Who Art Thou Thursday: Rachel Haimowitz

Rachel Haimowitz has joined us today for an interview. If you haven’t checked out the excerpt she left last Tuesday, shame on you. 🙂 You can head there after the interview. For now, Welcome Ms. Haimowitz… leave a comment, bombard her with questions. 🙂

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Where He Belongs, a collection of vignettes in the Anchored: Belonging world, just released on July 1. (It’s not necessary to have read Anchored to follow Where He Belongs.)

I’m a big fan of vignettes, and as both a reader and a writer it’s exciting to explore these little snapshots in time, little morsels of a character’s life that help you understand what shaped him. In Where He Belongs, you essentially get to watch Daniel–the slave protagonist in Anchored–grow up. The stories track him from the age of eleven, when he first gets sold to NewWorld Media; through to after he’s given his own show. I hope fans of Anchored will find these glimpses into Daniel’s past quite satisfying, and that readers approaching the Belonging ‘verse for the first time will be temped to learn more 🙂

Give us a brief description of a story you have hidden in your skeleton closet? And will it ever see the light of day?

I started my very first novel when I was 16, and “finished” it around my 24th birthday. It’s a MESS, mind you, but it holds a special place in my heart for sure, and one day I’d like to pull it out and fix it. It was this sprawling post-apocalyptic thing where America turns into an iron-fisted theocracy ruled by–supposedly–the second coming of Christ. Even though of course the guy is totally not. Society has striated into castes, with the majority more or less enslaved to a ruling elite. The book follows a young man in the lower caste who’s lost his faith and struggles terribly to find place and purpose in a world where faith is all people like him have.

It was much too ambitious for a first novel. I didn’t have the skills I needed to make it work–not even close. Now I think I might be nearly ready to dust it off, but I’ve got a list of projects a mile long now so I’m not sure if or when I’ll ever manage to work in what’s essentially a scrap-and-rewrite.

How much of you/your life do you put into your stories?

Little things sneak in here and there. That’s inevitable, I think. But I tend to write in the speculative fiction genres, and I tend to write about extraordinary men, and obviously none of those things are a part of my real life, so there’s quite a bit of disconnect (and research) between myself, my life, and my books. But sometimes pretty big things become a part of it. For instance, I co-wrote a cyberpunk novella called Break and Enter with Aleks Voinov (releasing in December with Samhain), and one of the two heroes in B&E is a paramedic. I ran on an ambulance for years, so of course many of his skills and experiences were lifted from my own past experiences. In that particular case, even the rig (ambulance) number, some of the street names, and the location of the squad house were lifted right from my old stomping ground–it was my way of paying homage to the crew who gave me the skills and experience I needed to co-write that story.

For you, what’s the easiest part of the writing process?

Breeding new plot bunnies. I go to bed with two story ideas in my head, and when I wake up, there are, like, ten more. They’re busy little things! The problem with this is that I’m very easily distracted by new things, so I’ll be in the middle of a book under deadline, and a bright new idea will pop into my head Athena-style, fully formed, and wave its arms and jump up and down and scream, “Look at me, I’m SO SHINY!” And I’m a sucker for the shiny. So while it’s great that I’ll never run out of ideas, it can make writing the current one kind of tough.

Anything special you’d like to say to readers?

THANK YOU. I know that’s not terribly original, but it sure is heartfelt. I’m slowly on the path to being able to write full-time and actually maybe be able to pay my bills with it, and that wonderful gift is entirely because of readers who lay down valuable time and money to read, buy, and spread the word about my books.

What are you working on now?

A few things, actually. I’m in the middle of a short story for a Storm Moon Press anthology called The Weight of a Gun, which focuses–surprise surprise–on gunplay during sex. I’m sure it will also surprise you all to learn that mine’s pretty dark 😉 But it’s definitely sexy.

I’m also diving into the Anchored sequel, which I’m quite excited about, as I’ll be exploring the broader world–something I didn’t really have an opportunity to do in Anchored–and also exploring some more of the politics of a slave-holding culture. Daniel will finally get to come into his own, and to learn for the first time what it’s like to choose love freely.

What’s your favorite part about the publishing process and why? (consider the initial book concept all the way through marketing, and beyond)

Release day! 😀 It’s incredibly stressful, of course–you’re worried whether it will sell and whether people will like it, and you’re mired in what feels like 24/7 promo to get the word out (because quite possibly the only thing worse than negative reviews is obscurity). But it’s also incredibly exciting, that process of releasing your baby into the readers’ hands, getting out there and being a part of a new conversation, sharing your excitement with the world. And incredibly satisfying, as well, to see what might be three or six or even twelve months of hard work all coming to that one moment, that one day. Just fantastic.

How about some quickies!

Pencil or Pen: Pen

Print or Cursive: Print

Pantser or Plotter: Pantser

Favorite Candy: White chocolate

Worst habit: Everything to do with my (non-existent) sleep schedule

 

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About the Rachel Haimowitz

Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She’s also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.

She originally dipped her toes into cable news and book publishing, decided the water was cold and smelled kinda funny, and moved on to helping would-be authors polish and publish, writing for websites and magazines, and ghostwriting nonfiction.

Her first novel, Counterpoint: Book One of Song of the Fallen, released in August of 2010 with Guiltless Pleasure Publishing. Things pretty much spiraled from there, and now she plans to release four or five new stories each year. She loves playing with shorts and novellas just as much as sinking her claws into the worldbuilding fun of a novel.

When she’s not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.

You can find Rachel Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Don’t miss the other events for Ms. Haimowitz’s release party. Giveaways, excerpts and more, oh my! Hit the schedule here.

You can find works by Rachel Haimowitz at the following locations:

Where He Belongs:

Storm Moon Press *** Preferred Point of Sale

Smashwords

 

Anchored:

Amazon

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

Counterpoint:

Barnes & Nobles

Amazon

Sublime:

Amazon

Smashwords

Teaser Tuesday: Where He Belongs by Rachel Haimowitz

Happy 4th of July everyone… or rather the day after.

Exciting news for my writing buddy, Rachel Haimowitz. Last week, her latest work, Where He Belongs hit the shelves. A few months ago, I reviewed Anchored (see here), which I loved. Guess what? Nah. I’ll just tell ya. Ms. Haimowitz is sharing an awesome short from Where He Belongs, which is from the same series as Anchored. Pretty great timing also, since many of us are still recovering from the festivities from last night.

The hottest name in network news is Daniel Halstrom. He is a sensation, a rising star. He is also a slave, owned wholly and completely by NewWorld Media.

But before he was a star, he was a frightened child from a bad place with a promising, if limited, future ahead of him. In The New Kid, young Daniel begins his schooling. Then, for a slave, the simple pleasure of a Bathroom Break is sometimes the only pleasure to be had. Later, Daniel doesn’t know it, but A Chance Encounter might be the most important of his life. Next, in Camera Obscura, one of Daniel’s colleagues reflects on the fact that as much as the camera may show, it can hide even more. Finally, when you’re a slave, Independence Day is just another day.


Independence Day

 

I’ve never quite known what to make of this day, this celebration of the nation’s independence. On the one hand, there’s a party, time off for most of us, and a magnificent fireworks display we get to watch from the roof of our West Side dormitory. It’s one of the few nights a year the InfoGlobe slaves can drink—can get drunk, even, but don’t expect an ounce of sympathy for hangovers in the morning—can dance and sing and gorge ourselves on barbecue and just… relax. On the other hand, we’re slaves, and ‘independence’ is just another empty word. It doesn’t really apply to us.

I think too much, I know. Nobody else looks sad tonight. Nobody else looks introspective. Yet, as I stare out over the sparkling lights of Midtown, I can’t help but wonder how different my life would really be if the British still ruled the colonies. The beer in my hand would be warm, perhaps, but I’d still be a slave, still be doing someone else’s work and calling someone else master. All our vaunted democracy, our taxation with representation, means nothing to me. Nothing at all. I can’t vote. I can’t even testify in court without a judiciary waiver. After all, I don’t pay taxes. I’m nothing to the IRS but a corporate write-off, a dependant.

I wonder if the slaves in England are tax deductible, too.

I take a swig of my beer and lean out over the lip of the roof. It’s a long, long way down to the pavement. If I had my way, I’d be watching the fireworks from the South Street Seaport tonight, one tiny speck among the noise and the heat and the crowd, elbowing for a spot with a view on the overpass while I drank my beer.

No… if I really had my way, I’d be watching the fireworks with Victor, curled up somewhere quiet and alone, not worried about how late we stay out or how drunk we get or where we have to be tomorrow or who catches us making love. But Victor is gone, taken I-don’t-know-where, and I need to find a way to let go of him because he’s never coming back, and wishing after what you can’t have will only get you beaten.

Fifteen floors below, couples walk by hand in hand, laughing and kissing and pointing up at the shows in the sky. There are no bracelets around their wrists. Celebration comes easy to them.

I dangle my half-empty beer bottle over the edge and wonder what would happen if I dropped it on their heads. But I’m not a cruel person, and I know, deep down, that I could never do such a thing. I couldn’t even go to jail for it; slaves aren’t independent enough to serve time for their crimes. No, InfoGlobe would be fined, almost certainly sued. And me? Beaten to within an inch of my life, I bet. Maybe even put down if I hurt them badly enough. And if it were me instead of some bottle going splat on the pavement? Would anyone miss me? Or would I just be some negative number on a balance sheet somewhere, one less disposable reporter to send into danger zones for a story? I turn away from the edge with a disgusted grunt, finish my beer in one long gulp, and toss the bottle in the recycling before I get any more ideas.

Behind me, the fireworks grow more intense. Last year, I watched them with Victor. We snuck off into some dark corner and necked for an hour before the show began while everyone else was busy getting trashed and stuffing themselves full of hotdogs. Fuck, I miss him. I hope he’s all right. Why won’t they tell me where they sent him? It’s not like I could go after him, like any of us could go anywhere they didn’t want us to. I just want to know. Don’t I have that right, at least?

But no, no, of course I don’t. And I never will. And I’d best get used to that sooner rather than later, because wishing for things you can’t have…

But it’s more complicated than that, isn’t it? It’s not just about them. No, it’s about me. It’s about finding my own small measure of independence. Independence from want, independence from fear, independence from unhappiness. It might start out a lie at first, but eventually it wouldn’t be. Eventually, I’d fool even myself.

The finale has begun, and I turn back to the fireworks, grab another beer off the table, and smile at a supervisor who eyes me like the expensive piece of property I am. My grin feels fake, but it won’t always be, not if I keep doing it long enough. I turn my eyes skyward and chase the image of Victor from my head with another long swig of beer. Happy fucking Fourth of July, I think, toasting the city with my bitter drink. Happy Independence Day.

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Don’t miss the other events for Ms. Haimowitz’s release party. Giveaways, excerpts and more, oh my! Hit the schedule here.

Find Where He Belongs by Rachel Haimowitz at:

Storm Moon Press *** Preferred Point of Sale

Smashwords

 

Find Anchored at:

Amazon

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

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About the Rachel Haimowitz

Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She’s also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.

She originally dipped her toes into cable news and book publishing, decided the water was cold and smelled kinda funny, and moved on to helping would-be authors polish and publish, writing for websites and magazines, and ghostwriting nonfiction.

Her first novel, Counterpoint: Book One of Song of the Fallen, released in August of 2010 with Guiltless Pleasure Publishing. Things pretty much spiraled from there, and now she plans to release four or five new stories each year. She loves playing with shorts and novellas just as much as sinking her claws into the worldbuilding fun of a novel.

When she’s not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.

You can find Rachel at RachelHaimowitz.com, tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

Guest Post: Rachel Haimowitz on Work-For-Hire Part III

Rachel Haimowitz has a wealth of knowledge, and she’s back again today to continue her Work-For-Hire series. If you missed part one or two, definitely take a looksee.

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Last week, I went over all the different tasks required to turn a manuscript into a saleable book. While it’s true you can do many of those tasks yourself, there is wisdom in hiring professionals. I mean, you could stitch a gaping wound in your own arm, but it’s probably not a good idea. For one, it’d hurt like a bitch. For another, you’ll probably leave an ugly scar. You might get an infection. You might fail to seal the wound properly so it can heal. In self-publishing, things like proofreading or writing cover blurbs can be just as painful, self-editing can be just as unhealthy, and doing your own cover art can end in results as unappealing.

So if you want to set yourself above the rank-and-file and compete with the professional service package you’d find at a publishing house, hire the pros.

Sounds Great, but What’s It Going to Cost Me? (And What Will I Get for My Money?)

Short answer? You get what you pay for.

Long answer? Is long. Long enough to break into several posts. Bear with me. Today I’m talking exclusively about developmental editors, whose critical functions I discussed last Friday in my first post.

The best developmental editors are both trained and experienced. That doesn’t mean your cousin Vinnie can’t give good feedback about the structure of your novel; it just means that the best of the best could (and may very well) teach workshops and use their own clients’ successful books as examples.

A good developmental editor (DE) will take the time to understand your vision of the book as a whole, as well as the purpose and vision of each chapter, scene, and paragraph. They’ll talk with you. A lot. They’ll question the value of every scene, every character, every primary and secondary plot point. They’ll quiz you about themes, and messages, and motives. They’ll seek to understand both your characters’ desires and your desires as a writer. They’ll make sure you’re getting your point across without jamming it down your readers’ throats. They’ll say, “I think this is what you intended to say,” and if you agree, they’ll work with you to make the text say exactly that.

Understandably, this is a painstaking process. You and your DE might go through four, five, even a dozen rounds of edits. If you’re very lucky and your text is already very clean, you’ll nail it in two or three.

The upper echelon of DEs may charge by the word or by the hour—usually somewhere between $.07 and $.15 a word, or $50 to $100 an hour. (Most will work in the $50 to $75 an hour range. I work for $60, if you’re curious.) They are professionals. They have worked in Manhattan publishing or a professional equivalent. They’ve been thanked in the acknowledgements of successful books, and have significantly contributed to said successes. They do not bullshit with you about how long the process will take or how taxing it will be, nor do they promise that their efforts will lead to a bestseller or even a publishing contract. They do not work on every project that comes their way; they’re busy enough to pick and choose, and know better than to edit a manuscript outside their field of expertise.

Nervous about paying by the hour rather than the word? I promise you, a professional will only bill you for the time they put in. When I first started hiring freelancers by the hour, I had some misgivings about this: How will I know how much time the job actually takes? How will I know if they’re screwing me? The answer is that reputation is worth much more in this business than a single project, and true professionals won’t throw their reputation away for a few hundred extra dollars.

Less-expensive DEs will work in the $.04 to $.06 per word or $25 to $50 per hour range. As I said at the top of this section, you get what you pay for; I’d give 50/50 odds that a person you hire in this cost range will be qualified to do the work—at least enough so to justify their fee. Not getting your money’s worth would be unfortunate, but not nearly as unfortunate as an editor who is actively destructive to your vision. Even worse, you may not realize that’s happening, or that you’re being ripped off—which can happen even when the editor has the kindest heart and the best of intentions. This kind of work is so specialized and difficult that many early-career writers don’t quite know how to judge the efficacy of someone’s developmental edits.

Anyone charging less than the prices I’ve quoted is very likely not qualified, although of course there are always exceptions. What you’ll find in the lower cost ranges are often professionals, but of the wrong kind: people with advanced English degrees, or journalists, or freelance magazine writers—people who think that these experiences qualify them to do developmental work. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t. Even most successful authors will tell you they don’t feel qualified to do professional developmental edits on other people’s work. If you’re going to pay someone for this job, make sure that someone has actually done developmental edits in a professional capacity and has a track record to prove it.

As for how long the job actually takes? Well, that depends quite heavily on the state of your manuscript and your receptivity to being edited in such a fundamental way. Try to remember that the DE is your project’s greatest ally; she only wants what’s best for the book while staying true to your voice and vision. (Keep that in mind when you feel like she’s flaying you and your literary babies alive; this process is not painless.) In my experience, a 75,000-word novel will take anywhere from 30 to 150 hours to developmental edit. (At $60 an hour, that’s a serious investment—between $1,800 and $9,000!) This is a huge span, I know, but like I said, it all depends on how much work your manuscript needs and how adept you are at addressing the issues.

If you have $1,800 to spend, but not $9,000, you may wish to pay for an evaluation first. By which I mean you pay a (qualified!) DE to read your manuscript for the sole purpose of identifying issues. She won’t fix them, but she will point them out. She’ll leave you with an actionable list (either written, via phone call, or both) of items that need fixing, and she’ll be able to tell you (more or less) exactly how much it would cost to retain her services for said fixes. If her list doesn’t ring true to you, you probably don’t want to hire her for anything more. But if you keep nodding your head and going, “Ah, yes,” then you and she are likely to work well together.

Costs for evaluations vary widely, but a good rule of thumb is $1 to $3 per page. A “page” is generally considered 250 words, so an evaluation for your 75,000 word manuscript would cost roughly $300 to $900. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY. If nothing else, you can use her list to self-edit to the best of your ability.

If you’re on a fixed budget, you can ask prospective editors if they’re willing to do a less-detailed job for a specific cost. If an editor is willing to do this, she’ll prioritize issues to address the most pressing ones within the time you’ve given her.

If developmental editing is out of your price range, your next best bet is to hire the most brilliant copyeditor you can find. I’ll talk about those obsessive-compulsive workhorses of the publishing industry—and I say this with the utmost love, as someone who’s both performed and depended on this skill for almost a decade—in my next post.

 

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Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She originally dipped her toes into cable news and book publishing, decided the water was cold and smelled kinda funny, and moved on to help would-be authors polish and publish, write for websites and magazines, and ghostwrite nonfiction.

Currently she has a contemporary BDSM collection (Sublime: Collected Shorts) and two M/M erotic romance novels (a high fantasy adventure titled Counterpoint: Book One of Song of the Fallen, and a modern-day slavery alternate universe story titled Anchored: Belonging Book One) in print. Her third novel, Crescendo: Book II of Song of the Fallen, will release in the fall of 2011 with Guiltless Pleasure Publishing; and her first novella, an M/M cyberpunk story co-written with Aleksandr Voinov titled Break and Enter, will release with Samhain Publishing around December of 2011.

You can find Rachel at RachelHaimowitz.com, tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

Guest Post: Rachel Haimowitz on Work-For-Hire Part II

Today Rachel is back for part II of hiring the staff one needs to make that novel a success. Take it away, Rachel!

On Friday, I told you all about the editorial services you might want/need for your self-published story (or for one you’re hoping to spit-shine before you submit for traditional publishing consideration). Today I’ll be talking about some other services you’ll either need to do yourself or hire someone else to do for you. By and large, I recommend the latter if you can afford it. Odds are a pro will do a much better job than you can (unless one of these tasks falls under your skill set), and it’ll also keep your time free(r) for important things like writing your next book.

Layout Artist: Once all your edits are done, you’ll need to hire an interior layout artist. This is particularly important if you plan to make your book available in print, since that involves so much more than just slapping a cover on a Word doc. You need someone with the right software (like Adobe’s InDesign) to make all your pretty drop-caps at the start of each chapter, format your layout so that the page numbers are always at the outer paper edge regardless of which side of the page they’re on, pick fonts that are interesting and readable, and leave enough white space for aesthetic pleasantry.

Cover Artist: The next thing you’ll need is a cover artist. If you’re handy with Photoshop and have a good visual eye, you may be able to do this yourself with stock photos. Odds are, a professional or even a talented amateur will do a better job. Since we all know that covers—fairly or unfairly—are usually the first thing to attract a reader to your book (yes, even if it’s an ebook), this is not a place where you’ll want to cut corners. Speaking of ebooks, make sure that your cover shrinks down into a recognizable and appealing thumbnail, since that’s how it’ll be displayed on most sites. If it looks great in 6×9 but I can’t read your title in 66×99 pixels, then you need to start again.

File Converters & Marketers: Last are file converters and marketers. Both of these can be done yourself. Smashwords.com allows you to upload a very carefully and precisely formatted Word document (yes, they provide instructions for said formatting) to its “meatgrinder,” and spits back out clean files in just about every format you could ever want, including the all-important .pdf (readable on almost all devices), .mobi (for Kindle), and .epub (for the Nook and many others). They do not charge you for this, but be prepared to spend a good few hours fixing the formatting in your novel-length Word doc according to their detailed instructions so that the meatgrinder will function.

As for marketers, there are many people ready and eager to sell you things you really don’t need. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to market, because you totally do. Not even the greatest book in the world will sell if nobody knows it exists. I’m not going to get into marketing in this post—that’s a topic for another (dozen or so) posts that others have covered better than I could ever hope to. But I will say that if you’re willing to spend 30 to 60 minutes a day doing your own marketing, and a few weeks educating yourself about how best to go about that, you’ll do just fine.

Tune in to my next post to find out what these services might cost you, and what you can expect to get for your money.

 

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Rachel is an M/M erotic romance author and a freelance writer and editor. She originally dipped her toes into cable news and book publishing, decided the water was cold and smelled kinda funny, and moved on to help would-be authors polish and publish, write for websites and magazines, and ghostwrite nonfiction.

Currently she has a contemporary BDSM collection (Sublime: Collected Shorts) and two M/M erotic romance novels (a high fantasy adventure titled Counterpoint: Book One of Song of the Fallen, and a modern-day slavery alternate universe story titled Anchored: Belonging Book One) in print. Her third novel, Crescendo: Book II of Song of the Fallen, will release in the fall of 2011 with Guiltless Pleasure Publishing; and her first novella, an M/M cyberpunk story co-written with Aleksandr Voinov titled Break and Enter, will release with Samhain Publishing around December of 2011.

You can find Rachel at RachelHaimowitz.com, tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Rachel-Haimowitz.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.