Monday, August 11, 2014

The Thing About Book Signings

The thing about books signings, for me at least, is that they are rare occurrences.   It’s most likely my own fault.  To this point, I have set up all of my local events on my own without the help of a publicist.  I tend to go out a couple of times to launch a new book, then I retreat back to my desk, to my work, so, hopefully, I can do it all over again.  Public speaking is easier than it used to be for me, but when you only do it a few times a year, it takes a little while to get into the swing of things. About the time I get my rhythm, it’s time to stop. It’s not my strongest suit.  That’s the problem. 

This time around, last week for the launch of Vengeance at Sundown, I was more comfortable.  I don’t know, after eight or nine times, you kind of know what to expect.  There are always surprises, pleasantries, unexpected encounters, old friends showing up.  I read some advice from an octogenarian recently that struck home.  She said, “You have to force yourself to go out.  Something wonderful will happen when you do.”

Some observations from the week:

* People still rely on print to get their news.  93 year old Ned has come to each of my signings at the Barnes and Noble in Noblesville.  Ned is a WW II vet and a spry man that I had never met before I published my first book.  He said to me, “I’ve been watching the paper for your book.” And then he smiled wide as he picked up Lucas Fume #1 and handed it to me to be signed.  If I have become jaded, then that act should have completely melted the jade to goo.  It did.

* There is traffic in bookstores no matter whether it is Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon.  The death of the printed book has been grossly exaggerated in my humble opinion.

* Art matters.  People love to look at pictures and see their own story in them.  Or, they see  your story and it takes them away from their story, even if for only a second.  Passionate, smart people exist in this world just to make sure that art is available to everyone.  I am encouraged and inspired by art, by these people who open their doors to the world.

* Young writers are luckier than they know.  They haven’t published yet, are not confined by a deadline, can take as much time to hone their story as they want.  Bad thing is, most of them don’t know when to let one thing go and start another.  Seasoned writers appreciate deadlines for a reason. I’m happy to offer them advice when they ask, but what I tell them sounds too simple.  I can see it on their face.  Read a lot, write a lot, finish what you start, send it out, do it all over again.

* Stories matter as much today as they did a hundred or thousand years ago.  Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Thanks to everyone who came out and saw Rose and I, bought a book, or just said hello.  It was a wonderful week, and we were touched beyond words.  Now, it’s back to work for me—but I have events scheduled throughout the year, so maybe next time, come May, 2015, maybe I won’t be so rusty.

Go out.  Something wonderful will happen when you do.   

Monday, August 4, 2014

Launch week book signing schedule for Lucas Fume #1

Launch week book signing schedule for the release of VENGEANCE AT SUNDOWN, Lucas Fume #1: 

August 5, 2014 -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Noblesville, Indiana 5 PM to 8 PM

August 8, 2014 -- Nickel Plate Arts, Judge Stone Gallery, 107 South 8th St., Noblesville, IN 5PM to 9PM

August  9, 2014 -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8675 River Crossing Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana 1 PM to 3 PM

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Writing Lucas -- Part 1

In preparation for the launch of Vengeance at Sundown I’ll be posting a few blogs about the origin of the my new Western series--writing it, my take on the future of Westerns, and anything else that comes to mind in between now and then

There were a lot of considerations when it came to writing Lucas Fume, my second Western series. First off, I had to look back at what I had already done.   The Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger series is comprised of six books.  All of the books in that series where written in single POV (point of view), third person.  It was all Josiah, all of the time.  I did that with intention.  I wanted to write those books like I was writing from first person to create an intimacy, but I didn’t want the story to be narrated directly in Josiah’s voice.  It was a confining decision, and there was nothing written in my contract that stated I had to write those stories that way, I just decided to.  I had the freedom to tell that story however I wanted to, and could have changed it anytime I wanted to, but I'm glad I didn't. As a technique, I think it worked.  Readers attached themselves to Josiah.  So, the question was: as a writer did I want to do that again?  The answer was an immediate no.  I wanted the new series to be as different possible from the previous one, so I decided to stick with third person, but go with multiple points of view so I could have more flexibility. 

Of course, that decision didn’t come first.  Lucas Fume came first.  But again, I wanted him, his past, his associations, to be completely different from Josiah Wolfe, too.  Where Josiah was bound by the expectations and the demands of the Texas Ranger organization, I wanted Lucas to be more of a freelancer—to be able move about the country as he needed to.  But I wanted him to have commensurate skills, so I decided that he would be an ex-spy.  At the time, I thought there would be plenty of research material to delve into, but I was wrong.  There is some documentation of Civil War spies, but not the deep canon of literature devoted to the Texas Rangers.  But the spy background gave me plenty to work with like building networks, disguises, getting in and out of tight situations, weaponry, you name it.  The possibilities seemed endless, especially if Lucas was really good at being a spy. And he was.  Too good.  Lucas Fume made some enemies that lasted long after the war ended.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the POV, and the early decisions.  In the Josiah Wolfe books, one of the things I decided on was to insert Josiah into historical events, and also have him interact with historical characters.  I decided to do the same thing with Lucas, but not as close.  The immediacy of Lucas’s story was more important to me than an exact point and place in history.  Though I do have plans to play with history a bit in future books.  

What the choice of multiple POV gave me as a writer was the opportunity to explore different characters from different timelines, then have them all converge at the end so that each part of the story fit together tightly.  It was a different challenge, and called on different skills than the Josiah Wolfe books.  The jury’s still out whether I accomplished that, but this book is different from  the Josiah Wolfe books, at least, as far as I’m concerned, and that's exactly what I set out to do.

Coming up: More about that research.

Lucas Fume #1 Vengeance at Sundown (Berkley) will be available August 5, 2014 at all bookstores, online and brick and mortar.  My next appearance will be August 5, 2014 -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Noblesville, Indiana from 5 PM to 8 PM.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kicking Off -- Fishers Library July 23, 2014 7PM

July 23, 2014 -- Fishers Library Five Municipal Drive Fishers, IN 46038, 7 PM to 8:30 PM.

I’m kicking off Vengeance at Sundown a little early.  It doesn’t release until August 5th, but a few months ago the library contacted me and asked me to give a talk about writing.  They’ve been great about supporting my books.  How could I say no?  Besides, libraries are hallowed ground.  I rarely pass up an opportunity to go to a library.  Anyway, I’ll be giving a talk about the basics of being a writer, my processes, etc.  And I’ll be selling books.

The Noblesville Daily Times ran a Q&A which you can find here:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Nice review in NUVO for the upcoming Lucas Fume novel:

'Vengeance at Sundown' by Larry Sweazy
By Rita Kohn

Larry Sweazy's new novel is another action-packed page-turner. Vengeance at Sundown thrusts us into a post-Civil War Tennessee State Prison scenario with a plot that unpeels, layer by layer, like an onion, until we get to the heart of human destiny that's simultaneously universal and particular.

Lucas Fume, unjustly accused of murder is serving a life sentence. Why did no one come to his defense at the time of the trial seven long years ago? Yet he perseveres despite the maniacal machinations of Lanford Grips and the deceits of Charlotte Brogan. What transpires 306 pages after the baited first sentence is as much a socio-economic panorama of the mid-19th century opening of the West as it is a story of human foibles where greed, jealousy, vengeance, fear over-ride decency, friendship, love.

Chapter by chapter we march toward answering that primal why for a wrongful accusation. Sweazy develops this new Western series with the same ability to create multi-dimensional characters, vivid locations and true-to-life situations that have earned accolades for his previous award-winning novels, including the widely popular Josiah Wolfe Texas Rangers series.

As an amalgamation of genres — Western, detective, mystery, historical realism — this new series takes us into the heart of our nation and the hearts of the people who were carving it out from under the lives of the original inhabitants whose bad luck it was to be in the path of Manifest Destiny. It's our un-pretty story that keeps repeating itself.

Noblesville resident Sweazy has won the Western Writers of America (WWA) Spur Award for Best Short Story of 2005 and Best Paperback Western Novel of 2013, the Will Rogers Medallion Award in 2011 and 2012, and was honored with the Best Book of Indiana in 2011 for his Josiah Wolfe series.


July 23, 7 p.m.: "So You Want To Be A Writer" presentation at Fishers Public Library

Aug. 5, 5 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, Noblesville

Aug. 8, 5 p.m. at Nickel Plate Arts, Noblesville; opening of an exhibition of Sweazy's Western-themed photographs

Aug. 9, 1 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, 8675 River Crossing Blvd.

Aug. 20, 5 p.m. at IndyReads Books

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sunny is OK

One of the most frequent questions I got/get after we lost Brodi, was/is "How's Sunny?"  Sunny (Audie Murphy See You At Sundown) will be eight in September, and Brodi was always there, always in his life since he was a puppy, since we brought him home at nine weeks old.  Sunny has always been number two. Now he's the only one.  That has brought on some unusual behavior.  We all still look for Brodi in his normal places, wait for him to bark when the doorbell rings, listen for his clicky-clack ridgeback nails when it's time eat.  But overall, I think Sunny's OK.  Has he grieved? Yes, I think so.  We all have.  But we've got on with it, established new routines, new walking patterns and times, but there will always be something missing.  No matter what.  Always something missing. But we're OK. We have to be. All of us, including Sunny.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gearing Up

The release of Vengeance at Sundown is on the horizon, August 5th, and I'll be gearing up to promote the release of the first book in the Lucas Fume Western series.  I'm in the process of finalizing my book signing schedule and will post that soon.  This time around will be a little different. More about the origin and writing this series, and other publishing news will also appear here soon.

On a personal note, it's hard for me to believe that this will be my eighth novel.  It seems like yesterday that we were about to see the release of my first novel (The Rattlesnake Season) in 2009.  Time flies when you're having fun.  Also, thanks to everyone who expressed their condolences for the loss of our beloved Brodi.  There's a big hole in our house, and I don't expect it to be filled anytime soon.  There were a few hiccups on the blog, so I apologize for any posts that didn't show up.

Here's the final cover for the Lucas Fume book.  I think it's pretty cool.  

This novel is available for pre-order at your favorite bookstore (online or brick and mortar).