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New dates!

Today I have a quick list of dates for you, including an updated release date for Oath Bound, so get ready to mark your calendars, or set cell phone reminders, or whatever... ;)

  • Thursday, Sept 13, 2012 (THAT'S TOMORROW!) - Harlequin Teen will reveal the US cover for With All My Soul on their Facebook page.
  • Saturday, Sept 20, 2012 - Signing with Sophie Jordan (Hidden--new release!) at Barnes & Noble at La Cantera, in San Antonio
  • November 13, 2012 - Release of Soul Screamers Volume 2, including "Reaper," which has never before been in print
  • Feb 28 - March 3, 2013 - ARRA conference in Brisbane, Australia!
  • April 1, 2013 - With All My Soul, the 7th/final Soul Screamers novel will be released
  • April 24-27 - Texas Librarian's Association Annual Conference
  • May 1, 2013 - Oath Bound, the 3rd/final Unbound novel will be released. Note: This is a new release date. The release date has been pushed back 60 days from the original March 1 date. Preorder pages may not yet reflect this date.
  • May 1-5, 2013 - RT Booklovers Convention, Kansas City, MO [Note: Includes the massive Teen Day event, with a special one-day, low-priced admission]


If you're going to be in the area for any of these events, I hope to see you!

What if we weren't alone? (+ giveaway)

Okay, in my time zone, it's still Monday, so I'm not technically late posting this week's giveaway, possibly for the first time in months! So here goes...

Up for grabs: Winner’s choice of any one print book from my list of prize books.

The details:

  • One winner will be chosen at random and announced here on Monday, Sept 17, 2012.
  • One entry per person.
  • You must be at least 18 years old or have a parent/legal guardian’s permission to enter, and to provide a shipping address if you win.
  • Please allow 2+ weeks for shipping within the continental US and 4+ weeks for shipping outside of the continental US.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • DO NOT type your email address or shipping information into the body of your comment. I don’t need either of those until/unless you win.
  • YOU MUST come back to this blog on Monday, September 3 to see if you win. The winner will not be contacted; s/he must follow the instructions on Monday’s blog post to claim the prize.


How to Enter: Click here to answer the following question in the comments section of my main blog.

In honor of my least favorite-to-revise scene from WITH ALL MY SOUL, how do you think you would respond if you found out for certain that humans are not alone in the world? 

Also, don't forget that I'm signing with Sophie Jordan this Saturday in San Antonio, and I believe Harlequin Teen is revealing the With All My Soul cover this week as well!

Tags:

I have a Secret. Sort of.

Because so many are asking (and really, I love you all for it!) here's why I can't tell you what my Secret YA project is, and why I can't tell you when I'll be able to tell you what my Secret YA project is:

Because it's a secret. It's right there in the title. ;)

Kidding, of course.

Okay, so here's the real deal. I'm writing the Secret YA project on speculation.

According to Merriam-Webster (and that guy usually knows what he's talking about), speculation in this instance is defined as, "[an] assumption of unusual business risk in hopes of obtaining commensurate gain."

What that means, in practical terms, is that I am writing this book without having sold it first. The business risk, in this case, is the chance that no publisher will want to buy the book, which will mean I've wasted months of my life and of my career that could have been spent writing books that did sell, thus helped me pay my bills. The "commensurate gain" is the possibility (I like to think of it as a probability) that the book will sell, once I'm ready to send it out.

How is that different from how I usually do business? Well, I'm no superstar, but after five years in publishing and seventeen novels sold (to publishers) I've been fortunate enough to sell fifteen of my seventeen sold novels sight unseen. Some on proposal. Some on...well...my track record of writing (and finishing!) books on time and in reasonable condition.

[The two I sold based on full manuscripts were Stray (my very first) and My Soul To Take (my first YA), each of which sold as the first in a three-book deal.]

Could I have sold Secret YA on proposal, without having to write the whole thing first? Maybe. Probably.

Why didn't I? Because, much like with Stray and My Soul To Take, this Secret YA is a departure for me. It's unlike anything else I've ever written. New world. New characters. Possibly a new (for me) genre--but I'll let my agent have the final say on what genre this is. Because of all that newness, and because it isn't enough like what I've done before to be judged by my previous work, my literary agent and I agree that the best way to present this new idea is in its finished form.

So why can't I talk about it yet? Because it isn't finished. And because my agent hasn't seen this book yet. She knows what it's about, but she hasn't actually seen any of it, and I can't tell you guys what I'm writing before my agent has even seen it. That's just how this works. In fact, I can't tell you guys what this book is about until it sells, if it sells. (This is the part where you all cross your fingers for me!)

No one has seen any of this book except for my critique partner and my husband (and he's only read the first chapter). Only four people in the world know what this book is about. My agent, my CP, my husband, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because she looked interested at a moment when I was just dying to tell someone what I was working on.

I've been working on this book for more than two years. The ideas have evolved drastically since then. I've had setbacks and moments of true elation, when I realized how certain parts are meant to be written. That's a great feeling. I've gotten up in the middle of the night to take notes on my phone. I've scrapped nearly 50,000 words in a total of three previous versions of this book, and every single one of those word-dumps hurt like you would not believe. This book hasn't yet made me a single dime. It hasn't paid any portion of any of my bills. Yet, even fit between my existing deadlines, it's taken up more time than anything I've ever written. I would love for all this work to pay off. I'm doing my best to make sure that happens, which is why I'm not sending it to my agent for submission until it's as close to perfect as I can get it.

Here's what little I can tell you: It's a young adult book, but most of the characters are in their very late teens. It contains intense, detailed world-building, but is much easier to understand than the Unbound worldbuilding. It's grittier than Soul Screamers and contains action more along the lines of my Shifters series. It contains paranormal elements, but in this particular case, I'd hesitate to label it only as "paranormal," because that doesn't capture the book at all.

Having said all of that, I promise to let you all know what this book is as soon as it sells and I have permission to announce that sale. Assuming that happens. But before that can happen, I have to finish the book and possibly go through a round of revisions with my agent. Then she has to sell it. So...it could be a while. I truly, honestly don't know how long. I have no way of answering the "When?" question. It takes as long as it takes, which is the beauty of writing on speculation--there's no deadline! Except that ticking clock in my head, constantly reminding me that if I don't get this book finished and out into the world, someone else is going to write my idea, and it'll be too late for this book!

That's a terrible feeling, by the way. But it never goes away.

So...anyway...there you go.

Also, I realize I forgot to post this week's giveaway. Check back in on Monday for next week's. I've already got the entry question ready!

Meet Kaylee! (+ winners)


As some of you may have already seen on my FB or Twitter accounts, this weekend No 1. finished a drawing of Kaylee and put her on my Twitter profile. I think she looks great, and I love the dagger and locket, which you'll recognize if you've read If I Die and/or Before I Wake.

He's currently working on another, more ambitious project, and I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Now for some prizes!

The winner of the "Mini Announcement" giveaway is Lizzy Skaggs. Lizzy, please send an email to admin1ATrachelvincentDOTcom with your choice of prize from my prize book list, as well as your shipping information.

The winner of the "Once More With Feeling" giveaway is Sarah Daly. Sarah, please send an email to admin1ATrachelavincentDOTcom with your shipping information and your choice of prize from either my prize book list or a US edition from the follow list:

SS Vol 1
MSTSteal
IID
BIW
Pride
Prey
Shift
Alpha
Blood Bound
Shadow Bound

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the poll! Check back in tomorrow for this week's giveaway.

Mini-announcements (+ giveaway)

This week, I'm resuming the weekly giveaway, now that I'm settled into my new blog home and summer is over. But first, I have a few little bits of news!

First, don't forget, if you're going to be in the San Antonio area, that Sophie Jordan and I are signing together at the B&N at La Cantera on Sept. 15. Details can be found here.

Second, it looks like they'll be revealing the cover for With All My Soul the second week in September, so watch the Harlequin Teen FB page for that, around the 13th. I know several of you have already seen the cover, either in a catalogue or through another promotional effort by my publisher, and I think it's awesome that you got an early peek (Yay, someone else has seen my beautiful cover!). But I think it's even more awesome that you've resisted the urge to pre-empt our reveal by posting the cover first. Thanks so much to everyone who's seen the cover, but kept it private. I really appreciate the courtesy.

Third, I've posted a new Blogger FAQ page, where I've answered the questions I get most often from bloggers. If you're reading this on my actual blog, you should see the link at the top of your screen. If you're reading this in a crosspost (FB, LJ, Amazon, GR, etc...) you can click here to read the Blogger FAQ.

And...now for the giveaway!

To enter this week's giveaway, leave a comment in the corresponding wordpress post telling me how you first found my books. Library? Blog? Browsing a brick-and-morter store? Recommendation from a friend?

Up for grabs: Winner's choice of any one print book from my list of prize books.

The details:

  • One winner will be chosen and announced here on Monday, Sept 3, 2012.

  • One entry per person. If you have another question or comment for me, please leave it in the same comment as your entry. That makes it easier for me to count

  • You must be at least 18 years old or have a parent/legal guardian's permission to enter, and to provide a shipping address if you win.

  • Please allow 2+ weeks for shipping within the continental US and 4+ weeks for shipping outside of the continental US.

  • Void where prohibited.

  • DO NOT type your email address or shipping information into the body of your comment. I don't need either of those until/unless you win.

  • YOU MUST come back to this blog on Monday, September 3 to see if you win. The winner will not be contacted; s/he must follow the instructions on Monday's blog post to claim the prize.


Now I'm off to get some work done. Wish me luck!

Tags:

Are you near San Antonio?

If so, come for the river walk! Or come for Sea World! Or come because I'm going to be doing this:



...with Sophie Jordan:



...on Saturday, September 15th, at 3 pm, at Barnes & Noble at La Cantera (my local book store)!!!

This is actually my very first signing in San Antonio, where I've lived for almost three years now, and I'm so thrilled Sophie invited me. So come see us!

Store details:

The Shops at La Cantera


15900 La Cantera Parkway Bldg 27
San Antonio, TX 78256
210-558-2078


Depending on how long you've been reading my blog, you might already know that I'm a bit accident prone. For instance, there was The Great Bleach Bubble Disaster of 2007. And The Great Feather/Vacuum Cleaner Disaster of '06. And the time I sprained two fingers folding laundry. And the time I stepped in gum, and managed to get it all over both pedals in my car.



Then there was the time I almost didn't make it home from BEA, which wasn't really my fault, but definitely qualifies as a disaster.

But yesterday, I topped all of those. Yesterday, I went swimming with my iPhone. Because I am an idiot.

How did this happen? I had my phone tucked into the waistband of my board shorts because:

  1. I'm rarely more than a room away from my phone.

  2. My swimsuit has no pockets.

  3. I don't carry a purse.

  4. I am stupid.


I stepped into the pool intending to float for a while to try to relax and was already sternum deep before I remembered I still had my phone on me. I got out immediately, but it was too late. My eight-month-old iPhone4 had been completely submerged. It was dead.

I took my phone home and began an internet search for iPhone first aid, and the most common solution seemed to be burying the phone in a bowl of uncooked rice. Which my sister did when her son dropped his phone in the toilet. (Yuck!) Unfortunately, No. 1 had made stir-fry the night before, and we were all out of rice. So I used couscous.

Here is a picture of my phone, entombed in a Ziplock bag of uncooked couscous.



My poor phone. I've taken it out several times to check, but there's still water behind the camera flash lens, and now there's couscous in all my phone's orifices. That must be the electronic equivalent of getting sand beneath your bikini, don't you think?

As of this morning, my phone is still dead. The notes I took in bed two nights ago (about how to finish this new YA) are inaccessible. I hope that neither the pool water nor the couscous has ruined my sim card, because all my contacts and notes are...well, they're important to me.

And before anyone asks, no, I've never backed up my phone, though I do have most of the pictures (because I tend to email them to myself) and all of the music, on iTunes. And no, I didn't buy the Apple Care. Because I thought I would never be dumb enough to go swimming with my phone. Obviously, I underestimated my own capacity for stupidity.

 

Layers--they're not just for bean dip.

I’ve talked about layering on my blog before, but it’s been a while, because this is the first time in a couple of years that I’ve written the first book in a new series, and those are the books that—for me, anyway—require the most layering.

First, an explanation. In this sense, when I talk about layering, I’m talking about the process of writing a book/scene/character in several successive layers, or passes through the manuscript. When I write sequels, I rarely need much layering, because I already know the world and the characters when I get started. But with a new world or characters (or both, in this case) there’s a lot still to figure out, even quite a way into the first draft.

For a frame of reference, in the Soul Screamers books, I mostly layered dialogue and scene-setting details. For instance, in the rough draft, most of Tod’s funny lines were missing. I had to layer them in during subsequent drafts, after everything else was already in place and I could concentrate on the finer details.

Likewise, in the first drafts of the Soul Screamers books (and just about every other book I’ve written) there were entire scenes that contained nothing but dialogue and dialogue tags (“he said,” “she said,” etc…). This is because often, especially during arguments, the dialogue flows so fast that I need to get it all down on the screen before it disappears, which leaves time for nothing else. Then, in the second draft, I go back and re-envision the scene* so that I know what the characters are doing while they’re talking, which lets me exchange the dialogue tags with descriptions of actions, movements, and expressions.

All of that is routine for me, after having written nineteen novels. But even now, writing the first book in a new series/world is…well, that’s a horse of another color. (Or so they say in Oz.)

Normally when I write a new book, my CP, Rinda Elliott, sees the second or third draft, then my editor sees the third or fourth draft, then you, dear readers, see the fifth or sixth. (For comparison, Stray, my first novel, required six full rewrites before it ever went out on submission, and it’s still far from perfect.) With this new book, I’m breaking my own rule (Never send a rough draft out for critique!) because, frankly, I’m afraid I’ll never finish this book if I don’t send some of it out for feedback before finishing the rest.

I’ve been working on this new YA for more than two years now, between my other deadlines. It’s in its fourth completely re-imagined incarnation. In fact, not one single element from the first imagining of this book has remained, except for the teen ensemble cast. And of that cast, not one character has made it through all four incarnations. The setting has changed. The names have changed. The relationships have changed. The paranormal elements have changed. The themes have definitely changed. And the title’s changed about six times.

Now that I’ve hit the right concept and the right tone, I am desperate to finish this book and send it to my agent. And I don’t have much time left in which to do that—I’m expecting revisions for both With All My Soul and Oath Bound any day now, and after that, I have to write my new, already-contracted adult book.

But back to my point. Part of the reason this one is taking so long is the layering. As I write this book, I am constantly tweaking the concepts, characters, and relationships. And each tweak means I have to go back over what’s already written and…well, tweak. I adjust dialogue to reflect a re-imagined personality strength or weakness. I tweak world-building to reflect a refined concept. I tweak inner monologue, and motivation, and speech patterns, all of which combine to establish a complete character. And all of which must be different, to reflect the individualities of each character.

What this means is that though I’m only two-thirds of the way through the official first draft, the first few chapters have already seen nearly a dozen revisions. The middle section has received about half that. And even the chapter I wrote yesterday has been read and revised three times, as of right now. Each time I read through it, I added details to the setting, not just as background, but to establish the world these characters live in. I made changes to emphasize emotions, building them to a mini-climax. I built pathos, depending not just on the horror the characters are witnessing, but on their personal connection to that horror.

The characters gain a little more depth every time I go over this manuscript. The language gains more precision. The world comes more clearly into focus.

This is not my fastest work. But when I'm finished, I hope it will be among my best.

I’ve often heard that a good sculptor simply carves away the bits of stone that don’t belong, revealing the figure trapped within. I think a writer’s job is a little more complicated than that.** A writer must first create that block of stone (the manuscript), then carve away what doesn’t need to be there, revealing the story inside (a tight, and hopefully cohesive and engaging final product).

And let me tell you, today my chiseling hand is sore.

 

* In a scene where the action is pivotal and plot-dependent, this kind of layering is not possible.

**Not to short-change sculptors. I could never do what they do.

Video Chat Tomorrow!

I'm not planning a full return to the internet until next week. I know many of you have sent me Tweets and messages, and I really appreciate your patience with my internet break. But I did want to pop in and post a reminder about tomorrow's video chat!

Below is what went out in the reminder, which you should have gotten if you signed up in advance. (You do not have to sign up in advance to attend.) Of course, because I'm a complete idiot, I did the math wrong, and the first version you received had the wrong time listed. Please ignore that one. My apologies. But you should know that because I'm a complete idiot, and because this is my first video chat, there will probably be at least one snafu during the actual chat. I'd love it if you decide to find the inevitable glitch funny, rather than exasperating. ;)

Anyway, here are the details. And because what follows is a screen shot, which means the links won't work, here's the link to my Livestream page, where you can RSVP if you want to receive an auto-reminder tomorrow.

Rachel's Livestream



*Graphic by Fiktshun, used with permission

Note: I do plan to record the event, but because this is my first shot at a video chat, I can't promise I won't somehow mess up the recording and be unable to post it.

Unplugged.

I am unplugging from the internet almost entirely for the next two weeks, in order to concentrate on a new project which is very important to me and to spend time with my family. During that time, I will not be tweeting actively or posting actively on Facebook, Formspring, or on my blog. I will be answering only business and personal emails, though No 1 will continue to check the admin address listed on my website.

Feel free to leave messages and comments. When I come back online, I'll get caught up on them.

Also, when I get back, I'll be doing this!



That gives you two more weeks to get caught up on the Soul Screamers series, so you can attend!

There will be spoilers. And prizes. And a glimpse of my office. You can ask me anything about the Soul Screamers series, and I'll answer your questions live, on camera. (Without WAMS spoilers.) To sign up, click the image above. You do not have to sign up to attend, and you do not have to attend if you sign up. But please, if you do plan to attend, fill out the form, so I know approximately how many to expect.

Details for how and where to join the chat will be forthcoming, both here and in the reminder email.

I think this'll be fun. Or...a complete disaster. Who knows. Either way, we're going to give it a shot.

Now, I have just a couple more things to announce, before I retreat into my writing cave. Here goes:

The randomly drawn winner of a Tod quote shirt (from the YA Crush Tourney) is... Heather Mitchell, whose comment read: I voted because Tod is just soooooooooooooo freaking awesome. Heather, please email me (admin1ATrachelvincentDOTcom) your shipping information and your choice of shirt from those listed here.

The winner of the Tin Swift giveaway is Crystal M., whose information has been passed along to the publisher.

That's it for now! See you on July 28th!