LSBBT: Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes

Patricia Hunt Holmes

Categories: Mystery / Thriller / Women's Fiction
Publisher: River Grove Books (Greenleaf Book Group)
Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 326

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A Texas Reckoning

In the early morning hours after a law firm recruiting party at a beachside house on Galveston Island, a female summer intern is found lying on the floor, bruised, bleeding and unconscious.  Four men and one young woman attorney who were staying at the house know something terrible happened. 

The woman attorney takes her to a hospital but the next day the intern disappears. All of them decide to keep silent, doing nothing about the incident in order to further their own career ambitions while the events of that night haunt the two women.  Time passes and then ten years later, crime and hubris bring the former intern back into their lives.  Only this time she has the power and the truth is finally brought to light, uprooting everyone’s plans. 

From the power centers of Houston law and oil to the fracking fields of South Texas to the Jersey Shore and Washington D.C., this story chronicles the struggles of two ambitious young women in their quest for legal success and justice. 



“Crude Ambition is a great read.  It is an authentic look at big law in Houston and the Texas oil business.  Patricia Hunt Holmes weaves a story of ambition, greed, romance and revenge that kept me turning the pages until all the just desserts were served.” 

-- Marc Grossberg, J.D., Author of The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors 

“In Crude Ambition, Patricia Hunt Holmes shows she knows Texas in the way Grisham knows Mississippi—politics, environment, strong men and strong women, egos, oil, arrogance, influence and hunger for power.  I don’t think anyone could have nailed it better.” 

-- Bill Sarpalius, Former U.S. Congressman, Author of The Grand Duke of Boys’ Ranch  


Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with a large international law firm, specializing in nonprofit healthcare finance and rural electric cooperative finance. Consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and Top Lawyers in Houston, she was a frequent speaker at national public finance and health care conferences. Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.  

In addition to her legal career, Patricia has been a member and board member of several social service organizations throughout Houston, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, the University of Houston Women’s Studies Program, University of Houston Law Review Board of Directors, is a Trustee of the Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Justice for Our Neighbors. 

Patricia grew up in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey but has lived in Houston for over 40 years. She has two daughters, Hillary and Ashley, who have successful careers as an attorney and a geologist, and three adorable grandsons. She is an avid golfer and traveler.  

Patricia holds a BA in English and History, an MA in History, and a PhD in Russian and South Asian History with honors, all from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was an editor on the Houston Law Review. 




Everyone has a picture in their mind of what it would be like for a big NY publisher to publish their first book.  It would be an exciting experience and lead to certain fame and recognition.  When I wrote my first novel, Searching for Pilar, I initially thought that was the only way books were published.  When I researched how to get the attention of the big publishers, I learned that it can be a long and winding road and that control of my product would be handed over to others bit by bit along the way, first to an agent and then to the company that bought the rights to my story.  It could take years to find an agent and then for them to find a publisher. 

            Since I was writing about an important, timely topic, sex trafficking, I didn’t have time to spend on a long and winding road.  Besides, being a control freak, I didn’t want to hand off my story to others and have to worry about whether they gave it the same loving attention I did. 

I took a continuing education course at Rice University entitled “Pathways and Pitfalls of Publishing.”  The much-published author who taught the course told us that there had been a great consolidation among New York publishers and only about five remained, so competition was fierce and bottom line driven.  As alternatives, she discussed self-publishing and a relatively new model, hybrid publishing.  I am a dinosaur on the computer, so I decided I was not interested in self-publishing. 

A friend introduced me to a woman he had worked with at a major accounting firm. She published her first book, Revenge of the Cube Dweller, a hysterical tale of a middle-aged female internal auditor who uncovers several layers of fraud in the mid-stream energy company where she works, with Greenleaf Book Group in Austin.  Greenleaf has been in existence for over 30 years.  Most of its employees have worked for the New York publishing houses and are very knowledgeable and professional.  After looking at their website, I submitted a word version of Searching for Pilar for their evaluation as to whether they would work with me.  

Not all hybrid publishers are the same, but generally it is a partnership.  Instead of the publisher buying the rights to your story, you retain the intellectual property rights.  So, if a major firm studio wants to buy your story, the profit is all yours.  Not so far.  But you pay them for services they provide, and they take a percentage of the profits from sales.  However, the author rather than the publisher has the final word on all decisions.  In my case, not knowing what I didn’t know, I bought the whole package, including marketing and social media marketing. 

I always wondered why it took a year or more for a book to be published after the contracts are signed.  The first thing that gets done is that you are assigned an editor.  With Pilar, I had a developmental editor, meaning there was work to be done in developing the story.  With Crude Ambition, my project manager told me my writing was improved so a substantive editor worked with me.  Biggest take-away:  Being a lawyer, I am inclined to stating just the facts, Ma’am.  Both editors primarily asked me to dive deeper into the emotions and thoughts of my characters.  I had several friends (beta readers) read the manuscript and give me comments and suggestions while I was writing the story but working with an editor is having a custom writing seminar where you are the only student.  I loved the experience and learned a lot.  

Early on, a cover designer is assigned and sends you three or four cover designs to consider.  It was a back and forth until we settled on what I thought conveyed the theme of the book.  I ended up using the skyline of the city of Houston on both books.  I think that is appropriate since my stories are as much about the city where they are set as the people.   In Pilar, I focused on the sleezy sex trafficking underbelly of Houston.  In Crude Ambition, my characters inhabit the highest centers of power and wealth.  Telephone Road on the one hand, River Oaks on the other. 

My Project Manager said that my working title, Legal Lies, didn’t capture the whole range of issues the book addresses:  Being successful in a big law firm is a big part of what drives some of the major characters.  But other issues include the effects of family, greed, relationships, on the characters as well as the fracking boom on Texans, for example.  The team gave me six titles to consider.  I settled on Crude Ambition.  The book starts out with a crude act at a beach house in Galveston, which sends the characters off in different directions. 

It is ambition which drives each of the characters.  Ambition to become a partner in a big law firm for Carolyn, ambition to be managing partner one day for Paul, ambition to become the richest fracker of crude oil in Texas for Joe Bill, ambition to become more successful than his sister for Cody, etc. 

It took almost a year for Pilar to get to get to the public.  Crude Ambition became available on June 8, an eight-month process. I am excited to say that my publisher has set up some major marketing opportunities for me.  I have also received several excellent reviews. 

My success with selling approximately 5000 copies of Searching for Pilar (which I am told by experts is outstanding for a first book) was due primarily to you, my friends and readers who opened up opportunities for me to spread the word about Searching for Pilar.  All of the book clubs, universities, nonprofits and other places and honors I received were initiated by a friend or reader.  So, I hope you enjoy this story, which is not as heavy a story as my first book, and tell your friends about it or invite me to visit with your book club or organization.  Those visits drive sales.  You will never get rich selling books, unless you write a New York Times Best Seller, but it’s gratifying to know that a story you worked hard to produce provides entertainment and a window on another world for others.


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  1. Interesting! Another reason I'm way happier being a reader than an author of books! Thanks for the post!


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