They call me Rachel Kelly…probably because that’s what my parents put on my birth certificate back in New Bern, NC back in the early ’80s. I grew up the child of two Marine Core parents in Eastern North Carolina. I went to College as FAR away from my hometown as I could get in a little known place called Cullowhee. It’s an unincorporated town…not even a real town. The “barber” is the unofficial mayor.
I fell in love with a guy while teaching how to count down his cash drawer at the end of the night while working at Walmart. After finally convincing him to ask me out, he tells me to choose between marriage and breaking up a week later. I say, “Sure, lets do it,” and we have made 4 really good looking children.
I was whisked away by my true love to California where I had two of my kids as he got a Masters of Divinity and started a Financial Services Company (exotic, I know). The stock market crashed and we left California about as broke as a family of 4 could be and moved back to North Carolina.
After 2 years in NC, the stock market crashed again. But we still had 2 more kids (Can’t stop true love).
Tired of being broke and having the stock market wreak havoc on our lives, Brad moved out to the Oil Mecca of Williston, ND. After nearly 3 months I decided being a single Mom of 4 was waaaaaay overrated and I packed up the family, threw 1/2 our stuff in storage, rented out the house, and headed for the Great White North.
With no one to call a great friend (just yet) I hunkered down to write my fingers off in ND. The scenery inspired me and I got VERY serious about Colorworld. I fell in love with the rolling plains, the bitter cold, and the amazing people coming from all over the world to change their fortunes forever.
What inspires you to write?
Answering questions about myself and about reality. Reconciling myself to the things I have experienced in life and have learned.
It is a process of self-discovery and I am addicted.
Tell us about your writing process.
-I write the first drafts of everything without regard for style of word choice. It usually comes so quickly that I just don’t have time to agonize over synonyms and metaphors and style. I want to get the story down. It definitely is on the fly. Characterization, plot, everything. I actually get to know my characters as I write them. I don’t know them beforehand.
-Then I edit structure and continuity. I keep a notebook for timelines and pertinent facts that I need to remember. Plot charts. That kind of thing. I question my characters’ choices and make sure they behave consistently. I look for contrived plot elements and go after them with a beat-stick. I generally do this type of edit 6-7 times before I send it off to the editor.
-Then off to the editor it goes. She writes down what she thinks, wonders about, as a reader. Then she does grammatical edits and crosses out lots of redundant, wordy stuff. Writes down SDT, inevitably, all over the place. Then she gives me a big ole email of notes about characterization, plot development, technicalities, questions that need answers, and other aspects.
-Then I dive into it. It takes me at least a couple weeks to get through this particular edit. It pretty much resembles my other edits in process, except that I focus on notes from my editor as I go through it.
-Fine-tuning. Once the plot is done, this is when my style really comes to life. I enhance descriptions. I think to myself “stream of consciousness” so that one moment flows to the next unobtrusively. I eliminate repetitive words and phrases. I make love to my delete key. So far, I do pretty well with just referencing my notebooks for facts and timelines and also using word’s comment feature to highlight places I need to look into. I do this type of edit over and over, just like the pre-editor phase.
-Copy Edit-ALSO done by someone else(s)
*All through this process I have periods of letting the manuscript rest. I work on other projects and then come back to it repeatedly. Otherwise I develop severe tunnel vision. Inevitably, however, by the time I’m done, I’ve pretty much memorized the whole thing. I have literally agonized over every word.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to them. But I do listen to them. A LOT. They tell me who they are. I don’t tell them who they are. If I’m unsure about what my character should/would do, I write the first thing that came to mind and then I re-read it to see how it feels. My BS meter is pretty fine-tuned. I can tell pretty quickly if my character is “out of character.”
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t try to do it perfect the first go-round. Just get the story down and then build on it with each edit. Too many writers/aspiring writers I know get bogged down in the middle because they worry too much about what they have already written. Expect the first draft to be an utter chaotic mess. It’s okay. That’s what editing is for.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Research, research, research. I even wrote a paper on the e-publishing revolution for my masters. It is a new age for publishing and I believe in the indie revolution. We need more voices. More words. More options. We need to realize how diverse the world is. We need more ways to relate to each other.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Book publishing, the traditional way, is a form of censorship. In the past publishers told us what was good for us to read. And going through a middle man like that, not to mention the limited paper format, made it an expensive hobby. But now it’s a very affordable hobby. Book lovers can consume more content than ever. And they can be exposed to such a wealth of viewpoints. Now literature is reader-driven rather than publisher-driven. For publishers these days, it’s about guessing who will win rather than making who will win. For example, a great deal of literary agents require you to have a polished manuscript because that is what publishers require. They are cutting costs (editors) because the competition is so steep. They want to find authors that already have a following, a fan base, a marketing strategy.
Indie authors will continue to rise and I believe the quality will rise as more indies become popular because authors will see what works. And what works is quality. You have to invest something. You have to own every aspect of your work and treat it with the same care a big-name publisher would. As this happens, it’s very possible that we will see a major decline in traditional publishing success.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print