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.
Welcome to my February 2018 Ask Me Anything video!
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.
Will the fourth Desertera novel have a new main character? And if so, will you say who?
Yes! Sybil Tanner, who readers will remember as Dellwyn’s roommate and Zedara’s new maid, will be our leading lady. Originally, I planned for the fourth book to be written from Zedara’s point of view, but you’ll see why that wouldn’t work when you read it. I’m really enjoying Sybil’s perspective – she’s got a contagious vibrancy and energy, but she still struggles with trauma from her childhood and The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2). I hope you’ll find her as complex and charming as I do!
If you could only pay for editing or cover design, which would you choose?
As an independent author, you should always pay for BOTH editing and cover design whenever possible. When it comes to fiction novels, if I couldn’t afford one of those services, I would save money and wait to publish rather than put out an unfinished or unprofessional product. Even if you are a professional editor or cover designer, I would still recommend outsourcing that work to save time and get a second, unbiased opinion on your book.
That being said, I have skipped editing or cover design for other projects. The Desertera short story that I give to my Reader List subscribers is professionally edited, but since I don’t sell it at online retailers, I didn’t commission a cover. Instead, I made a simple cover in Canva (a free online design tool) to put on the landing page and give my readers an image for their e-readers.
For my nonfiction creative writing prompts booklets, I edited myself using online software and had the covers made by a friend, who is a professional graphic designer. Because I’m not publishing these booklets in print and they are just $0.99 each, I’m okay with them being slightly less professional and providing “pure” profit. However, I do intend to update them with professional editing and cover designs when my business allows.
What advice do you have for young or aspiring writers?
My best advice for young or aspiring writers is to read critically. I know that sounds like annoying school terminology, but it’s one of the most effective ways to learn about story and writing craft. As you read, ask yourself questions about the story. Does it flow well? Do the characters’ actions make sense? How would you change the plot to make it more powerful? This practice will help you think like a writer and nurture your creative instincts.
Another tip is to take advantage of any and all resources you have at your disposal. Borrow novels or writing craft books from your school or public library. Read writing blogs and listen to writing podcasts on the internet. If your school offers a creative writing elective, fit the class in your schedule. Ask your English teacher and/or librarians about local authors, writing groups, and other community resources. YOU are the best advocate for your writing, so do everything you can to learn and grow that passion.
What is your favorite wine?
My passion for wine began with Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, and even though I’ve tasted hundreds of different wines through the wine marketing company I work for, Aussie Cab is still my favorite style. It’s rich and full-bodied, with delicious, chocolatey, black-fruit flavors and just a hint of mint. It doesn’t get much yummier than mint chocolate in a glass.
What other books would you recommend if I like the Desertera series?
If you’re a fan of Desertera’s steampunk stylings, I strongly suggest Kara Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. The first book is The Earl of Brass. Her series is more classic steampunk, in that it takes place in Victorian-era London with a stronger emphasis on mechanical devices. However, it also has lots of fun fantasy and dark magic elements too and offers great character diversity in gender and sexuality.
I’d also recommend the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. The first book is A Great and Terrible Beauty. After her parents’ deaths, Gemma is sent to a boarding school in London, where she discovers that she has the power to transport her and her friends to a magical dimension. It’s full of strong, complex young women and social drama, with a swoon-worthy love story and a gorgeous Victorian-inspired backdrop. I picked it up in high school purely for the covers, and it’s still one of my favorite series.
That’s all for this video! Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I’ll be back in March with another round of Ask Me Anything, so feel free to submit your questions in the comments or through my contact page.
He asked some fantastic questions about my thoughts on writer’s block, advice for aspiring authors, and who I would cast if Desertera became a movie. It’s one of most fun interviews I’ve had in a while, and I hope my responses are helpful to anyone looking to write.
If YOU have ever wanted to ask me anything (literally), your chance has arrived! Each month in 2018, I’m recording Ask Me Anything videos, in which I’ll answer your questions on Desertera, writing, the Parallel Magic Podcast, and (almost) anything else you like.
Earlier this month, I asked readers from my email list and Facebook page whether they had any questions about the Desertera series, my writing process, or anything else. As a reader, I love it when authors open up and share behind-the-scenes info, so I wanted 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.
1. How did you come up with the idea for the Desertera series?
While I was working for the Baker University English Department as a student assistant, one of the professors had her class complete projects about One Thousand and One Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). The basic concept, as far as the student papers summarized, was that the king executed each new bride after their wedding night because he believed she would inevitably be unfaithful to him.
This got me thinking: why wouldn’t the king just make adultery illegal? Surely, that would deter many women from cheating, and he would appear fairer in doling out his executions. Thus, King Archon and Desertera’s horrible adultery law was born.
2. Did you come up with the beginning, middle, or end of Aya’s story first?
I had to think about this answer for a while because I honestly couldn’t remember! Aya’s story rose rather organically out of that initial adultery law concept, but I believe the beginning came first.
As I considered how one would overthrow this king, it occurred to me that a prostitute would be a smart choice to seduce the king. This gave me the idea of a nobleman approaching a prostitute in a brothel with his treasonous plans. As for Aya herself, I wanted the prostitute to be terrible at her job, so I kept asking myself questions about this woman and her life, and eventually, Aya’s backstory fleshed out.
3. If you could change anything about the Desertera series, would you? And what would you change?
In the video, I give two answers to this question. First, I’d either do a better job of concealing Willem’s identity in The Cogsmith’s Daughter, or I’d approach the love story from a different angle. I thought there were less obvious (and more interesting) twists, but readers really seem to focus on the Willem one. However, I do not plan to change the story, as it would take significant editing, and I’d rather focus on writing new books for you!
Second, I AM still considering taking out the love scene in The Cogsmith’s Daughter. While I believe the scene is important for Aya’s character growth (after all, she’d never known consensual physical intimacy before that moment), I know it isolates some readers and prevents younger people from reading my books. Plus, as I am considering pursuing audiobook creation, I know some readers won’t want that kind of scene in their ears! If you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it. 🙂
4. Who is your favorite Desertera character?
I’m cheating and giving two answers. Lord Varick is my favorite to write, due to his manipulative nature and clever dialog. I love that he’s always one step ahead of everyone else. However, Dellwyn Rutt is my favorite character as an individual. I admire her commitment to justice and how she’s unashamed of her sensuality, as well as her occasional vulnerability and her willingness to admit when she’s in over her head.
5. What is it like to start a new series?
Really damn difficult! Writing a new series means creating new characters, a new world, and an entire magic system. However, I’m loving the challenge and thrilled with my idea. Plus, I’m a bit insecure about writing something outside of Desertera and whether my readers will like it!
vvIn case you haven’t heard my rough concept yet: the atrocities committed during the Salem Witch Trials scarred the land with an evil energy… and now a real witch has decided to avenge the innocents killed. She’s out to destroy everyone profiting from Salem’s tourism industry, and my protagonist (a psychic shop owner) must discover that witches are real, find the evil witch, and stop her to save Salem.
That’s all for this video! Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I’ll be back in February with another round of Ask Me Anything, so feel free to submit your questions in the comments or through my contact page.