Sunday, November 16, 2014

.99 cent sale on Wayne Stinnett's Fallen Mangrove

Author Wayne Stinnett's Fallen Mangrove is on sale for .99 for the next 3 days. I highly recommend it.

Fallen Mangrove

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Portland Book Review of Come What May

"This book is more than just a vampire story. Swaim has used the vampire/horror genre to create this finely tuned Bildungsroman, allowing us to join Sam on his journey of awakening and self-discovery. But Come What May is also a damn good, complex, and sufficiently creepy vampire story. Swaim’s level of writing is rare in the world of self-published novels, and this story largely avoids the clichés that can bog down similar tales. Sam’s world, as imagined by Swaim, is complex and engaging – a world worth learning more about in future novels."-Portland Book Review

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Free giveaway during the week of October 27th!

Both my novels will be free on Amazon for Kindle downloads. I hope people enjoy the freebie!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Deep POV: A quick explanation for Rhoda


1st person-I, I, I
2nd’ person-you, you, you
3rd person, he/she/they

3rd person omniscient is hard, because you can switch between characters in a scene. The person telling the story is God, and can see or feel everything every character does, plus has knowledge of stuff they don’t. It’s tricky, though.
3rd person limited. This is your bread and butter. Usually God-like dumps of data are forbidden, instead opting for a movie-camera like approach to focus in on one character at a time. If you do move to a different character in the same scene, you have to transition. IE, you can’t just jump from one character to another’s head. You have to do it slowly, smoothly. This is what DFW busted me for, which is why I practiced so much.

Now, the levels of POV, or the difference between regular POV and deep POV, is just how deep are you into the person’s head.

"He looked out the window. The clown, dressed in vibrant blue and red face-paint, looked back across the narrow stretch of lawn. He noticed the clown’s hands, curled and twisted talons, long claws that could slash a boy’s throat or tear out his innards. The toothy smile wasn’t warm and inviting, but terrifying with a bone-white intensity he’d seen only in the skeleton of long-dead things. He felt his stomach clench in terror and he resisted the urge to urinate, because what looked back across the lawn wasn’t a thing of childhood wonder and amusement. It was a thing of death and despair, and the clothes and makeup were only a disguise."

Now, that’s one way to do it, but there’s a certain amount of depth into the POV character’s head. Take this line.

"He felt his stomach clench in terror and he resisted the urge to urinate, because what looked back across the lawn wasn’t a thing of childhood wonder and amusement."

"He felt his stomach clench in terror" isn’t deep POV. Deep POV would be something like, "His stomach clenched in terror." It’s deeper into the narrator’s head. Redoing the line would be something like this.

"His stomach clenched in terror and he almost pissed himself. That…thing…looking back across the lawn wasn’t a thing of childhood wonder and amusement."

See how “because what looked back across the lawn” is kind of detached, but  “That…thing…looking back across the lawn” is deeper, more in tune with the panic a boy would feel?

Now, redo the whole paragraph.

"He looked out the window. The clown, dressed in vibrant blue and red face-paint, looked back across the narrow stretch of lawn. The clown’s hands were curled and twisted talons, long claws that could slash his throat or tear out his innards. The toothy smile was a terrifying white, like he’d seen in the skeleton of long-dead things. His stomach clenched in terror and he almost pissed himself. That…thing…looking back across the lawn wasn’t a thing of wonder and amusement. It was a thing of death and despair, and the clothes and makeup were its disguise."

So, when I revised it, I also took out the “He noticed the clown’s hands” and changed it the just “The clown’s hands” because since it’s HIS POV, of course HE noticed it. He implies a certain psychic distance, just “The clown’s hands” implies you’re getting his thoughts straight from his head. Instead of "a boy’s throat" it’s "HIS throat." I also took out the part about "warm and inviting" because it sounds kinda pretentious, but a terrifying white and the reference to skeletons and dead things should invoke some dread. In fact, it may be too much, but for a first pass, I’d leave it in. Then, the part about his stomach clenching in terror is almost redundant. Of course it’s terror, what other emotions causes a stomach to clench? I'm leaving it in there for a first pass. It can always come out later.

See how I’m tightening up the level of POV, making it deeper, more inside the head of the boy?

Whether it makes it better or not is debatable. Henry James would love the original, and I love me some Henry James. Or, O. Henry. Or, Faulkner. Nowadays, deeper POV is considered more exciting, more dynamic, and pulls the reader in. But, having said that, it’s entirely subjective. Sometimes you don’t want a deep POV.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Independent Thriller Authors Unite!

I've had an interesting week. It started with an email to Lee Child about the International Thriller Writers. Soon, a few other indie thriller authors from the kboards forum banded together to start the Independent Thriller Authors organization.

We also have a Facebook page.


Our mission statement?

"The goal of The Independent Thriller Authors (ITA) is to promote the art and craft of the indie thriller author. We will provide members with advice and assistance in those areas, as well as information about editors, proofreaders, cover artists, marketing, and promotion."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Portland Book Review of Project StrikeForce

When former soldier John Frist detonates a bomb outside the Red Cross, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, he believes he is seeking revenge for wrongs committed against him by his country. With traumatic brain injuries from an IED attack in Iraq, Frist confuses the responsibility for his father’s death and places blame on the American government and the Red Cross. Frist has become exactly what he was fighting against in the Middle East: a terrorist. But he is also a strong, skilled warrior with an acute mind. He’s the sort of man who can be utilized by the government to bring down Abdullah the Bomber, a former Mujahideen and one of the most destructive terrorists still active. He’s a man whose body and mind can be manipulated via science to create an almost—but not quite—super human, the ultimate killing machine. Only this time, instead of targeting innocent civilians, Frist will be targeting enemies of the state—without his approval.

But Frist is only part of the story. He propels the action forward, but the protagonist of Kevin Lee Swaim’s Project StrikeForce is really Eric Wise, a man who, like John, has seen his share of combat and has the emotional scars to prove it. When Wise is recruited by the government to head an operation for the top secret Office of Threat Management—an operation involving Frist in a brainwashed, scientifically enhanced state—his life takes a turn he never could have suspected, and he is drawn into a world of dubious morality and military might.

While the title of Swaim’s novel may not be compelling to those of us who are not fans of sci-fi (after all, it does sound like it takes place on a spaceship, doesn’t it?), his writing is strong, and the characters are compelling. Yes, the novel does occasionally slip into cliché (why must the badass female characters always be blonde and sexy, one might ask?), but, overall, Project StrikeForce is an exciting read. It has action, adventure, intrigue, and violence—but in the guise of a truly well-constructed, well-written science fiction action adventure novel.

Reviewed by Ashley McCall

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Project StrikeForce, part deux!

Spent the weekend working on the snowflake writing method. I've got my basic story, character sheets, and I'm working on expanding the story so that I can start my scene list.  I hope to be completed by next weekend, and I hope to have the novel completely written by the end of October.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

San Francisco Book Review of Project StrikeForce

Project StrikeForce

Eric Wise is a Delta Force operative who was mysteriously pulled from his unit and summarily discharged from the military. He has no idea what he’s done and is understandably irritated when it all clicks after some spook shows up to offer him a new job leading Project StrikeForce. The project revolves around brainwashing and modifying a United States citizen who also happens to be a terrorist and veteran; Eric is to be his handler. John Frist has blown up a Red Cross building because he’s angry that the disaster service dropped the ball and he wasn’t able to leave his deployment in Iraq to attend his parents’ funeral. His terrorist status is perfect as the project needs someone who is disposable, and whom no one will miss, just in case the technological enhancements the scientists retrofit Frist with go haywire. Soon enough, Wise and Frist have a mission to untangle as they race to figure out another terrorist plot.

Swaim does an outstanding job of injecting a strong sense of drama into this slightly-futuristic military thriller set in the current day. The novel goes from one action-packed mission to another with little to no discussion of the characters’ personal lives between missions. In other words, they’re on the job all the time. The story also cycles between characters, taking different third-person points of view that include Wise, Frist, and the leader of the terrorist cell as well as other more minor characters when their view is applicable.

While the plot is believable and the military references are likewise commendably believable, character development unfortunately takes a back seat to the mission descriptions. This leads to the novel being a little less engaging than I could hope. It’s still highly entertaining, though, as long as you’re one who enjoys this type of adrenaline-fueled trip reminiscent of a Jason Statham movie. I am.
There are many large and obvious hooks embedded in the novel that foreshadow a sequel. Despite this, the ending is otherwise fulfilling on its own and very delightfully unexpected. After a while I had gotten used to the constant rush and then BAM, I hit the ending, where Swaim smashes the reader in the face with a large brick. Once done, still shaking my head from impact, I decided that I’d enjoyed that.

As former military, though, I’m going to offer a tongue-in-cheek critique: there just weren’t nearly enough acronyms.

Reviewed by Jen Rothmeyer

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Inching closer to a release for the vampire novel

We have a title!  Come What May has been proofed and is in the hands of my beta readers!  I have the cover, and am almost ready to get it finalized!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rewrite of the vampire novel finished

Next step is to print it out and start marking it up with my trusty red pen. Ah, I love my red pen. When I have it in hand, I suddenly have the power to cut out anything I don't like.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Halfway through the rewrite of the vampire novel

I'm hoping to have the rewrite finished by next weekend.

I'm still searching for a title.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just finished the new Craig Johnson novel, Any Other Name

Walt Longmire is back, in another fantastic novel by Craig Johnson.  What I love about the Longmire books is that the POV is 3rd person, deep on Walt.  You see things as he sees them, smell them as he smells them, feel things as he feels them.

It's so well done that he makes it look ridiculous easy.

It's not.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Started to rate the books I've read at Goodreads

I can only rate so many a day before my mind goes blank. Then, the next day, I remember another author, another book....

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Almost there...

Final cover design has been uploaded.  Proof copies have been ordered.  Kindle version has been submitted.

I fell like I've completed a marathon!

Next up, on to the vampire novel rewrite.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why rewriting is fun

So, if the first draft is putting the clay on the wheel, then rewriting is where you shape that amorphous glob into a bowl or a vase.

And, here's a for instance for you...

I have two characters, and they interact.  Subconsciously, I clearly wanted there to be some kind of romantic relationship to exist, based upon the descriptions and the way they act. It's during the rewrite that I can go back and add in and flesh out that relationship, adding depth and subtext to their interactions.

The subconscious surprised me all the time.  It's way smarter than my conscious brain.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Final rewrite

Final rewrite of Project StrikeForce underway.  Hope to be line editing it next weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Vampire novel finally finished

Time to put it aside for a month or two and go work on something else.

I'm feeling a little let down.  A sense of loss, like something's missing and I'm not sure what.  I keep turning around, thinking there's someone behind me.

Weird, I get this every time I finish a book.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Almost there

Just 10k words to go.  I have seen the Holy Land.  It's within sight.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ready Player One

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.  What a fantastic book.  I loved it!  His knowledge and research on 80's culture and video games is outstanding!

If you grew up during the 80's, if you had any interaction with pop culture/geek culture, buy this book.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nearing the end of the vampire novel

This winter has sapped my energy level, but I'm nearing the end.  Finally.

It's been getting slower and slower, my word count has dropped steadily.  I finally figured out why.

I'm going to the badlands.  My wife said the book wasn't that dark, but as it nears the end, it goes so past dark that you can't even see dark in the rear view mirror.

When everyone has died, when all hope is lost, how can you soldier on?  It's a good question for my protagonist, Sam.  What will motivate him to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  What difference can he possibly make?

We're going to find out.

Monday, February 24, 2014

David Foster Wallace as an instructor?

Having DFW as an instructor wasn't exactly Chicken Soup for the Soul.  He didn't care about your feelings, as he told one girl.  She said, "I'm having a real hard time in my personal life right now."  He responded, "This isn't psychotherapy.  Nobody cares about your personal life.  We're going to talk about your writing, and if you have a problem with that, drop the class."

Dave was a grammar Nazi, no doubt about it, and he used to teach a grammar boot camp before the start of class every week.

He once told a girl, "This fails at everything fiction tries to achieve.  Scene, setting, dialouge, POV, and next time you write a story, make sure it has a point.  Don't just write some shit that happened to you."

Having said all that, after 2 classes, he suggested to me that i stop taking classes, as it was damaging my psyche.  And, he was right.  I just couldn't write for almost fifteen years. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Class with David Foster Wallace

Let's set the way-back machine for 1994, the first day of advanced creative writing class with David Foster Wallace.

Hmm, are we there?  Good.

First impression.  Who's the guy in the doo-rag and the NKOTB t-shirt?  And, why is he chewing tobacco like a fiend?

I'm in trouble.  I don't know what otiose, fecund, or inchoate means.

Why is this guy leering at all the girls?

He keeps saying if we don't want to be here, drop the class. Maybe I should seriously consider dropping?

This guy's average grade is a D minus?

He's going to be the flamethrower to our ass?  Sounds unpleasant.

3 hours later, I knew for a fact that I was in trouble.  I was from what he called a "back-woods" county.

I had never heard of David Foster Wallace, but apparently he was a "big deal" writer and I should drop the class so a more worthy student, of which there were many waiting, could take my spot.

I didn't drop the class, and I did better than a D minus.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Word Count

Sometimes my word count comes easy.  Other days it's pure torture.  An interesting thing I've found is that my writing when I'm inspired doesn't read any better than my writing when every word is a bloody victory.

It's all about BIS.  Butt-in-seat.  If you can get your butt in the seat and get your word count, all is good in the world.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Oedipus the King

I love a lot of ancient literature, but there's a special place in my heart for Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King.  Some may know of the Oedipus Complex, old Sigmund's idea that a boy will grow up learning male behavior from his father, until he figuratively slays the father and supplants his father and marries the Mother figure.  Unlike some of Sigmund's other ideas, this one isn't a just true, it's axiomatic.

But, back to Oedipus the King.  The story is, in my opinion, not about Oedipus marrying his mother, but whether a man has free will or whether his fate is predetermined.

In the story, Laius is warned by the Oracle at Delphi that his son will slay him.  So, he asks his wife to kill their son, but the wife passes the job off to a servant who instead gives Oedipus away.

Later, Oedipus is told by the Oracle that he will marry his mother.  Thinking he is the son of the local king, he heads out, confronts his true father and kills him.  Then, he dispatches the sphinx that is plaguing the kingdom and wins the hand of the former King's wife, his own mother.

Both Laius and Oedipus suffer the very fate they tried to avoid.  Lesson?  Don't tempt fate by trying to avoid yours. 

Or, never trust an Oracle.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Writing about writing

So, what to say...  I'll start simple.  I learned how to write from David Foster Wallace.  He called me Mr. Swaim and I called him Dave.  He'd return my stories covered in comments from his red pen.  I'd tell him what I was trying to achieve and he would tell me how I failed.  But, he never told me to stop.

In fact, he told me I had the potential to be a commercial fiction writer.  I told him that while he meant it as an insult, I took it as a compliment.

Here's the funny thing about Dave, though.  I'm not sure if he meant it as an insult.  One thing he liked, he said, was to read and suddenly fall into the chair, forget he was reading a story and just BE in the story.

He told me I was doing that in my stories.

I miss him.