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.
If you’re signed up for my Reader List, then you know I’m hard at work on the third Desertera novel. (Those clever readers have also previewed exclusive samples of my first draft!) To help me finish the manuscript, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (essentially a self-driven writing challenge) during the month of April, and I’m already excited to share it with you! So, what do you need to know about the third Desertera novel?
King Lionel takes the reins
As with the other Desertera novels, this one features a new protagonist. We’ll follow King Lionel as he tries to navigate the political waters (or sand dunes, rather) of Desertera. The poor guy has a lot on his plate: learning how to govern, satisfying the demands of the council and the people, pressure to marry an appropriate queen, and trouble from our favorite farmer-prophet …
It’s time to explore Desertera
That’s right – we’re out of the brothel and the hovels! As king, Lionel can take us to places within Desertera that Aya and Dellwyn couldn’t access … at least not without trespassing. We’ll finally check out the royal library (ah, the smell of dusty old books!), venture deep into the belly of the ship, and head to the outskirts of Bowtown.
There will be more Aya (and other friends, too!)
One of the most frequent criticisms of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) is that Aya didn’t hang around enough. Well, don’t worry! I’ve always intended for her to feature more prominently in future books. (I mean, the woman needed time to get her shop in order. Give her a break!) All our other friends will make appearances, too.
I can’t wait for you to read it!
Although I struggled to get started with this novel, now that I’m in the thick of it, I’m having a blast. Like the other books, it continues the story from a fresh perspective and allows a new view of Desertera. I’m also finally able to give you all some answers and steer the ship (pun intended) more towards the final destination … though it’s still a few books away.
Currently, I expect to publish Desertera #3 in late July. But to do that, I’ve got to get this draft wrapped up and sent to my editor. I’ll give you another update when that happens (and more still as I choose a title, cover, and official publication date) but for now, I need to get back to writing!
Although I wrote my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), nearly two years ago, this month marks the anniversary of its publication and what I consider to be my first year as a published author and entrepreneur. Is the writing life everything I thought it would be? Yes and no.
Before choosing independent publishing, I did extensive research into the field. I knew that one book (or two, or ten) is not enough to make a full-time living as an author. I held no illusions about being a break-out success or breaking even on my initial investment in one year (Across industries, small businesses take an average of five years to earn a profit.). While some authors reach these milestones within the first year, and while I have tallied many of my own proud accomplishments, short-term success has never featured in my goals. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can build my author career slowly. Currently, I’m 24 and a half years old. I want to be a full-time author on my 30th birthday. I think that is realistic and obtainable.
At this point, my career as an author-entrepreneur must be my second financial priority. With my husband in graduate school, I am the primary breadwinner for our family, and my day job must come first. In order to continue publishing books, I make sacrifices and set aside a budget for publishing expenses. Sometimes I miss those little luxuries (like binge-watching Netflix all Saturday, or dyeing my hair every three months), but the short-term sacrifices are worth the long-term gain. If I’ve learned anything from being an author-entrepreneur, it’s how to think days, months, and years into the future simultaneously.
When I first declared myself an author and established Boxthorn Press, I focused heavily on blogging and bringing together a supportive community of writers and readers. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Through writing and reading blogs, I’ve made some of my best friends, as well as many valuable business connections. I still want to provide helpful posts and engaging content for my fellow writers and readers, though I’m starting to realize that my blog needs to take a backseat to creation. Over time, my posting schedule has declined from five days a week to three to two, and I think this has been a healthy shift for my productivity.
Perhaps the most difficult experience I’ve had as a writer is dealing with criticism. I know my books aren’t perfect. On the fiction front, I have a long way to go as a storyteller (If I didn’t, that wouldn’t make for a very fun career!), and I’ll be the first to admit that my nonfiction booklets have been crafted on a shoestring budget. I know everyone will not like, understand, or appreciate my art, and negative attention is the price of exposure. Bad reviews and hurtful comments only strengthen my own self-doubt and internal editor, but luckily, I have the perfect antidote …
You. My readers and writing friends who are reading this right now. If you had told me one year ago the amount of support and encouragement and caring I would receive from the outside world, I would have laughed. But it’s entirely true. My readership is small but mighty. Those who enjoy my novels (and booklets) have shown an outpouring of support in reviews, social media shout-outs, and yes, monetary support. Without all of you, I would have a damn difficult time blocking out those negative voices and zero chance of achieving my dream of full-time authorship within the next five and a half years. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Without spoiling my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions, I want to wrap up this post by addressing my goals for the future. My creative mentor (from afar, that is), Joanna Penn, talks about measuring your life in Olympic periods (and writes an inspiring reflection post each year). If you judge your progress by one year, it may not seem like a lot has happened. However, over the course of four years, so much more can change.
From late 2016 to late 2017, I want to focus on creation and diversification. I’ll put out a new book (hopefully two!) in the Desertera series, but I’d also like to expand the novels I have into audiobooks and perhaps foreign translations. At the same time, I’d like to start planning and writing my second series in the background, so that it is ready to publish when it is time to wrap up Desertera. With my nonfiction, I hope to begin a full-length book and perhaps diversify the products I already have.
Over the next Olympic period? I’d like to have two complete fiction series under my belt and available in all English formats (ebook, paperback, and audiobook) and perhaps another language or two in ebook format. I would also like to have two or three full-length nonfiction books, so that other writers can learn from my mistakes and accomplishments. I’d also like to expand my author-entrepreneurship into other avenues, such as course creation, author services, or perhaps something more social like podcasting. Hopefully, Boxthorn Press will be making a profit and heading to a place in which it can replace my day job.
You know what the craziest part is? I don’t think this is all a pipe dream. I’ve researched the industry, studied successful indies, crafted a basic financial plan, and have picked apart my every strength and weakness. While success is not fully in my power (I’m still beholden to my readers, after all.), I hold 90% of the cards. If I keep learning and working, I know I can make my dream a reality.
Two years ago, I started scribbling down an outline in a notebook and praying that I could achieve my biggest dream of writing a novel. One year ago, I hit the publish button and achieved my new biggest dream of becoming a published author. Today, I’m telling you that I want to achieve my newest biggest dream of being a full-time author by age 30.
Can I do it? Well, stick with me and let’s find out together.
Today I am going to interview Kate M. Colby, aka Charlie the mechanical frog. When she isn’t hopping around, being wound, or flirting with mechanical ducks, she’s the author of The Cogsmith’s Daughter.
In a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, one king rules with absolute power and unquenchable lust, until the cogsmith’s daughter risks everything for vengeance.
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the…