The Evolution of My NaNoWriMo Novel – The Cogsmith’s Daughter

Recently a fellow blogger, coffeennotes, wrote a three-part series on her  “Writing Secrets,” in which she described her writing process. Today, I want to take a leaf out of her book and be a bit more transparent. I realized that I have never actually shared with you all anything concrete about the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. In case you are new to my site (if so, hello!), I recently participated in and won NaNoWriMo 2014 and have walked away with plans to revise and independently publish my the resulting novel. In this post, I want to tell you all more about my novel and the inspirational process behind it.

Title: The Cogsmith’s Daughter

Genre: Dystopian steampunk with a strong romantic subplot

Brief Synopsis: In the land of Desertera, three crimes are punishable by death: murder, treason, and adultery. When Aya Cogsmith’s father is sent to execution by King Archon for treason, she is thrown into poverty and forced to turn to prostitution for her livelihood. For ten years, Aya shares this life with her best friend, Dellwyn, until one day, Lord Varick, Marquess of the Stern, offers her a way out. Like Aya, Lord Varick has lost a loved one at the hands of the king, and he is ready for vengeance and a regime change. All Aya has to do is agree to trap the king in adultery, a fate King Archon has inflicted on many of his wives, and Lord Varick will help Aya reclaim her old life. However, when Aya enters palace politics, she learns that no one can be trusted–not even Willem, the gorgeous young nobleman whom she would much rather seduce.

To answer your questions: Yes, I know I’m terrible at synopses. No, this will not be my book blurb.

The Germ of an Idea: The tiniest germ of an idea for this novel came to me in university, while I was formatting Wiki pages for one of my English professor’s classes. The class was about The One Thousand and One Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). If you are unfamiliar with the story, the basic premise is that a Persian king believes all women are unfaithful, so he marries virgins and then kills them after bedding them. In the story, his newest queen tells him fantastical stories that end with a cliffhanger every night before bed to keep him from taking her virginity and then killing her the next morning.

This concept made me think: what if adultery were punishable by death in this world? And, what if the king used that to his advantage, either tricking or framing his wives into adultery so he could get a new wife whenever he were bored of one?

The Recording of the Idea: Once this idea hit me, I knew it was worthy of The Notebook. You know The Notebook: it’s that standard notebook that writers are told to carry at all times for when inspiration strikes. Luckily, as you can see from the image, I had mine handy and recorded away.

Spoiler Alert: This is not what happens at all.

Spoiler Alert: This is not what happens at all.

The Subconscious Plotting: I am a big believer in the subconscious as a realm of creativity. I feel like mine must have done a lot of the legwork for me, because even though I did not return to this idea until it was time to select a novel for NaNoWriMo 2014, I had dozens of scenes imagined the moment my eyes spotted my notes.

The Mood: Originally, I intended this story to be set in a desert landscape, much like The Arabian Nights. However, for some reason, when I described the story to my husband, he said “steampunk,” and it just clicked. My vision is nothing like the one he originally imagined, but I think my genre and setting create the perfect mood. Steampunk without steam. 

The Conscious Plotting: Once I decided on my genre and setting, I moved to conscious plotting of my basic scenes and even drew a map of my world — for fun and my own logistical reference. For a full overview of my plotting process, go here.

The First Draft: Again, I will discuss this in a later post, but obviously, after planning came drafting. My first draft ended up being 80,060 words, all written within the 30 days of November.

The page count, when formatted to mimic CreateSpace's parameters.

The page count, when formatted to mimic CreateSpace’s parameters.

The Expansion: Originally, I intended for The Cogsmith’s Daughter to be a stand-alone novel. However, the world demanded a series before I wrote a single word in my first draft. I have plans to make it a six book series. The first five books will each be from the perspective of a different character in the series, and the sixth book will be a combination of the five characters’ perspectives.

The Title: The title came about, because the entire book is about Aya and her journey. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than to name it after her. Even though most authors say they change titles many times, I do not foresee mine changing at all. It just fits the genre and mood, and given that each book will be from a different perspective, it sets up a solid theme to continue.

The Next Steps: I plan to revise The Cogsmith’s Daughter in January-February 2015, after which I will open it up to beta readers and solicit professional editors. I hope to have it published and available for purchase by next November, NaNoWriMo 2015.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed a better glimpse into the fruits of my NaNoWriMo labors!


What was the initial inspiration behind one of your favorite manuscripts? What is your NaNoWriMo 2014 novel about and what do you plan to do with it? Let me know!

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Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips
37 comments on “The Evolution of My NaNoWriMo Novel – The Cogsmith’s Daughter
  1. Nikki B. says:

    This sounds so interesting, Kate! And yes, Daniel was absolutely correct when he said “steampunk” because it sounds like it fits your world perfectly. I am hoping to someday get back to all of my series (I have way more than I should sitting around unwritten), but I know you have a plan for yours. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! I really think it’s a nice fit. Don’t feel bad about your unwritten ideas. There’s always time to explore them! Maybe you could pull one out for Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nikki B. says:

        Oh, many of them are partially written or at least started. That’s my problem, finishing! I’m really hoping to finally finish something so that I can go back and finish all the others that are waiting patiently on me. 🙂 Maybe during camp, we’ll see!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Finishing is really darn difficult. I’ve only managed to finish this one manuscript so far, and honestly, if it weren’t for all the external pressure I placed on myself, I may not have even done it. However, once you figure out what works for you, I think it becomes easier to actually finish. I suppose I’ll see if that’s true when I start manuscript #2 soon.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Sounds cool!
    “Steampunk without the steam”
    Really enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at your writing process!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda Larson says:

    It’s lovely to hear about your process and your synopsis sounds wonderful! I really enjoyed ‘The Arabian Nights’ so I love that you used that as a springboard, and love even more that you took that kernel and put it in a different time and place.

    I’ve only read steampunk in shorts and am still learning about the genre. I received the impression from what I have read in the genre that it’s essentially the Victorian era reimagined with mechanical, steam-powered influences rather like some of Jules Verne’s work.

    You mentioned that your novel is steampunk minus steam. What aspects then make it steampunk as opposed to alternate history Victorian era?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Essentially, the idea is that my novel’s world was once the typical Victorian-inspired steampunk world. The “without steam” is where the Dystopian aspect emerges. Picture a typical steampunk world that has undergone a near apocalyptic drought, leaving the people in a desert world where there is not enough water for both survival and powering their steam machines.

      I hope that explains the concept a bit better. It is a lot easier to grasp in the context of the novel. Thank you for your encouragement and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amanda Larson says:

        Oh, brilliant! I thought I was just misinterpreting the core aspects of steampunk, but you’re doing a post-apocalyptic steampunk. What a fun concept and a perfect backstory for it!

        It sounds as if you’ve brought all sorts of intriguing concepts together for this book. I so look forward to seeing how you explore them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much! I think it’s a pretty cool concept, myself. I just hope I manage to execute it as well as I have imagined it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. coffeennotes says:

    Firstly awhhhh thank you… second loved reading about your novel, ideas and I love the steampunk look on the image. I love reading about people’s writing process and how their mind come up with ideas, so cool of you to share all the details. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] that I have discussed the inspiration behind The Cogsmith’s Daughter as well as my plotting process, I want to share with you all my […]

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  6. Amazing post, Kate, so inspirational.
    The inspiration for my NaNo novel was my love for strong female characters and the frustration of (despite saying otherwise) perfect heroines. I wanted to do something new, something on a far more deeper level, and thus my heroine was created. After that everything fell more and more into place.
    The NaNo draft will never be edited or otherwise worked on, since my story changed so much from the initial idea. It’s more like a beacon to me, to remind me that yes, I can write 50+k words in 14 (!) days.
    I’ve just finished my outline for the second draft and hopefully will be able to start writing it on the weekend. But I’m currently working on the prologue that won’t make it in the final MS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I love that your novel has become a beacon for you and a reminder of your creative potential. Maybe it’s the writer’s romanticism coming out, but I think that is truly beautiful. I, too, am a huge fan of flawed, strong female characters, and I hope that I have created three for my novel. Congratulations on your NaNoWriMo success and good luck moving forward with your writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] 9.       Publish my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter […]

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  8. […] for the first draft of my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. I have already explained my inspiration behind the novel, as well as how I plotted and wrote the first draft. In this post, I am going to share my strategy […]

    Like

  9. […] And you know what? She wrote an 80,060 word novel in 29 days. […]

    Like

  10. […] am currently halfway through editing the first draft of my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. As many of you know, I wrote the novel in 30 days, during NaNoWriMo 2014. I took December off to […]

    Like

  11. […] nights ago, I had a bizarre experience. I had a dream featuring two of my characters from The Cogsmith’s Daughter, Aya (my protagonist) and Dellwyn (her best […]

    Like

  12. Ben Y. Faroe says:

    Reblogged this on Ben Y. Faroe and commented:
    Happy Friday, everyone!

    I found this today and thought I’d share it. Looks like a great concept by a serious new author, and the behind-the-scenes process notes are cool.

    I find projects (and websites) like this incredibly satisfying. I love it when an author has clearly taken the time to think through her content and presentation to deliver high-quality, worthwhile material. And I’m just talking about the website – the book itself looks like it’s going to be killer.

    Any other serious new authors doing great work out there? Point me in their direction. I eat this stuff up.

    Cheers!
    —Ben

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben, thank you so much for sharing and for your kind words! I really appreciate it, more than you can imagine! If you are in the market for some up-and-coming authors, you should check out the interviews on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour (link below). There is a serious amount of talent in this bunch!

      https://katemcolby.wordpress.com/category/the-2k-international-writers-blog-tour/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ben Y. Faroe says:

        My pleasure!

        It’s such a delight to see someone taking an indie author career seriously and doing quality work even in the early stages. I know indie publishing opens up the possibility of a ton of low-quality work on the market, but it also gives a brand new chance for committed people who do good work and deliver consistently to succeed in ways that weren’t very feasible before.

        I find that incredibly exciting. So I want to find people like you and do my part to help you get great stories into the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. I agree completely. The decision to go indie should not be taken lightly and is definitely not for everyone. It requires hard work and dedication, not to mention a lot of business sense and forethought to be done correctly. I’m glad to know that I am representing myself and the indie community well at this stage in my journey. And I am sure I speak for the larger community when I say that I really appreciate people like you who recognize and support indie authors. So, thank you again. You made my day.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. […] have already discussed the inspiration behind the first draft of my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. In this post, I want […]

    Like

  14. […] Revised — I have revised 7 chapters (about 1/3) of The Cogsmith’s Daughter, which puts me behind my intended schedule and stuck in step six of my editing […]

    Like

  15. […] about Kate M. Colby. She has a fun Instagram account and I’m particularly excited to read The Cogsmith’s Daughter when it’s fresh off the press. She helps me feel like a part of the writing community and we […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] First, my newsletter subscribers will be receiving the unedited first chapter of The Cogsmith’s Daughter! […]

    Like

  17. […] — but I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m happy that I have been able to focus on The Cogsmith’s Daughter for now. I finished the paper edits on January 31st, and I am maybe a day or two away (TOPS!) from […]

    Like

  18. […] Triumph: Having fun. Don’t get me wrong — I had a lot of fun writing The Cogsmith’s Daughter. But Desert Child is a whole other animal. It’s wild and untamed. Vague spoiler alerts: […]

    Like

  19. […] On the positive side, socializing with great friends and some very exciting progress with The Cogsmith’s Daughter kept me from writing on this draft. On the negative side, entirely inexcusable procrastination and […]

    Like

  20. […] business activities are also going well. The Cogsmith’s Daughter is finally taking direct steps to publication. I have enrolled in IndieReCon 2015 (a free, […]

    Like

  21. […] one story at a time. Therefore, all of my writing time has been devoted to the content revision of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. Thanks to my wonderful content editor and generous beta readers, I have a lot of great feedback, […]

    Like

  22. […] have submitted my revised manuscript of The Cogsmith’s Daughter to my line editor. I should have the initial line edits back in two to three weeks. After that, my […]

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  23. […] I decided to change my goal. This month, my primary goal is performing the line edit revisions for The Cogsmith’s Daughter. The manuscript is sitting at about 92,000 words, and as of this writing, I’m about 47,000 […]

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  24. Kris says:

    It’s good to get a fresh way of looknig at it.

    Liked by 1 person

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