2017 NaNoWriMo: My Project Goals!

Hello my lovely bookworms and writing badasses!

Now, recently, ever since grad school’s started, you guys know that most of my blogging has moved (temporarily) to my weekly podcast. But there’s a special event coming up, and I just HAD to reiterate my excitement through the written word.

November’s now upon us, and so you know that that means!


I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, and since the last few months of the year are always about slowing down and finishing up for me, I decided to make HOLLOW POINT (Book #3 in the Books of Ezekiel series) my official NaNoWriMo novel project.

My goal is to add another 60,000 words this month, finish the novel, and spend the rest of December polishing and publishing it. Pretty straight forward… I think, lol!

Either way, I’d LOVE to link up with you guys online as NaNoWriMo writing buddies so that we can achieve our writing goals together!


You can tune into my writing progress by either checking me out on NaNoWriMo and adding me as a buddy, OR you can check out the sidebar at the right of this page to see my daily NaNoWriMo word count! Hold me accountable, y’all. I totally need it.

So, what do YOU plan on writing for this upcoming NaNoWriMo? Any major goals, first novels, or next novels you’re just DYING to get on the page? Let me know in the comments below, and of course, in the meantime…

Read on, write on, rock on,
<3 Colby

Why Won’t Anybody Publish Your Novel?

When you start out as a new writer, you have this romantic idea that you’ll finish your masterpiece and send it out to agents and publisher and you’ll see the offers rolling in. The reality is very different. After years of struggling through and editing every tiny detail until it’s absolutely perfect, you’re met with rejection after rejection. It isn’t always a reflection of your work, publishers get so many submissions that they will often cut the pile down based on the tiniest details. If you’re not getting anywhere with your writing, it might be for one of these reasons.

The Book Is No Good

One of the biggest hurdles you need to overcome as a writer is being able to bin your own work. When I first started out, I was very attached to everything that I wrote. If something didn’t work I would spend hours on it, trying to make it into something worth reading. The truth is, sometimes you just can’t. There isn’t a writer alive that comes out with something brilliant every time they put pen to paper. Everybody writes things that just don’t work. Knowing when to admit this and move on to something else is a difficult thing to learn, but it will improve your writing when you do. Don’t get rid of anything completely, you might be able to do something with it later, but don’t keep flogging a dead horse if the book isn’t working.

The Book Isn’t Finished

It’s basically impossible to know when a novel is finished, and you can never really say that it’s completely done. But you can get it close enough to be published. However, a common mistake that people make is they send it off for publication before it’s ready. Even though you’ve spent endless amounts of time editing, there’s still work to be done. The best way to know is to have as many people as possible read it. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need to do more work on it. If you’ve gone through the entire novel a few times and you’ve made hardly any changes, you’re probably there.

It’s Been Done

Another misconception that a lot of writers make is that their book will sell because it’s similar to other best sellers. Since the release of books like the Hunger Games series, young adult, dystopian novels are all the rage. But that doesn’t mean you can write a carbon copy of the Hunger Games with a few tweaks and get a publishing deal. It is possible for you to capitalize on the popularity of a genre or style, but you need to have something completely fresh and new to bring to the table. Using the same themes is fine but if your characters are predictable and you haven’t tackled that theme from a different angle, you won’t get anywhere.


You wouldn’t think that the formatting really has anything to do with you, but it could stop you from getting published. When you’re submitting samples to publishers, they often have very specific and strict guidelines on how to submit the work. Not following them will probably get you struck off straight away. If you’re a bit of a technophobe, consider taking a few Microsoft Word training classes so you can get the specifications exactly right. If a publisher opens the document and you haven’t followed their advice, they probably won’t even read it most of the time.

Plot Synopsis

Most submissions ask for the first few chapters and a plot synopsis. Writers will focus on going through those first couple of sample chapters with a fine tooth comb until every detail is perfect, but they’ll neglect the synopsis. If the publisher likes the sample chapter, then they’ll read the synopsis but if it’s confusing and disorganized, then they might not move forward from there. It can be difficult to describe the entire plot of a book in a succinct way, but you’ll just have to practice. Decide on what the main themes and plot points that make up the essence of the novel are, and focus on them. If you get bogged down in the backstory of every single character, things will get muddled and publishers will be put off.

Choosing The Wrong Publishers

Writers often think that the more publishers they send their work to, the more likely they are to get somewhere with it. I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. Publishers all have a specialty and they’re usually pretty specific. If you want to be successful, you need to spend a little time researching publishers and find ones that work with genres and styles that are similar to yours. Most publishing companies will have a page that shows information about exactly what they are and aren’t looking for. Not reading them is only going to waste your time and theirs because you’ll be sending people samples of a novel that they’ll never be interested in.

Your COVER Letter

Before they even get to your sample, publisher’s will read your cover letter. If they aren’t impressed, they’re likely to move on without even reading the sample. The function of a cover letter is to give the publisher more information about you and your work. You need to sell yourself. Start out with your credentials, and don’t leave anything out. Any creative writing qualifications you might have, and any work you’ve had published in the past, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. From there you need to tell them why your book is going to sell. Who is your target audience and why is your novel going to stand out from all of the others on the market? You also need to include a lot of smaller details which people often forget, like the word count and some contact details for yourself. People often leave these things out and publishers will see it as a bad sign if you do.

You can follow all of these steps and still get rejections. It’s just part of the process. The important thing is that you don’t give up and you’ll get there in the end.

Book Review: “The Successful Author Mindset” by Joanna Penn

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey by Joanna Penn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, Joanna Penn knocks the ball out of the part with her insight into the author mindset. We are pretty hard on ourselves as creatives, and Penn dives right in to give us some good ole fashioned inspiration, truth, and literary courage! It’s not all boo-hoos and balms, though.

Penn also dishes out some tough love and real talk on how to make a career as an indie author, urging us to keep our goals clear, to define success for ourselves, and to literally get your ass in a chair and get those words on a page.

What I love most about the book is that it’s super organized and to the point. Whenever I’m feeling overwrought, doubtful, or just plain lost on my own creative journey, I can easily find a passage in it that will give me inspiration. Kind of like the Book of Psalms… but for psycho, self-deprecating writers and angsty creatives! Yes, it is like a Bible, y’all… I took it there.

Loved this book and look forward to reading the rest of Penn’s non-fiction (and fiction) series!

View all my reviews

Rock on, READ on,
<3 Colby

Why You Think You Can’t Write A Novel – And Why You’re Wrong!

Calling yourself a “writer” is something that makes a lot of people nervous. It can feel like you’re asking to be called pretentious, or worse. If you’ve ever had the experience of meeting a distant relative at a family gathering and they ask what you do, you know how it goes.

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh! Anything I might have read?”

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationAnd the answer is almost invariably “no,” and so you know in their heads they’re thinking “Not a real job, not a real job.” It’s enough to cause a crisis of confidence, which of course contributes to the dreaded Writer’s Block. And when someone reads some of your writing and says “This is superb! Have you considered writing a novel?”, it’s easy to answer “no.” Because writing a blog post or an essay is one thing – a novel is a whole other ball game.

So many good writers shy away from the idea of writing a novel when that friend might really be onto something. If you think you can’t write a novel, you’re wrong. It may take time, and you may have a few false starts. But if you are ready to put the work in, you can overcome any obstacles – including the ones you put in front of yourself.

Excuse #1: “I know I can write, but I can’t write people.”

Writing characters is maybe the toughest part of writing a novel, it’s true. Even those of us who don’t think we’re creative can set a scene, can sketch out a narrative, but writing people is hard. Most successful novels will have at least one character who’s a lot like the author. Why is that? Because it’s easy to write yourself. Other characters are harder, of course. You can base them on your friends, but you want your friends to read the book and still like you, so that’s tricky.

What you need to do is sit and set out a profile of your characters. Their name, age, what they do for a living. Their personality. Refrain from making them too amazing – readers these days can spot a Mary Sue a mile away, and prefer someone relatable. Read over your profiles, and if they remind you too much of anyone, change the details until they’re their own person.

Excuse #2: “I know I can write, but I can’t handle rejection.”

lettersEvery author on the face of the Earth has received at least one letter of rejection from a publisher. J.K. Rowling famously received numerous rejection letters before one publisher picked up Harry Potter. One of them told her that she should get a day job because she was unlikely to make a living in children’s fiction. If writing is what you want to do, then you need to have a thick skin. You will get rejection letters – but they make the non-rejections worth so much more.

If you don’t want to leap straight into the lions’ den with publishers, then consider self-publishing to begin with. Book-printing experts such as Steuben Press will put your book together for you. You can then sell online or at book fairs, or give your books out as gifts. If you get good feedback from those, that should up your confidence. Never give up on the idea. Where would we be if Suzanne Collins had taken her first poor feedback as a sign to give up?

Excuse #3: “I know I can write, but the good ideas have all been had.”

We’ve all sat in front of a laptop, racking our brains for ideas, and the moment a good one comes up our internal editor rejects it. “No, already been done. There are enough books about vampires/wizards/astronauts…”. It is true to say that it gets harder to be original the longer time goes on. So the first thing to say to that is … don’t worry about having a truly original idea.

J.K. Rowling wasn’t the first author to write about a wizarding school. Stephenie Meyer definitely didn’t get to vampires first. And there have been more novels about a dystopian future than anyone could read in a lifetime. What you do need is a hook. Something that makes it a bit different. Play around with the lore a little; there is always something you can bring to it. A new setting, a unique power, a different threat. If you try to be 100% original, you’ll just end up with a book no one understands.

Excuse #4: “I know I can write, but I don’t have the time.”


Authors and actors alike have the same issue that stands in the way of their success. In the beginning, it doesn’t pay. And so they need to hold down a full-time job while finding ways to indulge their creative side. Where authors have an advantage over actors is the fact that an actor usually needs to break through while they are young. The film industry is very ageist. And sexist. And shallow.

On the other hand, when you’ve got your work backed up, you can take as long as you need to finish your first novel. If you snatch a few pages each lunch break, take a few hours at the weekend and some in the evenings, you can let it come together at its own pace. In fact, you may benefit from taking a little longer over it – this allows you to refine what you write and really consider where the story is going.

You can come up with all these reasons and more not to put your writing to the ultimate test. There are dozens of reasons not to try – but in the end, all you need is one reason to give it a go. If it works out, you’ll have the chance to make money doing something you love. And there is nothing better than that. Sure, when you’re on novel number 10, you’ll still get writer’s block. But it beats the hell out of doing a job you’ll never like, let alone love, for just enough money to keep your house warm.

You just need to stop making excuses.

Stay indie, and rock on, write on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Lifelong Writing Habit” by Chris Fox

lifelongwritinghabitcoverLifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day by Chris Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is, like the others Fox has written in this series, AWESOME. And super inspirational. I already have a daily writing habit, but as I have so many ideas, so many responsibilities, and three growing brands, I currently lack focus. Lack of focus eventually turns into overwhelm and then into red-alert shut down, lol. Lifelong Writing Habit really takes you step-by-step through the psychology and practicum of changing your habits as a writer. These lessons can help you develop a lifelong writing habit, or a lifelong ANYTHING habit, really!

I also enjoyed the less “concrete” action steps of visualization (though they are few). While Fox usually sticks with the concrete and tangible ways to solidify a writing habit, he always takes a minute to address the more intangible blocks that we writers face: self-doubt, lack of motivation, and amorphous dubious writer goals– all of which contribute to a writer’s dwindling word count and motivation. Fox hits all points in his series.

In terms of Fox’s writing style, one thing that I LOVE about this book (and his others) is that he jumps RIGHT into his step-by-step process. No fluff and no muss. He also makes his advice actionable and digestible, so that if you want to read straight through the book and THEN apply his action steps later, he includes his suggested steps in an appendix for your convenience. Another winner in Fox’s Write Faster, Write Smarter series, not to be missed!

View all my reviews

Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” by Nick Stephenson

This is a book review BACK POST, fam! Because I’m relaxing on my Xmas vacay in Florida, and knocking out some of my book list! Here’s the latest review on a great non-fiction book that’ll totally ramp up your Kindle sales if you follow the advice! A great and necessary read for indie fiction authors wanting to make a living.

superchargeyourkindlesalescoverSupercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AWESOME advice, paired with some amazing actionable steps. And the greatest part? The book is short, sweet, and low on “fluff”, which helps us to get to the meat of the material and apply the advice ASAP.

Nick Stephenson knows his stuff, and he provides some wonderful insight into the issues of keywords, categories, lead magnets, and other book selling hacks that can really raise an author’s sales and profile on Amazon. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. Plus the book is totally FREE!

Also, check out Nick Stephenson’s amazing “Your First 10,000 Readers” course. There is a free mini course for you to try before you can then upgrade to the major course. I’ve taken both, and I can’t recommend Nick’s courses highly enough. I feel so confident about my author career for this coming 2016, and I have Nick to thank for it!

View all my reviews

Write on, rock on, READ on,
<3 Colby

“Ghosts of Koa” Featured on The Writership Podcast!!

Great news, all! The lovely Alyssa and Leslie at The Writership Podcast have decided to feature and give an editorial review on GHOSTS OF KOA at The Writership Podcast!

If you’re wondering, The Writership Podcast is an online radio show focused on helping indie authors master self-editing writership_podcastskills. Each week they feature a different author, read through the first 5-10 pages of that author’s manuscript, and provide editorial feedback on the work.

They give some AWESOME insights and professional editing advice, so make sure to subscribe to their podcast when you get a chance!

Check out their review of GHOSTS OF KOA!

GOKwritershipIn any case, check out Leslie and Alyssa’s reactions and editorial review of my novel, GHOSTS OF KOA.

GOK got some super positive feedback, but apparently, they needed to “take refreshment” before diving in. 😉

As an important side note: I really encourage you to not only listen to the episode, but to also read the editorial feedback they provide below the episode itself.

They’ve embedded a Word document copy of the Prologue of “Ghosts of Koa” with their questions, comments, and ideas on how to make the manuscript better than it already is. It’s a great lesson in writing, and I highly recommend you tune into their show to make your own self-editing skills better!

Thanks in advance for checking it out! 🙂

Write on, and rock on (and keep it indie),
<3 Colby

Life Reboot, Blog Changes, & NaNoWriMo Update!

Howdy ya’ll! It’s been a craazy month, to say the least, and I’m barely staying afloat with my newborn button boo, writing deadlines, and NaNoWriMo chomping at my butt. I’ve had to make some major changes to my lifestyle and have had to tweak things as a writer-entrepreneur to stay on schedule with my dreams!

I know lots of you (especially us creative-entrepreneur-supermoms) are looking for ways to keep on track lifebalancewhile also working, being parents, and managing all your other life responsibilities, so I wanted to share what I’m going to try out for now and for 2015 going forward.

Honestly, I see this new life of mine as an exercise in guerrilla warfare. You gotta pimp every free second, minute and hour you have, get in writing where you can, multitask, and just keep doing it (whatever “it” is) until it’s done. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, but playing this game catch-as-catch-can will allow you to survive behind enemy lines.

So with that, here’s my life and my new schedule. I’m not promising that it’ll work, or that my new “life reboot” is a panacea, but I am promising that I’ll do my damndest to keep up, and that I’ll share with you all how it’s all going!

My Writing & Life Reboot

My daughter is beginning to show some methods to her madness now, so I can plan my writing time around her schedule. For you moms out there, keep in mind that you have to stay flexible and take writing time when and where you can. This, however, is how my daily schedule is working out as a full-time author-entrepreneur-mommy.


diary4:00 AM – 5:00 AM: Blogging, website management, freelance writing, social network updates

5:00 AM – 7:30/8:00 AM: WRITING. Just straight up, no holds barred, fiction writing (can you say vomit drafts?)

8:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Taking care of the baby, running errands, reading & doing research during baby feedings, making phone calls, listening to industry podcasts, and other hands-free stuff that will increase my knowledge and push my career forward

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM (roughly): WRITING. Boyfriend takes baby out for a walk (or just takes the baby), so I get some more writing done on a current or different project. Lots of story and character building. Finishing up any writing I hadn’t gotten done earlier.

6:00 PM – 10:30 PM: dinner & family together time; getting baby to calm her diva self down; spending time with the boyfriend; trolling on Facebook; other brainless, I’m-dead-tired-and-just-want-to-chill-right-now stuff

Now, if you notice, I only get about five to six hours of sleep per night. Yes, I know that’s crazy, but it’s working for me right now, lol. Hopefully, as my baby gets a couple of months older, her bedtime will also get a little earlier, and I’ll get more sleep. But until then… 😉

#amwritingSooo… daily writing schedules are awesome, but in addition to a daily grind, I also thrive best with a year-long grind. Because I’m trying to treat my indie author life as a business as well as a pursuit in what I love, I like planning out the production of my work on a yearly and quarterly basis. I also like to put my “products” on schedule.

This year’s massive changes proved it hard to stay as on schedule as I would have liked, but having finally found a balance that works for, I wanted to share my new production schedule! Check it out:


1. Researching – 3 weeks
2. Story and character building – 3 weeks
2. First draft – 4 weeks
3. Second draft – 4 weeks
4. Third draft (after pro editing)- 4 weeks
5. Final draft – 4 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 3,000 words a day
MONTH TOTAL: 90,000 words a month
REWARD: 12-18 novels a year!
TAKE AWAY: Start novel/novella/serial projects 6 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time.

1. Story building – 3 weeks
2. First draft – 4 weeks
3. Second draft – 8 weeks
4. Final draft – 4 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 2 pages a day
MONTH TOTAL: 60 pages a month
REWARD: 9-12 pilots or specs per year! (I’m thinking about having a 2:1 ratio in my portfolio, i.e. 8 pilots and 4 specs)
TAKE AWAY: Start pilot and spec project 3 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time!

1. Research, story, and character building – 4 weeks
2. First draft – 8 weeks
3. Second draft – 8 weeks
4. Third draft – 4 weeks
5. Final draft – 2 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 1 page a day
MONTH TOTAL: 30 pages a month
REWARD: 2 solid features per year!
TAKE AWAY: Start feature projects 6 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time.

Ambitious, right? I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meanwhile, here’s another update / “reboot”…

Slight Changes in the Blog

The core purpose, nature, and features of my blog will not change, but the frequency with which I post will change, unfortunately. I make time for an hour of blogging each morning (7 days a week), and I post as soon as the writing or podcast is polished.

Unfortunately, the new change means that most likely I’ll only be posting here 2 times a week, 3 if I’m really on a roll. But that’s okay, because I’ll have more fiction coming out for you guys, so I hope it’s a fair trade!

NOTE: I DO still take author features and blog tours, so please don’t be shy in submitting them! I’ll let you know if I can fit you in the schedule for the month! 🙂 Also, as I mentioned, podcasts, the Rebel Ragdoll Review, YouTube reviews, the blog articles, and more core features of Colby’s Cove will endure. So no worries!

NaNoWriMo Update

nanowrimo2014So I’ve got over 77,000 words for The Final Page and over 83,000 words for Ronin/Hegemon, and I’m trying to see if I can up my count on both. I’ve written about 6000 new words total (yes, I know, it’s pathetic), with a recent boost in my daily production due to my new writing schedule.

So, we’ll see how the new schedule comes to bear on my daily word count. Keep track of the box at the right for a word-by-word update! 🙂

So, how’s your NaNoWriMo going? Have you also had to make major adjustments and life changes that have affected your career? How have you overcome these challenges to keep writing? Post your experiences below! And, of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

NaNoWriMo Kick Off! Plans & Day 1-2 Progress

So after becoming a mama and going through the typical first month hell with my newborn, things are finally starting to level out. I think of the first few months as the original “take-off”, and now I feel as though I might finally be reaching a cruising altitude (I’m hoping, lol).

Having said that, I am ecstatic to be back on the blog and comin’ atcha with this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge!


My 2014 NaNoWriMo Challenge

Soo, I’ve got three major (and impossible) writing tasks ahead of me for this month:

1. Get through the rest of “The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel”. I have over 76,000 words at the moment, and I realize that that’s already a full length novel, but believe it or not, I have more to write in! I’d had nearly 150,000 words at one point, but ended up tossing half of it out for a much needed revamp. Phew! In any case, this month is the push to fill in the gaps!

2. Write another 60,000 words for “Ronin / Hegemon: The Third Book of Ezekiel”. Okay, so for this one, I already have over 83,000 words. Still, I need the story to make sense, lol! So I’ll be working on this book too, and I admit: this book is so much less pressure than The Final Page. Not sure why… maybe because nanowrimo2014I’m not ready to publish it quite yet? In any case, I like working on this one because it reminds me how to actually enjoy the writing process. Ah, the preservation of a writer’s innocence… we underestimate how important that really is!

3. Stay on top of my blogging! This month not only am I challenging myself to set a strong habit of writing fiction 2000 words per day, but I’m also trying to keep up on my blogging. In addition to THIS blog, I also have two other websites (with blogs) to build / run (yeah, it’s a lot, so I’m taking my time with it), and I’m trying to make a daily habit of posting SOMEWHERE four times a week, even if it’s a teeny post saying “hi” or whatever. Yeah, I know… but support this foolish endeavor anyway! 😉

4. Make a writing habit of writing AT LEAST one freelance article a week. As I’ve mentioned a million times, my freelance work has picked up significantly, and there are so many cool articles that I’d love to write and share on my blog! So we’ll see how this works out, lol.

So, considering my goals, by next Sunday I should have a righteous update, right? I should have written at least 14,000 more words, have posted at least 4 blog posts, and have written (and submitted) a freelance article… right? Lol, oh Lord… Pray for me! And also, feel free to track my daily progress by checking out my NaNoWriMo widget in the bar on the right!

So how about you, dear readers and writers? What are your goals for NaNoWriMo? Also, are you trying to use NaNoWriMo to set a daily, consistent habit for your writing? Shout out your plans and dreams here! Happy writing, good luck, and as always…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

Ask the Author GoodReads Event + New Hot Giveaway!

ask-the-authorHey creatives! Today is the kick-off of our FIRST “Ask-the-Author” Event at The Fantasy Portal GoodReads Book Club!

And the first author up to bat? ME!

Join our book club and participate to ask me anything and EVERYTHING you want to know about my writing process, creative inspirations, current projects, future plans, or even some personal stuff, to your leisure!

I’ll be fielding questions all the week long, from Monday, Sept 15 until Sunday, Sept 21!

ALSO, as a warm welcome to both our Book Club and to the Ask-the-Author Event, I’m launching a very special, limited time giveaway!

Check it out below!

September’s Limited Time Giveaway!

Participate in The Fantasy Portal Book Club’s Back-to-School Bash, and Enter to win some AWESOME prizes!


Giveaway ONLY lasts from Monday, September 15 to Monday, September 22 (until 11:59 PM), so ENTER NOW!

[cjtoolbox name=’The Fantasy Portal Book Club Back-to-School Bash!’ ] [/cjtoolbox]