How I First Published: Sylvia Patzold on changing times in publishing

  Sylvia Patzold's first published novel, Christian adventure The Goblet.


My guest today on How I First Published is Sylvia Patzold. In some ways,  her story reminds me of my own–30 years chasing a traditional publishing contract, then discovering how the publishing world has changed to make her dream possible. Read on for Sylvia’s story and her thoughts on what comes next. 

What  was your first published novel?

My first published novel was The Goblet which was published January 22, 2013.

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

I was offered a contract by Tate Publishing. Tate Publishing is not a traditional publishing company as they charge a fee.

How did that come about?

I sent  a query email to Tate Publishing. I did not expect an answer and was shocked when I received an email saying they would like to offer me a contract.  I received a response approximately one month after I sent the query email with the first chapter of my novel.

How did this make you feel?

In the beginning I was shocked that my novel had been accepted for publication. I have been writing, on and off, for approximately 30 years. Back when I first started writing, traditional publishers were the only option for writers. I lived in Canada then and it was even more difficult for a Canadian to be published. The publishing options for writers has changed dramatically. Even though there are many authors who tell aspiring writers to only go with publishing companies, the options to self publish are so much better now.

I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and was overwhelmed with the amount of options available. I attended this conference blindly. I did not want any current work critiqued and I really attended to sit in the workshops to learn and absorb. I also listened to many differing opinions. In the end, I walked away with the secure knowledge that I would be able to self publish future novels.

The best piece of advice I received at the conference is that the way of publishing is self publishing. But the number one rule of thumb is to have your book edited, edited, edited professionally first.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

The first novel I wrote - The Goblet – was to be a stand alone novel. Before I finished the novel, I made the decision to make it the first in a series. I have finished the second novel and I am currently going through the editing process with this novel. I will then begin the clumsy process of self publishing and I have decided to go with Amazon.

I am currently writing book three of the series. I am feeling very good about these books but need a lot of self encouragement to keep writing. I am letting the characters tell me how the book should end, but I am getting the feeling they don’t want it to end quite yet. I am pretty certain I let the characters know that this wouldn’t be the last book of the series. I think I also let them know that I’m not certain how many more books there would be in the series.

Then, since I am fascinated with ghosts, demons, angels and haunted houses, I have started a fourth novel. I was watching a television show about a family being terrorized by a demon in their house. A friend agreed when the family decided to move out of the house. I told the friend that I would stay and fight. It wasn’t right that another family would move in and be terrorized out of their home. The friend asked how I would fight. I told her that there would be help from up above. Thus I was inspired to write my fourth novel.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I have one published novel - The Goblet. I am working on books 2, 3 and 4. I have a dream – to write. This is a difficult dream but it is one that has been with me my entire life.

Sylvia Patzold – Author of The Goblet
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New psychological suspense: review of Hide and Seek

New psychological suspense review. Compared to Gone Girl.



I was asked by Amy Bird to review her new novel, Hide and Seek, because she saw my review of Gone Girl, and read that I love psychological suspense. Both of those reasons for approaching me were very appropriate. Hide and Seek is most definitely psychological suspense at its finest—and comparisons with Gone Girl will be inevitable.

Hide and Seek starts more gently than Gone Girl—not with an apparent kidnapping or crime, but with a mystery. Why does thirty-four-year-old Will look so much like the genius pianist Max Reigate? Why does Will’s mother have Reigate’s CD hidden away in her study? Why is Will so drawn to the music? The mystery does arise at an eventful time in Will and wife Ellie’s life. She has recently lost her parents, and they’re about to  become parents themselves. Ellie is six months pregnant at the start of the story. Her pregnancy and her loss actually jumpstart the disturbing events of this story. And what it is to be a parent, to be family—to lose family—are recurring themes.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons for this book’s comparison to Gone Girl will be the unlikableness of the characters in both books. I’m beginning to wonder, though, if that’s almost a prerequisite for the kind of twisty, surprising fiction whose suspense is based on the shocking choices characters make—and the depths they’re willing to plumb to get what they need or want. Generally in a novel, really likeable characters may have terrible things happen to them but they don’t surprise you with their actions.

There are many, many surprising and regrettable choices by a whole host of people in this book, and I think they’re made for a variety of reasons. One of them probably doesn’t even realize what he or she is doing. At least one may be emotionally damaged. One or more think they’re being protective. And that’s one of my favorite things about Hide and Seek or any other suspense novel—complex characters, who keep me guessing not only as to what they’re going to do, but also as to why they’re so motivated.


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