One Horn to Rule Them All: The Story Behind the Purple Unicorn Anthology

When Kevin J. Anderson visited Kobo’s Toronto HQ, he told us about the origins and production behind ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL, an anthology published by Wordfire Press, which Kevin runs with his wife Rebecca Moesta. This story is part lesson in professionalism, part demonstration of how efficient the publishing process can be, and we’re excited to share details about how it all came together.

UnknownWhat makes this anthology especially great? First, the stories are wonderful—you can buy the collection on Kobo here. Second, all profits from sales go towards scholarships for the Superstars of Writing Seminars. So you get to buy a great anthology AND support a wonderful cause.

We sent some questions along to Kevin, Rebecca, and the anthology’s editor, Lisa Magnum, who were kind enough to share details about unicorns, editing, and more.

KWL: Where did the idea for the anthology come from?

Rebecca: [Kevin and I have] been giving a Writing Professionalism workshop together since at least 2004, where we tell the class that they always have to do their best work on any piece, even if it’s, say, a purple unicorn anthology. You have to do the best purple unicorn story you can possibly do. That became a joke, year after year, and people kept threatening to do a purple unicorn story for our imaginary anthology. And now we’ve finally done it.

Kevin: When we gave our lecture at last year’s Superstars Writing Seminar and told the story about the purple unicorns, one of the other instructors was Lisa Mangum, editor for Shadow Mountain Books. She was so captivated by the idea that she proposed making it happen for real, and she volunteered her services as editor. One of our other instructors, renowned artist and author James Artimus Owen, volunteered to do the cover, and we published it ourselves at WordFire Press.

KWL: How did you choose which stories to feature?

The WordFire Press table at DragonCon, where the team sold copies of ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL to raise money for a Superstars scholarship.

The WordFire Press table at DragonCon, where the team sold copies of ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL to raise money for a Superstars scholarship.

Lisa: I had one month to read them all, select the final contents, edit them all, and prepare the file for publication. I started reading right away. Each story was assigned to one of three folders: Yes, No, or Maybe. For that first cut, I didn’t worry about word counts or genre. I just picked the stories that I felt were the ones with the strongest voices, the most imaginative settings, and the most creative inclusion of a purple unicorn… Once I had identified the stories I wanted to include, and made sure I was okay on my word count, I started looking at the genres. I wanted a good variety between first and third person POVs as well as a wide sampling of genres: noir, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, humor, etc. I organized the stories so that there was a good mix between long stories and short stories as well as a balance to the genres.

KWL: This anthology progressed really quickly from concept to finished books in six months, with the bulk of the work happening within the span of four weeks this summer. Can you map out the timeline from story submission to publication?

Rebecca: Lisa set the deadline as July 1, and she chose her final stories by July 15. She asked for some rewrites and asked the contributors to complete revisions in a few days, and everyone did so. We gave the manuscript to our proofing team and then to our production team for formatting as both print and eBook. Meanwhile, James Owen was working on the cover—but he wanted to include a key image from every single story in his art, so he couldn’t even compose the piece until he knew what the stories were. We received some truly outstanding work from our people, especially Vivian Trask, Quincy Allen, Keith Olexa, Sam Knight, Peter Wacks, and David Boop.

Kevin: We really wanted to have this book ready for two big upcoming conventions—DragonCon in Atlanta and Salt Lake City Comic Con… James delivered his final artwork when our production team was ready to send the book to print and upload—and we sent the finished book to press by August 10, less than four weeks after Lisa selected the stories. We received our finished printed copies in hand by August 25, just in time to drive them out to Atlanta for Dragoncon.

KWL: Are there any drawbacks to such a quick turnaround?

Kevin: The traditional pace of publishing and distribution is glacial, usually taking a year or more to produce and release a book, and that’s how many of the traditional review outlets are set up, too. If you can’t send a book to a standard review publication 3-4 months in advance of release, then they won’t review it…but when WordFire has a book to that stage, we’re ready to put it on sale! So, we have to decide if we want to lose 3-4 months of sales in order to hope somebody might review it. Fortunately, a lot of other review platforms will review a book, even after it’s published. And we certainly didn’t want to lose all the sales on the table at those two big conventions! In those two weekends, we sold enough copies from our own table to fund an entire scholarship to Superstars.

We love this example of teamwork, which demonstrates how publishers and authors can work together (at super speed) towards a shared goal.  Do you have any great stories of collaboration, or unique approaches to publishing? Share them in the comments!

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To help fund additional Superstars Scholarships, buy ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL on Kobo. Interested in attending Superstars 2015? Registration for the conference, taking place Feb. 5-7, 2015, in Colorado Springs, is available here. This year’s special guests include Hugh Howey, Toni Weisskopf (Baen Books), and a representative from Kobo Writing Life.

Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 021 with Diane Capri

In the latest episode of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast, we welcome NYT and USA Today bestselling author Diane Capri. KWL Content Manager Christina Potter and US Manager Christine Munroe speak with Diane – who offered jokingly to change her name to Christine for the purposes of this episode – about her daily writing life, the benefits of collaboration and mentorship, strategies for selling well on Kobo, and more.

Diane and Lee Child.

Diane and Lee Child, her friend and frequent collaborator, who says her work is “Full of thrills and tension, but smart and human, too.”

Tune in to hear about:

  • The value of being part of writing organizations. Diane has been a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and others, for many years. Diane talks about how she joined many groups when she began writing and how these groups of allowed her to receive feedback on writing and  upcoming projects. They are also a great place to connect with new writers and share information.
  • How to find a writing schedule that works for you. Diane’s advice? Try everything – it is the best way to refine your process.
  • The importance of working closely with retailers and taking advantage of different programs that they offer. She specifically discusses Kobo’s First Free in Series page as a strategy to find new readers. She also highlights that making her titles available through all retailers has been key to her success, and that exclusive programs have not worked for her. By their nature they exclude potential readers who find eBooks through other platforms.Hit+the+Road+Jack
  • Diane talks about collaboration and her author collective, The Twelve. This group worked together and released the incredibly successful DEADLY DOZEN boxed set. She discusses the process of putting the boxed set together, highlighting  pricing strategy and PR efforts to ensure the book was accessible to as many readers as possible. The ultimate goal of the group: do things that haven’t been done before. Read Joanna Penn’s blog post about DEADLY DOZEN’s success here!
  • There has never been a better time to be a reader and writer. One of things Diane enjoys the most is that readers who may not have been able to find her books in print can easily purchase them around the world as an eBook.
  • Diane’s relationship with her fans. Connecting with them is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of being an author.
  • A sneak peek of what Diane is working on next!

DianeCapri_redjacket_lrgNYT and USA Today bestselling author Diane Capri writes mystery, thriller and suspense for the same reason she reads: for fun, excitement, to find out what happens, why people do what they do, and how to bring justice to an unjust world. Her books are translated in twenty territories. She comes to writing after a successful legal career and is married to her college sweetheart. She loves her snowbird existence preferring perpetual summer migrating from Florida to Michigan each year.

OTHER LINKS/RESOURCES:

Diane’s website, and her blog

Pre-order HIT THE ROAD JACK, coming out September 4, on Kobo!

Get LICENSED TO THRILL for free.

Twitter: @DianeCapri

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianeCapriBooks

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically capture episodes as they go live -even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life blog – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using the RSS feed link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Utilizing Self-Publishing to Thank Readers and Booksellers

By Beth Revis

I never thought I’d self-publish…but I’ve never been happier with the idea of doing it now. And the biggest reason for that is because I have been able to turn my words into a full novel of thanks to my readers.

"Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today." -Beth Revis

“Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today.” -Beth Revis

After years of going the traditional route, I had my dream come true: A great agent that got me a great book deal that landed me on bookshelves, the NYT Bestseller List, and more than twenty foreign language translations. But the next book I wrote didn’t quite fit my publisher’s list, and it was something that I feel needs to be on the market sooner rather than later, so after some careful thought, I decided to go hybrid.

It was an easy decision, honestly, and in the end the only logical one for me. This new book, THE BODY ELECTRIC, is loosely linked to my original series, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, so time was a big factor in my decision. Also, curiosity—I’ve wanted to play in the indie waters for awhile now, and no time like the present to try. But my biggest motivating factor was a desire to show appreciation for my readers.

I decided to use THE BODY ELECTRIC in two specific ways to thank my biggest supporters. For my readers, I developed a special, limited edition of the book. For the local bookstore owners who championed my books, I made sure that the special features were easily available to readers through them—not the big box counterparts.

Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

I’m working closely with my local independent bookstore, Malaprop’s, to make a limited edition available. Each copy of the book will be signed and numbered in a limited print run and include special content inside and full-color art—and will only be available through Malaprop’s, which will be shipping the book internationally.

Of course, I wanted to make sure my eBook readers had access to the book, too, and not just through the elephant-in-the-room-online-bookseller. So in order to continue to help out local indie bookstores, who often use Kobo to sell eBooks directly, I’m selling the eBook version of the special edition of the book only through Kobo and iBooks. There are more than 30 pages of extra content, including a short story, a history of the world, an author interview, and more.

Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Formal-LandscapeBeth Revis is the NYT bestselling author of the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth is currently working on a new science fiction novel for teens, THE BODY ELECTRIC, which is coming out October 6. Connect with Beth on her WebsiteFacebookTumblr, and Twitter.

 

Taking The Leap: Zoe York on Series Plotting, Marketing Plans and Writing Full-Time

By Zoe York

In May, I made the exciting and scary decision to transition to writing full-time. I’ve always thought of myself as a professional writer, but for the first time I actually started to look at writing as my business. The first thing I did was a quick analysis of my book list and compare it to the book lists of authors with similar reader bases. One common element is that most authors I’d like to sit next to on the digital shelves have multiple series on the go. (And if you aren’t convinced that you should be writing series, we need to chat.)

That so many were writing two or more separate worlds surprised me, because I’ve often heard the advice, focus on one series. And I get it: sales really take off with the fifth title. But when I thought about it, multiple series written in the same or similar worlds allow readers multiple entry points to that author’s book list.

So that changed my plan in a big way.

What Once Was PerfectStarting with my first book, What Once Was Perfect, I’d crafted my Wardham books to be exactly the type of romance series I wanted to read: sexy, Canadian, and with characters that are a bit unexpected. They’re quiet books, tightly focused on the developing relationship, and I love reading them. Mission accomplished!

But after the success of our bestselling military romance superbundle, SEALs of Summer, I was reminded of the broad appeal of a high-concept hook. And I like to read those books too! Give me a billionaire who stumbles when he falls in love and I’m a goner.

It’s hard to look at books you love, books you are proud of writing, and realizing that they lack a certain accessibility. That’s what high-concept means: that readers will get what the book is about in the two seconds they give your book page. It starts with a succinct description: some call this an elevator pitch, a tagline, a log line. And many try to figure it out after the book is written.

That’s what I did with my Wardham books. I wrote them, then I tried to figure out how to market them.

Crafting a book from the beginning to be high-concept means starting with that tag line. “Six years. Two break-ups. One divorce. They should be over each other.” That in a nutshell is Love in a Small Town, and it was one of the first lines I wrote down when brainstorming my new series.

A successful high-concept book is going to deliver on that promise to the reader from the inside out. A well-branded cover can tell the reader everything they need to know about the story, hook them in an instant. My friend Cora Seton does this so well with her Cowboys of Chance Creek series.

Two self-publishing rules butt up against each other here: how can I stay committed to the Wardham series if I’ve taken a hard, business-minded look at it and found it lacking? (Hint: I haven’t … not all readers want high-concept books, and I’m happy to write different series for different audiences.)

While writing Beyond Love and Hate in May, I fell in love with the brother of the hero. Unlike Finn, Ryan Howard doesn’t live in Wardham.Beyond Love and Hate I sat in Starbucks for days, writing Finn’s story, the whole time growing more and more interested in Ryan’s story. So I pulled out my idea notebook and sketched out a bit of his story, and a new series was born.

Connected, but different. Higher-concept hooks. Wardham, but with choppier waves and craggier bluffs, I told a fan, and the description has stuck in my head ever since.

Pine Harbour is a fictitious town halfway up the Bruce Peninsula. It was named by my Facebook reader group, the Wardham Ambassadors.

It turned out that Ryan’s story wasn’t the first romance that needed to be told in Pine Harbour. As I plotted and wrote, two books popped up before Love on a Spring Morning, which will be Ryan’s story, coming next March. The first book, which I wrote in five weeks and I absolutely love, is called Love in a Small Town.

I love this book so much that I’ve done nothing but talk my writer friends’ ears off about it all summer. Rafe and Olivia Minelli are divorced, but they never fell out of love with each other. Now Olivia’s thinking hard about leaving her adopted town, and Rafe’s finally realizing that something—many things—will need to change if he’s going to convince his wife to give him another shot.

One writer I spoke to, Lexi Ryan, is a self-published author I greatly admire. She started in contemporary romance, and now writes very popular crossover New Adult/contemporary romances. With her latest series, Here and Now, Lexi used a marketing plan to show online book retailers how serious she was about launching her books with a bang. The term marketing plan sounds dense and daunting, but Lexi really helped me see that it’s not much more than we already know. “Writing a marketing plan isn’t as scary as it sounds. It shows vendors that you approach your book releases and promotion strategically,” Ryan explained. “That little bit of effort can go a long way, and most of us already have our strategy in mind. The official plan simply puts it in a form that can be shared with others.”

I was sold.

I put together a Love in a Small Town Marketing Plan and shared it with a few friends who pointed out obvious things that I had missed (see my complete list MarketingPlanKobo (2)below). Looking at the final document, I understood Lexi’s point: it was everything that I hoped for my series, objectively laid out. And it gave me confidence that I was approaching the launch of this new series in a logical and strategic manner.

Even for a brand new author, documenting a release plan like this can be a useful way to milestone your career. Compare marketing plans release to release to see growth in your social media platform and advertising reach—and if you’re not seeing any growth, figure out why.

Marketing Plan Must Haves:

  • book and series information; I broke this into two sections
  • promotional plan for pre-order and release week (blog tours, ad buys, social media plan)
  • author platform numbers, including newsletter and social media reach
  • author bio
  • upcoming release schedule for future books in the same series, and all upcoming author titles, including collaborative projects

Zoe YorkZoe York is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a busy working mom of two young boys, wife to a very understanding soldier, and creator of modern, sexy, small town contemporary romances. She lives in London, Ontario and is currently chugging Americanos, wiping sticky fingers, and dreaming of heroes in and out of uniform. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.

 

 

So, About That Cover: An Interview With an Author and His Cover Artist

We sat down with author Kyle West and cover artist Luke Atkinson to learn more about the adventure of getting a book cover designed. Here’s how it went:

Why do you think having a great book cover is so important when it comes to eBooks?

KW – After your story, your cover is probably the most important part of your book. It’s the first thing readers see, so it has to be downright amazing.

LA –You know the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately we live in a digital age that doesn’t allow that luxury. A great cover can give the visual edge your book needs to stand out in a sea of thumbnails.

How can I find a book cover artist? How can I tell if the artist is right for my books?

KW – Finding a decent cover artist is fairly easy with the Internet. Most (if not all) have sitesApocalypse (The Wasteland Chronicles, #1) displaying their portfolios that you can peruse, which you should definitely check out. If you browse the cover artist’s catalogue, you’ll know what kind of work to expect. Quite a few hang out in places like Kboards Writer’s Café. Usually, they’ll have lots of excellent pre-made covers to choose from, some of which can cost as little as $50 (or even less).

LA – Make sure you pick a graphic designer who can work with what you want. Designers have strengths and weaknesses, too. Try to pick one with a taste for art you are comfortable with displaying on your cover.

How did you find your cover artist?

KW – I was incredibly lucky to already know a cover artist. I met Luke Atkinson my freshman year of college, and we’ve kept in touch. When I was writing Apocalypse, the first book in my series, I remembered that Luke was pretty good at the whole graphic design thing. I asked if he was interesting in doing a cover for Apocalypse. We settled on a price and he got to work.

LA – Kyle and I had a unique situation since we’d known each other for so long which helped us be more open with our design direction.

What’s it like to work with a cover artist? What if I don’t like what the artist comes up with?

Evolution (The Wasteland Chronicles, #3)KW – The first cover he made completely blew me away. It was hard to imagine that he’d made that cover from the stock images he’d shown me. The cover captured the dark mood of the series perfectly, and we continued to incorporate quite a few of the ideas from that cover to establish a brand. For all the following books, we used a similar typeface, silhouettes, along with images that convey the genre in an eerily beautiful way (the desert in Apocalypse, the contaminated tower in Origins, or the dragons and the sunset in Evolution).

LA – Kyle was willing to let me show my strengths while depicting a world he created. We branded the series to look alike, yet be different and interesting on their own.

KW – As we’ve worked from book to book, our process has evolved. It starts off with me hunting down a lot of cool stock images, always keeping in mind the plot of my story. Then, I paste the links of whatever grabs my attention in an email, shooting off a few potential ideas to get him running. Depending on the book, I’ll send anywhere from 10-20 stock images. I’m not sure whether other cover artists work in a similar fashion, but I think that’s helpful, in that it gives Luke an idea of what I’m looking for right off the bat – and of course, he’s free to do his own hunt for stock photos.

Luke then looks at the images, telling me what can and can’t work while adding his own ideas. Depending on the book, the cover gets sent back and forth a few times Origins (The Wasteland Chronicles, #2)– sometimes I have exactly what I’m looking for on the first go, but usually it takes three or four amendments, mostly minor details. I can be very picky, and a good cover artist will patiently make the changes you request.

Good covers have to strike the balance of being simple, yet conveying exactly what the story is about. If you try to do too much, the cover will appear busy and unprofessional. Luke had to remind me of that a few times when my ideas became too grandiose. Of course, the title should always be big and it must be clear what the genre is from the images used. And, as I said before, it’s important that the cover is beautiful.

LA – Don’t be afraid to tell a designer they are way off. Just remember: Be willing to accept a designer’s direction, too. They are the professional at this, after all.

Isn’t hiring a cover artist really expensive? Should I go with a pre-made cover, since they’re cheaper?

KW – The best artists are often quite expensive, but you should never skimp on a good cover. It’s the most visible part of your book, and without a good cover, your chances of selling well are extremely low. I feel like all too often indie authors try to cut corners on costs, which is one of the biggest mistakes that they can make when you’re talking about building a career.

Pre-made covers are excellent, and some can be as cheap as $25 or $35. Don’t limit yourself to that price tag, though. If you’re working on a series, pre-mades are not the way to go, since pre-mades mostly cater to standalone titles.

I don’t know anything about designing book covers. How can I give the artist the feedback he/she needs when I don’t even know what I want?

KW – Go look at the top twenty books in your main genre and subgenre onRevelation (The Wasteland Chronicles, #4) Amazon, and that should give you a benchmark. Most cover artists, assuming you hire an experienced one, already know the ins and outs. But even with a professional cover artist, sometimes you might not get what you’re looking for. In that case, don’t be shy about graciously asking them to fix the aspects you don’t like.

LA – There is always a sort of “meta-game” associated with graphic design. Sometimes simplicity says it all. Other times big and flashy wins. Find a style that works for you and your designer. Together you’ll create something great.

Can’t I just design my own book cover?

KWDon’t design your own covers unless your work is indistinguishable from a professional’s.

Any last tips?

KW – The key to a great partnership with a cover artist is lots of communication, professionalism, and knowing ahead of time what kind of covers the artist specializes in. And if the process goes well and you get a rocking cover, you’ll have an artist to turn to whenever you write your next book.

LA – Word.

kyle westKyle West is the author of The Wasteland Chronicles. From a young age he has always been a voracious reader of sci-fi and fantasy. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Professional Writing. He writes full-time and resides in the bustling metropolis of Oklahoma City. He blogs at kylewestwriter.wordpress.com

photoLuke Atkinson is a graphic designer from Oklahoma City. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2010. He has been designing in print and web media for 7 years. His work can be found at lukeatkinson.me

 

Joanna Penn visits Kobo HQ!

Last night, the Kobo Writing Life team was thrilled to welcome Joanna Penn to our Toronto office. Joanna is a bestselling author-entrepreneur and professional speaker, and she shares invaluable information with the self-publishing community on her blog and podcast, The Creative Penn.

Joanna Penn speaks to a crowd of local authors at Kobo's Toronto headquarters.

Joanna Penn speaks to local authors at Kobo’s Toronto headquarters.

A packed house of local authors chatted with Joanna over drinks and snacks, then she took the stage with KWL Director Mark Lefebvre to speak about self-publishing and answer questions from the audience. The advice she shared was incredibly helpful and inspiring, so we wanted to share a few key takeaways with you here.

  • Remember that this industry is global. You can build a platform from anywhere in the world and reach an audience in countries you may have never heard of before!
  • Book publishing and marketing are processes that take time. Set long-term goals—we’re talking years, not days. Don’t give up if you do not see a return on your investment immediately.

    Joanna signs Kobo's Author Wall of Fame.

    Joanna signs Kobo’s Author Wall of Fame.

  • It’s ok to fail. The Creative Penn is Joanna’s third blog effort.
  • Take your work and yourself seriously as a business.
  • Do a little bit every day.
  • Be true to yourself and what you love in terms of your writing and marketing.
  • Think about every opportunity for every book, including print on demand, audio, and translation. You can turn each book into multiple product streams, such that ten books multiply to become 50 potential income sources.
  • Publish directly wherever you can. Every platform—KWL, iBooks, KDP, Nook, etc.—is a potential business partnership and can bring you new opportunities for success.
  • The writing life does not have to be lonely. Get online and engage with other authors on social media, join ALLi, or go to a conference. Even if you’re introverted, don’t be afraid to join the author community.
Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

We are so grateful to Joanna for sharing her time and knowledge with us.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Grab J.F. Penn’s newest release, DELIRIUM!

If you haven’t listened in to our podcast interview with Joanna, you can do so here.

KWL is a proud sponsor of The Creative Penn Podcast, which we can’t recommend highly enough.

 

Joanna PennJoanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers on the edge, as well as non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.

Twitter: @thecreativepenn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JFPennAuthor and  http://www.facebook.com/TheCreativePenn

Memories of Superstars Writing Seminars 2014

C. Michelle Jefferies was the lucky winner of Kobo’s Superstars of Writing Seminars scholarship giveaway for 2014. She attended the conference in February, alongside KWL Director Mark Lefebvre and US Manager Christine Munroe. A few months post-Superstars, we asked Michelle to reflect on her experience, and here’s what she had to say!Superstars logo

By C. Michelle Jefferies

When I think of the three days at Superstars, several one-word descriptions and emotions come to mind.

The first one is amazing. There was so much information and so many things to learn that I was, at times, completely overwhelmed with what was being presented. I took tons of notes. I have a stack that I still need to go through, again, to solidify the information in my head. The accommodations were great, the hotel was amazing. The variety of books offered by the presenters and the management of the bookstore falls into this amazing category as well. It was all simply amazing, every moment of it.

The second is expanding. I know how to write, even if I am not at the level I desire to be. This seminar goes way beyond that skill set; it deals with the business of writing and managing ourselves as professional authors. The presenters talked about contracts, marketing, how to behave in public (which was my favorite class), self-publishing, and audio books. There was so much information, I felt as if we could have spent a week there and still not learned a fourth of what there is to know.

Michelle (center) with KWL's US Manager Christine Munroe and Director Mark Lefebvre.

Michelle (center) with KWL’s US Manager Christine Munroe and Director Mark Lefebvre.

The third is equal. I felt as if I were a peer, even among the presenters. I was treated with the most amazing respect and felt as if my life, my work, my value as a writer and human was important to everyone in the room. There was no segregation there. There was no posturing, no jealousy. I could go and talk to anyone in the room and get equal treatment. I even got a hug from Kevin J. Anderson and while it was a true friendship gesture I had to remind myself to breathe so I didn’t pass out, because this was Kevin of all people. I had lunch with Mark and Christine from Kobo, who sponsored my tuition through their scholarship, and felt completely at ease, which for my shy self is an accomplishment.

Fourth is welcomed. When you participate in Superstars, you become a “Tribe Member.” This amazing group of people stick together. Having survived the three intensive days and sharing the same desire for more than just writing knowledge, we became a family. We stay in touch, talking books, cheering each other on in the writing world as well as our non-writing worlds. We share posts, promote each other’s work and often come to each other’s aid in both virtual and real life situations. They’ve become my friends. The actual hard work of writing, revision, and editing is a solitary effort, so it’s especially nice to know that I have people who “have my back.”

Last word, tired. From a misadventure-filled drive from Denver to Colorado Springs, to the information and energy-filled days, it was a very good kind of tired.

This was an experience I will never forget, and one that I will recommend to anyone who asks. To those who are wondering or wavering: Go. I promise you it’s worth the time and expense.

 

If you missed Superstars 2014, you can purchase seminar DVDs and MP3s here. Superstars Writing Seminars 2015 will be held February 5–7, 2015, at the  Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and you can register here.

C. Michelle JefferiesMichelle Jefferies is a mother of seven who writes about urban fantasy and bad boys turned good  – all while beating herself up three times a week in Karate class as she works toward her black belt in Tang Soo Do. Visit blog here or find her on Facebook.

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