Introducing Red Door Reads and WHO’S BEN SKREWD?

Who is Ben Skrewd? Who is Red Door Reads for that matter, you might be wondering. The 21 bestselling authors who make up Red Door Reads offer romance in all flavors and genres – contemporary, historical, YA, western, sports, etc. – with new releases popping up and topping the charts all the time. So that’s Red Door Reads. Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.09.04 PM

But WHO’S BEN SKREWD? Well, that’s a little bit of a story. You see, last year, a number of the Red Door authors met at the RWA National Conference for a chance to bond in person vs. online. This group of ladies were discussing what sort of project they could do as a group. They didn’t want to do a holiday theme or something that had been done already, but they did want something universal. Someone posed the loaded question, “So who’s Ben Skrewd?” Though, in all honesty, it might not have been spelled the same way. Or maybe it was. After all, the question wasn’t written down, but posed verbally. But we digress… Red Door Reads 'Ben Skrewd' Novella Banner

Anyway, after a few chuckles, we all realized that everyone has had the feeling of “Ben Skrewd” at one point or another in their life. Story ideas began to flow, and it didn’t take long for half of the Red Door authors to decide to take those story ideas and create a novella series like no other. There are 11 different novellas in the collection, and it is comprised of stories set in 19th Century England to present day Milwaukee and Ireland. Heroes who are cops and some who are aristocratic lords. Heroines who slay demons and some who see ghosts.


Each novella is as different and diverse as our membership, but each story has two things in common. One – A red door on each cover outside, and Two – a mysterious character named Ben Skrewd somewhere on the pages inside. And, of course, the novellas can be found here at Kobo. Naturally.

We have had such a great time working on this project together and might be planning something surrounding a certain unscrupulous beach house owner – though that’s another story for another day. Do stay tuned, however.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll all be able to join us as we celebrate the launch of WHO’S BEN SKREWD? For a short period of time, each Who’s Ben Skrewd novella is on sale for $0.99.


And beginning this afternoon (April 15th at 2:00pm Central Time) we start celebrating our launch with a Facebook release party. (Confetti is most definitely allowed.) There will be all sorts of prizes/giveaways and the opportunity to talk to your favorite Red Door authors. Please join us –

Also starting today, we’re sponsoring slightly different kind of contest that runs through April 22nd. Each Ben Skrewd novella author has hidden a silhouette of “Ben” somewhere on our websites. Can YOU find all of the missing Bens? If so, submit your answers Here – for a chance to win an iPad mini!



Without further ado…

The Red Door Reads ‘Who’s Ben Skrewd?’ Novella Series – click each link below to buy the eBooks on!

Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Deb Marlowe, A Half Moon House Series Novella

 Hexed by Andris Bear, A Deadly Sins Novella

Dances with Demons by Lori Handeland, A Phoenix Chronicles Novella

Firebird by Linda Winstead Jones, A Columbyana Novella

In the Stars by Ava Stone, A Regency Encounter Novella

Her Muse, Lord Patrick by Jane Charles, A Muses Novella


It’s Okay To Talk To Yourself

By Kevin J. Anderson

[This is an abridged version of an article from KJA's April 8, 2010 Blog Post entitled: Dictating, Writing, Hiking]

It’s been about fifteen years since I gave up the keyboard and took up a recorder for my first drafts.  Since that time, I’ve dictated nearly fifty novels on an innumerable number of micro-cassettes, speaking the words aloud, rather than typing them into my word processor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile this might not seem to be a writer’s traditional technique, remember that the storyteller’s art has always been a spoken one.  Revered shamans would tell tales around the campfire, legends of monsters in the darkness or heroes who killed the biggest mammoth.  Homer did not write his epics down.  What could be more natural than speaking your novel aloud before committing the words to a computer hard drive or an editor’s red pencil?

Okay, so you’re perfectly satisfied with sitting at your cramped card table after shoving aside the checkbook and the bills to clear a spot for writing.  If you can truly work that way, then I salute you.  For me, as I write this article, I am hiking in a canyon above the Colorado River, making my way up to a pristine lake and a spectacular waterfall — I wouldn’t trade places in a thousand years.

One of the primary advantages of writing with a digital recorder is that you can be outside in a spectacular area, bombarded with inspiration.  There, the details of nature or history itself can provide story fodder.

I just spent a week in Capital Reef National Park in the slickrock canyons of southern Utah, where I wrote a significant portion of my “Saga of Seven Suns” novels.  During my hikes, I dictated the adventures of characters exploring ancient, abandoned cities within rock overhangs, very similar to the Anasazi ruins I visited.

Even if you aren’t in a place precisely comparable to your subject matter, you can still experience sounds and smells and sensations that add vivid details to your prose — details you may not remember while sitting numbed in your cluttered office at home.

Another advantage of dictating while out walking is the solitude and the peace-of-mind you’ll encounter.  While hiking, you can let your mind sink into the universe of your story, blessedly without interruptions.  Out on the trail with your digital recorder, you can avoid telephone calls, faxes, the temptation to log on and read your email, do the dishes, scrub the toilets, clean the attic. . . .


KJA near the peak of Mount Nevada (12,800 ft) – Aug 2011

Let’s face it, writing is a sedentary profession.  Full-time authors spend their days seated firmly in the chair, fingers the keyboard, without a great deal of invigorating exercise.  Personally, I hate being cooped up in the office and would rather be hiking, or even just walking along bike paths in an urban area.  Once I learned how to dictate, I no longer had to choose between a day of hiking or a day of writing.  I can do both at the same time.  It keeps me fit and active, and it prevents me from becoming one of those “pear-shaped people.”

When I’m out dictating I manage to produce far more pages in less time than if I’m chained to my desk.  I’ve even learned how to fool myself into writing more than I originally intended to do.  In a trick I call the “round-trip deception,” I will keep hiking outbound until I have completed one entire chapter . . . at which point I should have just enough time on the way back to dictate another full chapter.  Since I have to walk back anyway, I might as well be writing.

The most obvious drawback with dictation is that once you’ve recorded a chapter, then it must be transcribed.  Depending on how fast you type, you can transcribe your own files, of course — but to me this defeats the purpose of using a recorder.  In the time it takes to transcribe a chapter, I could just as well have written a completely new one.

Typists offer their services in the classified ads of many writers’ magazines; transcribers or stenographers are also listed in your local yellow pages.  The going rate seems to be around $2 – $3 per page.

You may need to try several different typists before you find one who works well with your material.  (I burned out one stenographer with a single DUNE tape; she simply couldn’t handle the strange science fiction setting and vocabulary!)  My regular typist has learned my quirks and knows when to change dialog, when to break paragraphs, what punctuation to use.  She has even offered insightful comments on novels-in-progress.  Often I feel like Charles Dickens writing a weekly serial, handing one chapter at a time so the typist can see what happens next.  I upload the files, email them to her, she transcribed them, and emails me back the Word files.


Photo taken shortly after KJA dictated a couple of DUNE novels

Always keep in mind that, like any other writing technique, dictation is a skill that must be learned.  Give it time and practice.  I started out carrying a recorder to dictate occasional notes because I liked to walk while mulling over storylines and developing characters.  This habit evolved into speaking outlines, laying out scenes, and then detailed rough drafts.  Now it’s graduated to near-finished prose.

Some people try the recorder once and give up, claiming that it feels too “unnatural.”  By comparison, writers are accustomed to thinking up sentences, breaking them down into words, spelling those words, then moving their fingers across a scrambled keyboard to put down the prose one letter at a time.  (Remember, the QWERTY keyboard was intentionally designed to slow down typists!)  Just talking out loud doesn’t seem any less natural to me!

So keep an open mind if you are willing to try a new writing technique.  Go out and talk to yourself.


KJA at Kobo’s home office in Toronto (he hiked up to the 4th floor) showing his Rush album tie-in novel Clockwork Angels on a Kobo reader

Check out Kevin J. Anderson’s books at Kobo

KJA uses an Olympus DS-3500 digital recorder

Curtis Brown Creative’s Kobo Writing Life Scholarship winner: Kalbinder Dayal

WebAlmost a year ago, Kobo Writing Life and Curtis Brown Creative, the UK-based writing school run by London’s leading literary agency, launched the Kobo Writing Life Scholarship, choosing one talented writer to receive a full scholarship to each of the CBC’s on-location courses.

Our first scholar was Callum Church, and our second was Antoinette di Michelle, both attending sessions of the Curtis Brown Creative Three-Month Novel-Writing Course over the past year.

Kobo Writing Life and Curtis Brown Creative are now happy to announce the third KWL Scholarship winner and the first for the upcoming Six-Month Novel-Writing Course, starting in February: Kalbinder Dayal. Ms. Dayal is working on a novel called MidLands – which follows three second-generation siblings of an Asian family coming to terms with ‘belonging’ in the UK and the implications of breaking with tradition.

“We were extremely impressed by the opening of her novel, which was submitted with her application,” said Rufus Purdy, Editor, New Writing with Curtis Brown Creative.  “We felt Kalbinder was the most exciting voice amongst the many applications for the scholarship place, and both we – and she – are thrilled she’ll be on the course.”

Congratulations to Kalbinder Dayal for winning the scholarship with a strong story with great promise, and we look forward to seeing the finished novel soon!

And a reminder to all London-local authors: applications for the May session of the Three-Month Novel-Writing course are now open! The course is eligible for the KWL Scholarship, too!

The twenty-thousand word wall

By Antoinette di Michele

I was a third of the way into my writing, and coincidentally the writing course I’m on, when it all seemed to fall apart. The story wasn’t leading anywhere dramatic enough, it was petering out. I was out of words. They warned me this could happen. So now what?

Skyline with Tower Bridge at night

Skyline with Tower Bridge at night

At first I sat for hours everyday, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote a 5,000-word plan. I wrote the first 20,000 words without breaking a sweat. It was incredible. I read them. I reread them. I read them again. I was stuck. Everything stopped. Nothing else was there.

Then the class reviewed my first chapter. The level of professionalism put me instantly at ease. A round table is an incredibly useful part of the process. This goes for any good idea. Fourteen well-read storytellers – problem solvers too – agreed unanimously on certain items and divided completely on others. My next chapter was reviewed four weeks later, and the feedback was even better, more specific. The class pinpointed an overarching issue: I’m struggling with POV.

I like to think of myself as a craftsman; I imagine I am a chef. If everyone thinks my dish is too salty, then the real beauty of my dish isn’t shining through. When the room divides, and it will, this is where the real work (and conviction) for the craftsman, the writer, begins. How and what do you choose to hear, to rework, and to rewrite? The questions confirm your confidence or reveal your doubts, and your doubts speak to answers that you don’t yet have – decisions you will need to make. The questions raise questions (and more questions) before you get to any answers, and those answers (and that process) is what will make you the writer you know you want to be. It’s no easy task. It’s incredibly overwhelming. This is usually the moment you think you are having a heart attack.

Skype calls home with story updates

Skype calls home with story updates

I did what I usually do in times like these: I got on the horn. I sent SOS e-mails to my fellow writers and friends. I asked not what I could do for this crisis, but what this crisis could do for my book. Never waste a good crisis or a crisis state of mind.

I asked for help with research, and our program director, Anna, connected me immediately with an amazing person to interview for information I needed. I asked for additional feedback in specific areas from my classmates, and they all wrote back. I gave myself permission to write badly – at least to get the story out (whatever it takes to write). I wrote notes and more plans. I read more, and more widely.

The trouble with writing is the writing. A good idea is one thing, but the process, the ability to execute, research, rewrite, “kill your darlings,” knead the words you keep, push through walls and the sickening black fog of self doubt – that is the job.

If you want to be a writer, you need to ask yourself one question: do I want to be a writer? And then: really? If the answer is still yes, pass ‘Go,’ collect $200 (NB: this is a metaphoric $200). Enter your own Act Two with purpose and direction. Writing is the first step, the next step; it’s every step. You’re making progress even when you don’t think you are as long as you stick with the work.


About the Author

antoinette 1Antoinette di Michele is currently in London as the Kobo Scholar on the Curtis Brown Creative 3-month course on novel writing. She is at work on her book for her family and friends, the patrons of her art.

NaNoWriMo: it’s OVER!

Well, here we are: at the end of a wild month of unbridled writing with our empty coffee cups, neglected friends & family, cramping hands and feelings of both proud accomplishment and profound sleep deprivation.

Not all of us made the 50K mark, but nonetheless, all of us are proud of ourselves and each other. This is what NaNoWriMo is all about: community, mutual support, and writing.

Now that it’s over, we asked the team about their final thoughts and impressions about the past month, and what their plans are for what they’ve written, be it eventual publication or just as a lesson learned and moved on from:

Mark Lefebvre 2013-Winner-Square-Button Mark Lefebvre, Director, Kobo Writing Life

Wow. That was close. I almost didn’t make it. There were several days where I didn’t end up writing, and that was a huge mistake, because it slowed down my forward momentum quite a bit, meaning that when I did sit down to write, I had to write more than 1667 words – I had to play catch up.  The last stretch was one of the toughest due to that.

But, even if I hadn’t made 50,000 words, I think I still would have thought of this as a win. After all, the fact that I dedicated time to ACTUAL WRITING and getting words onto the page means I won, based on the sheer fact that I did it, that I did something, that I made the effort to actually do it. A lot of people have great ideas for writing and a desire to write. But most don’t.  One of my favourite writing quotes is from Hugh Prather: “If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write.”  That often motivates me to keep going. Thus, anybody who participated in NaNoWriMo, even if they only just started something, is a winner, because they sat down and committed time to doing it.  I applaud them all.

My plans for EVASION will be to put the project on the back burner for at least a month while I focus on some other writing projects I already had in my queue, then come back and do a re-write.  I think it’s a decent story, a fun novella-length work, and I plan on, once I do a re-write, sending it to an editor, having a decent cover designed for it, and then self-publishing it in eBook format. I haven’t decided on whether or not there’ll be a print version.

Christine Munroe





Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life

My first crack at NaNoWriMo was a great experience. Although I didn’t hit the 50k mark, I like that I managed to get into a routine of making time for writing in my daily schedule, which for me is a huge accomplishment. I did not like the 1600-word-per-day pace – I only hit that a few times, and I felt plagued with guilt every time I didn’t. I guess I’m a slower writer, at least for now! A more realistic mantra for me to utilize moving forward is: write something every day. I am really happy with where this project is going. I plan to finish the novel, but feel like I can’t plan further beyond that at this point.

 CamOK2013-Participant-Square-Button Camille Mofidi, EU Manager, Kobo Writing Life

TGIO! To be honest, I kind of let it go for the last days (OK, it’s more the last two weeks…), but I really enjoyed my first experience with NaNoWriMo.

It was great to be part of a group of people all around the world, focused on writing, plot, and characters at the same time. It was fun counting my words and keeping track of my writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site, sharing widgets of our word counts. It was nice sitting at my desk and having words or ideas flowing like butterflies.

Of course, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t win any badge – not even a “Well done! You’ve reached half of your words!”. But that’s part of the game :-) I prefer seeing the glass half full: after all, 25.000 words on a first journey with NaNo isn’t that bad, is it? And I have a goal for next year: reaching 50.000 words for good! Besides, I can’t leave Chloe and Ben, my main characters, without knowing if their love will overcome the difficulties that kept them apart…

So see you all on November 1st, 2014 and in the meantime just keep writing :-)

profile2013-Winner-Square-Button Sarah Carless, Technical Writer, Publisher & Author Communications

This is my fourth time participating, and although my last year was 2005 (my first was 2002), it’s my third win! This whole experience has been invaluable to me, as I’d sort of let writing take a back seat lately, behind work, behind hobbies, behind life in general. I now know that I can make time for it, and I remember how much I love it.  I need to keep this up — perhaps not 1667 words a day, but at least something.

Not everything I wrote this time is useable, but I have a few stories that, with some editing, could be coaxed into a state that I would let see the light of day. You might, over the coming months, see one or two of them show up on Kobo through my Kobo Writing Life account.

I will definitely be doing this again. See you next year!

seb small2013-Winner-Square-Button Sebastien Bago, Merchandiser, France

I won! I had no other plan but to do it, but still, I wasn’t that sure I would be able to make it considering I was on a business trip for 8 days at the end of the month. So, my NaNoWriMo was more around NaNoWri-23days.

Looking back now, what a challenge it was. I must admit that around 30K, I started to feel a bit tired and confused. I was asking myself if I would be able to keep the same pace until the end. When you do the NaNo, you’re going through a lot of emotions and feelings, from good to bad. Fortunately, I was always ahead of the plan, so it was mostly 90% good feelings. It’s a hard thing to do that writing 50K in a month, but finally not that much. It makes you write, that for sure, but it also show you that, as a write, you’re able to provide such a terrific ever whenever you want it too. That said, next time I’d have to write a lot, I could think about this month and tell myself: “you can do it.”

Now, what am I gonna do with all those words? Well, I’m gonna use them! It will need some editing, especially the final 10K, but still, it’s good material.

And, as a conclusion to this amazing month, I would give some kudos. First, a big think you to the people who first asked me to do it. Then, to the KoboWriMo team because it’s always good to feel part of such an amazing group. And, last but not least, thank you NaNoWriMo: I needed this!

See you next year. Well, maybe.


NaNoWriMo: day 20

The KoboWriMo Team continues to rock the house! The current target word count for day 20 is just over 33,000 words, and although only one of us is there (Sebastien, of course–again–not that we’re keeping score or anything… well, actually, we totally are), the rest of us are still going strong.

Even our non-writer Christine has almost cracked 20K, which is amazing and we’re all so proud of her!

This week we’ve dubbed “NaNo-No-Nos,” and we asked the team about what mistakes they’ve made, and what pitfalls they’ve learned to avoid. Here are some of our insights:

 Mark Lefebvre Mark Lefebvre, Director, Kobo Writing Life

One thing I did wrong in my approach to NaNoWriMo (despite repeated urging from friends and other authors including, even, the great discussion about this with Chele Cooke in Episode 6 of the KWL Podcast), was I didn’t properly or fully outline the novella I’m writing. That has slowed me down as I’m trying to navigate the turns and twists of the unrolling novel.  The other thing I’ve done wrong is that I’ve let email and other online distractions pull me away from writing. Instead of writing FIRST THING when I get to my computer and then doing email, checking Facebook, etc, I’ve let those time-black-holes suck me in almost every time. And third, I haven’t written EVERY SINGLE DAY, meaning that when I return, I fall another 1667 words behind.

I’m a believer in learning from my mistakes – looks like I’m learning quite a bit this NaNoWriMo……

Christine Munroe Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life

I have so many no-no’s (way more than yes-yes’s)!

The terrible cold I mentioned in the last post turned into a strep/bronchitis combo that really derailed my writing. So, fellow WriMos, take good care of yourselves – get rest, eat well, or at least take a minute to drink some OJ every once in a while! The next inevitable no-no’s were feeling defeated and like I should just give up. But once I was back on my feet I refocused, kept writing, and decided I would try my best, regardless of whether I made it to that 50k mark at the end of the month. If others are behind, or have hit a stumbling block akin to a terrible virus, don’t be too hard on yourselves. Keep up the great work!

 CamOK Camille Mofidi, EU Manager, Kobo Writing Life

Well, well, well… Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is definitely the right moment to think about the things that have been going wrong in my word count :)

After the excitement of Week 1 comes the blues of the second week. For some reason, it looks way harder to move from 20k to 30 or 40k than it was from 0 to 20k! Maybe because:

  • I haven’t correctly outlined my novel before starting
  • I have considered changing plot in the middle of the story – and ended up doing so, which was not exactly a good idea
  • I have spent too much time chatting on Facebook with other WriMos rather than writing – Yes, we were sharing concerns about our words count falling behind everybody else. It helps to know you’re not alone, doesn’t it?
  • One thing leading to another, I have skipped more and more days of writing – reading romance is so much easier than writing it!

Anyway, as George Bernard Shaw put it: “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” Now is the time to stop complaining and get back to work!

profile Sarah Carless, Technical Writer, Publisher & Author Communications

It is so easy to fall behind so quickly. My biggest mistake this year has been to think “I can catch up later,” instead of preparing for days where I know I won’t have as much time to write. I really should get into the habit of “earning” my lighter writing days in advance, instead of trusting to an uncertain future.

Another important thing I have to keep in mind is to wrestle my inner editor to the ground and gag her. NaNoWriMo is no place for editing: it’s all about quantity, no matter how poor the quality is. I have to really focus and put in effort to keep from going back and switching one word for another, or to rephrase a sentence I just wrote. That’s what December is for!

seb small Sebastien Bago, Merchandiser, France

Despite my numbers which are online with the schedule, I know there’s one thing really dangerous when you try to write, and especially when you have deadline: an internet connection! This really is a trick. A trap. While writing, you sometimes need information or something, then you go looking for an answer. And then, bam, you get trapped. First, why not check your email? And check some sports results, or watch a funny video on YouTube to rest your brain a little bit. And one thing leading to another, you just lost couple of hours. It can go so fast.

So if I’d change something when sitting down to write at my chair, or couch, or whatever, I’d turn off my WiFi. :)

How about you? Have you found any pitfalls of productivity you now know to avoid? Let us know in comments!

NaNoWriMo: day 12

The intrepid KoboWriMo team continues to plug away at our various projects, some with better luck than others. Sebastien leads our pack, as usual (not that we’re competing, of course), with Camille in a solid second place.  Maybe it’s easier to write in French?

For reference, the current target word count on day 12 is 20 004 words!  Only one of the five of us is there! We’d better get writing!!

This week we asked the team about their routines, if they have any, and what they may have found works for them. How to they keep focused? When do they find the time to write? What is getting sacrificed to the Altar of NaNo?

 Mark Lefebvre Mark Lefebvre, Director, Kobo Writing Life

I’m a little bit behind as I write this – averaging about 1000 words per day where I should be at 1667 to stay on track. There are some days I don’t write at all, and others where I am able to write in excess of 2000 words. I work at least 60 hours a week (it’s hard not to given that Kobo is a global company and I receive several hundred emails each day from authors and business partners all over the world) and have been on three work-related trips in the past few weeks. I would normally get up an extra hour earlier than normal (ie, getting up at 4:00 AM rather than 5:00 AM), so I could try to squeeze out my daily writing in an hour, but since I normally only get 5 hours of sleep a night, cutting back to 4 is difficult to maintain. So I can’t do that every day. And I can’t write in 10 or 15 minute increments – I know it often takes me a few minutes just to look over my notes, re-read a scene to get me back into the universe I’m writing about, before I can hit the ground running. So I use those moments to sketch notes and ideas on the characters, the back-story, things that help me with the novel, but aren’t going to be part of the story, the actual writing.  I have  also looked for other opportunities where there’s at least 30 minutes that I can write – like on my recent flights to and from New York (where Kobo Writing Life sponsored Self-Publishing Book Expo), I managed to write a little over 1000 words on the plane on each flight. I also try to force myself to get some words written BEFORE I plunge into email, like when I’m in the hotel room. Of course, NOT having Wifi definitely helps. So, a combination of scheduling specific early morning times as well as looking for windows where I’ll be able to crack out either the notebook and a pen for making notes or the laptop for tearing through the story, seems to be helping me continue to move forward.

Christine Munroe Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life

I’m a total NaNoWriMo rookie, and it has been a serious challenge so far. My KWL role has me traveling often for bookstore and writing conference events, and I have been struggling to find the time to fit writing into my jam-packed schedule. I also caught a bad cold this week, which hasn’t helped matters! I try to write first thing in the morning (any other earlybird warriors out there?), while the house is quiet and distraction-free. I also find it very helpful to check in with my fellow KWL WriMos for extra motivation.

 CamOK Camille Mofidi, EU Manager, Kobo Writing Life

This is my first NaNoWriMo and I’m so excited to be doing it. I had no idea how I would perform so I stuck to a basic routine that seems to work – so far!

I write every day, minimum 1667 words, but if I’m in the mood, I write more, in order to get ahead. I make it an absolute rule not to miss one single writing day. I’m afraid I might lose the pace/spirit/motivation if I did.

I’ve joined the French community of NaNoWriMo, to be in the loop of what’s going on in my time zone (like write-in sessions).

I love having writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site and exchanging tips with them on a dedicated group on Facebook.

Last but not least, my boyfriend joined me in this craziness, after I told him so much about NaNoWriMo! So now, we spend our evenings writing about our novels and sharing our stories. :-)

profile Sarah Carless, Technical Writer, Publisher & Author Communications

The first time I tried NaNoWriMo, it was easier – I was a university student and had a new puppy to take care of who got me up in the morning. We had our breakfast and some play time, and then she settled down on my feet for a couple hours as I did my day’s writing.  Now that I have cats and a full-time job, however, it’s a bit more challenging. I’m already up every day as early as I’m willing to be, I work all day, and the cats are more interested in walking across my keyboard and trying to insert their tails up my nose than napping quietly at my feet.  Now that I’m only writing in the evenings and on weekends, what’s suffered the most is my television shows: I’m going to have a lot of television to catch up on in December!


seb small Sebastien Bago, Merchandiser, France

It’s my first NaNoWriMo, and so far I really enjoy it. I mean, I actually can feel the energy and the motivation of the event just pushing me over and over. Knowing that so many other people are writing at the same time with the exact same goal – hit the 50K words mark – is one of the best motivations I’ve ever gotten. I’m in line with the target, and indeed I’m surprised that I’m way ahead of it. So, how do I do it? Well, to be honest one of my first motivations is my writing buddies figures. When I see some them taking the advantage in word count, I just say to myself “come on! Don’t lose your grip!”. And then I’m on for more words. Also, for sure, I stay up late. Like very late up until the middle of the night. But I’m also able to sometimes catch up for 10 or 20 minutes in the middle of the day and add some hundreds of words this way. One thing I’m curious about is: Will I stop writing for two months after that? :)

What’s your routine? Have you found anything that’s working well for you? Let us know in comments!

Do you have a story? Or do you have a plot? Back to class with our KWL Scholar

By Antoinette di Michele

I saw the queen!

I saw the queen!

Our class on story and plot opened with this great quote by E. M. Forster:

“The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief is a plot.”

We spoke about what the quote implies. Events are working together to create a new situation. There is an intriguing relationship suggested that you want to explore, and there is an emotional complication that draws you in. There’s a lot to infer from that one simple sentence about all that is going on in a book, play, or film.

Plot can be a dirty and divisive concept, and it’s easy to debate plot and the various structures at length. I’ve got to be honest with you; I’m not always sure what’s the best route or what I’m doing myself. Most of the time I have one story that I’m trying to get through, and I end up somewhere far away. I write from character first because I find people so interesting – more interesting than chases. I’ll sum up some of the conclusions we drew in class that I’ve found helpful when thinking of and well, plotting, plot.

Plot is the fabrication that makes fiction. You need it, but you need it to be invisible as well. Like real life, plot takes you on an incredible journey with compelling characters. Unlike real life, the characters must drive the action and there must be action (Remember, Mrs. Dalloway is hosting a party, and that’s action), and threads should come together (in some way) by the end. Part of the work is getting your reader to forget that all this fabrication and manipulation is going on, to sit back and relax (this is a skill on its own).

Here’s another great quote: “Once somebody’s aware of plot, it’s like a bone sticking out. If it breaks through the skin, it’s very ugly.” That’s advice from Louis Auchincloss, author of House of Five Talents among others (I haven’t read him, but it’s still a great quote). We thought that what Stephen King called a “strong situation” is the best entry into a story with defined characters, and that these characters – fully developed – would show the writer and the reader the way through the plot.

A strong situation is engaging; it holds your attention. This is not to be confused with a great opening (this is something I’ve confused it with as well). Both are important, mind you, but one thing at a time. If you’re thinking of where to start, think in terms of a strong situation.

Here’s a fun Friday night game (for nerds). Think of a book you loved. Was it a strong situation that grabbed you immediately? Can you state the strong situation in one sentence? Try to. What books took +50 pages to hook you, and why do you think you got hooked?

Plotting at the pub

Plotting at the pub

So I ask myself: Do I have a story? Yes. Do I have a plot? Do I have one hell of a situation? I think so. I’m working on my one-sentence situation. I know I have my characters and the right voice. Tweet me the situation of your favourite books (@antoinettedm). I’d love to hear them. I’m one of these nerds who thinks this game is fun (and I played it last Friday night. Alone. Don’t judge me).


About the Author

antoinette 1Antoinette di Michele is currently in London as the Kobo Scholar on the Curtis Brown Creative 3-month course on novel writing. She is at work on her book for her family and friends, the patrons of her art.

NaNoWriMo: day 4

The first NaNo weekend is over, and let’s check in with the intrepid KoboWriMo team!

To refresh your memories, as of Sunday, the target word count is 5001.  So okay, some of us have some work to do, but we’ve got almost 26 days in which to do it!

Here are our very first lines:

 Mark Lefebvre Mark Lefebvre, Director, Kobo Writing Life


Scott Desmond was looking at a dead man.

Christine Munroe Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life


Jenny and her friends raised their glasses and clinked them, smiling at each other.

 CamOK Camille Mofidi, EU Manager, Kobo Writing Life


Cela faisait longtemps qu’elle ne s’était pas sentie aussi bien.

profile Sarah Carless, Technical Writer, Publisher & Author Communications


The world was sharp, and made of shades of black and grey.

seb small Sebastien Bago, Merchandiser, France


La voiture de Nicolas fendait la nuit comme le tranchant de l’épée déchire l’abdomen d’un adversaire trop passif.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress, and share some of our tricks and tips, if we find any that work (apparently, skipping sleep entirely isn’t the best idea we ever had).

Let us know in comments what your own word counts are! Let’s keep each other going!

NaNoWriMo: day 1

sebastien bago

Sebastien is wondering what you’re doing, because it doesn’t look like writing to him. GO WRITE!

It’s November! Time to panic!  The KoboWriMo team is geared up and ready to go, and we want to bring you with us. Keep an eye on this blog for our updates, word counts, advice, troubles, and victories both big and small.

We’ve added a last-minute member to our team: Sebastien Bago, Kobo’s Merchandiser for France, based in Paris. He’ll be continuing his 7 Shades of Zombie series and joining us in making the Kobo NaNoWriMo Team a wild success (no pressure, Seb!).


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