By Mark Lefebvre

One of the things I most love about my job is when serendipity leads to an amazing opportunity for a talented writer to be put in front of new readers.

Kobo recently launched an amazing promotion that has partially been a celebration of the new movie version of the bestselling thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and partially a way to celebrate the release of our new deluxe waterproof eReader, the Kobo Auro H20.  (I’m certain if you’re familiar with the novel, you can understand the underlying connection involving water)


The promo is called GOING, GOING, GONE and includes a chance for readers to win $5000 and a Kobo Aura H20 just for reading a series of stories.

And here’s where Kobo Writing Life and serendipity comes into this.

When the marketing team was developing the idea, they needed to find a good writer, ideally a female writer, who could write in the style of Gillian Flynn and also turn around three short stories really quickly. They also needed to be willing to write collaboratively with the Kobo marketing team, following the vision for the contest while creating compelling fiction. The promo was going to be similar to the one we had done as a tie-in to the Dan Brown novel Inferno. For that, the marketing team had poked me and immediately Joanna Penn came to mind and she wrote three short stories collaboratively with Kobo that were part of The Descent feature.  (The rights for all three stores reverted back to Joanna and are all included in her digital chapbook – A Thousand Fiendish Angels (A Story Series Inspired by Dante’s Inferno). But Joanna came to mind because I knew she was a Dan Brown fan via her amazing The Creative Penn Podcast and Blog; and, having communicated with her, I knew she was friendly, professional and flexible.

In the same manner that Joanna immediately came to mind for that promo, Melissa Yi came to mind for this one. I knew, from having met Melissa at a writer’s conference and also having worked with her in the past, that she was capable of writing in a voice similar to the one Flynn employs as well as the fact that she could write FAST.


GONE FISHING Parts 1, 2 and 3: Cain and Abel, Trouble & Strife and Butcher’s Hook

Melissa has been active in the writing community and has never been shy about getting to know other industry folks. She’d made her existence known in a professional and friendly manner. This allowed for the serendipity to happen.  Had Melissa not invested time into attending writing workshops or participating in various writing community activities, she’d have been off the radar, and this opportunity would have never occurred.

It just so happened that, writing in the Hope Sze Medical Mysteries realm, Melissa was able to pull three amazing short stories out of her hat to be part of the process. And, even though I knew she could write quickly and provide us with what we were looking for in a timely fashion, she far surpassed the request and turned her stories around far beyond our expectations.


Robyn, Melissa and Nathan doing their version of #theface

Not only did Melissa work quickly and collaboratively with the Kobo team, but she also took time to visit Toronto for the launch of the Kobo Aura H20 and to spend some time in person with Kobo folks at both the poolside launch party as well as at our home office.


Mark, Melissa and Robyn at the Kobo Aura H20 Launch Event

And, as any author who has ever met our team, whether it’s here in Canada at our home office or somewhere in the US, the UK or somewhere in Europe would likely attest, the Kobo Writing Life team will never shy away from a chance to hang out and just chill with an author, particularly when the author is willing to kick back and be willing to be a little playful and fun when hamming it up for the camera.


Jodi, Mark, Melissa, Tara & Christina demonstrate a fun way to “help elevate” an author

The aforementioned stories that Melissa wrote in the Gone Fishing series are Part I: Cain and Abel; Part II: Trouble and Strife and Part III: Butcher’s Hook.  Not only is reading them a part of your chance to win some great prizes, but you get to enjoy Melissa’s writing and get a taste for the Hope Sze mysteries that she has crafted, which include Code Blues, Notorious D.O.C., and Terminally Ill. (And if you get to Part III of Gone Fishing there’s a little extra “gift” for you at the very end of the last installment, a little special something that those who enjoy reading Hope Sze are likely to quite relish. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, go download those free stories NOW! And enter the contest by October 10th)

While this story is a pretty interesting tale about a writer happening to be in the right place at the right time to be part of a fun Kobo promotion, I’m hoping that the lesson here, for writers, is that Melissa did play a very active role in this path to success. By being engaged in the writing community, by being professional in her dealings with other industry members, including writers, editors, publishers and booksellers, she definitely helped to set the stage for the opportunity. The final ingredient in the recipe here was Melissa being open when a unique and untested opportunity presented itself.

I just love when serendipity allows a plan like this to come together.


If you want to learn more about Melissa (who is an emergency physician who still manages to find time to write and participate in writing community events despite working 10 to 14 hour shifts), you can listen to an interview with her in Episode 014 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast.


MarkLeslie_JoroPhoto_SquareMark Lefebvre is the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo and a founding member of the team responsible for the creation of Kobo Writing Life. Mark isn’t just the director of the program, but is also a writer, and one who has long embraced both self-publishing and traditional publishing projects.  Mark’s latest books include Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries, I, Death and Evasion.