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.

The One Big Book Launch – Ensuring Good Books Get Read

CompletelyNovel-Logo-White-400x64has teamed up with Literally PR to offer authors the chance to launch their books at a highly publicized event on April 30th 2014.

Sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, Scrivener and, the One Big Book Launch will see ten authors launch ten different books at the same event in London, sharing publicity, readers and celebrations. The event is the first of its kind, and is currently accepting submissions from authors who have had a book published since 1st December 2013.


Submissions close on 30th March – so get your entries in fast! Books are being judged on quality of writing and commercial potential by a team of judges from CompletelyNovel. All chosen authors will receive a table at the event to sign and sell books, a chance to talk about their book on stage, five reserved places for friends and family, an author pack containing exclusive offers and discounts, and the chance to celebrate the release of their book at a top London venue with catering and two hundred guests. Also attending the event will be members of the press, literary scouts and publishing professionals.

Author signups are now OPEN – Click here to sign up before 30th March See you on 30th April!

CompletelyNovel is a friendly publishing platform, specialising in POD self-publishing and advice for writers.
Authors can publish print copies of their books using CompletelyNovel’s easy-to-use online tools, for as little as £7.99 a month, and keep 100% of their book royalties. Click here to find out more.

KWL and NZ Society of Authors contest winners

Kobo Writing Life recently sponsored the New Zealand Society of Authors’ inaugural E-Publishing prize, and the winners are in!

Two new authors from Auckland and Waikato have won the publishing chance of a lifetime, with the inaugural 2014 Kobo/NZ Authors E-Publishing Prize which will see their books professionally published by the Kobo Writing Life platform.

The prize includes:

  • Professional editing and formatting
  • Professional cover design
photograph Fiona Sussman

Fiona Sussman

Robin Sisley

Robin Sisley

Aucklander Fiona Sussman is fiction winner with Sentenced, a gritty novel about disaffected youth in the New Zealand urban underbelly. Judges described Sentenced as a gripping, thought provoking story about a tough subject.

Waikato’s Robin Sisley wins the non-fiction category with Eat the Wind about rescuing stallions from slaughter before the 1997 muster of the Kaimanawa wild horses. Judges commented that the manuscript stood out with lively writing which flowed naturally and a subject both exciting and surprising.

Read more here.

Congratulations to the winners! We’re excited to start working with you, and are honoured to help you kick-start your writing careers.

KWL supports the Spark Awards

logo-scbwiThe Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (the SCBWI) encourages the independent author and illustrator, holding an annual award called the Spark Awards, which recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.

SCBWI Executive Director, Lin Oliver, and President, Stephen Mooser, strongly believe that, “it is time that SCBWI recognize that there are new models for publishing. The Spark Award is one way we can reward those authors and illustrators who are pursuing independent and self-publishing in a legitimate and high quality way.”

The winner will receive:

  • a Spark seal to display on their book
  • a commemorative plaque
  • their book featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and marketed on SCBWI social networking sites
  • the opportunity to sell their book at the SCBWI Summer or Winter Conference in Los Angeles or New York.

Kobo Writing Life is proud to support this great award, as we obviously believe the self-publishing world has a lot of offer, a lot of great talent to recognize, and a lot to celebrate!

Find the full submission details here, and good luck!

Enter Kobo’s Social Savvy Author Contest

social savvy contestAre you trying to figure out the best way to make social media work for you as a self-published author? Have you always wondered how to market your ebooks on Facebook and Twitter?

Don’t worry! Just enter Kobo’s Social Savvy Author contest for your chance to have all your questions answered!

One lucky winner will enjoy a two-hour social media intensive with Kathy Meis, founder of the social book discovery platform, Bublish.

041712_bublish_logoThe session will be customized to fit your individual skill level and needs. You choose the social networks you’d like to focus on and you ask the questions. Whether you’re a true social beginner or a connected author trying to expand your audience and reach, Kathy will help you move to the next level of social savvy!

To Enter

Fill out this form.

There can be only one submission per author. Contest entrants must have at least one title published through Kobo Writing Life.

Entry Deadline: November 15th, 2013

Kathy Meis is the founder and president of the social book discovery and commerce platform Bublish. She is a professional writer, editor and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industry. Kathy is founding editor of Forbes MediaCritic, she ghostwrites business books and is a frequent blogger on the subject of book promotion, author branding and discoverability, including weekly contributions to In 2012, Meis won the People’s Choice Award at the Startup Showcase at O’Reilly’s TOC Conference.

Full Terms and Conditions

The Contest is open only to legal residents of the forty eight (48) contiguous United States, District of Columbia, the United Kingdom and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their respective jurisdiction at the time of entry (each entrant, an “Entrant”). Void in Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and where prohibited by law. The Prize consists of a two-hour social media intensive with Kathy Meis, founder of Bublish.

Enter the “Ask An Agent (almost) Anything” Contest!

Ask an Agent Almost Anything Contest

This month, we have an incredible opportunity lined up for one lucky winner: a Skype video call with prominent NYC agent Seth Fishman.

This is your chance to get feedback on your novel’s pitch, ask all of your burning questions about the industry, and find out how to make your query letter stand out. As the author of the forthcoming young adult series THE WELL’S END (Putnam Juvenile, February 2014), Seth can also tell you all about the publishing process from a writer’s perspective.

The winner of Kobo’s Ask An Agent (almost) Anything contest will get 30 minutes over Skype with Seth for a no-holds-barred conversation about publishing and writing.

To Enter

Fill out This Form, including the top three questions you would ask the agent.

There can be only one submission per author. Contest entrants must have at least one title published through Kobo Writing Life.

Entry Deadline: October 25, 2013

Seth Fishman is an agent at The Gernert Company (, where he represents authors including Tea Obreht, Alex Grecian, Liz Moore, Django Wexler, and Dominique Ansel. Born and raised in Midland, Texas (think Friday Night Lights), he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England (think cold and rainy and millions of castles).


Full Terms and Conditions

The Contest is open only to legal residents of the forty eight (48) contiguous United States, District of Columbia, the United Kingdom and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their respective jurisdiction at the time of entry (each entrant, an “Entrant”). Void in Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and where prohibited by law. The Prize consists of a 30-minute Skype video call with prominent NYC agent Seth Fishman.

Enter the “Edit My Story” Contest!

edit my story contest imageWant to make sure your short story is error-free before you publish it?

Looking for a way to give your fiction a professional edge?

Then Kobo’s Edit My Story contest is for you!

Enter this contest for a chance to win a professional copy edit of your short story (of 10,000 words or less) by Steph VanderMeulen. The copy edit will include an examination of syntax and word choice, tautness of text, flow, paragraph structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistency, and accuracy. Steph will work to maintain your voice but ensure your writing is polished and effective.

To Enter

Fill out This Form, including a 2-3 sentence description of your short story.

There can be only one submission per author. Contest entrants must have at least one title published through Kobo Writing Life.

Entry Deadline: September 13, 2013

Steph VanderMeulen is a full-time freelance copy editor, proofreader, and writer. Since 2003, she has worked with many clients on academic non-fiction, PhDs, journal articles, ad-copy, short stories, novels (including translated fiction), and non-fiction. She also writes discussion questions for readers’ guides. She received training both through university and Editors’ Association of Canada courses. Her clients have included, Thomas Allen Publishers, ECW Press, House of Anansi Press, the University of Ottawa Press, the University of BC Press, the Canadian Journal of Development Studies, the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Loyalist College, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, authors, and small businesses and organizations.

Full Terms and Conditions

The Contest is open only to legal residents of the forty eight (48) contiguous United States, District of Columbia, the United Kingdom and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their respective jurisdiction at the time of entry (each entrant, an “Entrant”). Void in Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and where prohibited by law. The Prize consists of a copy edit by Steph VanderMeulen of a short story of no more than 10,000 words.

Meet the winner of Kobo’s Win an eBook Cover Contest: Melissa Yi

Earlier this year, KWL held a contest for those with a soon-to-be-released novel – the prize: a professionally-designed cover!

The lucky winner is Melissa Yi, doctor, mother, and author of medical mysteries and more. Kobo caught up with her between hospital shifts, toddler tantrums, and editing sessions to ask a few questions about her new book and the process of helping to create her prize:

When did you first hear that you’d won the contest?
I got an e-mail in my inbox with a subject line like Congratulations – Contest – Kobo Writing Life, and I assumed it was spam. But it was personalized spam, so I clicked on it, and I was stunned to discover that, out of thousands of entrants in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., I’d won a professional e-book cover. I rarely win things. The last thing I remember winning was some soaps and bath salts at a medical conference ten years ago, so this was huuuuge.

Didn’t you win some writing contests?
Oh, yes. That’s right. Second place in Writers of the Future. I was part of the anthology, The Dragon and the Stars, that won the Aurora award in 2011. I won the Innermoonlit Award and the Cornwall Library awards, plus a few others. I don’t know why the bath salts came to mind first.

Well, cleanliness is important. Moving on. Which book is being featured?
Terminally Ill, the third book in my medical mystery series featuring Hope Sze, a resident “detective doctor” who solves crimes when she’s not getting yelled at by patients or her supervising physicians. This book takes Hope in a new direction. An escape artist named Elvis chains and nails himself in a coffin before plunging into the St. Lawrence River, and his heart stops underwater. After Hope resuscitates him and saves his life, he asks her to figure out who sabotaged his stunt and nearly drowned him.

Was it difficult to write the resuscitation scene?
Not really. I’m an emergency doctor.

That’s right. Was it harder to write the magic scenes?
Yes. Luckily, there’s this fantastic invention called the Internet. First of all, I listened to a CBC Radio DNTO podcast and was inspired by Dean Gunnarson, the Canadian escape master who attempted this stunt in 1982. Dean kindly gave me permission to use the stunt, and the magicians at The Magic Cafe helped me puzzle out the ending.

How’s the cover coming along?

Swept off her feet!

Swept off her feet!

Beautifully. Kobo hooked me up with Scarlett Rugers, an Australian book designer, who started reading the book so she could brainstorm concepts. She made up three different designs for me to choose from, so I posted them to Facebook and asked for some more opinions. Now we’re just hammering out the finer details. Scarlett is creative, smart, efficient, and accessible―can’t ask for more than that. I also have to give a shout out to Kobo, who’ve gone above and beyond on this contest. For example, even though the contest didn’t include paying for stock art, Kobo covered the cost anyway. And when I met Kobo director Mark Lefebvre at a writing conference, I literally got carried away.

So when is the book coming out?
February 1, 2014, just to give us the lead time to reach bookstores and review magazines. But in the meantime, you could read the two previous Hope Sze books, Code Blues and Notorious D.O.C. Or you could try out magic tricks, although I really don’t recommend nailing yourself in coffins.

And here is the book cover in question:



About the Author

melissa yiMelissa Yi is the super-secret code name for Melissa Yuan-Innes, an emergency doctor who writes as much as possible when she isn’t a) working, or b) carrying her screaming two-year-old away from bouncy castles. She lives with her family and two cows in the countryside between Montreal and Ottawa.

Check out her books on Kobo!

About the Artist

scarlett rutgersScarlett Rugers’ job is a book cover designer and a Publishing Identity Consultant. Her purpose is to empower you to be the best author you can be, and collaborate with you to improve the quality of the book industry. She is constantly working to inspire, strengthen and pursue the perception that self-publishing is professional publishing.

For an experience that will make you feel traditionally published you can email her at: contact (at) scarlettrugers (dot) com or visit her website and see her work. She is also on twitter at @thebookdesignr.

She’s also written guests posts for us before on book cover design:

6 expert tips on designing a great book cover

What to look for in a book cover designer

Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize

Hot Key BooksIf you are an aspiring writer for children between the ages of 18 and 25, we have good news for you!

Kobo has joined Hot Key Books in the UK to bring you the second annual Young Writers Prize. The Prize looks to uncover new writing talent between the ages of 18 and 25, who submit their work in either of two categories: 9-12 and young adult (for ages 13-19). Last year saw over 350 entries from writers all over the world with two winners scooping the chance to be published by Hot Key Books. Their novels, The Rig by Joe Ducie and Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle are to be released in print and digital formats this September.

Each winner will be given editorial support, the chance to be published by Hot Key Books with a £10,000 advance and ten shortlisted finalists will also be given a Kobo eReader.

Submissions of partial manuscripts are now open and will close on 22nd July, with a second stage of full manuscripts in November 2013. The winners will be announced at London Book Fair 2014. Full terms and conditions and the entry form are available on

The beauty of self-publishing is self-permission

Joanna Penn, author and blogmistress, writes a powerful piece about permission and publishing. “I’m done with taming the crazy,” she writes, and challenges writers to give themselves permission to plumb the depths of their talents and stop limiting themselves.

There are enough obstacles and limitations in the world. Why make yourself one of them?

Read the whole article here.

Remember that today the 3rd book in Penn’s Sin series is now available, and it’s not too late to enter the “Kobo presents The Descent” contest.

JoannaPennNew27-248x300Joanna Penn is a British author, internet entrepreneur and international speaker whose books have appeared on Thriller and Action Adventure bestseller lists.

Check out her author site here.


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