Hugh Howey

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Subscribe!

Newsletter

If you want to get free books and hear about new releases, sign up here. Who doesn’t love free stuff?

Join 1,507 other subscribers

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.

Calendar

November 2017
M T W T F S S
« May    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930