The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) Cover Reveal

So excited for this to come out! My friend Kate is an amazing author. If you haven’t read Cogsmith’s Daughter yet, you should probably do it now! Looking forward to the second instalment of the series!

Kate M. Colby

Hello, everyone! Today, I’m pleased to present the cover and book description for The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2).

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A courtesan on a mission. A brothel ravished by greed. A murder to avenge.

Dellwyn Rutt loves her life as a courtesan. For years, she has enjoyed the simple pleasures and lavish gifts of her trade. Now she wants more: the title of madam.

But Madam Huxley, the brothel’s current proprietor, refuses to name a successor—a problem that is amplified by the legalization of adultery. As the new law sends lusty clients flocking to the brothel, Madam Huxley’s greed grows unchecked at the workers’ expense. Only one outsider seems to care: a self-proclaimed prophet who won’t rest until the unholy institution is abolished.

After weeks of abuse, Dellwyn desperately seeks a way to subdue Madam Huxley’s tyranny. But when another courtesan is murdered, Dellwyn must set her struggles aside and solve the…

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Paranormal Stories II

Paranormal Stories II

The Music Box

This event occurred in my late teens. One day I heard some soft, strange, music- like an old-timey music box. I searched my sisters’ room thinking a toy had fallen over, or a tv had turned on. It seemed strange that the same melody would play over and over again if it was a tv. I searched all around the first floor and stood by the stairs leading to the basement. Yes, Ballerina_Toyit was coming from downstairs. I checked all the rooms and tvs in the basement and found nothing on. Nothing that could explain the soft melody. I stood at the bottom of the stairs. No, I had been wrong. It was definitely coming from upstairs. I searched the upstairs rooms again, looking in and under things. I didn’t think we had a music box, and not one that would play for fifteen minutes straight without winding down. Nothing. I stood in the hallway and listened again. It sounded like it was coming from downstairs again! I stormed through the kitchen towards the stairs. My mom, working in the kitchen, having enough of my ransacking the house, stopped me.

“What are you looking for?”

“Can’t you hear it?” I demanded.

“Hear what?”

“The music box!”

She blinked once, tilted her head, and shook her head. I checked downstairs once more and froze at the bottom of the stairs as the music changed. Now there were harps. I flew up the stairs, went into my room, put on some headphones and loud music.


Christopher

Why won't she wake up? I'm bored.

Why won’t she wake up? I’m bored.

There were a couple spirits in my family home. One was less than pleasant and stuck to the downstairs. Others were less threatening. I named the ghost in my bedroom Christopher. For many years I would be shaken awake at night and feel a presence in my room. There would be nights I would wake up because someone would be sitting on the side of my bed.

You could see the indent and the blankets being tugged, but no one was there.  I don’t know why the spirit was always so eager to wake me up. Perhaps Christopher was just lonely and wanted company.


Who's up for some hide and seek?

Who’s up for some hide and seek?

The Girl in My Kitchen

I was home alone during in the middle of the afternoon one day during the summer. As I turned the corner from my bedroom to the kitchen I saw a small girl, about seven or eight years old, running past the front window. The window was too high off the ground to be a child outside. Her head barely reached the bottom of the inner window frame. Her long brown hair trailed behind her as she ran through the kitchen, turned sharply, and ran down the stairs. She didn’t make a sound. I froze for a moment, then inched towards the stairs, peeking down to make sure there wasn’t a small child waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. I checked all the doors and windows to make sure we hadn’t been broken into by an eight year old and made lunch.

What It “Really” Takes to Write and Publish a Novel

TCD Blog Tour Banner

Please give a big welcome to Kate. M Colby. This rad gal is an amazingly talented writer!  I am excited to be hosting one of her articles in honour of her newly released book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. You need to go check this gal out ASAP and snap up a copy.

I had the privileged of Beta-reading The Cogsmith’s Daughter for Kate early in her process. Her world building is beautiful and her characters are dynamic. You can’t help getting sucked in.  I’m enjoying it just as much (ok, more!) the second time. It’s amazing to see how the work has changed from rough draft to a polished, professional, novel.

As an aspiring author myself I wanted some truth bombs straight from the horse’s mouth. Kate has graciously given us an inside look at what it really takes to publish a novel.

AP Fiction Book CoversKate 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: www.KateMColby.com.

Writing a novel goes something like this: you lock the door behind you, stay hidden away for hours, and then get to “The End.” As your fingers leave the keyboard, an envelope slips under your door. You hesitantly open it and confetti flutters out. You read the letter, which warmly welcomes you to “the club.” Elated, you call your agent or go online, and your book is published. Then, you rush to your closet, put on your snazziest outfit, and head to “the club.” There, you are greeted with corks popping and overflowing champagne bottles. Your favorite music blasts from the speakers and your favorite authors applaud you as you walk toward the stage. Once onstage, the ghost of Dickens descends and hands you a beautiful, hardback copy of your novel. He claps you on the back and says, “Good show, mate. You’re one of us now.”

Okay, okay. Where did I lose you? The ghost part, right?

Unfortunately, writing and publishing a novel is not that easy, nor that grand, but a lot of aspiring authors seem to think it is. Before I wrote my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, I know I did. I thought I could just sit down at the keyboard with nothing but an itch and emerge with a perfect specimen of American literature only a few hours later. And yes, I thought that magic would warrant something akin to a Hogwarts letter, finally letting me into “the club,” where I would receive the rest of the authorial secrets from the greats who wrote before me.

All aspiring authors are looking for that secret. And now that I’m in “the club,” I can share it with you. The secret, that one tiny, crucial ingredient that you need to finally write your novel?

It’s you.

You are the only thing stopping you from writing your novel and the only thing that will make it happen. All you have to do is A) decide you’re ready to write your novel and B) do everything required to write it.

Now, I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, thanks, Kate. I already know that. It’s just so hard!”

And yeah, it is hard. Writing a novel actually kind of sucks. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all starving artist on you here, but it is a lot of work and requires a lot of sacrifice.

For those of you who are looking for something more concrete, the “facts and figures” folks out there, here is what it really took me to write a novel. For the record, I independently published. If you got the traditional route, you’ll be trading all the formatting/cover design/uploading time for querying agents and negotiating contracts.

Task — Total duration of stage (not including time waiting on others) | Actual working time

First draft — 30 days | 56 hours

Real cost: Heading straight to the keyboard after dinner, missing out on my favorite TV shows and time with my husband

Editing — 26 days | 11 hours

Real cost: Self-loathing and guilt over procrastination, facing the fact that my writing isn’t perfect

Revising — 1.5 months | 22 hours

Real cost: More guilt over procrastination, killing darling after darling in search of betterment

Content Editing — 30 days | 36 hours

Real cost: More late nights after my day job, knowing that a professional read my work and saw major room for improvement, and several dollar signs, too

Line Editing (Round 1) — 29 days | 18 hours

Real cost: Letting yet another professional pick at my brainchild, giving up my weekends for writing, realizing that I have only half the grasp on grammar I thought I did, more cash

Line Editing (Round 2) — 11 days | 9.5 hours

Real cost: Forcing myself to analyze and justify the existence of every single word in my novelThe Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small

Proofreading (Round 1) — 1 day | 2 hours

Real cost: Having a third professional be as finicky as possible about my work, looking over the changes and realizing that I absolutely must be blind to have missed some of those errors after so many drafts

Proofreading (Round 2) — 2 days | 10 hours

Real cost: My sanity, the slow, creeping fear that there are dozens more errors lurking around every page, just waiting for a reader to discover them

Formatting — 1.5 months | 6 hours

Real cost: Grappling with technology, tedium

Cover design — 22 days | 1.75 hours

Real cost: Figuring out how to express my work in a new medium, trusting another person not to screw it up, more dollars

Proofreading (Round 3) — 13 days | 10 hours

Real cost: The horrible realization that there are still errors in my work, and the even more terrifying realization that there always will be, the necessary death of perfectionism

Uploading/Distribution — 30 days | 11 hours

Real cost: Knowing that others are about to read my work, wasting time obsessively checking that all the files are perfect and re-uploading them after the third proofread

Total Book Production Time — 11.5 months (from first draft to publication) | 133 hours

And I haven’t even calculated all the hours I’ve spent marketing, blogging, and researching how to make this all happen—but I guarantee I’ve spent just as much (if not more) time on those tasks.

All of this was a very detailed, long-winded way of saying: All it really takes to write and publish a novel is you. You just have to be willing to put in literally hundreds of hours to write, research, and produce your book. Make up your mind to do it, then actually do it, one step at a time.

There may not be a letter waiting for you at the end, or a huge party in a secret clubhouse. But there is accomplishment, pride, and joy from within—and from family and friends. There’s also 5-star reviews from readers who “get” your work and can’t wait to read more. Trust me, writing and publishing a novel is worth it—you’ve just got to work for it.

If you’d like to read the results of my labor, 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 to chance? Me either. You can purchase your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at any of these online retailers:

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords

The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D

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 was a young girl, King Archon had 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.

Paranormal Stories!

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It’s October. The month of my favorite day- CD Player Day!

Sweet, sweet nostalgia.

Sweet, sweet nostalgia.

It’s also the month of my second favourite day: Halloween.

I’ve decided to share with you some of my experiences with the paranormal in honour of Halloween (it was hard to come up with stories about CD players). So grab some hot-chocolate and gather round for some spine tingling tales.

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, everyone has had strange experiences in their lives. Things that make you scratch your head, or odd sensations that have no basis in anything you can sense with your five senses. Since I was a little kid strange things have happened to and around me. I don’t know that I would admit to believing in ‘ghosts’ (aka spooky dead people chilling waiting to freak out unsuspecting living people- the jerks), but I believe there are things that exist beyond the boundary of our perception. Maybe, just maybe, when conditions are right some of us can sense those things.

Boo!

Boo!

I’m not saying I’m one of those people…but I might be. Until a few years ago I had ‘paranormal’ experiences pretty regularly. My most recent experience was at a private school I had applied to, which was a converted historic house. I was on a tour of the facility and thought the school was unique but didn’t give it much thought otherwise. The administrator took me around and showed me all the different rooms. As we walked into one of the last rooms on the top floor I resisted the urge to come to an abrupt stop and say, “things happen in this room, don’t they?”

I didn’t think that would help me get the job. That room felt different. Similar to the feeling of being watched, or when you’re asked to go first into a dark, unknown, room. I didn’t want to run from the room, but I didn’t want to hang out in it all day either.

These sorts of experiences happen with less frequency and intensity, now. Perhaps I’m getting older and am more inclined to look for a ‘logical’ reason; or because I made an active effort to close myself off to those types of experiences. Perhaps they lessened because I stopped messing around with things I probably shouldn’t have been (more on that later). Most likely, it’s because my family moved out of the totally haunted house we grew up in.

Some of my earliest memories revolve around the paranormal. There was the closet in my room which all my friends agreed was ‘bad’. There was nothing obviously scary about it. I wasn’t bothered by any of the other dark, small, spaces in the house. Only that one closet ever bothered me. Even as an adult it would have me rushing out of the room muttering, “Nope. Nope. Nope.” Nothing scary ever happened. The door never opened or closed on its own and there no strange noises coming from it. I never saw a pair of glowing eyes staring back at me in the dark. It just felt bad.

That’s not to say I never encountered strange noises. Many nights, when I was young, I woke up because someone was walking around above me. My room was on the top floor so whoever was pacing above me was doing it in the attic. I can’t remember if I told my mom about it or not- I thought nothing about it at the time, other than it was kind of annoying. However, I was shocked years later when my dad and uncle went up into the attic to change the insulation. I noticed they crawled around and asked why they didn’t stand up and walk around. My dad let me poke my head up into the attic. It was very clear that only a small child could stand upright, and anyone up there had to move along beams. No one could walk back and forth as I had heard for so many years.

Around the same time I would also be woken up in the middle of the night by the smell of burnt toast. If you are Canadian insert your obligatory “Doctor, I smell burnt toast!” joke here. If you are not click here for an amazing Canadian Heritage Minute.
I would throw aside my blankets and rush from my bed hoping to sneak a late night snack with my dad or great-grandfather. I would be constantly disappointed as I reached the kitchen (steps from my bedroom) and find nothing there. No used dishes, no crumbs, no evidence anyone had made any food. Now, you may say, “Well Amanda, clearly someone cleared up their mess and went back to bed.”

Clearly the work of spectres...and not so subtle sexism.

Clearly the work of spectres…and not so subtle sexism.

A reasonable thought.

However, neither my father nor my great-grandfather were the type to clean up after themselves. They would leave it to be dealt with in my morning. My mom wasn’t really the midnight snack kind of lady. If it had happened once I would give it a pass. But this strange burnt toast smell was a regular occurrence. I never learned not to get my hopes up though.

Perhaps these are only instances of being a child with an active imagination. However, there are many other occurrences, as I got older, which made me wonder if ghosts or the paranormal exist.

Were these seemingly innocuous experiences the first in a pattern of occurrences that would follow me into adulthood?

Keep an eye open for other stories leading up to Halloween!

What are some of your earliest scary or paranormal experiences?

“3 Strange Things Online” or “I Went to THAT Part of the Internet Again”

I spend a lot of time on the internet. A lot. As I don’t have cable, because Netflix, I get a lot of my entertainment off Youtube. The funny thing about Youtube is that you can start off the evening by watching funny cat videos and end the evening in some very strange places. I am a habitual side-menu clicker. In fact when I went to check if that side-menu thingy had a name I ended up watching two videos. I may have a problem.

Sometimes in my constant video clicking I come across some very dark things, like creepy pastas about the deep web. Other times I come across videos that make me reflect upon my life choices as I constantly re-watch them. Here are three of my favourite wtf videos.

Chick Chick by Wang Rong Rollin is what I image Lady Gaga would produce if she decided to do a cover of “Old MacDonald”. Once I got over the ‘what did my eyes just see’ moment I actually came to enjoy the actual music and listen to it no less than a few times a week. It just makes me smile.

This Rob Cantor piece is actually kind of a masterpiece. There is so much going on here that it takes a couple watches to really take in every detail he put into it. Plus who doesn’t love a good Shia LaBeouf jab?

I’ll let that one speak for itself.

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) Cover Reveal

Good day ladies and gents. My awesome possum friend Kate M. Colby has just revealed the cover of her new (and first) book! As a beta reader for this project I am super excited to share her cover with you and highly encourage you to keep an eye out for when you can purchase it. It is an amazing read and I will be first in line to get my very own copy. I’ll save you a spot in line!

Kate M. Colby

Pardon the cheesy banner, I am just so thrilled to reveal to you my cover for my debut novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1)!  The novel is not available for purchase yet (stay near the site for updates later this week!), but you can add it to your “to-read” shelf on Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Of course, if you want to read The Cogsmith’s Daughter before anyone else, it just may be a good idea to sign up for my author newsletter. You can get all the info HERE.

Daughter -C2 Cover designed by Damonza.com

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.

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Allergic to E Challenge

Allergic to E Challenge

My good friend Kate M Colby has nominated me for the Allergic to E writing challenge!

Taking from her example I will use standard elementary school paragraph requirements- approximately five sentences, without using the letter E.

The biggest challenge I found was not using the word ‘The’. In fact, I wrote a whole paragraph, dusted my hands off content I hadn’t used the letter E at all, did a quick once over with the find function and realized I had used ‘the’ no more than seven times. Funny how the eye can be trained to gloss over those pesky articles.

I think I did a fine job of it. I really enjoyed the challenge and encourage you to give it a go!

Opal

SAMSUNG

Opal stalks, low, stomach scraping along hard wood, moving forward without sound. A toy twirls and zips. Pupils track it cautiously, tail twitching anxiously. It loops low, wings dipping. Claws and fur burst into action. Opal’s vicious pink mouth clamps around bright artificial fur. Paws catch and clutch. It jumps to fly away. Claws dig into fabric. Incisors snap shut around faux throats.  It lays still. Victory!