Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guest Post - Author Rachel Vincent

Not only is today the official release day for Prey, the fourth book in Rachel Vincent's terrific urban fantasy Shifter series, but I also have the pleasure of having Rachel here today for a guest post. The story of werecat Faythe and the Pride just keeps getting better and better (see my review here) and you won't want to miss this newest chapter.

To celebrate the launch of the book, I am also giving away a copy of Prey to a randomly selected commenter - more details at the end of the post. Please feel free to say hello, leave a comment or ask Rachel a question.

So with no further delay I welcome Rachel Vincent.

Today is the official release date for Prey, the fourth Shifters novel, and in my opinion, this is the best of the series. At least so far. But it didn’t start out that way.

Prey was my problem book. If it had been a child, it would have been the stereotypical middle child, outshined by siblings. I was writing the first draft back in April of 2008, but at that point, I also had a couple of other things on my plate. Rogue came out on April 1, and a week later, my YA debut, My Soul to Take, went to auction. So I was trying to write a new book in the middle of a new release and a shiny new (terribly exciting) sale.

That’s too many new things at once. Saying I couldn’t concentrate would be like saying the ocean is kind of deep. And, frankly, that scared me very, very badly.

I’ve always prided myself on my ability to concentrate on the work at hand regardless of what’s going on around me. That’s the only way I get any work done, because no matter how it looks from the outside, my life is not calm and peaceful. Writing is almost never the only thing I have going on, and I rarely get to do it in silence. Or even mostly-quiet.

So, even though I hadn’t intended for those three major career events to line up as they did, I thought I’d be able to handle it. All of it. Easily.

I was wrong. The work suffered.

“Why?” You may ask. “Releases and auctions are good things!”

Yes, they are, and I’m incredibly grateful to have experienced them both. But they’re also very, very stressful and time consuming. As you may have noticed, I try to do lots of online promo for my books, because I feel like I can reach more readers per promo dollar spent that way, than any other way. But that means doing bunches of interviews and Q&As, and sometimes struggling to find creative ways to answer questions I’ve been asked a dozen times or more. Or searching desperately for a guest blog topic I haven’t already beaten to death. And counting/approving contest entries, and keeping the cut-off dates and winners addresses organized in my head.

In addition to all that, my email volume shoots through the roof in the two week period surrounding each new release. And since I answer all my own email, that means hours spent at the keyboard every day, not writing.

As for the auction, yes, that’s another very good thing. Very exciting, and validating, and flattering. But it also comes with huge doses of nerves and doubt, and—at least in this particular case—up to eight calls a day from my agent. And sometimes conference calls with some of the editors involved. And much soul searching and advice seeking. And worries, and hopes, and what-ifs. And sometimes a we-need-an-answer-by-a-certain-time deadline.

No pressure, right?

And then, just when everything began to calm down—My Soul to Take found a home and Rogue survived its first week in the wild—and I thought I’d be free to concentrate on Prey… revisions for Pride came in.

Yes, seriously. So I had to put aside the rough draft—again—and get the revisions out of the way, because I typically have a pretty tight deadline for revisions.

By the time I was free to concentrate in full on Prey…I’d lost the feel of the story. I still had my outline, but I was no longer in that place, if that makes sense. And Prey, as it turns out, is the turning point for the entire Shifters series, which means I really needed to nail it. Perfectly.

I’d written a couple of real bombshells into the plot, and I needed to be in a certain place, emotionally, to write them. One of them (chapters 16 & 17), I got right the first time around. For which I’m eternally grateful. But chapter 19 was another story entirely. I waffled on that one. Asked advice from CP, agent, and editor, and got conflicting advice from all three. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, since my question was of the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I variety.

But, as is my policy, I powered through the rough draft, polished it twice, then turned it in.

A couple of months later, I got a call from my editor. The book just wasn’t working. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that’s the gist of it. So for the first time in my career, I sat down to do a major rewrite. A complete plot overhaul.

Ironically enough, that overhaul did not involve those two bombshell sections (except for fleshing out ch. 19). Evidently I put all my energy and focus into getting those right, and neglected the actual one-book (as opposed to the series-wide) plot arc.

Rewriting the book hurt. And it was hard. Not just tedious (as edits can sometimes be) or challenging (who doesn’t like a challenge?). I mean it was just old-fashioned hard work. Plain and simple. But I am so incredibly relieved and thrilled to say that the work paid off. In my opinion, this is by far the best of the Shifters books. And if this is what it takes for me to truly reach my potential as a writer, I say bring on the hard work. I’m ready. I’m in this for the long haul. For the war, not just for the battle.

I’m in this for the stories that must be told. Prey is one of those. I hope it moves you as much as it moved me.

Thank you Rachel for your time, and sharing your thoughts on the creative journey that produced Prey, and more importantly for giving us all many, many hours of terrific reading.

To get a copy of Prey into a lucky readers hands quickly, the giveaway runs only until Friday July 3 at Midnight. I will announce the winner in my Saturday Urban Fantasy Weekend Report. The rules are simple - leave a comment and a way to reach you. Open to everyone worldwide. If you'd like to post a link to the interview for an extra entry, please leave a link in your comment.

Rachel has a very busy summer with the My Soul To Take, the first book in her Soul Screamers young adult series from Harlequin Teen also coming August 1. You will be able to learn more about it, when Rachel returns to for another guest appearance on July 29. Today is also the release of the Soul Screamers prequel My Soul To Lose in exclusive ebook format. Details here.

Shifters Series:

  1. Stray (2007)
  2. Rogue (2008)
  3. Pride (2009)
  4. Prey (July 1, 2009)
  5. Shift (March 2010)
  6. Alpha (October 2010)
You can visit Rachel Vincent at her website here and blog here.


  1. Very well done guest post.

    Rachel, hard work in writing always pays off. Your comments spoke to me as writer to writer, and as I have an interest in shapeshifters I'm off to buy your books.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I forgot to add: barbaramartin33@yahoo dot ca.

  4. So excited for this release! Count me in! Thanks

  5. Doug,

    Thank you for the wonderful interview. :) I love this series and can't wait to get my hands on Prey.


  6. Hopefully things have quieted down a bit for you now, Rachel!

  7. Great post! I can't wait to get my hands on Prey.

  8. Great interview. Great giveaway, too. Count me in.
    calcamanin at gmail dot com

  9. Oh, crossing fingers. Count me in.

  10. Hi Rachel, thanks for sharing your time and your backstory with us. I've really enjoyed this series and look forward to reading Prey.


  11. Would love to win one as I am in the UK and who knows when it will actually be released here so please enter me!!
    Thanks! Jo

  12. OMG I knew you'd had a tough time with this one but not THAT tough. Hopefully that just means this one will be your best yet! :D (And I have no doubts about that).

    Contact: always.and.never AT gmail DOT com

  13. Sounds like a hard-won victory. Please enter me!

  14. Fantastic post! I absolutely love the series and am dying to get my hands on Prey. Count me in please!

  15. That's an awesome post, Rachel! I'd love to win a copy of Prey...

    dreyshouse at gmail dot com

  16. Very interesting interview. I've been intrigued by this series ever since seeing the cover for Prey featured on this blog. I'm curious if Rachel thinks that this latest book can be read without having read the previous volumes (since that's where I'd be should I win)?

    Thanks for the contest offer.

  17. I can't imagine the stress of having to rewrite. It's almost like starting all over again. I think that my creative confidence would be shot.



  18. Hi, I'm sort of all over the place. I'd love to be in the running for this giveaway

  19. I always enjoy getting insight from authors on the writing process, so I really liked this post.

    Sara M
    silentalibis AT yahoo DOT com

  20. Ethansdad said...
    I'm curious if Rachel thinks that this latest book can be read without having read the previous volumes (since that's where I'd be should I win)?

    I'd love to say that you could start with Prey and not miss anything, but I think that would be dishonest of me. I think you'd want to have read Pride, at the least, before you dive into Prey, in order to understand the politics and get the full depth of the characters.

    That said, however, I think the central plot of the this one book (though probably not the overarcing series plot) would still make sense. Thoughts, anyone who's read them all?

  21. Having read them all, I would say that the plot and events of Prey do stand well enough on their own. To fully appreciate the nuances of the world-building and emotional impact of this character-driven series though, I would say why not start from the beginning eepcially when you know there is a great payoff when you get to Prey. I know for myself I love discovering a series I've not read that has a backlist - no waiting!

  22. Awesome post! I knew it was a lot of work but seeing it all written down.... I apologize for harrassing you with all my emails! I can only imagine the number of emails you receive in one day and the fact that you usually respond in a timely fashion speaks volumes!

    Thanks for being awesome Rachel!

    I posted this contest on my sidebar!

  23. I would love to win a copy...she's has been on my ever growing wish list of books to read

  24. Hi Doug!

    Great interview! Maybe things will be more peaceful now. Though it sounds like promoting your book is hard work too!

    I so want to read this! Please count me in!

    Oh, Happy Canada Day Doug!

    (I posted below my banner at

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Dottie :)

  25. Congrats on the release of Prey! I haven't read this series yet but look forward to giving it a try.

  26. Happy Release Day Rachel!! Sounds great and I'd love to win this book!

  27. Great interview & congrats on the release!

    ekta.p7 [at] gmail [dot] com

  28. My Soul to Lose will likely make me cry (like My Soul to Take did), but that will mean you're doing your job as a writer, that you're writing things that readers can connect with ;-)

  29. It does sound like you've been busy. Here's wishing you a quiet weekend before you have to jump back into the fray.

  30. Hi Rachel,
    Congratualtions on the release of prey. It sounds as if u should be very proud of yourself for all the work you put in.
    Have a good release day and relax.

  31. lookin forward to PREy and YA book! my soul to take.

  32. Really looking forward to reading Prey. I'd love to win a copy!

  33. Rachel,

    Thank you for writing so candidly about juggling the three books and the work related to them. It's wonderful to have writers so welcoming and willing to reach out through blogs. I really enjoy reading the different posts on a blog tour and finding out new things about an author each time.

    Please count me in - would love to read Prey!

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

  34. Prey sounds like a great book!
    chey127 at hotmail dot com

  35. Great post. I would love to be included.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  36. Hi Rachel,
    Congratulations on the release of Prey. It sounds like a great book!
    chey127 at hotmail dot com

  37. I cant wait to read Prey and My Soul to Lose. CHristy Turney

  38. Can't wait to get into this series:)

  39. Blogged about giveaway


  40. I have been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it - every review and blog post makes me want to read it more. Please enter me in the drawing.

    budletsmom at yahoo dot com

  41. Thanks for the chance to win!
    oheeyore at hotmail dot com

  42. I've been reading so much about this series around the blogs & would really like to win this one.

    Please count me in - Thanks!
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  43. Oh, I loved Stray, and I've been hearing (or more accurately, reading) great things about this installment of the series. So I'd love to win it!
    beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu

  44. fab interview - i'd love to win

    sweeps4bloggers at gmail dot com


  46. I would love a chance to win! I have never heard of that series before, but I'm so going to read it now!!
    Thanks for the giveaway :D

    TheEclecticElement AT yahoo DOT com

  47. I Love The Series and was Thrilled to hear about the latest Installment. I Can't Wait To Read It!


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