What a crazy way to wrap up what has been an utterly surreal and unbelievable year.

First, I heard that Huffington Post listed WOOL on their list of books to look out for in 2013.

Then, BoingBoing mentioned the SHIFT books in a follow-up to their review of WOOL earlier in the year (BoingBoing, along with Wired, were among the first to review and mention Wool. They rock).

Finally, my socks were blown clear off when iO9 added me to their Science Fiction and Fantasy Power List. It’s simply not possible to convey how strange it is to be listed alongside my icons. Flabbergasting. What a crazy year.

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Listen up you doodlers and graphic artists, you photogs and knitters, you sculptors and puppeteers, Random House has just launched an unbelievable art competition for fans of WOOL. The gig is simple: You create something artistic inspired by the series, and they hand one lucky winner an iPad. AN iPAD!!

Good gracious, it gets even better. The winning entry will also be featured inside my next book, SHIFT, which will be released by Random House UK in the Spring. So you’ll be sitting there with your new iPad and be famous, too.

WOOL seems to attract the most talented of readers, so I can’t see what you all come up with. They’re allowing any medium, so if you enter something irreproducible and it wins, a picture of your piece will go in the book. Random House wants this to be open to as many artists as possible.

The details are right here: http://apps.facebook.com/woolbooks/PhotoContests

Best of Luck!

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Barring anything major happening over the next ten or so days, the blog is going to be awfully quiet. I’m heading out west to spend Christmas with family. I’ll also be doing a lot of writing and a lot less online stuff. Hopefully that comes as good news to most of you.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. Love on your families. I’ll check in before the year is up to look back at a wild and crazy 2012.

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I was tagged by John Joseph Adams to take part in The Next Big Thing meme, which basically asks writers to answer a set of questions that appear on blog after blog. There’s nothing I hate more than a chain letter. There’s nothing I love more than a good Q&A. Evenly balanced, I was swayed by my adoration of all things John Joseph Adams and decided to participate. I’ll start by imploring you — begging you — to read Wastelands, the finest post apocalyptic anthology ever created. Okay. Now to the questions.

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In March, Simon and Schuster is releasing a print edition of WOOL here in the United States, and I couldn’t be more excited. This deal is all about the new publishing paradigm. There are no clauses limiting what I can write and how quickly I can release. I keep control over the ebooks, which means the prices will stay where they are. And nobody will have to suffer my horrible pagination skills any longer. You’ll finally get a print edition with the utmost in quality and design.

And it gets better. Simon and Schuster is planning a simultaneous paperback and hardback release. This is something I begged for as a bookseller and more recently as a writer. Bookstores will get the paperback, which means WOOL will be affordable. Libraries (and those of us who prefer them) can order a hardback. It’s the best of all possible worlds. Affordable e-books published swiftly, paperbacks where anyone can find them, hardbacks for the libraries.

Throughout this process, I’ve tried to make decisions based on what readers and other authors deserve. My agent and I walked away from round after round of strengthening deals. Last month, we declined two separate 7-figure offers. What we wanted from the beginning was a contract that seemed fair. Simon and Schuster has earned my eternal respect and gratitude for coming through. I couldn’t be prouder to be one of their authors. I just hope this book lives up to their prestigious reputation.

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I took a huge load of signed books to the post office today. The ladies there told me that this was the last day for international books to be guaranteed arrival before Christmas. It’s also the last day for media mail to be sure to get to you before the holidays.

I was able to get everything ordered through Sunday in the mail. I’ll get the rest out this week. And I’ve got a huge announcement coming soon that will greatly impact all of this. Stay tuned!

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The lady behind the information kiosk at the Barnes and Noble here in Charleston lifted an eyebrow. Just one.

“Need help finding something?” she asked.

“Do you have a book called Wool?”

(They didn’t. I’d already checked. I was just being that author who wants to see if it’s something they stock.)

“Hugh Howey,” she said. Immediately. With no hint of recognition, or I would have said: “Hey” in response. “Are you looking for the Omnibus?” she asked.

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WOOL placed second in the GoodReads Choice Awards yesterday thanks to your efforts. It was amazing to be included with the other finalists. I can’t believe WOOL garnered enough votes to stand tall with the masters of the genre, men and women that I look up to. So thank you for taking the time to vote and for spreading the word. And congratulations to all the winners in every category!

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It can’t be. I wrote a piece today for one of my publishers on what it has been like to go from a bookseller to a bestseller. One year ago, I was shelving books, arranging displays, dusting a bookstore, and writing in the mornings and on my lunch breaks. WOOL 5 hadn’t been written yet. I was just wrapping up the rough draft of WOOL 4. Cut to a year later.

Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian option the film rights. 20 foreign countries pick up WOOL. Random House in the UK and Australia. #1 on Amazon. #11 on the New York Times list. It just doesn’t make any sense. And then this, which I think may be the most surreal event in a long line of surreal events. This was just Tweeted by an Australian bookseller:

What? Really? I have to somehow process this? Because it doesn’t compute.

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