Reviews for Blink Are In!

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Blink has been out in the real world for about a week and a half, and the sales have been good, but the reviews have been even better. I seriously could have pulled lines from each of the reviews up on Amazon and Goodreads — all of them are so good. Allow me a moment of pride; Paul and I worked really hard on Blink and are hard at work on figuring out how to get Agent Smith and the Utility Company back on your Kindles. Here are a few quotes from some of the reviews up now on Amazon…


 

unnamed“The Swardstrom Brothers hit all the right notes in this tight little Super Science / Alternate Universes roller coaster. If the X-Files made you want more of the strange and mysterious government organizations battling not just with guns and smarts, but the occasional wit in the face of certain doom, then look no further. This is a great Friday Night read. A fun, fast, adventure where all is not as it seems.”

Nick Cole, author of Ctrl-Alt-Revolt

“…a book that I didn’t want to put down, even when life got in the way.”

Shay VanZwoll

“The story unfolds at a solid pace that always maintained my interest and when it hit a boiling point about mid-way through the novel, the pace became relentless and was extremely hard to put down.”

Chris Fried

“The Swardstrom brothers have co-crafted a sci-fi work of art. Together, they have written a novel that seamlessly transitions between protagonists (and worlds), never losing its brilliant voice, its sense of humor, its sense of the supernatural, its sense of adventure. This is an action packed tour de force that introduces a great cast of characters that I hope return again soon for a new adventure.”

Jonathan Ballagh, author of Stone & Iris

“This is a great book you won’t want to miss, it is like when you know you should go to bed but you just want to read one more chapter than just one more, than another and another, than the book is done and it is way past your bedtime…”

Trisha “Mindjacked” Perry

“The Swardstrom Brothers’ supernatural sci-fi world of Blink is a phenomenal meshing of classic pulp and contemporary Fringe. This is the beginning of something grand.”

Daniel Arthur Smith, author of Hugh Howey Lives

There is still time to get Blink for less than a buck — click on the link above to see what the reviewers are talking about!

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How To Write One Novel In A Year

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I recently saw a blog post that detailed how to write four books a year. Of course, I know some writers who write more books than that, but there are plenty who write fewer. Chalk me up on that latter list.

But you know what there isn’t? I’ve not really seen a sure-fire way to struggle and stumble your way into writing a book over the course of 365 days. So….here we go. (By the way, this is roughly the way I’ve written my latest book, which may or may not be finished within the calendar year. [sidenote: it will. {side-sidenote: I really, really hope.}]).

Day 1: Write 27 words as a Facebook status update. Make it funny in an ironic sort of way and laugh about it quietly as a half-dozen of your closest semi-anonymous comment and/or like the post.

Day 2: Write 43 words. Again as a Facebook update, but loosely tie it into the original post from yesterday. Give a little backstory and create some forward momentum. And be funny. Chuckle as only three people “get” your unique brand of humor.

Day 3: Based on the previous two days of Facebook posts, add a twist. The post should reference the previous two days, but give the reader a sense of purpose and originality that is lacking in most Facebook posts. (Author note: this only works on Facebook. Don’t try this on Twitter or Snapchat or any of those other loser social media sites.)

Day 4-10: Add some other junk to your previous smatterings and tie it together in what we writer professionals call a “plot.”

Day 11: Take a day off. You deserve it.

Day 12: OK. So this is a thing now. True, you’ve only written 987 words over the course of a week and a half, but that’s still something, right? Maybe you should examine your characters and their motivations or something like that. Double what you’ve written so far in a torrential downpour of words. Then delete those words cuz they were terrible anyway.

Day 13: Enter THE BROTHER. (Alternately, THE SISTER may be a viable alternative.) THE BROTHER…we’ll call him Saul…sends you a message. “I like your story,” it says. “I came up with a plot device,” it reads. “Can I write more and we incorporate it?” You quickly reply “YES” because what he’s written is about 1×10^26 better than whatever you’ve written so far. Whatever you thought you were writing — YOU WERE WRONG and you need to reevaluate everything. Perhaps even your breakfast choices. A toaster pastry is clearly so 1990’s, after all.

Day 14-30: Marvel at what THE BROTHER writes. He claims to be just taking your lead on the story, but clearly his ideas are better than yours. Maybe you were really adopted? Your genes aren’t coming up with original ideas like he is. What’s wrong with you? Maybe switching from toaster pastries to Cap’n Crunch Berries wasn’t the best move.

Day 31: Time to get serious. Between you and Saul, there are now enough words to actually publish and not be embarrased. Problem is that you only have the beginnings of a story. Only the “P” of an actual Plot if you will. So, take a look at Saul’s additions and embrace it. Switch the entire POV of the narrative and go with the side character that he embraced as his protagonist. Oh…and decide to switch from first person to third person, necessitating an entire rewrite of the story thus far.

Day 32: Super Bowl. Eat Lil’Smokies wrapped in Bacon and dip it in Nacho Cheese. Enjoy the Bathroom tomorrow.

Day 33: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 34: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 35: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 36: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 37: Write a side plot cuz you can’t really think about what you really want to do with your main characters.

Day 38-75: Trade off storylines with THE BROTHER. Be envious when you realize he has the best storylines, and then realize he has the best ones because he wrote them that way.

Day 76: Realize he feels the same way about your storylines and accept that you might actually be a decent writer. Maybe. Perhaps.

Day 77-95: Take a break. You have a short story to write about zombies and football, so focus on that and let Saul take the lead on the book for a while. RIP Jellyroll.

Day 96-108: Stress over the potential edits of the aforementioned zombie/football story. Write 24-48 words a day while under the cloud of future edits, and occasionally go back and delete those very words a few days later.

Day 109: You’ve been working hard. Take a day off.

Day 110: Write a couple hundred words and wrap up a scene that’s been sitting open for two months. Breath a sigh of relief and throw out the Cap’n Crunch. All the cool kids are eating bagels anyway.

Day 110: You’ve been working hard. Take a day off.

Day 111-140ish: Work at a snail’s pace on the book, putting a rough plan in place to “HIT IT HARD” in the summer. As you and THE BROTHER are both teachers, the summer is like Shangri-la. A promised land with candy and time. This will be the summer of finishing ALL THE THINGS. Let’s do it!

Day 141-148: What were you thinking? You’ve got a vacation to start your summer break in the mountains of Tennessee. OK. Do the vacation and then when you get back, do ALL THE WRITING.

Day 149-150: Back from vacation. Worn out and the kids don’t seem to get the fact that you got stuff to do. Seriously.

Day 151-155: Another trip. This time a national tournament for the school’s quiz bowl team. OK. Have fun, and when you get back, do ALL TEH WRITING.

Day 156: Get back. Wife goes to her parents. Kids don’t get it that they need to stay quiet and work on their particle physics all day in their rooms. Especially the five-year-old. Sheesh.

Day 157-165: Wife still gone. Kids still kids. Manuscript still untouched even after weeks of summer break actually in existence and whooshing by like…things that whoosh by. Mind turns to mush after the tenth episode of “Bubble Guppies” in one day.

Day 166-180: Wife calls. Needs you at her parents to set up for an estate sale. Spend the next two weeks cleaning and emptying outside buildings and barns. Physical exhaustion sets in. An unfamiliar feeling…sleep beckons and will not be ignored.

Day 181: Estate sale done. Money made, but not for me. Book still unfinished. THE BROTHER notes your place at the bottom of the pit and tries to reach you. Unfortunately, he lives on the Left Coast and the humidity of the Midwest prevents his arm from reaching you.  Despair. Desperation. The book sits unloved on my Google Drive. It may never see the light of day.

Day 182: OK. First day of July. Let’s do this. Cracking the document open you realize the book isn’t half bad. It might not be half good, either, but it ain’t half bad. One of the kids is at camp…maybe you can get stuff done.

Day 183: Nope.

Day 184: Also nope.

Day 185: Add 500 words.

Day 186-194: Peck away word by word, but look forward to THE BROTHER flying to the Midwest in person. Know THINGS will be accomplished in his mere presence. Put your faith in the ridiculous idea you’ll write 40,000 words in a week of him and his family being around.

Day 195: Nope.

Day 196-210: Hang out with Saul. Talk about the book, but work rarely. Have 99 year old grandmother pass away in Upper South Dakota and have to travel there with the rest of the family. Manuscript survives. But just barely.

Day 210-220: School starts soon. Write a little, but prep for the Fall. Summer is gone and so was your chance to fully write. THE BROTHER starts school later, but he has second and third vacations so he doesn’t write either.

Day 221: First day of School. Yay.

Day 222: Second day of School. Double yay.

Day 223: Third day of School. The GRADING begins. Writing is tough enough without having to decipher the scrawlings of a 10th grade boy. Oy. Forget it. I’ll try again in a couple weeks.

Day 224-260: Try. Try to start writing again. Remember how great of a book this can be and write in spurts.

Day 261: Return of THE BROTHER, along with his cultivated ideas for where to take the story and how to finish. Shame upon your house for not getting it done, but praise be to THE BROTHER. Saul is your muse. Take it and run.

Day 262-285: Write. Write and write some more. Settle on the final details of the final scene. Realize your year-long novel writing plan may end up being a 10-month plan.

Day 286: Write a blog about how to write a book in a year.

Day 287: MAKE BANK>

Day 288: OVER.NIGHT.SUCCESS.

New Release – Jam Night

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Jam NightAbout a year ago, I wrote a short story inspired by things that were going on at the time. There had been some Internet bullying of indie authors, so I worked out some demons by writing a fictional story informed by my time in junior high. I can’t say by any stretch that I enjoyed junior high (with the exception of Mr. Henry’s Geography class and my 8th grade band trip to Michigan), but my experiences developed who I am.

Who am I?

I am a person who was bullied. Even now, over 20 years later, when I write that statement, my heart hesitates. Even admitting it makes me wonder if someone will retaliate against me. You might scoff, but that fear still runs through me to this day.

I was going through my blog the other day and found the story I’d posted, which I called Jam Night. I read through it, dusted it off a little, tightened up the wording and added a few hundred words to the narrative. It isn’t a long story — coming in just under 2,500 words, but it is one I needed to tell. I don’t care if anyone buys it or even reads it, but I wanted to put it out there for anyone who might be going through a tough time at school, or in their personal life with bullies. It is a trite saying, but it does get better. The first couple years of high school were no treat, either, but I can honestly say that a small group of friends made my final few years in high school some of my favorite memories.

Ultimately, writing the story helped me to tackle a few of my own demons left over from junior high. Will I ever be rid of all of the demons? I doubt it, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe those demons are there to remind me what it’s like to be on the side of the bullied. As an adult, it’s easy to say kids should just “suck it up,” but for them, the fear can be crippling and debilitating. I hope this story can at least help one person in that regard.

Book Deals of the Week

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There are some great books out there for a great price this week. Let’s take a look at a few:

Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole

spsSoda Pop Soldier will be on my list of my favorite books of 2014, you can count on that. I loved Ready Player One, and Nick Cole took that technological society and showcased it through a different lens. I reviewed it a couple months ago here.

Thankfully you can get Soda Pop Soldier for much less right now. Just $1.99 for your Kindle copy. Michael Bunker says this is his favorite book of the year and I won’t disagree. Fantastic book.

This is really one of those books you will read and want others to read as well. That’s what makes the $1.99 price point so great. Buy one for yourself and a couple for friends — all for less than the original price of the book.

Dead Sleep by Will Swardstrom

You don’t think I would do this without including my own book, on sale this week for just 99 cents? This was my first novel and the first in a planned trilogy. The sequel is also available and the third book is about 40 percent done.

Dead Sleep tells a story of discovery with an action-fueled chase pushing the narrative. I was really inspired by Clive Cussler and Lee Child as I was writing this, with a definite sci-fi angle.

Dead Sleep is 99 cents for the rest of the week.

Linear Shift, Part 2 by Paul Kohler

linear shift 2Paul Kohler’s Linear Shift is soon to get its third installment in November, so now is a great time to catch up on what has happened in Part 1 and 2.

Kohler boldly takes on the time travel story, but takes his time setting the scene. Part 2 is longer and deeper than the first part and I fully expect the third story to really advance the plot when it drops next month.

Right now you can pick up Linear Shift, Part 2 for just 99 cents.

Janey X39: Rebirth by Nina Tozzi

janey x39Not really a deal, but after reading it, you’ll feel like you got one. Nina’s first foray into self-publishing tells the story about Janey, a household robot. Of course, there is more to see than just a standard robot story and Tozzi really makes the reader feel.

I picked this story up and read it the same day. Here is some of my review: “I can’t say I was surprised by the ending, but Tozzi does such a fantastic job of portraying heartbreak and loss that I didn’t even mind not being shocked at the reveal. The point is — Janey is shocked. In spite of everything that had happened to her and her existence as an “android,” Janey shows a lot of humanity in the pages of this story.”

Janey X39: Rebirth is just 99 cents.

Free Book Today – Baking With Swords

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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!

Book Review – Strikers

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Yesterday I shared a short interview with Ann Christy, author of the new Young Adult novel, Strikers. Today, I present a review of that book. Ann has written previous novels in Hugh Howey’s world, but she does not shy away from world-building in this tale.

strikers

In many ways Strikers is a perfect name for Ann Christy’s first work outside of Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe.  Just taking a look at the cover is striking, the bold design pops out and will certainly draw scores of readers from just seeing it next to the other books in the Kindle store. But beyond the cover, Ann’s story is striking as a great work of young adult fiction.

In the world Ann Christy creates in Strikers, the United States is no more. In its place is a collection of independent nations, including the place where the story originates – Texas. In Texas, the people are controlled by a few select families and going against the law earns the violator a “strike,” including a tattoo on their neck. They go a bit farther than baseball as five strikes earns an out, or rather, death. That should’ve driven most of the people off the land, but even leaving Texas is an illegal act, making anyone who does so a “Striker.”

For Karas, a free spirit, this means her life is made all the harder than it already was. Life takes a drastic turn when her father, who she’d never ever known, shows up and reveals there is more to life outside of Texas. He comes back along with Maddix, the older brother of her friend Connor. Both are Strikers without any strikes left and Karas and Connor risk everything for their family.

Along with Karas, her friends Cassi and Jovan risks their lives to join her on a life-changing journey.  Along the way, Karas discovers who she really is, the truth about her father and the life she never knew existed outside of the authoritarian nation of Texas.

In this book, Ann Chisty does a fabulous job of world-building, creating a realistic dystopian world where Karas and her friends find out what they are really made of. Her characters are very believable and although she does an admirable job tying up storylines by the end of the story, there are plenty of seeds and avenues to explore in future tales in her Striker Universe. I enjoyed reading it far more than a lot of dystopian young adult books on the market today and I feel she really tapped into the emotion that fuels much of the young adult fiction market these days.

Well done, Ann. I enjoyed Strikers and I know many others will as well.

Book Review – Eleanor

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There are many different reasons to read a book. Most times I tend to read to think about something in a new or different way. To spark my creativity and challenge my accepted ideas.

EleanorThis book, Eleanor by Jason Gurley, is not that kind of book. Not that it doesn’t make you think. I had a lot of thoughts while I read this book. I thought about the similarities between it and two other books I’ve read. One was fairly recent – Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, while the other I read when I was just a child – Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Both had a profound influence on me, but all three of these books didn’t so much make me think.

They made me feel.

When I first began reading Eleanor, I was struck by the pictures Mr. Gurley paints for his readers. Spending a little time in Oregon and on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, I could readily accept the fog-shrouded town and seaside he presented as real. He worked so hard to place his story in the real world that when the supernatural world opens up later in the book, it feels natural. It feels like an extension of the world Gurley has created and it feels better than the world in which his characters reside.

I’ve followed Jason’s journey of writing this book for the past year (although he’s been writing it for the past 13 years) and I can feel the passion he had for it in every word I encountered. I saw the care he put into it and the work he put in to make it just right.

How to describe this book? I’m not really sure. I literally finished less than five minutes after starting to write this review, so my thoughts are still swirling like the water in a tide pool off the shore of a small island near the beach in Oregon. I felt for the characters that Mr. Gurley painstakingly presented to the readers. How in just the first few pages, we were introduced to Hob, Eleanor and their daughter Agnes. I was getting settled in for a book about this Eleanor, until Gurley ripped the rug out from underneath me and I realized this was not really the titular character – she was still to be discovered.

Discovered is really a great word for this book. Eleanor discovers so much in her journeys throughout this book. You see the younger Eleanor taking care of her family as best she knows how, but then through other means, we see there are better ways she can take care of her family. She discovers who she is, who her parents really are, and her true purpose.

This needs to be discovered. I could call Jason Gurley the American Neil Gaiman and I don’t think many people would argue after reading this book. It is a phenomenal book and one I could not put down. Well done, Mr. Gurley.