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It’s time to have the book cover conversation

I’ve rubbed elbows with self-published, independent-published, and even vanity-published authors on a daily basis. I’ve gone to conventions and browsed the author’s alley, and I’ve spent countless hours scouring the web for new reads. One thing influences my decision to buy more than anything else—the cover.

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Is it a vanity press?

It’s one of the most common questions for new writers who are querying their novel. “I got an offer! Is this a vanity press?” “Is this publisher legit?”

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Advance Reader Copies: What they are, why they’re important

If you’ve ever worked in a bookstore, you’ve probably seen a stack of books labeled “Not for Retail Sale” sitting in a back room for people to peruse. What you may have not realized is that these books are an important part of distribution and marketing called Advance Reader Copies. So how do you use ARCs, and why are they important?

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Sam’s FAQ for Writers who Post on Social Media Asking for Advice

I belong to a handful of social media groups that target writers of all kinds. I see a lot of the same questions posted a lot, and wanted to do my part to help answer common ones. feel free to share this post to any new writers looking for advice. But be aware: my answers are honest, and honesty is sometimes hard to hear.

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Where are the Non-binary Characters in Fiction?

Over a year ago, I started to plan my novel, The Wizards on Walnut Street. What started as an exercise in fantasy world-building and humor quickly became a major project involving diverse and interesting characters…but along the way I learned something terrible about the fiction industry.

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Wizards on Walnut is available for Pre-Order on Amazon and B&N


Dragon Street Press announced the release date of its upcoming New Adult Fantasy novel, The Wizards on Walnut Street, by Cincinnati local author Sam Swicegood.

When well-respected corporate sorcerer Tom LaFayette is murdered, his eldest child Andy moves to Cincinnati to investigate, discovering a magical society bubbling just under the surface of the mundane world. Encountering odd characters such as an Incubus barista, a knife-happy security guard, and an enchanted espresso machine, Andy uncovers a plot to overthrow the magical society’s hierarchy.

The Wizards on Walnut Street plays with fantasy tropes and juxtaposes goblins, unicorns and dragons into our modern world in a way that is both satisfying and hilarious, thanks to an expansive world and the addition of Employee Handbook footnotes throughout the book.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the Children’s Dyslexia Centers of Cincinnati. A future edition of the book will be printed in dyslexic-friendly format, with different spacing and font size to be easier to read.

This book features LGBT themes and characters, including a nonbinary main character. The book has been praised by Advance readers as “thoughtful and inclusive” of the LGBT community while not focusing on those subject specifically–instead “portraying sexuality minorities as perfectly normal, the way it should be.”

Inquiries may be directed to press@dragonstreet.press. 

The book will be available in bookstores, and online on August 8, 2018. Pre-orders are open NOW on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Wizards on Walnut St.

Recently I have been on a world-building kick. This started mostly with Cold Start and now I’ve got the LeGuinn-esque bug to build another world. But this time, unlike Cold Start, I have a desire to flesh it out character-wise, rather than focus on a sandbox for play.

One of the problems I had back when Cold Start was originally a novel was that I didn’t have a great attachment to the characters. They were just a tool to tell the details of the world, but it didn’t give any dept to the over-arching plotline I wanted to represent. That’s why I made the decision to move away from that and push into one of my particularly favorite past-times: RPGs.

But I’m a writer. I love characters, and character building. And in that I am getting back into novel-writing.

The idea of The Wizards on Walnut St. started as a short story that dealt with fantasy elements in a mundane world. Much like an antithesis of The Dresden Files, the story (at the time unofficially called Andyverse) focuses on modern, busy life in a corporate, fast-paced world and how even the most fantastic can succumb to the banal and bureaucracies of society. “What kind of paperwork would you have to file for a spell?” I wrote in my notebook one day. “How would you consult legal? What are the ramifications of mind control?”

More than that, though, I wanted to juxtapose the boring, everyday world with goblins and dragons in a way that gives everything a sense of normalcy in everyone’s eyes but the main character. Andy, the protagonist, learns of all of this bit by bit, and is constantly surprised by new things that are unexpectedly encountered: from a conference table that talks, to a weather-controlling fax machine. How does a 10,000 year old dragon fit into the modern world? What if vampires actually care about people and protect them? It’s lighthearted and ridiculous while also exploring social fabric and challenging mythologies.

Research for this project is very fun. I’m pulling stories from the British Isles, Norse mythology, Celtic mythos, and–one of my favorites–Mesopotamian deities. Remaining true to the culture is important to me, and I have been talking with several great mythology and culture experts at the University of Cincinnati for inspiration and guidance. The mood right now feels like a mix of The Office and Gunnerkrigg Court, as strange as that mixture may sound.

Keep an eye here for more info on the story, as I post excerpts, short stories, idea trees, and other material for your enjoyment.



Cold Start public alpha released!

Writing for RPGs is a longtime dream of mine, and in that vein I have spent several years developing this a project called Cold Start. It is a Sci-fi RPG centering around societal norms, technology, and personal horror.

The public alpha is now available over at DriveThruRPG.com. I highly recommend you check it out.

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