Friday, May 24, 2013

P. C. Zick - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Patricia Zick. She is an award-winning writer for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.

Author Genre: Literature & Fiction

Website: P. C. Zick
Author's Blog: Living Lightly
Twitter: @PCZick
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LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre.

She's published four works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Prior to 2010, she wrote under the name Patricia C. Behnke.

She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. She now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.

Her fiction contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

"This is one of the most exciting times to be an author," Ms. Zick says. "I'm honored to be a part of the revolution in writing and publishing."

When I'm not writing or reading, I enjoy being outdoors, although adjusting to winter again after a thirty-year hiatus has been a challenge. But when the weather warms, we both enjoy gardening. I plant the flowers, while my husband tends the produce. During the summer and fall, we're preserving as much of the fresh produce as we can for our winter consumption. When the garden is weeded and the vegetables are picked, we either head to the golf course or to our boat docked on the Beaver River and less than a mile from the mighty Ohio, or we put our kayaks into Raccoon Creek a few miles from our home. During the winter, I spend my spare time organizing the house and planning trips to Florida where my daughter, Anna, lives.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

The working title for my next novel is Safe Harbor. Set in Florida, an international conglomerate starts to set up perfect living and vacation communities where they control every aspect of life, including wildlife put on display for the enjoyment of humans. The novel examines the folly of man when he transforms nature for his benefit. Nature always wins in the end. A group of ordinary citizens forms an odd group as they attempt to stop the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Here are some of the highlights: wildlife on steroids, new age charlatans clearing auras at the farmers’ market, a Vietnam Vet who’s actually a spy, and a dentist in love with his drill. I didn’t even mention the love triangles and the mysterious appearance of a tribe of people thought to be extinct.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I began just over a year ago. My first novels were published traditionally, and I grew disillusioned with the publishing world, but not with writing. I dropped out of it all from 2006 to 2010. Then I realized I needed to change my thinking and climb on the social media train. In March 2012, I began educating myself in this new world. I grew (and am still growing) my twitter followers and my Facebook “likes” through my blog and by helping out other writers. I think social media works best when you have a support group to shout out for you (and vice a versa). No one wants to see you only promoting your own work. Launching a book via the Internet requires hard work, but I find it easier than the other way. Selling books one book at a time through signings and book talks is grueling work. I’ve sold many more books from my office desk than I did through in-person signings.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I don’t do any of those things anymore. I’ve done it, and it took a great deal from me. Selling a book one handshake at a time is hard work with very little reward. I write two blogs, Living Lightly and Writing Whims.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you, but I can’t take much credit for my covers. I usually have an idea in mind, and then I contact Travis Miles with ProBook Covers. He’s a genius. With my latest book, Trails in the Sand¸ I sent him the synopsis and a photo of a sea turtle walking back to the ocean. He took it from there. We usually go back and forth a few times before it’s finished, but usually it only takes a week or so from start to finish. I haven’t involved readers (good idea), but I have asked my fellow Indie Authors for input.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online?

Unfortunately, I haven’t created any trailers because I don’t know how and haven’t had much time to learn in the past year. It’s a great way to draw in more readers so I know that’s the next frontier I must conquer.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I belong to several writer support groups on Facebook, such as World Literary Café and Indie Authors Promo. The members of these groups help all of the members. It’s a great place to ask questions and to learn from other writers. I’ve developed a great network of writers through my writing blog. I follow them, and they follow me. I promote them on my site, and they do the same for me. It’s been a nice bonus to this new process.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I am a very disciplined worker, and so I’m probably better able to stay focused than others without the same discipline. However, I found a few months ago that I was all over the place with how I spent my day. Writing took a backseat to all the other things. So I made a schedule where writing is the first thing I do every day. It’s been working so far.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I don’t think it’s changed anything in my writing. I’ve learned to relax more in my blogs rather than writing them as I would a journalistic article. Marketing is still difficult for me, and I’m still learning what works in this new world. It’s been much more interactive than before because readers comment after they’ve read the book. Before the Internet, I’d never know what someone thought about my book.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Two of my books are in the KDP Select program so I can run free book days. That was very successful for Live from the Road. More than 20,000 folks have downloaded that book since its publication in May 2012. After the free days, there’s usually a spike in sales. With Trails in the Sand, I decided not to join KDP so I could publish on Smashwords in addition to Amazon. I don’t recommend doing that. I have thirteen reviews, but I’m not moving the book. Recently, I decided to experiment with putting price at $0 on Smashwords. Amazon price matched within 24 hours. In the past week, 2,200 folks have downloaded the book for free on Amazon, but only a few on Smashwords. I want to get the number up to 10,000 before I put the price back to $2.99. The book has thirteen reviews, but I’m hoping the free books will garner more reviews, which is basically the way books sell.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Thank you. In Living Lightly, my goal is to present information on nature, the environment, gardening, and ways to live a life with the least impact on the Earth. In Writing Whims, I hope to share what I’ve learned about writing with my readers. I also promote other writers on Author Wednesday and Book Review Friday. I don’t know how I do it, but right now while I’m trying to put together my gardening posts into a new ebook, my fiction has taken a backseat, but I’ll get back to it in a few weeks.

Being a self-publisher myself, I have to ask this question. How does doing everything yourself work out? Do you outsource much of the process? Having an editing background, do you still farm that portion of the process out?

I wish I could hire a marketing person. I feel as if I don’t know what I’m doing. I have learned that paying for services, such as a blog tour and tweet shout outs, haven’t worked for me. I am an editor, but every writer needs an outside editor. I use beta readers for the first draft, and then I hire an editor when the book is in good shape. I save some money that way because whomever I hire knows they don’t need to spend time with the mechanics. I need an editor to read the book as a whole and evaluate it in terms of plot development, character believability, and realistic dialogue.

Author's Book List
Trails in the Sand
A Family Saga Filled with Love Triangles, Sea Turtles, and an Oil Spill

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets - secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline's love for her late sister's husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Tortoise Stew
Small town politics take center stage in this novel about the development of Florida at any cost. Kelly Sands is a reporter covering some of the more controversial and contentious issues in the fictional north Florida town of Calloway. Dead armadillos and gopher tortoise carcasses are left as calling cards to those opposing the development as commission meetings erupt into all-out warfare. With the murder of one commissioner and the suicide of his wife, Kelly begins an investigation that threatens to topple the carefully laid plans of the developers and politicians to bring a movie studio and landing strip within the city limits of the small town. When a young girl is killed by a semi-truck from Monster Mart, the environmentalists become even more vocal against the developers' plans. Chaos reigns as both sides raise voices and fists in one cacophonous uproar until saner heads bring justice to all.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Live from the Road
Enlightenment on Route 66 - Humorous, Painful, Rewarding

Live from the Road takes the reader on an often humorous, yet harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.

Along the way, they are joined by a Chicago bluesman, a Pakistani liquor storeowner from Illinois, a Marine from Missouri, a gun-toting momma from Oklahoma, and a motel clerk from New Mexico.

Death, divorce, and deception help to reveal the inner journey taking place under the blazing desert sun as a Route 66 motel owner reads the Bhagavad-Gita and an eagle provides the sign they've all been seeking.

Enlightenment comes tiptoeing in at dawn in a Tucumcari laundromat, while singing karaoke at a bar in Gallup, New Mexico, and during dinner at the Roadkill Cafe in Seligman, Arizona.

The trip isn't always easy as laughter turns to tears and back again. However, the four women's lives will never be the same after the road leads them to their hearts - the true destination for these road warriors.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: Rachelle Ayala
Author Rachelle Ayala is an author, blogger and a member of the World Literary Café.
Check out Rachelle's Author's Spotlight.



  1. Thank you for hosting me today. I had fun answering the questions.

  2. Good luck with Trails in the Sand. Keep in touch.


  3. P.C. Zick is a wonderful author - her prose, her characters, and her plots make her books thoughtful and at the same time, page-turning! Glad you have her featured here...