Robert Swartwood

USA Today Bestselling Author

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XOM-B Digital Sale

Just what the banner there says. XOM-B, the new novel by my friend Jeremy Robinson, which is usually $12.99, is currently $2.99 on all digital platforms for a limited time, including Kindle. What’s XOM-B about? Oh, you know, just zombies and robots and the end of the world, the usual. I’ve already read the book (well, listened to it) and it kicks ass. Really, this is a great deal, and you don’t want to be left out. Check out the book trailer and more buy links here.

And The Winners Are …

Over 500 stories were submitted to this year’s Hint Fiction Contest. From that 500 a top 20 was chosen. From that top 20, 483 votes were cast. Finally, a top 10 was declared. However, as the creator of Hint Fiction, I felt at least two stories deserved a shot as finalists, so 12 stories were sent to Benjamin Percy. And, interestingly enough, the two stories I included ended up in the top five. Anyway, without any further adieu, I present to you this year’s winners …

1st Place

by Monica Wang

After the accident that summer, he stopped listening to seashells. The ocean was bad enough—what it told him to do was worse.

2nd Place

by Teague Bohlen

“Got a sleeper cab?”

I nodded.

“Good enough.” She kissed me. She tasted like Old Style, asphalt, and menthols. Not you, but yes, good enough.

3rd Place

by Kevin Curow

Forgot my mask on the subway. Recess was in the bunker, anyway. Momma packed mushrooms again. Gramps says the birds we read about could sing.

Honorable Mentions

by Lisa Rubenson

He swirled his cocktail and walked in circles on a pile of my mother’s clothes. Every few steps, we’d hear the crunch of plastic hangers.

by Frank Ladd

Steady snow erased her trail to the lake’s precipice. Broken ice would scab by morning, and what would the old biddies in town say then?


Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Bullet Rain Is Here

Bullet Rain is now available on most ebook platforms, including Kindle, Nook, and Kobo (iTunes and Google Play forthcoming). Regular price is $4.99, but for the next several days you can pick it up for $2.99 at a special introductory price. That’s a savings of $2.00, so grab it quickly!

Also to celebrate the release, No Shelter will be 99 cents until the end of the month on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. After all, Bullet Rain takes place right after the events of No Shelter. That being said, you don’t have to read No Shelter to enjoy Bullet Rain, but it definitely helps. Here’s what Bullet Rain is about:


Nova is a free man. Having just walked away as a non-sanctioned hit man for the U.S. government, he’s purchased a classic Mustang to drive across the country. But when his car breaks down in the middle of the Nevada desert, Nova ends up in the small town of Parrot Spur. There’s something strange about Parrot Spur. Something … off. Maybe it’s the fact the town is full of ex-servicemen. Maybe it’s the fact the abandoned mine might not be abandoned. Maybe it’s the fact the knockout brunette in the bar is clearly more than what she seems. In the end, none of it matters. What matters — and what Nova is soon going to learn — is that in the desert, the only thing that rains is bullets.

The paperback should be out in about a week. No Shelter has finally been released as a paperback too. If you want signed copies, let me know. Purchasing both copies gets you a discount. And, of course, if you purchase the paperbacks from me, you also get the ebooks free.

The Legion Is Everywhere

I launched Legion in KDP Select, meaning it was exclusive to Amazon for the first 90 days, and now that those 90 days are up, Legion has spread out onto all other platforms. So besides Kindle, it’s now finally available on Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Google Play. Enjoy!

The Serial Killer’s Wife Audiobook

The Serial Killer’s Wife is finally available as an audiobook, narrated by the very awesome and talented Tanya Eby. You can grab it on Audible (iTunes forthcoming). For now, check out chapter 1 below.

Chapter 1

Hint Fiction Contest IV Top 20

After much consideration and counsel with close friends — one of whom is Ben White, the editor of Nanoism — I now present to you the top 20 finalists of this year’s Hint Fiction Contest.

It’s always tough narrowing down the best stories, and several stories came extremely close to making the final cut. In fact, I could have easily included a top 30. But a top 20 is much more reasonable, especially as I’m now going to open it up to you to vote for your favorites. Out of the 20 stories here, you can pick up to 3 stories. Tell your friends, family, whoever! Every vote counts.

Voting will remain open until the end of the month. Then the top 10 will be sent to Benjamin Percy to pick the winners. The poll box can be found at the bottom of this post (note: for some reason the poll box was not compatible with my current theme, so this rather boring layout is only temporary).

Now here are the top 20 Hint Fiction stories, in no particular order:

EDIT: The stories have been deleted.

Writer’s Digest Annual Conference

What does Harlan Coben, Hugh Howey, and I have in common? We’ll be at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this summer in New York City (though, admittedly, many more people will be attending to see those two dudes … okay, basically everyone will be attending to see those two dudes). The dates are August 1 – 3, at the Roosevelt Hotel. I’m on two panels  Expanding Your Brand with Co-Writers, with my Refuge co-authors Jeremy Robinson and Kane Gilmour, as well as Sean Ellis, and Getting Real about Self-Publishing, with Jeremy and Kane, as well as Judith Gille and Ember Reichgott Junge. You can see the rest of the schedule here. Hope to see some of you there!

Two Shot Sale

To celebrate Mother’s Day (I guess?), Two Shot, which contains both The Serial Killer’s Wife and No Shelter, is currently $2.99 for the next couple of days. That’s over 50% off its regular price of $6.99, and if you take into account the fact both The Serial Killer’s Wife and No Shelter retail at $4.99 each, it’s a huge savings! Grab it on Kindle or Nook before it’s too late.

Bullet Rain Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of Bullet Rain. The whole thing should be out very soon.

*      *      *

Nova saw the punch coming. After all, he had been expecting it, had been baiting it, and would have been greatly disappointed had it not come.

The guy was right-handed and put everything he had into the punch.

Nova ducked it easily enough, the guy’s fist inches from his face, and immediately stepped in and kneed the guy in the balls. As the guy bent forward, Nova grabbed his hair and smashed his head against the bar top.

By then the guy’s two friends were already coming at Nova, and Nova turned to meet them, squaring his shoulders, deciding which one to take out first. One had a goatee and a nose which had clearly been broken many times, while the other had a shaved head and a tattoos on his arms.

Nova figured Tattoo was the weaker of the two, so as they hurried forward, he stepped toward Goatee.

Goatee feinted a left cross but ended with a right hook instead. It caught Nova off guard, despite the fact he had used a similar ploy countless times in the past. Goatee’s fist connected with Nova’s jaw, then immediately Goatee went for Nova’s solar plexus, hammering it hard.

Nova stepped back, blocked the next blow, leaned in and used his elbow against Goatee’s throat. As the man started to go down, Tattoo kicked Nova in the back of the knee. Nova started to stumble, managed to stay on his feet, but by the time he turned Tattoo was there with a quick one-two punch at Nova’s face.

Nova stumbled back into a table. Tattoo came at him again, and Nova deflected the next several punches before managing to get in a right hook. It sent Tattoo flying back into another table, tipping it over and sending several beer bottles crashing to the floor.

Other patrons in the bar had risen to their feet, but none looked ready to step in just yet, waiting to see how this played out. From the speakers a country singer sang about his dog and his pickup truck and some girl named Marlene.

Nova turned back to check on the first guy when another punch came directly at his head. He turned his face at the last instant, enough so that the fist didn’t shatter his nose, but still blood blossomed everywhere. Nova turned back, meaning to charge the guy, when suddenly he was grabbed from behind in a sleeper hold.

This had to be Goatee. Nova was faintly aware of the scars on the arms holding him in place. He didn’t even bother fighting the hold, knowing that would only waste his energy. The arm on his throat tightened, and Nova steeled himself, ready for what came next.

Which, as it turned out, was the first guy, his head bleeding, walking right up to him.

“Told you I’d rearrange your face, didn’t I?”

The guy never had a chance. As he raised his fist, Nova leaned back into Goatee and lifted his feet and kicked straight out. His shoes connected with the guy’s chest, toppling him over, just as gravity sent Nova and Goatee crashing into another table.

More beer sloshing the ground, more bottles shattering, a faint sense of glass pebbles biting into his arm. As Goatee struggled to his feet, Nova stayed where he was on the dirty floor, just waiting until Goatee stood up fully and turned to him, and then Nova kicked Goatee straight on his shin.

The desired effect was nearly nauseating—the bone snapping, Goatee crying out as he hit the floor—and Nova was back on his feet just as Tattoo charged at him. Nova gave it a second, waiting for the guy, and he used the guy’s momentum to grab him and throw him into another table.

He heard a shoe crunch something behind him and immediately ducked another blow, then reached out and grabbed the first guy’s throat and swept his legs out from under him, throwing him to the ground, the back of the guy’s head bouncing off the dirty floor.

“I told you,” Nova said, “nobody likes an asshole,” and he raised his fist to smash the guy’s face when suddenly a gunshot went off.

All at once everything went still. The country music kept going, but everyone else had stopped moving—had even stopped breathing—for the second or two it took to focus their attention on the door and the old man in a brown police uniform and his sidearm aimed at the ceiling.

“What the hell is going on in here?” he said.

Podcast: Gay Degani And What Came Before

Gay Degani is the founder of Every Day Fiction‘s Flash Fiction Chronicles, which published my essay “Hint Fiction: When Flash Fiction Becomes Just Too Flashy,” which then spawned the whole Hint Fiction craze, so I owe Gay a lot. Her first novel, What Came Before, is out now from Every Day Novels, which is currently posting a free chapter a day (though the hardcover is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Gay took some time to talk to me about the novel and the writing process. Check it out!

Gay Degani And What Came Before

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