Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Self-Publishing Review’s take on Off The Grid

Self-Publishing Review took a read through Off the Grid and offered a review on its site. Here’s a taste of what they said and a link to the full review. 

The review is fair and I appreciate the details and fair criticisms mixed in with the overall positive review. Take a look:

"It’s frightening to ponder how much we rely on the electricity delivered into our homes. Light, heat, cooking, cleaning – even the most basic elements of what we’ve come to take for granted as civilized life depend on it. It’s fair to say that if the lights suddenly went off we’d have a hard time adapting to a world of steam engines and hand cranks, whatever our lingering pastoral fantasies of what a post-apocalypse world might look like.

Dan Kolbet’s dystopian techno thriller Off the Grid offers us a picture of how a world without easy access to electricity might be. In Kolbet’s near-future setting, environmental concerns have led to fossil fuels being banned in the generation of electricity in America, which in turn has led to millions of people suddenly losing access to electricity with catastrophic results.

Electricity generation and distribution is now controlled by a single company, StuTech, run by the ruthless millionaire inventor Warren Evans. Evans has created a revolutionary technology that seems to side-step the problems brought on by fossil fuels. Kolbet evokes the amazing, and ultimately unsuccessful, experiments of Nikola Tesla at perfecting a type of broadcast electricity. For one reason or another, Tesla never got his experiment off the ground, but in Kolbet’s novel, the millionaire inventor has achieved the task and established a monopoly on power, but millions still exist without it." 

Continue to read the review at Self-Publishing Review.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An interview with my book cover designer Mike Jefferson

Designer Mike Jefferson 
created the concept for 
the Off The Grid cover.

One of the things I love best about my book is the cover. And of course, I didn’t come up with the idea. It was all Mike Jefferson’s doing. Jefferson submitted designs during my CrowdSPRING project, where 27 designers submitted 135 designs for the book jacket. It was an awesome experience and I how I met Jefferson. I asked him to share his thoughts with us about Off The Grid and being an leading-edge designer.

How long have you been designing and what inspires you? 
Mike Jefferson: My whole life! I know that may sound cliché but my earliest memories are of me creating something. Playing with Legos, drawing, painting and building sand castle cities in my grandma's freshly planted herb garden. I would say that life in general inspires/intrigues me. 

What caught your eye about Off The Grid? 
Mike Jefferson: I just thought the title sounded cool. Once I saw it I instantly started thinking of ways to illustrate it. 

Page 4 of Off The Grid
Can you explain your thoughts on the Off The Grid concept? What are we looking at?
Mike Jefferson: I wanted to show the two contrasting worlds that StuTech has created with this new wireless world. The concept was to put the viewer inside of this old, dilapidated house looking out at this bright, thriving skyline with the StuTech building in the center of it all. As if StuTech has forgotten about the people left in the dark. I think the tag line below the logo shows that StuTech was well aware that they created the blackouts...StuTech "It's Dark without us."  

Do you think crowd-sourcing design work, like CrowdSPRING is the future of design? 
Mike Jefferson: You know it is really an ongoing debate in the design world. A lot of designers, especially the AIGA are completely against websites like CrowdSPRING. There is even a NO!SPEC movement, that explains just how evil websites like CrowdSPRING are. Essentially comparing them to the sweatshops of the design world. Of course, I would not go that far, but I can see their side of the debate. We (the designers) are basically working for free, with a chance to "win" a prize and sometimes are asked to sign our rights away to your work. Meaning we can't even use our design in our portfolios. 

The other argument is the type of quality you receive, from the designers that submit work to these sites. A lot of the designers on these sites are amateur and break every design rule in the book. But, I can tell you from experience that you can get just as awful work from "established design firms," just look in your local phone book.

With that said, I don't see these type of sites going away any time soon. Future of graphic design? I would say not likely. I feel that they are great for simple projects, like a book cover design or a small flyer. But, I don't see how (as a designer/design firm) you can effectively design a complex project (websites, logo/brand design, product design, etc) without proper interaction with the client. 

Personally, I use CrowdSpring, as a fun creative outlet, to work on new techniques which of course help me to grow as an artist. I log in and only work on projects that inspire me, like your Off The Grid project. I also get the chance to work with people all over the world (like Seattle), which is pretty awesome. 

How can writers or anyone looking for a designer get a hold of you?
Mike Jefferson: My personal website is www.dvisiondesign.net or email me at mike@dvisiondesign.net

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mike.

Check out my guest post at Writings of Dan Absalonson

Check out my guest blog post at Writings of Dan Absalonson: How Self-publishing Liberated Me and My Story

Absalonson served as a beta reader for Off The Grid. It's interesting how this came about. When I got about 10 percent done with the book, I opened a twitter account: @DanKolbet. I'd been using twitter for work stuff for years, but my novel writing was a little too personal to share through @AvistaDan. I posted about my progress, struggles and successes. I started following @DanDanTheArtMan and he followed me. Having the same first name, going through the same writing processes and living in the same area meant we had quite a bit in common. (Later we'd find out our wives had the same first name too. Creepy!)

I'd never talked to Absalonson in person, just in 140 character messages. Since I needed beta readers and he was a writer, I figured he could provide a honest, unbiased opinon on my work. We never met until after he read Off The Grid and provided comments - comments that helped re-shape major sections of the book. I won't give away what we changed, but he had some great ideas and I used them.

If you can, read my guest post, but be sure to check out Absalonson's other work on his new site: http://www.dandantheartman.com/

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Off The Grid release party, Nov. 5, 2011

Thank you to everyone who came to the Off The Grid release party on Nov. 5, 2011. I really enjoyed talking books and writing with my friends and family. Thank you all for your support though this process. It means the world to me to share it. Can't wait for you all to read the book!