Random writing
Short Stories / April 2, 2015

I found this old piece of random writing while sifting through old paper work to purge and shred. I thought I would share this one. Sunday, June 04, 2000 7:17 AM The first thought that comes to his mind is the pain, and the blinding white light. Confused, not remembering where he is, all he knows is the white-hot pain that racks his body. Every nerve in his body is on fire. The pain fades as his mind reels and escapes back into unconscious. Though unconscious, a dream creeps slowly in. He feels large, larger than normal and yet, filled with power. He knows that he can move quickly, very quickly if need be. He can travel great distances without tiring. Turn faster than the rest. He can see vast area around him, all around him. His skin tingles with feelings that he can’t identify. There is something else, a sense that he is not alone. There is a feeling that there is someone with him, and this someone will never leave him. A feeling that someone wants to be his friend. This someone is trying to help, but having problems. He wonders what the problems are and if he can…

Book covers, what pulls a readers eye
Thoughts / March 31, 2015

Last Year I was doing a search to see how often our latest book showed up on a web search and discovered a not so nice critique. It wasn’t about the story within the book but the cover. My nose was out of joint for a short while, I put a lot of work into the cover, but, then I thought about it. If the cover was so bad as to make it to a blog about “Worst Book Covers” it needed to be changed. The idea is not to put off the reader by the cover but to invite the reader. We like to put a small blurb on the front about the book. Too much was given away on the original cover so even that had to be rewritten. Original cover                                                                                 To this As you can see there was a dramatic change. Did it make a difference in what a person picking up the book will think. I really do not know. Does a book cover really make a difference. According to many blogs, the answer is yes. My ego aside, it…

EDITORIAL REVIEW of Valley of Mystery by Georgina Parfitt
Book Reviews / January 28, 2015

     A new team forms in this installment of Aithera’s travels EDITORIAL REVIEW  Georgina Parfitt January, 29 2015 This installment of heroine Aithera’s mystical journey follows the gifted girl now as a grown woman. Having mastered the gifts that she was born with, Aithera is in a position to help others. Travelling the valley and surrounded by strange storms and forces, she comes across an old man, whose memory seems to falter but who calls himself Devon. The pair are soon joined by another waif, a young girl called Jira who seems to be developing gifts of her own, and who quickly becomes like a sister to Aithera. As these mysterious three journey to discover the missing pieces of the old man’s (strangely powerful) amulet, their backstories become increasingly intertwined… The prologue does a nice job of bringing Aithera’s history back to us, and from this point on, images and phrases of the prequel recur and orient the reader, especially as Aithera’s new companions start to appear more connected to the Kilbray estate than they first seemed. The narrative moves quickly and flits between dialogue, swathes of action, exposition, and visions. To keep the reader clearly anchored through all these…

Book Reviews / January 5, 2015

On www.towerbabel.com First in the series led by enigmatic and lovable heroine EDITORIAL REVIEW Georgina Parfitt December, 10 2014 This is the first in a series following the fate of a girl called Aithera, whose miraculous birth immediately sets her apart for an extraordinary life. Born into an important position, as the first girl child of the Kilbray estate, Aithera’s infancy is shaped by the pressure of her future marriage and the possible gifts she might inherit. The book begins with a prologue, whose distant, magical tone does a great job of raising Aithera to myth-like status. From this atmospheric beginning, the Swem pair structure and pace Aithera’s story suspensefully and romantically, every so often cleanly jumping into a new era of her life, and reminding us of time’s passing by counting her summers. In this way, Aithera’s life and the world she’s growing up into comes clear to the reader, and with an increasing sense of foreboding as she grows into a more beautiful, and more dangerous, presence. Especially effective are the passages where Aithera’s possible marriage is compared to a breeding cycle or a kind of natural selection; the recurring significance of breeding, animals, and genetic qualities keep…

New Challenge Review
Book Reviews / July 27, 2014

There is a review of Demesne’s The Challenge out on Kelly Smith’s reviews. We would like to thank Kelly for reading our book and we are very happy she enjoyed it. This what she had to say:   “Demesne: The Challenge, by S.F. and D. A. Swem is one Hell of a ride! If you’re a fan of adventure/fantasy novels, you’ll eat this up. If you’re looking for a novel to test the waters, so to speak, I highly recommend this one. It’s a unique storyline with a powerful cast of characters. The description is vivid and I found myself transported to a whole new world, forgetting that I was simply sitting in bed, reading a book. It’s also a story about courage, strength and determination. You’ll read breathlessly, hoping for Jira’s victory. Good work and compelling storytelling! 4/5–nice job!” ________________________________________________________________ Take a look at Kelly Smith Reviews blog. She has reviewed many books, she is an honest reviewer and we appreciate that she is willing to reading indy books and review them as well. We have been told by those closest to us that “The Challenge” is our best work. That an independent reviewer enjoyed the journey into the Fantasy…

A Question On How Big To Be.
Thoughts / May 17, 2014

I was asked the question, the other day. “How big (word count) should chapters be?” and this implied “How big (word count) should the story be?” Also implied would be, “How many chapters should there be?” My answer was/is, roughly, when the story is told, then you have the word count for story, chapters, and the number of chapters. My opinion is that a story should have a beginning, middle, big scene, and end. Each chapter that helps lead you in that direction should have the same, beginning, middle, big scene, end. I have read books that had some short chapters, and I think I remember, there was this one story that only had a one page chapter. Then there were stories that had chapters that could have been stand-a-lone books. I know an author that shoots for 100k for his books, not sure what his goal for chapters is. I have taken and split a large chapter into 2, since it seemed to add to the overall effect. I have also gone in and combined 2 chapters into one, again, because it seemed to add to the overall effect of the story. Of course there are probably rules for…

Welcome Robert Stanek
Thoughts / February 10, 2014

We are pleased today to welcome Robert Stanek as a guest on our blog. Robert Stanek is not only the talented author of more than 150 books for adults and children but someone who has been helping other writers ever since his first book was published in 1995. Back in the early days of the Web, Robert created Writer’s Gallery, Internet Job Center and Internet Daily News to help other writers (archives at http://www.tvpress.com). These days Robert helps other writers by hosting some terrific writers groups, by blogging about writing-related topics, and through his Read Indie tweets on twitter. On Facebook, Robert Stanek hosts one of the more popular groups for getting the word out about your promotions and free offerings. It’s called “Free Today” and you’ll find the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/freet…. On Twitter, you can tweet using the hashtag #freetoday as another way to spread the word about your promotions and freebies. Go Indie (https://www.facebook.com/groups/goindie/) is another terrific group for writers that Robert hosts on Facebook. Go Indie is a group dedicated to promoting indie authors, indie books, and indie booksellers. On Twitter, you can also use hashtag #goindie to spread the word about your books. On Goodreads.com, Robert…

Book Announcement
Thoughts , Updates / July 15, 2013

Hear ye, Hear ye, A Book Announcement is ready to be made.   We would like to announce the fourth book of the Demesne YA fantasy series “The Challenge” is now live on amazon.com and smashwords.com e-book for your favorite device.  Short synopsis of “The Challenge”    Montiack invokes the Matriarch Challenge, a deadly duel on dragon back. The first obstacle for Jira is to find a dragon from her own clan as her dragon mount. Her connection to the valley and to the crystal, and any help from her friends Aithera and Devon is forbidden by the First Matriarch, and any interference will be met by instant death. Links to this and the first three books of course can be found on our book site www.voldamar.com For more information about our books please feel free to contact Steven Swem at writers@voldamar.com We are and independent self publishing team. We hope you enjoy our stories.

The Escape
Short Stories / May 30, 2013

The Escape He was in a group of other denim jacketed teenagers, as they passed by the window of the school.  I noticed, on several occasions, that this one, tall, long armed, blond haired, youth kept taking darting glances as he passed by. Class had been over for two hours when he returns alone.  He slowly comes out of the alley just north of the school.  He steps quickly and carefully so as to not step on any of the papers or cans that littered the sidewalk, and only an occasional scuffle could be heard from his black sneakers.  Hands in pants pockets, he walks down the street.  Glancing over his shoulder from time to time, he passes by the school, without looking in the window, and stops a couple of doors away to lean against the side of the building.  Back against the wall, just outside the light from the street lamp, right leg crossed over his left, and just looking up and down the street, acting casual but checking out the area.  The shade of his faded denim cloths allowed him to blend with the shadows.  He keeps this relaxed state for a couple of minutes then moves…

Short Stories / May 24, 2013

Bully ’”Hey beaver face, my pencil needs sharpened.  Come over here and chew on it for me and make it good and sharp again.  Ha Ha Ha.” Was the sound of trouble ringing down the hall. “Ron Crum and his gang of trouble makers.”  Thinking to myself.  “Thinking they own the school.  Where’s Canary?  Ron’s not so nasty when there’s a teacher around.  What a way to start a new class.  I’m here to learn how to draw houses and now I have to put up with him.”  Trying to get some other kid between Ron and myself.  “This isn’t going to be as much fun as I thought it was.” As the bell rings, the loud mouth with the leather jacket waits by the door.  As I start to pass, he bumps me into the edge of the doorway.  My left shoulder hits the door jamb.  Knocking my books from my hands.  I inhale sharply against the pain, and try to act as if nothing has happened.  While trying to pick up the scattered papers and books, Canary looks up from his desk.  I must be beat red in the face, as I hear the snickers from the other…