My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I'm not Upset About Losing
NaNoWriMo for the First Time

This is my third time doing NaNoWriMo. Both of the other times I've had moments where I was pretty sure I wouldn't get to fifty thousand words by the 30th, but both times I pulled it off by the 28th. This year, however, I was almost certain. I am very pleased and surprised to tell you that this year I'm okay with not winning NaNoWriMo. Let me share with you my reasons.
  1. I did finish my NaNoWriMo novel, or should I say novella.
  2. I have three other completed novels that are still in their first drafts
As I was writing my NaNo novel this year it seemed that my story wasn't going to end up being fifty thousand words long. This has not been the case before. My last couple novels had thirty thousand some words to be written after I reached the 50K mark by November 30th. This time around I was at the midpoint of my novel and not even at 15K words yet. It ended up being a complete story at 24K words. I'm really excited to have a finished novella though, it seems to be a new length of choice for eBooks. A lot of people read on their phones, and having something shorter like that is becoming more desirable. I worked a lot on how to make the story work too, and even though my outline was sometimes just ahead of what I was writing, I once stopped for a couple days to nail down how I would get through Act II into the climax and I think it worked well. This little novella might be the first long form fiction I've ever written where I don't feel I need to go back and change a whole lot after finishing it. I'll get some beta readers on it and see if I'm way off base, but I don't think I'll have to do a ton of story revision like I am with my first three novels.

Another reason I am a bit relieved that I can move on from NaNoWriMo this year is that I'm almost halfway through revising my second NaNo novel, and once it's cleaned up it will be the first full novel I will podcast and self publish. I've been waiting a long time for this and if you look a couple blog posts down you'll see that I even have some spectacular cover art for it! I can't wait to get this novel in front of beta readers, and on, Amazon, and the other online eBook retailers.

So yes I am a bit blue about not winning NaNoWriMo this year, but it's okay. I've got three other novels to get ready for publishing! It's time for a season of revising and rewriting!

Friday, November 11, 2011

How Self-publishing Liberated Me and My Story

By Dan Kolbet, Guest Blogger

When I decided to write my first book, it was one of those “you better do it now, or you’ll never do it” things. For years I had struggled to get my story out – any story for that matter. I’d start and stop, never really getting anywhere. So when the miracle happened and I actually finished Off The Grid, I thought the next steps would be cake. I would submit my wonderful manuscript to agents who would fall all over me with big piles of cash and a book deal.

That’s not exactly how it happened.

I followed the traditional steps of writing, editing and finalizing a manuscript. I ran the book past four beta readers, including Dan Absalonson who hosts this site. I had it edited by a copyeditor. It was ready for submission, or so I thought.

I spent weeks finalizing a query letter after learning the ropes and meeting some agents at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in Bellevue, Wash. Some agents wanted just a query letter, while others wanted a 1-2 page synopsis or sample chapters. Every agent wanted something different. I spent about a month sending out 40 submissions – exactly the way they asked for them.

Experienced writers may say 40 submissions is a small number. You should have sent out more. I only picked agents that I actually wanted to represent me. I didn’t shotgun out my heart and soul to everyone who claimed to be an agent. I wanted a good one.

The rejections trickled in, but after two months of waiting and checking my email like a crazy person 20 times a day, I was tired of it. The waiting killed me. To me it meant that my work was being held hostage. It’s just a story after all – it needs to be told, not sitting in the inbox of some agent in New York.

The alternative to the gut-wrenching waiting and self-doubt was right in front of me the whole time. I knew self-publishing was Plan B. But I wanted to give the traditional route a try before I shifted course.

In early October I was in Coeur d’Alene Idaho at an event and I ran into a fellow author who I also saw at the PNWA conference back in August. She asked me about where I was with the book. She was probably the 200th person to ask me about it since I started querying. Without putting a lot of thought into what I was saying, I said that I was tired of waiting and was about the begin the process of self-publishing on Kindle, Nook and CreateSpace.

That decision sent me on a whole other journey to get a cover design and put my words into the format that Amazon and Barnes & Noble wanted. I could spend multiple posts on what that was like, but I’ll just say this – it wasn’t easy for a newbie. I get it now and feel that I’ve mastered it, but it was rough.

I’m so glad that I self-published. With the amount of thought and hard work that any first-time author puts into their work, it’s insane that we then cross our fingers and hope that an agent can then do a better job of publishing our story than we can. Sure, they’ve got some sort of mystical powers that no one quite understand, but I’m pretty damn mystical too.

The world has changed, people. Don’t let rejections get you down. You have a real alternative, you just have make the decision to feel good about your work.

Off The Grid is Dan Kolbet’s debut novel. The book is available on Kindle, Nook and in paperback through CreateSpace. Kolbet blogs at I really enjoyed Dan's book when I read it as a beta reader. Grab a copy and support an awesome indie author, and once you've read it leave him a review. Thanks for stopping by the blog, which is now my main website. Hope you like the redesign.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Found Artwork for my first Novel!

I'm an artist. I can do 3D and Photoshop and all that stuff. I've created eBook covers for others. So of course I'm going to make my own book cover right? Well I was going to, but at this point in my life - I barely have time to write. So I've been surfing images at for the past month or so, and I finally found THE image for my first novel release. The ship is somehow exaclty what I describe in my book. The perportions are dead on, there's a huge chuck of ship that's cargo area in the back - it's perfect! I asked Eric the artist if I could use his amazing artwork for the cover of my book. He said that I could, all I have to do is send him a copy of the book when it's done. I will send him a signed copy in the mail, and email him all the eBook formats. A small price to pay for his breathtaking piece of artwork to go on the front of my novel. Click on it to see it in a larger size. If you're interested you can see the process he went through to create this piece here, something I'm always interested in being an artist myself. So thank you Eric!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update & The 7 Point System

I've been ahead of the curve on my word count for NaNoWriMo until this weekend. Last year I had my whole novel plotted and outlined. This year I knew the end and a couple other things, but have been constructing my outline as I write, barely staying ahead of what I'm writing. This weekend it all came to a standstill, and today I'm starting to figure out what to do to get my character from Act I to Act III. The main tool I've been using is a 7 Point Story Structure System from Dan Wells, published Tor author and co-host on my favorite writing podcast Writing Excuses. If you haven't heard about this story structure system, you really need to check it out. I has helped me figure out what was wrong with and finish the outline for every story I've written since I learned it. I'm still trying to get a better handle on what each of the seven story points are, but this system is such a great tool for constructing a story that I just have to mention it here. If you've run into a huge hippoplotamus like I have, then please check this out and use this amazing tool to find your way through your novel to the end.

You're very welcome :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's November which means NaNoWriMo!

This will be my third year doing NaNoWriMo. Now that I've won twice, I'm confident that even though it might be a crazy month, I will get 50,000 words of a novel written. I was going to write the sequal to the novel I've been trying to get ready for beta readers, but then I changed my mind. This is only my fourth novel ever attempted. While I write that I think, DANG! Four novels? That's awesome. Okay, so I'm starting my fourth novel. The point is, most people have to write five to ten novels before they can crank out something worth publishing. I'm really excited to see where this story goes. I have the character's end goal and most of the main story points, but the outline is being written just before the actual story. Hopefully I'll get ahead of that and finish the outline soon. Until then, I know the main story points and I'm truckin' along!