Monday, November 29, 2010

god, architect, and janitor

I have been working pretty much all the time on Eli book 4, The Spirit War. This is the most intensely I think I've ever worked on a book over such a long period of time. Day after day I write/edit for at least 4 hours of intense focus. Four hours may not sound like much, but I am a tiny, crushed creature when I finish. It's like waking up from a drinking binge, I feel disoriented coming back to the real world after being god, architect, and janitor in mine. Sometimes I literally have to sit and wait five minutes before driving home from the coffee shop where I go to write and flee my child (he has learned that I still exist when I go into a room he can not see, so I must leave the house or the sitter gets no peace) because I don't trust myself to drive in a straight line.

It's a crazy experience to be sure, but I can almost taste this book. I'm tugging on the strings as hard as I can, trying to pull it all together with the right timing, the right emotion, and with all the loose ends bound in. I will say, though, after 5 books written, this is the first one where I've truly felt like an author and not just some writer who's somehow tricked people into publishing her. I feel more in charge of my work, more together, more capable of spinning larger things. I can't decide if this is a real shift in the way I write or a coping mechanism for this novel. Either way, I'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

my favorite review of the moment

From SFFANZ: (I'm reposting the whole thing here since it is short and I love it so, please go check out their other reviews!)

"In contrast to a lot of the fantasy I’ve been reading lately, The Spirit Thief is fun, fluffy, light and a glorious sweet soufflĂ© of a novel. It’s still highly original – any novel that begins with the hero in jail, chatting up the door into letting loose of its frame and thus letting him out is at least somewhat fresh out of the box. And then we discover that getting locked up was all part of his plan to steal a king! Unlike many fantasies, which bog down in details, this one keeps the action going. I was particularly pleased with the handling of the climatic sequence. Now, the climax is generally the best reading in any novel, but in a lot of fantasy novels it can be over all too quickly. But here, the climactic action begins on page 230 and keeps going until 286. Now, that makes over fifty pages of the fun bit. It’s impressively handled, and followed by a tidy resolution. The characters are interesting and well developed, without too many minor non-entities cluttering up the background. The lady writes a fair sentence, plots neatly, has a cheerful sense of humour, and I’m really rather looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book."

I am a squee-filled author. This pretty much sums up EXACTLY what I was going for when I wrote the book. I can not express how lovely it feels when someone really, really gets it.

I love every review, even the bad ones, because I always learn something about my writing. But the best part about keeping an eye on reviews is when you see something like this and know that, at least for this person, you did it right. Thank you, SFFANZ reviewer. You have made my horrible-to-this-point day infinitely better.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The Book Smugglers have reviewed The Spirit Thief! And while Thea have some criticisms (criticisms that have been repeated in almost all the mixed reviews, actually, many of which I have taken to heart while writing book 4 because writing-is-an-ever-evolving-thing, so on and so forth), she mostly seemed to have enjoyed herself. So I'm counting that as a win.

I can't tell you how strange and giddy seeing reviews pop up feels, even after months of them. To know that there are people out in the real world reading my book who are in no way related to me or obligated by friendship. And then they review it! And say thought provoking things! It still blows my mind.

Anyway, if you're wanting a fair review of the Spirit Thief, check out the link above. Or, just go read the 2 free chapters I have posted on my site (link to the left, top of the sidebar). Most people know by the end of the first scene whether or not this book is for them. I very much hope you'll find that it's for you!

And for the people who have read my book, please know that it's a 5 book series, not a trilogy as seems to be going around. I saw someone mention that The Spirit Rebellion is a terrible second book for a trilogy... and that would be true, except it's not a trilogy! Guess I need to ask Orbit to start printing 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, etc. on my spines or something.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Page 69 Test

The Spirit Thief undergoes The Page 69 Test, and Miranda's in the middle! Check it out!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giving away books today!

I have a guest post up over at SciFiGuy and I'm giving away books, 5 of em! Go over and check it out for a chance to win your choice of The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, or the as yet unreleased Spirit Eater!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Upcoming Events!

My lovely, lovely publisher Orbit Books, has sent me enormous boxes full of copies of all three of my books. Since that's a bit excessive even for a bragging shelf, I've spent the last several days setting up events to give them away to YOU! My wonderful readers! Here's what we've got coming up:

November 17th - I'm doing a guest blog post for SciFiGuy. I'll be giving away your choice of my books, The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, OR The Spirit Eater, which doesn't even get released until December! You can get it first, weeks before it hits the shelves, just by leaving a comment. How awesome is that?

December 1st - I'm doing an interactive question/answer session with Bitten By Books, again with give aways. Got a question about the Eli universe you want to ask me? If it's not a spoiler, I will give you the dish. If nothing else, it should be awesome fun AND a chance to win free books. Who doesn't like free stuff?

I'll keep posting updates as we get closer to the events, so keep your eyes peeled!

- Rachel

Friday, November 5, 2010

Now with RSS

Also, there is now an RSS link on the side bar for your subscription pleasure. This is probably way easier than waiting for me to post -__-...


cross post, like cross fire (but with less death)

At long last, I have a new post up at The Magic District! It's such a great blog. I really need to post more often.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Spirit Rebellion launches today!

So, The Legend of Eli Monpress book 2 officially launches today! Hooray! Of course, some bookstores have had it out for days already, BUT, today is the official release date! Here are some early reviews:

Rob Will Review: "I truly enjoyed The Spirit Thief. I flat out love The Spirit Rebellion. It’s so gratifying to see such a fantastic debut evolve into what is so far such a stunning series.", "The Spirit Rebellion is once again an engaging, fun fantasy romp. The characters still bicker a lot, there’s once again a conversation with a door, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Eli Monpress is incapable of ever being boring."

Could that be more wonderful!? I think not! So let us celebrate this momentous occasion with a little story...

Like most debut authors I only had 1 book finished when I got my agent and he sold The Spirit Thief to Orbit. The Spirit Rebellion was the first book I wrote on a deadline, under contract. It was a really different experience, because I still had a day job and responsibilities all the stuff I'd had while writing was still a hobby, only now I HAD to write and finish a book on time. The Spirit Rebellion was also the first sequel I'd ever written... talk about sink or swim.

I did a little sinking at the beginning. Originally, the book that became The Spirit Rebellion had a totally different plot that focused on Nico. But as I wrote, I kept running into problems where I had these huge exposition dumps. Great mountains of back story blocking the plot every way it turned. It was frustrating and worse, boring. But I had a deadline, so I kept going, but then, about 3 months before the book was due, I realized this wasn't going to work. The book had a fundamental flaw, the story I was trying to tell required that the reader know way more information than The Spirit Thief provided - hence the mountains of exposition that kept cropping up. I couldn't keep going any more, I had to change the story.

Horrified, I called my editor and told her as best I could what had happened and that I needed more time. I wasn't really coherent, but she understood because Devi (my editor) is amazing and awesome like that. She gave me more time, and I frantically began work on a new plot that became the book we now know as The Spirit Rebellion.

The choice to jump ship to an entirely new plot when I had 3/4 of the book already written was one of the hardest choices of my life, but let me make it clear that it was also THE BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE. Caps lock best. I went from stumbling through exposition to racing through a fantastic caper. Also, this new plot gave me the most delightful villain the Eli series has had up to this point. Plus, this book was the genesis of the best editorial advice I have ever received, when Devi told me to, quote, "torture more doors."

Read the book and you will understand how brilliant a suggestion this was.

In the end, everything turned out for the best. The new Spirit Rebellion plot was one of the best little capers I've ever come up with and I was able to reuse large chunks of the old plot in book 3, The Spirit Eater, thanks to book 2 giving me the room to lay all that exposition foundation naturally, neatly avoiding the dreaded info dump.

All that said, I have only one more thing to throw out there. If you read The Spirit Thief and liked it at all, please give The Spirit Rebellion a try. It's the book I wish I could have written first. Please, do it for Eli. :D