Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rachel on the (Internet) Radio!

I joined Justin and Terry of The Dead Robot's Society podcast to talk about my books, my road to publication, and how the hell I write so many words every day. It was a really, really fun interview, and the show itself is a barrel of good times all on its own. So if you're at all interested in writing or the publishing world, why don't you check it out!

Here's the direct link to my episode, my interview is in the second part of the show. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Lord of Storms!

To thank all my fans for being so amazingly awesome (and to get myself some really amazing art), I've begun commissioning artists to make me pictures of my characters! First up, The Lord of Storms by Noiry! Link goes to the picture on her amazing DeviantArt gallery, but she also has nice work on her portfolio site so please go check her out. In the meanwhile, enjoy!

What can I say, the Lord of Storms is a ham and cheese sandwich! <3

The Lord of Storms is the head of the League of Storms, and a very bad ass fellow. He first appears (briefly) in The Spirit Thief and then more fully in the The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater. But he REALLY comes into his own in Spirit's End, the fifth and final Eli novel. Trust me, once you read book 5, you will know why he was the first character I commissioned!

More art will be following all the way through next year, so keep checking back :D. I'll also be revamping my site, and one of the new additions will be an art gallery. Should be awesome!

<3 Rachel

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

12 days of glory

I've talked about my process for fast writing before, the combination of knowledge, time, and excitement that let me take my word count from 2-3k a day to over 10k per day. However, every time I get on the subject of writing fast, I always have to add the caveat that these numbers were achieved on the final two books of a five book series, usually toward the end of the book. For me, the end of a book always goes faster than the beginning or the middle. I find it much easier to write with the momentum of a grand finale pulling me forward. Also, I was writing well known characters in a well established world.

Because of these factors, it was hard for me to tell if my insane numbers were really coming from my system or from the books themselves. Had I really turned myself into some sort of super writer, or was I just caught up in the end of a story I'd wanted to tell for years? Was Eli doing this, or was I? So long as I was working on Eli books, there was no way to tell. The real test would only come when I sat down to write a new book in a new world. If I could keep pulling crazy numbers there, with no Eli or Josef or Nico to prop me up, then I'd know for sure that my increased productivity came from me. Last month, with the final Eli book turned in, I took the plunge. This is how it turned out, taken straight from the writing worksheet I keep on my title page:

Plotting started: July 17, 2011
Plotting finished: July 20, 2011
Novel started: July 21, 2011
Novel ended: August 1, 2011

You're reading that right. I plotted the whole book, start to finish (as well as outlines for two sequels), in three days. And then I wrote the book in 12. Actually, that's not even right. Check out my progress table:

Time Written
Word Count
Words Per Hour
9:00 - 12:30 (3.5)
1:30 - 6:00 (4.5)
7:30 - 10:00 (2.5)
3877 (11882)
Home (night)
1:30 - 6:30 (5)
7/24 - 7/25 (perspective switch)
8:20 - 10:20 (2)
1:20 - 6:00 (4.5)
9:00 - 10:00 (1)
1076 (5195)
Home (night)
8:00 - 11:00 (3)
1:00 - 6:00 (5)
7215 (9742)
1:00 - 6:00 (5)
8:30 - 11:30 (3)
12:30 - 6:00 (5.5)
7701 (11537)
5:00 - 8:30 (3.5)
4:30 - 8:30 (4)
8:00 - 11:30 (2.5)
1:00 - 6:20 (5.3)
7203 (11272)

One of the things I talk about in the fast writing post is the importance of keeping records. There are many different ways of recording your writing, but this is how I keep track of mine. As you can see, I actually wrote the book in 9 days, because I took the 23rd off and spent the 24th - 25th going back and switching the first five chapters from third person to first, which I count as editing, not writing. But even if we go ahead and count those two days, it still means I wrote a novel, a brand new novel with a world and characters I'd never sat down to really flesh out before the 17th, in 11 days. 

Sorry Eli, looks like you can't claim credit this time.

But how did I do it? Beyond what I talked about in my fast writing post? 

Well, first, I wrote a lot. As you can see from the table above, I spent between 6 and 9 hours a day at the keyboard writing pulling between 800 and 1600 words an hour. This sort of writing is not without its cost, I think my baby and husband have forgotten my face and let's not even talk about the state of my house or the pile of mail that's threatening to crush my dining table. This is not the sort of crazy writing project you can embark on unless you're a pro writer between books with a very forgiving family. If I'd taken things a little easier I would have had a life and still finished the novel in 20 days, which is perfectly acceptable, but this time around I was trying to see just how fast I could go. For science!

Second, I always knew exactly where I was going. This was how I kept up the high words per hour rate. Much of the dithering in writing comes from uncertainty. What do I want from this scene? What happens next? Remove the uncertainty and most other problems sort themselves out.

Third, I was really, really, REALLY excited to write this book. It's my first love story, and I've been gushy over my main couple for nearly 8 years. I always swore I would write their story someday, and finally getting the chance to do it was like pulling up a chair to the delicious cake buffet.

So there it is, time, knowledge, and excitement coming together to make a crazy writing alchemy of fantastic word counts. These last two weeks have been the most intensely fun experience of my writing career (at least so far as the actual writing part is concerned). I loved working like this. I literally bounced out of bed with joy in the mornings because I knew I'd get to write that day. When I was writing it was like I was taken away with the story, and when I'd finally drag myself from the keyboard, I felt like I could conquer the world. Going so fast was more like reading than writing, only I was in charge of everything that was going on. It was the ultimate power trip, and I'm frankly sort of worried I liked it too much. Not that worried, though.

My work on this book is nowhere near done. I have at least 3 edits ahead of me before the novel is even ready to go to my agent, much less make its way to editors. It might never sell at all, I might start all over, but wherever my novel's story ends, one thing is certain: I can reliably write 6-8k a day on any book in any world. And that, my friends, is awesome.