13 years ago.

I started re-writing the novels where they needed re-writing. That took a few weeks, before I started to salvage (and as I've already noted, that was a good thing).

I let them sit for a while. I returned to them in July of this year, then again in September.

And now... they're back. Six books, including the previously unseen third prequel novel, KRAMPEL'S REVENGE. Happy Book Day, Sean. Happy Book Day.

If you pre-ordered the box set, thank you. If you're thinking about buying it for only 99 cents, know that you're buying a project that has touched my heart and my life more than any book series ever should.

If you're new here, enjoy the ride.

At the moment, this is the only available edition of Obloeron: On Friday, I took down the two existing individual prequels for the time being: I need to update the covers and re-brand, and right now is not the time, financially-speaking, to do that. Besides, you're getting all six books for .99 cents instead of paying $2.99 each. Doesn't exactly make sense to have them all up right now, does it?

Here are the links:

US Kindle
UK Kindle


And now, a quick word about the future of this particular world:

The last short story in this series was intended, in 2009, to be the jumping-off point for a sequel series; obviously, I took the George Lucas approach with this entire saga, writing the second three books first, then go on to write the first three books second, then drop the series entirety. It was completely unintentional.

Once I started writing the AGENT series some seven months later, I put the sequel series of Obloeron on the shelf. I started enjoying a great deal of success as a thriller author (I still do), but there is a part of me which would love to go back to that world and cause a little damage. And seeing that I'm currently in the first draft stage of an unrelated fantasy novel (more on that next week, I think), there is a desire in my heart to go back to Obloeron and write a few new books in the world.

But--and this is a pretty huge but here--I will only do so if there is a call for it. If the SAGA sells well and it is well-received, I'll start brainstorming next month. We'll get a cover made, and we'll get the book out.

Only if there's a call for it.

Let me know.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


A first glimpse into THE OBLOERON SAGA. I give you the opening to THE QUEST FOR THE CHALICE, my first novel and (chronologically) the fourth story in the SAGA.


No matter where he went in his kingdom, Radamuck Rosar had difficulty escaping the whispers.
The taunting voices, all filled with sadistic vitriol, chased him throughout the realm of Lowbridge, the rock walls failing to absorb the echoes. Even a great grumble from the dwarf king’s gut, whether through his mouth or from his arse, couldn’t silence them.
In the fifty long years since Radamuck returned from the seemingly ancient wars away to the south, there had been no sign of a coming heir to the great dwarven kingdom, the one he now ruled as its 24th King. He and his wife had tried desperately to produce a male child, one who would take over the kingdom once Radamuck, like his father Ricanack before him, went to the Great Void Beyond.
For his part, though, Radamuck had ensured the day-to-day operations of the kingdom would continue by someone of royal blood and not a steward: upon his return, he immediately named Aidan, his nephew, as the heir presumptive to the Throne of the Golden Mug. Even so, it clearly gnawed on his nerves that he still did not have a son. He was now up there in age, and he knew that his best breeding years had passed far behind him.
If I do not have an heir soon, a true heir o’ me own loins and not me dead brother’s, he thought, the blame would lie with me.
Radamuck walked the corridors alone at night while the rest of the kingdom slept. It was a haunting thought, not being able to produce an heir. It attacked his nightmares and, at times when he was not busy, his daydreams. He wondered how he would solve this problem—he absolutely forbade himself to see a cleric about this; he knew their lips were a tad loose, even though the entire kingdom already knew what haunted Radamuck’s steps—when the idea struck him. The thought made the echoes that crept along his path cease, and instead the whisperings in his mind grew louder with each beat of his heart.
Immortality will embrace yeh, Radamuck Rosar, he heard.
He grimaced and grunted. He shook his head once as he resumed his pace.
Immortality may be the answer, he thought, but it would come at a price, a sad price: I would continue living while me beautiful wife, the Lady Rosar, would perish. I would go on in this world without her.
Another grunt poured from his lips, as if he tried to dull the sounds of his heart shattering against his ribcage.
It was a debate, a debate that he had never given heed to before: In order to produce an heir, he needed no stress at all.
He snorted.
I am always under such stress, he thought. The pressures of ruling me kingdom, the pressures o’ producing an heir, all on me broad shoulders. He shook his black beard. But should me loins not do the job with which they were tasked to do in the first place…
His thoughts trailed off with a tight grimace and a deep breath through his large, pockmarked nose. He made his way to his royal bedchamber, walking along the twisting passageways with his head down.
Radamuck didn’t even look up as he entered.
“It’s about time you got back from your stroll.”
He stifled a cry even as he jumped. He looked through the darkness until a tiny burst of light appeared near his bedside. The smell of cordite lingered.
“Yeh made me heart shoot into me throat. What are yeh still doin’ awake?”
“I could ask you the same question, dear.” Lady Rosar’s retort was sharp.
Radamuck grew silent; his left cheek twitched near the corner of his mouth.
“Ah, yeh know,” he said, scrambling for the words, his eyes darting around the room and not meeting his wife’s eyes, “just the affairs o’ the day; some thin’s that be on me mind ‘bout the direction of me kingdom.”
“You’re lying to me, Radamuck, and you know that I know you’re lying to me.”
“I’m not lyin’ to yeh.”
“You just did it again.”
The stern look she gave him, he saw, was as powerful a stare as he ever gave an underling. Radamuck’s throat went suspiciously dry.
“What do yeh want from me, love?” he said softly.
“The truth would be a nice start.”
She had said it so simply and without anger that he felt his burly, dwarven fa├žade crumble under the weight of her words.
Lady Rosar slipped out of bed and walked toward him. He was defenseless now, and he knew this. She wrapped her arms around him. He felt the tension in his body evaporate under the heat of her flesh.
“What is it, my love?” she asked as she ran her hands across his back. “Tell me.”
Radamuck’s grunt filled the room. His mind kept whirling, the incessant vortex of thought—the thoughts that plagued his footsteps and his day-to-day life for the last decade—not shifting aside, not even for his wife.
 “Don’t tell me now. Tell me later today; you need rest. Summon Aidan to you in the morning, and tell him he’s in charge of the kingdom for the day. You and I are headed out into the fields for a day of relaxation, and that means no axes,” she whispered; Radamuck slumped. “Then, you can tell me everything you need to tell me, because if you don’t tell me, I’ll hound you until you tell me.”
Radamuck snorted.
“OK, love. I’ll tell yeh then. Until then, I need some sleep.”
“Of course you do,” she said with a smile. “Come to bed, and we’ll sleep until the sun rises.”
Once in bed and his head hit the pillow, Radamuck was out.
But the thoughts—oh, those thoughts. The thoughts remained entrenched in his subconscious. The nightmares filled his mind with visions of what he thought would come to pass; the disembodied view of his corpse slowly consumed by magical flames without a son to mourn him, the kingdom run by one of his steward’s bastardy as they went after, captured, and killed Aidan. Sweat poured down Radamuck’s face as every image made his flesh tingle with unseen tremors.
Radamuck’s eyes eventually sprang open, the sweat dropping in and stinging them as he lurched upward with a heavy gasp. His lungs burned as he tried to suck the sweet air clinging to every crevice, every nook and cranny, even from the stone itself. He wiped his wrist across his brow; the tiny hairs were damp.

The king looked to his right, where his queen slept soundly, seemingly undisturbed by the fear gnawing at her husband’s insides. He took a deep breath and tried not to grumble; he didn’t want to wake his wife with troubles he felt were his and his alone. He returned his head to its soft mooring before finally falling into contented sleep.

Like what you've read? THE OBLOERON SAGA comes out TOMORROW... Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, on all ebook retailers.

Pre-order your copy for Kindle or Kobo at the links indicated and get it before everyone else!

Friday, October 30, 2015

To cut my nose off to spite my face, or no? Free book indecision.

Catchy title, is it not? It is. Oh, it is. And it can be explained in one anxiety-riddled blog post.

I've battled a demon for these last few months. The demon is a tricky one, since it has been the driving force behind my good fortune when it comes to this publishing/book sales game I've played these last few years.

Yup. It's the demon of indecision, the demon of whether or not to take Model Agent, the first book in the Jaclyn Johnson code name Snapshot/Agent series, off perma-free status and make it a paid book on Kindle and iBooks again.

Through September, readers have downloaded Model Agent in excess of 103,000 times for free, with a little less than 900 paid copies through Nook and Kobo. On iBooks, MA is still good for well over a hundred downloads a month. On Kindle, not too many. For instance, in September, MA saw 158 free downloads on Apple; in August, 197, in July, 187. Last month on Kindle, there were 79 free downloads; this month, 28. The sell-through over the last few months has not been spectacular; in September, I sold a grand total of 52 books; 26 were through Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, with another 26 through Apple. This month, I'm at 19 before the Apple numbers come through, and I'll get this month's Apple numbers in the middle of next month. I told you: not exactly great.

See my dilemma?

The theory of making a book free, especially in a series, is to sell-through the remainder of the series, and use the first book as a loss leader. The sell-through, from Model to Rogue to Double and so forth, has been decent through Double: as I've explained, I bought ENT sponsorships for the first three, and that is part in parcel of the series' draw. As I've reported, I was unable to get one for Federal Agent, which recently eclipsed the 700-copy mark; that book has been out for three years. The most recent two books, Literary (JJ5) and Travel's (JJ6) numbers aren't exceptional, and sales are down across the board. I don't know if people didn't like the first three or just don't know if there are more books since I didn't get an ad for Federal. If I'm being honest, the writing in these latter books is better than the writing in Model. Some people are buying and downloading them, yes, but are doing so in small quantities instead of the rate of purchase from a few years ago.

So what to do? It's a question that doesn't have an easy answer: If I take MA off perma-free, what will happen to my Apple sales? What will happen to my Kindle sales? They are low as it is, and if the perma-free is driving what I have for sales as it is, well... I don't want to think of what my sales would be without Model Agent being free. And if I'm being honest, I don't have another series at the moment with a first book to use as a new loss leader.

This may require a little more thought... maybe until the holiday season passes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kobo doing it again with a 50 percent off sale

I've mentioned before how we authors are a pretty obsessive bunch, especially when it comes to our book sales. I won't re-hash it, but you can find my obsessive-compulsiveness in my archives.

This weekend, coupled with the release of THE OBLOERON SAGA and the need to increase the pre-orders in the days prior to Monday's release, the good folks over at Kobo are going to have me and many other authors doing a frantic F5 every waking minute over the next six days or so: they are running another 50 percent off sale on all books published through Kobo Writing Life, and thankfully, I'm one of those authors who do this, and only use Smashwords for iBooks and other reading entities; I upload to Kindle, Nook, and Kobo separately.

This means that for you Kobo users out there--you can pre-order THE OBLOERON SAGA and get it for something like 48 cents.

Read that line again.

Really? Six books plus three short stories for only 48 cents?! Seriously? My other books from $1.50-$2 each? I have two words for that, ladies and gents, and that is LEGAL THIEVERY.

And I love it.

So go on, Kobo readers, go on and do it. STEAL MY BOX SET. I double dare you to. Do so for half the price this weekend, using these coupon codes at checkout:

Canada users, from Oct. 28-Oct 31: CA50SALE
United States/Australia/New Zealand users, from Oct. 28-Oct 30: GET50SALE
United Kingdom users, from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 (RELEASE DAY!): UK50SALE

Here's the link to all of my books on Kobo. HAVE AT IT!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Have you pre-ordered THE OBLOERON SAGA yet?

We're just under a week away until the triumphant return of THE OBLOERON SAGA to all eTailer shelves, and I just have one question--have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

You haven't? Oy, vey, what am I going to do with you lot?

Yup, you guessed it. I'm going to inundate you with a bunch of links.

For those of you with Kindle, click here and simply fix the URL to your particular country/Amazon shop. For those of you with Kobo, click here. I don't have a link for Nook's placement yet, but you can always sideload on Nov. 2 through Smashwords, or you can wait for Nook's placement to pop up; in related news, Nook should allow for pre-orders. It will only cost you a measly--A MEASLY--.99 cents for six books, plus three short stories which tell you the full story of the goings-on on Obloeron.

Not only that, but remember--the prose has seen a bit of an upheaval, too. I've embedded two other short stories into the existing prose to beef up the story a bit, to give a little more additional context to it. You may have read the TRILOGY before. You may have read the first two books in the prequels.

You don't know the entire story.

In one week--Monday, November 2, 2015--you totally, totally will. It's almost here. Pre-order today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


When one man puts aside a great destiny, it falls on another to pick it up.

This is the full, six-book THE OBLOERON SAGA bundle, which first appeared in 2009 under my old pseudonym, John Fitch V. The first five fantasy novels were published before 2013, and now the series comes together with the previously unreleased third novel, KRAMPEL'S REVENGE.

In addition, there is previously unseen prose in the form of three short stories the author has weaved into the tale, and gives the full look at some previously unanswered questions from the original three novels.

Starting with the short story The Creation of Flad-rul, the SAGA tells of Krampel Paddymeyer’s journey from that of slave to bounty hunter, from bounty hunter to war hero. Then the original trilogy picks up with Krampel’s grandson, Grumpet, his heir, as well as the tale of Radamuck Rosar’s journey with these two great men. Add in a halfling with a warrior complex, a bit of love, and plenty of orcs, and you have a fantasy story set to stand the test of time.

The Saga includes:

The Creation of Flad-rul (short story/prologue)
The Rise of the Dark Falcon (prequel one)
The Shadow Looms (prequel two)
Krampel’s Revenge (prequel three, previously unreleased)
Krampel’s Flight to Kayiko (short story/interstitial)
The Quest for the Chalice (original one)
The Return to Lowbridge (original two)
The Fall of Myrindar (original three)

Grumpet’s First Day (short story/epilogue)

Coming SOON to an eTailer near you! Join my mailing list (the form is at the top of the blog) to find out when it's available!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Dark Falcon done, on to The Shadow Looms

The last third of The Rise of the Dark Falcon took me about three hours to read through and fix Thursday morning; there was a little bit to fix, and when it was all said and done, I had removed about 2,000 words--needless words--from that book. I feel the book is better now.

(*gulp* I hope.)

After a little bit of a break and some errands, I started work on The Shadow Looms, the middle book in the prequel series and the second book in the series proper. I did a little re-writing in the opening page, as I felt that it didn't flow properly.

Of course, why didn't I realize this three years ago?

I really don't have an answer. Consider this as author-ly maturity on my part. Really.

In all, I did about 16 pages--the first two chapters in this book--before I called it a day and settled in for the Patriots game. Back at it this morning? You bet. I figure that I'll get a third of the way through the novel (about 45 2/3 pages, so about 29 pages today) by the time I have to eat and leave for my football game--high school football coverage starts tonight; on Saturday, I may get in a couple of hours work done in the late morning as I have a soccer game to cover in the afternoon, as well as a hay and grain run before that. Ponies have to eat, too.

Sunday, though... Sunday I should get quite a bit done, maybe to the two-thirds mark, while I have soccer on in the background before I settle in and watch football. I figure that I'll finish up The Shadow Looms before I head to my afternoon soccer game on Monday, which means I'll be a third of the way through The Obloeron Saga in just less than a week.

Exciting stuff over here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Obloeron Re-Writes: Finishing up Dark Falcon

This morning, I plan to get started on the final third of The Rise of the Dark Falcon. It's a wicked big deal, folks.

So far, I've spent the last two days removing passive voice I had missed during the last edit, as well as tightening certain sections and deleting extraneous phrasing that, as I see it now, is either redundant or unnecessary to the story.

The hope is that by 1 p.m. this afternoon, I will be done with Dark Falcon and can move on to The Shadow Looms. 

At least that's my plan.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Moving right along.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Obloeron Re-Writes: The best laid plans, they need a-changing

I think the title of today's blog says it all.

*looks up*

OK, maybe not. I'll explain.

As you read Tuesday, my whole plan was to get started on the final read of The Obloeron Saga. I was pumped and ready to curl up with my Kindle and get reading, all to make sure that the entirety of the book is ready to go in time for its Nov. 2 re-release. Reading it in September means I have a month to fix it if it isn't ready.

However, not everything goes to plan, and my second emotion from yesterday reared its ugly head.

As I laid in bed reading in the air conditioning--yes, it is friggin' hot here in Massachusetts--I had a legal pad next to me as I jotted down some notes regarding changes for the first chapter in The Rise of the Dark Falcon. I got through the chapter relatively unscathed, until I found some dreaded passive voice lingering in the tail end of the chapter.

Wait, what? Didn't I take care of that this summer? Apparently, I missed a bit--and yes, this time, it's on me. I'm a little upset and a little frustrated, but I'm persevering as I put my nose to the ol' grindstone.

In addition, as I sit here a third of the way through yet another draft--what is this now, draft No. 10?--I had to clear up some befuddled sentences in the next few chapters. I chose to speak some parts aloud to make sure they make sense. Again, I hope that with this full look-see is done, all 811 pages or thereabouts, it will be DONE. Complete. Finito.

I also realized something yesterday. Obloeron is, without a doubt, my personal Dark Tower series, ladies and gents. Much like King, you'll find that this is the defining series of my early career, and it will, I'm sure, read like an early career series. My hope is that when it is all said and done, you will feel a mishmash of early and now as you read it.

More reading on tap for today, another forty pages or so. Can't you feel my excitement?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Time to read

The day I've waited for has arrived: the day I start my final re-read of THE OBLOERON SAGA. Today, I'll curl up with my Kindle and just read. Read and drink coffee. Drink coffee and read. With nowhere to go today, my hope is that I'll get most of THE RISE OF THE DARK FALCON read; I'll probably only get half of it read, which isn't a bad thing. I want to pace myself. I read the lead-in short on Sunday night, and it needed a little tweaking; I took care of that yesterday. Now, I jump into the saga proper. I'll take notes if anything jumps out at me.

I'm going through several different emotions here. The first, of course, is that I really can't contain my excitement. I'm uber-excited, shall we say, to dive into the series and look at it as one entire story, not just as six individual parts. I believe that the story is so much better for the work I've already put in since last December, and I believe you'll feel the same.

The second feeling is that I'm nervous that there is still loads more to do, a fear that I have forgotten to do something over these last ten months. My hope is that I have not forgotten anything, and that the read is relatively smooth. Cross your fingers for me!

If there is any edits that need doing, they'll get taken care of before I finalize the project and move on to CHEMICAL AGENT's first read-thru and edit.

I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, gang.

I can't wait to get there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The next twelve months or so for this author

Even though I’m under no obligation to do so as an indie, I like to set goals and—even more importantly, from my point of view—deadlines for my work. It’s something that not only keeps me sane, but also keeps me focused on the writing.

With the Summer of Edit finally in the rear view mirror, it’s time to take a look at the projects I’m working on over the course of the next twelve months or so. Be careful: your eyes may spin by this somewhat absurd, breakneck pace. Keep in mind, these dates are all tentative, and are subject to change without notice. Publishing dates, though... we'll do our best to hit those.

Mid-August to Oct. 1—Beach Blanket Bloodshed: An Alex Bourque Mystery.

I haven’t decided if this will be a novel or a novella; I'm kind of writing this one from the seat of my pants. I have some ideas of how this story will go, but no idea as to the length. Much like Cold Altar and Voir Dire, I will tell it in first person. The hope is that I can have a full first draft done by Oct. 1; if it’s a novella or a short novel, then that date is no problem. Anything longer than 60,000 words may push it, but we’ll see.

In addition, I’ll brainstorm a project later in the fall, as well as the subplot for Chemical Agent.

Oct. 1 to Oct. 21 or so—Final read of The Obloeron Saga.

This will be the final time I ever read this series before I re-upload it. I’ll read it on my Kindle, and my hope is that if there is anything wrong—misspelled words, passive voice—that the change in font will point it out to me for correction. Then I’ll format and get it ready for publishing.

Oct. 22 to Oct. 27—First read/edit of Chemical Agent: A Thriller.

Oct. 19 will mark four months since I completed the first draft of the seventh Jaclyn Johnson novel, so I’m hoping that I’m fully free of the story by then. That way, I’ll see any problems and correct them. In addition, I’m going to add a few thousand words to the existing story as I work on the subplot.

Immediately after that until the end of January—Working on the first draft of a project I don’t believe I’m allowed to speak of just yet. I’ve been invited into a shared world, and that’s about all I can say on this for now.

Nov. 2—Publishing The Obloeron Saga.

Self-explanatory. A reminder that the entire saga includes the as-yet unreleased third book of the prequels, Krampel's Revenge, along with never-before-seen prose..

Christmas Week—Second read of Chemical Agent.

It would have been about two months or so since I had finished the first round of edits by the week of Christmas. I’ll look at it again at about this time, changing the font on the manuscript to see if anything sticks out. Then, the hope is to send it off for a proofing by Christmas morning. That is if everything goes well. Cross your fingers.

End of January—Final read-through of Chemical Agent, start brainstorming the eighth Jaclyn novel, first read-through/edit of Beach Blanket Bloodshed.

Feb. 1-May 3—Working on the first draft of a D.L. Boyd romance novel/novella involving a sportswriter.

End of February-early March—Publishing Chemical Agent.

End of March--Second read/edit of Beach Blanket Bloodshed, send to editor.

May 4—First read-through of secret project? Then start the first draft of JJ8, which should take me up through the end of July.

Memorial Day—Publishing Beach Blanket Bloodshed. Timely.

Early August—First read-through of the D.L. Boyd romance, then start brainstorming Cedar Junction, a standalone thriller that I will write in the fall of 2016. The romance will be published around Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas.

The hope is that I'll stick to the schedule. Of course, if I finish anything early, I’ll get to work on the next thing right away. Lather, rinse, repeat. And again, everything is tentative, and I reserve the right to make changes if necessary.

Stay tuned. It's going to be a great year.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer of Edit 2015, done and dusted

Over the course of the last seven-plus weeks, when I wasn't headed to Cape Cod or busting my rear end in our vast vegetable garden, I've been at my computer doing what I call "The Summer of Edit 2015." As it is a rather big deal, allow me a few moments of your time to explain.

Earlier this summer, I wrote about how I'm in the process of reviewing my business plan and, at the same time, altering it. Starting some time this fall, I'm going to take out Facebook ads and possibly even Twitter ads. When I wrote the business plan blog, I explained that I had given away upward of 103,000 copies or thereabouts of Model Agent, but when it came to selling through the rest of the Agent series, I had only sold about 7,000 copies of the others up through the end of June. Some of the newer books, which have great writing if I do say so myself, hardly sell save to my die-hards. I've come to the conclusion that either a. Some people didn't like the story and have since abandoned me (which is completely in their purview), b. Some read it and liked it, but didn't look for more books (which is, again, in their purview, but it may be my fault, too), or c. Some people read it, liked it, but are now in a different position in their lives and don't have the same amount of time with which to read like they did a few years ago. It's an either/or situation, I think. Who am I to truly say what the situation is?

The Facebook ads, I hope, will help build my mailing list as well as reclaim some Model Agent/Rogue Agent/Double Agent readers that had liked the story, but didn't know about the other books. The ads should point people in the direction of my bookstore, where readers will find that, indeed, I have plenty more books out there, and that I haven't gone away. Now...

Some of those books, as you'll know by the painstaking edit work that I did of The Obloeron Saga earlier in the year, were supposedly edited by a grad student prior to publishing a few years ago. As I've said, they weren't. And some of the other books that I had also released, such as Scollay Love and Zombie Showdown, were also supposedly edited by this particular person. Again, they weren't. Shame on me for not checking their work, and shame on them for screwing me over.

If I'm going to alter the business plan and reclaim readers, I had to make a hard choice: There are some who think I should just let the older work stay in its older form, letting the stories speak for themselves. I'm not doing that--and I haven't. This was something that I need to do if the readers are going to take this indie seriously as an author. I'm going to be here a long time, and there are plenty more stories in me. I just need readers, keeping my fastball tuned so the readers stick with me. That meant I had to go back into my files and do some revisions to these stories and bring them in line with my current skill level. It was time-consuming, but I stress that this was needed. I've improved as a writer to the point where passive voice no longer infiltrates my writing from the get-go. Meanwhile, the older stories, the supposedly edited ones that weren't, had tons of it.

That is no longer the case.

In the past few weeks, I've worked on cleaning up Zombie Showdown, Scollay Love (under my D.L. Boyd pen name), Cold Altar, and Voir Dire. I've cleaned them up--in the case of ZS and SL, I've re-written a few parts to improve on the story and have deleted some lines to tighten the story--re-formatted, and I've now re-uploaded them to Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords (with the exception of Scollay Love), and now to Google Play. These were solid stories, but didn't really sell: that may be due to what I see as sloppy, amateurish writing/editing. And with me about to go back into the world of Alex Bourque--Cold Altar and Voir Dire are in his world--later this week, those two books needed to be sharp without any serious dilution to the story. The passive voice, which the editor should have taken out, is now gone.

The question, of course, is how much left is there to do? I will be re-reading The Obloeron Saga in October; I do not foresee any additional changes to that series, and it will be re-published on Nov. 2, 2015--two years to the day that I took it down. The Agent series continues as my best-selling series, and there are no changes to those existing books scheduled. The stories are solid, the writing crisp. The same with the recent stories of Redeemed, The Long Crimson Line, and The Lone Bostonian. Royal Switch, I may look into changing up a little (the opening is slow, but it serves a purpose), but probably not this go-around. The John Fitch V books of Turning Back The Clock, One Hero A Savior, and A Galaxy At War, no, I'm not going to change those.

It is my hope that if you do take a chance on me from this point forward, I will have gained a reader that appreciates my writing, one who knows that I have now put forth an impeccable effort--one better than I had before. I also hope that the reader will join the mailing list and keep picking up my new books.

And speaking of that, I must dash. I have a new book to write.

Take care.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Recipe Wednesday: Chicken, Ziti, and Broccoli

One of my favorite things to make for dinner stems from my hometown of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. And seeing as I'm going to write about Fitchburg again--well, the Small Town PI series, which is normally set in my hometown but will be focused on Truro, Mass. for this one--I might as well share one of my favorite recipes.

Before I met Jen, I used to eat quite a bit at Slattery's, a nice little eatery with a full bar not too far from where I lived. In fact, Jen and I met at Slattery's, set up by mutual friends of ours. And one of the things I ate there--heck, always ate--was Chicken, Ziti, and Broccoli. I've adapted the recipe a little, and I make it every so often. Jen loves it, and it's pretty filling.

Here it is:

Prep time will vary.

We start off by boiling water in a large pot. I usually add olive oil to the water and bring it to a boil. I add the pasta; penne takes about 10-12 minutes to cook to the desired texture. Penne is smaller than regular-sized ziti at my grocery store; rigatoni is too big. Any tubular pasta works.

In a small saucepan, I mix olive oil along with several tablespoons of butter, and then throw in some fresh, chopped garlic. I automatically set the burner to its lowest setting. I sprinkle in some dried basil, and I'll stir this mixture every few minutes up until about 15-20 minutes have passed.

In a large, oiled skillet, I place sliced, tenderized chicken breast pieces and pan-fry on medium heat for about 15 minutes total, turning occasionally. Midway through, I'll grind up some salt and pepper, then turn again. At 10 minutes in, reduce heat and sprinkle on some grated Parmesan/Romano cheese. I will also sprinkle in some bread crumbs; if you want, you can use panko. We tenderize the chicken so that it is done in 15 minutes. Your chicken should be golden brown.

For about 10 minutes or so, steam your broccoli. I don't want my broccoli soggy; I want it firm.

Once everything is done, layer your dish: pasta first, followed by your chicken pieces, then broccoli. Spoon in your garlic/butter/oil on top. Sprinkle on some additional Parmesan/Romano to taste, and top with parsley flakes or fresh parsley from the garden.

Hope you enjoy this Sweeney Family favorite.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Done, Done, and DONE!

When I finished the first draft for the manuscript that became The Quest for the Chalice in early February 2005, I remember a weight seemingly leave my shoulders. The manuscript was, I thought at the time, completed. I had just finished writing my first novel, and the emotion of the moment took over my body. The fact it took me just over two years to write that particular novel and all the issues surrounding it, dealing with writer's block and not knowing where to take the story a few times (and then discovering my backstory in Kayiko), dealing with the death of my father and life without him, and then nearly losing the entirety of the manuscript in a Christmas 2004 disk problem, and then typing those two little words... yeah, you can say I was a little emotional that evening.

And while I've felt the finality of writing novels in the last 10-plus years--the weight leaving, the feeling of "Oh, thank Cthulhu that's over!" and then following that up with "OK, what do I do now?"--I've grown to the point where there is no need for tears when I finish writing a book. It's my job now, and there is no crying at work.

On Sunday, I didn't cry when I finished this read-through and revision of The Obloeron Saga, even though I felt a bit of an emotional tug around 1:30 p.m., when I saved the file to The Fall of Myrindar.

Yes. After 12 years, six months, and 15 days after I first started writing about a little halfling known as Yanos Kingsfoil, I can safely say that Obloeron's six-book saga is now completed.

There have been some changes, as I've mentioned before. I've tightened the story from front to back. Passive voice is gone; it littered my writing a decade ago. I've deleted whole sections that slowed the story down. I made a few character changes to fit continuity and canon. From what I can see, the story, as a whole, reads much better than it did two years ago. It simply feels better, in my opinion.

Of course, there are some spots where it drags a bit; the whole exposition coming back from Statuary Tower at the end of Quest... there's not much I can do, and I really cannot cut it; it's just a really boring section, the action done. The exposition builds up to the ending, where Grumpet tells his Jessica that he must go south with the dwarves. But the rest of it is pretty darn good; seriously, I still get chills at the end of Fall, when Aidan Rosar makes his first appearance in a while--and I wrote that scene in 2006!

Now, the next thing to do is to compile the multiple book files into a single compendium and read it again, this time on my Kindle. I'll do that in October, right before it's time to re-publish, as well as upload the finished files of the single books. And yes, there may be a few tears, too.

I can tell you that the final quarter of 2015 will be pretty darn exciting as I say good bye to Obloeron one last time.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

10,000 book sales and beyond

I wrote the other day that book sales have come to a crawl for me personally; it has made me re-think my business plan moving forward. It came to such a crawl at the worst time--just as I approached 10,000 book sales lifetime.

Let me allow you access to the dusty mind of an author: We are an obsessive bunch, especially about our book sales. For those of us who hail from the indie variety, we center our lives around checking our book sales on Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and Kobo (I throw in CreateSpace and ACX for paperbacks and audiobooks, too). Write a paragraph in the new WIP? Check the sales. Finish a page of prose? Check the sales. Wake up at 2 in the morning to use the bathroom? Bring your smartphone along and check the sales. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So it won't surprise you to learn that over the course of June I did all of this; a few months ago, while checking my spreadsheet and noticing the dip and figuring out my averages, I had figured that I would hit 10,000 by the end of June. I had ended May at 9,938 sales before the Apple iBooks update came through on Smashwords--when it finally came, I was at 9,945, which I believe came down to my bookstore site 404ing earlier in the month. Add in June's sales coming into the last week, I neared 9,990 (I was at 9,986 when I penned my change of business plan blog on June 25). That weekend, I was away from my laptop for a majority of it, so posting book links on Twitter was out, but I still sold a few books--just not enough to eclipse 10,000.

Then Monday, with me at 9,991 and one sale already in the tally books after writing the release blog for The Long Crimson Line, I took a nap. I woke up at about noon to a message from a high school classmate of mine who said that she had bought nine books.

"I love your writing," she said.

Thanks, Jess!

So there you have it. I've crossed 10,000 book sales, doing so in slightly less than six years. There are so many different reasons why it took me so long. I'm not going to analyze them here. I can tell you that there were no tears this time, unlike when I crossed 1,000 back in February 2011. I just gave a bit of a fist pump and went on with my day.

But I do hope that with the aforementioned change in my business model, and with constantly improving writing, that the second 10,000 will come much sooner than the first.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Back at it

Now that the first draft of Chemical Agent is done and dusted and The Long Crimson Line is with readers, it's time to settle the focus back on The Obloeron Saga re-writes. If you'll remember, I took the original trilogy off sale in November 2013 because I felt the writing from more than a decade ago was poor, and last year I thought it would be best if they never saw the light of day again. Since then, my thinking has changed and, as I have weaved a set of short stories into the original trilogy and kept two aside for freebies and such, I'm proceeding with getting them to a better state than they were two years ago.

And that includes the prequels, too. The first two have been out, and starting yesterday, I dove into a re-read and, ultimately, a revision--the final revision--of The Rise Of The Dark Falcon. After a little more than 24 hours of work, I'm a little more halfway through the book. I expect to be done with Dark Falcon by the time I go to bed on Thursday, and I may even get into The Shadow Looms. In other words: Don't buy those two books until I give you the go-ahead.

I'm pacing myself with this revision, breaking it up into manageable sections and revising as I go. Right now, I've broken Dark Falcon up into quarters--the manuscript without page breaks is 133 pages, but with what I've done to it so far, I've added a little more than a page or so or prose; the opening was a tad thin, in my opinion, and I've bulked that up. I'm sure with the new prose that I added to The Quest For The Chalice in December and January, I'll have to split that book into fifths in order to make it manageable and not seem as daunting as a 100,000-word book sounds.

Now remember: this is six books we're talking about here, and I fully expect that with two books a week, this project will be done by the end of July; of course, I sit here saying that knowing it's approximately a 500,000-word behemoth of a tale and I'm currently 36,000 words into it. I'm not taking into account my weekend chores here on the farm, game coverage, or going back into the chronology for exact detail of how things went down, so it may be that in order to meet that goal, I'll have to be scarce from the Internet, which for me is rather difficult. I may have to do thirds a day instead of quarters (I gave serious thought to reading another 15 pages today, that way I'd be two-thirds of the way through instead of only just above halfway, but again, I don't want to rush it), but I will do my best to meet the goal I have set for myself. By July 23, I should be done, if everything goes to plan.

Either way, the entirety of this series will be better for it, however I break the books down in order to make them perfect for the reading eye.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Book Day: The Long Crimson Line now available

Edit: Nook is up; link below.

Happy Book Day to me, Happy Book Day to me, Happy Book Day, Happy Book Day, Happy Book Day to me!

(And to buddies Daniel Arenson and David McAfee, too.)

Well, it's here. The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller has finally been released on all platforms. Novel No. 21, in all its bloody glory.

This novel pushes the envelope far beyond anything that I've done before. The amount of description in the murders detailed--the second to last murder, especially--will make the reader smell the blood, even on an eReader.

I'll be working this week to get the paperback copy up, and right now we've had a good launch thanks to pre-orders. Will it continue?

Oh, I hope so.

US Kindle
UK Kindle
iBooks (coming soon)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An author, re-assessing his business plan

Warning: Long post. For the TL,DR crowd: Author talks about changing his business plan, along with some insight on his sales figures.

Call me a real-life Sheldon Cooper. Go on. I don't mind.

Much like Jim Parsons' beloved character, I love Star Wars and Doctor Who. Trains? Eh, I could take them or leave them, but I could ride the T all day. Science? To a point. Having a special spot? Well, let's not go too far there, Charlie. The same goes for comic books.

But for the most part, I don't like change much. I like things the way they are; you can call me a champion for the status quo, if you so desire. Change doesn't send me into a tither like it does to Sheldon; my face doesn't jerk about.

However, changes to certain places in the social media landscape--which is quite possibly the poor author's best friend when it comes to promoting their books and letting potential readers know about books--has kept me up nights, has killed my organic reach, and has sent my sales spiraling into the abyss.

*Re-reads that last graph*

Huh. Not bad. Maybe I should be an author when I grow up. Moving on.

All kidding aside, it's pretty true. The number of books I've sold in recent months--shit, in just the past year--has plummeted dramatically (yes, I keep a spreadsheet). Where once I was good for triple-digit sales months, my newer books with better writing (in my humble opinion, of course) barely scrape enough together to pay the cable bill; I'm at 41 sales for June with less than a week left in the month, and a new book coming out Monday. In May, I sold 39 books, thanks in part to a website glitch that I didn't notice until it was too late. I had a fantastic, triple-digit April thanks to the Double Agent audiobook coming out (and I didn't even promote it). Before that, my last triple-digit month was August 2014.

Suffice it to say, the last ten months have not been kind to this author.

The twelve months before that, it was like a teeter-totter: there were a few months where the sales came in droves. Sure, I had a couple of zero days, but nothing like in recent months. I had triple-digit sales months dotted in with a couple of double-digit sales months. I thought everything was fine, and that there wouldn't be any changes--or that I would have to make any changes--to my business model. Then the last 13 months happen, with two triple-digit sales months. Yikes.

It has led me to believe what I initially thought was false is now indeed true: what had worked for me, and many other authors like me, back in 2011 and 2012 (two of my best years writing and selling my own books, 2,319 and 4,001 sales, respectively), doesn't work any longer. For the record, in 2013, I sold 1,545 books, and 1,037 in 2014. So far in 2015, I'm at 404... and we're barely halfway through the year. Honestly, it feels like 2010 again. The simple posting of links on your personal Facebook page may work, but some people are going to get pissed, and others that used to buy your books are at a different stage in their lives and don't have the time to read at the present. I posted the link to The Long Crimson Line the other day, and it got five shares, but nothing in the way of sales came out of those shares. You can post links to your professional "like" page, but the reach has shrunk to miniscule figures (read: Facebook wants you to buy sponsorships, and up until now, I've been rather hesitant to do that): on my Sean Sweeney, Author page, where I have 569 fans, I only reached 11 people with my most recent posting. The posting before that, 27. The one before that, 34. Before that, 16. The one before that, 97. I won't even tell you the fan total/reach on my Jaclyn Johnson page.

In addition, Facebook groups, in my recent experience, are no longer working; there are certain groups where you can promote your wares, but there are very few actual readers/non-authors there. If I'm being honest, I don't want to pitch my book(s) to just authors who are trying to scream over me and trying to plug their books to readers that aren't even there. And as for the "you buy mine, I'll buy yours" type of authors who I don't know.... sorry, guys. I know you're not going to read my book, and I'm not going to read yours. One sale isn't going to placate us; we should be honestly looking to build relationships with readers for long-term benefit. In other words, let's stop with the authorly hand jobs, OK?

And Twitter? OK.... I will admit, Twitter is successful. No one in my circle has Kobo, so those Kobo sales have to come from somewhere. I know many authors who are successful with Twitter. There are days I wonder, though, if anyone is truly paying attention to me there. Google Plus? People read my blogs there, but I'm not posting book links there. The old Kindleboards? I don't believe I've received a sale through my dealings there in many months.

Now it's time to re-assess how we're moving forward. Call it eBook Publishing 2.0, if you will. Over the past few weeks, I've given things serious consideration. No, I'm not quitting; I could never truly quit. But if I want to remain in the game... I have to ch-ch-ch-change.

Like I said, I thought the old ways would still work. I had considered starting a mailing list as early as February 2014, but at the time, I thought it too complicated (I have since learned otherwise) and never followed through. Now that I have some time, I'm concentrating on building the mailing list on various fronts: I've placed code here in the blog and on my website to take names and email addresses (which I won't sell, not even for Monopoly money). Yeah, it's generic. I have a newsletter that is coming out Monday. If you want on, by all means, register. The newsletter will have updates on drafts, as well as links for books. It'll be like my blog, but mailed to those who want it.


As I wrote earlier this week, I'm closing in on 10,000 sales (I'm actually at 9,986 right now). In addition, I've given out more than 102,500 copies of Model Agent for free. Not all of those 9,986 sales are Jaclyn books (it's actually 6,945 not including this month's sales, but that's neither here nor there).

But here's what I find interesting:

874 paid Model Agent
2,803 Rogue Agent
2,120 Double Agent

Those were the first three books, all published in 2011. All three did very well, and all three, it should be noted, were featured sponsors on Ereader News Today between March 2011 and April 2012. Altogether, those three books have accrued over 5,800 readers, and I presume a lot of those are repeat readers.

However, moving forward:

674 Federal Agent
235 Literary Agent
177 Promises Given, Promises Kept (the novella)
77 Travel Agent

Ouch. What happened? I don't have a real answer. Federal came out in 2012, the novella in 2013, Literary in 2014, and Travel in 2015. I didn't get ENT sponsorships for them. Maybe I had hoped that the readers would continue after Double. Did they find someone new? Did they think I suck? I know some do think that, and I know I'm not going to please everyone.... were the other 90,000 who downloaded Model just hoarding it and haven't read it?

So, how do I get those readers back?

Easy: Hopefully a paid Facebook ad pointing out that I'm still here, still writing a pretty darn good character? That may be what I do, along with getting names for the newsletter. You can't spend what you don't have, so the hope is that I can devote a few dollars to winning the readers back.

And if that doesn't work... then I'll have to think of something else. I can't be afraid of changing any longer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Starting off summer with a bang--a Book Bang

A lot of things to cover in this start of summer blog:

1. On Friday, I finished the first draft of CHEMICAL AGENT. All told, the first draft checks in at 100,243 words. I still have the little matter of the subplot, which shouldn't take me too long to write later this fall. That needs a little more percolation, as the intention is for the subplot to irk Forrister a little. I shouldn't need more than another 10,000 words, but we'll see.

2. As of this morning, I'm 17 books away from 10,000 sold in my career, and that's between ebooks, trade paperbacks, and audiobooks. It feels like molasses, this journey right now; I need to stop obsessing over this! Sure, 10,000 doesn't sound like a lot. There are plenty of authors who are doing better than I am, sales-wise. There are some, though, that aren't selling as much as I am (some who really should be selling better than I am).

3. In addition, MODEL AGENT has been downloaded for free on Kindle and iBooks (as well as few other entities) more than 102,500 times. I'm absolutely humbled by that number: add in the paid books, my novels and short stories have been downloaded upwards of 112,500 times. That is simply astounding to me. If I didn't make MODEL free, would I have 10,000 book sales right now? No. Not at all. I would probably still be struggling to get to 5,000.

Of course, the question now is how much longer am I willing to let MODEL stay free? I'm not getting many downloads on Kindle any longer, but I'm still getting loads of downloads on Apple. This is one of those "cut your nose off to spite your face" kind of deals... and I really don't know how to approach it.

4. I am taking a few days away from the writing in order to get a few things done: weeding the garden, mowing the lawn (I usually do it on Saturdays, but Jen and I went to the Cape this past weekend), and catching up on my laundry. But once I get that out of the way, I should dive into the final read-through of the entire Obloeron Saga. The plan is to put it out in one compendium later this year. Then, return to the Scollay Love romance, revise it, and put it back out under a new URL. It will stay under my D.L. Boyd pen name. Then, after all that is done, start writing the first draft of a New Adult Romance under the D.L. Boyd name.

5. And of course, we're six days away from the release of THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER. Pre-ordering is still going strong. Get your copy for US Kindle, UK Kindle, and Kobo at these links. June 29 can't get here any sooner.

Friday, June 12, 2015

JJ7 Update: Four chapters to go

The title of the blog says it all. After today's 2,464-word writing session, I am at 88,818 words and four chapters away from putting the capper on JJ7, a.k.a. Chemical Agent. I believe this next chapter will be three scenes in total: the first scene rather quick, the second scene with more dialogue, and the third scene will be full of detail. I will more than likely start this chapter on Sunday or Monday. The next two chapters after that will be intense resolution chapters, before the final one will wrap everything up nice and tidy.

Or does it?

(Quick aside: That was my mind snarling, "Muhahahaha." As far as you know.)

There is still the question of the subplot. I had brainstormed a light subplot for this story with the intention of making the character involved in the subplot to feature a little more in the eighth Jaclyn Johnson novel. Unfortunately for me, I'm starting to think that the subplot would slow the current story down, and I'm harping on whether or not to include it at all.

If I keep the subplot, I need to do more brainstorming: I only wrote the initial subplot scene back in March, then stuck with the main plot all the way through to this point; I even skipped over the second subplot scene a couple of weeks back. As I have it right now, the character involved in the subplot is tied to the antagonist--but I really didn't make that connection in the writing of the first draft. If I do keep it, I need to brainstorm what happens with this character between the initial subplot scene and the second subplot scene, as well as a resolution for this character headed into book eight. I shouldn't have to look too hard to find ideas for this character, but I may not do any thinking about this topic until September when I revisit JJ7 for the first round of editing.

All told, I could have the first draft of this book done in a week, or two. I haven't decided yet, but within two weeks should be a rather safe estimate. I'm not trying to rush this book: after all, it has taken me three months to get to this point, and I'm nearly done with the first draft.

Just have to pace myself, and everything should work out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What is THE LONG CRIMSON LINE all about?

A very good question, Mr. Title!

THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER is my 21st novel, and it may just be my most daring, push-the-envelope novel yet. Here, take a look at this:

There is NOTHING you can do about the blood that's about to run through the streets of Boston. Absolutely NOTHING. The police can't stop it. The mayor, the governor. Not even the victims themselves.

However, there's one person in Boston who feels he can stop it, and that's Ricky Madison: a Washington Street florist and ex-cop from Worcester. With the help of Mary Ruggles, and old friend and fellow businesswoman, the pair go through the files, visit the sites where the murders took place--and discover that their killer may not be male.

Did you get that? The killer may not be male--meaning the killer can only be one thing...

They also discover, thanks to a note, that the killer is a devotee to a long-dead serial killer in his own right, one that terrorized the streets of London 130 years in the past.

Pre-order THE LONG CRIMSON LINE on Amazon Kindle US, Amazon Kindle UK, Kobo, and Smashwords. You can read a snippet of the first chapter here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cover Reveal and pre-order links for THE LONG CRIMSON LINE

There was a bit of a delay, but last night I finalized the cover for my forthcoming thriller novel, THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER. I even have a blurb for it, too.

In the city of Boston, women are dying in a heinous manner. The police are baffled. They have no clues, nor any leads. The public is frightened.

Enter Ricky Madison, florist—an ex-Worcester cop with an insubordinate streak.

Madison and his friend, Mary Ruggles, find the patterns the killer is using, until they discover the one thing that ties all the murders together—the killer may not be male, and that the killer is a devotee to one of the most sought-after killers in the history of the world.

WARNING: The graphic nature of this book is not intended for those under the age of majority where local laws apply.


It has a WARNING LABEL, ladies and gentlemen! A WARNING LABEL. What does that tell you?

THE LONE CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER is available for pre-order on Kindle US, Kindle UK, Kobo, and Smashwords right now. It will also be available for pre-order on Kobo. Nook does not have pre-orders, but I will click publish on the day it is slated to come out; you can also pre-order through Smashwords and select the epub version. It will be available to read on June 29, 2015.

For a bit of Chapter 1, you can read it here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


 In honor of my 38th birthday today, here's a sneak peek--a birthday present from me to you--of the first scene of my forthcoming thriller, THE LONG CRIMSON LINE.

Chapter One

She emerged from the Government Center subway station on time, as usual, her strides across wet bricks confident, the sexual energy that oozed out of every pore apparent to the killer even from several hundred feet away. The killer and those that followed her from the new glass-and-steel headhouse kept their eyes on the target as she crossed eastward along the slightly uneven red bricked walkway of Cornhill once again: the killer remembered this had been an actual street some time ago, complete with sidewalks and berm and light poles, before illogical political dumbassery and douchenuggetry converted old Scollay Square, a rather happening place once upon a time, into this weather-worn shithole. She had her coat open to reveal a short, skin-tight black dress that screamed filthy, non-Christian words at anyone horny enough to check her and it out. It was Friday night after all, and every unmarried person under the age of thirty near the Faneuil Hall Marketplace was horny as fuck on a Friday night. Everyone would get an eyeful—and an earful, the killer thought—before the clock struck 12.
The killer, hidden in a shroud of darkness and a cloud of stale urine against the concrete pillars of Boston City Hall, shot her grin toward the darkened Sears Crescent.
Yes, she thought with a deep exhalation, they will.
The target was still relatively young, the killer knew: she was in her early-to-mid 30’s, even though her body—oh, her body… it was a personal trainer’s canvas, the killer believed, her groin quivering at the mere thought of this gorgeous woman in Spandex—appeared lithe and slightly teenaged with a gymnast’s grace complete with supple, motherly curves in all the right places. The woman’s breasts had fought hard against gravity and had seemingly won the battle, the killer recalled lustily; it was the third thing she had noticed about her. The first was that lovely rear end that swayed gently when she walked, then her crystal-blue eyes that anyone could lose themselves in; the breasts were simply an added bonus to every Tom, Dick, and Qwang that happened to fall under her sexual spell. The killer had to control herself: thinking about them made her deliciously randy, and she stayed her hand from inching toward her crotch.
She couldn’t be randy tonight, like the other denizens in this metropolis, the ones looking for a hard Friday Night Fuck. She had to be calm. She had to be quick.
She had to be ruthless.
The blonde-haired target had shunned her advances far too often in the past few months, so much so that the killer’s sexual frustrations had no off switch. The thought of this woman, naked and in her bed, the killer’s face between her legs after a night of dancing—if anyone could call it dancing; no, it was more of a sensual grind that made them the center of attention, which led to catcalls, to gropes, to free drinks from anyone that deeply desired to see more, to see the two nymphs out of their clothes—was almost too much to bear. The killer needed to shove those thoughts from her mind for her to succeed.
She sneered as the target approached ever closer to the Congress Street staircase.
This will be the last time she goes outside her daily life as a cunt tease, she thought, just as the echoes of the target’s stilettos, as black as her dress and raising her ankles three inches, bounced across the buildings that made up the Cornhill Canyon.
The target slipped around the right-hand side of the staircase and turned right onto Washington Street, breaking free of the crowd that had followed her away from the intersection of Court, Tremont, and Cambridge Streets.
“Bye, sexy,” one young man called to her backside. “See you at the club!”
The leggy target turned her head and gave a wide smile coupled with a flirtatious giggle, not breaking stride as she headed south along Washington. The killer felt her heart skip a beat as the woman’s smile shined through the artificial light.
“Maybe you will, and maybe you won’t. I wouldn’t put money on it, though,” she said, her melodic voice a taunt.
The man’s mates started a cacophony of immature, pre-pubescent jeering as they headed down the stairs.
The killer felt her cheeks burn and twist in anger as the noise died off, replaced only by the sounds of squealing brakes on Congress. She turned her head slightly, hoping that she would hear the sounds of flesh against steel, of breaking glass and pure agony rippling through the heart of the Old City. She bit her lip as nothing out of the ordinary met her ear canal.
Damn, she thought, her heart tumbling into her twisting guts. I hoped the car would take that jumped-up college boy out. Maybe I’ll have to drag my tongue across the asshole’s neck for his lack of wits, and the lack of a penis. Hmm… lack of a penis. I’ll have to remember that.
The killer barked a laugh before she stopped herself.
The target, about thirty feet further away on Washington than she was a moment ago, paused. The killer watched as she turned her head slightly, as if to see from where the laugh had come. There was a bit of movement near her lips—and what lips they were, the killer recalled—and a subtle blink of eyelid followed. The killer moved back as far as she could into the shadows, then held her breath. She fingered the hard object in her pocket.
The young woman ahead looked behind her. From the killer’s vantage point, she knew the woman saw no one; she was holed up in the shadows of City Hall, while the pedestrian traffic from the T and the general direction of old Scollay Square had lessened to almost no one in the last couple of minutes; it would be some time—maybe a minute or two—before the next Green and Blue Line trains rumbled underground, pulling into their respective halves of the station. She watched as the young woman grimaced, her mouth tight while framed by golden blonde tresses. She figured the woman’s heart raced uncontrollably right now, probably just a little faster than her own.
The blonde turned and continued walking, albeit with a bit more purpose in her steps.
The killer ran her tongue across her lips before she emerged from the shadows. She kept close to the right-hand side of Washington—this part of the street much like Cornhill and the rest of City Hall Plaza, red bricked and dimly lit—as she followed the woman to her next destination: an automated teller booth near the Old Corner Book Store.
They had gone there together, the killer remembered, recalling the late night run to the 24-hour breakfast place in Quincy, off the Southeast Expressway. They had danced up a storm, teasing the men—and some women, she remembered—with such moves that they felt the hunger pangs forming at 3 a.m. The killer had invited her, and while the blonde hesitated at first, she relented. The killer thought she had ensnared the young woman, one she had met only a week before, and almost tasted her desperation on the tip of her tongue.
But breakfast was as far as they had gone: the woman had backed out after their meal, saying something about a babysitter and maybe they’d meet up again the following week. She had left the killer with a serious case of blue bean, and she left by blowing a kiss at her across the table before leaving. The killer recalled a large truck pulling up the instant she left, a man at the wheel. She also recalled how, with the passenger door wide open, the woman leaned over and seemingly planted her tongue somewhere in his windpipe before she closed the door. As they drove away, the killer felt tears burn her eyes, all while she imagined her riding him in twenty minutes’ time.
The next week was more of the same: some flirting, some heavy petting and dancing, and lots of drinking. When closing time came, they were making out in a dark corner, hands roaming.
“God damn,” the killer remembered whispering to her as the music ended, “if we still had time, I’d ravish you like I wanted to last week.”
The blonde had giggled and smiled wide.
“I bet,” she replied, her voice husky. She moved back to the killer’s ear and flicked her tongue against the killer’s lobe. Then she nibbled it. The killer had gasped. “Maybe we still can. After some food. I’m starving.”
The killer, delirious with lust, didn’t think anything of it. She wanted the blonde so badly that she didn’t realize the events were playing out the same as they had seven days prior.
They went to the ATM once again; once again, they headed to the breakfast place in Quincy. They ate and held hands and drank coffee—a little too much coffee. It was enough, the killer remembered, to sober the target up. She disappeared into the bathroom after flicking her tongue against the killer’s lips. The killer clamped her legs together as she shuddered in the booth.
She never came out through the same door. The killer never discovered how she managed to get away, but she did note the open window high up alongside the wall with the sinks. Thankfully, she found something that remained in the blonde’s hasty escape: an embossed business card. There was a name on it—Kristine Melanson.
The killer didn’t know the target’s last name, but she had said that her name was Krissy, with a K instead of a C-h. She had pointed that out to her—yelled it to her, during a Def Leppard song that had them gyrating their shoulders and breasts in tune with the other.
But now, the killer had finally realized as she looked at the open window, she had pointed out that the spurning, the teasing, was all a game to the blonde. She had teased the blonde—shit, she made out with me and grabbed my ass!—and left her there alone in the dead of night.
And while the killer held back the emotions in public, she let them loose in the privacy of her apartment.
Still holding onto the business card—it had her smell on it, the killer mused—she noticed it had the blonde’s address printed on it.
It was then, with the knowledge in her mind, that the stalking began—and the beginning of the end for Kristine Melanson. She had found the address easily enough and, after a few hours, waited for her to come out. She did just before 5 p.m. that first Monday, and the killer, hidden in an alcove nearby, felt her eyes grow limned with tears.
Within a week, the killer had Melanson’s routine down to a near science. She worked, went home—the children were simply delightful, the killer had thought as she smiled, thinking that it was a shame they would grow up without their mother—and did nothing else: except that every Friday night, she went to the clubs in Quincy Market where she had met the killer a few weeks beforehand. She also stopped at the same ATM and grabbed a few twenties, before she returned the way she came—the killer had ducked into the shadows while she passed, not letting her know of her presence—and headed down the stairs to Congress Street.
And that strict adherence to a routine, the killer thought, would lead to her downfall.
Her smile crept along her face until it felt as if she dragged a knife along her lips.
The killer kept her in her sights as they moved further south along Washington, headed toward State Street and beyond.
There weren’t many people on Washington right now, she noticed, as October’s chill winds whipped through the cavernous easements; it made for an uncomfortable wait for when the clubs were full. She had done that before. A light fall storm had passed through only a few hours ago, and the killer noted there was still a bit of moisture in the air, the clouds threatening to let loose another torrent.
The killer sneered at the weather. The slow pursuit continued as the woman ahead swept around the back side of the Old State House and continued on Washington.
Their walk in-tandem continued until the woman ahead paused in front of the well-lit ATM booth. The killer halted and ducked toward the side, throwing herself against the side of the building as the woman rustled through her purse. Peering ahead, the woman pulled out a thin piece of plastic. She inserted it. The killer heard a slight buzzing before the woman opened the door and stepped in.
Taking a few calming breaths, the killer pulled three things out of her pockets: her own bank card, a black woolen mask, and the device from within her right pants pocket. The device was cold to the touch, even through her gloves. She donned the mask and walked toward the ATM with dreadful purpose, the pavement quaking underneath her rapid footsteps.

THE LONG CRIMSON LINE is coming to an eTailer near you! Keep your eyes on this blog, or on my social media accounts, for more on this stunning tale!