Write Away

By Kerrie L. Flanagan and Jenny Sundstedt

Write_Away_FrontCoverWRITE AWAY: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers combines monthly insightful and humorous stories with tips, tools and interactions that encourage writers to reflect on where they are and where they want to be. From “Writing Naked” to “Writing an Effective Query Letter,” these essays remind readers of the unique nuances in the life of a writer and provide practical advice for strengthening skills and knowledge. Each month opens with a place to record goals and action plans. A back section provides resources and tools to help readers stay on track and stay informed. Inspirational quotes, reflective questions, and short exercises keep motivation and energy flowing. Here are a few excerpts:

“Time to Get Rid of Excuses”

By Kerrie

One of the biggest issues I hear writers bring up is that they find it difficult to find time to write. The bottom line is that if you want to be a serious writer, then you must make the time to write. We all have 24 hours in a day, and we all have the power to decide how we are going to use those hours.

If all you can spare is 30 minutes a day, then commit to those 30 minutes. Don’t let anything get in your way. Think about it—a half hour a day, five days a week, is two and a half hours a week, which then equals 120 hours a year. That is definitely enough time to make a dent in your novel or write a dozen poems or a few stories or a picture book or two or a dozen articles . . . you get the idea.

Here are some quick tips to help you find success in organizing your time.

  • Make a daily/weekly goal for the number of hours you are going to write.
  • Schedule your writing times and mark those times on your calendar.
  • Stick to your commitment. If someone calls to try to schedule something during your writing time, nicely say to them, “That time won’t work for me, I have a prior commitment.” No further explanation is necessary.
  • Reward yourself after one month of sticking to your plan.

What is one way you can be better about honoring your writing time?

“Take A Leap”

By Jenny

Poor February. It’s the little brother of the calendar, never quite matching up to the longer months. But every four years, it puffs up its chest a bit with the addition of an extra day. I love the novelty of Leap Day, even though it occasionally gyps me out of a coveted Friday or Saturday birthday.

February 29 is a bonus day, but, as such, how should one choose to spend it? Is it a do whatever you want because nothing counts day (i.e., whatever happens on Leap Day stays on Leap Day), or is it a day to take a real shot at something meaningful? Or maybe a little bit of both.

We’re told how to celebrate most holidays, whether it’s with candy and flowers, fireworks, or green beer. But I say that Leap Day should be celebrator’s choice. So, writer friends, it’s up to you. If you’ve been working so hard on a manuscript that you’re revising it in your sleep, perhaps your Leap Day should be spent with crossword puzzles and a bottomless cup of tea, or a double feature of completely mindless entertainment at your local movieplex. Cheesecake for lunch is also a viable option.

But if your writerly self has lately been feeling hampered by self-doubts, intimidated by the prospect of success and/or failure, and generally reluctant to strike off in any direction, then perhaps February 29 is your day to take a leap of faith. Send a query. Enter a contest. Register for a conference or sign up for a pitch session. Write a first word, a first line, a first page, a first chapter. You may like it so much that you’ll want to treat every day like it’s Leap Day. Except for the cheesecake for lunch part.

My leap is sending off one of the short stories I’ve been sitting on for a while. What will your writer’s leap be?

For more helpful tips and motivations, get the WRITE AWAY eBook here!

About the authors

Authors Kerrie and Jenny at the WRITE AWAY book launch.

Authors Kerrie and Jenny at the WRITE AWAY book launch.

Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers (NCW), writing consultant, and freelance writer with articles in regional and national publications including Writers Digest and The Writer.

Jenny Sundstedt is a member of NCW and serves on the creative team for the annual NCW Writer’s Conference. She writes long and short fiction, essays, overly ambitious to-do lists, and since 2010, has been a regular contributor to the NCW blog, “The Writing Bug.”

 

Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do

By Merry Farmer

I, Merry Farmer, am an indie author. And I’m proud of it, too. I was never really interested in taking a path to publication that went through the traditional publishing industry. Sure, it had and still has its advantages, but after a few half-hearted attempts to toe the party line, I knew it wasn’t for me. The feedback I was repeatedly given was that I was a great writer, my plots were interesting and my characters had dimension, but my stories wouldn’t sell. No one was buying medieval or western historicals. It couldn’t be done.

That was when my purpose as a writer was born. The refrain that has become my battle cry and the heart of everything I write is, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Nothing pushes a creative mind harder than being told that something can’t be done. I’m convinced that that is at least half of what has fueled the indie revolution, and I know that that’s what keeps me writing the books that I love instead of chasing the latest trend.

Self-published author Merry Farmer.

Proud indie author Merry Farmer.

When I first started publishing in 2011, the indie revolution was near its beginning. There was a lot of skepticism from high and low about the quality of the books that those crazy rogue writers would dare to publish. What ended up happening, though, is that without the fear of huge financial loss, writers like me were able to experiment with story and setting, with character and themes. Slowly but surely, new voices began to be heard amongst the tried and true staples of every genre.

I write historical romance, and while I love a good Regency era story, complete with dukes and dances, I always wanted to hear more about other eras of history and the richness of the lives of men and women who didn’t have title or money. I love a story full of tight historical accuracy, but I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a tale with a modern twist set hundreds of years ago. When I published my first novel, THE LOYAL HEART, which is intended to feel more like the movie A Knight’s Tale than THE CANTERBURY TALES, I held my breath, eager to see how it would be received. I was told people would pan it, that it didn’t fit within the confines of the medieval romance genre.

You know what? People loved it! It turns out that there is a place for an adventure-packed romp in the world of traditional chivalry. So I decided to play with ideas and experiment with themes again with my Montana Romance series. I was told historical westerns weren’t selling anymore and that the late 1890s was far too late in the 19th century to appeal to the historical romance crowd. And what was I thinking, including an m/m romance in the middle of a conventional m/f series?

A sneak peek at book one in Farmer's upcoming series, GRACE'S MOON.

A sneak peek at book one in Farmer’s upcoming series, GRACE’S MOON.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do. The beauty of indie publishing is that it has allowed me to try out ideas that a larger publishing house isn’t prepared to take a risk on. I can’t say I blame them for not taking that risk either, but just because they aren’t prepared to put a chunk of cash behind an untried concept no longer means that that concept will wither. There are books being published now that can open whole new worlds to readers. The sky’s the limit now when it comes to creativity and experimentation. We truly are living in the Age of the Author now.

My next experiment? Publishing in a different genre with the same name, Merry Farmer. I have a sci-fi series, GRACE’S MOON, coming in July. They say you can’t publish different genres under the same name. They say your readers won’t follow you, that you’ll have to start the discoverability struggle all over again.

Three guesses what I say to that.

You can find Merry’s eBooks on Kobo through the links below:

THE LOYAL HEART

THE FAITHFUL HEART

THE COURAGEOUS HEART

OUR LITTLE SECRETS

FOOL FOR LOVE

SARAH SUNSHINE

IN YOUR ARMS

THE INDOMITABLE EVE

SEEKS FOR HER

SOMEBODY TO LOVE

 

Visit Merry’s website to learn more, and follow her on Twitter @MerryFarmer20.

Indies for Indies: My Partnership with My Local Bookstore

By Robert L. Slater

Bellingham, Washington, has as many bookstores as many small towns have churches and bars. You can literally have a top ten… I frequent many of them, but the one I know best has become a great friend—Village Books. VB did a lot for me as a reader and community member. I saw Terry Brooks, Neal Stephenson, and many more folks at VB events.

As a customer in their original location, an old building in underdeveloped Fairhaven, I joined their Reader Rewards Club.  Every year on your birthday month, club members receive a coupon for a discounted book, your age up to 39 as a percentage discount, and a cup of coffee. Eventually the costs of maintaining an awesome local brick and mortar bookstore took their toll and everyone got 25% off no matter what their age. In addition, at 20 purchases customers get a cash voucher for the average price of those books. I’m a cheap and careful shopper, so mine was never big, but always more exciting than the free haircut or coffee punch card.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder they have access to Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder that they can access Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks. Learn more here!

Over the last year VB became more of a place to go see ‘friends.’ The past year has been a series of synchronicitous events in my writing. I wrote my third novel for NANOWRIMO 2012. Soon after I opened an email from Village Books announcing a Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group. I went and met Paul Hansen, their General Manager. He read from his own work in progress. Two weeks later, I returned and soon volunteered to manage the group mailing list and reminders.  I met other local writers, now  friends, whom I hope to see in print someday.

Then I was chosen with five other writers to write a Speculative Fiction Serial Story for the local newspaper, The Bellingham Herald, set in Bellingham 100 years in the future. One of the first questions from editor, Dean Kahn, was, “Do you want to read at Village Books?” I wholeheartedly agreed. My theatre background would come in handy. When Dean had to opt out, I stepped in to be master of ceremonies.

The evening came. I dressed for success, imagining what a professional writer might wear and say and do. We went from empty to a crowd in minutes. Sam Kaas, another fabulous VB employee, introduced us and we were off. The evening went well. I handed out postcard promos for my collection: Outward Bound, (already on Kobo) and for my soon to be released debut: All Is Silence. New folks signed up for my mailing list. I thanked Sam. He asked for some cards and asked if I would like to be featured in an eBook newsletter as a local author using Kobo. Of course, I said yes.

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

As a local teacher at Windward High School, I partnered with Village Books in printing WHS’ first annual book of poetry, art and fiction, Whispers in the Wind, using their Espresso Book Machine [EBM]. When it came time to talk about publishing my own book I knew I wanted to partner locally if I could. My initial plan was to have Village Books print my Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] using the EBM, but unfortunately, the EBM had become unavailable. Brendan Clark, the ever-helpful arm of Village Books’ publishing forays, told me cryptically that I should wait and see what else was in the works.

I had done my homework. I had a plan. VB would print ARCs, then pro-printing with Lightning Source. When I sat down with Brendan and talked about my vision, it turned out what was in the works was a VB partnership with Lightning Source to print books. Turnaround time was longer, but the book cost was better for short runs. Best of all, Brendan Clark would be my go between with Lightning Source.  When I printed 500 copies, the books would be more expensive than going with Lightning Source direct, but only by about 8%. That trade off was perfect. I could partner with Village Books, get the quality I wanted without LS’ legendary lack of author-friendly support. That 8% into my local community and the extra help made it an absolute win-win.

When I got the call from Village Books that my ARCs had arrived, VB personnel and patrons ooed and ahhed as I grinned like a monkey and set my book on the shelf to see what it would look like. The cover wasn’t quite popping so Brendan changed to high gloss for the second set of ARCs. When they came in, the cover popped!

Author Robert Slater promotes All Is Silence at the KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

Author Robert L. Slater promotes All Is Silence at a KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

I worked on getting final edits in and my cover artist made adjustments. My goal was to have people’s jaws drop when I told them it was self-published. After sending off the ‘final’ edits, I settled into all the other prep work for releasing a book. Then I got an email from Sam. Would I be interested in doing an ePublishing workshop with Kobo? Sure. I had been trying to get All Is Silence uploaded as an ePub to Kobo, and was having issues—too much specialized formatting. So Sam connected me to Mark Lefebvre at Kobo, the main speaker at the workshop. Mark helped me through the process, even purchasing a copy for himself after getting hooked!  The workshop with Mark was great, Paul and Brendan and Sam were great. We had a great crowd and lots of questions.

Mark helped me set up a special pricing deal on a card for the eBook leading up to release of my print book and connect readers to VB eBook opportunities. We gave it out to workshop attendees, Mark took some on the road with him and Sam kept some at VB. Soon, I hit #7 on Kobo’s Young Adult Dystopian Fiction Bestsellers and, for a very short time, #3 behind Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent on the Young Adult Science Fiction list. [I have the picture to capture the moment.]

My partnership with VB led to many unforeseen benefits. Rumor had it that one major retailer would not allow pre-orders on self-published books. The only way around it was to create a seller’s account and cough up $30 for set up. Because I partnered with VB, and through them Lightning Source and Ingram’s, my book was up for presale internationally on that major retailer for no extra charge. It also got me into the local library system early. I have more books being requested than they have in stock. It’s a great start.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

Now my book is in Village Books. They’ll be hosting a novel release party with me on March 14th and after that… who knows. What did I do to get so lucky? When I picked up the first batch of my print books, Paul Hanson told me, “When you first came in you said, ‘What can I do to help?’”

So, writers, ask not what your bookstore can do for you [the answer is plenty], but ask what you can do for your bookstore. Be professional. Communicate warmly, openly and politely. Get off the broken record of “buy my book, buy my book,” and make friends, find partners, and buy books at your local brick and mortar bookstore.

Visit Robert’s website.

All Is Silence on Kobo.

Outward Bound on Kobo.

Learn more about Kobo’s partnership with indie bookstores here and here.

Kate Perry’s Favorite Heroes, in Every Flavor!

By Kate Perry

I love February. A month dedicated to hearts and chocolate and love? Sign me up!

It may be cold outside, but the perfect hero will keep you warm. They’re like cupcakes–some dark, some sweet, all delicious. And just because you like one flavor, doesn’t mean you can’t flirt with others. Wink.

My favorite hero of all time is my Magic Man, but I have a confession to make: sometimes I like to curl up in front of the fireplace with these fantasy men, too. Maybe you’ll be enticed by one or two as well…

For those of you who like men with accents and old-school sensibilities, there’s Ferguson, a disgraced duke with a dark reputation:

Heiress Without a Cause

Heiress Without a Cause

By Sara Ramsey

Because you can’t help yourself around an immortal who owns the night, try the passionate, troubled Samson:

Samson's Lovely Mortal (Scanguards Vampires #1)Samson’s Lovely Mortal

By Tina Folsom

If you like your hero shaken, not stirred, you’ll love Paul, the sexy bartender with a sinful smile:

License to DateLicense to Date

By Susan Hatler

International men of mystery are hot, like Jack who is anything but what he seems to be:

The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival GuideThe Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide

By Josie Brown

And so are tall, silent, deadly men like sexy murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan:

The Hitwoman and The Family JewelsThe Hitwoman and the Family Jewels

By JB Lynn

And for those of you who can’t resist Southern charm and a cowboy hat, there’s wheelin’ and dealin’ Jackson Waite:

Lost in LoveLost in Love

By Kate Perry

Whoever you spend your nights with, I hope you’re warm and happy and loved.

xoxo ~

Kate

KatePerry_1Kate Perry is the international bestselling author of the Laurel Heights Novels and the Summerhill series. By day, she writes about all sorts of things, like cupcakes and women who kick ass. She writes about love, too, because love is the most important thing in the world.

www.kateperry.com

www.facebook.com/tutuKate

www.twitter.com/KatePerry

Event: Discounted tickets to London Author Fair (UK)

LAF Banner Ad

Kobo Writing Life is delighted to be a Founding Collaborator of The London Author Fair (February 28th). And we have 100 discounted tickets for you.

Our friends at Authoright want you to join us for an exhilarating day of engaging seminars, intimate workshops, networking, crowdsourcing and literary agent pitching events.

The London Author Fair is the first ever cutting-edge publishing event designed exclusively to help new and unpublished authors in the digital age.

£20 off LAF2To get your ticket go online to londonauthorfair.com and enter the discount code LAFKobo. Act now – there are only 100 discounted tickets available.

We will see you there!

Writers Unite!

From the Kobo Writing Life team

KWL holidays

Just a quick note to wish each and every one of you a great holiday season — stay warm and cozy and safe, take care of each other and of yourselves, and keep writing!

Here are some book recommendations from the Kobo team to help you wile away the dark winter months:

KWL Holiday server schedule

As many of you will remember from last year, regular content loading and processing services will be adjusted during the holiday season. This means that normal content processing will be unavailable between December 18, 2013 and January 3, 2014.

But don’t worry! With our new price scheduler and the ability to set a release date in the future, you can still hold a Boxing Day sale or release a new title on Christmas Day – you just need to make sure you upload the finished files to us by midnight on December 18th, and that all your price scheduling has been entered before then, too.

We will honour all publication dates and price schedules that fall between December 18th and January 3rd so long as you advise us in advance. We just won’t be able to accept new content or new price changes between those two dates.

We are all looking forward to a fantastic holiday season and as always we appreciate your ongoing support and patience. If you have any questions, you can always reach us at writinglife@kobo.com.

KWL Dashboard update issue: sales numbers may be larger than they appear

Objects in mirror may be larger than they appear

Objects in mirror may be larger than they appear

NOTE: As of December 11 2013, this issue has been fixed. You may temporarily experience some further glitches on your Dashboard as we roll out the fix. Thank you for your patience.

Some KWL authors may have experienced a glitch in the KWL Dashboard reporting lately: their sales numbers may be lower than they should be. This is a known issue, and will be fixed within the next week or two.

Kobo.com updated its software and, among other updates, now stores sales information in a new location. The KWL Dashboard, however, is still looking at the original location, and thus some authors are only seeing a small portion of their actual sales from the past 30 days or so reflected on their Dashboard.

basic screen shot

Rest assured, however, that the personal KWL Dashboard is the only place where this discrepancy is found. Behind the scenes, our Finance and Reporting departments know all the correct information, and the reports and payments you receive from Kobo’s finance teams are correct and up-to-date.

The solution to ensure all sales are reflected in the dashboard is currently being tested, and will be implemented within the next week or so. Your KWL Dashboard reports will soon reflect your accurate sales numbers once again.

Thanks for your patience, and keep writing!

A weekend with writers at Novelists Inc.

By Christine Munroe, US KWL Manager

I recently spent a weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with Mark Lefebvre (KWL Director). We weren’t there for a beach vacation – and anyways, there was a cold snap, not ideal for sunbathing! – we wanted to meet the wonderful members of Novelists Inc., aka Ninc.

The conference was an intense three days of presentations, panels, banquet meals, and more. Some highlights included:

  • An entertaining morning of “Ninc Talks” during which speakers presented quick, personal stories in the style of TED Talks
  • Mark’s presentation about how to succeed on Kobo
  • Embracing our inner book nerds as we met some of our favorite authors, including the Summit Authors, the Jewels of Historical Romance, Carrie Ryan, and many, many more
  • Speaking with attendees about their success using KWL and what we can do to improve the platform in the future
Mark and Christine on thrones surrounded by lovely Jewels! Find their eBooks on Kobo.

Mark and Christine on thrones surrounded by lovely Jewels! Find their eBooks on Kobo.

Christine goes into superfan mode with bestselling YA author Carrie Ryan. Check out her latest title here.

Christine goes into superfan mode with bestselling YA author Carrie Ryan. Check out her latest title here.

Ninc is unique because all members must have published at least two novels in order to apply (see here for full details), so the level of professionalism and knowledge of the industry was remarkable. Many Ninc members are hybrid authors, taking advantage of both traditional and indie publishing opportunities.

We loved having quality time to hear from authors about what is working, the latest developments in the indie market (like this cool tool, BookTrakr), and how self-publishing has helped them to grow their careers. Many authors mentioned they were recently able to quit their jobs to write full time because of their new income from indie publishing. So incredible and inspiring!

Next year’s conference will be October 22–26 in St. Pete Beach, Florida—we hope to see you there.

Confession: We did manage sneak in a little beach time… can you blame us? It was beautiful!

Confession: We did manage sneak in a little beach time… can you blame us? It was beautiful!

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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