When I was 71,
it was a very good year.

WHY, HOW, WHAT Do I Write?

I write because I must.
            Writing is a mental illness, you know. It's a passion called obcession.
I write to entertain you.
I write to speak truth.
I hope to speak truth  gently , not like a Jeremiah, but truth is truth.

Truth can be brutal, but it  always sets us free. That's an eternal promise.

Sometimes I disguise truth as fiction because heroes are ordinary folk, humble.
Few heroes want the fame surrounding what they have done. 
I respect them. I honor their wishes. But we need to know their heroism. 
They make us believe in ourselves, that maybe we could be equally good.

Everything I write has some basis in fact. Often, fiction mirrors reality so exactly
that only the names and perhaps a few places have changed. Even when it is pure
invention, it has a factual basis.

That was eminently brought home the day after I published COMPLEXITY. Read the book's description and dedication if you're curious. In this case, the coincidence is so wild it must be ordained.

I write because I want you to feel joyful when you read. I read and enjoy my own stuff. I want you to feel better off when you put the book down. I want you to have fun, to cry but to laugh afterward. I'll get a character to tell you a joke, slip you a recipe, pose a puzzle, speak directly to you from the pages, try intrigue your mind. I want you to Sleep Smiling that night, knowing that your world will be all right tomorrow. It will.

Obviously, I write what I enjoy reading. Candidly, that's why I began. I had trouble finding enough good stuff to read, stuff that lifted us up to the clouds and didn't put you and me down or rip our minds asumder.  I sought stuff that surprised, stuff that inflamed, stuff that made me pray -- good stuff, right stuff and didn't find enough of it. 

Authoring is hard and fruitless work for most, and I'm no exception. The chances of getting past the agent are minuscule, but it's good to have an agent. Agents set the bar high, because they want to sell the work. So agents demand excellence, and most won't consider a writer until he/she is published. Charles Dickens had the same problem. A typical author with a really good book sends out 100 finely crafted query letters, and receives 47 outright rejections, that is, if he/she includes a postcard for the rejection. Sometimes the rejections are kind, and sometimes they are scathing. About half of the potential agents just don't answer. Tom Clancey weathered them. Nora Roberts, every powerful writer has trashcans full of nasty rejections. One famous author wallpapered his den with them, as inspiration, until an agent "found" him and his book hit the best seller list. 

And the other three acceptances? They only consent to looking at the first 30 pages, because agents are extremely busy. One of them might accept the work. I'm talking about the good agents who sell books instead of those who making their living off the authors by charging to read manuscripts. If you're seeking an agent go to the Association of Author Representatives to find one. The great and successful ones hang out there.

After that, the starving author, starving because writing is a full time, non-paying job, must weather a year or two of publisher rejections, expensive and demanding editors who want to gut the book, impossible deadlines and more rejections. Then 3-6 months later, after dismal sales, the book vanishes forever, but the publisher retains all publication, movie and foreign rights for five years or so. Effectively, the publisher kills the book.

No, I don't recommend being an author. I was insanely fortunate. I'm tremendously thankful, but it certainly didn't end there. Next, I had to deal with broken promises from a traditional publisher.

So!

I asked an odd question and made an unusual decision. "Why do books cost so much?" Did you know that when you buy a $30 book, the author gets about $2.40 before taxes? The publisher gets the rest! Did you know that 3,000 books, grossing the author $7,000 is an above average run? It's so hard to break into traditional publishing that about 1,000 books are writen for every one published, and that one makes the author about $5,000.
 
Who'd want to take a thousand-to-one shot at making $5,000, when it takes a couple of years to aim and shoot?

You see, those 999 book failures don't fit what the publishers think will sell, but it's a self perpetuating argument.  Those 999 don't fit the mold and never get a chance, so the mold stays intact. I've been very fortunate that my books even got published much less sold. Eternal thanks to You!

Please don't think I'm grousing about this. I'm not. I'm merely saying that an author doesn't write to become rich.

My honored sister, Delle Jacobs (or at DelleJacobs.Com) is the reigning queen of historical romances. She figured out the confines of her chosen genre, does deep research and stays well within that mold. Lately, she sells more e-books than hard covers plus paperbacks. If you like my e-book or hers (for a whopping 99-cents) you can enjoy the next one for 99-cents too. I will make about 35-cents. Whoopee! Actually, I'm thrilled.

I'm a traditionallly published author with a recommendation. Don't buy my stuff in paperback. Instead, buy a Kindle and all of Delle's books and all of my books for half the price of my hardcopy books alone!

Suggestion:  Give a book-packed Kindle or Nook for a birthday. The Kindle Fire is more pricey but it has taken over its market. Kindle and its competitors have come of age. Personally, I chose an iPad and iPhone with Kindle apps. You can get Kindle readers free for your PC, MAC, phone or anything on the Cloud. Just Search for "Free Ebook Reader." Microsoft is phasing theirs out. Kindle, Nook and Mobi Pocket are good choices, and you can get smart phone versions from your app store. There's a link on my home page -- fully free with no strings attached.

Welcome your kids and friends to the world of "e."

So what was my decision? Sell books for $3.49. Perhaps my favorite authors write a little better than me, but if you pay only $10 for their books, do they write Three Times Better?  Do you get Three Times the entertainment?  It doesn't take an MBA degree to calculate you'll get more entertainment from three of my books than from one of Tom Clancey's -- as much as I love his work.

What about my paperbacks? Hey, get a Kindle instead. The books are the same. Maybe the enjoyment is higher one way or the other, so enjoy! I keep my paperbook prices cut to the bone too, because I just want you to enjoy life.

I'll tell you a secret and you won't have to read the end of the book for it. As in life, good triumphs over evil in the end. It's going to be a wild ride, though, until the white hats win, and if I do my job right, you won't figure out how until the surprise ending of a twisty trail, uh, tale.

If you're seeking gratuitous sex, profanity, horrific scenes, blood and guts, I apologize. I'm not the author for you. It's the same if you seek inch-thick, long-winded descriptions of scenery, mechanisms and characters. I can write that kind of material but reading it bores me, so I don't suffer you through it.  

I go light on description. I prefer images in your mind and the power of your imagination. Dialog does a superior job of telling emotions, so I'm heavy on dialog, just as if you were a mouse in the corner, watching, wondering.  Sometimes, rarely, my little mouse speaks as omniscient. 

I want you to understand most scenery from context, characters from their dialog and mechanisms from Wikipedia, except when I have to invent some future science. I want to involve you in the whole thing, and let you live with the story, with the slithery villains and with the ordinary, clever heroes who manage to thwart them.  How I want you to "be" those good people, because I believe passionately that you already are!

If you're seeking clever, and fascinating, and passionate, sometimes deeply flawed men and women, who get thrust into impossible situations, who claw their way to safety and rescue others in the process, well, I write especially for you. It's like having your favorite TV show in print on a Kindle you can put under your pillow.

Robert Mach of the Mach Books series, loves Christie more than his life, and proves it over and over. It's the same for gorgeous Christie, who often surpassess him as a tender lover and a potent warrior. Robert and Christie tour the world's exotic places like Mr. and Mrs. James Bond might, saving their nation, the world, each other, their kids, perfect strangers, occasionally bad guys -- and in their terrifying experiences, bravely come to love life all the more.  I hope, so shall you.

Oh, they get furious, even with each other.  Sparks fly when strong, razor-tongued, passionate people are together, and some of the sparks have nothing to do with romance.  Some do.  The rest is up to you.

If you're seeking terrible and passionate villains, who may love their families, or may love their nations, or may have warm, magnificently redeeming qualities which their personal evil overshadows, maybe I am for you.  

If you want an author who will break literary rules to create an effect, who would shock a staid editor's sox, who is not afraid to use incomplete sentences and attrocious grammar like people do conversing at Starbucks, who writes about gritty reality, well that's what I try to do. Some people think I pull it off.  

    Linda K. wrote me, "I just adore this book. Oh, I was Christie!  I was Robert!!  Don't stop. I can't wait for more...."

    Eric M. wrote, "What a twisty, curvy, smart, sexy, impossible yarn.  It sounds like science fiction. You might not know it's science Future.  I direct very interesting research and my colleagues feel like you're looking over our shoulders.  In fact, you gave us a monster idea to try."

Okay.... Maybe I was there. Maybe not. I've been in some very colorful places.

Friends, we have a lovely and eloquent instruction taped to our bathroom mirror. Christie, our beloved daughter penned it in caligraphy. It is Philippians 4:8 from the Bible, if you want to Google it.  It begins with, "Finally, bretheren, whatsoever things are" ... and ends with "...think on these things."  I so love to write about "these things:"

Truth,
Honesty,
Justice,
Purity,
Loveliness,
Excellence,
Virtue,
Praise
.

I also know how to make any good thing better. Cast it against its opposite, to prove its mettle. Callously, I have to toss my characters against their opposites, to make their wonders all the more wonderful.

Please make no mistake, I write about heaven on mortal earth. In immortality, heaven and hell are very real and there are no second chances there. 

Attend to your immortality while you are mortal, so you can Sleep Smiling! I think that should be the title of my next novel.
                                                               (Note later:  I did write Sleep Smiling for you.)

Your friend,
Will David Mitchell of San Diego

P.S. If you come to San Diego for a vaction or convention, look us up. We're in the book. Let's share a meal!

aaaaaaaaaaaaiii