I'm so thrilled to have Bethany here to talk about her books and writing career. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever had the delight in talking to and her knowledge of the writing craft is inspirational. Bethany posts writing advice through her YouTube channel, and you can follow her journey through her social media accounts.
Hi Bethany! Thank you for joining me today! First, I must ask the age-old question: what and/or who inspired you to write?
Hmm, great question! I think I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with stories. Whether in movies, TV shows, songs, or books, doesn’t matter, I love them all! There wasn’t any specific moment I can remember, but I think it was a lot like that one saying that goes, “if you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” That’s what I ended up doing!
That is great advice! You wrote Evalene's Number during NaNoWriMo, do you still participate? How many have you won?
Absolutely! Haha, I love NaNoWriMo. My first NaNo was in 2016, and I was a little unaware of what I signed up for. I didn’t technically win that year, but I think I reached 50k on December 1st for Evalene’s Number, so I pretend I won lol… I participated again in 2017, writing Pearl’s Number that time, and I DID manage to reach 50k – only to scrap the whole second half of that story a month later and rewrite it! This will be my third official NaNo, and I can’t honestly say if I’ll win or not, because I unthinkingly put my book release right in the middle of the month… so we’ll see
Well, of course myself and your fans are rooting for you to win! Hopefully, you won't have to make drastic changes to this story like you did with Pearl's Number. OUCH! Evalene's Number is a gorgeous tale of a girl caught under the Number scheme of the Number 1 and her fight to break away from instilled traditions. How did you come up with such a brilliant concept and plot?
WOW! What a way to gain an idea for a story! Evalene's Number is full of glorious world-building. How on Earth did you manage to create such a world? What tips could you provide other authors?
Gosh, you’re the best! I LOVE world-building. (I have a whole video coming out on this very soon) My two favorite ways to world-build is to base it on reality and to use what I jokingly call the “party questions.” You know how as a kid you’d get an invite to a party that would say “Who, What, When, Where, Why” (and sometimes “how”) – I use those!
So I based Evalene’s Number on reality, on our world, and then I asked when did it change? And after deciding a good place to divert into a new reality would be during Y2K, I asked how did it change and what happened differently? And why? And I basically follow the rabbit trail of these questions to see where it leads me, while using bits and pieces from reality to answer the questions.
Another great trick and twist on the party questions is to take it a step further and ask “what is the WORST that can happen?” And a bonus trick when you’re basing your story on reality is to mix multiple realities into something brand new!
The Hunger Games is a perfect example of this, where the author saw a game show on TV and then the next channel was about war, and her mind melded the two things together into something totally unique and different!
I love the sound of the "party questions"! What other research went into Evalene's Number and Pearl's Number?
That's for sure! By the sounds of it, your search history sounds very suspicious! Moving away from Government conspiracies, Evalene's Number has a strong, sound plot. What method of outlining did you use?
Thank you! I didn’t actually know how to outline when I first began EN. I had kind of blocked this memory, but honestly I think I pantsed that one… oops! I definitely outlined it once I began editing though, using the beat sheet from the original Save the Cat. I’ve gone on to use this beat sheet for every novel since (I’m on my fourth now), and it’s a life saver! The new Save the Cat for novels is even more incredible, and I’d recommend it to anyone – I just got it and I’ve already fixed up my outline a TON based on what I’m reading in that book!
Save the Cat has been popular among authors for years, I'm so glad they finally brought out a novel version! The question I am particularly excited to know is: what can we expect from Pearl's Number?
I'm not sure if I am ready for the that! These characters are dear to me! Well, Pearl's Number is available for preorder (so, get on it, readers!) and comes out on the 12th of November! Pearl's Number is the sequel to Evalene's Number. What was your experience with writing a sequel?
Sequels are HARD. I hadn’t planned it out at all prior to publishing Evalene’s Number, so when it came to outlining Pearl’s Number, not only had I basically forgotten how to write a book, but I also regretted some choices I’d made in Evalene’s Number. With some careful foreshadowing, I eventually was able to resolve these holes, but they really stumped me for awhile. Going forward in my new series now, I’ve made the decision to draft the whole thing and most likely do almost all the editing as well, before publishing any of the books. That way I can go back and change something if I need to, to make the story as a whole better.
Phew, great idea! That could have caused some issues. We've seen a lot of authors, especially in the AuthorTube community, self-publishing their books. What did you learn from the publishing exprience of Evalene's Number and The Confident Corgi?
So true! I learned that above all else, nobody can stop you if you’re willing to do the work and create a quality book. Having a publisher is awesome, especially if you work better in a team. But I learned that if you’re capable of learning new things (constantly), willing to stretch yourself, and most importantly, you don’t give up, you can definitely succeed at self-publishing too. I also have learned (and am still learning) that the lack of a team means it will take a LOT longer to see the rewards for all your hard work, so you need to plan for that and give yourself grace!
I look forward to seeing your accumulated experience on your YouTube channel (hint, hint)! What made you choose self-publishing over traditional publishing?
Great question! For me it was a few things, but ultimately it came down to my story.
Evalene’s Number has my faith in it as part of the world, but it’s not the center of the story. I felt that most publishing houses would ask me to remove the faith element from it or “tone it down” since I’d heard of that happening to other authors. And I also felt that a Christian publishing house would ask me to push faith into the center of the story and make it the focus, which wasn’t right for the story either.
Just this summer I had the opportunity to talk to an agent at a publishing house who confirmed these instincts for me, and also told me that there really isn’t a physical shelf in the bookstore for what is basically a genre-blend.
This would have made it extremely hard to pitch EN to both agents and publishing houses as well. So I’m very thankful that I skipped querying and went straight to researching how to self-publish! Now, with everything that I’ve learned, I’m so excited to continue self-publishing and think it’s very worthwhile to pursue!
I never knew publishing houses would change a story so drastically! Thank you for sharing that. Evalene's Number has recently had a cover change and I LOVE it! Can you tell us who designed it and what your experience was with the company?
Thank you, isn’t it gorgeous?! :D It’s by Eight Little Pages, a company in the UK. I found them after Jenna Moreci did a review on working with them. We had a few snags with deadlines, I’m guessing because they were probably overwhelmed with client requests after Jenna’s review, but in the end I’m happy with how the covers turned out and plan to work with them again on my next series!
They make some of the most incredible fantasy covers! An author should be proud of their acheivements and their novels. What do you love most about Evalene's Number, Pearl's Number and The Confident Corgi?
Because it demonstrates just how much I’ve grown as a writer. And with The Confident Corgi, well, I’m just proud of cute little Penny (my corgi). She’s the best haha!
Penny is absolutely precious! And, finally, what is the best writing advice you've been given and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t forget to enjoy writing. And don’t give up on the days that you don’t. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but when you’re able to, choose to enjoy the craft and the reason you got into it in the first place. That way, no matter what, each writing session will be a win.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME, BETHANY!
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In 2016, she was inspired by the NaNoWriMo challenge to return to writing and draft a novel in 30 days, and since then she hasn’t stopped. Evalene's Number was released on December 5, 2017. The Confident Corgi released on May 29, 2017. And Pearl's Number is set to release on November 13, 2018!
Meanwhile, Bethany pursues other passions, such as her Patreon page dedicated to helping other authors write and publish their novels, as well as her YouTube channel with writing related videos about her process and author journey. Outside of writing, Bethany is a crazy dog lady obsessed with her corgi puppy, Penny, a wife, a musician, an amatuer painter, and a follower of Jesus.
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Freelance Editor, Mentor, Author.