Booktrack Finalists! **UPDATED**

**UPDATE (At the end of this post)**

It’s been a huge honor and thrill to be a part of a competition sponsored by The finalists were announced today, and I’d like to congratulate them and everyone who submitted a piece of fan fiction or an audio Booktrack. I’ve had a blast going through and reading your stories and listening to the atmospheric treatment you’ve provided for Half Way Home.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Booktrack, you should be. Augmented e-books have been slow to catch on, but that’s because few companies have nailed the balance of adding to the reading experience without distracting from it. Booktracks work best when they provide mood, just like a heavy rain or the sound of the nearby sea can make reading a book even more enjoyable. When the sound effects and music are done right, you’ll read a story like never before. For creators, the interface is a joy. You have to play around on the website to appreciate how slick it all is.

This competition also cemented my love of fan fiction. Reading through stories based on my world of Half Way Home, the special power of fan fiction hit me: You get the quick romp and tightness of a short story but with the deep texture of epic fiction. Since the world and its rules are already established—as are the relationships between characters—fan fiction can jump right to the middle of the action, orbit a climactic event, but with all the complexity of a larger story. For readers familiar with the world, it’s a chance to reunite with old friends and see them through another adventure. If you enjoyed Half Way Home, you simply must read the stories from these five finalists. In no particular order:


LOADED by Emily MacGowan – Emily wrote a brilliant alternate ending for Half Way Home. Dark and sinister, her story is full of twists and polished writing.

The Final Solution by Roz Marshall – Roz’s story takes place on a different colony with a new threat. It’s a brutal horror story. You think I kill characters with wild abandon? I’ve got nothing on Roz.

Glory: The Gospel of Oliver by Elayne Griffith – This story takes place years after Half Way Home. It features a descendant of one of my favorite characters from the original. Porter wasn’t the only one keeping a journal, it seems…

World Eater by Elodie West – Another follow-up to Half Way Home. Here, we get a glimpse of what’s happening back on Earth, and of the dangerous thing the children of Half Way Home have done.

Coming of Age by Peter John Ravlich – In Peter’s story, things go wrong between two groups of colonists. This one ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.

There are so many others that deserve a read. My congratulations and thanks to all those who entered the competition and to the finalists.


Another round of congratulations to the soundtrack finalists. For those of you who want to create your own Booktracks, check out these entries to see how it can be done smoothly and effectively:

Randolf Smeets, Clayton Smith, Jim Knowes, Jamie Terry, and Sue Copsey.

Thanks again to everyone at Booktrack for putting this competition together. And best of luck to all the finalists!



See? This is why we can’t have nice things.

First, you might want to read this statement from the BookTrack team.

Apparently, one or more of the contestants tried to game the competition by automating reads and by downvoting works written and soundtracked by others. The promise of a cash prize brought out the worst in some people, and the attempt to hijack the contest was spotted, and those attempts were taken into account in the selection of the pool of works from which we selected the finalists. Basically, cheaters were disqualified. For cheating.

Now it appears some of these people, having been caught, and perhaps having already spent in their imaginations the money they thought they were due, are trying to stir up controversy. I won’t let this detract from the awesome entries we had, or the joy I had in reading the fan fiction or listening to the music people made to go with my chapters. Thanks again to all those who participated in the spirit in which the competition was meant. For those who did not understand what transpired and reached the wrong conclusion, your apologies are not necessary. I understand. For those who know what happened and are trying to make others unhappy, I send you hugs. They are sincere.

Happy writing, everyone. Go make music.

**UPDATE 2** It appears as though several of the commenters are the same person using an IP spoofer. Possibly the upset contestant who tried to cheat their way to the finals. Because of this, I’m deleting comments, something I never do. If people want to discuss this without resorting to sock puppets, I’m more than happy to have that conversation.


14 responses to “Booktrack Finalists! **UPDATED**”

  1. Hi Hugh,
    Thanks for this post, thanks for the opportunity to write in your world, which I really enjoyed – I will try to be a bit kinder to my characters next time ;-)

    1. Don’t hold back! I love brutal.

      Congrats. And best of luck with your writing career, though I’m not sure you need much luck.

      1. Oh wow. I can’t believe you just wrote that. *Picks self up off the floor*

  2. […] I’ll blame it on the adrenaline, but those were the words Lisa quoted back at me, and do capture my excitement when I made the Hugh Howey Booktrack fan-fiction competition finalists, and even more so when I saw my name on his blog! […]

  3. Hi Hugh (sorry Roz, I have to plagiarise that far, or I’d never get started),
    Message received: I’ve bumped the sequel further up my to-complete list! I suspect any writing I do today is going to need some major TLC later on, so I’ll walk the dog instead, and try not to geek out on you any further. :)

    1. Awesome. And if you decide to finish the work and publish it anywhere and charge for it, I allow this with my other works. You can give the work away on Booktrack, but I’d happily pay money to read the rest wherever else you published it.

      1. Hugh, have we said before? You’re awesome!

      2. Thanks Hugh, I think Roz nailed it! I’ve promised a couple of people they’d see part two on Booktrack, but I might also look into a combined Kindle edition. :)

  4. Back in early 2011, before I published my books, I was part of a contest. The prize was a contract with a trad pub house.

    The authors involved began trading votes with each other. They posted on blogs saying things like, “Put your name on the list and everyone here will vote for you if you vote for them.” That sort of thing. It grew into quite a mess.

    The irony was that the eventual winner declined the contract due to “unfair terms.”

    After all of that wackiness I remembered reading a blog about self-publishing and started searching my brain and my computer until I re-discovered Konrath’s blog.

    I immediately began the process to release the book myself and many other books have followed!

  5. Hi Hugh (this is now how we start posts, okay? (Roz, y’all started it (Peter, you made it a thing (I’m taking it too far…))))

    Phew! I made it out of the parentheses. It got a little crazy in there. I was hoping to say that I was mighty thrilled to have had the opportunity to play around in HWH and connect with an author who evidently represents a bit of a hero to all of us. Sorry to have seen the vitriol that’s been coming out, but I have to say the way you’ve handled it is another good example of how to carry yourself in the public arena, which is a great lesson to pass on.

    Thanks again.

    Also, Peter, get on that sequel! THE DOG CAN WAIT – THE COLONISTS ARE IN DANGER!!!

    1. Love your comment here Emily. Made me laugh out loud. I was so glad to see that you were named as one of the finalists. I read your story about half way through the contest and I loved it. I couldn’t believe that it had an overall rating of two point something. I figured that it was probably because you had a higher percentage of contestants reading your work since you’d read everyone else’s and left comments, and the contestants had an incentive to give harsh ratings, which was kind of a sad thought.

    2. You clearly don’t know my dog, Emily – waiting isn’t her forte!

      I’ll second your nod to Hugh’s decorum in the face of unpleasantness, and get on with seeing if I can do something about those colonists… There must be a way out, right?

  6. Hugh,

    Just wanted to say thank you for doing this contest. It was a great experience. I learned a lot pairing music with my story (It was a good writing exercise to break a story apart by mood and emotion). And it was incredibly instructive to see how the number of reads changed directly in response to how I advertised. It taught me a lot about promotion.

    Also, can you help me find a link to a previous post you did? I recently did a reader survey. The idea for it came from your blog but I can not find when or where I read it. It was something about honest feedback and readers being paid to read books and give their honest opinion/review. I’d like to link to it in my next post if you could help me find it.

    p.s. It was never my impression from the contest guidelines that a certain number of votes would guarantee a spot as a finalist.

  7. Hugh,
    Thank you so much for endorsing this contest. I’ve had this dream of becoming a writer for some time now, but with 3 small kids, I rarely made the time to practice the craft. This contest was a first step for me, an easily-defined goal, write a 5000-word story in 2 months. Seemed reasonable enough given that I had already read Half Way Home and always thought that world could go in an infinite number of directions. I learned so much by writing and rewriting this story, it was truly invaluable. I barely made the deadline (like by 4 minutes, seriously), but I DID IT.

    I knew my chances weren’t great due to not focusing enough time on the soundtrack and not generating any reads or ratings before the 7/31 deadline (because I only had 4 minutes to promote it until the contest closed), but I still put myself out there throughout August, telling friends about the story. I’m a pretty introverted guy, and I like to keep my ‘worlds’ apart, so posting the story on Facebook was extremely scary for me (most friends and family didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer), but I did it and was really touched when someone would share my story with THEIR friends too. Now I’ve WRITTEN something that people can READ somewhere. I designed a cover that I’m really proud of and when I shared my story with Jason Gurley (that guy is amazing, isn’t he?), he gave me great feedback on it and even commented that my cover design reminded him of the cover he designed for Half Way Home but didn’t go with. How cool is that!

    Sure, it would have been nice to be recognized as a finalist, and I’ll be honest, I moped for a bit when I saw 5 other names listed there, but then I reminded myself why I did this in the first place, what my goal was, and you know what? I ALREADY WON! I haven’t read all the finalist stories yet, but I’m sure when I read them I’ll see why they were chosen and not me. I know that any time you pour your heart into something, it’s disappointing to not succeed to the degree you hoped, I understand the other contestants’ disappointment, but I do hope for myself and the others that we see what we gained in writing in the first place and know that it outweighs the pain of losing. I hope we see that being heartbroken over something shows you how valuable that ‘thing’ is. So, I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to do it more consistently. I’m going to keep putting myself out there. And I’m going to remember that this was the catalyst.

    Hugh, thanks for what you do for readers and writers, not just in the pages of your books, but on the pages of your blogs as well. You are a true inspiration for SO MANY! You’re always putting others first and you’ve proven your generosity and integrity over and over. You BETTER sleep soundly tonight because if you don’t, I’m going to punch you in the face!

    P.S. (I would much rather give you a hug.)