Interview with Rachel Starr Thomson on Writing, Editing, and Indie Publishing (Plus Giveaway!)

For the past ten years, Rachel Starr Thomson has been an inspiration to me on numerous levels. I first encountered her when she was a columnist for the Amie Newsletter, a publication dedicated to encouraging teenage girls. Her articles on the Christian walk impacted me deeply during a season in my life when my steps were unsure.

Rachel_Starr_Thomson_Interview_&_GiveawayAfter the Amie Newsletter was discontinued, I stalked Rachel on her blog—always reading but never uttering a peep. She posted writing tips back then, which fueled my aspirations to sling words onto paper and into people’s hearts. I admired—and almost envied—her fluid, artistic voice, and her courage in building a platform for herself through self-publishing quality books.

I bumped into her again years later when I submitted an article about storytelling to Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, where she served as copy editor. Shortly after my article was published, I began receiving requests from authors for help with refining their work, and I discovered that polishing sentences gave me a sense of satisfaction I’d never felt before. I realized I was suited to editing and wanted to pursue it seriously, but I had no idea how to get started. I sought advice from Rachel because I had no one else to ask, and she kindly imparted counsel that has proven invaluable. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I’m at now (editing for KP and a small Christian publisher) without that short e-mail she sent in response to mine.

Thus, it gave me great pleasure to approach Rachel on behalf of Kingdom Pen and ask her about her experiences as an author of more than twenty books, blogger of Kingdom truths, and a freelance editor for twelve years. I found myself empathizing with and learning from her comments, and I know all of you will benefit from hearing her wisdom as well. Read on, KeePers, and be sure to check out the book giveaway at the bottom of the post!

KP: You’re considered a pioneer of self-publishing. What caused you to choose indie over traditional publishing?

Rachel: I started experimenting with indie publishing back in 2006 or 2007, while simultaneously looking for an agent and a traditional book contract. I’d done so much writing over the years that I wasn’t even thinking about pursuing publication for all of it, so self-publishing was just a fun way to learn how to produce a book and put something into print myself. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent, but mostly I was just playing around. I realized it might be a real, viable publication path slowly, especially after I checked on an e-book I’d put up for free on Smashwords and forgotten about and realized it had been downloaded over 25,000 times while I wasn’t looking. Eventually “playing around” gave way to thinking more seriously about writing as a business. I much prefer the control of self-publishing, which applies to many aspects of the publishing journey, from timelines to content to career trajectory. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Book Review: Wars of the Realm Trilogy

Since my early teens, I’ve been a huge fan of The Kingdom Series and The Knights of Arrethtrae. Both have rendered rereading and hold an honored spot on my bookshelf. When I heard that Chuck Black was writing a new series, I was elated. But then life became distracting, my free time decreased, and after skimming the synopsis for Cloak of the Light, I had mixed feelings about it. As far as I could tell, the book featured no sword fights, chivalry, castles, biblical parallels, or any of the elements that drew me to Chuck Black’s other works. On top of that, a couple people warned me that the overall writing quality was poor.Wars_of_the_Realm_Trilogy

However, I am fiercely loyal to authors who have captivated me in the past. So, in spite of my misgivings and low expectations, I eventually bought the Wars of the Realm trilogy when I had a spare Amazon gift card. I’m glad I did, because the first book, and the sequels, gripped my attention more than any Christian fiction has for a long time. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Critiques – 36

Welcome to the 36th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, Lady Kate. Even the most skilled wordsmiths shudder at the sight of an editor’s dagger, but it’s a necessary training procedure. Although you may emerge with blood splatters on your hands, your sword will be sharpened and your story will wield more impact.KP Critique 36

I issue a challenge to all the squires in the audience. I beseech you to don the armor of a knight and come forward. Dost thou hear the trumpet sounding? Send us your novel excerpts!

Now, onward to the analysis of Kate’s intriguing tale!

There are lots of things in the world I guess no one was ever really made to understand. Different things for different people sometimes, but for the most part it all boils down to the inevitable. Things like destiny. Love. Evil. Death. I know a lot about death. But destiny especially. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

Red Ink

In case you’ve ever wondered

What goes on in an editor’s brain,

Her desire to conquer syntax

Can cause an awful strain.

Red_Ink

A typo, a misspelling,

A hyphen out of place,

Will etch a deep, deep crease

Upon an editor’s face. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Critiques – 35

Welcome to the 35th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, Lady Tessa. Even the most skilled wordsmiths shudder at the sight of an editor’s dagger, but it’s a necessary training procedure. Although you may emerge with blood splatters on your hands, your sword will be sharpened and your story will wield more impact.KP Critique 35

I issue a challenge to all the squires in the audience. I beseech you to don the armor of a knight and come forward. Dost thou hear the trumpet sounding? Send us your novel excerpts!

Now, onward to the analysis of Tessa’s tale!

A timid knock on the bedroom door started Charles Galing’s day.

“Come in,” he called sleepily. He sat up and pushed back his orange curls. Deep set eyes, bleary with sleep, Blinking his bleary eyes, he looked questioningly at Mary, his maid, as she entered.

By detaching Charles’s eyes from his person, they’ve become “floating body parts.” This is a bit of a POV breach as well, since Charles can’t see his own eyes. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

The Girl on the Island

A young girl stood on a beach, watching the water lick at and swirl around her bare feet. But instead of glimpsing her obscured reflection in the undulating ripples, she beheld visions of sorrows she had experienced and outcomes she wished had been different.

The sea foam receded as her thoughts deepened, and she didn’t notice the rectangular object that was wedged in the sand alongside her until she stumbled over it.The Girl on the Island

The object clanked open, revealing a small sack and a damp piece of parchment. She snatched up the items before the waves enveloped them again.

Weighing the rusty, dented box in her hand, she scanned the ocean and the bridge to the mainland for any sign of ships or travelers. The container was much too heavy to have floated, and she wondered how long it had lain there and who had lost it. She examined it for identifying markings, but couldn’t find any, so she tossed it back into the water. Then she untied the sack. Inside were some kind of pellets—perhaps seeds.

She unfolded the parchment, expecting whatever message it might have contained to have washed away. To her surprise, however, the ink was smeared but legible. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Critiques – 34

Welcome to the 34th edition of KP Critiques (which Daeus has so gallantly pledged to save)! Thank you for your bravery, Sir Daeus. Even the most skilled wordsmiths shudder at the sight of an editor’s dagger, but it’s a necessary training procedure. Although you may emerge with blood splatters on your hands, your sword will be sharpened and your story will wield more impact.kpcritique34

I issue a challenge to all the squires in the audience. I beseech you to don the armor of a knight and come forward. Dost thou hear the trumpet sounding? Send us your novel excerpts!

Now, onward to the dissection of Daeus’s riveting tale!

They fled down the alley. It was a through the labyrinth of hovels, where each corner looked the same — decayed. Here was passing a heroine addict, there a dead heroine addict, there a dog, next and a wretched slag who shouted at them in wWelsh and threw a brick at them. There were nNo street lights overhead, and little moon. It could have been a A still night, but except for the robotic leg. It clanged ever a little faster than their tread, ever a little louder in their ears.

I love the action and descriptions here, but the pace needed keyed up. Usually that can be fixed by trimming a few words. Short, quick sentences (even fragments) convey tension—kind of like rapid breathing. Also, you employed passive voice (“here was” and “there were”) a few times, which should generally be avoided. In active voice, the subject acts (a boy stood at the corner); in passive voice, the subject simply exists (there was a boy standing at the corner). You can probably guess which is more interesting to read. 😉

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as graphics coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.