Hey, welcome back, and Happy April!
Today I have a multi-faceted author dropping in, Rachel Roy.
Rachel is a mother of four, wife of a millwright, middle school Humanities teacher, hobby homesteader, avid reader, and a writer. Often, her writing falls to the end of a long list of priorities, but as her children are less reliant upon her, she is enjoying her free time writing.
Rachel loved almost any writing assignment in school and in fact earned her BA with a degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing. Her first book in print, Growing Up As Fairies, was first started when her children were in preschool, but not completed until three of her four had graduated high school.
Rachel now enjoys writing for the serial reading platform, Kindle Vella, and intends to turn all of her serials into full length books eventually. Just as Rachel enjoys reading a wide variety of genres, she also writes in several: children’s fantasy, YA fantasy, adult fantasy romance, contemporary romance, and nonfiction about homesteading.
You can find her links to her social media, website, and writing at LINKTREE!
Star Trek or Star Wars?
I like them both. But thanks to being a Gen Xer, I watched far more of Star Trek on tv than any Star Wars. Yoda, will forever be a favorite character of mine. Ewoks too, so Star Wars is certainly a piece of me, too.
A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?
I mean it would be nice to finally have a real ending of the Game of Thrones series. I read it long before I watched the HBO version. HBO really did a good job, until they had to wrap it up and just didn’t have a final book to use.
More realistically perhaps, I enjoy reading Sarah J Maas’ books as I find them and as they are released. Also I am looking forward to the third Gindlina book by Azrielle Lawless (I’m currently reading book 2, but I know book 3 is being edited).
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
I love my coffee, only like a few teas, and generally love a mocha or rich hot cocoa. I recently discovered coffee concentrate and now I tend to heat milk, add a spoonful or two of the concentrate, and I’m off and running.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I write my nonfiction books about homesteading because it is how we live. We have the first- hand experience to help people. Some people will always dream of homesteading or being self-sufficient, but they will never take the leap. I want to help people see that they can do it. That homesteading doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. I want to break it down and show people how to start slowly, succeed, and expand. I want people to know that any level they choose to work at is ok. There is no “right way” to do it as long as all living creatures under their care are, in fact, cared for.
I started this with my How to Begin Homesteading short book. Then I added the serial How to Make Money on Your Homestead. Finally, I added the serial of Our Homestead’s Recipes. All three of these are meant to teach, to help, and to be read as needed. By this summer, I hope to have these edited again (!) and combined into one collection as an ebook and print book.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My work schedule is chaotic at best. I hardly have time to breathe at my day job, plus there is commuting to pick up my kiddo after school and then home to make dinner. It would be fantastic if I had a magical house that would clean itself and do laundry, too. So generally I don’t sit down to write until at least 7pm and maybe later. Often enough, then, just because I have time doesn’t mean that I have inspiration. So I do other writerly things like create promotions or edit. If I do have a good writing mood going I can easily write until after midnight, but I usually make myself stop then. I do need sleep as well, and my dog will wake me up about 3:3a0 when my eldest child gets home from work and then my alarm goes off about 5:50a. On the weekends I tend to stay up later and stay in bed later too.
In my perfect world, I have several episodes scheduled ahead in my serial stories so that I have a bit of a buffer. This means that I can always have some fresh writing and some editing to do, too. This does occasionally happen.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I find inspiration from all sorts of things. Sometimes from a book or tv show where I wanted a different turn of events, sometimes from people I know, sometimes a song will spark an idea. Often, I’ll be driving and have an idea percolating in my mind, and then I flesh it out later while actually writing the scene. This is also how I usually get over being “stuck” at some plot point and unsure how to move forward.
I am mostly a “pantster” making up my stories as I go along, but I also have an idea of major points I want to include. Sometimes the trick is to find the right action to move from one plot point to another to keep the storyline exciting and have it make sense.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I distinctly remember using some sort of small brown paper, stapling it into books and creating many many bunny books in kindergarten. My skills improved over time. My first published book was an ebook a few years ago as I created some very short content books, and got my feet wet again. Around this time I began blogging again too, which helped get my creativity back.
This past winter I finally published my first book to print, as well as ebook, Growing Up As Fairies.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Ha! I don’t have time for many hobbies. Unless cooking dinner, washing dishes, and folding laundry are hobbies. SEriously though, when I have spare moments I tend to squeeze in either writing, editing, or promoting my writing. It’s a full time job in itself, as is taking care of my family, and teaching 5-8th grade Humanities (English and Social Studies/History).
What does your family think of your writing?
I am one of those authors too shy to share my work. I am coming out of my shell with sharing my children’s story. The non-fiction homesteading books coming out this year will also be easy enough to share. However, I am definitely feeling vulnerable about sharing my fantasy romance series. I debated about just using a pen name for those, and I still may… That being said, my family has been supportive of my children’s book that I just published as have my coworkers. By far though, I share the most angst and excitement with my author friends who can empathize and advise.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Often, my favorite book is whichever I am writing at that moment. Parallel Worlds and Through the Gate are excellent examples of this. My stories are so varied that they all have aspects that I enjoy. My nonfiction is very different from my children’s stories which are very different than my adult fantasy fiction,...
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hardly ever hear from my readers and I would love to hear more! Reviews are great, but I would love to just chat or share comments with my readers. I have just created, and am updating, a page on my website to be a Growing Up As Fairies fan club, plus I have two reader groups on Facebook. These can all be found on my linktree and I would love to interact more!
Do you like to create books for adults?
There are some aspects of writing adult books that make it easier. While one need fluid writing free from mistakes or awkward phrases regardless of the audience, it is actually quite time consuming to maintain appropriate language levels for children’s books. Most young children will not understand allusions, and the vocabulary and sentence structures need to be simple but not condescending or overly simplistic.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I’m not sure which book first made me cry - there have been an awful lot of them. Now the challenge is not to cry when reading aloud at school! It may have been Anne of Green Gables that first made me cry or Where the Red Fern Grows, but I feel like there must have been some even earlier than those.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I absolutely considered a pen name for my romance novels. Even more so as I returned to teaching. But then I realized that most of my students will not have the stamina to read what I write. If they do, they probably also have the maturity to read it. That being said, it is only my middle grade children’s book that I talk about at school.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t want to deliver what readers don’t want, but I care more for delivering the story as it comes to me. And then editing it to be actually readable. Both my readers and I want believable characters, a storyline that (ultimately) makes sense, and a story that is interesting.
The only part I have modified is that writing on a serial platform is different than writing a novel. I need to keep in mind where to put in breaks - my audience tends to like 1,000-1,500 words at a time. As well as needing tension or a cliffhanger at the end of most of those sections. It doesn’t have to be a major cliffhanger, but something that will make them read the next episode as soon as it releases.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I initially intended for each of my stories to be a stand alone piece, but I started having some characters crossover in my two adult fantasies, which I always intended to be series. My two children’s stories were supposed to be singles, but now I am considering a second Growing Up As Fairies book, this one about the fairies celebrating holidays. The first book is a look at their daily life through the year.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much that it is so hard to find a publisher or an agent. It will become easier and easier to self publish! Just keep writing!
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
This is a little bit of a toss up. I’m not sure if the money for my new laptop and better internet were more important or to hire an illustrator because I cannot draw. It would probably also make sense to invest in advertising, but I haven’t done that yet. It would be awesome to spend less time marketing and more time writing. I had no idea that I would need to market so much.
What did you do with your first advance?
I have made next to nothing with my books on Kindle Unlimited. But the money I have made from Kindle Vella, the serial platform, has been reinvested into my vellas in terms of promotional pieces, my website, a cover, an illustrator. I probably justified a night or two of not cooking as well.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
This isn’t exactly what you’re asking, but your question made me think of it just the same. When I applied for college there was an essay question asking for two memorable challenges in my life to that point. I consciously chose to be different and spoke about one achievement and one failure. I put a learning spin on the failure, but I knew that most people would only talk about good things. I was right. During my interview for the college and later on too, I heard that I was the only one to have ever used that approach. I might have been accepted with a “regular” essay, but I was memorable for writing something differently.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
I have put out query letters to agents and even publishers when appropriate. I have received a lot of nothing back as well as a couple form rejections and a few personalized rejections. So I chose to self publish my children’s book. It may not be quite as perfect as it could be, but I happy with it.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything?
For most of them, I offer a free copy of the book autographed with a short note.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have so many WIP’s! Kindle Vella, because it is a serialized format, is really helping me go back through old projects and complete them. Adding about 1,000 words a week (and editing), sounds manageable. Whereas sitting down and completing the whole book in small bits of time squeezed in - sounds impossible. My story, Breaking the Universe, was actually my college thesis, but I had to give it a false ending in order to completely write it and do a draft of editing within one semester. Now, I can actually complete the story.
What do you have coming next?
Currently I am editing my homesteading short books to compile them into one longform ebook and print book.
I am also working on completing my two adult fantasy romances and turn them into ebooks and novellas. I hope to release the first, Through the Gate (working title) on my husband’s birthday in July. Ultimately, this should be a trilogy.
Following the completion of these projects I hope to return to my Growing Up As Fairies book and write a sequel, perhaps focusing on how the fairies celebrate holidays…