Housewife with a Half-Life is a year old and I’m celebrating by giving away two signed paperback copies. Housewife is the lively adventure of mother of twins Susan Strong and travelling spaceman Fairly Dave through other dimensions to find Susan’s other lost selves and save the universe. With a light sprinkling of science, a lot of comedy, domestic appliances that are out to get you and plenty of heart, it’s a fun read for the summer. Here are some of the things that readers have said about the book.
“wasn’t able to put it down, fantastic, funny and pure comedy from start to finish 10/10”
“a witty and acerbic satire on 21st Century womanhood. Think Bridget Jones on acid.”
“A unique and delightful novel.”
“Charming and enchanting with a dash of science”
“A brilliantly humorous book which had me laughing from the start!”
“an unforgettable world that will make you laugh, cry, whoop with joy and encourage you to re-evaluate the pathways of your own existence.”
I’m delighted to have received a mention on the RTE Tubridy radio show this morning by Vanessa O’ Loughlin of Writing.ie. As she explained my book HOUSEWIFE WITH A HALF-LIFE will be free for just today and tomorrow Feb 19th – 20th
Eat Pray Love meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Susan Strong discovers she is literally disintegrating and has to find herself to save the universe. In this feel-good comedy adventure, Susan, her precocious four year old twins Pluto and Rufus and Fairly Dave, (a kilt- wearing spaceman with luminescent emotions) travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves. Along the way they must dodge the Geezers with their Entropy Hoovers, and defeat the evil memory bankers. Where the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together. From dystopian landscapes to chicken dinners, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?
‘Fantastic, funny and just pure genius’ 5*
‘an unforgettable world that will make you laugh, cry, whoop with joy and encourage you to re-evaluate the pathways of your own existence.’ 5*
Charming and enchanting with a dash of science 4*
Paperback available online or in Dubray Books Bray or Hughes and Hughes, Dundrum
My novel Housewife with a Half-Life is available in a variety of formats for all e-readers over at Smashwords and you can get 50% off with this coupon code: AL24Z.
TRY HOUSEWIFE WITH A HALF-LIFE OR GIVE IT AS A GIFT HERE AND DON’T FORGET THE CODE!
Original and imaginative… glorious scientific allusions and illusions in a fast-paced and sparkling tale…a nuclear fusion of a novel..Move over H.G., A.B. Wells has written the time-travelling tale for the 21st century!
Tania Hershman, author of The White Road and Other Stories.
A Housewife’s answer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! In this lively space comedy Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are alive and dangerous, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic converter could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.
In this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?
I originally signed up for the Kindle free days to be part of the promotion for the launch of the wonderful Jawbreakers anthology in May. I had only launched Housewife with a Half-Life a few days before so perhaps it wasn’t the best time to give it away for free but being part of a British nationwide launch perhaps gave me a wider audience/exposure that I would not have had otherwise.
What are Kindle Free Days good for?
Since Housewife was my debut novel as A.B.Wells I was interested to read how Kindle free days had helped some self-publishers gain extra readers and sales subsequent to the promotion. But there seemed to be some caveats. This strategy seemed to have worked best for those who were a) releasing books in the earlier ebook days before the deluge of ebooks and free offerings b) for authors who already had a following from traditional publication or earlier books c) for authors who were trying to promote a series or later books (they would give an earlier one away free.
But that wasn’t me
As the end of my Kindle free period approached, I realised that I did not fit any of these criteria. My comedy in the universe was a new departure, both from my literary work as Alison Wells (published in anthologies and known on the blog) and was the first book I had to offer. So what could possibly be gained by using the FREE DAYS.
All that work for FREE?
Another issue that has been much discussed is the concept of FREE itself. Some self-publishers enjoy the idea of the work being the thing, making it available in a democratic way and being read is the most important thing. FREE is part of the FREEDOM of being Indie. Other self-publishers, while applauding these sentiments are also concerned about whether a constant supply of free books engenders the expectation of never having to pay, particularly for ebooks. While people would be happy to pay €10 euro (about $11 £8) for a paperback, an electronic version may not seem as valuable (and is easier for both the writer and the reader to discount in both senses of the word).
I’ve sold about 80 books in real world transactions (in bookshops or direct) and made a reasonable return, especially of course on the direct sales. My initial price of $2.99 dollars and its equivalent allowed me to be on the 70% royalty on many sales for the ebook. Again a reasonable amount. As a first time author without a track record, realistically, breaking even might be a goal, much as the accounts of bestsellers are thrilling and are always hoped for. I had costs, for sure, several hundred pounds/euros for a designer and editor, marketing materials for my real world launch and initial outlays on purchasing 160 books to sell to bookshops and direct. I personally don’t have an outside income (at the moment I’m at home with my four children). We live on my husbands wages. I need to cover costs at least. The book took months to write and a year to edit and bring to publication. All writers know how much work goes into producing something of quality. Again, why give it away for free?
So why did you change your mind?
Ideally I would have used the free days when the sequel The Meaning of Life is Monday was out. But Kindle free days are to be used within three months. It’s now or never. So what made me change my mind?
1: The possibility of widening my reader base
I’m in this for the longer term. I may need to get my skates on and release further material that people can click on when they finish Housewife but I will still reach new people who might visit my blog (there is a hyperlink in the ebook!) and find out what else I write and when it will be out. I might reach a particular person who will enjoy my book, become an advocate, write a review (make the movie – okay one can dream. Matthew McConaghy as Fairly Dave (the kilted spaceman with luminescent emotions would be interesting 🙂 )
As a marketing hotspot
Running Kindle free days gives me an event around which to talk about my book and blog about things like Kindle free days and to link to my new publications of short collections of short stories (under the name Alison Wells) that will be out in the next few days.
I might just go up the Amazon charts
While like Nicola Morgan I’m not a fan of tricks and games used to push books, such as constant self-promotion on Twitter, online, befriending just to sell, garnering reviews that aren’t authentic, the free day option is a legitimate tool to try to make your book stand out from the crowd. I believe in Housewife with a Half-Life. I have other books in drawers that I didn’t believe in so much. I engaged and editor and designer and did everything I could to make the book as good as I could. Other people believe in the book. I think it’s a heartwarming and uplifting read and I want to give it the best chance I can.
Last time Housewife with a Half-Life was free for one day, was downloaded 500 times but I didn’t see many follow on sales. I don’t know what will happen this time. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you later. But despite my reservations, I hope that Housewife with a Half-Life can benefit from this little boost and that if you read it you’ll enjoy and come back and tell me.
Update: August 2012
As a matter of interest, at the end of my 4 kindle free days I had a total of 3000 downloads and have seen consistent sales since then, not in huge numbers (tens) but beyond what was happening before the free days. While on Kindle free Housewife with a Half-Life went to number 3 in sci-fi free and close to (tantalisingly close to) the top 100 kindle reads in .com and .uk. From talking to other authors I can attribute the continuing extra sales to Housewife with a Half-Life having become visible in the “also bought” lists. So in terms of gaining visibility, the Kindle free days were successful.
Let me know what you’ve decided to do with your Kindle free days and how it’s worked out for you or any of your thoughts on the concept of FREE.
A last little marketing plug. Note: Housewife with a Half-Life is no longer free but it’s just 99c/77p until the end of August.
Here are some of the things people have said in the reviews:
“this book was recommended to me and really didn’t know what to expect but wasn’t able to put it down, fantastic, funny and pure comedy from start to finish 10/10”
“A brilliantly humorous book which had me laughing from the start!”
Yesterday the Higgs Boson & today Housewife with a Half-Life gets a mention as a beach read in the Irish Independent. Not bad for a self-published book eh? Is there no end to the excitement? And all while I’m off on a quiet retreat.
Take heart self-publishers, all sorts of things are possible!
Meanwhile back to my traditional agent seeking literary self. I’m working on The Exhibit of Held Breaths on writing retreat and I think it could be something good.
What a fabulous evening we had yesterday (22nd June) at the book launch of Housewife with a Half-Life! With a warm welcome from Don and Chris at Hughes & Hughes, Dundrum, a wonderful turnout, a super speech and reading by lovely author Colette Caddle it was a wonderful occasion. General chit chat and refreshments followed as I took part in my first signing.
I’d like to thank all those who came along and those who weren’t able to make it and sent messages of support. There was a wonderful crowd there and the books were snapped off the shelves. What a wonderful feeling for a writer used to beavering away at home to be recognised as an author. Here are a few more pics of the evening.
and for those on Facebook, you should be able to access the album here. More pics will be added as I gather them. Thanks once again to everyone who attended, or
who has read, reviewed, tweeted, shared, talked about the book and is helping to spread the word of my A.B. Wells endeavour across the universe!
Bookshop launch of Housewife with a Half-Life and Mid-Summer Tweetup!
I want to invite you all to the real life bookshop launch, signing & reading of Housewife with a Half-Life taking place in Hughes & Hughes Booksellers, Dundrum, from 7pm onwards on Friday next 22nd June.
Housewife with a Half-Life will be launched by the super bestselling author of twelve books, Colette Caddle! There will also be a wine & nibbles reception and I’ll be reading from the book in a felted dress, created by artistic sister Sharon of Feltcreative.
As it’s my debut launch as A.B. Wells I’d like to (dun)drum up as much of a crowd as possible so it would great if you could come along, bring a friend, a whole book club even! Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet online friends for real. I also want to support as much as possible Hughes & Hughes and in particular Chris, Don & Vicky who have been terrific. Here’s their official launch writeup. And here’s the display they’ve put up for me in the shop.
If you can come please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
The prize options are a signed paperback copy of Housewife with a Half-Life
OR a Kindle edition of Housewife with a Half-Life
You can read more about the book here.
All you have to do to enter is comment below and say if you would like the ebook or paperback. For extra entries you can:
Like my Facebook Page
Follow me on Twitter
Follow this blog by email signup
Add my book to your To Read shelf on Goodreads
Just say in the comment which of these things you have done.
Any comments made before midnight PST on 19 June will count, and a winner will be picked on 20th June.
Join me tomorrow Tuesday 12th June for the online paperback launch of Housewife with a Half-Life. Stop by to find out who has won the signed paperback and to enter the other competitions for book and other domestic fun prizes. Thanks so much for your good wishes and support! If you’re on Facebook like A.B. Wells to find out about other comps, posts and giveaways and the real-life 3d launch in Dublin.
Who (or what) would you like to see in a kilt competition to win signed book prize.
Fairly Dave is the very loveable spaceman character in Housewife with a Half-Life. Here is when Susan Strong first sees him:
“He was wearing a random outfit that consisted of a biker jacket, a t-shirt with the logo “42 – not as bad as you think” and a kilt. His legs, of which there were definitely just two, were truncated by a pair of purple iridescent Doc Martens. His hair was, well, the stuff of nightmares. I don’t want to name names, but let’s just say that the lead singer of Status Quo would have been the ideal poster boy for this gentleman. There was a ponytail, a receding hair line and a shiny pate that Susan had a compulsion to draw a question mark on.”
Later we go on to learn that he is extremely tall and that he has luminescent emotions. Parts of his body (ahem!) light up in different colours when he feels, angry, scared, loving or guilty.
It seems that Men in kilts are very popular. When googling, I found this interesting and amusing site for window cleaners in kilts. I love their 100% clean guarantee! and their No Peeking! sign. (Giggling women alert).
There are many films with Men in Kilts (hopefully Housewife with a Half-Life will be too :-)). Braveheart and Four Weddings and a funeral are some of the most well known. For my part So I Married an Axemurderer with Mike Myers and A Life Less Ordinary (EUAN MCGREGOR!!!) are among my favourites.
So, to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life, just say in the comments below who you would like to see in a kilt (doesn’t necessarily have to be male) or who’s your favourite movie person in a kilt. Keep the comments funny and clean!
The competition is open until midday GMT on June 12th, the day of the paperback launch of Housewife with a Half-Life. I will draw a winner at random and announce soon after.
There will be another super competition on the day of the launch when you can win some of the following prizes related to items and episodes in the book! Don’t forget to visit the blog and share the competitions with your friends. Thanks!
‘You said you’re here to look after me?’ Susan said as he lowered his tea cup. ‘But that’s my job, looking after everyone else. Why do I need looking after?’
‘There’s been some trouble, an anomaly, you might not even be aware of it,’ said the Fairly God Father. ‘You’re stuck in a relativity and you can’t get out of it.’
Susan nodded, she’d always had an inkling and now that he’d put his finger on it, it kind of made sense.
‘You’ve noticed then?’ he paused, ‘You’ve heard of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment?’
‘Of course, experimental physics is my hobby. It’s an idea used to explain quantum mechanics. A cat is closed into a box with a radioactive element. At the moment a particle decays, some poison is released and kills the cat. But it’s impossible to predict when it will happen so no-one can be sure if the cat is alive or dead without looking.’
‘That’s as close to clear as you are going to get,’ said the Fairly God Father. ‘What we needed to do was look into your box so to speak.’
‘You just thought you’d pop in and check? Well you can see I’m perfectly fine. Things couldn’t be better. I have 2.5 children,’ she said, patting her belly, ‘well two children and half a mind to have another, a four bedroomed semi-detached home in a lovely well-manicured estate. I even have a washer dryer.’
‘Yes,’ he said gloomily. ‘I was going to warn you about that.’
Susan smiled. ‘I’m beginning to get the idea that you worry a little bit too much. Perhaps you’d like to read one of the self-help books I have on thought stopping, they’re ever so good. You can’t let your life be stymied by fear, you know. And by the way you have a little bit of jam on the end of your nose.’
‘The trouble is,’ said the Fairly God Father, wiping his nose, ‘that while you are caught in this relativity, we think that you are breaking down.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘We’re not sure exactly how it’s happened but we think that throughout your life time as you’re travelled through time and space, you’ve left elements of yourself behind in other dimensions. Your physical substance is disintegrating in sympathy. You are a Housewife with a Half-Life. The half-life is how long it’s going to take you to disintegrate by half. I’m sure you’ve heard it said before. “I’m not half the man I used to be.”’
‘Yes, but I’ve never heard it in relation to a woman.’
‘That’s the problem. It’s very rare. It’s not commonly known, but women are what’s keeping the universal fabric intact. All that multitasking and intuition, they are constantly weaving threads. We think that you’re the knot that’s keeping everything together but now the knot is fraying and,’ he swept his hand across his brow melodramatically, ‘and if we don’t sort you out…’
‘What?’ she said, putting her cup back into the saucer, ‘universal devastation?’
The Fairly God Father frowned. ‘Have you noticed anything unusual yourself?’
‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘I do seem to be stuck in a rut. Sometimes I wonder if there is really anything outside the four walls of this house. I seem to be doing the same thing over and over again and all the days blend into one another.’
The Fairly entity had taken out a notebook and was writing in it with a stubby pencil. He nodded for her to continue. ‘It looks like we’re right then. You are stuck in a temporal prison. That’s the way it is for a Housewife with a Half-Life. Everything is the same. You are stuck in groundhog.’
‘It can’t be all that bad!’ Susan said smiling. ‘I mean there are small changes. For instance yesterday I made roast chicken, today we’re having lasagne.’
‘People always make that mistake. They think that a temporal loop means everything stays identical. But there’s the question of entropy, chaos within a stable system. Just the mere fact that you are disintegrating will distort the timeline. These tiny differences give the impression of change but nothing really changes, does it? Can you even distinguish one day from the next?’
Susan put down the teacup. There was a milky rim around the edge. She put her hand on the tea cosy to feel the pot. ‘No, you’re right. Sometimes I don’t even know what month it is. You wake up in the morning and Christmas ads are playing on the radio. And you think “No! That can’t be.”’
The Fairly God Father nodded.
‘But, hang on,’ Susan added, ‘you said time isn’t moving. But the year is moving on, Winter follows Autumn.’
‘Yes I know. Time isn’t moving for YOU,’ he answered.
Susan shook her head, blinking. ‘Now you’ve said it there are all these things that have hit me. Why I miss people’s birthdays. Why I get ready to go out with the girls and then find out the night out was arranged for two weeks ago. Why Nigel and I schedule conversations and they never happen.’
‘Ah yes, well Nigel, that’s a different matter.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘He actually exists most of the time in a parallel dimension to yours. He can only get back over at certain intervals. It’s that ships that pass in the night phenomenon.’
‘Oh yes. Sometimes we feel that we never really see each other.’
‘That’s because you never really do. And sometimes when he’s here, do you feel that he may as well not be because he’s not really responding, not really on your wavelength? That’s because he’s just bleeding through from the other dimension. He can only half hear you. He’s trying his best but there is so much interference that he can only pick up a fraction of the decibels and about half the meaning. Sometimes he says something back to you that makes no sense, as if he hasn’t really been listening.’
‘Yes!’ said Susan.
‘Now you know why. His energy is able to physically manifest in this dimension but his full mental and emotional faculties cannot bridge the divide. He leaves some of them behind.’
She thought of Nigel, her husband, pale pallor, thin, in his business suit, staring into space. Sometimes she waved a hand in front of his face and he didn’t see it.
‘Gosh,’ she said, aligning the butter knife with the side plate.
‘You know Susan. This might be a lot for you to take in all at once. But if you have another cup of tea, you might be okay. Most things around here are not what they seem.’
Fairly Dave meets Susan’s mother
Susan’s mother was super, super just like Susan. Her name was Geraldine and she had the same coiffeured gentility as her daughter. Her face, for some reason, reminded you of pancakes and honey and her smile was like blueberry pie. Her hair was chestnut brown and her eyes a bright emerald. She was also an eyebrow raiser. And the eyebrow was raised.
Geraldine considered herself an enlightened kind of person. Her favourite books were those that described a variety of people and cultures she had never had chance to meet. At the book club she always recommended triumph over adversity books from war-torn dictatorships. She had educated herself in diversity by watching confessional relationship shows in the afternoons. There was no my-boyfriend-slept-with-my-granny-and-married-my-sister scenario she wasn’t familiar with. But when it came to your own daughter out alone, as she had been, mid-morning with a strange man, and indeed he was an extremely strange man, you couldn’t help but wonder…
Susan made the introductions as Pluto and Rufus held one each of their Granny’s hands and swung themselves like fairground boats.
‘This is Fairly Dave,’ Susan said.
‘Oh I see,’ said Geraldine, her eyebrow lifting even further. ‘Are you in a rock band?’
‘You’re thinking of someone else, mum. He’s a sort of……’
‘Therapist,’ said Fairly Dave and Susan thought she could see a flash of orangey purple that was unmistakeably shame. Fairly Dave didn’t like lying.
‘Well yes,’ Susan said. ‘I’ve been falling apart a bit recently, in fact half of my head is already missing and,’ she tried to make her voice gentle, ‘it’s only going to get worse.’
‘You’re sick? She’s sick?’ she said looking from Susan to Fairly Dave.
‘Well not sick exactly,’ said Fairly Dave. ‘I’m, er, working with her on it, developing a programme.’
‘You never told her the bit about the apple face men!’ said Rufus. ‘Or when we were sucked into a hole.’
‘Ah yes, the Whole,’ said Fairly Dave, quickly. ‘That’s what I work with to do the um, you know, healing.’
‘I’m into holistic,’ Susan’s mum said nodding. ‘I do Yoga every morning and meditate at night. I drink green tea and give myself a liquid detox every January. And I eat a lot of porridge, with those, thingumys – what are they called Susan? Sprinkled on top, you know…’
‘No, no, it’s got an x in it. Oh yes! Flax seeds, it’s a superfood you know. Oh,’ she said turning to her daughter. ‘Susan, I had no idea. You should have confided in me.’
‘What does Nigel think about all this?’
She read Susan’s face. ‘You haven’t told him.’
‘Well you know, Nigel. It’s hard to pin him down sometimes… How’s Dad?’ Susan asked, changing the subject.
‘Pottering round in the shed as usual.’
‘That’s good,’ said Susan, serving the soup. As she ate she felt the welcome warmth travel along her gullet. If she could see her insides, would it look like the soup was travelling through the gaps in her body? By putting her faith in Fairly Dave she had prevented herself from thinking about the truth that she was in mortal danger. There were a lot more important things than whether she had shaken the dust of her antimacassars. But she hated to let the housework slide. The more mess and grime there was around her, the more she felt that her mind was descending into chaos. She may have to travel the universe to save herself, but it was important that she made the beds before she left.