Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No Posts

The blog has gone fallow...  Maybe I can come up with something in the new year. Until then, thanks for following along. May your new year be a great one.  ~~Larry

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sherlock, Watson, and Me

It had really never occurred to me to write a pastiche, to step into another author's shoes and pretend I could write their character, before being ask to by Loren D. Estleman.  It's a daunting task.  Especially when the character is Sherlock Holmes.  But honestly, after some thought, I found it to be a challenge that I couldn't pass up.

I brushed up on my Holmes knowledge and appreciation by re-reading the two collections of short stories on my shelves, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Then I went deeper in the canon, perusing and studying the list of resources provided to me by Loren. I said to him, "That's a rabbit hole one can fall down into and never come back out of."  There are encyclopedias, and enough text to stretch out to Jupiter and back.  All that I touched and read was fascinating and passionate.  I had to restrain myself. 

So, I knew what was taking on.  If I failed, I would infuriate the legions of Sherlock fans the world over, and I would also fail my editor and publisher.  None of which I was in a hurry to do.  No pressure right?   There's no way to know what will happen, but know this: I did my best to be respectful of Conan Doyle's original creation and all that has come before me.

In the end, I wrote a story that I could be proud of.  I had found out much more about Sherlock than I knew before, but ultimately, I discovered the joy of getting to know John Watson, war veteran, doctor, and proverbial sidekick.  It was that discovery more than any that moved me as a writer, that brought me within sight of Conan Doyle's world and its center.  It might be a distant sight.  But honestly, I came away from this experience with a greater appreciation for the entire work of Sherlock Holmes.  I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity.  Thank you, Loren and Tyrus Books.

I hope you will enjoy my short story, "The Adventure of The Rounded Ocelot."  It can be found in the anthology, The Adventure of the Plated Spoon and Other Tales of Sherlock Holmes here

Monday, September 8, 2014

Update -- A Flurry of Covers

After the launch of Vengeance of Sundown (Lucas Fume #1) I have gone a little quiet here--I figured that would happen.  It's been a busy year, and the blog gets the least of my attention--which is always the problem with blogs--it takes stamina and a strong idea to keep them going.  As we go into fall, I'm rethinking the blog format (for the thousandth time)...so we'll see what happens.  End of the year can be busier than normal, as I continue my freelance indexing practice full time, and write as much as I can.  I'm glad to say that my last big writing deadline for the year is in sight, and I'm planning on taking a short break (after I finish a short story that's banging away in the back of my head--which means there's never really break, and that's okay).

So, for the first time, here are some cover reveals of upcoming projects.  Some of them aren't complete, final, but close enough:

My short story, "The Adventure of the Rounded Ocelot," will appear in this anthology (published by Tyrus Books).  A first for me--a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, that I was happy to write.  It will be published October 31, and can be preordered here.

I have another short story, "How to Swim," set to appear in the anthology, Indy Writes Books.  This one will publish in November.  The proceeds of this book will help fund Indy Reads, a literacy program based in Indianapolis.  The book features stories from Indiana writers such as John Green, Dan Wakefield, Ben Winters, and others.  For more information about purchasing, sponsoring, or donating, to a great cause, go here.

The Italian publisher, Editoriale Cosmo, recently bought and published The Rattlesnake Season (Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger #1).  This is my first translation, and I'm thrilled that Josiah Wolfe is being introduced to a new audience.  I'm not sure how to tell you to get your hands on this one, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out.  Unfortunately, there are no plans to write any more Josiah Wolfe books at the moment.  I get asked that question a lot.  All six books are still in print, and available through the normal avenues.

Here's the fist look at the cover for See Also Murder (Seventh Street Books), my second mystery novel.  This one will be published in May, 2015.  It's available for preorder now here.  Set in North Dakota in 1964, this novel combines both of my passions, indexing and writing, for the first time in novel-length.  More to come soon. This novel is based on the Derringer-nominated short story of the same title that was originally published in 2006.

Here's another first look, not the final cover.  Escape from Hangtown (Lucas Fume #2--Berkley Books) is set to appear late summer/early fall, 2015, and continues Lucas Fume's quest for freedom.  This time around, Lucas sets out to clear Zeke Henry of all the charges against him, so his friend and partner can enjoy the same freedom that he does.

And, finally, coming in January, 2016, A Thousand Falling Crows (Seventh Street Books).  A new mystery, set in Texas in 1933, and features Texas Ranger Sonny Burton who is pulled into a mystery after a near-fatal encounter with Bonnie and Clyde,  This novel is also based on another previously published short story, "Shadow of a Crow" (Beat To A Pulp Press), and was originally published in 2012. (Note that the above picture is not a cover, just a picture I took of a crow's eye.)

As usual, I'll post more news when I have it.  Thanks for stopping by.  ~~Larry

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Review: Vengeance at Sundown

Western Fiction Review, 09/01/14:

Beginning his story with a desperate jailbreak Larry D. Sweazy throws a number of questions at his hero that will ensure you keep reading the book, such as who orchestrated the breakout and why?  Sweazy has created a superb set of characters for this tale, not least the totally unhinged supposed dead man who will do anything to keep his true identity a secret. And Charlotte, Fume’s lost love, just what part does she have to play in the deadly situations Fume finds himself in? Switching regularly between his characters Sweazy often leaves them in cliff-hanger predicaments thus keeping the reader turning the pages. He also includes a number of plot twists that will have you wondering how Fume can possibly triumph in the end, and even though all the major plotlines are resolved a few threads are left dangling for continuation in the next book of the series.  If you’ve never read any of Larry D. Sweazy’s books then this is a terrific place to start. Vengeance at Sundown is a gritty, raw, fast moving, action-packed read that I’m sure, like me, will leave you eagerly anticipating the next Lucas Fume book.
For the complete review, go to Western Fiction Review

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.