About the Author

img-hugh Hugh Howey is the author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series.
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The Shell Collector Ebook Cover For Nook copy

The Shell Collector

He ruined her world. Now she's out to destroy his.

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Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. If your back hurts, go see one. If they tell you they can’t find anything wrong with you, but you know your back still hurts like the dickens, consider what happened to me:


I was twenty-five years old when I threw my back out. I was working on boats at the time. On this particular job, I was leading a fleet of several dozen boats for the annual Richard Bertram Summer Cruise, which is when new boat owners follow one another through the Bahamas for a week. As the fleet captain, I led planning and weather sessions over spread-out charts to show the other captains where we would head and what to be cautious of. I fixed broken air conditioners, stopped one boat from sinking, and most importantly — I set up the margarita machine in every port of call.

The margarita machine was this massive cooled ice swirler thingamabob that we stored in the lazarette of our lead yacht. It took two people to pick up the margarita machine. Unfortunately, only one person could fit in the lazarette. I was young, dumb, with more muscles than sense, so I would go in, crouch down, pick up this machine that weighed more than I did, and waddle out with it, hunched over.

The third or fourth time I did this, I heard a pop in my back, and I went down like someone who’d had eight margaritas. I’d never felt pain like this before, not with broken bones, nothing. I spent the rest of the cruise crying, stooped over, staggering around, laying out on the deck, putting fenders under my lower back, anything to make it stop. Everything I tried made it worse. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely see through the agony.

And so began my decade of debilitating and chronic back pain. Continue Reading →

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First, a glance at the rearview mirror. 2014 was absolutely insane. For travel, it began with a trip to Taiwan, where WOOL has become the #1 bestselling science fiction novel of all-time. London, Berlin, Toronto, New York, Istanbul, and Budapest were just a few of the other stops. I’m leaving out over a dozen trips. It was both exhilarating and exhausting to trot around the globe this year. It’s why I won’t be jetting around quite as much in 2015.

As far as releases, 2014 saw the release of two novels: SAND and THE SHELL COLLECTOR. It was also the year I put out my first children’s book, MISTY, with Nidhi Chanani. The WOOL graphic novel and comics came out. Then there were three short stories published online: (GLITCH, SECOND SUICIDE, and PROMISES OF LONDON). Not to mention two anthologies edited and contributed to (THE END IS NIGH and THE END IS NOW).

I’m leaving a few releases out. By my count, it’s something like ten or twelve things wrapped up this year. Mostly from distant hotel rooms or while in the air. Continue Reading →

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A couple anthologies to look out for. One is free, and includes 101 works of flash fiction from 101 authors. It’s called STORIES ON THE GO. A lot of people put a lot of effort into compiling and editing this work. I’m not one of them. All I did was contribute a piece for the collection.

Each story is less than 1,000 words long, so quick reads. This is a great collection of writers and a nice way to discover interesting voices before hunting down more of their works.

The other work I pre-ordered today is WASTELANDS 2, edited by John Joseph Adams. I loved the original WASTELANDS anthology. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

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The third and final video for your book creation. Earlier, I went over creating your print interior using InDesign. I also showed you one way to edit your ebook. Now I’m going to do a quick and dirty book cover, mainly to show you how to set up the file properly, and how to create your own UPC code. You should take more time and do a better job with the design and art than I will here in less than an hour.

Some links you’ll need:

The CreateSpace Cover Guidelines

A Free UPC Code Generator

And here’s the tutorial. Hope it’s useful:



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Traditional media and governments don’t seem to understand tech.

This year, German media outlets cried “foul” on Google for excerpting their stories in search results. You know, the results that point people back to the original story. They wanted Google to PAY for these excerpts.

Google stopped showing these results, and the traffic at these media outlets TANKED. Of course they did. So they begged to have their content excerpted again.

Now Spain is in the act, instituting a tax on Google for excerpts on its News search results. Google just announced that they will be pulling the results rather than paying the tax. I think we know what comes next.

With a move this boneheaded, some are speculating that surely there must be a reason for a law this idiotic. Is it a gift from the government to print media ahead of upcoming elections?

I personally vote for the far simpler “Idiots Interpretation.” Remember that this was also the year that France instituted the “Anti-Amazon Law.” This made it illegal to discount books and ship them for free. Amazon, which offered free shipping prior to the law, promptly began shipping books for ONE CENT. Continue Reading →

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Check this out. A group of students put together a reenactment of WOOL for a class project. They did a stellar job, I think.

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Another question I get a lot is how to edit our existing ebooks in order to correct small mistakes. (Another reason you might want to download an already-published ebook is to update the back matter with links to new releases.)

While I enjoy paginating my own print editions, I prefer to have someone else create my ebooks. There are little things that can go wrong with ebook creation that causes issues for readers on older devices. I swear by the folks at Polgarus Studio. You get perfect .epub and .mobi files without paying an arm and a leg.

But sometimes you just need to make a small fix to an existing file. For this tutorial, I started with an email from Amazon notifying me of errors in one of my ebooks. I then show you how to download that ebook file, convert it to an .epub with Calibre (download here), and then edit it with Sigil (download here).

Both programs are free. Donate to the developers if you can!

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I’ve had a few requests for details about how I paginate my print books, so here goes. Below you’ll find a 50-minute video of me walking through my pagination routine. It’s not quite everything, but I show 95% of what’s involved for a few sample chapters. From there, it’s just a matter of repeating the steps throughout the book. Once you do a few of these, it comes very naturally. You’ll also find that the process speeds up with practice.

First, download the CS 6 templates (I use the 5×8 template in the video, but you can use either one):

The 5 x 8 Template for CreateSpace

The 6 x 9 Template for CreateSpace

For older versions of InDesign, use these IDML Templates:

The 5 x 8 Template for CreateSpace

The 6 x 9 Template for CreateSpace

To watch the video, you might want to make it bigger by expanding it or going to YouTube:

My favorite place to upload the finished PDF is CreateSpace. Check them out here. The service is completely free to use. You can even “proof” your work online without having to order a copy, though I highly recommend ordering a physical proof and going through every page one more time. A proof copy will cost you around $7, shipped, for a standard 300-page book.

I hope this is useful. If so, let me know. And if you want to make improvements to the template files and share them with others, feel free.

Also, if you want to see the results in person, you can snag a paperback copy of The Shell Collector right here. You’ll notice that I use the cream interior and the matte cover options, which I think look a lot more professional than white page interiors or glossy covers.

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 UPDATE: The print edition just went up for preorder! 

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Two weeks from release, and I just got the proof copies of the print edition in my grubby little paws. This might be the prettiest book I’ve ever assembled. The M.S. Corley cover is gorgeous, and I put a lot of time and care into the interior design. The book just looks amazing. No need to read it, you can just display it around your home!

The ebook is up for pre-order at several outlets already:

The Shell Collector on Amazon.com
The Shell Collector on iBooks
The Shell Collector on Kobo.com

I’ll put a Nook link up here as soon as the work is available there. It’s a measly $4.99 at all outlets. Fancy coffees cost more. The print edition (which is now up for pre-order) is $15.00.

So what’s the book about? It takes place in a very near future where sea levels have risen and the oceans have grown warmer. Mass extinctions have left seashells incredibly rare and extremely valuable. Hunting them down is the newest Dutch Tulip Craze.

As an avid collector and contributor for the Times, Maya Walsh frequently writes about shelling and the state of the seas. She is working on a four-part expose on Ness Wilde, the world’s foremost shell collector, and an oil company CEO. Maya blames people like Ness for what’s become of our world, and she has watched him profit mightily from the warmed and rising seas. As far as she’s concerned, Ness Wilde helped destroy her world. Now she’s out to wreck his.

The Shell Collector a mix of post-apocalyptic, suspense, romance, and environmental fiction. Mary Alice Monroe, the bestselling author of  The Summer’s End had this to say:

Green fiction at its finest! With science, romance and mystery, The Shell Collector will appeal to both men and women. I’ve been waiting for a hard hitting novel about the state of our oceans–and this is it!

I hope you all enjoy! And now for that unboxing:

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Often, when you aren’t happy with what you’re writing, it’s because you’re writing about your character from a distance. You’re seeing your scene as a bird might. Swoop down. Sit right behind the eyes of your protagonist. Is she sitting in a field? What does the sun feel like on her skin? Is he walking down a city street? Does the grass grow up through cracks in the sidewalk?

Another thing to remember is that your character is not your plot. They aren’t a vehicle for driving the reader through your story. They have their own history; their heart has been broken; they lie in bed at night and dream of being something else. They have siblings and cousins they’ve played games with, games only they know the rules to. They are scared. Confused. Confident. On the verge of being in love. There was that one time they danced in public, and they didn’t care how goofy they looked.

The only way to convince your readers that this world is real, that these characters are real, is to believe it first yourself. To do that, you need to zoom in. See the world as your characters do. Describe it through all 8 or 10 of their senses.* Know them as well as you know a dear friend. And then write to do them justice. Continue Reading →

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How cute are these guys? A Boston startup invented them. Supposedly, Amazon has adapted several of their distribution centers to use these puppies. Pretty soon, the complaints will go from working conditions at warehouses to lack of jobs at warehouses.

Another video and more over at The Passive Voice.

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