Monday, June 27, 2011

There Are No Writing Police

It's no secret that I enjoy lurking on writing message boards. First, I like being around that much excitement and creativity. It's just a good vibe, especially when I'm feeling down about my own work. Second, sometimes you find amazing gems... and I will leave the definition of gem up to your imagination. ;)

But sometimes (ok, most of the time), reading these boards makes me angry, especially the forums where people talk about publication, specifically whether or not something is "allowed." For example, a post asking whether or not it's ok to combine subgenres, (eg, an epic fantasy with superhero elements or a steampunk vampire romance (note to self, write steampunk vampire romance)), or if editors will automatically reject a werewolf book, or if you're allowed to put horror elements in your Regency, etc. And then people will post back and forth with the various pros and cons of whatever the question was, but by this point my husband is usually prying the keyboard out of my hands before I turn into a flaming troll.

So, in the interest of not being a troll on a forum, I will post my trollage here. Everyone, repeat after me:


If you are a writer, and you have a novel you are excited about writing... write it. Don't go on message boards and ask random internet denizens whether or not something is allowed. Or, if you're a feedback junkie and you just can't keep yourself from posting, whatever you do, do NOT go pulling things you like out of your novel because someone on the internet told you "that won't sell" or "you can't do that."

Who is the writer here? YOU ARE. Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK. There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post Twilight. No one is going to send you off to an island to live a wretched life of worm eating and regret because you DARED to bring urban fantasy elements into a space opera. If you have a book that you want to write, then just write the damn thing. Don't worry about selling it, that comes later. Worry about making your book work, worry about how you're order the scenes to create tension, worry about if your character's actions are actually in character. Worry about your grammar. DON'T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of little puppies don't worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife - dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't pay attention to what's getting published, but what I am saying is you should never sacrifice the elements that make your novel exciting to you because you think those elements will hurt your sales... especially if you haven't even finished the novel yet and all sales are still hypothetical.

Until your novel starts getting actual rejections from people whose job it is to know what sells in publishing, never change anything in your book unless you're doing it to make the book better. If your YA features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over complicating your plot, that is an appropriate time to cut the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut your vampires because you read on some internet forum that "vampires are lame," then you are betraying yourself and your work.

If you're like pretty much every other author in the world, then you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories again and again until you have something you're proud of. Write stories that excite you, stories you can't wait to share with the world because they're just so amazing. Write stories that you throw away because you realize halfway through that your amazing idea wasn't actually so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime style mecha, go for it. There are no writing police. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly. And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters.

It's your story, tell it like you want to. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Eli Cover!!

As promised, the new cover for the Eli Omnibus painted by the fantastic Sam Webber is here! Isn't it pretty?!

SO pretty! 

This will be the cover for the new 3 book omnibus edition of Spirit Thief, Spirit Rebellion, and Spirit Eater all wrapped together in one delicious package! The omnibus is scheduled to arrive February 2012. After that, the fourth book in the series, The Spirit War (All about Josef, plus lots of Eli!) comes out June of 2012. 

The Spirit War cover is being done by Sam Webber as well, and you can see in progress shots of the painting at Orbit's website. I'm REALLY excited about that cover. I shouldn't have favorites, but I think Spirit War is the best book I've ever written. There's all kinds of goodies, you guys are just going to love it. So yeah, very happy Rachel :D. 

I don't have an official date yet for Spirit's End, the fifth and final Eli book, but I'm editing it right now and will be turning it in to Orbit at the end of the month. I believe it's scheduled to come out very close to book 4, maybe July 2012? Anyway, soon, and we're on schedule, so you should have all the Eli you could want soon enough! In the meanwhile, drop over to Orbit's site and check out Lauren's visit to Sam's studio. If you ever wanted to see how a fantasy book cover is made, this is your chance. Fascinating stuff (and I'd say that even if it wasn't about my covers)! Enjoy!

- Rachel

ETA: The ever lovely Civilian Reader has nice things to say about the cover! Also, if you haven't read my interview there, totally go read it. It's probably the most intelligent I've ever sounded. If I die tomorrow, that's how I'd like to be remembered. Just carve the whole thing into the tombstone in 5 pt font and we're good to go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

If you're near Columbia, SC, you won't want to miss this

So, thanks to the wonderful prodding of Kalayna Price, I am participating in a MASSIVE fantasy book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Columbia on Saturday, July 9th. We're going to have door prizes and free books and a panel discussion and it's just going to be the best thing ever! Our authors include me, plus these other way more famous people:

I am so happy they pulled me out of my hermit hole to drive up for a signing. This will actually be my first signing (because of the aforementioned hermit hole), so if you want any Eli books signed, this will be the place! 

Here's the vital facebook link with all relevant info, and I really hope to see people there!

Also, no word on the new cover yet, but I swear it's coming! I'll post as soon as Orbit puts them up. Pretty Eli pictures are coming.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day

When I started writing The Spirit War (Eli novel #4), I had a bit of a problem. I had a brand new baby and my life (like every new mother's life) was constantly on the verge of shambles. I paid for a sitter four times a week so I could get some writing time, and I guarded these hours like a mama bear guards her cubs - with ferocity and hiker-mauling violence. To keep my schedule and make my deadlines, I needed to write 4000 words during each of these carefully arranged sessions. I thought this would be simple. After all, before I quit my job to write full time I'd been writing 2k a day in the three hours before work. Surely with 6 hours of baby free writing time, 4k a day would be nothing....

But (of course), things didn't work out like that. Every day I'd sit down to add 4000 words to my new manuscript. I was determined, I was experienced, I knew my world. There was no reason I couldn't get 4k down. But every night when I hauled myself away, my word count had only increased by 2k, the same number of words I'd been getting before I quit my day job. 

Needless to say, I felt like a failure. Here I was, a professional writer with three books about to come out, and I couldn't even beat the writing I'd done before I went pro. At first I made excuses, this novel was the most complicated of all the Eli books I'd written, I was tired because my son thinks 4am is an awesome time to play, etc. etc. But the truth was there was no excuse. I had to find a way to boost my word count, and with months of 2k a day dragging me down, I had to do it fast. So I got scientific. I gathered data and tried experiments, and ultimately ended up boosting my word count to heights far beyond what I'd thought was possible, and I did it while making my writing better than ever before.

When I told people at ConCarolinas that I'd gone from writing 2k to 10k per day, I got a huge response. Everyone wanted to know how I'd done it, and I finally got so sick of telling the same story over and over again that I decided to write it down here.

So, once and for all, here's the story of how I went from writing 500 words an hour to over 1500, and (hopefully) how you can too:

Monday, June 6, 2011

ConCarolinas was awesome!

I am SO TIRED and I lost my voice completely, a sure sign that I had a fantastic weekend! Thank you very much to the con organizers and to all the authors who let me hang out with them at the con and put up with my big mouth on panels. :D

At the con, lots of people seemed excited about the system I worked out for upping my daily word count from 2000 to 10000 words a day. Seeing the interest, I'm working on a blog post write up of what I said about it in the panel with examples of my spreadsheets. So keep your eyes peeled for epic writer nerdery in the next day or so.

Also, don't forget Orbit should be debuting my new omnibus cover on Wednesday, and I am so excited to show you guys after months of having to sit on the art. Seriously, it looks lovely.

And if I saw you at ConCarolinas, thank you so much for coming up. Nothing makes me happier than to meet fellow geeks.

<3 R