Nomad is BACK

Nomad by Robert Swartwood - Ebook Small.jpg

A couple years ago I was driving home when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Blake Crouch, and he told me about how he was in talks about entering his Wayward Pines series into Kindle Worlds, and would I be interested in writing a story? 

My answer: Hell, yeah! 

The Wayward Pines series have sold millions of copies worldwide and was made into a TV series by Fox, so I'm guessing most people are probably familiar with the storyline. If not, well, I don't want to spoil anything, because it has a really cool twist. 

I ended up writing a novella called Nomad. In terms of publication, I thought I was just going to self-publish it myself through the Kindle Worlds program, but it actually got contracted out by Amazon Publishing, which meant I got a nice advance and they took care of everything on their end. 

However, for whatever reason, Nomad was only available in the US Kindle store for the first year or two, and then I think it was available in the UK Kindle store but I may be wrong. And then, just this past summer, Kindle Worlds closed up shop, and with it my novella disappeared. 

Until now. 

I've been given the green light to go ahead and republish Nomad, except there's a caveat (apparently the only way to appease Fox Studios was to ensure writers who'd written Wayward Pines stories followed very stringent guidelines): 

The ebook can ONLY be made available in the US Kindle store.

And it’s currently in Kindle Unlimited, so if you have a KU subscription, you can read it for FREE.

Otherwise … that’s the only way to read the story, unfortunately.

Enjoy!

Abducted Is Coming

My newest novel, Abducted, will be released next month. It'll be available on all platforms, but right now you can pre-order it on Kindle, Kobo, and iTunes. And hey, while you're here, check out the first chapter below. 

*    *    *

It was just past three o’clock in the morning when Ashley Gilmore pulled into the gas station.

A bell jangled when she opened the door of the station’s minimart, causing the clerk behind the counter—a young guy with long hair and beard, maybe twenty-three years old—to glance her way before doing a double take.

“Hi,” he said, smiling as he sprang up from the stool he’d been sitting on. “How’s it going?”

Ashley smiled at him but said nothing as she wandered down the first aisle, out of his line of sight. A TV on the counter played the news, or what sounded like the news. It was simply background noise as she moved from one aisle to the next, her hand hovering over the display of snacks, their wrappers a bright iridescence, before settling on a tiny bag of pretzels. Next she detoured by the drinks and selected a large bottle of water. As she let the door slam shut, she saw a sign on the cooler announcing a sale of two bottles for three dollars, but she didn’t bite.

At the counter, the clerk hadn’t sat back down. He smiled at her as she approached.

“Forgot to tell you,” he said. His nametag read SETH. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

She forced another smile. “Happy Thanksgiving to you too.”

“Did you have a nice holiday?” He squinted at her scrub bottoms. “Oh shit, you had to work, didn’t you?”

Smiling again, she nodded.

“You’re over at the hospital?”

Another nod.

“So you missed out on a big Thanksgiving dinner?” He sounded genuinely bummed at the mere notion of this.

“There’s always leftovers.”

Seth shook his head sadly. “Still, that sucks. I feel your pain. I’ve been working a double. No turkey dinner for me. I did try some of the turkey jerky we have over in aisle three, but it tasted like shit.”

She nodded, her gaze momentarily shifting toward the TV. It was playing CNN, a pretty reporter talking to the camera while a picture of two men hung over her right shoulder. Mugshots. Both looked scruffy with long hair; one had a beard, the other had a goatee.

Seth said, “Crazy, huh?”

“What’s that?”

His eyes went wide. “The jailbreak!”

She glanced back at the TV. “I heard a little bit about it. When did it happen?”

“Yesterday morning. At least, that’s when they found the two convicts had escaped. They dug right out of their cell, just like in that Morgan Freeman movie.” He nodded at the TV. “That’s them right there. The one on the left is Neal Palmer. The other is Sean Wescott. They were both in for murder.”

“Murder?”

“Yeah, the guy on the right, Wescott, they say he murdered an FBI agent a couple years ago. The other guy, Palmer, murdered someone too, but, I mean, shit, an FBI agent? That’s hardcore.”

“Where’d they escape from?”

His eyes, incredibly, went even wider. “Wrightsville. It’s only, like, forty miles away from here.” He paused, considering something, and shifted on one foot so he could look past her out the front windows. “Where are you parked?”

Ashley said nothing, keeping her focus on the TV to avoid his eyes.

“I’m not trying to be creepy or anything,” he said, “it’s just that those two assholes could be anywhere.”

Ashley motioned at the tiny bag of pretzels and bottle of water. “Can I …”

“Sure, sure.” Seth nodded quickly as he started scanning the items. He paused, squinted over at the cold cases. “You know, there’s a special on this water. Two for three.”

“I just want one bottle,” Ashley said.

“But, like, you’re saving a dollar. You’re practically getting the other bottle for free.”

On the TV, they’d cut to another reporter, this one a man, stationed outside the prison. He stood bundled in a jacket, a microphone to his mouth. He said, “I’m here in Wrightsville, New York, standing outside the Wrightsville Correctional Facility where sometime last night two inmates managed to escape.”

Ashley said, “I’m okay with just the one bottle.”

Seth shook his head as if this made no sense. “But—”

“Look”—her voice taking on a hard edge—“I appreciate the thought, but it’s been a long night. I just worked a double shift. My feet are killing me. I’m exhausted. All I want to do is get home to my kid and sleep ten hours.”

For an instant, the hurt flashed in Seth’s eyes. But he blinked it away, nodded, said, “I totally understand. Hell, I can’t wait until I get home. Gonna play some Fallout and then sleep for, like, twelve hours. Anyway, that will be three forty-seven.”

She handed him a crumpled five-dollar bill.

As he made change, he asked her if she’d like a bag.

“No thanks,” she said, already collecting her items and turning toward the door.

Seth said, “Would you, um, like me to walk you to your car?”

She turned back around as she reached the door, forcing another smile. “Thanks, but I’ll be okay.”

She opened the door—that bell jangling again—and stepped out into the frigid night.

The highway was deserted except for one pair of headlights in the distance. She watched them as she walked toward the Mazda parked around the corner.

A state police car slowed almost to a stop as it drove past the gas station, not pulling in. The trooper glanced at her, at the store, then at the bank across the highway, before the car’s engine revved as it accelerated away.

Ashley stepped off the sidewalk. The Mazda was only yards away. The tiny bag of pretzels and bottle of water clamped in one hand, she used her other hand to dig into her jacket pocket for the keys. As she brought them out, a man stepped toward her, materializing from the shadows by the building.

Ashley gasped, dropping the pretzels and water, and held up her keys as if they presented some kind of protection.

The man took another step toward her and then stopped.

For a moment, there was complete silence.

Which allowed her to hear the crunch of pavement behind her as another man stepped up close and pressed the tip of a knife against her neck.

“Scream”—the new man’s breath hot on her ear—“and I’ll cut your throat.”

Books Read In 2015 And Looking Back

Wow. It's been five months since I last updated this blog. Which shouldn't be surprising, as I've been blogging less and less over the years. I mostly do my blogging now (albeit at a micro level) over on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook. 

So, looking back at the year, I only released one title, and it was really just a re-release of an old title. My zombie novel that's not a zombie novel has always been a favorite of my books, but it's never really sold well. I finally realized that its original title wasn't doing it any favors so I decided it was time to try something new. Hence calling it Land of the Dead and giving it a new cover. And, well, it shouldn't be surprising that within a year it sold about the same amount of copies the old novel did during its entire three-year run. Which of course makes me wonder just how successful the book may have been had I thought better of it and released the book under Land of the Dead in the first place ... 

So yeah, no new releases this year, but that doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I've been writing a lot, specifically on one book that was kicking my ass for a while. It doesn't help that after writing 20,000 words I realized I needed to go back and do a major revision to make the novel work. Also doesn't help that halfway through writing it I had to take a pause to revise a YA novel I wrote years ago so that my new agent could try to shop it around. It's a book that I wrote during the Hunger Games craze, so it's a dystopian YA, and it got some great feedback from publishers but ultimately it came down to the fact that dystopian has overstayed its welcome. Which of course makes me wonder what might have happened had my last agent shopped it around when I showed it to him many years ago, but his excuse had simply been that he'd never had any luck with YA books (should have fired him sooner, in retrospect). Anyway, the book really isn't a YA so much as a SF thriller that happens to have a teenager as its protagonist. Could I have released it on my own this year? Of course. But it's the first book in a trilogy and I didn't feel it would be fair to readers to release the first book in yet ANOTHER series without first finishing a current series. 

See, I think about y'all.

So the new novel is with my agent and we'll see what he thinks. Based on feedback from other pre-readers I think he's going to dig it, but you never know. Either way, as this is a standalone, it will be released at some point. 

What's coming up in 2016? A lot, hopefully. I revealed the cover to my new book to newsletter subscribers last week, and will make an official reveal next week. That book is coming in March. The rest of the year? More Holly Lin. Yes, that's right — more Holly Lin. And, of course, the third and final book of the Man of Wax trilogy WILL be written, though to be honest at this point we're realistically looking at 2017.

Finally, I didn't read as much as I'd wanted to this past year. I clocked in at over 40 books. Here are the books I read in 2015 that I enjoyed for whatever reason and which you might enjoy too. If you have any books to recommend, let me know in the comments. Have a Happy New Year!

NOVELS

  • ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (ebook)
  • SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh (hardcover)
  • DINNER WITH THE CANNIBAL SISTERS By Douglas Clegg (ebook)
  • WORLD GONE BY by Dennis Lehane (ebook)
  • BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE by Andrew Ervin (paperback ARC)
  • GHOSTMAN by Roger Hobbs (ebook)
  • SIGNAL by Patrick Lee (ebook)
  • GOD’S KINGDOM by Howard Frank Mosher (hardcover)
  • RED MOON by Benjamin Percy (ebook)
  • THE SHORT DROP by Matthew Fitzsimmons (ebook)

AUDIOBOOKS

  • UNBROKEN: A WORLD WAR II STORY OF SURVIVAL, RESILIENCE, AND REDEMPTION by Laura Hillenbrand, read Edward Herrmann
  • INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S MOST SECRETIVE RELIGION by Janet Reitman, read by Stephen Hoye
  • THE SURVIVOR by Gregg Hurwitz, read by Scott Brick
  • STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson, read by Macleod Andrews
  • FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson, read by Macleod Andrews
  • A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay, read by Joy Osmanski
  • SAVING CAPITALISM: THE NEW RULES FOR SHARED PROSPERITY by Robert Reich, read by Robert Reich
  • BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates, read by Ta-Nehisi Coates

BOOKS THAT I'M READING AND HAVEN'T FINISHED YET BUT WHICH WOULD PROBABLY MAKE THE LIST

  • ZEROVILLE by Steve Erickson (ebook)
  • HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN by James Lee Burke, read by Will Patton
  • DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch (ebook ARC, comes out mid-2016)