Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Classic Literature and Wine Pairings

wine book
I feel cozy already!

To help us all get through the week, I thought we should have a little fun this Thursday. As you may or may not know, by day I am a copywriter for a wine marketing company that manages several wine clubs. One of these clubs matches wines with classic movies, which is really cool if you’re a movie buff. But what about us bookworms? Don’t we deserve to curl up with a classic novel and a delicious glass of wine after a long day?

Yes, we do.

So whether you’re a wine newbie, casual taster, or seasoned enthusiast, here are four classic novels and four classic wines to enjoy:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen & Moscato

One of the most beloved romances of all time, Pride and Prejudice blends sweet moments between characters with sharp wit and the bitterness of pride. Its ideal complement? Moscato. When sweet, Moscato has a delicious “grapey” flavor. It’s a beautiful, easy gateway into the world of wine, much like Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful introduction to Austen and romance. When dry, Moscato carries all the zip and zing of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s quips.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald & Chardonnay

The Great Gatsby is the paragon of 1920s glitz and glamour – and of course, a tragic tale of unrequited love and self-sacrifice. The Queen of Whites, Chardonnay, is an elegant partner. Depending on the wine making technique, it can be light and tropical-fruited (like the quintessential flapper), or rich and buttery (like Gatsby himself).

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde & Red Bordeaux (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon)

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde paints the tragic tale of a vain young man, hellbent on holding onto his youthfulness, no matter what the moral cost. Dorian expresses classic human desires and fears – much like red Bordeaux displays the hallmarks of classic French wine. And, like Dorian’s physique, Bordeaux’s ripe red fruit flavors and smooth character will age well for years to come.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway & Rioja (Tempranillo)

Written in Hemingway’s signature brief but powerful style, The Sun Also Rises follows a group of friends to Spain, as they grapple with issues of unrealized love and the brutality of the modern world. The perfect match is Rioja: arguably Spain’s most famous wine style. Its deep fruit flavors, hints of leather and spice, and gritty tannins will complement the heavy themes of the novel.

There you have it. The next time you sit down to read one of these old favorites, uncork a classic wine to enjoy along with it!

What glass of wine (or delicious non-alcoholic beverage!) will you be enjoying with your next read?

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) is Available for Pre-order!

Daughter -C2You read it right — The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) is now available for the special pre-order price of $0.99. After the official release on October 15th, the price will triple (to a whopping $2.99), so snag your cheap copy while you can!

Currently, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is only available in ebook format. Long story short, I’m waiting for my printing company to approve the final paperback files. When it does, the paperback will be available as well. Don’t worry paperback lovers, I’ll let you know when you can grab your print copy!

Here are all the places you can pre-order the ebook. More retailers will be available after the official release.

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords

After you pre-order your copy, make sure you shelve it on Goodreads! Once you’ve blazed through it, don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads and the retailer from which you purchased it.

To be the first to hear exciting news like this (and receive free advance review copies of my future publications), sign up for my author newsletter.

Thank you all for your encouragement and the wonderful community you provide! This journey would not be nearly as fun or rewarding without you. And, of course, happy reading!

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

My Reading Habits: A Questionnaire

A few days ago, Charles French and Zach Chopchinski nominated me to share my reading habits via a reading habits questionnaire. I must say, the book nerd in me had a lot of fun geeking out over these questions and pondering some of the scenarios. I’m not going to nominate anyone in specific for this challenge — so if it seems like a fun post for you, go ahead and consider yourself nominated! Okay, here are my answers: 20150620_150428

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

Right now, I am only reading books from my book review queue and those that are important for my author-entrepreneur business. Therefore, I would read whatever is next chronologically on those lists. Now, once my book review list has dissipated, I will go back to my old method of staring at my bookshelf and pulling at my hair until my eyes land on a book that I know I must read right now.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

I’m an all or nothing type of person. I rarely ever quit a book halfway through. Honestly, the book would have to be highly offensive to me (in a moral sense) for me to stop reading. I’m a big believer in sticking through books outside of my comfort zone and/or that are poorly written for the lessons they can bring me as a writer.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your GoodReads challenge. Do you quit or commit?

Again, I would try to commit. Or, in my continual efforts to tame my inner-perfectionist, I would probably lower my goal and reprimand myself for being too optimistic. As long as I used the time I could have been reading to do something even more important (ie: writing), then I am okay with a reduced reading goal.

The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope?

I would survive, but it would annoy me. One of my favorite aspects of series is a cohesive theme and style throughout the book covers. I do not care if the covers are “bad” or not, but I think it is important from a branding and aesthetic perspective to keep covers consistent. If they re-released old books with the new covers, I would seriously consider selling my copies and re-buying them with the matching covers.

Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Usually my friend, Jess, and I are together on these issues. We tend to have similar tastes when it comes to the “blockbuster” books. However, I can always vent to my husband, even if he does not share my opinion.

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

This depends on where I am. If I’m in an airport, I will just cry my heart out. After being in a long distance relationship (and thus having many a joyful reunion and sorrowful parting in airports), I literally have no shame in airports any more. No. Shame. As for work, a library, or confined space (like a bus), I would probably close the book and wait until I got home to read through the weepy part.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on GoodReads? Cry in frustration?

Typically, if I love a book, I will remember it pretty well — even over time. However, if I do forget a lot about the book, I will go and skim through the first one, perhaps reading the last chapter or two to recapture the emotions I felt during the book’s conclusion so I can carry them into book two more clearly.

20150620_150313You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask?

“I’m sorry, but I don’t lend my books out anymore. I have had too many books go walkabout when borrowed, and I’m tired of having to replace them.”

You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over the reading slump?

When I’m in a reading slump, the best thing for me is to find a short book that I can blaze through in a few quick sittings. This gets me back in the groove of reading and whets my appetite for longer tomes.

There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Other than independent books, I prefer to buy all of my books secondhand to save money. Therefore, if they are traditionally-published, I would probably buy zero and (im)patiently wait a few months until I could find them for next-to-nothing. As for independent books, I would buy them relatively soon, but I would spread out the expenses over a few weeks so it did not hurt my wallet as badly.

After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them?

I am terrible at buying books and then waiting forever to read them. I guarantee there are classics that I bought in high school that are still sitting on my bookshelf unread. If the book is written by a friend or an author I really like, I will probably get to it in a month or two. If anything else, it will probably sit on my shelf for at least six months (if not years) as I slowly read my way through the books that got there first (again, by months or years).

And those are my reading habits! Again, if you’d like to answer, feel free to do so in your own post or in the comments. Side note: the banner and images in this post are snapshots of my actual bookshelves — feel free to evaluate my reading tastes as you will.

Author Business & Publishing, Fiction Blog, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Updates

Introducing Boxthorn Press!

A few months ago, I explained why I will independently publish as well as that I would do so under a company I own. Today, I am excited to officially announce my publishing imprint, Boxthorn Press!

Boxthorn Press Logo - Full color
Image copyright © 2015 by Kate M. Colby. All rights reserved.

Boxthorn Press is the company under which I intend to publish all of my novels and books of which I am the sole author. I officially established the enterprise in April and right now, it operates solely as the publisher of my books. In the future, it will encompass other creative services and perhaps even operate to help other aspiring authors reach their publishing dreams.

Originally, Boxthorn Press was going to be a joint venture between Daniel (my husband) and me. When that was the case, Daniel chose the name “Boxthorn” to honor his Australian roots, as Boxthorn is the street on which he lived as a kid. However, even when Daniel decided not to publish independently, I kept the name. Why? Partly because I like the plant itself and the symbolism, partly because Daniel is the one who introduced me to the idea of independent publishing, and partly because I think it’s a punchy name.

The logo for my company depicts a boxthorn plant emerging from the outlines of a box. On a practical level, the logo shows what a boxthorn plant looks like. On a personal level, it symbolizes the fact that I am pushing boundaries and stretching my creative capacities with everything I do. On a reader-oriented level, the logo represents my fiction. The boxthorn plant is contradictory — it is alluring (juicy berries) with a serious/dangerous undercurrent (thorns). Likewise, as the plant extends from the box, so does my fiction extend across traditional genre borders. I don’t just write in one genre, and each of my books does not fit clearly into one genre box, either.

I hope that, as you read my fiction, you will see what I mean.

Now, I imagine some of my readers may be wondering — if you are self-publishing, why bother with creating a company? Isn’t the point that you are doing it by yourself? These are valid questions, and ones I thought myself when I first encountered author-entrepreneurs.

Here are my reasons for creating my own imprint:

  • This is my career, and I take it seriously.
  • Keeping my business and personal finances separate is important for my record-keeping and tax purposes.
  • One day, Boxthorn Press may expand into a larger company and/or small press.
  • Print-on-demand and online publishing services should not receive publisher credit for my hard work on online retailers. In other words, I want my work to show as published by my company and be easily connected to my brand.
  • It’s enriching, fulfilling, and just-plain-fun to be an entrepreneur.

Thank you to everyone joining me on this ride! I appreciate your support, and I cannot wait to see how Boxthorn Press and I evolve over the years.

NOTE: My logo was designed by the brilliant Brenda Tietze, and I am ever-grateful to her for bringing my ideas to life. And yes, she will design one for you, too! (Note on the note: The fuzziness is not her doing — merely WordPress being finicky with sizing and file types.)

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

One Book Stands: Why I Don’t Have a Favorite Author

You know the feeling when you read a good book? No, not a good book — a great book, a phenomenal book, the kind of book that feels as if it were written precisely for you. I do. And that elating, indulgent, precious feeling is exactly why I do not have a favorite author.

I have one book stands.

I’ve spent several sleepless nights reading and re-reading the perfectly poetic prose of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. I’ve spent many an afternoon curled up in my windowsill with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I’ve spent countless evenings imagining myself a faceless extra, one of the glamorous flappers dancing in a party from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

When my eyes devour the last word and my fingers close the back cover over the rest of the book, I sit there in adoration, feeling equal parts destined writer and fat-fingered illiterate. I know that I must write — and yet — that my writing will never scratch the door of the vault these greats inhabit.

I take my book back to the bookshelf. I place it on a shelf next to its brothers and sisters, titles by the same author, purchased as a reward or a consolation from my local secondhand book store. I consider picking one of these up. After all, if its sibling spoke to my soul so eloquently, surely its whispers would be just as divine.

But what if they’re not?

What if that one book is all I get from that author? What if the next is an utter disappointment, undeniable proof that my beloved novel is a fluke? What if I read a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence only to discover that the author I thought understood me at the deepest level is a hack, a con artist, who knows nothing of human nature?

And what if, when I am a published author, this happens to one of my readers?

I take my hands away from spines.

Maybe I turn to a series. Series are like reading one story in huge chunks — no risk of variation from an author there.

Maybe I turn to a different author, a dependable author. I wouldn’t call Nicholas Sparks my favorite, but he sure delivers each romance in cookie-cutter form — no surprises, easy satisfaction.

Maybe I follow Toni Morrison’s (another one book stand of mine) advice, ignore my fear, and go write the book that I have always wanted to read.

Maybe I pick up an entirely new author, carry this unknown wordsmith’s book into my bed, and begin the process anew.

And maybe, just maybe, I write a blog post. Because, for some reason, calling into the void and seeing my words echo on the pages on the internet is the least nerve-wracking option.