Sugar Nut, Noted Naysayer, Thrift Store Junky, Gypsy Jazzer, Flip-Flop Fiend, Flavored Lattes: Decaf Only Please! Doggy Mama: Adopt Today! Lives in Fantasy Land-Come visit me, there’s room for everyone!
Rachel Humphrey – D’aigle was born in Malden Massachusetts, in July of 1973. A few months later the Great Chelsea Fire burned the family home and business. After spending the next 8 years traveling around New England as migrant workers (in attempts to rebuild their lives), her family finally settled down in Freedom, Maine.
Rachel graduated from Mount View High School in 1991 and continued her education at the University of Maine where she met and married her husband, Gypsy Jazz musician and Luthier, Rich D’aigle. They currently reside in the state of Utah, in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley alongside two furry beasties.
What inspires you to write?
Before I started writing I first read. And read. And read. I actually learned to read a little late in life. As you can imagine, when you live a nomadic lifestyle until you’re nearly eight years old, regular schooling is difficult. So it wasn’t until I was about eleven that I really started getting comfortable with reading. Once I did get a handle on it I fell in love, hard! After a few years of reading everything I could get my hands on, I took a creative writing class and fell in love with telling my own stories. I thrived on the control I had in creating my own worlds.
Reading and writing was an escape for me when I was younger. Really the only escape I had from a life that was filled with many difficult situations. The life of my youth is actually the basis for my series, the Fated Saga. This story is loosely based on my own experiences, in living a nomadic/gypsy-esque lifestyle, while at the time same growing up in a religious cult, as well as being the eldest sibling in a very large family.
Many authors before me have said similar things, how reading and writing saved their lives… allowed them to escape terrible things and disappear into another world. But not every child that lives through terrible times automatically becomes a writer or an artist. So what drives me to write? I don’t know if I can name that one thing that makes me a writer. I just cannot imagine another way of expressing myself. It’s like when I was born I had “writer” stamped on my birth certificate. It is my past, present and future self… I just know with absolute certainty that when someone asks me what I do? I answer, writer… there is no other answer.
Tell us about your writing process
My writing process has taken a few years to work out, but this is what works for me:
With my series, the Fated Saga, I first spent over a year writing back histories for each of my characters, deciding where I wanted each of their stories to go by the end of the series. Then, I outlined the entire series. Not a serious, in depth outline, just a basic- this is where it will start, these specific things will happen along the way and this is where it will end. With each book I usually start out scribbling notes down on paper and then typing my outline. My handwriting is terrible! So if I scribble down a bunch of notes I type them up within a few days, otherwise, chances are I will look at them weeks later and have no idea what I meant or cannot read my own writing. I’m sure I’ve lost a few good ideas over the years because of this. I do not use any specific writing software, since all the eBooks I format require me to start with a Word doc; I just use Word to write. I prefer to print out my outlines so they are right next to me computer as I type.
Each Book in the Series:
For each book I write an in depth outline.
I then right a first draft.
I then go back and edit.
I print the entire book and read it aloud, taking notes along the way.
I edit one more time.
I print and send it to my editor.
She sends it back with notes and I edit again.
I print it out and read through one more time.
I edit one last time and publish.
The one thing I struggle with is editing. I’m afraid my grammar skills have dwindled over the years. I may be a nearly full time writer now, but I have had many years in which my writing output was minimal, since I typically have at least two jobs at the same time, and sometimes three. One of these jobs required me to learn a whole new lingo than basic English, which I used daily. And then during these years we have the creation of email, instant messaging and texting. All things which destroy basic grammar skills! Sadly, that saying that if you don’t use it you lose it, is true.
I have taken a refresher course, but as you get older these things just don’t sink in like they used to. So having extra eyes on your manuscripts before you publish is a must! This is a mistake many first time self-publishers make, myself included! Just don’t do it! Take the time to do it right the first time. Publishing too soon is the top mistake of self-publishers.
Even if you’re on a budget, like me, and cannot afford an editor, there are ways to get more eyes on your writing. Join forums. Seek out retired teachers (what I did). English majors in college. Even friends and family can help… just never trust their opinion alone, about your story… the more eyes you can get reading your story, the more typos and mistakes you can find and fix. Even if your grammar skills rock, you just can’t catch every mistake.
Now, all that said, DO NOT over edit! You can edit for grammar all you want, but don’t over edit your story. It’s like trusting your first instincts, which are often proven correct. The more you edit your story the more of those first instincts you lose… the more of that raw emotion you take away. It’s a fine line to figure out when to say enough is enough. It is something that just takes time to learn.
How do you think writing for children and young adults is different from writing for an adult audience?
I actually don’t think writing for a young adult audience is much different than an adult audience, other than some of the content itself. For example, my series the Fated Saga has main characters that are teens, so their troubles and issues, although magical in nature, will still be teen related. There are also some adult themed troubles, in certain parts of their lives, as they must grow up too fast. But some things still have to wait. Yes, there’s some romance but it’s what I feel is age appropriate.
Personally, in real life, I don’t like kids to grow up too fast. I want them to take their time and not feel rushed. The pressures they face today, I feel, make kids want to be adults long before they should even be worried about it. And really, if you think about it, as much as we want to shelter our children, it’s just not possible. The world will come crashing in at some point. And many children, sadly, have very difficult lives. I think kids can handle a lot if they have to. Should they have to, of course not. And in my stories I do put them through a lot; but I think what they experience is something readers of any age can connect with.
For me, I write to write, I don’t actually try to write for a specific age group. I think younger readers or adult readers can easily read my books, and that is actually something I see a lot in messages and reviews. Foreign English speakers often email me to let me know they love my books because they find them easy to read.
Does that mean they are simple? No, not at all. My readers often say they love the intricate story lines and are often surprised by turns the story takes. I think what makes it easy to read is the way it’s formatted. I try to avoid common slang of the day. Just because a word is popular now doesn’t mean it will be in a few years. Just because a word is popular here in the U.S. doesn’t mean readers in other countries know what it means. The same goes with current trends like movies, tv shows or music… I leave all of this out of the stories.
I also try to write shorter paragraphs, nothing too long. Readers like breaks. I also have a writing style that suits many readers whom do not wish to read in depth descriptions of certain things. I give enough detail that the reader can picture what I’m writing about, but I prefer to leave some of that up to their own imagination. Just as an example; if someone just entered a room, I will tell you a line or two about the room, but I’m not going to go on about it for two pages. Why? I skip this when I read; it’s just not something I want to know. I prefer stories to move along as a faster pace, so naturally, this is how I write. Not everyone likes this type of writing, some want to hear every detail about the room someone just entered… it’s all personal taste.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I totally interact with my characters! Sometimes, after a long session of writing, I have moments where I forget they are not real! There are times when I just sit, eyes closed, as I watch them act out a scene in my mind. Other times, as I’m typing, I will sit and repeat a certain line until I feel that I got the character’s voice correct. Sometimes it takes them awhile to tell me how they would really say it! I definitely feel as though I have a multi-character personality disorder!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After a few years of taking the typical route to publication, querying agents and publishers and racking up hundreds of rejection letters, I decided to go it on my own and self-publish. Did I make mistakes? A ton! Did I spend countless hours learning how to format eBooks and how to market books? I lost count many years ago! Was it way more overwhelming than anything else I’ve ever done… YOU BET! It is also an incredible journey of discovery and quite personally fulfilling.
When I was a kid my dad used to joke about his friend with a government job- that he needed reinforced pants because he spent so much time sitting on his butt. Well, writing requires triple enforced pants-you will spend more time than you can even imagine sitting behind your computer or reading books, learning how to publish a book.
The good news, everything you need is at your fingertips via the internet… the bad news; everything you need is available at your fingertips on the internet! How do you know which sites to follow? Which advice to adhere to? Which sites to run away from? Again, all I can say is do your research. A fantastic place to start is writer forums, where you can ask fellow writers their opinions on such subjects. When in doubt, ASK!
The things I can advise authors thinking of self-publishing, are the same things you hear repeatedly from others in the business. Make sure you have a great cover, make sure you edit, start marketing your book before you publish and know which group of readers is your target reading audience.
My other biggest piece of advice would be to give it time! Yes, every now and then we all hear about that overnight success. But this is not the norm. Most likely, you, like me and thousands of others, will take years to build our loyal reading audiences. Don’t go for the fast burn that dies quickly… go for the long time controlled burn that smolders for years to come!
In regards to marketing, figure out what works for you. Don’t get caught up in the latest marketing fads or gimmicks! What worked for one (or a few), will mostly likely not work for you, or the other thousands of writers now trying it. Don’t try too many things at once. Pick a couple and stick to them for awhile, see if they work. If they don’t, move on. Be cautious about overspending on marketing and research carefully before spending. As I said previously, when in doubt, ask!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
This is an equally thrilling and frightening time to be in publishing, especially self-publishing. Changes are happening so fast. The old stigma that self-published books are of poor quality is fading… and more and more established writers are taking control of their careers by self-publishing.
This is thrilling because it has never been easier to publish, to get your books in front of avid and eager readers. At the same time it’s frightening because the market is overwhelmed. It is hard to keep your head above water. Sometimes you feel like you’re standing in front of a crowd shouting “Read my book,” but no one can hear you because there are a thousand other authors doing the same thing.
I’m eager to see what the next few years bring. Everyone is fighting for the majority readership in the eBook market, Amazon being the current winner, but there are signs of others making big leaps. The popularity of eBooks also makes it easier for authors to reach readers from around the globe. The possibilities right now really seem endless. The hard part, like with anything, is getting your foot through the door and keeping the door open once you’re in.
I think a lot of it still comes down to luck. The right place and the right time. I don’t think this will ever change.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write:: Contemporary Fantasy, Action Adventure
What formats are your books in: Both eBook and Print
Rachel Daigle Social Media Links