Friday, June 20, 2014

"It's been done before" doesn't matter. Doing it awesomely matters.

First up, Gail Carriger's June Book Club reading of FORTUNE'S PAWN is still going! Goodreads discussion thread is here is you want to talk Devi with other totally awesome people.

As someone who is infinitely interested in all aspects of the writing life and business, I spend a great deal of my casual internet browsing time lurking around places where authors talk shop. On the down side, this also means I spend a lot of time skipping over endless rehashings of certain eternal writer questions - First vs. Third person, do readers skip prologues, how much editing is too much editing, etc. But the reoccurring topic that I notice the most, probably because it's the one that bothers me the most, is cliches.

I've talked about this before, but, like the zombies it would be cliche to compare them to, the idea that cliches are the bane of good fiction keeps coming back. And that's really sad, because when used correctly, cliches (or, more appropriately, tropes) are a fantastic way to build a familiar feeling base that readers can instantly feel at home in.

Because I'm hungry, let's think of books like bread. It's fun to try something new -- say a jalapeno-artichoke brioche with a walnut honey glaze--but no one is in the mood for all new experiences all the time. Sometimes, we hunger for the familiar done well: a perfectly baked French baguette, or a tangy loaf of sourdough served just right.

The same basic idea applies to reading. A classic trope (the farm boy hero, the sexy immortal vampire, the hard boiled detective) might look like a cliche on the surface, but when done well, tropes can actually become selling points. Readers already know what they like, and offering them the same thing again served up with style can be just as much of a hook as something completely new.

The best times, of course, are when you can create something that is both familiar and original at the same time. The new spin on an old favorite is the holy grail of commercial fiction: the same, but different. To revisit our bakery metaphor, take the sensationally selling cronut. It's just a fried croissant shaped like a donut and covered in sugar. Two common expected things, jammed together to make something new.

But while making the cronut of fiction is a fabulous goal (and the genesis of every sub-genre), there's also nothing wrong with baking a killer baguette. A big, popular trope done right with your own signature style is a marvelous foundation for any story, especially since the audience's built in familiarity of the trope gives you a ready made set of expectations to lean on, subvert, and play with. The key here, of course, is that your trope has to be done well, but that's true of anything. Have you ever seen a piece of writing advice that said it was okay to halfass something? I didn't think so.

So writers, please, the next time you feel the need to reject an idea because you feel it's been done before, remember: these tropes keep reappearing for a reason. People like them, they work well in stories, and best of all, people think they know what to expect. That's when you can have real fun - when you turn the cliche on its head. But even if you don't, even if you just take the time to make your chosen trope as interesting and deep and well-thought-out as possible within your own story, you'll end up with something that is delightful in its own right. "It's been done before" doesn't matter. Doing it awesomely matters.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Infinite Squee! FORTUNE'S PAWN is the inaugural pick for Gail Carriger's new book club!

I've been a fan of Gail Carriger since I first received an advanced copy of Soulless from Orbit way back in 2010 (being an author definitely has its perks!), so you can imagine my absolute glee when she announced that my own Fortune's Pawn was going to be the very first book in her new book club!


Needless to say, I am super super thrilled and honored and pretty much every good feeling there has ever been! Can't you just see Devi and Alexia Tarabotti have the most interesting tea party ever?! It would definitely be entertaining company :D

And as if that wasn't enough, Rob H. Bedford has posted a big write up about my career over at as part of their #torbit initiative to support Hachette/Orbit authors during the Amazon squeeze! I had no idea any of this was happening today and it's pretty much made my life. All other Wednesdays shall be forever disappointments after this!

Thank you so much to all my reviewers and readers for helping to make this possible, and if you're just picking up my books for the first time, I have free chapters of all my series up on my site. I hope you enjoy every word!!

Thank you again, and happy reading!
- Rachel Aaron/Bach

Monday, June 9, 2014

And now for something completely different

So a week ago, fellow fantasy author and all around hilarious fellow Sam Sykes made me an offer I could not refuse. He was going to be running a panel at this year's Phoenix Comicon called the Batsu, or Punishment Game, and he needed my help.

"The goal of this game," he told me, "is to make the panelists laugh so that they will be punished. To do this, I have asked certain authors to pen half a page or so of fanfiction about one of the panelists doing something weird in a suitably epic style. My problem was that A) I had too many male authors, B) not enough fanfiction about the female panelists. Fortunately there is a solution in C) I love your work, D) I would like you write me half a page of fanfiction about Delilah S. Dawson."

I considered this for about 0.00001 seconds before screaming yes so loud the internet shook. I love Delilah and her books almost as much as I love fanfiction, and I accepted the challenge with manic glee. I emailed Sam the finished product at 7 the next morning, chuckling at the image of Delilah desperately trying to read it with a straight face in front of a crowd. My only sadness was that I wouldn't be there to witness the awesomeness myself.

Unfortunately, I had to add a second sadness. In all the rush of the con, there wasn't enough time to get to my short piece of epic author fanfic. But here on the internet, we have all the time in the world, and so I present to you, my darling, hapless reader, my first work of fanfiction in many years. I hope you enjoy it, and if you don't, blame Sam Sykes. It was his idea.

Pretentious Title Presents 
an original authorial fanfiction by Rachel Aaron, who should probably be ashamed of herself.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Nice Dragons Finish Last Cover Post!

No blog this week due to OMG WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE mode, but I realized I have been very remiss in my authorial duties since unveiling the cover for my new Urban Fantasy (and first foray into self publishing), Nice Dragons Finish Last... I never mentioned the artist who made Julius look so suave!

So, without further ado, the art for Nice Dragons was done by the amazingly talented Anna Steinbauer! Working with her was an absolute delight and I could not be happier with the end result. You can see more of her excellent work at her Deviant Art gallery, but for now, here's the full, beautiful, un-marred-by-text original version of the cover for Nice Dragons Finish Last as illustrated by Anna Steinbauer!

Oh, Julius, you look so cool now, but your life is about to fall off a cliff!

As the smallest dragon of the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. 

Now, trapped in a human body and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or lose his true shape forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

 He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons...

Nice Dragons Finish Last comes out July 15! There's no preorder since this is self pub (though you can add it on Goodreads), but I promise I will let you all know the second it hits. Also, if you are a reviewer, and would like an advanced copy of the ebook, please let me know and I will happily send you one!

I seriously can't wait for this to come out. If you liked Eli or Devi, I really think you'll enjoy NDFL!