Robert Swartwood

USA Today Bestselling Author

Category: News (page 1 of 13)


My flash fiction piece “Wart” is up today at Vol. 1 Brooklyn. This is the first flash fiction piece I’ve written in a long time, so it’s nice dabbling in the genre again. A big thanks to Tobias Carroll and everyone else at Vol. 1 Brooklyn for giving it a place to be read.

Me In Google Play

Not too long ago Google contacted me about making my ebooks available in Google Play. And now several of them are. Mostly just my novels right now, but eventually I’ll get the short stories and novellas up at some point. Anyway, if you use Google Play, or know someone who does, help spread the word!

New Hint Fiction Contest

It’s been almost five years since my essay “Hint Fiction: When Flash Fiction Becomes Just Too Flashy” was first published at Flash Fiction Chronicles. Since then Hint Fiction has really taken on a life of its own. Besides the anthology published by W. W. Norton four years ago, there’s been an art show, a film contest, and even recently an anthology of Sri Lankan Hint Fiction. There have been three contests in the past — judged by Stewart O’Nan, James Frey, and Joyce Carol Oates — and this year I thought it was time to host another contest.

What is Hint Fiction? It’s a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. Think of Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It doesn’t have a title, but those six words convey a punch. Not only that, they stand on their own. They’re not the first line of a story, or a random sentence plucked from a longer story.

The reason I didn’t host a contest the past two years is because the stories submitted in 2011 seemed rather … formulaic. After all, there is only so much that can be done with a 25 word limit. Having said that, I have a faith that more can be done with the genre, that writers can think outside the box, so that’s why I’m doing another contest.

This year’s judge is the one and only Benjamin Percy. He is the author of two novels, Red Moon and The Wilding, as well as two books of stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Plimpton Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. His story “Impact” appeared in the Hint Fiction anthology.

The submission period will be from April 1 to April 30 at this website. You can submit up to two Hint Fiction stories (subscribers to my newsletter can submit up to three, those lucky sons of guns). After April 30th, a top 20 will be chosen and will be published online, where readers can vote for their favorites à la American Idol. Then from there a top 10 will be narrowed down, which will be sent to Benjamin Percy (please note that I hold veto power, so if a story I feel strongly about in the top 20 doesn’t make the top 10, I may include it anyway).

The prizes are as follows:

  • 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
  • All winners and runners up will receive signed copies of the Hint Fiction anthology, as well as signed copies of my very short fiction collection Phantom Energy.
  • Perera-Hussein Publishing House has generously donated copies of their Sri Lankan Hint Fiction anthology Short & Sweet to the winners and runners up as well.
  • Finally, the 1st place winner will also have his or her Hint Fiction story animated by Dustin Grella, who has animated a few Hint Fiction stories in the past (here and here and here).

There is no entry fee.

Still not sure what Hint Fiction is? It’s strongly recommended you check out the anthology, which is still available in paperback. Also, Norton has kindly lowered the price of the ebook for a limited time, so you can purchase it for just $2.99 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

So check back here April 1st. In the meantime, have fun!

EDIT: The contest is currently open.

What’s Coming This Year

The other day I posted the cover for a new novel coming out shortly called Bullet Rain. What the heck is that? Well, I thought I’d share some of the books I plan to release this upcoming year …

  • LEGION – a standalone novel that takes place in the Man of Wax universe. In many ways it works as a prequel to the trilogy, and characters that appear in this book will show up in the third book. So I guess when this whole thing is complete, it won’t be a trilogy at all but a … saga? Those who have read the book already tell me it’s one of my best, so that’s certainly promising.
  • BULLET RAIN – a standalone novel that’s part of the Holly Lin series, and in fact is set right after the events of No Shelter. Basically we catch up with Nova and the trouble he gets into while driving across the country. There’s a lot of action. In fact, I think there’s almost too much action. And in the end it sets up the next Holly Lin book called …
  • THE DEVIL YOU KNOW – second Holly Lin novel, which takes place right after the events of No Shelter.
  • DOWN IN A HOLE – third Holly Lin novel. I actually started writing this over a year ago, but then realized I needed to write The Devil You Know first because, well, the second book should come before the third book, right?

I’m also going to attempt to squeeze in a novella and short horror novel if possible, but mostly I’m concentrating on novels because novels sell the best for me, and as a writer, I want to sell books. Plus, Legion and Bullet Rain are pretty much done, so those should be out relatively soon.

What about the third Man of Wax book? many of you are no doubt wondering.

That will probably be next year. In fact, after the books listed, that’s what I plan on tackling. Someone asked me on Twitter the other day if I’ll ever conclude the trilogy, and the answer is yes. It’s just right now the Man of Wax books sell decently, but nowhere near a demand that would force me to get the third book out ASAP (so, um, if you love the books and haven’t reviewed them on Amazon, please consider doing so as that really helps!). No Shelter is actually one of my worst selling books, which is odd, because pretty much everyone who reads it loves it. I think the reason is I originally published it under a pseudonym, and then when I announced it was me, I didn’t change the cover, so it still says Z. Constance Frost, who doesn’t exist, so maybe there’s confusion? The reason I didn’t initially change the cover is because the plan was to rebrand the entire series … but I wasn’t going to do that until the second book came out, and again, demand trumps desire. As No Shelter is my slowest moving book, there hasn’t been much hurry to continue Holly’s adventures. But I’m hoping this year with more books, the series will pick up steam. Also, I mentioned how last year I didn’t release much? That’s entirely on me. Some stuff in my personal life has been keeping me from producing as much as I’d like, but this year I’m going to do my damnedest to write and publish as much as possible.

Coming later this year, too, is a short story I wrote for a David B. Silva tribute anthology being published by Cemetery Dance. The anthology is called Better Weird and my story is called “Muse.” I’m really happy with how the story turned out, and I’m honored to be included in the book.

So that’s it for now, though if possible I might even surprise you with more stuff. Or who knows, maybe I will only get to half of this. Basically I’m putting this here as motivation for myself to get my ass in gear. So now, with that out of the way, it’s back to work …

Eight The Hard Way

Nick Stephenson put together this anthology of mystery and thriller short stories called Eight the Hard Way. It includes my story “Mr. Mockingbird Drive,” which originally appeared in Needle magazine. The other authors, besides Nick and myself, include David Vandyke, Ryan King, R. S. Guthrie, Kay Hadashi, Alan McDermott, and Micheal Maxwell. And the best part? All proceeds go to charity. More formats are forthcoming, but for now you can purchase the ebook at Amazon.

The Ultimate Robert Swartwood Ebook Collection

The title of this post says it all.

For a limited time, you can purchase every single one of my ebooks for just $10. Combined the retail is nearly $50, so that’s a savings of 80%!

The bundle includes The Serial Killer’s Wife, The Calling, Man of Wax, The Inner Circle, Real Illusions, Phantom Energy, Walk the Sky, The Dishonored Dead, No Shelter, Spooky Nook, The Man on the Bench, The Silver Ring, Through the Guts of a Beggar, At the Meade Bed & Breakfast, and In Solemn Shades of Endless Night.

This is perfect for readers who have only read one or two of my books and want to read more, or readers who have read all my books and want to share with their family and friends. There’s even an option where you can give this bundle as a gift, perfect for Christmas!

When purchasing the bundle, you get the mobi and epub files for each novel, which are of course DRM-free.

Happy holidays!

Midnight Symphony

Lately there have been a rash of ebook bundles, those ubiquitous “box sets” you see on all the bestseller lists, and I thought to myself: I’d like to do something like that too. But not with novels. Novels are great and everything, but everyone is doing novels. Why not novellas instead?

Personally, I love novellas. They’re that sweet spot between short stories and novels. Not too long, not too short. The perfect length. The only problem is, for the longest time there wasn’t really a market. Most magazines wouldn’t take novellas because they were too long. Most mainstream publishers wouldn’t publish novellas because they were too short. Only speciality publishers would have the guts to take them on, and almost always they were done in limited editions. But with the rise of digital publishing, it seems novellas are finding a resurgence, and for that I want to celebrate them with something I’m calling Midnight Symphony.

Midnight Symphony contains 10 novellas, all reprints, and will be available only for a limited time. And the best part? It’s just 99 cents. That’s 10 novellas for less than a buck!

You can grab it on Kindle (US or UK), Nook, or if you don’t have a Kindle or Nook, you can buy directly from Ganxy. You can also add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here.

Again, this will only be available for a limited time, so grab it now and happy reading!

Seven Items In Turkish

Back in 2010 PANK published my story “Seven Items In Jason Reynolds’ Jacket Pocket, Two Days After His Suicide, As Found By His Eight-Year-Old Brother, Grady,” which later went on to become a runner-up for the Micro Award. Now it’s been translated into Turkish from Uzun Hikâye. Check it out!

What I’ve Been Up To

Just realized I haven’t updated the blog in a while.


I’ve been meaning to keep things more regular around here (hey, not like that!) but have obviously been doing a poor job of it. I’ve just been busy, busy, busy. Here’s a few things I’ve been working on …

Legion, a standalone thriller that takes place in the Man of Wax universe but which is not part of the trilogy (think of it as a prequel of sorts), has gone through the initial editing phase and is currently with my agent and some other pre-readers. When will that be out? No idea, but a safe bet is sooner than later.

Bullet Rain, a standalone thriller that features Nova from No Shelter, is halfway complete. For a while I was pushing full-steam ahead on it, but then I got sidetracked on doing the edits for Legion and a few other things came up, and right now that’s been put to the side. Basically, the book takes place right after the events of No Shelter and focuses on what trouble Nova gets into. It will eventually lead into the second Holly Lin novel The Devil You Know. When will it be out? Again, no idea, but hopefully within the next several months.

I was working on an essay for a project I was invited to submit to but bowed out when I realized the piece wasn’t coming together as well as I would have liked. I really liked the idea I pitched, but it just wasn’t working for me, and I’m not one to submit a subpar story/essay/whatever.

Currently working on what will probably be a novelette-sized story that I can’t really talk more about at the moment, except that I’m really happy with where it’s going and it should hopefully be out in the next month or two if all goes well.

Next month I start working on my portion of Refuge, a Jeremy Bishop novel that’s being serialized by several other authors and which I talked about briefly here. I still don’t know yet what my novella will be titled, but the brief outline I came up with passed muster (I hate outlining and, quite honestly, never do it, except for this project it was mandatory), and I think it will be a lot of fun. The deadline is November, I think, which will put some fire under my ass to get the thing done as soon as possible.

After all that, I hope to start working on the next Holly Lin novel (again, called The Devil You Know) and maybe even the third novel (Down In A Hole) before I finally begin on the third book in the Man of Wax trilogy, While Rome Burns.

But wait! some of you might say. Why not write the third MOW book FIRST???

Well, because No Shelter has been out much longer than Man of Wax, and it’s a book that everyone seems to love and I’ve been slacking on telling more stories about Holly Lin and Nova, so that’s why. Plus the third MOW book is going to be LONG, and I know already it’s going to tire me out, while the Holly Lin books are just going to be a lot of fun to write. At least, that’s how it was with the first one, so fingers crossed the same applies to the rest.

Actually, speaking of Holly Lin, if you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to tune back in Friday for a special announcement …

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

What have YOU been up to?

Old Tales, New Look

Kealan Patrick Burke of Elderlemon Design redid some of my old ebook-only titles. Check ’em out.

The Man on the Bench - Nook

Through The Guts of a Beggar2

The Silver Ring8

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