Writing Update

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It has been a while since I have posted my writing progress, so I want to give an update on what I have been doing. I posted a while ago that I want to write a first draft of a novel every six months or so, and I am on target with that goal. I hope that the first draft I am currently writing will be between 200-250 pages, and I currently have about 40 pages written.  At the pace I am going, I should have it complete in June.  This is book two in my YA series.

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I am also very busy working on revisions of my horror novel Evil Lives After and the first book in the YA series. In both cases these revisions are minor. I believe both books are ready for submissions; I will see what kind of results I get.  In the case of the YA, I have been getting excellent feedback and reaction from readers. I have also received excellent advice on the horror novel, and I have cut some and rearranged chapter order, so I believe it moves along much faster and better than before.

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On the academic writing front, I am working on revising an article on Gothic literature as well as conducing research for a book on an obscure Irish playwright, Seamus Byrne. I hope to send the article out again soon, and I will work on drafting a chapter of the book in the summer.

I will give an update every month or so on my progress.

 

 

 

 

My Current Writing Progress

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It has been a while since I have updated my writing progress, so I decided this would be a good time to do so. I just finished the first draft of a horror novel about a werewolf.  It is clearly a misshapen skeleton of a book at this point, but at least, it is done and can be developed and edited later. As indicated in my previous post, without words down on paper, there is nothing than can be revised.

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https://pixabay.com

My writing goals for the first half of 2016 follow. First, I will revise my horror novel Evil Lives After, which would be its 9th draft and to continue submitting it to agents and publishers. If I have no success, I will then plan on self-publishing this book.  I believe it is time. Next I will revise the first book of my YA series and also submit it to agents.  I am not sure if submitting two books is recommended or not, but I am following my own plan of action.  We will see what happens. Finally, but definitely not least, I will write the first draft of the second novel of my YA series.

As long as I maintain the pace I have been keeping over the last few years, I should be able to accomplish these goals.  We will see at the end of June if I have reached the destination.

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Quotations on Writing First Drafts

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Here are a few quotations about creating first drafts to inspire all of us to keep writing:

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“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 

                                                               Mark Twain

 

jodipicoult

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“You might not write well every day,

   but you can always edit a bad page.

   You can’t edit a blank page.”

                                                                 Jodi Picoult

 

William_Faulkner

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the     only way you can do anything really good.”

                                                                      William Faulkner.

The Cogsmith’s Daughter by Kate M. Colby Blog Tour

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TCD Blog Tour Banner
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
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 flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D
Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Kate M. Colby, a talented and skilled author whose first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter,  is available today. I’m very excited to be part of her book launch blog tour, and I extend a round of applause for this emerging and talented writer.  Kate is here to speak with us about becoming a writer and how she came upon the idea for her novel.

How I Became a Writer (and Stumbled Upon the Idea for My Novel)

I never quite know what to say when I’m asked how I became a writer. The most honest answer is, “I didn’t. I just always have been.” As long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself as a writer. My mom claims it began when I was a toddler. Apparently, I would recite my bedtime storybooks from memory, often adding my own embellishments to the tales. My first writing memory comes from second grade, when I wrote and illustrated a book for a class assignment. My teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to keep writing. I did.

As for my “professional” writing background, that is more substantial. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, creative writing, and sociology. During university, I belonged to Sigma Tau Delta (the international English honor society), and presented twice at their annual convention. The first year, I presented a poetry collection, and the second, I presented a creative nonfiction essay (which placed third at the convention). Even though my heart has always been with fiction, I didn’t write much fiction in university.

When I graduated college, I worked as an administrative assistant. I enjoyed my job and loved my working atmosphere, but I still felt unfulfilled. I decided that I was ready to finally write my novel. I just had to know, once and for all, if I could do it. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (an event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days), and I wrote the entire first draft of The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in November 2014.

So, in its simplest form, that’s how I “became” a writer.
But that doesn’t answer the second question. How in the heck did I come up with my novel idea?

The germ of the idea came during my senior year of college. I was working in the English office, and one of the professors asked me to help format some of her students’ articles that were being posted online. The articles were on The 1,001 Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a tale about a king who believes women can never be faithful. He marries them, beds them, and then executes them the next morning. One wife is smart enough to keep his interest by telling elaborate bedtime stories, always ending on a cliffhanger so the king wants to know more the next night. As I read the class’ plot synopses and analyses, I thought to myself…what if the king took a different approach? What if adultery (which this king thinks all women will commit) was punishable by death?

And that’s how the plot of The Cogsmith’s Daughter was born.
Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I scribbled the thought down in my idea journal and continued with my shift. It wasn’t until September 2014, when I was searching back through my journal for an idea for NaNoWriMo, that I revisited the thought again.

As I pondered my original idea, more questions emerged and answered themselves. What if the king abuses the adultery law, using it to get rid of his wives whenever he is bored with them? Wouldn’t someone notice the king’s pattern? Wouldn’t someone try to stop him? What if these opponents brought in a seductress to help frame the king in adultery, the same way he frames his wives?

And on and on it went. Eventually, I fleshed out the details of the setting and wrote a plot outline. A lot changed as I did my planning, and even more changed while I wrote, but in the end, I came away with a novel.

That novel released to the world today—less than one year after NaNoWriMo 2014. If anything, it just goes to show you—the smallest, seemingly insignificant thought can turn into a novel; you never know when you’ll find inspiration, so be open to everything and for the love of literature (and the joy of your future readers), write it down.

If you want to see how that germ of an idea evolved into a novel for yourself, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can grab your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at these fine retailers:
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

AP Fiction Book Covers

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: http://www.KateMColby.com.

The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small(1)

Thank you to Kate Colby for spending time here today and talking about her new novel!  I recommend this book highly–I have read it and loved it! I posted a review of it the other day in this blog.

Remember, today is the release day for The Cogsmith’s Daughter!

Again, thank you Kate!

The Cogsmith’s Daughter Blog Tour

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TCD Blog Tour Banner
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
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 flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D
Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Kate M. Colby, a talented and skilled author whose first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter,  is available today. I’m very excited to be part of her book launch blog tour, and I extend a round of applause for this emerging and talented writer.  Kate is here to speak with us about becoming a writer and how she came upon the idea for her novel.

How I Became a Writer (and Stumbled Upon the Idea for My Novel)

I never quite know what to say when I’m asked how I became a writer. The most honest answer is, “I didn’t. I just always have been.” As long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself as a writer. My mom claims it began when I was a toddler. Apparently, I would recite my bedtime storybooks from memory, often adding my own embellishments to the tales. My first writing memory comes from second grade, when I wrote and illustrated a book for a class assignment. My teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to keep writing. I did.

As for my “professional” writing background, that is more substantial. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, creative writing, and sociology. During university, I belonged to Sigma Tau Delta (the international English honor society), and presented twice at their annual convention. The first year, I presented a poetry collection, and the second, I presented a creative nonfiction essay (which placed third at the convention). Even though my heart has always been with fiction, I didn’t write much fiction in university.

When I graduated college, I worked as an administrative assistant. I enjoyed my job and loved my working atmosphere, but I still felt unfulfilled. I decided that I was ready to finally write my novel. I just had to know, once and for all, if I could do it. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (an event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days), and I wrote the entire first draft of The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) in November 2014.

So, in its simplest form, that’s how I “became” a writer.
But that doesn’t answer the second question. How in the heck did I come up with my novel idea?

The germ of the idea came during my senior year of college. I was working in the English office, and one of the professors asked me to help format some of her students’ articles that were being posted online. The articles were on The 1,001 Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a tale about a king who believes women can never be faithful. He marries them, beds them, and then executes them the next morning. One wife is smart enough to keep his interest by telling elaborate bedtime stories, always ending on a cliffhanger so the king wants to know more the next night. As I read the class’ plot synopses and analyses, I thought to myself…what if the king took a different approach? What if adultery (which this king thinks all women will commit) was punishable by death?

And that’s how the plot of The Cogsmith’s Daughter was born.
Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I scribbled the thought down in my idea journal and continued with my shift. It wasn’t until September 2014, when I was searching back through my journal for an idea for NaNoWriMo, that I revisited the thought again.

As I pondered my original idea, more questions emerged and answered themselves. What if the king abuses the adultery law, using it to get rid of his wives whenever he is bored with them? Wouldn’t someone notice the king’s pattern? Wouldn’t someone try to stop him? What if these opponents brought in a seductress to help frame the king in adultery, the same way he frames his wives?

And on and on it went. Eventually, I fleshed out the details of the setting and wrote a plot outline. A lot changed as I did my planning, and even more changed while I wrote, but in the end, I came away with a novel.

That novel released to the world today—less than one year after NaNoWriMo 2014. If anything, it just goes to show you—the smallest, seemingly insignificant thought can turn into a novel; you never know when you’ll find inspiration, so be open to everything and for the love of literature (and the joy of your future readers), write it down.

If you want to see how that germ of an idea evolved into a novel for yourself, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can grab your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at these fine retailers:
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

AP Fiction Book Covers

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: http://www.KateMColby.com.

The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small(1)

Thank you to Kate Colby for spending time here today and talking about her new novel!  I recommend this book highly–I have read it and loved it! I posted a review of it the other day in this blog.

Remember, today is the release day for The Cogsmith’s Daughter!

Again, thank you Kate!

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More!

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http://www.movieclips.com/

Or should I say at least once more? (with thanks to William Shakespeare Henry V 3.1.1.)

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I have not posted for a while about the progress of my horror novel Evil Lives After, and I thought I should give a report on what was happening with it. I am receiving excellent editing and feedback on my previous draft, which I deeply appreciate.  After having spent several months in primarily working on a first draft on another novel and on revisions of my second novel, I realized I needed to get back to Evil Lives After.  I am, therefore, now actively, cutting, adding, and revising to create the 8th draft.  I think this will be a much tighter, more compelling, and more frightening book than before.

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https://pixabay.com

I suspect that completing the revisions of this draft will need a three to four month time frame.  I am sure that the book will be greatly improved after this process.  I will keep you updated on the progress.  For now, to revising I go!

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https://pixabay.com/

Going to a Conference!

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New York City Skyline Wallpapers

I am going to the Writers Digest Conference in New York City this weekend, and I am very excited about it. This is one of the largest writers’ conferences in North America, and it will be the second time I have attended.

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http://www.clipartpanda.com

When I went last year, I had no real idea of what to expect. Of course, I had done research, but a writers’ conference, especially one this large, is significantly different from academic conferences I had attended.

meeting

http://www.murkworks.net/

This year I will be there with my pitch for my horror novel Evil Lives After prepared, and with specific expectations of what I will try to gain and learn. One specific quality of this event that I realized last year is that every session is valuable. I intend to gather as much information as possible about writing and publishing as I can.

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Home

The main focus for me, as I am sure it will be with many other writers, is the agent pitch slam, a kind of speed dating or elevator pitch session with agents, in which each writer has a 3 minute time span to greet the agent, pitch the novel, and answer questions. I have done my research and planning and know which agents I will try to pitch first. I will let you know how that turns out.

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I have to mention that I am staying with my wonderful and gracious in-laws, whom I love as my own parents. A big thank you to them!  They have a house on Staten Island, and I will make the commute on the ferry—and I love riding the ferry!—and then take the subway to Grand Central Terminal, which is only a couple of blocks from my destination.

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Another Successful Meeting of the Grounds for Thought Literary Group!

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We had a very successful meeting of the Grounds For Thought Literary Group at the Taylor Roasted CoffeeHouse in Northampton, PA on Saturday night. I had expected a small group of only about 5 people to attend because it was a warm, bright, and dry early summer evening. Additionally, there were several local events that competed for people.

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image from: just a girl and her camera  (thanks Liz!)

What actually happened, however, was very different and a delightful surprise. Very quickly the main room of the coffee house filled, and with my count, fifteen people were in attendance. It was a full meeting, with all of the two hours taken up with readings from numerous people. I began with a chapter from my horror novel Evil Lives After, and then we heard from a variety of people. It is my policy, because this is a public blog, never to identify anyone’s name. That is not my place to give someone’s identity here. I will say, however, that a young lady who has been attending our meetings decided to read for the first time—you know who you are—and it was wonderful. She read her first chapter of the first draft of a novel she is writing. She is talented, and the audience was engaged by the story. Great work to you!

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It is always encouraging to see a disparate group of writers and listeners come together for an evening of shared writings and readings. I am deeply grateful to be a part of this gathering.

Once again, I want to mention the fine quality of the coffee house. If anyone is ever traveling in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, be sure to make a visit to Taylor Roasted CoffeeHouse in Northampton, Pa.
http://taylorroastedcoffeehouse.com/

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Drafts, Revisions, and Plans, Oh MY!

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I finished the first draft of a novel I have been working on the first part of the year. While it is very rough and in need of a great deal of work, it is time to put it aside for a while. I am not sure what my overall goals for this novel are, but at least I have completed the initial draft. So, I need to continue with the overall writing plan I put in place a while ago, one which I was not sure I would be able to maintain. So far, I have done it.

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This writing plan is to draft, as first drafts, two books per year. In addition to the drafting, I am also constantly working on revising previous books. I focus on one at a time, or at least I try to. My writing time is divided into drafting first, and then I work on revising. I have found that I am able to do this about 5 days a week.

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I had mentioned in an earlier post that I am also working on an academic book, but that is moving very slowly as I try to find necessary materials without which , it cannot move forward.  My drafting goal for the rest of the year, therefore, is to complete a first draft of a horror novel. It is a story I have had in mind for quite a while. In fact, the idea for it came from a dream I had, in which, in very cinematic fashion, I saw the entire ending of the story. It was like seeing a movie for free!

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My long range goal for this horror novel is to test the self-publishing waters with it. I still intend to try to be published traditionally, especially with my first two novels, but I decided it was time to spread out this writing venture and see what happens. That long range plan for the book will be to self-publish it sometime next year.

Let’s see how the carrying-out of my plan goes.

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Helen Murray’s Peanut Butter Cookies

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I have shared some recipes from the three gentlemen who make up the ghost hunting group in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. These are the main characters in my novel, but there are other very important people also, and they will also share recipes with you.   Today, I wanted to offer a baking recipe from Helen Murray.

Helen Murray, one of the main secondary characters, is a high school history teacher and the guardian of her niece Helena who was named for her.  Helen became the child’s guardian when her sister and brother-in-law were killed by a drunk driver.  The child was an infant when this tragedy occurred, so she has grown to the age of 5 thinking of Helen as her mother.  One of the tasks involved with caring for the little girl that Helen embraced was baking.  Previously, she had done very little of it, but after gaining the responsibility for taking care of this little girl, whom she loved, she found a passion for baking.

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One of her simple recipes is also one of Helena’s favorite treats: Helen’s peanut butter cookies.

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)

1/2 cup butter–softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or 1 vanilla bean if adventurous)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1&1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Put peanut butter and butter into mixing bowl. Use medium speed, and beat until the mixture is smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Add sugar, egg and vanilla.  Use medium speed, and beat about another minute.  Scrape bowl and combine together.

Add all the other ingredients for about 1 more minute of beating.  Roll the dough into one inch balls.  Press flat with a fork into a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.  In Helen’s oven, that takes about 10 minutes.  It could vary by a few minutes.  Remove from baking sheets and let cool. This recipe will make about 33-37 cookies.

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As an extra treat, Helen sometimes will dip half the cookie in melted chocolate and add rainbow sprinkles and let them cool.

Helena always loves these!

More recipes from characters to come in the future.