Friday, February 24, 2012

The Legend of Eli Monpress, official launch!!

The omnibus has already been towering over the other books at the bookstore for a while now, but today is the OFFICIAL release date for The Legend of Eli Monpress omnibus! HOORAY! This means that the omnibus is now available for ebook, which most retailers have posted for $9.99. That's crazy awesome, it's like $3 per book!

But ebooks don't really show you how impressively huge this thing is. Let's see this big brick of awesome again, shall we?

I love that picture. It's like Eli's about to get the drop on Eli!

Anyway, for those who are interested I have several things up and about on the interwebs today in celebration, starting with a guest post on Fantasy Book Critic about The Changing World of Eli Monpress! HePore I talk about how Eli's world has changed through the books, including the final two volumes. 

I also have an interview up at The Waterworld Mermaids blog! This is mostly writing related, but I also talk about the Eli books. 

Finally, don't forget that you can still win a signed copy of the Omnibus over at Fantasy Book Critic! The contest is world wide and open until March 10, so go over and put your name in the hat if you haven't already!

On the review front, lots of new reviews are out! 
Ok, I think that covers everything! Thanks as always for reading and I really hope you get a chance to pick up The Legend of Eli Monpress. I know I've been kind of crazy about it, but the Omnibus bind up is really, really, REALLY pretty! Eli would totally steal a whole truck full, just sayin.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tweet Questions #1

In an attempt to actually write about things people want to read about (ALWAYS VITAL), I put out a general query yesterday to the Twitterverse (Twitsphere? Twitterland?) soliciting topics to write about. I got so many good ones I've decided to start up a new, semi-regular blog series!

It goes like this: have a question about writing or publishing? Ask me on Twitter (@Rachel_Aaron) or through my site and I'll answer them here on the blog to the best of my ability. And if I can't answer them, I'll do my best to point you at someone who can. It'll be sort of like my NaNoWriMo Thread, but in blog format and not quite so rushed. 

Sound fun? Ok, let's do some questions!

@erchristensen asks: How do you determine whether an idea is worth a short story or novel? Or if it should be abandoned/saved for later?

This is a touchy question for me, and a really, really vital one to nail as early as possible. You don't want to waste time and energy on a story that can't stand to completion. Generally speaking, though, any idea that can make it through my plotting process is one that can take the stress of bookdom. But even earlier than that, when I'm on Step 0 (the "decide if I'm going to write this story" step), I sit down and just think about the story. Am I really excited about it? Does the idea of writing down all kinds of wacky back story make me excited or bored? Do I yack my husband's ear off about it? 

The yacking part is actually the most important. I've learned over the years that staying power the surest indicator of an idea's quality. If a story sticks with you over the long haul, if you find yourself thinking of scenes or imagining character interactions even when you're supposed to be other things, that's the surest sign that you've got a winner.

I should note though that I NEVER completely throw out ideas. I am a story hoarder! Even if a plot/character/world can't stand on its own, you can always cannibalize it later for the good pieces and put them into other works. I actually have a giant Google Doc that's nothing but short descriptions of ideas I want to put into future stories. Creativity is never wasted, you never know when that weird, not quite baked idea will turn out to be just what you need on a future project.

@abhinavjain87 asks: how about character creation or world-building? and @EldritchGirl stays something similar: Maybe help developing other world systems, etc? I'm so bad at that... Eli's world was fully believable & realized

And for the record: Meghan, I don't believe you're bad at anything. <3

I believe character creation and world building are the same animal in different guises. In a really good book, the world itself is a character. It has personality, history, traits, quirks, all that good stuff. Most writing books agree that the most important thing about creating a character is finding out what they want. I totally believe that, but in addition to motivation, I also try to figure out what a character loves, what they hate, what irritates them on a daily basis. This also goes for worlds creation, I try to figure out where the world is going, what are the major problems facing it, and how does the world react. It's kind of silly to think of your world as having a motivation, but I always try to make sure my settings are changing, going places. This could be something as simple as a border war or something as huge as The End Of The World. 

Most important with both worlds and characters though is that they must be internally consistent. This doesn't mean acting predictably, but nothing happens without cause and no one does something for no reason. Novels are just long chains of cause and effect. The first step to creating believable worlds and characters is to understand them inside and out, to know how they react to change and why. Color in their details, get to know them like friends or a favorite place, and then put them in trouble and watch them squirm. When these things all come together, you can't help but end up with something amazing.

Also, and this is a bit of writing voodoo, but I try to hear my character's voices. Lots of times, if I'm having trouble with a character, I'll just sit down and spend some time with them, ask them questions, that sort of thing. This is especially important if the character is very different from myself (like Nico was) and I'm having trouble imagining how they react. Same goes for worlds. If my world feels flat or if I can't think of what should happen, I stop everything and go spend some time in my imaginary places. When I can feel a place like I've been there and hear a character like they're a separate person in my head, I know I've got it right.

And finally, @Oath_Breaker has some general queries: Perhaps brainstorming or simply your opinions on fantasy in general or Dialogue?

See above for my brainstorming :D. As for my ideas about Fantasy as a genre, I'm actually going to cheat and paste over part of my interview with Civilian Reader.

CR: What’s your opinion of the genre as a whole today? How do you see your Legend of Eli Monpress series fitting in with the contemporary fantasy scene?

RA: I think we are living in a golden age of fantasy. Years from now we’ll look back with awe and wonder and talk about how good we had it. Thanks to the blockbuster titles like Harry PotterEragonTwilight, and the Lord of the Rings movies, as well as the phenomenal success of fantasy video games, fantasy is coming out of the back shelves and into the spotlight. Fantasy, dare I say it, is cool right now, and it is staking a big claim in the YA and adult markets. This attention means more books and more publishing houses willing to take chances on new authors and ideas. It is a really, really exciting time to be a fantasy author and a fantasy fan, especially if you like YA fantasy.

To answer the second half of the question, I’m actually not really sure where Eli fits in to this flowering of the genre. The Legend of Eli Monpress isn’t really epic fantasy because of the aforementioned lack of gritty battles and dark heroes, but it’s not pure Pratchett-esque comedy either. One reviewer described the series as feeling more like urban fantasy than a traditional swords and sorcery tale, and I think they hit it on the nose. The Eli books are fast and snarky with modern pacing (no slow grinding epics for me), but at its heart The Legend of Eli Monpress is a story about doing what has to be done even when you REALLY don’t want to do it. So, being a hero, which is a very traditional fantasy theme. I think that’s why the books have had a little trouble catching on, actually. They’re hard to pigeon hole. However, I maintain that if you enjoy the idea of a witty gentleman thief with a glib sense of humor, you’ll probably enjoy The Spirit Thief. If nothing else, the sword fights are killer. I worked really hard on them, and I still consider Josef’s fight with Coriano at the end of Book 1 to be the best fight I ever wrote.

And my opinion now is still pretty much the same!

As for dialogue, I'm actually really bad at explaining how I do it because I don't actually think about it. Dialogue is the easiest thing for me to write. My characters talk a LOT, and I generally have to cut dialogue from my books when they start running off at the mouth. Really, I think the key to good dialogue is good characters. If you have interesting people, they'll say interesting things. Just make sure you say in character, or your characters will all start to sound the same, which is to say, all start to sound like the writer. I do try to keep my dialogue sections as short as possible, though. Talking heads are no fun to watch.

And that's it for Twitter Questions! I hope you enjoyed the answers! If you have a question you'd like me to answer about writing, publishing, Eli, or anything else in the pro-author sphere, feel free to post them on Twitter to @Rachel_Aaron or just send them the old fashioned way through my contact form.

Thank you for reading, and if you see the Eli Omnibus on a shelf, say Hello for me! :D

- Rachel

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yet ANOTHER give away!

Didn't win my Eli giveaway last week? Well, have no fear! The lovely, wonderful people at Fantasy Book Critic are giving some away as well! HOORAY!

These will also be signed and this time the contest is open world wide! So head on over to enter, and say hi to Mihir for me! (He's said such lovely things about my books.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Problem With Titles

Last week I finished a new book I'm very, very excited about. It's not an Eli book, but the first book in what I hope will be a new series that, quite frankly, is about nine million miles away from anything I've written before. I call it my abusive boyfriend book, because I gave up on it 3 times while I was writing because I thought things would never work, but in the end, I never could quit it. I always came crawling back, and eventually, by blood, sweat, and keyboard pounding, I finished that sucker.

But unlike an actual abusive relationship, this one had a happy ending. I'm so glad I stuck with it and finished things, because this book feels like a breakthrough for me, writing-wise. Unfortunately, though, as different as this book is from everything else I've written, one of my career long persistent writing problems remains - I have no idea what to call the thing.

This is my eternal problem. See, I have tons of titles and tons of books, but none of them ever seem to be able to match up. Without fail, any novel I finish lacks a name. The Spirit Thief was just The Eli Book until it was time to query agents and I had to call it something. Same with another new book I just sold (but can't talk about yet, sadness). This book is currently The Lola Book (sensing a pattern?).

I'd been casually messing around with possible names for months, but now that the book is done, I've started seriously searching. I have a long list of possibilities already, but nothing sounds right. I can't even explain what I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I find it. And as soon as Google learns how to search for that, they'll have world domination in the bag.

In case you're wondering, this is how I pick titles:
Step 1 - Think of something cool.
Step 2 - Look it up on Amazon, if a book in my genre that came out in the last 5 years (or is super famous) already has this title, go back to Step 1. If title is free, go on to Step 3.
Step 3 - Look it up on Google. If title is already a band name/album name/linked to some tragic affiliation, go back to Step 1. Otherwise, proceed to Step 4.
Step 4 - Yay! A title!

Of course, I can name the book whatever I want, but in the end it's the publisher, not the author, who decides the final title. This is why a title isn't as big a deal as you might think it is, though, if you have an amazing title (Current favorites: Never Knew Another, I Shall Wear Midnight, All The King's Men, John Dies At The End), that can do amazing things. Even so, I like my books to have names. Good names, the sort I can send them out into public with. Shoving a book off into the world wearing nothing but "The {main character name} Book" just feels irresponsible.

But this book, though, this one is special. After all the trouble this little bastard put me through, I don't just want to find it a name, I want to find it a great name. A name that grabs you and won't let you go until you pick up the book to see what it's about. I want a name that sums up everything this book is about in one beautiful phrase...

But that's in my ideal world. Right now, I'd settle for something other than "The Lola Book." I feel like a mom with a tired kid at a department store. "We're buying the first thing that fits, and then we're going home. Don't like it? Well, if you'd told me your name at the beginning, we wouldn't be in this situation, would we, book?"

And book just glares at me with its black and white glare until I give in and go home, nothing purchased. Going to be one of those nights, isn't it, book?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Writing Post Up At Magical Words

Thanks to the ever amazing Kalayna Price, I've got a guest post up over at the fantasy writing blog Magical Words. It's about story structure, pacing, and figuring out what's wrong with a scene that doesn't want to go anywhere. It might also be about lighting things on fire, though I can't vouch for that. Anyway, I hope you'll check it out, and thank you to Kalayna for letting me butt my nose in!

Also! All contest entries have been mailed except for Busy Woman's! If you're out there, Busy Woman, I never got your info! Please contact me! This book has to go somewhere!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spirit's Oath launches today!

My Eli world novella, Spirit's Oath, launches today! Hooray!

Four years before the events of The Spirit Thief, Miranda Lyonette was a young apprentice Spiritualist on the cusp of a promising career. But on the eve of her return from bonding a wind spirit, a night that should have been a celebration, she finds instead that her father has come to take her home. Now, Miranda must choose between her duty to her family and her future at the Spirit Court. But while she's trying to make her parents see reason and avoid an arranged marriage to a man she can't stand, she stumbled across the one one spirit who needs her more than any other, a caged ghosthound who doesn't want her help. To save him, Miranda will have to earn the dog's trust, but what she gets in return is a friendship deeper than anything she expected. Amazon | Other vendors

The novella has no spoilers for the series, so you can read it without reading the other books, but it will probably be more enjoyable if you already know the major players involved. It's an ebook only release, but that means it's only $3!

The wonderful Mihir of Fantasy Book Critic has posted his review here, along with his review for The Spirit Eater. I hope you'll give the short story a try, I had a lot of fun writing it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 7 Winner and the Grand Prize!

Our day7 winner is....Hanna C! Hooray! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I'll send it out.

And now, the grand prize gift card! Everyone was eligible for this, even people who've won other prizes (if that happened, I'd just give the double winner the gift card and pick someone else for the extra signed book). Fortunately, though, the random number elves felt like spreading the wealth, because out grand prize winner is...Courtney E. Richards! Yahoo!! Courtney, you've won the $50 Amazon card and a signed book! Yay! Please send me your info including all the usual book stuff (address, who you want it written out to) and the email address tied to the account you'd like the Amazon gift card to go to (or I can just mail it, as you like).

Thank you EVERYONE for participating! This was a huge success and I could not be happier. I will totally be running contests like this for my other new releases, so please add me to Twitter (@Rachel_Aaron) and RSS (feed links are on the left) to keep up with announcements and priz-ize-zes!

Also, for those who are interested, I have an Eli Novella coming out tomorrow about how Miranda met Gin. It's only $3, so I hope you'll give it a try! I'll be posting more about that later, but I just wanted to shout out since the date is so close.

Again, thank you to everyone who reviewed, posted, and otherwise spread the word! Eli loves you all! And if you didn't win one, I really do hope you'll pick up the omnibus just to see for yourself what a nice piece or work Orbit did with it. It's a thing of beauty for sure.

Thank you, everyone, congratulations to the winners, and I hope you have a great day!

<3s forever,

Day 6 Winner!

And our day 6 winner is....Busy Woman! Not too busy to read a book, I hope! Yay!! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I'll get it to you pronto.

Today is the very last day of my contest! Also, Valentine's Day, but that's #2. Anyway! I'll be picking today's winner plus the grand prize, a $50 Amazon Gift card to spend on the books/goods of your choice, at noon EST today! If you still haven't entered, there's still a chance to win, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! You guys really made me get all emotional! Thank you :D

- R

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 5 Winner!

And our day 5 winner is....Tirzah Duncan! Hooray!! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I will ship it off!

There are only 2 more days (today and Tuesday) left to go, which means 2 more books plus the grand prize! I'll be announcing Tuesday's winner and the grand prize at noon tomorrow! So if you still haven't entered, or want to enter again to increase your chances, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

Almost there!

- Rachel

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 4 Winner!

And the number elves have picked....Ezzierae as our day 4 winner! Congrats!! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I will ship it off!

And if you didn't win yet, don't worry, there are still 3 more days left plus the grand prize to go! Everyone who has already entered is still eligible to win in every day hence, so keep posting. New entries also go into the pot, so everyone has a shot!

And things don't stop just because it's the weekend! I'll be announcing today's winner tomorrow morning, as per usual. If you haven't entered yet, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

As always, thank you all for being so great!

- Rachel

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 3 Winner!

And the winner for yesterday's drawing (as picked by my random number machine) is....Imaeko!! YAY! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I will mail it post haste!

Don't worry, there are still 4 more days left, and the grand prize to go! Everyone who has already entered is still eligible to win in every day hence, so the sooner your enter, the better your chance! New entries also go into the pot, so everyone has a shot!

And things don't stop just because it's the weekend! I'll be announcing today's winner tomorrow (Sunday) morning, as per usual. If you haven't entered yet, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

As always, thank you all for being so great!

- Rachel

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 2 Winner! (plus review roundup)

There have been some awesome entries! You guys really bring a tear to my eyes. Thank you for all the help!!! On to winners! The winner for Day 2 according to my Random-o-matic is... Booklover 31! Hooray!! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I will mail it post haste!

There are 5 days left of books to give out, plus the grand prize to go! Everyone who entered so far is still eligible to win in every day hence, so keep the entries coming! (If you tweeted on day 1 or 2, you can tweet again for another entry if you're so moved. Think one tweet a day, ^__^)

As usual, I'll announce today's winner tomorrow morning! If you haven't entered yet, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

Thanks everyone for entering!

And just because they made me fantastically happy (and I haven't done a review round up in a while), here are more Eli Omnibus book reviews!

If I missed a review, let me know, and congrats again Booklover 31 on the win! Contests are so much fun! :D

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 1 Winner!

And the winner for yesterday's drawing (as picked by my random number machine) is....Deshipley! YAY! If you will send me your info, including your address and who you'd like your book made out to, I will mail it post haste!

Don't worry, there are still 6 more days left, and the grand prize to go! Everyone who entered yesterday is still eligible to win in every day hence, so the sooner your enter, the better your chance!

I'll be announcing today's winner tomorrow morning, so pull your friends in and make them enter too :D! If you haven't entered yet, drop down to the official contest post and leave your comment to get in the pot. Rules are there as well.

And also, thank everyone so much for all the lovely comments. You guys SERIOUSLY make my life. If I had the money, I'd give you all books. And if you ever see me, I will sign anything you put in front of me. Seriously. Anything. I'll sign dogs.

Go enter, and let's give away some more books!

- Rachel

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Win the Eli Monpress Omnibus!

So, Orbit is launching The Legend of Eli Monpress Omnibus this month! Hooray! Isn't it pretty?

And it's got three books in it, so it's HUGE! Also, the finish is smoooooth, but the book isn't too heavy, and it smells nice. In short, a very pleasant thing to hold in your hands.

It seems kind of absurd this phonebook only costs $10.98 on Amazon ($9.99 for the ebook, that's like $3 per book!), but the dealz, they are realz! I couldn't be more excited. I think Orbit did such a great job on the packaging for this book. That's why I'm giving some away!

The Eli Monpress Omnibus Giveaway Raffle!

The Prizes!
To celebrate the release of my omnibus and get the word out, I'm giving away 7 personalized signed copies, one for each day until Tuesday, February 14! Also, at the end of the contest, I'll combine all the entries to pick one grand prize winner who will get a signed omnibus and a $50 gift card to spend on the book of your choice!

How to Enter
Happy as I am about the omibus release, binding the first three Eli books into one volume means I leave all my lovely reviews behind. The Spirit Thief has over 100 reviews on Goodreads, the omnibus has only 5, and that just sucks because they're the same books. But there's no way to link them...

SO! Here's the deal! If you rated or reviewed The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, or The Spirit Eater, I'm asking you to please take a moment to copy it over to my new book on Goodreads and leave a note that you did so in the comments. Every transferred review is an entry to win!

Didn't write a review, don't feel like moving it, or haven't read the books yet? No worries! You can also enter simply by spreading the word of the omnibus's release! Post about Eli on FB, Twitter, your blog, or any other social platform of your choice and then drop me a note to let me know what you did and I'll enter you!

This is a raffle, so you can enter this contest multiple times. Every time you spread the word about the omnibus's release or move a review (or write a review, if you're so inclined, but only if you want to. You know how I feel about reviews. They are precious gifts! But if you want to write one, I would be delighted and it would totally count for the contest.), put it in the comments below with a link. Move a review, post on Twitter, and mention the book on your blog? That's 3 entries! Tell me so and I'll enter your name 3 times.

I'll be drawing from the comments on this post every day, including today, so the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win! You can also keep promoting the book to increase your chances ever further! Winners will be announced the morning of the day after they win, so today's winner will be announced tomorrow morning, etc.

The grand prize drawing will be on Tuesday, February 14th at 12:00 PM, east coast US time (EST). After this, entries will be closed and I'll be mailing out a lot of books!

Boring Rules Stuff
This contest to open to everyone in the US, Canada, the UK, and Auz/NZ. Only one entry per moved review/social network (so no posting it a million times on Twitter for a million entries :P). New reviews and moved reviews count as 2 separate entries. Also, you can move reviews/post new reviews for the omnibus on other sites besides Goodreads. Readers who win one of the earlier signed copies are still eligible for the grand prize gift card, but since they already have a book coming to them, I'll pick a new winner to get the extra copy.

If you have any questions about the contest, the rules, or the books, please contact me! If you want to read a sample of the book you'll be winning, you can do that here.

Good Luck!
And please spread the word of the contest around. If I get a lot of people, I'll just give away more books to keep the chances even.

Thanks for reading!
- Rachel

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Editing for People Who Hate Editing

Note! I am giving away signed copies of my new omnibus on my blog starting tomorrow (Wed, February 8!). Check back for a chance to win!

Since I wrote my posts on how I drastically upped my word count and plotted my novels, a lot of people have been asking me to do a post on editing. I can totally understand why, editing can be very intimidating. I actually used to dread edit time because that was when I actually had to deal with all the problems I'd been putting off while writing, not to mention that by the time I'd read through my book the requisite 5 times it took me to finish an edit to my satisfaction, I invariably hated it.

But after 8 finished books, I've come around to a different way of thinking. These days, editing is probably my favorite part of the writing process. This is partially because all the planning I do means I have far fewer horrifying messes to deal with in the editing phase of things (yet another benefit to planning your novel), but mostly it's because I started thinking about editing in a whole new light. A new light that I'm not going to attempt to explain in the hopes that others can learn from the years I spent banging my head against things.

So, without further ado, here is my take on the editing process, complete with the tools I build for each book. I can't promise it will work for you exactly as written, every author's brain works differently, after all. But I do hope it will at least encourage you to approach edits with a new frame of mind.

Disclaimer: Unlike my work count tips, which I think can work for anyone, this process is highly personal. If something I describe doesn't work for you, feel free to ignore it or replace it with something you find more useful. I offer these only as examples of methods I use to save time and lower stress during the editing process.