Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: April 2018

April marked the first month of using my bullet journal, and I’ve really enjoyed it! Designing the spread helps me prioritize each month’s goals and focus my time, as well as reflect on my accomplishments (or the things I didn’t do). While I still feel like I’m in a period of transition and reorganizing, I’m feeling much more positive this month. Maybe it’s that the spring sunshine has finally emerged in full force … maybe it’s the extra family time and exercise. Either way, I’ll take it!

Writing

april bujo

So far this year, I’ve focused on honing my writing craft and filling in some gaps in my knowledge. While I’ve written three novels and several flash fiction pieces, I’ve never had much opportunity to write short stories, so I’ve been teaching myself with a private project. It’s been a fun exercise and taught me a lot about story structure – which will help me write better novels too. Win-win!

Parallel Magic Podcast

Parallel Magic: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Show is still going strong. In fact, Jonas and I just had our most exciting episode yet! We interviewed J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon about their post-apocalyptic thriller Dawn: Final Awakening Book One. They’re true sci-fi/fantasy lovers (just like Jonas and me!), so we had a great time geeking out about the apocalypse, movies and more. Listen here.

Reading

hellblaAfter taking a month off reading, I’m back on track with reading one book per week!

Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano – Finally explored Constantine’s origins. While I loved the stories and his attitude, the older art style isn’t my jam.

The Absolute Sandman: Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman – OMG. People who know my love of all things paranormal have been telling me to read this for years. I finally did. And it was perfection.

Blood of the Empire (Desolate Empire #6) by Christina Ochs – The final book in my favorite historical fantasy series. If you like Game of Thrones, you need to read these novels.

Dawn (Final Awakening Book One) by J. Thorn & Zach Bohannon – A gritty and inventive post-apocalyptic thriller. After you read it, tune into the author interview on the Parallel Magic Podcast.

Personal Life

Physical health Still going strong with my exercise goals! In fact, I’m thinking about upping my daily step goal and even making further improvements to my eating habits.

Mental health I’m in a much better place this month, and I think my funk is finally fading away. A few things helped with this: watching a ton of new movies with Daniel (it relaxes me so much, my FitBit thinks I’m napping!), taking a trip home, and preparing for my mother-in-law to visit next month!

May Goals

  1. Put the final touches on my short story project
  2. Treat my mother-in-law to an amazing visit
  3. Get back to my true fiction love (aka the next novel)

What did you accomplish in April? What are your May goals? Share in the comments!

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Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: March 2018

March was a month just for me. After finally recognizing my burnout in February, I set aside all “non-essential” activities and focused on de-stressing and enjoying life. Between a trip home to visit family and friends in Kansas, my birthday, and lots of support from Daniel, it was easier than I expected to relax and recharge.

bullet journalWhile I’m recommitting to some goals in April, there are others that I will cut loose. As part of this, I’ve started a bullet journal, where I can combine my calendar and objectives in a custom layout that perfectly fits my needs. Going forward, I want to maintain a better balance and keep the perspective I gained this month. There’s very little that I have to do to survive, so everything I choose to do should add value and joy to my life. It’s something we all know but often forget. I hope it’s a good reminder for you too.

Writing

It seems I’m the tortoise in 2018 — slow and steady writing, which will eventually accumulate into a complete book. Right now, my focus is consistency as opposed to output, so as long as I keep plodding along, that’s good enough for me. In addition to working on Desertera #4, I’ve been dabbling with an unrelated short story… which I may or may not share, as it’s not sci-fi or fantasy, and I don’t plan to publish it (it’s more a private learning exercise).

Other Projects

recording set upAsk Me Anything Videos I recorded the March AMA, and you can watch it here. You’ll learn how I invented Desertera’s setting, how to find an editor for your own books, and more.

Parallel Magic Podcast If you haven’t tuned into the podcast I host with Jonas Lee yet, you’re missing out. In this month’s most popular episode, we debated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Listen in for one of my rare negative rants.

Reading

After reading six books in February, I chose not to ready any in March. I did, however, read and review several short stories for a writer group to which I belong. Daniel and I also watched several new movies: highlights for me included Thoroughbreds, Tomb Raider, and Ready Player One.

Personal Life

flying homePhysical health Okay, so the whole “eating healthy” thing kind of went off the rails. But can you blame me when I had a birthday (hello, Dairy Queen ice cream cake!) and my mom’s home cooking? I didn’t think so. Exercise suffered a bit during my vacation as well, but I kept on top of it at the beginning and end of the month. I’m actually surprised how much I’m enjoying it!

Mental health After recognizing the extent of my burnout at the end of last month, I gave myself a break from self-imposed stress in March. I focused on enjoying my time with family, indulging in TV/movies, and spending quality time with Daniel and Thomas. Heading into April, I’m finally feeling recharged! I’m getting back to my goals, but still focusing on not overextending myself.

April Goal

Win Camp NaNoWriMo! For April’s Camp session, I’m tracking my progress in hours instead of word count. As I wade back into the deeper waters of creativity, I know my biggest challenge is putting in the time and staying positive. So, rather than beat myself up over hitting a particular number of words, all I have to do is show up and try my best. It’s taken a lot of the pressure off and already made me more productive!


What did you accomplish in March? What are your April or Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Share in the comments!

Fiction Blog

Ask Me Anything: March 2018

Welcome to my March 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.

What are you working on for Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo is a twice-yearly challenge in which writers set a custom goal and meet in virtual cabins (chat rooms) to support each other. It’s a spin off of National Novel Writing Month, the November challenge in which writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For this Camp session, my goal is to spend 60 hours working on Desertera #4 (though I might cheat and play with some other ideas too). I’ve made my goal in hours instead of word count because I need to focus on putting in the time and establishing a better routine.

How did you come up with the steampunk desert setting for the Desertera novels?

When considering a setting for Desertera, I went through a few different ideas. As I said in a previous AMA video, my original inspiration for the story itself was The Arabian Nights, and I liked how the desert setting created a feeling of desire and isolation. I also considered a historical fantasy based on King Henry VIII, but I knew the research would overwhelm me. My husband suggested steampunk, which had that Victorian “royal” flair, but again, I didn’t want to set the story in England or a real place. Therefore, I combined desert and steampunk to create Desertera — a place of desperation and isolation with people clinging onto antiquity, religion, and a romantic vision of a past that may or may not have ever existed.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Honestly, I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved reading stories with my mom, and I soon started to write my own. I completed my first story, that I can remember, when I was eight years old. My teacher encouraged me to keep writing, so I did. When I was around 11, another teacher informed me that I could major in Creative Writing in college and write for a career. That pretty much sealed the deal.

How did you find your editing company?

Great question! Finding editors, cover designers, literary agents, and other professionals can be intimidating when you’re starting out as a writer. My best advice, and how I found the editing company I use, Red Adept Editing, is to ask published authors you know for referrals. Most will be happy to share their contacts, especially as it might give them a referral discount. Another great tip is to check the copyright and acknowledgments pages of books that impress you — most writers will include their editors, designers, etc. and you can look them up from there. And of course, there are marketplace websites like Reedsy or lists on industry sites like the Alliance of Independent Authors that link to reputable professionals.

Your husband tags you in a lot of movies on Twitter (@KateMColby). What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen this month?

Haha, yes he does! We’re big movie buffs, Daniel especially. The best movie we saw this month was Thoroughbreds, which is about two teenage girls who plot to kill one girl’s stepdad. It had a dark sense of humor, complex characters, and great suspense. However, my favorite movie was probably Tomb Raider. Growing up, I would “backseat game” the PlayStation games with my dad, so I had a lot of fun watching the new Lara Croft on the big screen. Don’t get me wrong — the movie had its problems, but it also had good action, surprising emotional depth, and a strong lead actress.


That’s all for this video! Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I’ll be back in April with another round of Ask Me Anything, so feel free to submit your questions in the comments or through my contact page.