About Patrice

I’ve been everything from intellectual property attorney to freelance writer to professional mezzo-soprano to mother, wife, stepmom, redhead… and all along I really wanted to be a writer. So here I am, happily writing for a living.
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The Latest

Thanks for your patience while the new website gets populated!  You’ll notice my Progress bars over to the right showing where I am on writing new stories.  I have a lot in the pipeline, and much of it is coming out soon.  It’s going to be a very productive summer! 

And don’t forget to pick up the FREE first episode in the Karma series, The Sky Used to be Blue.  It’s available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

In the meantime, fans of cozy mysteries will have fun with eFitzgerald Publishing author Jerilyn Dufresne’s new series.  The first book can be found by clicking here

Here’s the blurb:

A few minutes after he hires Samantha Darling as a therapist, Dr. Burns is murdered. Stunned by his sudden death and desperate to keep the job she just got, Sam vows to find the killer.

She has two things going for her. The first is that her brother Rob is a cop, and she figures the crime-solving thing has to be genetic. The second is that Sam is a little bit psychic—a trait she’s come to accept, though it can be inconvenient at times.

With the help of her landlord and her dog, Sam sets out to solve the murder. Along the way, she spends time with the hot new guy in town and tries NOT to spend time with her old beau.

Using her “psychic vibes,” her wit, and her charm, Sam bumbles along and finally solves the mystery, but not before going in the wrong direction more than once.

Thanks for coming by, and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to hear the latest first, and to get free stories as they come out…!  Click here to sign up. 

 

WOOL tie-in “Karma of the Silo” is available!

All five books in the Karma series have been put together into one 80,000+ word novel and are for sale as an ebook.  Click to buy Karma of the Silo now, or read on to hear about the story.  Currently available from Amazon, it will soon also be available on Nook, Apple, Kobo, and in print.

Karma of the Silo - Final Ebook Cover

Hey Patrice ~ I LOVE this story idea! You have my complete blessing.

Hugh Howey, author of WOOL

Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Outside, there is only the swirl of toxic clouds and an endless darkness broken by the rare glimpse of a faded sun or a dim star.

Slowly, Karma learns where the real power is, and how to survive in this hellish concrete cylinder. Birth, death, love, murder, uprisings and Cleanings come and go over the years, but still she carries on.

Beaten but unbowed, Karma vows to preserve her memories of life above for those who will never breathe the open air.

Praise for Patrice Fitzgerald and the Karma series

The author does a fantastic job of retaining the atmosphere and claustrophobia of life underground and the characters are carefully constructed, exploring not only the effects of Silo life on the family dynamic, but the often complex relationships between the different Silo classes through the eyes of Karma and her family as she realises who she really is and has to decide whether to remain subdued and forget her past life, or choose a different path than the one chosen for her and challenge the status quo.

Eamon Ambrose, from his website “Eamo the Geek”

Make no mistake, this is a must-read part of the WOOL saga and I consider it as vital as Howey’s three entries.  The actual tie-ins to Howey’s books are both unique in fan-literature and satisfying.   Great story, great writing, and great author.

Amazon reader

Fitzgerald has created another masterpiece here with Cleaning Up. It’s as good, if not better than, The Sky Used to be Blue. She has such an immediate style of writing which grips you from the start and takes you on a wild journey through the desperate lives of those living in the Silo.

W.J. Davies, author of The Runner and The Diver

A definite PLUS to the Wooliverse, and a must read if you want to be well-versed in all things WOOL!

Michael Bunker, author of Pennsylvania, The Silo Archipelago, and WICK

I think I’m in love with Karma. I was curious about her life when Hugh Howey mentioned her in SHIFT. I highly recommend, not just this book, but this whole series! Read them all. You won’t regret it… I can’t wait for the next/ last book!

Hanna Elizabeth, author of Visions of Wool

Fitzgerald’s characters come alive and threaten to leap off the page, they are so engaging.

Jerilyn Dufresne, author of Who Killed My Boss? Any Meat in that Soup? and the Sam Darling Mysteries

The Sky Used to be Blue manages the difficult feat of placing itself within the existing narrative, just like a missing piece of the great puzzle, and not just a parallel story or spinoff. It is well-written, gripping and filled with suspense. All the ingredients necessary are here: good writing, action and unexpected twists, characters you care about, and a deeper meaning.

Max Zaoui

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Cover Reveal for Karma of the Silo: the Collection!

Karma of the Silo - Final Ebook Cover

The entire collection of Karma stories is coming in December!

Watch this space for an announcement about the ebook that will include all five Silo stories featuring this character, who was introduced by Hugh Howey in SHIFT.  The big ebook (around 80,000 words) will be out in December, and the print version in early 2014.

I am so psyched about this exciting new cover by artist Mike Tabor.  He has created such wonderful covers for me throughout this entire series, and his art really sets them apart.

Thanks, as usual, for reading the blog, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

The Karma series is complete!

Based on characters from Hugh Howey’s world of WOOL, “Last Walk” is the fifth and final episode of the best-selling Karma series and has just been published…  Last Walk Final Re-worked

They’re fighting in the Silo— the battles are between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

In Karma’s family, there is a critical fault splitting them right down the middle. Who will toe the line and stay loyal to the head of IT, Karma’s son… and who will join his wife in supporting the resistance?

Karma herself must go further than she ever has to protect her family and to help the Silo survive. Whatever she chooses, this is the end.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of this 20,000 word ebook:

“Do you know that I’ve been on to you from the start, and not once did you pull the wool over this boy’s eyes?”

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

“Knowing the truth is always good. And better that it’s us discovering it than someone else, right?”

Hugh Howey, WOOL

1

The young people are fighting.

I see two of them, inked on the face with the colors of the Down Deep, locking bodies with two from the Up Top. It must have just started.

So much of this now, everywhere I go. In the halls, on the landings, on the great stairs. Even in the cafeteria.

A tall one with the white and silver dagger of the Up Top across his cheek is wrestling hand-to-hand with a shorter but more muscular opponent whose face bears a blue gear. I hear grunts and the sickening sound of a fist hitting bone. Something crunches and I shudder.

Where are the level guards? There are supposed to be two citizens on every floor to stop such fights. Maybe they were outmanned. I notice someone lying on the ground near the wall. Is he part of a gang or one of the guards? I can’t see his face.

The other two young men are circling each other, bloodied and purpling already with bruises they seem to relish. A grin passes between them, a moment of glory in the fight before they engage again. One of them gets perilously close to the railing.

Most onlookers rush away from the violence, eager to get out of sight and sound of the fight. Those with children push them down the hall and into the safety of home. Others are attracted to the excitement. I see men—particularly young men—and some women, watching with eager eyes to see who triumphs. Up here on seventeen, the home court advantage goes to the Daggers. The Gears sense this, and their fighting becomes more desperate.

A cheer goes up as the tall Dagger gets in a powerful blow, and the Gear is thrown against the stairs.

I gasp when the crowd whoops with encouragement. As the shorter man is lifted above the railing and balanced for a moment on the brink, his eyes catch mine and beseech me as I scream out for mercy. Others are shouting, some for, some against.

The crumpled figure near the wall lifts his head. “Don’t do it,” he croaks, but no one can hear him. I realize with a start that it’s my grandson, Abe. He tries to raise himself and I hurry over to help.

And then there is a wail—of relief? Of disappointment?—as the young man is pulled back over the edge and stands, panting, still alive.

“Get outta here, Gearheads!” the tall Dagger says. “This is our territory, and don’t forget it. Next time, I’ll throw you over.”

The crowd roars.

2

There is a sickness down here in the Silo. A sickness that has to do with stunted ambition and the frustrated need to explore… to expand. We need to go somewhere, but there is nowhere to go.

The young people feel it the most. They are exploding. Perhaps we bred too many of them in the time after the last uprising—an uprising that didn’t flare up on its own but was masterminded by Jeff, the derelict from IT—and which nevertheless left hundreds dead.

These children don’t remember that. They were all born in the aftermath. The restrictive birth lottery was halted for a few brief years, and during that period the population boomed. These are the children of that boom.

Too many teenagers, and not enough work. No military, no sports teams, no school past sixteen. Instead, they fight each other.

3

Ruth sets out the chairs in the small classroom. I put chalk on the tables in front of the slates. We still draw while we talk, giving cover for our cell meetings.

“How’s Abe?” I ask her quietly.

My daughter-in-law nods at me as she continues to arrange the seating. “Banged up, but okay. He felt terrible. He didn’t get there fast enough, he says. Someone could have died, he told me.”

“Ruth, there’s only so much he could do. It’s out of hand. Thank god he didn’t try to take on all those kids by himself.”

She stops and looks at me. “I know. I know.”

She shivers visibly and then sits beside me. “It’s worse in the Mids. There were two murders last week.”

“Oh my god. How…?”

“A Gearhead from down in Mechanical stabbed someone, and then the Dirt gang members threw him over the railing in retaliation.”

I shake my head. “Can’t the Sheriff do anything?”

Ruth runs her fingers through her dark hair, sprinkled with gray. “She’s trying. She’s added another deputy for each section, and there are the level guards… but it’s out of control.”

“Why haven’t there been any Cleanings?”

As soon as the question is out of my mouth, I am astonished. To think that Cleanings would be a good solution for anything is out of character for me. I give my daughter-in-law a rueful glance. “I can’t believe I said that.”

“I can’t believe you did either.” Ruth almost smiles, then shakes her head and goes back to arranging chairs. “We’ve got to come up with a way to channel all that frustration—all that anger.”

I nod, as the rest of the cell members begin to come into our makeshift meeting hall. “Instead of fighting each other, we need to fight against control from the top. Get them to help us with the resistance work.”

I see Ruth’s eyes cut to the door and stop talking as Celeste comes in. My lovely young granddaughter, walking the tightrope between cell membership and shadowing her father, Mars, to be the next Head of IT… a girl with great balance and a shaky future.

“Hi Mom,” she says, giving Ruth a hug as she passes by. She leans over me, taller than I ever was, and certainly much taller than I am now. “Hi Grandma.” She gives me a kiss on the forehead and plops down into one of the schoolroom chairs.

“I can’t believe how tiny these are. This whole room used to seem huge to me.”

“That’s because you were tiny when you went here, sweetheart,” I say, and squeeze her hand.

“How’s Grandpa?” she asks. Ruth looks up, awaiting my answer.

“He’s doing better,” I say. “His arm has bothered him for years, so that’s not going to change, but the headaches he was complaining about have disappeared.”

“So the doctor doesn’t think it’s… anything serious?” Ruth asks.

“Actually, the doctor says his cognitive function is good for a man of eighty-five. He says that it’s hard to believe Rick went through all that… trouble, years ago.”

“What trouble?” Celeste asks.

“Before you were born, honey,” Ruth says, before I can answer.

“Oh yes… the uprising. Dad’s told me about it.”

I raise my eyebrows at Ruth and let the conversation end as others begin to enter. But I do wonder what Mars has told his daughter about the uprising that took place before she was born. In fact, I wonder what he’s told her about everything.

Sample the book or buy “Last Walk” now and let me know what you think of the ending to this series! 

In December, I’ll release the ebook containing the entire series.  Look for Karma of the Silo: The Collection, next month.  And in early 2014, there will be a print book.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo!  National Novel Writing Month is a way to put on the jets and write the draft for the next book in one month.  Mine is tentatively titled Day Zero and will be a full-length thriller.

Congressman Burke Grant is indicted for the murder of his former intern, a beautiful young woman that he was romantically involved with, despite his rep as a family man.  No body has been found.  To avenge her death, Cleo Gunther’s law school classmates band together to prove that he’s the killer and to see justice done.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

Hugh Howey… I’ve got his back. How about you?

ImageI think somebody picked on the wrong author when they decided to target Hugh Howey.  Not because he’s rich and powerful… but because his success is totally legit, his books are tremendous, and his fans are legion.

He’s going to come out all right after this, and I hope the other deserving authors do as well.  The speed at which this has turned into a witch hunt has been mind blowing.  What might have been a reasonable discussion about what’s appropriate in Amazon reviews is now a sh*tstorm of accusations and counter-accusations.

We could, in fact, have talked about how Kirkus reviews can be bought, and are.  Or how traditional publishers pay for placement of books on the front tables and on the endcaps in bookstores.  And how the famous book review pages (I’m looking at you, New York Times) do a little “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” by assigning friendly colleagues to write the definitive reviews about another author’s books.

Further… blurbs are swapped as a matter of courtesy between well-known traditionally published writers for posting on the backs and jackets of new books.  ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) editions of manuscripts are provided (for free, of course!) so that professional reviewers can have their pieces ready before publication.  Interviews on radio, TV, online and in print are set up by P.R. mavens, and the publishers pay generously for all that.  How is that okay, but it’s an outrage if Mom mentions your self-published book to a neighbor because she’s proud, and the neighbor reads and reviews it?

The accusers (I’m not helping them by linking them here) have such a broad definition of “fake review,” I’m surprised any review passes muster with them.  Here’s their first bullet point on a list of how to identify a fake review:

  • Any review written by an author’s friends, relatives or acquaintances, especially reviews requested by the authors themselves to push up their ratings.

Of course authors request reviews!  What nonsense.  Do they think that traditionally published authors don’t ask their fans for reviews?  The difference is that they have armies of marketing people to do the selling for them, whereas an indie author has only herself.  And even if her book is brilliant, if it doesn’t get that first review, or ten, it will never get seen and bought.

Everybody knows that I’m a fan of Hugh Howey.  I read his books, I review his books, for goodness sakes, I write books set in the WOOLiverse.  All of which has come to pass because… I LOVE his books!  I love his books like I love Pride and Prejudice, which I’ve read about twenty times through my life.  I love his books like I love Bel Canto, which was so extraordinary it led me to my soulmate.  I love his books so much I dreamed up a story about one of the characters he referenced, and I’m fleshing out the details of her life.  And yes, Karma fans, I am going back to writing the fifth and final book as soon as I finish this post!

Here’s the 5-star review I wrote about WOOL back in May of 2012, waaaay before I imagined meeting Hugh in person or writing books about his characters.  It’s pretty cool to read it and see how quickly knew that he was the real deal:

Awesome. Simply, incredibly, awesome.

May 25, 2012

 

This review is from: Wool – Part One (Kindle Edition)

I heard about WOOL last week, and got around to downloading this first book a couple of nights ago. Immediately upon finishing the first one, I sprung for the omnibus edition with all the books.

Hugh Howey brings us an extraordinary tale of an imagined world peopled with characters who tell, layer upon layer, the story of the silo they live in. This is a book that makes writers like me say, “Wish I had written that!” His ability to sustain suspense, use different viewpoints, and compel the reader to keep reading is masterful.

In fact, WOOL and the ensuing books constitute a mystery as much as anything else. What really happened? What is outside? And who is in control?

No spoilers here… because I want you to have the fun of discovering the answers for yourself. I just finished the third book and I’m about to dive into the fourth. I just had to take a break for a moment to come here and tell you how awesome WOOL is!

Read this book and thank the folks at KDP who have made it possible for writers like Hugh Howey to share their gifts of imagination with the rest of us. He deserves every bit of success he has found.

P.S. I hope Ridley Scott does make the movie…

So.  That’s what I thought when I was brand new to this author and he had done nothing but write a good book to surprise and delight me into jumping on my laptop and sharing the thrill in discovering WOOL with other readers.  I received no compensation for the review, or any review, then or now.

I feel sorry for the anger and vitriol in the hearts of those who started this witch hunt.  I don’t know who they are or why they thought this was a good use of their time.  Oh… I do notice that they claim to have a “preliminary publishing agreement” for a book deal now.  A profit motive?  How surprising.  I also noticed they are shameless enough to link to Hugh Howey’s very popular blog in order to troll for more readers.

Here’s a tip for those folks who are publishing private business communications on a blog: Get a lawyer.  I note the statement, “Our posts are not meant to defame, harass or personally attack any individual or company.”  Methinks they protest… not only too much but without effect.  Saying you’re not liable doesn’t make it so.

My name is Patrice Fitzgerald.  What’s your name?  If you haven’t got the cojones to use it, perhaps you shouldn’t be naming others.

My name is Patrice Fitzgerald and I am a fan and a friend of Hugh Howey.  I’ve got his back, along with literally a million other readers, all over the world.  And I think you picked on the wrong author.

 

The (Twenty)Five-Year Self-Publishing Phenomenal Success Plan

PMF 9 14 13 RezEasy!  Here’s how you find overnight success as a self-publisher…

1.  Write the first three chapters of your brand new soon-to-be-bestselling legal thriller and send a query letter via FedEx to John Grisham’s agent.  Get a phone call back the next day.  Have a new agent in the office ask you to send along the entire manuscript.  Tell her you’ve only got three chapters.

2.  Tell a friend in Manhattan who tells a friend who’s a book agent who tells a friend who buys books for TV.  Have that person want your manuscript for a TV movie, meet with you in NYC, tell you as soon as you finish and get a publisher she’ll make the deal.  Have her mention a six-figure payday.

3.  Start thinking about your fabulous new life and what you’ll do with all that money.

4.  Go back and take a year to write the book, sending Grisham agent chapters along the way that she files and doesn’t look at.

5.  Finally send her entire book and start staring at the phone.

6.  Be on a cruise when a letter arrives from her.  Call and have your Dad (staying with the kids) read it.  Have it be crushingly dismissive.

7.  Be discouraged for a couple of years.  Have life intervene.

8.  Write a political thriller that you plot out with savvy writing group pals.  Finish in six months.  Send out query letters to agents.

9.  Have some ask for chapters, some ask for entire manuscript.  Have one call you and say she stayed up late reading it and loves it.

10. Be amazed and wait for a fantastic offer.

11. Have her call the next day and say her fellow agent asked her not to take it on because the bad guy is African-American.

12. Write a sample for another book for her.

13. Have her send that out to publishers, who either don’t get it or think it’s a joke.

14. Be discouraged for a couple of years.

15. Rework political thriller over and over.  Learn to write better.  Change the bad guy’s complexion.  Make the other candidate female.  Send it out sporadically.  Become really excellent at query letter writing.

16. Write a young people’s fantasy and lots of short stories.  Contemplate other plots.  Do freelance writing for magazines and eventually online.

17. When people ask you when your book will be published, shrug and smile.  When they suggest self-publishing, tell them it’s death to a “real” writer.  Stay discouraged.

18. Read about Amanda Hocking.  Read Joe Konrath.  Read David Gaughran.

19. Do one last pass through political thriller.  Get a professional to do the cover.  Pay someone to edit.  Hold your breath and…

20. Spend the long Fourth of July weekend in 2011 learning to format and upload the book, with the help of your mostly patient IT-wise husband who has a PC.  Argue about italics.  Stress out.  Get it up with KDP, finally.  Stay married.  Become an indie on Independence Day!

21. Sell a few books.  Tell friends.  Be thrilled at reviews from strangers.  Be happy to sell 35 books the first month, then 20, then 10, then…

22. Jump into KDP Select free days when that’s brand new, at the end of 2011.  Be amazed as the counter on the “sales” page clicks every few minutes.  Give away 8,500 on the first day.  Catapult to something like #120 on the paid bestseller list the next day, because giveaways count as sales, and be too green to look and get a screenshot.  Get on Movers and Shakers list twice, and miss it because you don’t know what that means.

23. Make $6,000 the last week of December, 2011, and prepare to be rich.

24. Watch as sales drop slowly from that date until the summer of 2012.  Goose book with occasional free days, with less and less effect.

25. Publish thriller in print in summer of 2012.  Sell few, but enjoy the beauty of holding the book in your hand.

26. Read a short story called WOOL around the same time.  Read the Omnibus.  Read First Shift when it comes out.  Notice that someone else is writing Silo stories for money in the spring of 2013.

27. Become fascinated with following a loose thread in the WOOL saga yourself.  Contemplate writing “fan fiction,” never having read or written fan fiction.  Email author Hugh Howey and tell him about your Silo story.

28. Have WOOLmeister Hugh Howey tell you he LOVES your story, and go ahead and publish the first segment of the Karma series.  Note that even 99¢ ebooks make money when you sell two thousand in your first month.

29. Write and publish the second, the third, and the fourth books in the series.  Make a reliable four figures a month.  Get nervous and balk at writing the fifth.  Worry that the ending won’t live up to your fans’ expectations.  Write it anyway.

30. Come up with more Silo stories than you have time to write.  Decide not to spend your whole life writing ebooks set in the WOOLiverse, tempting as it might be.  Start plotting a new sci-fi dystopian series of your own.

31. Concoct your recipe for keeping on keeping on, and plan to find that amazing writing-for-a-living success in… about four more years, after doing a lot more of this:

Write for joy.

Write for yourself.

Write for fun.

Write quickly.

Write a lot.

Write short.

Write and publish and forget about it.

Write as though you are already the successful author you will be.

Remember that success is not about the money. 

It’s about the amazement of taking what’s in your wild and unpredictable imagination and sharing it with others.  

It’s about living in a time when we can get our words out to the entire world for virtually nothing. 

It’s about the joy of creating something that never existed before.

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Sneak Peek from Karma #5 – LAST WALK

Here is a little taste from the beginning of the fifth and final part of the Karma series.  I’m so excited about the ending to this story! 

It should be available within the first half of October.  After that, I’ll put the entire series together under the title “Karma, Collected,” and publish it in print as well as electronically. 

Get ready for the final word on just what happened to this character who fell off the page… until now.

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
Aldous Huxley

1

“I want to go out.”  I am calm as I say it, standing just outside the Sheriff’s office, looking her in the eye. 

I know that I am on camera, but there seems no need for drama, since the very act of speaking those words renders my sentence final.  As I repeat the statement, I feel a certain peace.  The peace of completion.

“I want to go Outside,” I say, and I remember my old friend Andy, whose innocent attempt to explore the world we once knew earned him death, eternally visible on the wallscreen.  If I turn around and go into the teeming cafeteria, I will still see the remains of his body lying dessicated on the lifeless ground.

People have gathered around us, listening and watching.  There are quiet murmurings and shocked intakes of breath. 

I see the pain on the Sheriff’s face.  She is a good woman, and she will not be happy to escort me to my certain death. 

There is no pain for me.  Only sweet serenity, and anticipation.  Finally, I am completing the circle that began when Grace, decades ago, took my place and went out to Clean in my stead.  She told me then that it was not yet my time.  But now it is.

Let them think the old woman has gone mad.  Even a madwoman must be sent out to Clean, according to the rules.

And they always follow the rules.

I laugh, and turn to face the gathered crowd.  I say it again, for the power, the freedom, the simplicity.  The wonder.

“I want to go Outside.” 

 

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Karma #5 – LAST WALK cover reveal!

 

 

Another fantastic cover from Mike Tabor.  Last Walk Final Re-worked

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Hugh Howey talks about DUST, WOOL, and Spectacular Self-Publishing Success

Hugh-Howey1I asked Hugh Howey, self-publishing pioneer and author of the bestselling dystopian trilogy that starts with WOOL, to join me for an interview.  The final book in his Silo Saga, DUST, was released just two weeks ago…completing the adventure for fans of this instant classic.  He spoke to me just before that release.

Patrice:  So you’ve gotten a million questions around the topic “how does it feel to be a big name author?”  But, practically speaking, how has it changed you as a writer… or has it… to know that your next book, DUST, has been preordered in the thousands–I’m guessing–and is being highly anticipated by fans?  Does that spur you on or keep you up at night?  And do you get better tables at restaurants?  Recognized on the street?  Hounded by book groupies?  Tell the truth!

Hugh:  Ha! Recognized on the street! I’m not one of those authors like Harlan Coben whose face takes up the entire back jacket of his hardbacks. Which is a good thing. For all of us.

I don’t think about the pressure of a vast audience. I write the stories I care about. If I was going to succumb to pressure, I would have written WOOL 6 and 7 and 8. Instead, I left my bestselling novel on an island and wrote something way off in left field. And then I did very little to promote this new work. I don’t put links at the end of my books to urge people to purchase the next one. I just convince myself that I’m still writing for an audience of none, enjoy what I’m doing, and publish as quietly as possible.

Patrice:  You’re a little bit controversial for your outspoken views about self-publishing.  Clearly, 99.9% of writers of any stripe will not reach the level of success you’ve had with WOOL.  Yet, you maintain that there is little downside to jumping in and publishing one’s own book.  Do you believe that everyone is better off doing that first?

Hugh:  Yes, and I’ve been very careful to distance my anecdotal and outlying success with the reasons I give for self-publishing. I made a conscious decision to self-publish my second novel, despite having a contract and offer from a small press. Before WOOL took off, I was posting on writing forums that we are better off owning our material for all of time, that these works will never go out of print, and that going directly to the reader is better than applying to editors and their slush pile shovelers. I was mocked for this philosophy. When I suggested that agents would one day approach self-published authors, I was told I was crazy. Maybe this is why I look up to Joe so much. He shows us every day that logic trumps experience. The people who tell you that they have twenty years of experience in this industry? Back away from them slowly. This business is changing too fast for any of us to pretend to be experts.

As for the 99.9% who won’t see my level of success, I would point out that 99.9% of those who submit material to the traditional machine will never see a similar level of success. It isn’t like our option is to self-publish OR see how well our novel does fronted out on an endcap in a bookstore. Our options are to self-publish OR spend a few years landing an agent, another year selling the book to a publisher, a year waiting for that book to come out, and then three months spine-out on dwindling bookshelves before you are out of print and nobody cares about you anymore. If you’re lucky. Most likely, you’ll never even get an agent. Because you aren’t Snooki.

Patrice:  You have a traditional print publishing deal with Simon & Schuster in the U.S. and Random House in the U.K., as well as publishing arrangements in twenty-something other countries for translated versions.  Yet you still publish your own ebooks and sell print copies to fans out of your house, at least for the U.S. editions.  Did that take some fancy contract drafting?  Or did you just say, “I want to keep doing what I’m already doing successfully” and they rolled over and said, “Okay, Hugh Howey, but only for you…” ?   

Hugh:  It takes a whole lot of not caring to get away with what I do. It takes that, and it takes an incredible and tolerant agent like Kristin Nelson. We’ve been in contract negotiations, and someone will put forward a clause that runs counter to my publishing philosophy, and we’ll both just say that it’s a deal-breaker. We’ve walked away from multiple seven-figure deals without breaking a sweat. It helps when you’re totally fine doing things your own way. I still self-publish everything I write from the get-go. If anyone wants to make an offer afterward, I’m always open. I love having those discussions. But as soon as the deal doesn’t make sense for the reader (like higher e-book prices, windowing, limiting the number of works I can publish), the deal is off. My attitude is that publishers need writers far more than writers need publishers. If we can work together, awesome. But the days of dictating unfair deals to us are dwindling, and fast.

My success has largely come from putting the reader first, and that’s what I demand from any publisher I work with. Simon & Schuster and Random House UK have both demonstrated to me over and over again that they care about the reader. S&S agreed to a simultaneous paperback and hardback release. Who does that? Random House UK did a paper-on-board hardback for under ten pounds. They’ve done some incredible giveaways, and they allowed readers in on the process with some awesome contests, all the sorts of things I think publishers should do more of. It’s why I love working with both of these houses. And I love that they tolerate me doing the things I enjoy doing.

Patrice:  You’ve taken the unusual step of allowing others to write and charge for books set in your world, otherwise known as the “WOOLiverse.”  [Full disclosure:  I'm one of them.  I've published the four books in the Karma series, including The Sky Used to be Blue, Cleaning Up, Deep Justice, and Rising Up, as well as my newest Kindle Worlds short story, SILO SECRETS:  Daniel.]  Why are you doing this?  Aren’t there risks?   

Hugh:  It doesn’t occur to me not to allow this. Someone asked if they could write in my world. Who would I be to tell them no? I value freedom above all else. I value creativity, art, and artists. I can’t imagine telling someone that they aren’t allowed to write about my characters. All I feel is flattered and honored by the suggestion. And I can’t imagine asking someone to give away their hard work. I believe artists should get paid if at all possible. As foreign as my stance is to others, any other stance would be foreign to me.

Are there risks? I don’t see any. I have one more work coming out in this universe, and then I leave it to others. The greatest thing that has happened to me in the past few years has been the opportunity to connect directly with so many readers. The second-greatest thing has been seeing talented writers such as yourself connect with those same readers! Contrary to what many writers seem to think, we aren’t in competition with one another. We need each other. If someone can write in my world and entice readers away to their own works, I’ll cheer them on until I’m hoarse.

Patrice:  Amazon’s newly-launched Kindle Worlds programs makes formal the arrangement you’ve already had with some other writers to allow them to jump into the WOOLiverse and write “Silo stories.”  How do you see this as different from what is already happening, and what new opportunities do you think this program will bring to writers and fans?  

Hugh:  My hope is that Kindle Worlds will give these stories greater exposure. There is so much room for exploration in the Silo Saga. I can’t possibly cover it all. And fans have shown an incredible thirst for more adventures.

The most exciting prospect is that dabbling in a beloved world will turn readers into writers. There’s a misconception out there that fan fiction is lazy. The truth is that the world building is the easiest aspect of writing. The challenging bit is the plot, the dialog, the believable characters, the twists and turns and satisfying conclusion. If coming up with the world was the difficult part, it would be easy for anyone to write a story in the world we live in and know, or a story set in historical times. Fan fiction provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to discover their own talents and hopefully graduate to their own works. And the more people we have writing, the larger the pool of talent, the better this industry is for everyone.

Patrice:  Okay… advice to writers time.  What would you tell someone reading this who has an idea, or a book, and wants to get eyeballs on his or her words as quickly as possible.

Start with the first sentence. Make it so incredibly compelling that readers have to read the next sentence to see what happens next. Repeat until you reach the end of the story.

Possible first sentences:

Losing my virginity to a ninja was not what I had in mind on my eighteenth birthday.

I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to kill a man, and now I know.

If you are reading this, you have exactly three days left to live, and I am already dead.

Maybe those aren’t the best examples, but I put all of two minutes into coming up with them. I’m already thinking of the books I would write to go along with these openings. I think I could entice readers to stick with me for a page or two. If I can do that, I can give these lines away in a Tweet or a Facebook status and gain a reader. I could give the first pages or even an entire book away and trust that they’ll tell others or come back for more.

The misconception out there is that writing requires a mastery of language, but nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t need perfect prose to launch a writing career; we need entertaining storytelling. Story is king and prose is pawn. Knock readers’ socks off. Shock them. Wow them. Give away your work and wow them some more. Basically: Ninjas + Sex, and you can’t go wrong.

Patrice:  And what about that movie deal… are you and Ridley Scott buds now?  

Hugh:  I wish! Ridley enjoyed my work and is pretty sure that he can make a mediocre book into an amazing film. And I hope he’s right. I get asked all the time how much involvement I would have in the film, and the answer is that I don’t want any part of the project. I would just hamper the development. The producers were kind enough to fly me out to Hollywood to meet the screenwriter and go over some ideas, and that was more than I asked for. Nothing will change the book I wrote. That’s the part I can control. I’d rather stay out of the way and be surprised by what they come up with.

Patrice:  Now that all your wildest writing dreams have come true, what do you still wish for, Hugh?  

Hugh:  For Ridley Scott to be my bud, obviously. 

Also, to be able to come up with something to write tomorrow. And the next day. Because it still feels like magic and something I’m not capable of. I feel like I’m bumbling along and faking it most of the time. I hope I can keep faking it. Because it’s fun to look back at the things I write that feel a whole lot smarter than I know myself to be.

Patrice:  Many thanks to Hugh for answering my questions, and to Joe Konrath, whose invitation to guest bloggers inspired this post, which originally appeared on his website.  I’m watching the phenomenon that is WOOL continue to spread around the world, and I’m thrilled that I was invited to play in Hugh Howey’s universe. 

If you haven’t read them, grab WOOL and SHIFT and DUST and enjoy! And then if you crave more, check out my Karma series, set in the same entertainingly chilling future.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

My Summer Splash Blog Hop contest winners are Tara Woods and Kimberly Mayberry!

Ta da!  Announcing the winners of the Summer Splash Blog Hop contest on my site…

Tara Woods

and

Kimberly Mayberry 

Kimberly, I know how to get in touch with you, but Tara, I’ll need some help finding.  Can anyone clue me in on where to find her?

It’s time to claim your prizes.  And here’s the fun part… you get to choose!  Here are the possibilities:

1. A $15 Amazon gift certificate.

2. A signed print copy of RUNNING, my bestselling political thriller.

3. Electronic copies of all the bestselling Karma books based in Hugh Howey’s world of WOOL (there are four out so far, and I’ll gift you the fifth and final one when it’s released).

4. A kind but honest critique of the first fifteen pages of your work in progress.

Or… drumroll please

5. My personal custom help and advice in terms of getting your own indie ebook ready for publication.  I’ve got 18 ebooks out now, written by me and by others, so I’ve got a lot of experience!

So let me know what you choose from that list.

Thanks to all who stopped (hopped) by!  It was great fun to have a chance to say hello.

Working on “Silo Secrets: Daniel” for Kindle Worlds!

I’m nearly done with a brand new and very short story (just over 5,000 words) set in the Silo, but having nothing to do with Karma!  I’m putting it up in Kindle Worlds, which is an intriguing new feature from Amazon allowing writers to publish stories based on well-known TV shows and best-selling books.

I plan to make Silo Secrets: Daniel available for sale sometime next week.  And here is the fabulous cover, designed by the talented cover artist (and author) Jason Gurley, of Greatfall fame:

Silo Secrets Daniel Cover

I’ll let you know when it goes live… I have to finish it first!  And if you can write a review, I would be very grateful.

Kindle Worlds is just getting started, but it is showing great promise and affording yet another opportunity for writers.  If you’re into Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars… well, let me go grab it from the Kindle Worlds site, so you can see exactly what the possibilities are for both readers and writers:

“Welcome to Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries; Valiant Entertainment for Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and X-O Manowar; Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga; Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels; Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series; and The Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Eric Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, and Cooper Moo. Licenses for more Worlds are on the way.”

And here’s the brand new page for the “Silo Saga” on Kindle Worlds.

I’m looking forward to dipping my toe into Kindle Worlds and seeing what happens.  Do check out all the other books there, including stories by Jason Gurley, Michael Bunker, David Adams, Fredric Shernoff, Nocomus Columbus, Will Swardstrom, and Thomas Robins.  Great stuff!

I appreciate all the folks who came by for the Summer Blog Hop.  Prize winners will be announced soon.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

Summer Splash Blog Hop happening now!

2013 Blog Hop Logo

Join us for a very cool Blog Hop featuring indie writers of all genres.  You can win serious prizes… including a brand new Kindle Fire 8.9 HD… and find some great new books by fabulous writers.  Here’s how it works:

First, post a comment here to get entered for my individual contest.  I’ll put all the names of those who comment in a hat and draw two out.  The best part is that you get to choose your prize!  Here are the possibilities:

1. A $15 Amazon gift certificate.

2. A signed print copy of RUNNING, my bestselling political thriller.

3. Electronic copies of all the bestselling Karma books based in Hugh Howey’s world of WOOL (there are four out so far, and I’ll gift you the fifth and final one when it’s released).

4. A kind but honest critique of the first fifteen pages of your work in progress.

Or… drumroll please

5. My personal custom help and advice in terms of getting your own indie ebook ready for publication.  I’ve got 18 ebooks out now, written by me and by others, so I’ve got a lot of experience!

You choose.  Two people will win.

But there are even bigger prizes to be won by clicking here for Summer Splash Blog Hop central.  (Detailed list of prizes at the end of this post.) And if you go to all the blogs listed, you have a pretty serious chance of winning something.

Jump in!  The water’s fine!

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered in my contest.

While you’re here, consider picking up a copy of RUNNING, which was just named a “Best Book of the Month” by Amazon.

running_thumbnail-color

Action, suspense, romance, laughs, and just enough sex… a campaign you’ll never forget. The political thriller with heart.

THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN…

Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against opposition candidate Jerusha Hutchins, former stewardess and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party. But with political wunderkind Zane Zarillo running her campaign, Catherine is bound to hold her lead.

Suddenly a medical emergency puts the President in the hospital and forces Catherine to act in his place… a perfect opportunity for her to show her Oval Office stuff. Just when her election looks like a sure thing, Catherine’s romantic fling from decades ago comes to light. Will the American public accept a woman with a past?

“Rating: 5.5 out of 5 Stars – Top Pick.”
Underground Book Reviews

60,000+ copies downloaded so far.
71 Amazon reviews, 4.3 star rating.

And if that’s not enough, check out my four ebook shorts that make up the Karma series!  Just look at the post below this to find links.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

 

  Here are the details on the 2013 Summer Splash Blog Hop, brought to you by the writers of Indie Writers Unite.  Find all kinds of swag to be won as well as some amazing grand prizes (see below for grand prize information)

Each writer will be hosting his or her own giveaway on the individual blogs and offering unique prizes in addition to the grand prizes.  Click HERE to start hopping the author pages.

 

Want a teaser of some of the items up for grabs on the author pages? Click HERE

 

 As the for the grand prizes, there are 6.  What are they?

 

#1 Kindle Fire 8.9 HD

 

 

 

#2 $100 Amazon Gift Card

#3 $50 Amazon Gift Card

#4 15 paperbacks personally signed by our authors

#5 38 Ebooks gifted to you from our authors

#6 38 eBooks (yep, we’re doing this not once, but twice)!

HOW TO ENTER FOR GRAND PRIZES 1-3

TWEET USING THE HASHTAG  #splashwithus

It’s that simple. We’ll keep track of all the tweets and then draw for the grand-prize winners at the end of the hop. Winners will be announced on or before July 31st on this site. 

RULES: 
 
Tweets MUST include:

1. The hashtag #splashwithus (This is how we track them)
2. A link to the blog hop.

You may tweet as much as you like throughout the hop. 

More Tweets = More Chances to WIN!!!

***As a side note, our authors will be tweeting about the hop as well, but they are not eligible for any of the grand prizes.***

Here are some sample tweets you can cut/paste:

WIN a $300 Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards & more at the #bloghophttp://ow.ly/nfebP #giveaway #win #freekindle #splashwithus #amreading

WIN FREE SWAG at the author #bloghop http://ow.ly/nfeChprizes include a kindle fire! #freekindle #free #giveaway #win #splashwithus 

ENTER TO WIN A KINDLE FIRE at the author blog hophttp://ow.ly/nfeRZ #kindlefree #free #lovebooks #win #giveaway #splashwithus #win

WIN BIG at the author blog hop. More than 50 prizes including a kindle fire HD! http://ow.ly/nffyV #kindlefire #amwriting #splashwithus

HOW TO ENTER FOR GRAND PRIZES 4-6

To enter to win the free signed paperback books and the free books for your kindle, you MUST visit every single author blog hop page and enter whatever contest/giveaway they are running.  Once you’ve visited them all, send an email HERE, with the subject line: FREE BOOKS. 

***NOW GET HOPPING 
AMAZING AUTHOR GIVEAWAYS AWAIT YOU!!!***

Meet the WOOLwrights

Jason Gurley, author of Greatfall, has put together an interesting article on Medium.com about all the folks who write stories set in or around the WOOLiverse.  The piece includes commentary by Hugh Howey and a number of other writers, including me, about “fan fiction,” the future of this growing franchise and the new program by Amazon known as Kindle Worlds, which is expected to launch within a few weeks.  WOOL has been added as one of the properties in which others will officially be allowed to write and sell books, and those of us who have already been writing Silo stories — which have sold an incredible 30,000 copies combined as of last week — are watching this development with great anticipation.

I urge you to check the article out and let me know what you think about fan fiction as well as Amazon’s plans.

In the meantime… look for Karma #4, Rising Up, by this weekend.  w00t!  Or as we like to say, w00L!  If you haven’t read the first three in the series, here they are, in order:

Karma #1, The Sky Used to be Blue

Karma #2, Cleaning Up

Karma #3, Deep Justice

I’m out of the country for a good bit of July, so the fifth and final book in the Karma series, Last Walk, may not be released until later in the summer.  I’ll be watching to see how the Kindle Worlds announcement impacts the possibilities for that book and for the compilation of all the Karma stories into one big novel… whose title I keep messing with, but which I’m currently calling Karma, Complete.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

Sneak Preview Karma #4 – Rising Up

Rising Up - EBook Cover Art

“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.”
Aldous Huxley

            1

I stand looking at the gore on my hands, the endless blood sliding out from the man that was Jeff pooling under my feet, dank, metallic, slippery. 

What have I done?

 “Karma.”  I hear my name called as if from another country. 

 “Karma.”  It comes again, faint but louder.  Rick is sitting up on the cot, his pillow on the floor, his body sucking in great draughts of breath while the tendons in his neck stand out.  He is trembling.

Mars races into our sleeping area from the server room.  He flips a switch and throws blinding whiteness across the body, the grue, the killer standing there with her arms covered with blood.

That would be me.

I am the killer. 

2

Mars wants to get out of here right away.  He is pacing the floor, eager to leave this thirty-fifth level hell immediately.

 Rick and I say we need to talk while we have privacy.  We need to come up with a plan, agree on a story, and figure out what to say when we emerge.

 So we’re talking.  But we’re talking fast.

“I’ll turn myself in,” I say.  “To Sheriff Aponte.”

“No,” Rick says.  “They’ll put you out to Clean.” 

He reaches across the small table in the sleeping area we carved out for ourselves.  His arm touches mine.  I am still getting used to his new way of caring.

 I look at him, in part because I am amazed at his kindness and concern.  But in part because I don’t want to look at the large sheet-covered mass on the floor.  The sheet is stained with blood and already stinks of death. 

 Mars stops his pacing.  “Dad.  We have to get the body—Jeff—taken care of.  At least put him in a bag.  It will take both of us.”

 Rick nods and stands up.  He is stronger now, but his arm is still weak. 

 “I’ll help,” I say.

“We can handle it,” Mars says, heading off to the storage room where I assume there are extra body bags. 

“I killed the man.  I’ll help take care of his body.”  I look at the sheet.  The lump that used to be Jeff.

 

Rising Up will be available through KDP Select by July 1.  Please sign up here if you want to be the first to know about new titles! 

RISING UP coming right up!

I’m excited to announce that Karma #4, RISING UP, is going to be available for purchase by July 1 (and maybe even earlier).  I just wrote “The End” on the draft, and now I do some rewriting and then send it out for formatting.  Watch this space next week for a sneak preview!

And here is the cover… ta da!

Rising Up - EBook Cover Art

Third Part of Karma Series – DEEP JUSTICE – out now!

Deep Justice - EBook Cover Art

I’m thrilled to announce that Deep Justice, #3 in the Karma series, is available as of last night.  And it’s flying up the charts already, joining my first Silo story The Sky Used to be Blue, and my second, Cleaning Up.  Be prepared… this one has a lot of action.  We see a side of Karma never encountered before.

It is an amazing time to be a writer!  If anyone reading this is thinking about writing, DO IT.  It’s never been easier and more accessible to the average (poor) person.  I’ll be adding another blog post about self-publishing soon.  Watch this space.

And as to the Karma series… there are two more parts to come!  If you’d like to be notified the minute they are released (or even before) please give me your email address here, and I’ll let you know.  No worries that I will abuse your trust.

Thanks to all who are following this series.  I continue to be humbled by the enthusiastic response to my stories, and always grateful to Hugh Howey and his WOOL books.

“Deep Justice” – Karma series #3 Sneak Peek!

“… most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”  ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Deputy Herring stands up and offers me her chair when I arrive in the office.  I shake my head no but give her a polite smile.

Sheriff Aponte doesn’t get up.  He’s speaking into the radio.  “Right.  Judge Brewer has joined us.” 

Static fills the room as he takes his finger off the speaker button.  I’m well aware that his statement could mean he was cautioning those in radio communication that a judge, and the wife of the Head of IT, was now in the room.  Or perhaps he was just being polite by introducing me.  Either way, whoever was on the other end knew I was in here now. 

Aponte turns to me while he turns the radio crackle down.  “So here’s what we know.  It looks like Mechanical was trying to build a bomb of some sort, and it exploded prematurely.  Probably saved some lives that it happened this way.  Now we know what they’re up to.”  He stopped, apparently remembering where he’d been.  “Sorry it spoiled your son’s wedding.”

I shrugged, acknowledging it as being of minor importance.  “Any deaths?”

“No, remarkably.”  He put on his glasses and pushed his sandy hair back with a hand.  The man needed a haircut, I saw.  Probably because he didn’t have a wife.  Rumor was that he and the Deputy were sweet on each other.  I could see that on his side.  She was a smart cookie, and not bad to look at for a woman who spent her time trying to be scary enough to get compliance from men twice her size.  And they were about the same age—mid-thirties.  Older than most who got married.  Typically the young people would jump in by twenty or before… it was the only way to get your own place and be able to have sex.  At least that was the official rule.

But Deputy Herring was a catch, and Sheriff Aponte was not a pleasant man, as far as I was concerned.  I look at her looking at him, and can see that she feels differently.

Aponte looks down at his notes, apparently scribbled while he was getting a radio report from the Deputy Sheriff closest to Mechanical. 

“Deputy Lincoln says a few shrapnel wounds and some injuries from the force of the impact throwing people against walls, as you’d expect.  But no deaths.  They were lucky.”

I see Herring nod, her blonde curls bobbing as she agreed.  Admiration shines in her eyes.  Too much time spent alone together in this office, I figure.  He was probably the only man she knew well enough to develop a crush on.

“So what’s the plan?” I ask.  What indeed?  Mechanical might as well have declared war, since their attempt to build the bomb certainly telegraphed their intentions.

“Deputy Lincoln is on the scene now, and the Security people IT loaned him are making their way down from 34 to the Down Deep lickety spittle.”  Aponte takes off his glasses and looks at me.  “They’ll have… the necessary equipment.”

I shudder, then repress it.  Guns is what they would have, as I well knew.  Rick kept me completely in the dark about his doings in IT—protecting me, probably, as much as anything else—but I knew they had guns and plenty of other means of controlling the population.  There had been enough minor skirmishes in the 25 years we’d been underground for me to know that his department was equipped to put down any serious attempts at overthrowing the power structure.

Of course, there hadn’t been any organized attempts.  Until, perhaps, now.

The radio crackles to life again, and Aponte turns the volume up.

“IT has sent most of its Security forces down, so we’ll find out what was brewing.”  The hiss and crackle fill a space between words as the voice of Deputy from the Down Deep pauses.  “Whatever is going on in Mechanical is gonna stop way before it gets to you.”

I look up, catching the eye of Aponte, and I see that he looks eager.  Even the law is itching for a fight.

 

2,000 Ebooks Sold in the First Month!

Here’s a thank you to all of you who read “The Sky Used to be Blue”! I made a video for you, kazoo and all.  And if you wonder what I’m talking about when I mention that the picture behind me is backward (and it’s not), that’s because a friend flipped the vid for me!  So now the cover makes sense, but I don’t.  Oh well!

However, it was a very good hair day, so…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXkrtRPpujw

Thanks for buying, thanks for reading, thanks for telling your friends, and thanks for reviewing!

 

 

Self-Publishing? Step on the GAASS!

If you want to write, you should write the stories that are in your heart. Follow your bliss, tell your truths… yadda yadda. But if you want to make a living at writing, there are some techniques that will increase your chances of making an early profit, thus putting you in a position to follow your bliss and write the stories that are in your heart.

Herewith, Patrice’s advice on how to make money–as of the indie ebook world in the spring of 2013:

The writer, getting ready to step on the GAASS.

The writer, getting ready to step on the GAASS.

Write GENRE
Write AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Write AS FAST AS POSSIBLE
Write SHORT
Write SERIES

Personally, I have many different interests, and I’m currently concocting ebooks in lots of different genres, including science fiction/fantasy, political thrillers, chick lit, cozy mysteries, and funky short stories. So I don’t mind concentrating on what works best, i.e., gets me more readers, first.

GENRE – Romance, chick lit, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, are the easiest sells. I think that’s the current order of popularity. Not that you can’t write the great American literary novel. But perhaps try something hotter first.

AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – This means that if you have a book out that hits big, and you have nothing to sell other than that, you waste a golden opportunity to convert readers to fans. They read the one, think it’s great, and have nothing else to buy… and nothing else to hook them in to you as an author. When you get the next book out a year later, they have moved on to other authors, and have bought their entire oeuvres. That could have been you! (Trad publishers, take note–one book every year or two is not making it any more for readers.) Of course you have to start with your first book. Just keep writing. Don’t wait to see if self-publishing is for you. It won’t be for you if you only write one book. I made that mistake. I had a phenomenal selling streak with my political thriller RUNNING in the hot days around Christmas of 2011 (eons ago in self-pub time). For about a minute I made $6,000 a week. Which slowly simmered down into the summer of 2012, when I made FAR less. I still don’t have a book to follow that one up in the political thriller genre. Which brings me to my next point:

AS FAST AS POSSIBLE – You have a busy life, I know. A day job, a spouse, a house, kids, the dog, friends, TV shows (you’re still watching TV?? You’re a writer. Writing is the new TV. Get away from the screen… unless you’re typing on it.) But write anyway. You may have heard of Hugh Howey, of WOOL fame. He wrote during his lunch breaks while working as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. He scribbled in longhand part of one of his books while sitting in the audience at a book awards presentation… while they were up there congratulating last year’s bestsellers, he was at a table writing the next one. P.S. He made more than a million dollars last year on self-published ebooks alone. And then sold print rights for mid-six figures, and sold the book in 24 countries, and sold film rights and comic book rights and… yeah, don’t get jealous, just write your own book. Books!

SHORT – I have my newest short story out now, 8,500 words, and it’s selling for 99¢. That one short story is going to make me $700 this month. That’s at the 35% royalty rate. Multiply that by several shorts, and you get… more money. Short is fast, short is easy, and readers LOVE short. They can read it on their lunch hour. It’s ideal for iPhones and iPads. Now that the price point for indie ebooks is rising to $2.99 or $4.99, not as many full-length novels are selling for 99¢. Plus, even full-length is dropping in length from 80,000- 100,000 being typical for a print novel (and longer for fantasy and sci-fi titles) to 50,000 – 80,000 being considered a reasonable length. Joe Konrath calls anything over 30,000 a novel now, and anything over 15,000 a short novel. Barry Eisler sells 35,000 words as a novel…. You can now write THREE books with the words that it used to take to make ONE. Faster, shorter, more money for you. They still have to have a satisfying story arc, a beginning, middle and end. Just make the bits move faster.

SERIES – This is pretty obvious from all the millions of Book 1, Book 2, Book 37 titles you see out there. One set of co-writers is publishing “Around the World in 80 Men,” and they’re up to Books 21-25 (Puerto Rico, Nevada, Tahiti, Spain, Holland, FYI). They sell each ebook for 99¢ and collections of of five for $3.99. They’re going for, obviously, 80 of these. This sweet young waitress becomes a high-priced international hooker. (I suspect there is sex involved.) They’ve simplified the process for themselves–no not the sex process!–of preparing the books by using the same cover in different colors. I think these writers are going to make a mint. You don’t need that many fans if they all buy 80 of your books, or 16 compilations of 5 books each. And these writers are putting them out there FAST! I just read the first chapter of the first one, which is currently free, which is another wise move when you have a lot of books out… we could add FREE to the GAASS acronym, but then it would be GAASSF, and what does that mean? The first chapter showed this to be a fun, light read. About a sweet young thing who decides to travel the world and have sex for money. How much you want to bet she pulls a Pretty Woman and falls in love with Mr. #80?

So there you have it. The latest best advice on how to maximize your earning potential as an indie ebook writer. All so that you can make a few bucks and then write that esoteric masterpiece on ancient phlebotomy techniques among the Incans. Which, who knows, could turn out to be your biggest seller!

Because I believe in giving back, I am going to start critiquing (for free) your work. I’m a good writer–I’ve been writing novels for 20 years. I have an English degree (and a law degree and a grad degree in vocal performance, but I’m not sure they will help you much) and I’ve worked as a freelance writer as well as an editor. I’m the CEO of my own publishing company, and my ebooks are on the charts.

After each post I’ll pick one commenter and critique up to 10 pages or 2,500 words.

I don’t have many commenters yet, so your odds are excellent! A comment gets you one chance, a tweet of this post another. Linking to it on your site or FB page gets you another. Subscribing, friending me on FB or following me on Twitter gets you another. Increase your odds by doing as much as you can. And if you become a regular around here I’ll probably just pick you eventually anyway. If I read your pages I plan to be honest, so be ready for that.

So let me know in the comments what you are doing to promote this worthy, pithy, and free advice for fellow authors, and I will put your name in the hat for a personal critique by ME.

Thanks for reading!

Now go out there, fellow writer, and step on the GAASS. Or, GAASSF. Or maybe GAFASS… which sounds really bad.

A brand new excerpt from “Cleaning Up: a Silo story”

The Sky used to be Blue - EBook Cover Art

Thanks to the several hundred folks who have already bought The Sky Used to be Blue since it was published two days ago. I am blown away! And thanks to Hugh Howey, whose generosity in sharing the world he created with the WOOL books is unprecedented.

Here’s a quick look at a scene from the upcoming Part 2 of the Karma series, Cleaning Up — a rough draft that I just typed up last night. You are getting a glimpse into the mind of a writer… this is how the creative process works. Just jump in and create something out of thin air!

Let me know what you think:

Now, we don’t watch the Cleanings. Now, we find it too terrible.

But the first time, we didn’t know.

I stood in the cafeteria with hundreds of others, curious to see what Andy would encounter once the doors opened into what looked like a toxic world of swirling dust and dead soil. I was worried for him, but not really afraid. It didn’t seem possible that they would send him out—let him out, since he had been eager to volunteer—simply to die. How foolish it seems now.

Rick stood beside me that day. We had left Athena, who was only two, in the nursery. I had worked out my routine by then—vague and mostly compliant with Rick, sharp and curious with Andy. Somewhere in between for my daytime job. I had left the laundry, where I first worked, and found a position as a teacher in the elementary class for the Up Top. Though I had to remain cautious about revealing my clear memory of the time before, it seemed safe to demonstrate that I had enough intelligence to teach five- to seven-year-olds.

It had been hard enough keeping my two selves separate when I had Andy to talk to. Now, I knew, it would be doubly difficult to do so. And doubly critical.

We didn’t realize what would happen to him. At least, I didn’t.

I hadn’t seen Andy since the day he was dragged out of the cafeteria, not yet afraid, just stunned at what was happening to him.

And now, I could see him. Though his face wasn’t visible through the reflective glass on his helmet, and his moves were jerky and impeded by the bulk of the protective suit they had put him in, I still recognized my friend.

I knew that when Andy made a slow, balletic but clumsy twirl, he must be awed by the view. And even thought the landscape featured only the usual menacing gray clouds of dust and the barren hills, it still must be thrilling to get a 360 degree view of the sky and the world—what was left of it.

He went to work right away scrubbing the lenses through which we saw the outside. A cheer went up after the wallscreen view cleared—and we realized that we had been looking through a grimy build-up of dirt and whatever else was flying through the air with those noxious clouds. Somehow Andy’s work with these ingenious pads—wool?—had made all the difference.

But I was less concerned with the cosmetics of our view than with his health. Though everyone believed the outside air to be toxic, this suit they had put him in seemed to be doing the trick. Andy showed no signs of distress. Perhaps after he had completed the brave task of scrubbing the silo lenses, he would be welcomed back in, penance completed, cleansed of whatever sins he was considered guilty of.

Rick was right beside me, his hand laid protectively on my shoulder. I was careful to keep both my expression and my body language neutral as the emotions raging through me swung from fear to relief to pride and then back to fear.

Andy had apparently finished his duties with the little wool pads, and had returned them carefully to the numbered pockets on his suit. He turned and started to walk away from the wallscreen, toward the brown hill in front of us. Somehow he seemed to be heading for the ruins of the tall towers I knew to be what was left of Atlanta.

My breath caught in my throat as I realized how naïve I had been to imagine a triumphant return into the silo. I would have given anything to have him safe back inside again. What had felt like a prison only moments before seemed like a blessed refuge compared to the wasteland Andy was now shuffling through.

Keeping my voice carefully neutral, I turned to Rick. “So what happens now?”

He looked down at me and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know.”

As was so often the case, I imagined I saw something in Rick’s eyes that meant he knew more than he was admitting. But how could he know what Andy’s punishment entailed? Rick wasn’t part of the Sheriff’s staff. And no one had ever gone outside before.

I turned back to the screen to see Andy start to slow, and then stumble. What was wrong? Had the suit ripped? I couldn’t see any outward reason for his change of pace. Maybe he was simply getting tired.

But then he fell, clutching his thickly padded hands to his gut. It was all I could do not to scream. He tried to rise again, but could not. For a few feet, he crawled forward, even the awkward suit unable to conceal what looked like spasms. As my friend’s agony became apparent, and he drew what appeared to be very painful breaths, the mood in the immense room changed. What had first been curiosity, followed by celebration after the lenses were cleared of grime, became gasps of horror and disbelieving cries. Voices around me started to sound.

“No.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Is he…?”

Women began to sob and men clenched their jaws.

As Andy sank to the ground for the final time, I wept, ashamed and full of despair. How could I have let this happen to my sweet Andy?

Rick wrapped his long arms around me.

“Ah, baby, I’m so sorry. I know he was your friend.”

As Andy’s form, still encased in the bulky suit that was supposed to protect him, stilled at last, I nearly crumpled to the floor myself. Only Rick’s arms kept me upright. It was safe to cry now, as so many others were, stunned and horrified to witness the dead man lying in full view of the giant wallscreen and all the observers.

Only I had the irrational urge to scream at my strangely unreactive husband, to pound on the doors to the outside begging to retrieve the remains of my friend, or do something, anything, to change the outcome of his tragic last walk.

But I did nothing.

Announcing a new WOOL short – The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story

I am excited to let you know of another short story set in the WOOL universe… encouraged by Hugh Howey himself!

The Sky used to be Blue - EBook Cover Art

Part 1 of the Karma series, The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story is an 8,500 word short story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL books, published with his permission.

Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn’t sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the others seem content—except for the ones who jump to their death from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones that are pushed.

After the doctor prescribes a special liquid and tells her to avoid tap water, Karma begins to remember a very different world. Despite the fog in her mind, she is convinced that something came before. Such memories are dangerous to talk about, or even to know.

She must figure out who can be trusted. The doctor… her husband… or no one at all.

Here’s what Hugh Howey, the creator of the WOOL universe, said after reading the synopsis of this story:

Hey Patrice, I LOVE this story idea! You have my complete blessing. I can’t wait to read it.

Let me know when it’s done!

Hugh

The Sky Used to be Blue will be available tomorrow! I’ll be uploading the URL as soon as I have it… watch this space for more news.

Announcement “The Sky Used to be Blue”

New Interview with Hugh Howey, author of WOOL

Hugh-Howey1

I’m quite thrilled to have as my guest today author Hugh Howey, whose WOOL books are as popular as chits in a Silo and are making international headlines… including in the UK, where WOOL was officially released in hardcover recently. If you haven’t read them, go grab the WOOL Omnibus, First Shift, Second Shift, and Third Shift (or the Shift Omnibus), and get ready for audio books, comic books, and a possible movie! Here’s Hugh himself to answer my questions. I’m in italics; he’s not.

WOOL cover

Hi Hugh! Thank you SO much for being willing to talk to me about the phenomenon that is WOOL. I’m going to try to concentrate on questions that I haven’t seen answered elsewhere… I’m not going to ask you what your writing desk looks like, or how many words you write a day. But feel free to tell me if you want to!

You have been very open with fans from the beginning and have a rare connection to readers. How do you manage to find the time? Do you enjoy blogging and making dance videos, or is it just a cynical ploy to sell more books… no, seriously, are you a gregarious kind of guy?

Yeah, this is just who I am. When I’m out in public, I make an effort to talk to strangers. And I’ve never really grown up. Besides, writing is such a solitary endeavor. I get antsy for social interactions. So it isn’t really about finding the time to connect with readers; it’s something I enjoy. Long before I thought I could make a living as a writer, I was driving two hours to sit and visit with middle school classrooms or conduct writing workshops. It’s not about making money. It’s about feeling happy and fulfilled.

The Wool universe is complex for a reader to follow, the way you move around in time and spotlight different characters in each segment. Is this tough for you to figure out even as you write it? Do you have to go back and reread the old books to remind yourself what is in each book?

I have notes I can refer to, but I rarely do. Each book feels self-contained to me in a way. I know where the beginnings and ends are, so all I have to do is shade in the middle bits. I have thought about putting together a timeline for readers so they can see how the stories overlap. Maybe when I’m done with the writing. :)

Do you ever regret something you did in an old book and wish you could change it? Will you change some of those books, since you can do so easily with ebooks?

I don’t have any regrets on plot and structure. If I could go back and change one thing, it might be to give the first Wool a subtitle. At the time, I thought it would be a single work. It creates some confusion when there’s a novelette called “Wool” and a full novel from Random House and Simon and Schuster called “Wool.” But there’s no way I could have predicted the success of the series.

Are the indie published ebooks going to be very different from the print books you’re now doing through S&S? Do you think they’ll try to make editorial changes? How much control do you have over your material?

I’m going to update the ebooks to reflect the changes made to the physical books. Most of the changes are very minor. The only big one is the inclusion of a new chapter to give some backstory on Juliette. I love how seamless this chapter slotted into the story. If I told readers who have only seen the print version that it was an addition, I think they’d be shocked.

Two of my favorite novels have origins similar to Wool. Ender’s Game and Fahrenheit 451 both began as short stories that grew due to demand into full-length novels. Ender’s Game was later re-released in an “Author’s Definitive Edition” years after winning the Hugo and Nebula. This process goes back to Dickens, who expanded his serialized works before combining them into a novel. Heck, it goes back to the books that came together to form the Bible, which has been edited and changed over the years. If it was good enough for the greatest works of literature, it should be fine for my scribblings.

Why are you allowing fans to publish (and charge for) books based on the WOOL series? Is someone at some point going to yell at you for doing this?

The world of Wool is ripe for exploration. I won’t be able to scratch the surface. When readers got in touch to ask about fan fiction, I not only gave my blessing, I insisted that they charge for the work. Even if it’s just a dollar. I know what it’s like to struggle as an artist. If I’m now in a position to give someone else a boost, I’m going to. And yeah, I’m sure my lawyer is going to have a fit when he finds out. But I don’t care. I’m a fan of open-source, someone who hates DRM, and someone who thinks we shouldn’t go around suing one another. I’m making enough money. It warms my heart to see Ben Adams selling Wool prints and keeping 100% of the profit. The same goes for fan fiction.

Do you have ideas for a new universe after you finish the WOOL series? Will you stick with post-apocalyptic dystopian worlds, or are you going to switch to hot teen romances?

I started my first erotica story a few months ago! I also have a vampire novel I’m dying to write. Plus, another Molly Fyde book to wrap up. Then there’s another dystopian world I want to explore, and a fantasy novel I’ve had in mind for ages. I’ll keep bouncing around and writing whatever excites me. I know that goes against certain rules and formulas in the publishing world, but my primary motivation is to enjoy what I’m doing. I never thought I’d make a living at this. I’m fully prepared to go back to a day job while I write for fun.

Do you worry that you might never have such a spectacular success again?

I don’t worry about it. I just assume I won’t. Nothing about my success feels natural or normal to me. I marvel at it. I don’t have the feeling of: “Finally! Everything I’ve always wanted and fully deserved is now at my doorstep! What took so long? Give me more!” Instead, I’m feeling: “What in the world is going on? Is the universe going to get back to normal? Soon?” My focus is to enjoy it while I can.

Can you believe it… are you pinching yourself with amazement every day?

Every hour of every day. I wake up amazed and go to bed amazed.

You made a rare deal to have your books published traditionally in print while holding onto all of the electronic rights. Will this become more common? Where do you see the indie/traditional book scene going?

I hope it becomes more common. Bella Andre had a similar deal from a smaller publisher. Colleen Hoover just followed with a similar deal from Simon and Schuster. I don’t think I deserve any credit for breaking through any boundaries. It was just going to happen. It had to be someone, and I just happened to be publishing and gaining attention at the right time. The key for all of us and for everyone who comes after was saying no to contracts that simply weren’t fair. The reason we were able to do that was because we were already making money on our digital rights. So we owe a lot to the indie authors who came before us, to the e-reader revolution, to readers who embraced this technology. It’s been a gradual change with a lot of people involved. I’m just one person.

Congratulations on your success, Hugh, which continues to grow. You deserve it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer. And don’t let me keep you from writing! I’m now holding my breath for the next book in the series!

Thanks, Patrice! I’ll get back to work on DUST. Keep an eye out for March 12th. I think that’s when WOOL hits bookstores here in the U.S.

Patrice here: Having been swept up into the world of WOOL, I couldn’t help coming up with ideas of my own. I ran the synopsis of a short story past Hugh, who gave me his blessing. “My Name is HELEN” should be out at the end of February.

For a fun, quirky take on another version of the future, try my short Till Death Do Us Part.

Help kids with empty libraries – Fill The Shelves!

[Credit to David Gaughran at Let's Get Digital for plugging this worthy cause on his blog -- I have reproduced his post here]:

Chronic under-funding of school libraries has led to the tragic spectacle of empty shelves, leaving children with nothing to read; but a new initiative called Fill The Shelves hopes to change all that.

This story starts in a Pennsylvania K-8 school called Pittsburgh Manchester, where the librarian – Sheila May-Stein – decided to do something about the empty shelves in her own school.

Last month, Sheila posted that photo to the Facebook wall of University of Pittsburgh professor Jessie Ramey, who then wrote about the problem on her education blog Yinzercation, along with ways that people could help – including ordering books from an Amazon Wish List.

Then things went a little viral. That Facebook photo spread like wildfire. They got coverage from their local newspaper. CBS Pittsburgh came out and did a story. Neil Gaiman, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Newsroom’s Alison Pill got involved, tweeting and blogging about Manchester’s empty shelves, leading to thousands of hits.

And books started turning up on Sheila’s doorstep – from all over the world.

In a matter of days, over 800 books had been donated to Manchester’s kids.

The internet is a wonderful thing and can make a real difference to people’s lives – especially when it helps to drive good causes like this one.

However, Manchester is only one school and the issue of underfunded school libraries is widespread. The success of Sheila’s campaign got a group of authors thinking: what if we set up a website that could help lots more schools?

Fill The Shelves is a simple, but brilliant, idea. The website lists a number of schools that are in the same situation that Manchester faced – years of under-funding, empty shelves and no books for kids to read.

You can read all about the schools that need your help, see pictures of those bare shelves, and, most importantly, help to fill them. Here’s the homepage for Fill The Shelves.

Each school librarian has provided an Amazon Wish List detailing the particular books that their kids need, and readers can choose which books they would like to purchase on behalf of the school. Amazon handle the transactions, and the books get delivered straight to the school librarian.

In just two weeks, Fill The Shelves has restocked the libraries of three under-funded schools: Southside Elementary School in Jonesboro, Louisiana; Jorge Mas Canosa School in Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Downsville Charter School in Downsville, Louisiana.

Here’s what Southside Elementary School had to say:

Southside Elementary School was bombarded with boxes and boxes of fabulous books today. The poor UPS guy didn’t know what to think as he hauled them in on the dolly.

Our students were very excited and could not contain themselves as I opened boxes and showed them each book. The ‘oohs and aahs’ were heard all around as excitement filled the air. One student wanted to know if it was my birthday. LOL!

I then explained how wonderful people across the nation had so much faith in them they wanted to make sure they had plenty of great books to read! I read the notes that came from the gifters and with eyes wide, the students would repeat the state the sender was from in awe.

They couldn’t believe this many people cared enough to bless them with so many books and they can’t wait until the books are logged, labeled and ready to read! Thank you to everyone who has made this happen for my students and our school.

That’s over $5,000 of books sent via Amazon Wish Lists in a matter of days. But so many more schools need our help. Right now, there are three more schools on Fill The Shelves that desperately need books for their kids.

How can you help?

1. Buy books. On the Fill The Shelves website, there are three schools with empty shelves that need filling. You can read all about the respective schools here, and choose the books you would like to purchase from their Amazon Wish Lists. The books you purchase will be automatically delivered straight to the respective school librarians.

2. Share this blog post. Just as important as buying books is spreading the word. We need to get this message out to as many people as possible. Share this post on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of your social networks (there are buttons on the bottom to make this easy for you). Please also share news of this initiative with any school librarians you know that might be in need of help. While Fill The Shelves have several schools in the pipeline, there are plenty more out there that need assistance. Contact details are on the website, or you can email contactfilltheshelves [AT] gmail.com

3. Use the affiliate code for Fill The Shelves. All book links on the Fill The Shelves website have an Amazon affiliate code attached. 100% of this money is plowed back into buying books for schools from their Wish Lists. If you are buying anything on Amazon, clicking through on this link first will attach the affiliate code – meaning roughly 5% of the cost of anything you purchase will go towards buying books for kids.

If you are an author, you can also add the affiliate code to your own book links. If you want to do this, simply add this to the end of your link:

?tag=filltheshelves-20

My Grandfather, the Naked Lady, and that Scandalous Book


You don’t think books are powerful?

My grandfather, at age 25, wrote a novel. It was published in 1906. I have a copy.

For decades — nearly a century — this book was not talked about in my family. It was shocking! It’s still shocking to some of my relatives. So much so that the copy I first uncovered 20 years ago was tucked away in someone’s drawer, and I never saw it again. I had to go to a rare book service to get another one of the few still surviving.

Apparently this book was at least partially autobiographical. Grandpa subtitled it, “Being the Little Story of a Young Railway-Office Clerk,” which is just what he was. He used his real name, with a fanciful and romantic faux middle name. Clever disguise!

In his little book, my grandfather wrote about a young man having an unrequited crush on some beautiful girl that he admired from afar as she walked to and from church every Sunday. He longed to marry her. He fell in love, knowing nothing but her name.

So sweet!

And yet… scandalous to his future wife and eventual children.

There’s the shocking scene where he finds a girl in the bushes smoking a cigarette. The wild night when he gets drunk and has to walk all the way home. The desperate pledge he makes to marry another young lady, a pious and beautiful blonde, who goes to the “Italian church.”

And finally — spoiler alert, in case you want to read the book yourself — he gets very ill, and at death’s door sends his best friend to tell the winsome girl who is the object of his affection that he would die happy if she would only visit him once before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

Reader, visit him she does, but when he professes his interest (in a very restrained way), she tells him that she is going away to join a nunnery. Alas… all his hopes are dashed.

To me, it was entirely fascinating to read the young thoughts of a forebear I never met, and to have a little glimpse into his world. Very cool and very tame. I like to think that we would have enjoyed each other, if we had ever met.

But here is the MOST shocking part. I’m not sure if the fuss was about more about the illustrations than the words. Because my grandfather was also an artist, he drew a sketch of (ready for it… gird your loins!) a naked woman.

Clearly, there were no naked women in those days. It’s a wonder my father ever got born.

And thus the lesson, dear writers — behold the power of the book. Here we are more than one hundred years later, and my grandfather’s little story remains a rather scandalous, barely-discussed subject to his family.

Now, imagine what trouble you can stir up when you write something for your descendants to read and devour!

Who says ebooks are just for porn?!

British author and winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for Literature, Joan Brady, made these provocative statements in an article in the UK’s online version of The Daily Telegraph:

“…lowbrow ‘pulp’ such as ‘celebrity biographies… and porn’ will ‘disappear into e-books.’

“Your Rolex watch? It’s a statement. A four-wheel drive? A statement. That’s what the books in your house are too.”

Odd! I thought books were for reading, not for placing on a shelf to prove your erudition. [Erudition: extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books: profound, recondite, or bookish learning. And though I love the heft of a great big print dictionary, I got that definition online instantly.]

I had my first-generation Kindle ereader for about a year before I used it much… I really wanted that Kindle, and as soon as I heard that such a device was coming out, I asked my then-fiance and kids to buy me one for Christmas. They did, and though the Kindles sold out fast that year, mine was pre-ordered and I got one of the very first ones. Then it sat around for about a year while I continued to buy and read old-fashioned paper books.

But eventually I picked up that original Kindle… which is now rather like a Model T of ereaders. Sometime later I began publishing my own books and those of others electronically, persuaded by all the advantages and control available to new indie authors. Now that I have both the classic Kindle and a Kindle Fire (my husband graciously reads the old black-and-white) I am a complete convert.

I acknowledge the value of print books. I was in a bookstore yesterday for the first time in a while, marveling at ALL that paper, and the outrageous expense of producing it, but also the beauty of these objects, and some of the positive aspects of a simple, non-technical solution to the desire to share stories. We will always have print books, despite their limitations.

But I prefer ebooks and ereaders. Let me count the ways:

1. Ebooks are lighter (for many books).
2. Ebooks are cheaper (nearly always, once you have your reading device).
3. You can choose your font size (increasingly important as we age).
4. There is an infinite selection of books available at a touch.
5. A reader has the ability to chat with others in real-time about ebooks and the reading experience.
6. The content of an ebook is updatable.
7. There can be, and will increasingly be, brilliant, light-filled color photos.
8. No trees are destroyed.
9. Instant gratification — you are able to order a new book and start reading it in seconds!

(Love the last best — I can finish Book #2 of The Hunger Games at midnight and give in to the irresistible urge to buy Book #3 in the blink of an eye!)

But I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ about that 50 Shades book. Oh, all right, I was curious. I read the sample. And I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was — it wasn’t even very dirty, and it certainly wasn’t very well-written. So I had to buy the first one, of course, and then I was still curious, so I bought the second. By then, my curiosity was sated. And yes, it was dirty. And after a while, not all that interesting. Perhaps that’s the porn Ms. Brady is talking about.

But ebooks being just for pornography? Hardly.

Here’s when we’ll know that ebooks are the thing. When the word “book” simply means ebook, and one has to use a term like print book or paper book to identify the old-fashioned kind.

Oh, and here’s the kicker to the story in The Telegraph: Ms. Brady’s new book, The Blue Death, to which she is naturally trying to draw attention with her provocative statements, is available as an ebook!

I note that her book, a kind of political thriller, costs $14.99 via Kindle, $3.00 more than the paperback costs. Currently, it has no reviews on her U.S. Amazon page. I guess she doesn’t object that much to ebooks and ereaders… but perhaps she is not having much success electronically.

My political thriller, RUNNING, has 51 reviews, a 4.4 star rating, and has been downloaded 50,000 times. Oh, and it’s on sale for $2.99 right now.

And though it does have a bit of sex, it’s not porn.

P.S. That first photo above is me, looking at my Kindle Fire, in front of my library of old-fashioned books, being funny. But I’m not reading porn!

(Not that you would know, right?)

See comments for a response from Joan Brady herself.

Can You Make Money Self-Publishing?

Why yes! It takes hard work and it doesn’t happen instantly, but you sure can make significant money by self-publishing. And often far more than you can make after getting a deal with a traditional publisher.

Here’s the list, with numbers, updated from the last time that I identified authors selling over 50,000 self-published titles. This comes from a blog titled “Self-Publishing Success Stories,” and all credit goes to that blogger… who mysteriously has no name… and who did the original work of compiling it via a thread over at the Kindleboards.

The asterisk indicates that the writer has also been published traditionally. There are no doubt even more names that should be on this list. If you know of one, please drop me a line and I’ll add it.

All hail these successful self-published authors!

1. Rachel Abbott
2. Susan Alison – “over 50k at the end of last month” (Feb 2012)
3. Dani Amore
4.*Bella Andre – more than 400,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
5. Melody Anne – over 150,000 (Feb 2012)
6. Daniel Arenson – The “Song of Dragons” series sold its 50,000th copy on March 2, 2012
7. Jake Barton- 83,712 books sold (March 2012)
8. Robert Bidinotto – 58,260 (Feb 2012)
9. *J Carson Black – more than 300,000 books sold (November 2011)
10.*Cheryl Bolen – 145,000 sold (March 2012)
11. Kathleen Brooks – 50,015 paid books with most coming from the last 2 months (March 2012)
12. Catherine Bybee – nearly 200,000 of the novel “Wife By Wednesday”
13. Sarra Cannon – 62,400 books as of March 17, 2012
14. Karen Cantwell – 86K as of March 2012
15. Ruth Cardello
16. Darcie Chan – more than 400,000 ebooks sold (Nov 2011)
17. Ann Charles
18. Mel Comley
19. Shelly Crane
20. Martin Crosbie – 66,716 books sold (March 2012)
21. *Blake Crouch – total unknown (“5,000 sales a month”)
22. Chris Culver – over 550,000 (Dec 2011)
23. David Dalglish – more than 175,000 (Feb 2012)
24. Susan Denning – “To date, I’ve sold over almost 60,000 Kindle copies”
25. Saffina Desforges – Sugar & Spice sold over 100,000 ebooks (Sept 2011)
26. Mainak Dhar – 85,600 (Jan 2012)
27. Sandra Edwards- about 90K (since July 2010) as of March 2012
28. *Ellen Fisher – over 100,000 as of Feb 2012
29. Penelope Fletcher – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
30. Tina Folsom – over 300,000 books sold (October 2011)
31. *Marie Force – more than 200,000 sold in the last year (March 2012)
32. Melissa Foster – more than 150,000 in the last 9 months (Feb 2012)
33. *Barbara Freethy – 1.3 million self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
34. Eliza Gayle – roughly 65,000 books in 2011
35. Jenny Gardiner – over 80,000 ebooks (Dec 2011)
36. Debora Geary – total unknown (1 of the top 10 Kindle Select authors for Jan 2012)
37. Abbi Glines
38. *Lee Goldberg
39. Joel Goldman
40. Allan Guthrie – over 63,000 as of March 2012
41. *Gemma Halliday – over 1 million self-published ebooks sold (March 2012)
42. Liliana Hart – over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
43. Michael Hicks – close to 100,000 as of March 2012
44. Amanda Hocking – 1,500,000 ebooks sold (December 2011)
45. Sibel Hodge – “in the last 6 months alone I’ve sold over 40,000 ebooks”
46. Debra Holland – over 50,000 books sold (March 2012)
47. Sheila Horgan – well over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
48. Hugh Howey- more than 100,000 sold (March 2012)
49. Delle Jacobs – total unknown
50. Nancy C. Johnson
51. Ty Johnston – over 60,000
52. Andrew E. Kaufman – 53,984 sold in 31 days (during the month of March 2012)
53. Selena Kitt – “With half a million ebooks sold in 2011 alone”
54. *J.A. Konrath – more than 500,000 ebooks sold (November 2011)
55. Eve Langlais – over 56,000
56. B.V. Larson – over 250,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
57. *Stephen Leather – “selling close to half a million eBooks over the past 12 months” (Nov 2011)
58. Jason Letts – almost 50,000 as of Feb 2012
59. Victorine Lieske – more than 100,000 books sold (May 2011)
60. John Locke- more than 1,100,000 eBooks sold in five months
61. Terri Giuliano Long – more than 80,000 ebooks sold (Jan 2012)
62. *Carol Davis Luce – 100,000 sold (January 2012)
63. *CJ Lyons – almost 500,000 ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
64. H.P. Mallory – more than 200,000 ebooks sold (July 2011)
65. C.S. Marks
66. M. R. Mathias – over 50,000 sold (June 2011)
67. *KC May
68. *Bob Mayer – 347 sold in Jan, 2011 to over 400,000 total sold by year’s end (Dec 2011)
69. David McAfee – 54-56K range as of March 2012
70. Stephanie McAfee – “the e-book sold 145,325 copies from January to August 2011″
71. Carolyn McCray – over 50K and on track to sell over 13,000 ebooks for the month of March 2012
72. Karen McQuestion – more than 70,000 sold (***September 2010***)
73. Courtney Milan
74. Addison Moore
75. David Morrell
76. Rick Murcer – in only four and a half months, 135,000 ebooks sold (as of August 2011)
77. Scott Nicholson
78. Anne Marie Novark – more than 70,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
79. Shayne Parkinson – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
80. Aaron Patterson – total unknown
81. Aaron Pogue
82. Brian S. Pratt
83. *Michael Prescott – more than 800,000 self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
84. Rose Pressey – over 54,000 since April 2011
85. T.R. Ragan – 239,592 books sold (March 2012)
86. J.R. Rain – more than 400,000 books sold (Sept 2011)
87. Terri Reid – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (August 2011)
88. Lexi Revellian – over 54,000 (March 2012)
89. Shadonna Richards – 51,790 ebooks as of March 2012
90. Imogen Rose
91. *Kristine Kathryn Rusch
92. Nick Russell – over 104,000 of Big Lake (March 2012)
93. Jonas Saul – over 50,000 ebooks sold
94. L.J. Sellers – total unknown
95. Amber Scott – total unknown
96. *Michele Scott (AK Alexander) – more than 100,000 books sold in two months
97. Tori Scott – 84,772 as of midnight 3/15/2012
98. Kathleen Shoop – over 50,000 books sold since May 2011 (as of Jan 2012)
99. Christopher Smith
100. *Dean Wesley Smith
101. Katie Stephens
102. Andy Straka – over 50,000 in the past 10 months
103. Michael J Sullivan – more than 90,000 sold before books retired and republished
104. Denise Grover Swank- “almost 60,000 books with my four books since last July (March 2012)”
105. Vicki Tyley – 100,000 (January 2012)
106. Louise Voss & Mark Edwards – 50,000 ebooks sold in the month of June (2011)
107. Heather Killough-Walden – over 500,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
108. Michael Wallace – 80,000 (Feb 2012)
109. Kerry Wilkinson – more than 250,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
110. Nicole Williams – near the 100,000 mark for her trilogy (Dec 2011)
111. Zoe Winters – more than 50,000 ebooks sold independently
112. Rachel Yu – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (Feb 2012)

That’s pretty amazing. We can figure that many of those books earned about $2 per sale (at a conservative price of $2.99 per book), so this 50K number means the authors above are looking at $100,000, at least. There would also be expenses involved in editing, cover art, formatting, etc., depending upon how much of that was paid for versus done by the author or by volunteers. Still, the profits are impressive by any measure.

Some of these authors have gone on to accept traditional deals with established publishers so that they can concentrate on the writing part. Famously, Amanda Hocking has a multi-million dollar deal for some of her books, but has also retained the right to continue self-publishing those books she prefers to.

All right, writers, are you suitably inspired?

Now, back to your keyboards!

Success By the Numbers

You know, fellow readers and writers, since my big Christmas break-out with RUNNING, I have been concentrating on money earned. And in the excitement of the sudden flurry of cash (which happened right around Christmas, but only landed in my bank account at the end of February) I got happy but anxious about HOW TO KEEP IT COMING IN at that lovely rate.

And the truth is — I can’t. I can’t control what folks like and buy and read and respond to. I can only control what I write. Trying to psych out the coolest marketing phrase or the optimal tweet will only make you crazy… or at least, it will make me crazy.

So I have vowed to concentrate more on the writing. Last week I dictated a story that I have been thinking about for a couple of years. Just a little short one, but powerful. THE TERMINAL. (That is, if I don’t change the title…)

The story came out nearly all of a piece, because it had “percolated” in my head for some time. It needs only a few small tweaks to finalize and put to bed. Or to press.

I think I’ll make this one free. I plan to post it on Wattpad, which I hear great things about. Possibly also Figment, and Redroom, and Smashwords… though the last time I tried that I had trouble jumping through their formatting hoops. In any case, I hope it will be an important story that gets out to readers and will — possibly — lead some of them to me.

And even if it never does, I will be happy to put that story out into the world, because that’s what we storytellers do. We share our words. Having a reader is what makes a story complete.

So, having said that… Drumroll, please! When I added up the sales of all of my books, I discovered these excellent numbers:

2,400 ebooks sold for real money

860 ebooks borrowed, which brings in money too

And a fabulous grand total of 40,000 ADDITIONAL ebooks downloaded!! [For free, I should add. But still!]

As to money, I am up in the baby five figures, which isn’t bad for a fledgeling business less than a year old.

I only started on the 4th of July, 2011… I became an Indie Writer on Independence Day, get it? (Someday I’ll tell you the story of that looooong weekend and how my husband and I managed to get through our first big formatting and uploading task without our marriage falling apart.)

And I am pretty jazzed about how much I have actually sold. Particularly when you consider the alternative… I could have been submitting query letters to agents for another 20 years instead!

Happy writing to you, friends.

Vlog #1 – So which advice should I listen to?

Here’s my first homemade vlog (video blog) which I made in my backyard. It looks rather humble, but at least the weather was beautiful!

Vlog #1 – Advice from Writers

Thanks for watching… I’m learning as I go!

Self-Publishing Success Stories!

Over on the Kindle boards, there is a thread where folks are putting together a list of self-published authors who have gotten past the 50,000 mark in total ebook sales.

Successful author Lexi Revellian (see her name on the list below!) went further in updating the list on her own blog. I’ve posted it here to demonstrate that it is possible to make serious money as a self-publisher.

Many of the authors on this list have sold well over 50,000 books. Quite a few of them have done it within a year. Though it’s not possible to calculate how much money an author with that many sales has made without knowing the price of each ebook, every writer who has sold this number of books has made between a low of $17,500 (if every book is priced at only 99¢, for a 35% royalty rate) to a high of $350,000 (at the highest rate that KDP allows – $9.99, with a 70% royalty rate). It’s likely most of these authors sell their ebooks for something in between those two extremes. The “going rate” for successful self-published authors seems to be around $2.99 to $4.99 per ebook.

Some of these writers, but only a small percentage, were traditionally published first, or have continued to keep one foot in the traditional “camp.” Most of them simply wrote books intending to publish all by themselves, and then got them out there and let the world know. And the world responded by reading them!

THESE SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS HAVE EACH SOLD MORE THAN 50,000 EBOOKS AS OF MARCH, 2012

Susan Alison
Dani Amore
Bella Andre
Melody Anne
Jake Barton
Robert Bidinotto
J Carson Black
Cheryl Bolen
Catherine Bybee
Ruth Cardello
Darcie Chan
Mel Comley
Blake Crouch
Chris Culver
David Dalglish
Carol Davis Luce
Saffina Desforges
Mainak Dhar
Mark Edwards & Louis Voss
Ellen Fischer
Penelope Fletcher
Tina Folsom
Marie Force
Barbara Freethy
Debora Geary
Lee Goldberg
Gemma Halliday
Ruth Harris
Liliana Hart
Michael Hicks
Amanda Hocking
Debra Holland
Hugh Howey
Nancy C. Johnson
Ty Johnston
Heather Killough-Walden
Selena Kitt
J.A. Konrath
Laura Landon
Eve Langlais
Stephen Leather
Victorine Lieske
John Locke
Terri Giuliano Long
CJ Lyons
H.P. Mallory
KC May
Bob Mayer
Stephanie McAfee
Courtney Milan
Rick Murcer
Scott Nicholson
Anne Marie Novark
Shayne Parkinson
Rose Pressey
Michael Prescott
T.R. Ragan
Terri Reid
Adam Rendon
Lexi Revellian
Imogen Rose
Nick Russell
Michele Scott
Tori Scott
L.J. Sellers
Michael J Sullivan
Laura Taylor
Michael Wallace
Kerry Wilkinson
Rachel Yu

I’d love it if you could let me know of anyone else who should be on this list. I’ll try to keep it up to date. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll link to each of the author’s pages so that you can go buy more of their wonderful books… but I probably should spend that time writing my next one.

Thanks to Lexi Revellian for putting this list on her blog and updating it. And here’s to the day when my name will be on the list…!

The Subtle Secrets of KDP Select

Dear Fellow Self-Publishers:

Did you know that your enrollment in KDP Select, that fantastic tool which allows you to pinpoint five “free” days for your book in exchange for a promise of 90 days of Kindle exclusivity, will automatically renew unless you unclick the magic box to keep it from doing so?

The fine print in the KDP Select rules indicates that they will remind you 15 days before your 90-day period is up, so that you can decide whether or not to “re-up.” But you don’t have to wait till then… you can simply unclick the box right now for any titles that you have enrolled. That way you can be sure that you won’t forget, and will be free and able to sell on any platforms you wish as soon as the 90-day period is over.

Of course, I’m a big proponent of KDP Select, which has worked wonderfully for me in getting downloads and reviews for both my own thriller RUNNING and eFitzgerald author Frisky Dimplebuns’ DREAMBOAT — the first of The Frisky Chronicles. But if you are not inclined to continue with the KDP Select program, don’t forget to switch it off before you are locked into another three months of exclusivity.

And I’d love to hear about your own experiences with KDP Select. Did it work for you?

Favorite Words from Readers

All authors should keep a list of 5-star reviews at hand to inspire them! Here are some of my favorites:

5 stars!

I picked up RUNNING on Saturday evening and put it down on Sunday at 8:15pm… what a ride! From the strong female lead to the charmer turned villain, the political intrigue and the romantic longing for what might have been, I was riveted to my Kindle. Trying to concentrate on some gardening I found my mind returning to the book and gave up on the roses to head back to the wonderfully rich world that Ms. Fitzgerald has created. (My boys had to make their own dinner but the dog and cat did get fed!)

… RUNNING had me up till the wee hours of the morning! And, when I was not reading it, I was thinking about the characters. This book is at times funny, heartbreaking, and suspenseful.

… writing, pace, and storyline were so good that I found myself putting off other things so I could keep reading.

… it grabbed me and didn’t let go. With a fast-paced plot and an unerring feel for the cinematic, Fitzgerald creates a thriller that will resonate not just with political junkies like myself, but the suspense-thriller reader as well.

… Fitzgerald did a superb job with the different points of view. The voices were powerful and distinct. Catherine grew as a woman, a mother, a candidate and an individual, and the blackmailer (I don’t want to give too much away) rapidly spiraled, causing the reader to both hate and pity him while looking upon him with absolute disgust.

… Several times, all I could do was shake my head at the truth behind the scenes.

… Mark my words: Patrice Fitzgerald has a bestseller in the making! I read the whole novel in one sitting, it was that good.

… This story is crying out for a movie adaptation, you’ll mentally be casting it as you read! It breezily moves along the way to a thrilling conclusion, with never a dull moment.

… This is a great piece of writing that belongs on every bestseller list in the country.

… Can’t believe this is a first novel…

… Couldn’t Put It Down

… I loved this book from the very beginning!

… Just when you thought you knew where the story was going it surprised you.

… Terrific plot – I had to keep turning the pages (metaphorically speaking). The characters were intriguing and I had no idea how it would end – always a good thing when you’re reading for escape! Looking forward to the next one.

… A stunning suspense novel,

… You will not be sorry to purchase this — it’s a great read.

… This book was extremely quick moving and engaging.

… My interest was sparked in the first chapter and I just got more involved in the story and characters as I read.

… This was a great read. Catherine is an immensely likeable character – somewhat reminiscent of the Geena Davis president there was a few years ago on television – very intelligent, savvy and warm.

… I absolutely LOVED this book. I picked it up for the train ride home from work and ended up staying up late into the night because I couldn’t put it down. There was everything in the book you could ask for – politics, heart-felt emotion, a riveting story of an attempt to create a storm of controversy for a Presidential nominee (and current Vice President), and more.

… I would absolutely vote for Catherine, a Democrat, for President. And I am a registered Republican! Get this book ASAP – you will be very pleased that you did!

… I really enjoyed Running! Was very surprised this was a first time writer! Excellent job! I have to get pulled into a book very early or I lose interest. Thanks for a great read!

…This was an exciting, interesting, intriguing book with great characters. I highly recommend this book. I read it in two days. I love find a great new author!! Thank you Ms. Fitzgerald.

… Ms. Fitzgerald weaves an intricate plot of romance, suspense, murder! And it’s all told in an easy-to-read, difficult-to-put-down style. She creates characters who may seem familiar, but she’ll surprise you with some twists you couldn’t imagine. A great book!

… I have been up late every night reading it. The descriptions are awesome; I can visualize the people and settings. It is a fast moving book; a real page turner. Part of me wanted to finish it ASAP and find out what happens and another part wanted to savor it because a “good” read is hard to come by. I plan on suggesting it to all my friends. I hope that she writes more, hopefully with Catherine as the protagonist. I miss her already.

Now if that’s not enough to get you up in the morning, I don’t know what is! Thanks to my kind and enthusiastic readers.

Patrice

Literary Agents Advocating Self-Publishing?

Well, the world of books has somehow turned upside down! Even established literary agents now acknowledge that self-publishing is a viable, and possibly more lucrative, option for writers.

There is a surprisingly open-minded and encouraging post at Alan Rinzler’s “The Book Deal” blog. Here’s an excerpt:

What do you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?

Candice Fuhrman: In many cases I say GO FOR IT! It’s never been a better time for self- publishing; there are so many options for sell your own e-book. With most major publishers still only paying 25 percent of net for e-book sales, most writers can do better on their own. Of course they have to be marketing demons — but that’s the case no matter who publishes you. Although many agents are becoming “jacks of all trades” with self-publishing authors, we could be called something else — such as a publisher or a production person or a marketer.

Andrea Brown: Some authors we’ve worked with have also done indie self-published e-books but don’t seem to make any money with them. The market is overwhelmed with titles — many badly written or edited — and writers find it’s tough to market. We do tell writers that if their book will be difficult to sell the traditional way (or we do not think we can place it), to go ahead and self-publish — but they must do it well and plan to spend lots of time to market.

Andrea Hurst: For many authors, this is a very viable option today. Indie publishing, especially with e-books, offers a way to get your book directly in the reader’s hands. It is still important to have a high quality product and market your work. Many agents I know are diversifying what services they offer and how they will work with authors seeking nontraditional publishing options. Our agency consults with self-publishing authors through the whole process, offering professional editorial, design and evaluation services.

Bonnie Solow: Self-publishing is a viable option for many writers. There is no barrier to entry and authors can enjoy the satisfaction of maintaining full creative control with an accelerated release schedule. For authors who are entrepreneurial and who can access their readers through online marketing, speaking engagements, and so on, self-publishing can be the right route to take. In the long-term I do think agents will be more and more involved in helping clients self-publish… At this stage, however, authors who come to me are not interested in self-publishing. Instead, they want to enjoy the myriad benefits that come with being published by a major house.

Thanks to Alan for all the great information he shares with writers, and to these bold agents for giving us their perspective. Of course I had to add a comment advocating the vast superiority (and fun!) of self-publishing….

Go read the entire post on “The Book Deal” blog.

And thanks to The Passive Voice for leading me to Alan’s latest post.

The Wisdom of the Self-Published Author

M. Louisa Locke wrote a post last August that describes, in great and careful detail, the advantages that those of us who are self-published have attained in this rapidly changing industry. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her piece, which is well worth your time:

“Once an author has been exposed to the liberating belief that all of their work can get in print, and all the work that is good, will get to be read, they will not go back to telling themselves that the gatekeepers were saving them from the awful mistake of publishing a bad book, and that the favorite quirky cross genre manuscript they wrote really is better off never being read by anyone.”

And one of the things that I would add to Ms. Locke’s admirable list is the inspiration that comes with knowing that your writing is finding an outlet — giving impetus to the very stream of creativity that begets more stories — unfettered productivity being great for writers and readers alike!

My take on Haruki Murakami’s novel, “1Q84″

1Q841Q84 by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a provocative book with a certain compelling quality. It took me a while to get into it… and then I was captured. The length was both off-putting and effective — I lived with the story for so long that it attained an unusual power over me. I just finished it this morning, so it’s hard to judge at this point, but I think it will stay with me for a while.



I was surprised by the odd simplicity of the language. I couldn’t tell if this was a result of the translation or the way the author originally used words. In fact, I think that the second translator was better; suddenly the text became more lyrical and evocative during Book III.



Many mysteries were left unexplained, and I was disappointed about that. I realize that this is a kind of dream-narrative, but I think that if you’re going to dangle certain unresolved plot lines, you need to wrap them up — or at least refer to them — when you finish.







View all my reviews

Calling All Self-Published Authors!

A very interesting survey designed to get some data on self-publishing straight from the source is described in today’s post on David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital” blog. Answering the questions takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and it is, of course, anonymous.

The folks that put it together are trying to get 1,000 responses in order to make it statistically significant. So even if you’re new to this fascinating self-publishing journey, please consider participating. One of the best parts of this community of like-minded (brave, honest, thrifty, etc. — sort of like the Boy Scouts) writers is that so many are willing to reach out a helping hand.

So help us learn more about each other and how to sell books by sharing your own experiences.

Thanks!

The Sky Is Falling!

Jonathan Franzen thinks that the dawn of ebooks means the end of civilization as we know it. He spoke at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia about his fears concerning the current revolution in publishing:

“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.

“Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball.

“But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”

We’ve been hearing this kind of talk for some time…

“Now that anyone is free to print whatever they wish, they often disregard that which is best and instead write, merely for the sake of entertainment, what would best be forgotten, or, better still be erased from all books.”

The above statement flowed from the quill pen of Niccolò Perotti, a learned Italian classicist, while writing to his friend Francesco Guarnerio in 1471, less than twenty years after the invention of the printing press.

Viva la revolucion!

KDP Select – Adventures in “Free” dom

Though I read over and over that we self publishers should be PATIENT… I am not by nature a very patient person! So when I had a fantastic result in late December with my best-selling political thriller RUNNING after using a single free day on Amazon’s KDP Select program (8,000 free downloads followed by 1,500+ sales in the next 10 days) I was elated. It lasted for quite a while, but by the end of January sales had settled down to about 5-10 copies a day. So I decided to do it again.

The exciting news is that I saw a torrent of downloads – 9,000 over the two days. The day after, I sold only 5 copies. Big letdown! Yesterday I sold 7, with 2 borrows. Oh well, that’s a little better. But this morning I wake up and RUNNING had sold 30 by 11:00 a.m. A significant improvement. I’ll take those numbers, I figured, particularly if they continue throughout the day. And a Tuesday morning doesn’t typically mean a huge rush to buy ebooks.

As several people have pointed out, the endgame in all this is visibility. Building your brand, and your fan base. Getting yourself higher up on the charts. Getting more reviews. All of this works toward a long-term career as a writer. A writer who writes books worth buying.

I should mention that my price point is higher than most self-publishers. My career plan includes being able to live on my income as a writer, so it’s important to me to price my novels up there with Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, and others who are published traditionally.

So what do I need to do now? GET MORE GOOD NOVELS WRITTEN. I met with my critique partner today to fine-tune the synopsis (before starting to write) of my next thriller, which starts with the abduction of the Secretary of State in some war-torn former Soviet satellite. Action, suspense, romance, sex, bombs, helicopters, international diplomacy, and a strong woman protagonist. I can’t wait!

Oh, and P.S. I sold 66 copies of RUNNING today. A fabulous result.

Do you have yours yet?

National Public Radio shares my story about self-publishing success with RUNNING


Please have a listen to the Colin McEnroe show, where I was interviewed in connection with the Do-It-Yourself movement. I spoke about publishing, of course, but others covered music and useful open-source inventions.

We discussed the joys and challenges of producing a good ebook and getting the sales moving.

Great show, and lots of fun. Thanks, Colin!

Don’t be discouraged, writers!

You know how you get that occasional rough review? Most of my reviews on RUNNING are 5-star, but one or two have been quite scathing. It’s hard not to take them to heart, particularly at first.

But if you want some encouragement, check out this great blog post by M. Edward McNally at “Indies Unlimited” where you will read hilarious and damning reviews, apparently from Amazon readers, of books that are widely touted as some of the best literature ever written.

Check out my guest post on David Gaughran’s blog

I’m thrilled that I got the opportunity to tell my story about the explosion into bestsellerdom (I’m sure that’s not a word!) of my first novel in excruciating detail on the blog of entrepreneurial indie writer and self-publishing guru extraordinaire David Gaughran.

If you want to read about every little moment of my holidaze adventure, after I entered RUNNING into the KDP Select program – of which I am now a devout fan – please click here for the always informative and entertaining “Let’s Get Digital” blog penned by Irishman-turned-Swedish-ex-pat Mr. Gaughran.

And thank you, Dave. It was a treat!

Christmas Mitzvahs and New Years Blessings

It was the day before Christmas, 2010. I hadn’t bought everything I needed for the holiday yet, so I was a bit frantic. As usual, I was performing with a choir on Christmas Eve, so I had places to go and notes to sing.

I had just loaded all my groceries into the car, and was trying get out of the crowded parking lot, when I saw a frazzled-looking woman wandering around from lane to lane pushing her cart. Clearly she had forgotten where she had parked. After some minutes of searching aimlessly, she actually came out with it, wailing to the universe, “I can’t find my car!”

I hesitated for a moment, thinking about the frozen products I had sitting in my trunk, and then figured that it was the perfect day to do a mitzvah — a good deed. I drove my car into the lane where she had just landed (no small feat, considering the frantic drivers maneuvering through the full parking lot to do their critical holiday food shopping), and rolled down my window. I asked her if I could help her find her car.

“Thank you so much,” she says. She is almost crying. She can’t leave her full grocery cart, so I ask her for the license plate number. “I don’t know,” she says.

What kind of car?

“I don’t know; I’m so bad with that. Maybe a Buick. It has four doors.”

What color is it?

“Sort of… champagne.”

Hmm.

“It has an antenna on the rear windshield.”

Okay.

She has half-blonde hair with deep roots, a lot of lipstick, black sequins on her scarf, and turquoise chandelier earrings. I wonder what her story is. She doesn’t know what kind of car she has?

I take off and cruise the parking lot for about 10 minutes without seeing anything that I think could be her car. I finally give up, because I too need to get back home and finish my holiday preparations. And I have so little to go on. I drive back to where she is standing by her cart.

She seems calmer now.

I’m so sorry, I say, I can’t find it at all. Maybe you should go back inside and get someone at the store to watch your cart, and I’m sure they can drive you around until you recognize it….

“Thank you,” she says. “I’ll figure it out. My mother died today.”

I step back, stunned. It takes my breath away.

No wonder she is a little frazzled looking. I hug her, and tell her I am sorry.

I couldn’t find her car for her, but I was glad that I had tried. A small thing to do for another human being. On a day when she needed it.

I lost my mom on December 31st, 1994. Seventeen years ago, but I still miss her. These holidays are rich with layers, remembrances of Christmases past. Joys and sorrows. Beginnings and endings. Coming back around every year and bringing those memories with them.

A few years ago, when my Dad was 85 or so, he couldn’t find his car in the grocery store parking lot. A kind man drove him around in the dark, and when they had to give up, the man drove him home. The next day, in the sunshine, Dad found it parked around the corner from the store. He felt very sheepish. But I was so glad to hear that someone had helped him get home. A kind stranger doing a mitzvah. So last year I paid it forward.

One of my friends is going through domestic turmoil. She is planning to move out of her house, and trying to get herself safely situated before she tackles the bigger questions… like, what is she going to do for the rest of her life? She was driving home from Christmas Eve dinner at her sister’s in the next state, and as she pulled up to a tollbooth, the moneyman waved her through. “The lady up ahead paid for you. She said to tell you Merry Christmas, and God loves you.” Passing it on…

And last year on December 24th, which was the fifth anniversary of the day I pinpoint as the date on which I fell in love with my husband, I was singing with him at a glorious, candle-lit, Christmas Eve service. Right in the middle of “O Come All You Faithful,” when he had quietly stepped out of the bass section of the choir, I heard the ringing sound of his trumpet playing a high descant in harmony with the voices and the organ. As the peels of that bright sound came down all around the church, bringing memories of my Dad, also a trumpet player, and all the Christmases of years past, I felt the amazing miracle of our love. That I found him; that he found me; that we get the chance to make a life together which continues to get sweeter every year.

And last night, just before we fell asleep, I listened again to the voicemail message he left me six years ago on my cell. That Christmas Eve, in 2005, we had seen each other for dinner, then stood and watched the sun go down over Long Island Sound. That’s the moment I think I catapulted into love. But we had to leave each other after dinner to sing at our respective Christmas Eve services.

In the voicemail message, left late that night six years ago, he said that he had thought of me “just as they were lighting the candles at the very end of the service. I was thinking that tonight was so perfect, and I couldn’t think of anything that could have made it more perfect. And then finally I did think of something that would make it even more perfect… and that would be, if I could be singing with you.”

And now I sing with him every day. We have joined our lives.

Miracles do happen.

It’s the holidays again. Seventeen years ago, I lost a mom. Six years ago, I gained a loving partner. Three years ago, I lost a dad. Life goes on, full of joy and grief, and we survive.

Blessings to you as we begin again this year.

Working on it!

Welcome to any who wander in here. Kinda empty, isn’t it?

Just getting set up… come back by January 15 and you’ll see a real website.

Soon!

Patrice

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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

Like Running

My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.


Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.



Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

Running
THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!





Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.

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