Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two new reviews of The Spirit Eater in one day!

Be warned, both contain some spoilers. So if you haven't read the first two books, run and do that first and then read these! :D

"It has been a pleasure to watch these characters grow as the series progresses, and the world around them has only become more fascinating as Aaron reveals different lands, peoples, and events in each of the books; these are the sort of books that prompt late night dashes to bookstores in order to secure the next adventure, for who can bear to be left out of such a good time?" - Book Geeks

"Rachel Aaron gives the impression that she simply enjoys writing, and that enjoyment is contagious. Her prose has a fun, sly tone to it that’s genuinely enjoyable to read... If you’ve read and enjoyed the first two books, you should have no problem with this and will probably love The Spirit Eater, as it’s the best book of the bunch so far." - Fantasy Literature

Can't ask for more than that on a Tuesday, can you?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

House cleaning

The wonderful Devi has returned my edits for Book 4, so my little vacation is at a close. Le sigh. But, it's always great to get an editorial letter with the words "minor changes" on it. WOO. There is much much much to be done, but at least there's no moving mountains this time around.

I do want to take a sec here and dispell some weird mis-information about the series that's going on, for which I will use this handy bulleted list icon!

  • The Legend of Eli Monpress is a 5 book series, not a trilogy. I can understand the confusion! Trilogies are a standard series size, and we did have 3 books coming out all together with matching covers. But no, there are more! The Spirit Eater would be a terrible book to end a series on anyway. I don't even want to think about all the questions left hanging. But fear not! There are 2 more books where all questions shall be answered!
  • The Spirit Thief is not urban fantasy. Unless you count the fact that the book does take place in a city, the Spirit Thief could in no way be described as urban fantasy. I know it has a photo on the cover! I know it's blue-toned! But work with me, here. Take the book, turn it over. That's right, easy. There! What you are looking at is a blurb filled with kidnapped kings, wizards, and swords. Definitely fantasy, just not urban. Now, the book has been described as having urban fantasy pacing (which I will take any day over epic fantasy pacing), but it is not, in fact, urban. Deep felt apologies to anyone who was disappointed by the lack of vampires! 
  • The Spirit Thief is not a romance. Again, I get it - photo cover of a cute, snarky guy, blue tones, but no. Though Eli does open his shirt in the climax (it makes total sense at the time! I promise!), there's no time for love, Doctor Jones. Of course, this doesn't mean characters don't fall in love over the course of the books, just that romance is not a central theme (unless you count Eli's romance with his bounty).
I'm sure there are more, but those are the three I keep hearing. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with trilogies or urban fantasy or romance (I actually hope to write all three in the future), I'm just saying that's not what I've written this time around. So, gentle reader, if you hear/see anyone assuming any of the above, please do me a huge favor and gently correct them (and then send them over to my site so they can read the first chapters!).

<3 Rachel

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Spirit Eater eats reviews!

A mere nine days after launch and we've got some lovely reviews for the third novel in Eli's series - The Spirit Eater! I have gathered some choice samples below for your convenience...

"The latest Monpress Spirit fantasy (The Spirit Thief) is a super tale... However, even with Eli at his outrageously charming thieving best, what makes this a super tale is the internal conflict within Nico as the demon inside her battles for control with her essence in a sort of fantasy version of dissociative identity disorder." - Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round

" Whilst this is the third (and sadly for now) final offering in this series/world to date, it’s definitely been one that’s been a real joy to read. Her descriptiveness is crisp; the characters a barrel load of fun to hang around and perhaps most importantly the type of people that you’d like to hang around the pub with." - Falcata Times

"This series has been one of my favorite this year. I can't think of a series where I've liked every single character as much as I do in these books. My concerns in the review of first volume of Rachel Aaron overusing magic and powerful characters in the series has come to seem silly to me as she has weaved her tale with a masterful balance. I couldn't recommend this book more to anyone interested in a fun fantasy adventure series." - Jeremy Shane, The Outhousers

And though the give away is sadly over, you can still read my full interview about The Spirit Eater and other tibits about the Eli world over at Bitten By Books!

Feel free to post in the comments if you see reviews I've missed, or if you want to leave one of your own ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog comment problems

I got an email today about problems posting on the blog, so I've made some changes to the permissions. Hopefully Blogger will now be less stupid. If you've had problems posting in the past this should hopefully fix them! Sorry about that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Live Q&A today!

At Bitten By Books! Starting noon central time I'll be around all day to answer questions about the Eli books and generally gab. I'm also giving away a TON of books, so stop by, say hi, and win yourself something awesome!

See you there!

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."

Fantasyliterature.com, "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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thought for the Day

I hate a lot of strange things. Not that the things are strange themselves, but that it is strange to feel an emotion strong enough to name "hate" towards them. Yesterday, I added a new entry: People who use absolutes seriously in conversation with no intention of owning up to them.

For example, I watch Hoarders on A&E (warning, link has auto play) (If you have not seen this show, watch it, it will make you a cleaner person if nothing else!), a show about, well, hoarders, people who obsessively fill their houses with trash until they're climbing over piles of cat shit to get to their kitchen. I'm not exaggerating! In these shows, child protective services gets involved a lot, because several of these people have young children living in this filth. When this happens, the hoarder will always cry into the camera and declare that they love their children more than ANYTHING and they'll do ANYTHING for them.

Then, of course, when the crew tries to CLEAN their child's filthy room, which the hoarder made filthy by filling it with their junk and/or (mostly and) cats, the hoarder pitches a fit about their stuff getting thrown away an has a meltdown.

This is about where I hit the ceiling. How can someone stand there and say they love their children absolutely and will do anything for them, and then fill their baby's room with trash? How does that even get started? I know there's mental illness involved and I should be more understanding, but this is why I could NEVER be a therapist or a psychiatrist. If I was on that show, I would stand that hoarder in front of every piece of trash and say "This broken lamp or your child, choose." And when they started fighting back, I'd say "I thought you'd do anything for your child?"

Hoarder: "I would, but-"

Me: "There's no but in anything."

I guess I watch too much anime and read too much fantasy, because I think that, when you declare an absolute in seriousness, especially something like your dedication to your family, those shouldn't be empty words.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amazon.com is my master now

I'm sick today. However, I am ruminating on how pleased I am to be sick in the age of laptops.

Couple more reviews popping up!

Civilian Reader had some lovely things to say, for which I was very pleased. Also, Atsiko, one of my book winners came through stunningly with a very in depth and thoughtful review. (If anyone else has posted reviews I'm missing, please let me know!) More reviews are showing up on Amazon, mostly positive ones, (and some from contest winners!) for which I am very grateful. There's something about Amazon reviews that make me freeze like a deer in the headlights. I think it's because I do almost all my book buying off Amazon.com and I often depend on their reviews to make that final purchasing decision. This makes me give my reviews on Amazon special weight.

Confessional of the Day
I used to day dream a lot about being an author, but one of the things I never thought I'd do is obsessively check my Amazon sales rank. I know it's meaningless, I know Amazon.com represents a pathetic sliver of the book market, I know I am wasting my life checking the page every hour, but I can't stop. It has become an obsession, because it's the only number I have. As someone who plays a lot of videogames, I have a tense relationship with numbers. They must always be moving higher, or in this case, lower, whatever direction is good. They can not be stagnating.

Every time I check my Amazon rank, my husband reminds me of this. But... but... OH GOD WHY AM I IN THE 100,000s? Wait, now I'm in the 10,000s! That's cool! I am not a failure and... NOOOOO, 40,000. X___X

Amazon, your power terrifies me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reviews and News

First up, a very, very nice and thoughtful review from Mihir at Fantasy Book Critic. I especially love the comparison of the League of Storms to a magical military. This makes me a very happy cat for reasons that will become more apparent as the books come out... and that's all I'll say about that :3.

Next, my lovely UK editor Anna emailed to let me know that The Spirit Thief has officially launched in the UK! Hooray! For all my readers across the pond, I very much hope you enjoy the lovely edition of the book Orbit's UK division has put out.

And finally, all the books from my 24 hour book giveaway have been shipped to the winners! Most went out on Monday, but I mailed the last 2 yesterday. Now everything rests in the hands of the US post office, take that as you will!

In totally unrelated news, WOW Cataclysm comes out on December 7th. The fourth Eli book is due December 1. This is lovely timing, because I want to gorge on Warcraft non-stop, and that need to play is the most powerful motivator to get the book on time done I could ask for.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

holy free books, batman!

Big stuff today!

First, I have a guest post up at Kalayna's Price's blog as a part of her blog party! Will there be cake, sadly no. The cake was a lie. But there will be words! Many of them! Tasty ones, go check it out!

Second, to celebrate the official launch of the Spirit Thief tomorrow, I'm doing a 24 hour book give away over at The Magic District. Go and win yourself an autographed copy of The Spirit Thief!

Also, more reviews are up! Fantasy Literature caught the hint of darker things to come, and kudos are in order, because they are right. I will come out and say right now that the series does get more serious as the books go on. After all, Eli can't be irresponsible forever. The repercussions of his lifestyle have to catch up eventually, and I'll just leave it at that ;). Owlcat Mountain calls The Spirit Thief a "bang-up beginning to what promises to be an intriguing and unique tale of magic and mayhem." All I can say is wow, I wish I'd thought of that line! I would have totally used it in my pitch letter! Thanks guys!

Final note: More pictures of Eli on the shelves, this time courtesy of Kalayna Price. Thanks Kalayna!

Eli smirks in the face of the Dark Side!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eli spotted in the wild!

(Photo courtesy of Matt Albin via Facebook. Thanks Matt!)

I've heard numerous reports of The Spirit Thief being spotted on bookstore shelves, but now we have photographic evidence! Hooray!! Eli looks so handsome next to his bookish brethren! If you happen to be in a bookstore over the next few days, poke your head into the fantasy section. I'd love to know if this is a fluke sighting, or if Eli is truly out for real.

Unfortunately, my husband has been sick as a dog with walking pneumonia since last week, so I haven't gotten a chance to haunt bookstores myself. He has very poor timing! However, as soon as he's not a pathetic creature, I'm going to go to the Athens bookstores and haunt the shelves.

Also! I finally got my act together and go on Twitter (as shown by my nifty new ticker on the sidebar). Come check me out if you're into that kind of thing, I promise I'll try to be interesting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

writing problem of the moment

The baby won't let me get 15 minutes to write on my novel, so here is a quick blog post.

My laptop's N key stopped working (very annoying when so many of your characters have n's in their names - Nico, Slorn, and Miranda, I hate you. (NOT REALLY DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT)), so I've been writing on an old, POS computer with a copy of MSWord that doesn't like putting bookmarks in. You see, normally when I'm working through a section to edit it and I have to stop for the day, I'll just insert a bookmark called "EDIT" wherever I stopped. This way I can jump back to my place with a simple click the next time I get a chance to write. Clever, right?

Well, now that fail computer with its fail copy of Word won't play nice with bookmarks, I've been just typing the word EDIT into my manuscript wherever I stop and using the search function to jump back to my place the next time I open the file. Usually, this works great. I use it when I have to write in OpenOffice too. But this time, not so good. See, I have a character named Gredit who gets mentioned a lot in book 4. Gredit... plus a dumb search feature that refuses to respect "whole words only"...

You see where this is going...

So search hops to every mention of Gredit's name before finding my actual "EDIT" marker. I suppose I could stop being so ghetto and get a better copy of MSWord, but right now all I can think about is how deeply I regret naming Gredit Gredit.

When people ask me what's the hardest part about being a writer, they get stories like this.

GAH x 10^9

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eli in the UK

Got the UK edition of The Spirit Thief in the mail yesterday, and it looks lovely. I have to admit, I love the way the English do books. The paper is so silky, and the book itself is nice and large, a good bit larger than the American version, actually. (This isn't to say I don't love the American version too, I love all versions of my books!)

I'd post pictures, but honestly you probably couldn't tell the difference unless you were holding it, other than the size. So just imagine a trade paper back with the Spirit Thief's cover (seen in the side bar) and you'd be on track.

More reviews are coming in, including this one from Sporadic Book Reviews. I don't think I will ever stop feeling giddy and humbled when people review my books!

Also, there have been reports of people getting their books in the mail from preorder already, 2 weeks from the launch date. Gun jumping? Maybe, but if people are happy, I'm not complaining. I am going to start preordering more books I want, though. Books 2 weeks early? Yes, please!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As you can tell by the dirth of posts, DragonCon was fun. The costumes, the good weather, the unabashed geekery, the endless walking! ( Ok, some of these things were better than others...) Over all, an excellent time. I handed out my little booklets (over 800 of them), and they seemed well received in general. Whether or not they were a true success is something only time will tell. Still, no one can say I didn't try! (That said, if you got a booklet and it let you here, please let me know!)

However, perhaps the MOST fun at DragonCon was getting to meet other authors! This will never, ever get old. Probably the best event was Kalayna Price (whose debut novel Grave Witch comes out in October!) inviting me to come have drinks with her and author A.J. Hartley. Alas, thanks to the DCon crowds, drinks were not to be had unless you were willing to die of old age in the line at the bar. Tragedy was, however, averted as Kalayna, being clairvoyant, or just very prepared, had brought a flask. Such a useful thing did not even cross my mind. I obviously have much to learn about con going!

In other ways Kalayna is more together than I am, she's hosting a blog party right now to celebrate her book's release! I will be doing a post as well towards the end of the month, but don't wait for me. Go check it out now!

And now, back to work on that fourth Eli novel with that pesky December deadline...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DragonCon! For Real!

The con approaches! I will be there handing out real life, 3d, tactile sample chapters of The Spirit Thief! (Thank you again to Devi and Lauren at Orbit for making these look amazing!)

As you can see, they're conveniently pocket sized! I'll be handing these little beauties out all over the con, but mostly at the long lines where people need reading material most of all. If you happen to be at DragonCon, look for this suspicious person:

(Hint, I'll be the one with the handcart full of tiny blue books).

Come find me! I'd love to say hello (and foist some books on you!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

geekery extreme

It is a well known fact that I am not only a fantasy geek, I am also a typography geek. As such, this project made me squee on many levels.

A typography designer updated Tolkien's elvish script for the modern age. It's elivin Helvetica!

Mind: blown.

Monday, August 30, 2010


(30% shamelessly cross-posted from the front page news)

Closer to launch day and more reviews are starting to surface. SciFi Chick says "Full of humor and suspense, this action-packed fantasy adventure is highly enjoyable. If anything, this fast-paced novel was too short, having read it in just a few short hours. Fantasy fans will love this extraordinary new series." Now I'm blushing! Also, Genre Go Round calls The Spirit Thief an "amusing tongue in cheek thriller" which was kind of what I called it in my query. Was I just really right, or is Ms. Klausner reading my mail? The world may never know...

And since there's way more room here than up front, here's the link to Rob's excellent review at Rob Will Review. This one is from about a month ago, but it always makes me giggle like a school girl. I'll stop posting it when it stops making me happy (read: never).

Also! The folks at Good Reads have a lot to say. Some of it good, some of it not as good as I would hope. However, most of the complaints seem to be in the "this is too light for me" vein, to which I say, that's fair. It is a light, funny, fast book, and that's not everyone's flavor. However, I do hope that, even if you tend to like your fantasy on the heavy side, you will give the book a try (I make it so easy! You can read the first two chapters right now, for free, right here!). A little laughter and is good for the soul, you know?

And just a note to anyone wondering how I find these reviews, there is no author network that funnels them to me. I find everything the same way you do, Google! So if you've written a review or read one that I've missed, mea culpa! Let me know by leaving a comment here and I'll post it on the blog and front page.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

nothing is sacred any more

Last night my husband pointed out that the muffins I make for breakfast, my delicious cardamom, golden raisin, walnut, orange, carrot and oat muffins made with whole wheat flour, are, in fact, bad for me. DO NOT TELL ME THESE THINGS. The muffins have WHEAT BRAN in them. I put it in MYSELF. Sure they have 2 cups of sugar, but I can't eat cookies, ice cream, chocolate, cake, or ANYTHING I LIKE. DO NOT TAKE MY MUFFINS FROM ME YOU-

*deep breath to prevent murder of spouse*

I've never tried cocaine, and after seeing how I've dealt with the loss of sugar, I don't think I ever will. I obviously can not be mature about these things.

I'm going to go eat a god damn muffin.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My peeps

Orbit, my lovely, lovely publisher, is turning 3! And to celebrate this momentous event, Publisher's Weekly has a pretty neat little article on the ways Orbit is bringing new ideas to the Fantasy/SciFi genre shelves. A very interesting read for anyone who likes to know what goes on behind the scenes of the book publishing world. There was stuff in here even I didn't know.

Of course, Orbit is using their fantastic 1-2-3 publishing strategy for the first 3 books of my series, The Legend of Eli Monpress. I would say that it worked fantastically for Brent Weeks, but Brent also wrote a very awesome series in the Night Angel Trilogy, which certainly didn't hurt. Still, here's hoping the same strategy gets my books out to an equally large pool of readers.

In other "my publisher is so cool" news, Orbit has created a series of amazingly awesome graphs showing trends inside the fantasy genre in typical Orbit mega-style. If you don't understand how graphs can be awesome, you obviously haven't seen these yet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's 99% decided that I will be at DragonCon this year. Not as a guest or anything so special, but I will be around and handing out preview booklets for the Spirit Thief. If you're going to be at DCon too and want to hang out, leave a comment or, better yet, drop me a line and we'll see what we can do!

Friday, August 13, 2010

New post up on the Magic District

I explore a fundamental truth of series writing and wonder WTF is up with Monster High.

But I hate a too-short post, so here is another link to some amazing and inspiring landscape pictures! I could not write without beautiful and dramatic landscapes on my computer, which is strange because a lot of the time the landscapes in my books are fairly tame. I should change that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

awsomesauce, also, win some books

Sorry if this is old news to some, but I'd never seen it before and I've been laughing about it for way longer than I probably should have:

It's true, Chuck Norris has nothing on Gaiman the Great.

I've been a pretty big fan of Jim Hines ever since I read his princess books, and if you haven't given him a look over, you're doing yourself a disservice. However, today you're in luck! Ann Aguirre is running a Jim Hines fact contest and giving away copies of all his books as prizes. So if you know that Jim Hines is the reason goblin is now a legal entry on the US Census form, go there and take a shot at winning! Who doesn't love free books?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

changing flavors

As I write book 4 of The Legend of Eli Monpress, I find that my way of thinking is changing little by little. Or, rather, my way of thinking about my audience is changing. I'm always saying that writing is not a performance art (i.e., it doesn't matter if I skip some horrible scene and leave a giant red note that says "REPLACE WITH SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T SUCK" so long as I actually remember to replace it), but writing does have an audience, even if it's just an imaginary one, and the way I see that audience changes the book I write.

Back when I was still an aspiring author my audience was very simple, I was writing for agents and editors. While the average book reader doesn't see hundreds of fantasy plots every week, these people do. So it wasn't enough just to write a good book, I had to have a new, fresh good book. My audience was rushed, distracted, and I had one paragraph to make my case that mine was a book worth reading. Knowing this, I was desperate to make The Spirit Thief the most exciting, grabbing, original, fast-paced romp of a story I could squeeze into 80,000 words.

Of course, I'm still trying to do that, but now that my books are actually coming out and I'm working on the 4th book in the series rather than the first, things are different. My audience isn't made of just publishing people, but all kinds of people. People who, in this case, have already read and hopefully enjoyed 3 other books I wrote about my wizard thief and all the problems he ends up in. These people have done me the great honor of sticking along and letting me entertain them and allowing me to keep writing books, and for book 4, they are my primary audience. So the focus of my writing is shifting away from "how can I make this book really good?" to "how can I make this book holy shit awesome for people who've read the other books?" Because really, I read a lot of series, and there is nothing, NOTHING more disappointing and insulting than an author who lets her later books slide. I vow to never, ever become that person.

This new focus is actually a lot more fun to write, though. I know I can trust my audience to know most of the basics of the world, and that lets me dive right into the action. But it's also really really stressful because the bar is so high. People are rooting for these characters. If I flub a scene, someone will be horribly disappointed in me. That's some kind of pressure, and my books aren't even out yet! Still, I've always been the kind of person who gets more focused under stress, and so far, book 4 is shaping up to be the most complicated and, I think, most character driven of all the Eli novels. Also the most intense, especially with what I've got planned for the end. Trust me, you will be standing up in your chair screaming at me when you read this ending. Or at least I hope you will.

This is the new bar, and I'm putting everything I've got into jumping it. As Eli would say "Just don't flub things and it will all work out fine."

Humph. Easy for him to say.

Monday, August 9, 2010

CSS programmer is a great subjob to writer!

Ok, fixed my homepage and everything to point to this blog as my new blog, complete with nifty buttons. If you got here from there, congratulations! Things work!

Back when I had a day job (and a life), I was a CSS programmer and designer for a web dev company. This has been IMMEASURABLY useful in pretty much everything I do. For example, when my editor says "hey, BEA's coming up. You need a website!" - there's no problem. Bam, website. Of course, it also helps if your husband is a PHP programmer. I did not design my homepage, that I left in the capable hands of Mr. Ryan White, who is the soul of The Thornhill Group and the best and most artistic designer I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Check out his page, you won't be disappointed.

I'll probably be redesigning the site in a year or so, but until then, I'm going to enjoy the distressed beige.

If anyone has opinions on the site (good, bad, or neutral), or if there's anything you'd like on the site that I've left out, let me know! I'm always looking to make things better.

Friday, August 6, 2010

fresh coat of paint, ready to go

Ok, so I have now taken my old blog and officially made it into my new blog! There are a few Magic District cross-posts here just to get things a tad more up-to-date, but that's not going to happen after today.

So, now that's out, what is on this blog? Fun stuff, hopefully. Starting with tonight's topic: writing to music.

When I wrote my first novel (the one I never sold that came before The Spirit Thief), I listened to the Amelie soundtrack on constant repeat. Looking back, I don't really know why. The songs didn't match the novel at all. Music was just always something I had on whenever I was at my computer, and the Amelie soundtrack, being mostly instrumental, was safe and easy to zone out to. Now I can't hear any of the songs without immediately going back to the world of my first novel, which is both cool and kind of sad, because I would love to be able to watch Amelie again without being reminded of the book I never sold.

I had several flubbed starts at novels before finally settling in to write what became the Spirit Thief, and it was during these that I learned not to be afraid of silence. There's something hypnotic about the clicking of keys and nothing else. But I felt I should have something, so I tried relaxation music, chill techno, even those cheap-o CDs with forest sounds (which are creepy as shit when you leave them on repeat in a room and forget they're going). But the more I wrote, the more I realized that music was a distraction until, eventually, I phased it out all together. Now, I can't have anything on while I'm writing or I get horribly distracted. This is weird, because I can write in a crowded coffee shop or library no problem, but music at home? Forget it.

I feel like a real weirdo about this, though, since I know lots of authors love music to help set the mood when they write, even going so far as to make playlists for their characters. I just never got into that part of character development. Still, I respect those people who can write with music. Though I maintain that nothing is better than hearing your characters voices in your head and nothing else. That is the best music of all.

I'm curious though, if you're a writer, do you work with music on or not?

Friday, May 28, 2010

hotcakes? Mmmmm… hotcakes

So my lovely, lovely editor has informed me that my books were proudly on display at the Orbit table at BEA and that the were, quote, “snatched up like hotcakes.” Now, as someone who can eat her weight in cake of any sort, I was very happy to hear this. This has, however, led to obsessive googling of myself to see if anyone’s said anything yet. I’m not proud of this. I like to think that I’m a pretty secure person. I mean, I never google my exes. But writing a book does a number on your brain. I think it’s because book writing is so investing. Sure other people helped, but at the end of the day, that book is me. I did that. So, even through my iron wall of confidence, the googling slips through.

So if you have a copy and have an opinion and are thinking about posting that opinion on line, do it! I’d love to read it! Even if you hated it (which I sincerely hope you don’t), I’d still love to read it just to know that someone read it and felt strongly enough about it to write something. Any review is always a gift, and as with all gifts, it’s the thought that counts.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

supporting your writers!

(cross posted from The Magic District)

So my first book, The Spirit Thief, comes out in October. So far away! But considering I've been a published author for nigh on 2 years now, that's relatively quite close! Now that this whole publishing gig is worming its way towards reality, people keep asking me how they can support my blinking, blind, newborn career.

Now, I have lovely friends and family and am honored and flattered beyond all telling that they would want to stick their necks and hard earned dollars out for me. But I don't want them to waste their time or their money, so when they ask me "Rachel, what can I do to support your novel?", this is how I answer, condensed in useful list form!

How to Support Your Favorite Novelist Without Spending More Than 15 Minutes or the Price of the Book You Were Hopefully Going to Buy Anyway

  1. Wait until 2 weeks before the book's launch before doing anything - This is the most vital time for support. Any sooner and people might forget, any later and you miss those vital initial numbers that mean so much to publishers. You can of course talk it up earlier, but save anything big, and the actual purchase, until this crucial time.

  2. Preorder the book - Since you were (hopefully!) going to buy the book anyway, this is the best way to do it. Preorders boost an otherwise unknown book up the Amazon or B&N or whatever seller you prefer's list. Strong preorder numbers lead to more and bigger book orders from retailers, which make your author look really good!

  3. Leave an honest, informative review - Of course, we all love good reviews, but honesty is the most important. A page full of glowing reviews that ultimately say nothing won't draw readers, but even a 3 star review highlighting the book's pros and cons can lead sometimes lead to sales. After all, one person's gripe can be another person's love. Hopefully, your author has written a book that earns your giddy fandom, but even if you didn't like it as much as you'd hoped, write about it.

  4. Mention the book on your social media - Twitter shoutouts, facebook links, blog posts, they all help to raise a book's profile. Even if the only people who follow you are your family and that guy from high school who kind of creeped you out but you don't want to unfriend because you don't want to be rude. You don't have to spam or be particularly verbose, you even copy/paste the review you wrote for the book's sales page, just say something and get the title out there. Every little bit helps.

As Cory Doctorow says, an SF writer's biggest problem is obscurity. Anything you do, even if it's just one post, can be a big help thanks to the ripple effect of the internet, and your author will love you forever.

(Also, when I was typing the above I misspelled Cory Doctorow's name and Google's (I use Chrome) spellcheck corrected me. Folks, that is fame right there, when your name is in Google's spellcheck. )

Anyway, that's my list. You tell me, did I leave anything out? Mess anything up? Let me know!

Friday, April 30, 2010

author toolbox: the three hooks

(Cross posted from The Magic District)

One of the biggest problems I've had with my writing is excess flab. I have a bad habit of putting in scenes that I like (important, wonderful, fantastically written scenes) just because I like them, and not because that's where they should actually go (or be in the novel at all). This led to really big, unsellable books full of tension killing, scared cow scenes that went nowhere. It took me a lot of editing (and a lot of bad feedback) to finally learn my lesson: just because a scene is good does not mean it has a place in your novel. The good ship book is a small vessel. There's no room for scenes that don't pull their weight. But I'm an author. I generally like everything I write on some level (otherwise, why would I write it?) So how do I know what DOES belong?

To combat this problem, I created a checklist I call "the three hooks". Whenever I am planning a novel, the first thing I do is write out everything that happens. If I don't know what happens, this is when I figure it out. Some authors can just get an idea and go, and I do that a lot, too, but in the end novels always come back to their essence: a pile of scenes leading the reader from the beginning to the end. Once I have this pile of scenes, either in finished or outline form, I take each scene and I apply a set of standards. For the scene to pass, it must:

  • Advance the story

  • Reveal new information

  • Pull the reader forward

Without all three of these elements, a scene, no matter how good or beloved, is just wasted words. A scene that does not advance the story, like a flashback revealing character information that is not pertinent to the story, may be brilliantly written, but it does nothing for the book. A scene that does not reveal new information, say a talking head recap scene, may be chock full of snappy dialog, but it does nothing for the book. A scene that does not pull the reader forward, say a break in the narrative where everyone is happy and all their needs are met, may be very cathartic for the author, but it does less than nothing for the book. In fact, I'd say a scene like that would give you negative progress. Resolved tension leads to put down books, and that is not what we want!

These hooks don't have to be obvious (in fact, the more creatively you can hide them, the better things get), but they do have to be there to keep the story rolling. These are the hooks that keep your reader reading, the tiny little claws of interest you constantly need to wiggle into the reader's brain to keep them turning pages. If every scene in your novel moves the plot ahead, reveals new and important information, and gives the reader a reason to turn the page and move on to the next scene, then you've got a book that a reader can not put down, and that is what it's all about.