Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Spirit War news!

Hello all!

Well, it's been a pretty exciting month here at Casa de Aaron. First off, I got the news that The Spirit War has gone into its second printing! This means ya'll bought enough books that they had to reprint them, so those of you who already have books are now in possession of first editions. How cool is that? Answer: Quite.

But that's not all! The Spirit War hit a list! Okay, not a big list, not even a very well known list, but it did hit #8 for Books on Board's best selling titles of June. Apparently, Books on Board is the "largest independent online retailer of eBooks," so thank you for that, Google alerts! I'll take whatever list I can get :D.

In reviews, we've got two new ones, and they're both awesome. First up, SciFi Chick ate up the Spirit War! Next, we have Owlcat Mountain's thoughtful review that I really enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who reviews the book, it really, really helps.

And finally, on the writing front, my friend John Hartness, author of The Black Knight chronicles and all around hilarious individual, used my 2k-10k method to double his daily writing. Folks, this is what it's all about. It doesn't matter if you hit 10k or 1k, so long as I helped you write more, I am super happy!

And that's about it! Just finished up a huge deadline, so I am taking it chillllllll. I hope you're beating the heat as well :D


Monday, June 18, 2012

When writing fast is not enough

Last Friday night I finished my 10th book. Hooray! That's a million and a half words (not counting the ones I tossed) over the 8 years I've been writing seriously. And of those 10 novels, 4 were written last year and 2 were written this year so far. Ahh, the difference of life in the fast lane...

But that's not actually what I wanted to talk about today. I wanted to talk about what happens when plans fall through. If you look at the numbers above, you might notice something odd. Most novels run about 100-120k. At 10k a day, it should only take me 10-12 days to write a book. 14 days if you count in backtracking. Oh, hell, why be stingy? Let's make it a month per book. Add in another month for editing and I should be clearing 6 books a year no sweat.

Last year I wrote 4 books, but I didn't figure out the 2k-10k trick until May, so that was 5 months of bad numbers. Also, 2 of those books (the final 2 Eli novels) were 170k plus, so that also put me back. Still, 4 books ain't bad, especially in my first year of fast writing. Back in January, I was pumped for 2012 to be a banner year. I was ready to go for broke with 7 books in 12 months. I already had the blog posts in mind. :D

But it didn't work out that way. Today is 6/18, over halfway through the year, and I'm just finishing my second book of 2012. This with the first book (currently with my agent) mostly written last year. Looking at my records, I've been working on the first draft of book #10 since 3/13/2012. That's almost 3 months exactly on a 120k novel that's the sequel to the novel I wrote in 12 days last year.

*Insert incoherent noises of rage*

I've spent my downtime this weekend trying to figure out what went wrong here to make sure it never happens again. Unfortunately, the answer isn't that simple, because it ties into the nature of writing itself.

If you keep up with my blog, you've probably already heard that novels are wicked problems. You don't know how to solve them until you've solved them, or, more poetically, you have to write the book to learn how to write the book. For novel #10, this applied in spades.

See, when I sat down to write it, I was pretty confident. I had a rock solid plot planned out, I was writing a sequel, so world building was already done, and I love love loved my main character. This was the novel I was supposed to write during my #novelin14days hashtag on twitter, and for 10 of those days, I was golden. Then the problems began.

First, I'd just like to say it wasn't a plotting problem. The story map I wrote out way back in March changed very little from the planning stage to the finished novel. What changed was the execution, the how of what happened, not the what.

Execution problems are the worst kind to have in a novel because there have no right answers, but some answers are more right than others, and you don't know which answer is better until after you've written one that doesn't work. For example, my book opens with the main character burying a friend. Plot wise, it's pretty simple: Main character digs grave in desert, but I rewrote this scene 5 times because I just couldn't get the tone right. It's a first scene, so it has to be punchy, but we're digging a grave, so it has to be somber. I have to remind the reader what happened in the last book (and why we're digging this grave) without info dumping. I also have to sum up my MC's extremely convoluted mental state in a few snappy sentences that would actually make sense for her to say.

But Rachel, you say, that's writing. Of course you have to do all this stuff! And to you I say, you're right. I just had a really hard time of it this time around.

Before I marked the book officially done on Friday, I'd rewritten it completely 3 times. I'd rewritten the beginning 5 times, added a prologue and completely redone the sequence of events at the end. I also cut and redid countless individual scenes. When I compiled my final copy in Scrivener, my cuts document was over 70k long. Seventy thousand words! That's nearly a whole novel of words just thrown away!

So what does all this mean? Well, in the final tally, my words per day average on this novel was 7.5k. Not 10k (though I had several 10k days), but not bad either. It wasn't like I was slacking. My writing speed was pretty good, but this is one of those cases where writing fast isn't enough. Even though I like to measure words in numbers, stories are not widgets. Some take longer than others, some give you fits. I planned this novel the same way I planned the first book in this series. That one took 12 days, this one took 3 months. The plot didn't change, I just refused to settle for bad scenes, so I kept writing until I figured it out.

This is the difference between being a hack and being a writer who writes fast. Even though it meant doing a lot of rewriting and taking a lot of extra time, I refused to settle for a scene that didn't fit or didn't do everything I wanted it to. Because in the end, it's not how fast you write, but how well.

No book leaves my house unless I'm proud of it. No scene stays in a book unless it's the right scene. Ten thousand words a day doesn't mean squat unless they're the right words. I'm two months behind where I thought I'd be and facing the fact that I might only get 4 books done this year instead of the 7 I wanted, but I finally have a book I'm proud of, and that's what matters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pretty damn awesome

I'm working on a new writing post about dealing with a novel that was giving me fits (even when you write it fast, you don't always write it right :(. More on that in a bit.). In the meanwhile, I wanted to pass on some awesome links!

First up, 7th Station reviewed THE SPIRIT WAR! Yay! Reviews are hugely important, thank you so much!

Next, and probably my most favorite thing ever, we have the new Eli Monpress fan tumbler, The Greatest Thief in the World. Eli approves enormously!

Okay, back to finishing up the paying work. <3s all around!

- R

Monday, June 11, 2012

In which I talk... ON THE INTERNET!

First up, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who bought and reviewed THE SPIRIT WAR! You guys rock my world hard core! I've had a lot of requests for a sample of SPIRIT'S END, the final novel, and I'll be putting that up as we get closer to November. Promise! Thank you all again for being so awesome, and remember, if you read a book and have an opinion, please review! Good or bad, every review goes a long long way to helping authors.

Okay, now for writing news!

I've been a busy girl these past few weeks, but two of my favorite projects both just came out at once. First, I did a really awesome podcast interview with the guys from The First Million Words about plotting, going faster, world development, all kinds of stuff! The questions were really insightful and I had a ton of fun. Get under some headphones and listen at work. If your boss asks, tell him/her you're learning about efficiency.

The other thing that just came out is my interview with Verbose Veracity. It was a very good interview where we dug deep into such weighty topics as tropes, keeping the excitement up for your work even when you're really sick of it, and beating writer's block.

Tons of thanks to the guys at First Million words and E.F. Jace at Verbose Veracity for putting up with my incredibly long winded answers. The proved what I've been saying all along: that I can and will talk shop forever.

Thank you to everyone and I really hope you enjoy!

- R

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to buy THE SPIRIT WAR in the UK

This is a blog post specifically for my fans across the waters, so everyone else can go look at cats or something.

So, as we all know, THE SPIRIT WAR is not coming out in print form in the UK until November when it will be released bundled together with SPIRIT'S END in a new omnibus edition called THE REVENGE OF ELI MONPRESS. 

But do not fret! There is still hope! If you don't mind reading with technology instead of with your fingers, THE SPIRIT WAR is out today in the UK in ebook form! Here are the links:

That's it for now, but I'll add more as they come up. I hope this helps people find the book before November!

- Rachel

EDITED TO ADD: If you don't mind reading American, you can also get the American version of THE SPIRIT WAR in print from The Book Depository with free world wide shipping! Only £7.89!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Two Blog Posts

Prepare for ultimate meta, for this is a blog post about blog posts!

It doesn't get more meta than this...
First, the lovely Book Smugglers are hosting me for a talk about inspirations for the Eli series and a book give away! So if you ever wondered how I came up with this lunacy (or if you just want to win a free book), head on over and check it out!

And second, I have a new blog over at Orbit Books called "Ten Things I Will Never Do." Here's a sample:

Now that the fourth Eli Monpress book, The Spirit War, is officially out, I feel the time has come to make some commitments. Three books is a long time, but four? That’s an investment. You, gentle reader, have stuck with me through two years, multiple covers, and an omnibus makeover, and for that you deserve something concrete. So, without further ado, here are ten things I swear to you on my still living mother’s grave that I will never do in the Eli series.
1. I will not place all power in an easily losable object
This is a classic, and better writers than I have fallen for its simple charms. But the Eli Monpress books have always been about personal problems on a global scale, and ain’t no one getting out that easily. So, despite the absolutely insane amount of epic magic flying around in the final Eli books, there is no Tesseract, One Ring, Sword of Omens, or Holy Grail. I know I’m killing my merchandising options here, but art requires sacrifice.
2. It will not end in a wedding or an awards ceremony
I couldn’t book John Williams or Hans Zimmer to do the music, so the plot had to be rewritten. Also, Eli refused to wear anything that might make him look respectable. A man has to think of his reputation.
3. Those fed to the Balrog will not come back
If you fall into a black pit beneath the world’s heart with a dark beast of legend to save the lives of your fellows, you’re staying down there. There will be no convenient reappearances later for plot’s sake. Kindly keep party members where you can see them at all times to prevent unnecessary loss.
Go over to Orbit and read the whole thing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Spirit War launches today!

So, today is the official launch day for THE SPIRIT WAR! I am very excited. You can buy it at bookstores everywhere or online at Amazon in print here or for Kindle here. And even though the book isn't coming out in the UK until November, you can still find it in ebook here starting June 7.

Of course, it's already been in stores for a few days...

but hey, today it's official. And the few early reviews have been really awesome! Seriously, I am blushing and jumping for glee at the same time. See for yourself:

  • "All in all an amazing read that I would whole heartedly recommend to anyone." - Watchamacallit Reviews
  • "All in all, you can not afford to miss The Spirit War. If I gave books ratings on a scale of one to ten, this one would go all the way up to eleven." - Stellar Four
I'll post more as they come in. If you have a review, please let me know and I'll totally put it up. 

So happy book birthday, Eli! Only one more to go...

Monday, June 4, 2012

A very good weekend!

I spent this weekend at ConCarolinas and it was amazing! Also, I got to meet fans!!

Me with @NillaCream @KaliArren and @kcawood! They drove a very long way to see me, and I gave them as much free stuff as I could. Lesson learned: Rachel will gladly bribe you to spend time with her! Thank you all so much for coming down!

I got to hang out with some amazing people, picked up some wicked books, and got called the octomom of novels, which I'm considering having engraved on my tombstone. But the best thing might have been when I got to hold a GIANT STUFFED APPA!

Happiness, it was mine. Sadly, Appa belonged to someone else and I could not steal him. I will just have to scour the internet until I find my own.

Again, I had an amazing time. Thanks to everyone who came to see me!