Monday, December 30, 2013

Silo 49: Dark Till Dawn Beta Readers Done, Final Stretch!

All the notes from the beta readers got back to me in record time.  Very glad to report that all of them liked the book but I do have some tweaking to do.  I'm going through yet another printed version of the book right this minute and adjusting.

That means we're in the home stretch!

Just for fun, here is a very cool sweatshirt I got from my sister for Christmas.  It really describes how I've been with the family since I started this series.  In case you can't see it, it reads:  When comforting a stressed-out writer, whisper "There, their, they're."  Pardon the fresh from bed look and uncombed hair.  It was Christmas morning and I had to get to my sister's before the kids got up so I have an excuse.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Closing in on the finish; Beta Readers Get Ready!

Yes, I'm way late.  But, I'm also way late on holiday gift shopping and have not made a single Christmas cookie (something I'm known for and my neighbors will be unhappy about).

Instead, I've been working...working...working on the third installment of Silo 49.

Have you any notion of how hard it is to get in the mood for dark, silo thoughts when Christmas lights are twinkling?  Argh!

Quite a few people have asked to be beta readers and I'll be emailing you to find out your availability given the holiday season.   Others who haven't signed up for it are more than welcome to.  Just use the Contact Me form to the right and be sure your return email address is correct.

Qualifications for being a beta reader? You like to read, you've read the other two so you know the story and you aren't afraid to tell an author the truth.  Beta readers will be primarily telling me if they like the story, the characters and what struck them as awkward or not enjoyable.  If you catch an odd grammar or spelling error, you'll be my hero but that certainly isn't required.  You'll get a week from the day I send it to respond.

I had thought to get an editor, but the delay involved for publication is too much considering the mail I'm getting.  That process certainly does take a while!

And as a final note and a hint to Silo 49 fans:  You might want to make sure you get a copy of Silo 49: Dark Till Dawn quickly when published.  That cover is going to be a short run and big changes are coming.  Hint, super hint.

Also, if you haven't put a review down for either book, do take a moment and write one.  It makes a huge difference in how the Amazon shuffling of books happens. Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cover Preview for Silo 49: Dark Till Dawn

For all of you that are waiting so patiently for book three, let me say first: I really am working as fast as I can!  And here is a little taste.  The cover.

What do you think?

Monday, November 25, 2013

NaNoWriMo Complete!

Yes, oh yes, I have completed the required 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the month of November.  Here is the beautimus winner badge.

What was the novel? Oh, I hear some of you out there saying, "It better be Dark Till Dawn!" Well, it isn't. I almost didn't do the NaNoWriMo this year because I was so committed to hurrying up with DTD, but in the end, I knew I would regret it. DTD is a harder book to write and I'm taking much more time with it.

I still don't have an editor since the one I want is booked for the next 5 months at least.  I'm pretty sure some of you—if I base it on your emails—are not in the mood to wait that long. So, I'm taking my time and trying to do a good job so I don't irritate you.

What I did write was a new book called "Lulu 394". 

It's a stand alone book, not a series.  I hope to launch that one after DTD.  If you're curious, here is the first draft synopsis.

"Earth's Seed project may be the only truly altruistic endeavor ever carried out by humanity. Lulu Whelkins is one of the hundreds of young scientists chosen for it but almost every human on the planet will get to ride along. At least their DNA will. Self-replicating spacecraft carrying the blueprints for Earth's life will travel the stars and slowly seek planets that are empty and waiting to be transformed. It might take a million years for each one, but what is time to a machine?

The only problem is that it doesn't work without a human in the loop. Lulu is chosen to be a "Loaded Strand", one of the few who will be reborn, over and over, as a "Load" into a new body and aid the machines in the ways that only humans can.

Lulu wakes to find everything as it should be. Her mission sets are clear and the other loads planned are people she likes. The planet is raw and beautiful and bare...perfect. Small changes around the ship are the only things that mar the perfection. A string a numbers etched behind a door, an arrow pointed the wrong way on a bulkhead. In deciphering the puzzle of these small changes, Lulu finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Seed and herself."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reader Question #2 Answered

After I answered the first question on the blog, I got a slew of emails from readers with other questions which was delightful! I've parsed them out and found the next most asked questions.  Here is one:

Question:  How do you know/did you decide/create the biosphere of the silo? I don't remember that much detail in the original WOOL series.

Answer:  Because I'm a total geek and did an analysis of most of the main factors and filled in the slots much like a real biosphere is designed.

Longer answer:  Hugh Howey left a lot of those details vague because it worked with his stories and let our imaginations roam wild.  But I'm a scientist by profession in a couple of fields and one of the reasons I was so drawn to the original story back in 2011 was because it left me with so much to think about, figure out and draw for myself.  I think that is a natural human reaction and may have played a role in the WOOL plague spread throughout the reading world.

After WOOL 2 and 3, I decided I needed to see how big the WOOL silos really were so I took Juliette's walk as the measure in a huge parking lot and came up with an answer that shocked me.  The silos are ginormous.  They make the couple of silos I've been in seem like root cellars.  Their sheer volume means that they would have to possess a complex biosphere it order to have successive generations of healthy individuals.

And that is basically how I did it.  I figured out the required components and then selected plants and animals that could fill those needs but whose own needs could be filled with minimal other inputs.  

I get specific questions on Olives and fats a lot.  Many people seem to have wondered about that in the first books.  Olives are actually pretty easy to grow.  I grow Arbequina olives here in Eastern Virginia without a problem.  You can restrict their size with pots and their fat is high quality.  Ditto with sesame and other seed based fats. 

Hope that answers your question! You can ask me more questions using the contact form to the right.  Also, if you want me to send you an email when the next book, "Dark Till Dawn" comes out, use that contact form for that too.  I'd be happy to.  With the holidays coming, it's easy to forget about something you wanted for yourself. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Funny Stuff and an Update on Book Three

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Sorry I've been out of touch and was slow on answering some of the mail that came in via the Contact Me widget.  I think I got everybody answered as of this morning so if you haven't gotten a reply, shoot me another email because you got ate by the machine.

I had a lovely case of food poisoning that will forever leave scorch marks on my memory. That and a wonder for nurses who seem immune to anything they see in a hospital and still smile and pat your arm. No worries though, I'm functional and back at work on the book!

So, after being away from the computer for a few days I saw that some new reviews came in and, of course, I went right to them.  One of them was bad but also hilarious.

The title was, "Desperate housewife meets Plato".  I'm totally not making that up. It's right there on Amazon.  It actually made me feel a little bad because I didn't think Marina was at all like that. Fashion obsessed? No. Cheating on spouse? No. Superficial? No.

Either way, there it is, bringing down my average.  So, if you read either book and liked it, please do me a huge favor and write a review on Amazon. They don't need to be long. And, I appreciate them!

Now for the update.  Work is moving apace on the last book and I don't foresee any huge delays coming.  Given the horror of what happens when other series end poorly or haphazardly, I'm doing my best to make this be what it needs to be.

This is also NaNoWriMo, which comes each November, and I'm working on a soon to be released book for that.  It is called "Lulu 394".  I sure hope some of you that read and liked the Silo 49 series so far will venture to read that one too.

And one more thing: I've had a lot of people contact me that they didn't get notified by Amazon when Silo 49: Deep Dark came out even though they clicked that button on my Author Page there.  It is a bit unreliable.  If you want notification of my releases, use the contact me widget and just let me know.  I will only use it to let you know of a new book.  If you specifically want, I'll also let you know of any giveaways I do in the future. (None planned right now but who knows?)  I hate spam and I won't spam you.

I hope everyone is doing well out there and having a great start to the big holiday season, where shopping gets vicious and the lists from kids get long.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Silo 49 Email Question Answered - #1

First let me say how much I love getting notes from people. The little 'Contact Me' widget to the right over there is getting some use and I'm happy for it. I'm pretty shy about leaving comments where anyone can see them so I figured the widget might be more comfortable for some people. Turns out that is how almost everyone contacts me. That's okay by me!

So, along with the very kind words which help me keep writing when it gets hard, I get lots of really interesting questions. Some of the questions are really brilliant and a few of them I've gotten several times. Conventional wisdom tells us that for every one person who will ask an author a question many others will have wondered about but not asked.

The first one is from Silo 49: Deep Dark.

Question: What is that soap that Marina sees in the shower and then picks up at home? It was described as a pot or jar of dark soap that smelled like rosemary or lavender.

Answer: That was basically Moroccan black soap. Not African black soap, Moroccan.

Answer explanation for those that are really curious:  Originally, I never gave much thought to the soap and just had a bar in there. But then I realized it didn't fit in with the ecosystem of the silo. (Given that I'm a scientist in a couple of related fields, I created a whole ecosystem that would work in the Silo universe just for fun. Yeah, I know, weird.) Bar soaps require a complicated chemical reaction that would involve more burning of material, especially wood, than the silo would likely tolerate given they need some of that wood ash lye for other things as well. Many liquid soaps also are fairly high intensity efforts with chemistry and materials that can be better used elsewhere. Also, in the silo there probably isn't much in the way of true lotion, so keeping drying soaps away from skin is pretty important when you're talking about babies and older people.

The one thing that the silos have, and were designed to have, is a lot of labor with a lot of time on their hands. That means that the quicker and more efficient processes aren't necessarily the best ones for silo use.

Back to the explanation...I had a better answer than bar soap right in my own bathroom so I researched it and found that it fit just right. Moroccan black soap is made of the leftovers after squeezing olives for oil, scent squeezed from plants as oil and a bit of water when made traditionally. The process can be sped up by adding a bit of caustic material to saponify the olive paste.

It makes a sort of rubbery goo that goes in nice, reusable jars or pots and requires only the smallest amount to get clean. It is also completely non-drying, good for hair and fine for babies. Also, bubbles from soap and shampoo are the absolute bane of gray water systems on ships, and that would be equally true in the silo, given their recycling nature. Again, this kind of black soap lathers very little so it was a nice fit.

Hope that answers the question for those that wondered but didn't send a note to ask the question.

There are loads of questions that I've gotten that I'd be happy to answer. Just let me know if you'd like that by either doing that +1 thingie on the post, tweet, comment or whatever. always...all the shy ones can just contact me directly!

If you have a question you'd like answered, go ahead and ask away!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Featured on Logan Thomas Snyder's Week in Words

Hey some neat-o news to share. Logan Thomas Snyder (an awesome writer) has featured me on his Week in Words this week with an outstanding review of the first book, Silo 49: Going Dark.

I giggled like a school girl when I read it. I admit it.

Here is the link if you want a peek.

Logan Thomas Snyder - This Week in Words

And just to keep you updated on book three, I'm working hard on Silo 49: Dark till Dawn. Current word count is 42,600 words out of a projected 80,000 words. Based on how it is going, I'm looking at possibly as much as 90,000 words. That's about the same as Deep Dark was.

What do you all think? Do you want it long like Deep Dark?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Writer's Block Over, Reviews and a SNEAK Peek

Can you hear that big sigh of relief from where you are?

Some reviews have come in and I am so very happy to see them. That some of you have really liked it is more important than any other thing when it comes to writing. Please keep sharing! Reviews are absolutely crucial to any indie writer since we rely on word of mouth rather than publicists. Okay...stepping down from my indie flavored soapbox.

My writer's block is officially over and I couldn't be happier about it. I opened up the latest file and was so happy to see the characters just waiting there for me to come back. They are rather like good friends or family when they are being written.

Oh, and before I forget, you can now find me on The Twitter. @AnnChristyZ

And because I'm so relieved and writing words that I don't immediately delete, I'm including a little sneaky peeky at a scene I really like. Keep in mind, this is just draft work so it might disappear before the final draft, but for now, I like it. What thinkest thou?

     "I know who you are and how good you are and how good you think you are," he began in a voice somewhat roughened with age. "You're wrong about all of it. The element you're missing is the one I'm going to help you get and that is the ability to perform under pressure when you want to quit." He began to walk slowly back and forth in front of the two runners as he spoke. "Up to now, you've run because it's fun, because it's a thrill and because it lets you break a few of the rules. You quit when you're tired. Even though you probably think you're going beyond that, you aren't. You run through air, with your favorite old boots on and your coveralls tied low so you stay cool and can enjoy the breezes you make."

     He stopped then and pointed at Leo, "Is that what it is going to be like out there?"

     Leo cleared his throat and said, "No, Trainer."

     Trainer Piper nodded and pointed at Lillian. She felt her throat try to close up and a cough coming on when that finger swung her way. He asked, "Are you going to be able to quit because you're tired when you're outside?"

     Her voice broke a little in her dry throat when she answered, "No, Trainer."

     Again, he nodded and took a few steps toward the tank. He pointed at the tank and looked back at them. "That will let you know a little bit of what it feels like outside. We'll strap on those weights so you know what it's like to walk in a suit with the air moving so fast it tries to knock you down. I'll run you in that tank until the skin of your feet starts to peel off and you know what?"

     Lillian wasn't sure how to answer that one. It wasn't a yes or no question but he was looking at them and expecting an answer so she improvised, "What will happen, Trainer?"

     He quirked an eyebrow at her, though she couldn't decide if that was a good quirk or a bad one. He answered them though. "It won't do an Other’ed thing to make you really ready for what is out there. It will help, don't get me wrong, but when you're out there and can't see the length of a landing in any direction and the air is hitting you so hard that it sounds like someone is dumping a bucket of seed over your head and your suit feels like it is making you double in size, well, there's nothing but what is inside you that can help you with that."

     He walked away from them when he finished speaking and Lillian was, for the first time, a little afraid of what winning might mean. She shivered at the thought of it and decided that this was no game. This training needed to be paid attention to and followed. She realized that if she couldn't be devoted to it then she shouldn't be here.

    Zara came forward again and told them, her voice once again clipped and more than a little impatient, "Okay, you rail clingers, go get your clothes issue and change into your tank gear and get back in here. You have until I get done in the bathroom to get back here."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nerves, Reviews and Writer's Block

Hello All!

I see that quite a few of the readers out there have grabbed up the second book, Silo 49: Deep Dark and I'm happy that you have. I sure hope you enjoyed it...however...

I have no clue if you did.

The first review came, surprisingly, from the UK Amazon site. (Shout out to John M, whoever you are. Thank you!)

That is where the nerves and writer's block come in. I waited an absolutely agonizing three days for the first review for Going Dark and thought I might explode by the time that first one rolled into sight. It's been eleven days since the new one is out and not a single review.

Since I figure out the meaning of things in the world for a living, I have a tendency to analyze what goes on around me. Who wants to bet that I haven't been obsessed with what the lack of reviews mean? LOL. I wouldn't take that bet.

My tendency is to think that means people walk away with a "meh" feeling. They don't hate it enough to rant and they don't love it enough to say Wow. Or, perhaps, it means that because it is longer and isn't likely to be one that people open and finish at once, that they are tired of it by the time it is over. ::shrugs:: Either way that is bad.

On the up side, I have received a few emails from people who said they loved it and wanted to either know when book three is coming or if they can be Beta readers for book three. That is very nice!

But, as time goes on, I worry. And I haven't written a word in five days. I deleted one, but I simply couldn't even find a single word to replace that one.

So, please help me shake off this writer's block, upset tummy and nervousness. Whether you hated it, loved it or it just left you cold, say so on Amazon! Leave a review! It doesn't have to take long and it doesn't have to be War and Peace. It will help others to know if they should take it or leave it, too. That can only be a good thing. Silo 49: Deep Dark on Amazon

I would really appreciate it! And so would Lillian, Leo, Greg, Zara and all the other characters who are languishing in awkward positions while I try to write them.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Silo 49: Deep Dark is Published!

Deep Dark is Out There!

Many huge thanks to the Beta readers! Your feedback was insightful and helpful. I can't say enough nice things about you. Anxious to see what the rest of the readers think of it! 

If you'd like to be in the mix for Beta readers on the final volume for Silo 49, just drop me a line! You can even use the handy box to the right over there. 

In the mail, I've gotten some really great questions. Many of them ask the same or similar things. Do you all think an FAQ would be in order?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Beta Readers for Silo 49: Deep Dark Wanted

Howdy All!

Intense re-writes have been going on for part 2 of the Silo 49 trilogy even though my original plan was to actually have it live and in your hands by now.

I read every review with care and try to parse out what the words mean in terms of the reading experience for each person. I'm certainly not the only author to do that, but I really do appreciate now how hard it can be to figure out what a reviewer really means in terms of the work.

Of course, I'm tickled, flaming neon pink with racing stripes...when I read a 5 star review and very sad when I read one that is less than complimentary, but each one also has a lesson for me to use. I'm trying to improve the series, not just continue it.

I'm a scientist, not a professional writer. Who knew it was this hard?

So, back to the point. After reading the reviews I took a hard and critical look at Deep Dark, got feedback from an experienced author and then set to chopping it up. I'm closing in on something I can be happy with but what will readers think?

If you've read Silo 49: Going Dark and are looking forward to Silo 49: Deep Dark, then you might be just the reader I'm looking for. For those not familiar with the Beta Reader process; in brief, I'll send you an advance copy of Deep Dark via email and you read it. That's pretty much it except that in return you tell me what you thought, where you felt it was slow, redundant or especially good. There is generally a very short window of time to read and return your thoughts, like a week. You also agree not to share the file with anyone, ever.

If you're interested, you can leave a comment and I can comment back. You can also write me directly at ann(dot)christyauthor(AT)gmail(dot)com. I also have that handy "Contact Me" form to the right.

On a side note, W.J. Davies has finished up his series with a new release, "The Watcher", and it is fantabulous! If you haven't read that Wool based fan fiction series, I can heartily recommend it. Tight writing, intense storyline and broad finish. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Silo 49: Deep Dark is undergoing additional rewrites. That's a whole lotta paper!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Things We Do for Realism!

Just look at one of things I did to capture a realistic element in the Silo. And that is just one type....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Two Cover Preview!

Okay all....tell me what you think of the cover. Deep Dark coming soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Silo 49: Deep Dark is Coming Soon!

The cover is done.

Two edits are done.

Flow checks and a final story read....followed by yet MORE corrections...and then it will be out! If you want to be notified, you can do it through Amazon on my author page or you can just send me a note.

I'm getting excited. A sneak preview of the cover may be coming soon just for fun. Then you can tell me what you think it might mean.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

DUST by Hugh Howey is out!!!

If you've read Silo 49: Going Dark, then it is almost certain that you did because you are a fan of Hugh Howey's series' of WOOL, SHIFT and now DUST.

As of today, August 17th, DUST is out and available. I'm hunkering down with my Kindle HD that conveniently flashed me the beautiful cover as soon as it hit the market. I'll be spending the day reading while the service comes to maintain my climate control system.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Silo 49: Going Dark is Published!

It's hard to believe, but the first book is out!

I hit the publish button on July 15th but I kept it mum from most until I got a few reviews. I was worried that it would stink. I knew it would be a nerve-wracking thing to publish but I had absolutely no idea how deep the pit of my stomach would get.

It is with all honesty that I can say I had no butterflies...because I had giant freaking bats in there.


So I waited to see what would happen and I'm happy to say that people seem to like it! I don't know any of the people who have given me reviews, though I did read the silo stories by +Patrice Fitzgerald and loved those. It is nice to know that people have enjoyed them and liked the writing. The @Kiki Burn review pretty much had me dancing all over the living room. I'm not afraid to admit it!

I'm chugging away on the second one....basically, I'm picking it to death. Should be up very, very soon.

Oh, and my email has changed! You can reach me using annDOTchristyauthorATgmailDOTcom or you can just comment here. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy Reading.