Published earlier last year with the collection Baking With Swords, I’ve republished my short story A Whimper separately. For a couple days, it is…FREE! It’s just about 6,000 words (about 30 minutes reading time) and is a somewhat light-hearted look at the end of civilization. Click on the image below to get your copy today!
The short story collection I published a few months ago with my brother Paul and my sister Betsy is now available for free for a very limited time (just one more day!).
You can pick it up at no cost and enjoy three separate and different short stories. Paul’s story, The Price of Greatness, is about man’s eternal search rivaling the ordinary of daily life. Betsy’s tale, Flutter, tells about a mother and her daughter, who is undergoing inexplicable changes. My story, A Whimper, is an end-of-the world tale through the lens of one person and society’s dependence on technology.
To get it, just click on the large cover image above!
I’ve been on the inside of the self-publishing world for a little over a year now and every day is a new adventure. It is a fun ride and I get to enjoy my own success, along with seeing friends (and even family!) enjoy successes as well. Among some of the things I’ve done in the couple months or so:
- Published a family short story collection featuring stories by myself, my brother Paul, and my sister Betsy – Baking With Swords. It was very rewarding on a personal level and it is a thrill to have a book with each of our names on it.
- Read a number of GREAT indie books. Some have been published already, like Super by Ernie Lindsey, Eleanor by Jason Gurley, Dead in the Water by Carol Davis, The Lazarus Particle by Logan Thomas Snyder, The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz, and Ma Tutt’s Donut Hutt by Lyn Perry. Some haven’t seen the light of day yet, but are going to do great when they are out: Desperate to Escape, Part 4 by Thomas Robins and Strikers by Ann Christy. (You really can’t go wrong with ANY of these books and the genre range is wide from space opera to supernatural to cozy mystery and young adult dystopian.)
- Wrote and published a new short story within less than 5 days’ time. I wrote about it the other day, but my new short story, Contact Window was released last week and I’ve already received 6 fantastic reviews. I enjoyed the characters so much, I’m really contemplating expanding on the universe in the book after finishing my Dead Sleep Trilogy.
- Wrote my 100th post on my blog last week. Since starting this site up last summer, I’ve written about a lot of things, but I hope my love of indie books has been clear.
- And today, watching Michael Bunker’s Amish Sci-fi book Pennsylvania rocket up the charts. All along the way, I’ve seen him be totally transparent about his sales figures and his joy of self-publishing and selling this book.
- Oh, and I think in the next week or so, I should have something to announce about a WOOL Gathering paperback. Get ready!
This is a new age for books and publishing. The average person may not realize it, but there are boundary-pushing books out there, available, and for a much more reasonable price than the cookie-cutter books the traditional publishers are shoving down our throats. If you haven’t tried a self-published book, just give one of the above books a shot. You might find you were surprised by the quality of self-published fare (especially if you believe what a few of the traditionally-published authors are saying about us in the indie community.)
Throughout it all, I’ve had a blast. Self-publishing is such a kick!
With all the blog posts I’ve shared lately, I haven’t offered my own take on Baking With Swords — why I decided to collaborate with my brother and sister, and what prompted me to write the story I included.
While I was whittling down the days until I was finished writing and editing Dead Sight, back in February and March, I started writing a short story. I never had any ambition beyond it being a short story that I would just release as a stand-alone tale, similar to the first story I’d ever written and published, Perfect Game.
I happened to say something on Facebook about it, and my brother, Paul, asked if I could wait to publish it until he was done writing a story. (Here is his story on how he started writing.) It was a strange request, so I waited a little bit. After some more inquiry, I found out he wanted to just throw it in at the end of my story as a “bonus” of a sort to any potential readers.
I read his story — or at least, what it was at that time. It was good. There was some great ideas in it and it just needed some polishing. It was better than just an unmentioned add-on to a little short story I was writing. I also knew my word count on A Whimper wasn’t going to be much — probably 6-8,000 words — and his was going to be about the same.
So, I proposed the idea of splitting the book title, or even inviting our sister, Betsy, along for the ride. I knew she had been dabbling with writing fiction since I started my publishing journey and figured maybe she had something she could work up fairly quickly. (Read more about her road to her inclusion here.)
Betsy was game, so I put my story on the backburner for a little while. School took over and I let the two of them tinker and finish their stories. In the end, each of our stories clocked in at roughly the same length — about 7,000 words a piece.
I love Paul’s story because it really is heartfelt. There is a lot of emotion from his main character, Max, and the choices he has made in his life. Obviously Paul isn’t Max, but you can see the questions he has asked are questions Max faces as well.
Betsy’s story fits her, as well. She is a mother to two little boys, both under the age of four. There are so many fears and insecurities that accompany being a parent to a toddler and an infant and she confronts them head-on in this tale. Paul and I really challenged her in the editing process and I think she came out of it with a great story that will connect with a lot of readers.
As for my story? Well, I shared a bit of it with you a few months ago. (Here’s that link.) I must’ve read some technology story, or even Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania, and thought of the ramifications should we ever have chips in our heads (PIPs as I call them in A Whimper). What would the effects be? I think there are so many effects worldwide that I really could have written a full-length novel, but I chose personal ones to the main character. It is told first person and my brother said the tone reminded him of Ready, Player One, which is a huge compliment and may be true since I had just re-read it prior to starting the work on it.
How will the end come for humanity? Will it go out in a blaze of glory, or will it go in a whimper? Most books and stories choose the former, but I wanted a look at the latter.
I’ll confess I’m not the closest person to his family. I don’t talk to them much. I last talked on the phone to my mother probably two weeks ago (Reminder to myself to get on that), and Facebook and text messaging is the best way to get a hold of my brothers and sister. I live in Southern Illinois, one brother lives in northern Illinois, my sister in Michigan, and my older brother in Oregon. We are spread out, but when it counts, we are there for one another.
I don’t know if Paul and Betsy will continue to write and publish, but with my limited expertise, I wanted to be able to help them on their first trip into self-publishing.
As of this writing, the collaboration has received five reviews, four of which are five-star and the other is four-star. I would love to hear back from anyone else who has read it. Really, you should buy the book for my brother and sister and hopefully my story in this book is the bonus, not their’s.
Oh…don’t forget about the BWS Launch Party Monday on Facebook. <– Click there to join.
Find the link and the massive amount of giveaways I’ve got scheduled right here —> LOOK AT ALL THESE GIVEAWAYS!
To celebrate the launch of Baking With Swords, as well as my one-year anniversary of self-publishing, I’m hosting a party on Facebook next Monday. I’ve hinted at giveaways and I worked to compile quite a list of books that you will want to win next week. Huge thanks to my DeadPixel Publications friends and my LOOW buddies for all the terrific giveaways. Following is a comprehensive list of what will be given away next week. Most are digital ebook copies of the books, a few are physical copies and I’ve even got some audiobooks to giveaway as well.
Here is a link for the Party, in case you haven’t committed to “coming” yet. (It’s all on Facebook, you don’t actually have to go anywhere.) With as many things as I have to giveaway, there is a great chance of winning, so stop on by, comment and like.
Oh, and if you haven’t gotten your copy of Baking With Swords yet, plan to buy a copy on Monday so we can get it charting. Thanks so much guys!
(Also, here is the official blog page for the book with links to all the blog posts for it so far)
Baking With Swords Launch Party Giveaways
J.W. Kent — The Bridge at Ardendale (digital), and short, Patina (digital).
Tony Bertauski — The Annihilation of Foreverland (digital) and Halfskin (digital)
Darke Conteur – The Watchtower (Digital) and Under the Cover of Wicca (Digital)
Steve Wetherell — The Last Volunteer (digital) and Into The Black (Digital).
Carol Davis – Signed paperback of Quantum Leap book and Blood Moon (digital)
Hanna Elizabeth – Concessions (Kindle) and Visions of WOOL (Kindle)
Chris Saunders – X (digital)
Robert Bevan – Critical Failures (digital) and Cornholed (digital)
Brian Braden – Black Sea Gods (digital)
Renee Miller – In The Bones (digital)
Robert Brumm – two audiobook codes for Windigo Soul (or choice)
Paul Kohler – signed copies of Linear Shift 1 (paperback) and Borrowed Souls (paperback)
Logan Thomas Snyder – The Disappeared Omnibus (digital) and This Mortal Coil (digital)
Fredric Shernoff – Atlantic Island (print or digital)
Thomas Robins – two Desperate To Escape sets (books 1-3) (digital)
Will Swardstrom – two sets of Dead Sleep/Dead Sight paperback first editions, two paperbacks of Baking With Swords, four audiobook codes for Ant Apocalypse
Alright, so if you haven’t been paying attention, my family collaboration Baking With Swords releases soon and the question at the tip of your brain is probably, “How much bacon is too much bacon?”
Then, after you realize you can never have too much bacon, you ask, “Where and how did they come up with a goofy title like Baking With Swords? Well, contrary to my father’s short tale about warriors returning from battle, there is a story to the process. It may not be exciting, but at times it is fascinating and maybe even a little humorous.
Since my brother, my sister, and I all contributed stories to this collection, I thought it only fair that we came up with a name together. So, the following is most of a Facebook private conversation between the three of us over a week’s time when we each tossed names out there. To be honest, these are probably only half the names we considered as I believe I had separate conversations with Paul and Betsy where I had a couple of other names tossed in as well as a public poll on potential titles. All in all, there was a moment I was about to bash my head into a wall.
In the end, I think Baking With Swords has an even more special meaning since we have a half-baked title and we each can have sharp personalities with each other as siblings. So without any further delay, here is that conversation (please note we didn’t care about grammar or punctuation in our Facebook chat):
Paul: Thinking title ideas . How about From Shadows Revealed ?
Paul: Or, Finalities
Will: I like second better. Or we could go off our relationship and call it “Sibling Rivalry”
Paul: Familial Finalities?
Will: I would go with Finalities over that.
Betsy: Finalities? Is that because everything we’ve written ends badly? Wow we’re a morbid bunch.
Paul: That’s my thought.
Will: Not necessarily badly…but just final.
Betsy: well…it’s not exactly a good ending for my main character…Ms. Adams…
Paul: Ok. Seems obvious that title still needs some thought. If we want to consider the sibling theme here’s two: Sib Tales or Sibblettes.
Will: Family Ties?
Paul: Makes me think of Tootie and Mrs Garrett
Will: Thats the Facts of Life
Paul: Oops, sorry Alex!
Will: Family Tithe?
Paul: Tales from the Stream?
Will: Bards, fairies, and the end of everything
Will: You like it, dont you?
Paul: Is that too revealing for 2 of you?
Will: May want to tweak it. Not sure we want to give all that away about betsy’s. Mine would be fine. Wings?
Will: A Bard, a Pair of Wings, and Your Internet Connection. Lol
Paul: Why not just call the whole thing Instability?
Will: I like it. Lets wait for betsy to chime in.
Betsy: It’s not awesome, but I’m ok with it.
Will: Well smarty pants…come up with something better to tie together our totally unrelated stories.
Betsy: Transience. And yes, I looked up Instability in the thesaurus….
Will: Fine with me too. Or we could just go with “We Have No Idea What To Call This Book”
Betsy: That could work… We can’t call it “The Search For Spock” can we? No…probably not.
Will: “The Search for a Decent Title”… Skinny Genes… Acid-washed Genes… Sarah said she liked the title “Nerd Alert”
Betsy: “The Quest for Closure”… Bad Endings
Will: Morphin’ Time!
Betsy: YES! no. The Shaky Life of Fictional People
Betsy: I bet there are people out there whose sole job is to title books.
Will: A Requiem, A Metamorphosis, and a Coda… Insert title here…
Will: Ok….bringing it all back to this: how about Sibling Rivalry?
Paul: Hi. Wow. How about Three Nuts in a Jar ?
Betsy: That was your working title…I suggested it when I didn’t know it was your working title…
Will: Why dont you guys keep plugging away at your stories and keep the title in the back of your mind. I put my cover guy to work with a couple working titles and we’ll see how the mock-ups look in a few days.
Betsy: works for me.
Paul: Hey! I like 3 Nuts in a Jar!
Will: K. Thanks guys. I think this will be pretty cool. Collaborating on collections are sometimes tricky so thanks for being flexible.
Paul: How about we define our personal feelings about what goes into a title. Perhaps we find a commonality somewhere. For me, I like to find some common thread in all three stories, but I don’t care nearly so much about having a clever family reference in the title.
Will: That would be fine with me as well if there are any commonalities we can draw from. I’m ok with whatever.
Paul: However, the thought has also occurred to me that if we did find a good family-related name that it could be a name we come back to if this kind of thing turned into a series – (no promises.)
Will: Sibling Rivalry 3: Revenge of the Sis
Will: Wait for it…. Baking with Swords
Paul: Makes a good cover picture
Will: It could at that
As we finish putting the final touches on my family collaborative short story collection Baking With Swords, my father, Paul D. Swardstrom, finally read the stories involved. Afterwards, he took to writing up his own rationale for the title (which has nothing to do with baking or swords – honest!). Following is his own very short story that explains the title with veiled references to me and my three siblings. My other brother, Matthew, is referenced, but isn’t included in this collection. Perhaps we can con him into a future sequel (Baking With More Swords?), but either way, you may see a guest blog post from him in the future since I lent this space to Paul and Betsy recently.
My writing does have a lot to do with my family as my parents both got me interested in reading and my father’s taste in books certainly rubbed off on me. My mom (Eileene) has helped proof and edit some of my books and is a huge inspiration. This little collection really means a lot to me — the words of the stories are just a small part of that to me.
Without further ado…Baking With Swords by Paul D. Swardsrom
Forward: As my children would tell you, I love making puns and generating short backgrounds for a pun. When I read the preface to Baking with Swords I could not help but think up a reason why one would bake something with swords. Thus this story. The names used in this story are “changed to protect me from my wife” (just joking??). Of course they are somewhat based on people related to me.
The battle is won and the war is over. Prince Pedeus has met the evil Warlord/King of the invading army during the battle and killed him. With the death of the Warlord, the invading army disintegrated, and many of them were killed as they attempted to flee. Prince Pedeus and most of his staff, support, and protection left with him soon after the battle for the capital. He left his trusted tactical advisor Wilhelm in charge of the rest of the army to clean up the battle area and release the army.
Several days were spent burning the bodies of the dead enemy soldiers, burying the dead not being returned to their home for burial, and cleaning up the battle site. This has been completed; wagons that had brought food and other supplies to the battle are returning home carrying bodies and/or weapons and other useful equipment and materials from the battle site. It is finally complete and Wilhelm meets with his three cousins so that they may begin their journey back to the capital city.
Wilhelm is a tactical genius partially because he teaches general history and tactical history at the collage in the capital city.
Pawel is a master with stringed devices, both archery and musical instruments. He teaches archery because his country needs good bowmen, but his passion is as a minstrel. He was attached to the prince’s entourage as part of Wilhelm’s protection detail, but also as a minstrel for the prince.
Lizzy is an herbiest knowing herbs for healing as well as for cooking. She is very serious about helping the wounded, but her passion is cooking.
Hew sometimes thinks his name is a pun because he often hews wood, metal, and, when necessary, hews people. His favorite weapon is a large axe, but he is also very proficient with a hammer. He is a Master Carpenter and does some blacksmithing on the side. He is normally assigned to the large weapons group as an engineer/technician to support the catapults, ballistas, and other siege weapons.
The four cousins make one last pass over the battlefield finding a few broken swords and other metal that had not been picked up previously. They had two wagons: Lizzy’s herb wagon which had additional supplies for the trip, and Hew’s equipment wagon which now included several broken swords and other discarded equipment.
They traveled some distance and when it was getting late they arrived at a village that had been deserted as the enemy army approached. They did some scrounging and found only a couple of eggs and a vegetable garden. Lizzy was about to prepare a meal when she discovered that in the rush to pack everything up, she only had a small pot that she used to heat water to make tea. The men looked again and did not find anything else to cook with.
Then Hew got a bright idea when he was looking in the blacksmith shop. He asked Pawel and Wilhem to help him and then got the fire started and the forge hot. He then took some of the metal that they had scrounged from the battlefield and made some cooking utensils. He used a couple of plain hilts as handles on a couple of the larger items.
Lizzy was quite happy to see them and cooked a good meal. At the end she brought out a chocolate zucchini cake that she had made in of the larger utensils which included a hilt from a sword and whose base could plainly see was formally several pieces from swords.
And that is where the term “Baking with Swords” comes from.
Afterwards: Eileene and I are proud of my four children and their accomplishments. I also need to acknowledge some other authors for some of the ideas in this short story. Mercedes Lackey in Exile’s Honor provided this inspiration to require the army to clean up the battlefield. Most of the “battle” related stories seem to just leave everything there, in fact Lord of the Rings has a least one section where fields of bones is discussed. Patricia C. Wrede wrote a short story about a skillet as a magic weapon. The main characters in this short story are the main characters from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. The chocolate zucchini cake that was mentioned is one of our family’s favorite recipes and I plan to provide two recipes for this cake. One of them is a barbarian shield version and the other one being a normal recipe that you would see in a cook boot.