You’ll see that this website has reverted to the original URL (http://www.katemcolby.wordpress.com). I’ll keep this blog up for a few weeks — so if there are any articles you’d like to save, you’ll have the chance. However, it will eventually shut down, making katemcolby.com my one-and-only internet home.
Thank you again for being part of my writing journey. It’s been a joy getting to know you over the last few years. I hope to chat over on my new site and, of course, on social media.
If you’ve been wondering, I didn’t die in a horrific accident or get swept away by a tornado (though living in San Francisco often feels like Oz to this Kansas girl). The radio silence that befell this poor, neglected blog was caused by a much more sinister force – graduate school.
In January 2018, I began my Master of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing & Literature through the Harvard University Extension School. As anyone who’s been in grad school can tell you, it’s a huge time suck. More importantly, it takes a great deal of energy. Especially for someone like me, who is still working a full-time job and trying to be a good wife/cat mother/daughter/friend to all the people I love.
A LOT of things had to go for me to maintain my sanity during the first year of grad school, and unfortunately, regular blog updates was one of them. If you subscribe to my email list or follow me on social media, you’ll notice those have suffered too. I’m truly sorry for failing to share all this with you as it happened, and I’ve sorely missed interacting with you all online.
So, if grad school is such a drag, why am I pursuing a Master’s degree?
Long story short, I want to be a better writer. Devoting this time to improving my craft has been immensely helpful, and I’ve grown so much as a writer over the last year. Also, this degree will give me the qualifications to expand into editing, coaching, and other writing-related services. If all goes to plan, I will graduate in May 2021, joining Elle Woods as a Harvard alumnus.
What else happened in 2018?
Personally, I’m still living in the San Francisco area with Daniel (my husband) and our beloved kitties. Over the last year, we’ve played tour guide to friends and family, taken trips to new places in the U.S. and Europe, and made great friends here in the Bay Area. Daniel has also continued working toward his Ph.D., which he should finish in 2022.
From a writing standpoint (which is what you’re here for, right?), while I focused mostly on school work, 2018 was an introspective year. I thought a lot about what I want for my future as a writer and independent publisher (and as a person). I won’t bore you with the intricacies of my thought and emotional processes (that’s why I have Daniel), but suffice to say, becoming a full-time author remains my long-term goal. But I’ve realized that I need to make some changes to achieve that goal – both from a business perspective and a personal perspective.
So, what happens next?
I’m starting fresh. Well, as fresh as I can without creating a pen name. (Because, let’s face it, I want to claim all the glory and missteps of this publishing adventure for myself.)
Moving forward, I’m planning to write novels in the paranormal and urban fantasy genres. Think Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina, etc. What you probably can’t know from my previous writing is that these are my favorite genres to consume, whether I’m reading a book, binging a TV show, or playing video games. They’re also the genres in which I have most of my writing ideas.
Writing steampunk for the Desertera series has been a fun experiment, but I honestly can’t see myself continuing in that genre. I know enough to create my own world, but not enough to connect with real steampunk fans. While I appreciate the genre and adore the aesthetics of steampunk (Can’t corsets please come back in style?), it isn’t my true calling as a creative and is better served by writers far more scientifically and historically inclined than I am.
That being said, I do intend to finish the Desertera series. There’s one, maybe two, books needed to complete that story. When I’m ready to give Desertera the time and attention it deserves, it will be finished.I love these characters too much to short-shift them, and with more writing experience under my belt, I plan to end the story right. Currently, I’m not sure when that will be, but you all will be the first to know.
As part of this ‘relaunch’ into fantasy, I’m also going to be building a new website, starting a new email list, and revamping my social media accounts. Beyond my personal writing updates, I won’t be “writing about writing” on these platforms. They’ll be focused on my new books, of course, but also on topics related to them (think tarot card readings, things to see in Salem, Massachusetts, monsters from different cultures, etc.).
If that sounds good to you, keep reading …
Want to join me on this new adventure?
Here’s what you can do to stay connected with me throughout this transition and into the next phase of my writing journey:
Watch this website
I’ll post another update when the new website is live. It will be under the same URL (www.katemcolby.com), and this website will revert to the free WordPress URL (www.katemcolby.wordpress.com). This blog will stay up for a while to help readers find the new site, but it will not remain permanently active.
When I’m ready to start sending regular emails again, I’ll notify everyone on the “original” list and give you the option to sign up for the “new” list. The emails will include the most personal updates from me, but again, they will not contain writing advice, tips, etc.
Connect with me on social media
While my social media accounts are getting a facelift, my usernames are staying 100% the same. I use Facebook and Instagram the most, but I do occasionally participate in the #writingcommunity on Twitter (the one place I might still “write about writing”), post visual inspiration on Pinterest, and log my reading activities on Goodreads.
By following me on Amazon, Bookbub, or other retail or reader sites with author pages, you will be notified ONLY when I have a new release. So, if you’re not a big internet user or just want to know when that final Desertera book comes out, that’s your easiest move.
Thank you for making my writing journey fun and inspiring so far.
It’s been a joy connecting with you, and if you’re into monsters, magic, and spooky adventures, I hope you’ll join me for the next phase. If that’s not your vibe, I totally get it. (After all, this blog has been mainly for writers and my new site won’t be.) I’d still love to stay connected to talk about writing, so never hesitate to reach out via email or social media.
April marked the first month of using my bullet journal, and I’ve really enjoyed it! Designing the spread helps me prioritize each month’s goals and focus my time, as well as reflect on my accomplishments (or the things I didn’t do). While I still feel like I’m in a period of transition and reorganizing, I’m feeling much more positive this month. Maybe it’s that the spring sunshine has finally emerged in full force … maybe it’s the extra family time and exercise. Either way, I’ll take it!
So far this year, I’ve focused on honing my writing craft and filling in some gaps in my knowledge. While I’ve written three novels and several flash fiction pieces, I’ve never had much opportunity to write short stories, so I’ve been teaching myself with a private project. It’s been a fun exercise and taught me a lot about story structure – which will help me write better novels too. Win-win!
Parallel Magic Podcast
Parallel Magic: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Show is still going strong. In fact, Jonas and I just had our most exciting episode yet! We interviewed J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon about their post-apocalyptic thriller Dawn: Final Awakening Book One. They’re true sci-fi/fantasy lovers (just like Jonas and me!), so we had a great time geeking out about the apocalypse, movies and more. Listen here.
After taking a month off reading, I’m back on track with reading one book per week!
Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano – Finally explored Constantine’s origins. While I loved the stories and his attitude, the older art style isn’t my jam.
The Absolute Sandman: Vol. 1by Neil Gaiman – OMG. People who know my love of all things paranormal have been telling me to read this for years. I finally did. And it was perfection.
Physical health Still going strong with my exercise goals! In fact, I’m thinking about upping my daily step goal and even making further improvements to my eating habits.
Mental health I’m in a much better place this month, and I think my funk is finally fading away. A few things helped with this: watching a ton of new movies with Daniel (it relaxes me so much, my FitBit thinks I’m napping!), taking a trip home, and preparing for my mother-in-law to visit next month!
Put the final touches on my short story project
Treat my mother-in-law to an amazing visit
Get back to my true fiction love (aka the next novel)
What did you accomplish in April? What are your May goals? Share in the comments!
March was a month just for me. After finally recognizing my burnout in February, I set aside all “non-essential” activities and focused on de-stressing and enjoying life. Between a trip home to visit family and friends in Kansas, my birthday, and lots of support from Daniel, it was easier than I expected to relax and recharge.
While I’m recommitting to some goals in April, there are others that I will cut loose. As part of this, I’ve started a bullet journal, where I can combine my calendar and objectives in a custom layout that perfectly fits my needs. Going forward, I want to maintain a better balance and keep the perspective I gained this month. There’s very little that I have to do to survive, so everything I choose to do should add value and joy to my life. It’s something we all know but often forget. I hope it’s a good reminder for you too.
It seems I’m the tortoise in 2018 — slow and steady writing, which will eventually accumulate into a complete book. Right now, my focus is consistency as opposed to output, so as long as I keep plodding along, that’s good enough for me. In addition to working on Desertera #4, I’ve been dabbling with an unrelated short story… which I may or may not share, as it’s not sci-fi or fantasy, and I don’t plan to publish it (it’s more a private learning exercise).
Ask Me Anything Videos I recorded the March AMA, and you can watch it here. You’ll learn how I invented Desertera’s setting, how to find an editor for your own books, and more.
Parallel Magic Podcast If you haven’t tuned into the podcast I host with Jonas Lee yet, you’re missing out. In this month’s most popular episode, we debated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Listen in for one of my rare negative rants.
After reading six books in February, I chose not to ready any in March. I did, however, read and review several short stories for a writer group to which I belong. Daniel and I also watched several new movies: highlights for me included Thoroughbreds, Tomb Raider, and Ready Player One.
Physical health Okay, so the whole “eating healthy” thing kind of went off the rails. But can you blame me when I had a birthday (hello, Dairy Queen ice cream cake!) and my mom’s home cooking? I didn’t think so. Exercise suffered a bit during my vacation as well, but I kept on top of it at the beginning and end of the month. I’m actually surprised how much I’m enjoying it!
Mental health After recognizing the extent of my burnout at the end of last month, I gave myself a break from self-imposed stress in March. I focused on enjoying my time with family, indulging in TV/movies, and spending quality time with Daniel and Thomas. Heading into April, I’m finally feeling recharged! I’m getting back to my goals, but still focusing on not overextending myself.
Win Camp NaNoWriMo! For April’s Camp session, I’m tracking my progress in hours instead of word count. As I wade back into the deeper waters of creativity, I know my biggest challenge is putting in the time and staying positive. So, rather than beat myself up over hitting a particular number of words, all I have to do is show up and try my best. It’s taken a lot of the pressure off and already made me more productive!
What did you accomplish in March? What are your April or Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Share in the comments!
Earlier this month, I asked readers from my Reader List and social media whether they had any questions about my books, writing and publishing, or anything else. As a reader, I love it when authors share more about their books and themselves, so I want to do the same for you!
You can watch the video right here. Or if you prefer to read my answers, I’ve summarized them below.
What are you working on for Camp NaNoWriMo?
Camp NaNoWriMo is a twice-yearly challenge in which writers set a custom goal and meet in virtual cabins (chat rooms) to support each other. It’s a spin off of National Novel Writing Month, the November challenge in which writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For this Camp session, my goal is to spend 60 hours working on Desertera #4 (though I might cheat and play with some other ideas too). I’ve made my goal in hours instead of word count because I need to focus on putting in the time and establishing a better routine.
How did you come up with the steampunk desert setting for the Desertera novels?
When considering a setting for Desertera, I went through a few different ideas. As I said in a previous AMA video, my original inspiration for the story itself was The Arabian Nights, and I liked how the desert setting created a feeling of desire and isolation. I also considered a historical fantasy based on King Henry VIII, but I knew the research would overwhelm me. My husband suggested steampunk, which had that Victorian “royal” flair, but again, I didn’t want to set the story in England or a real place. Therefore, I combined desert and steampunk to create Desertera — a place of desperation and isolation with people clinging onto antiquity, religion, and a romantic vision of a past that may or may not have ever existed.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Honestly, I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved reading stories with my mom, and I soon started to write my own. I completed my first story, that I can remember, when I was eight years old. My teacher encouraged me to keep writing, so I did. When I was around 11, another teacher informed me that I could major in Creative Writing in college and write for a career. That pretty much sealed the deal.
How did you find your editing company?
Great question! Finding editors, cover designers, literary agents, and other professionals can be intimidating when you’re starting out as a writer. My best advice, and how I found the editing company I use, Red Adept Editing, is to ask published authors you know for referrals. Most will be happy to share their contacts, especially as it might give them a referral discount. Another great tip is to check the copyright and acknowledgments pages of books that impress you — most writers will include their editors, designers, etc. and you can look them up from there. And of course, there are marketplace websites like Reedsy or lists on industry sites like the Alliance of Independent Authors that link to reputable professionals.
Your husband tags you in a lot of movies on Twitter (@KateMColby). What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen this month?
Haha, yes he does! We’re big movie buffs, Daniel especially. The best movie we saw this month was Thoroughbreds, which is about two teenage girls who plot to kill one girl’s stepdad. It had a dark sense of humor, complex characters, and great suspense. However, my favorite movie was probably Tomb Raider. Growing up, I would “backseat game” the PlayStation games with my dad, so I had a lot of fun watching the new Lara Croft on the big screen. Don’t get me wrong — the movie had its problems, but it also had good action, surprising emotional depth, and a strong lead actress.
That’s all for this video! Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I’ll be back in April with another round of Ask Me Anything, so feel free to submit your questions in the comments or through my contact page.