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Author Chat #1: Beth Revis

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Author Chat #1: Beth Revis

Post  Admin on Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:25 pm

Maggie joined the chat 13:33
bethrevis joined the chat  13:48
bethrevis: Testing testing!  13:48
Stephen joined the chat  13:48
Stephen: Hello  13:49
bethrevis: Hi! 13:49
Stephen: Not a lot of people here yet  13:52
bethrevis: Nope. I'll tweet about it again--maybe that will help... 13:52
Maggie: Here now! 13:53
Maggie: Hi Stephen. =) 13:53
Maggie: Hi Beth! 13:53
Stephen joined the chat  13:54
Stephen: Hello  13:54
bethrevis: Hi Maggie! 13:55
Maggie: You came early...ish. 13:55
Maggie: ^^ 13:55
bethrevis: I did! I just wanted to make sure the chat program worked on my internet  13:56
Maggie: Good idea. 13:56
Maggie:  13:56
Maggie: We have a fair amount of teens registered... 13:57
Maggie: hoping they'll start showing up now 13:57
Maggie: ) 13:57
Stephen: I am happy to see that it works on my phone  13:57
bethrevis: Oh, good! I'm so excited!  Glad we could make everything work (despite my stupid schedule and bad manners on email) 13:57
Maggie: @Stephen Nice! 13:58
Maggie: No siblings to bump you off your own phone, right? XD 13:59
Maggie: @Beth I'm really excited too! And same. I'm just glad to have you.  13:59
Taryn joined the chat 6 seconds ago 14:00
Maggie: Yay Taryn! 14:00
bethrevis: Well, I'm glad to be here!  14:00
Olivia joined the chat  14:00
Rachel joined the chat  14:00
Maggie: Yay Olivia! 14:00
Maggie: Rachel! 14:00
Maggie: *excitement* 14:00
Rachel: Hi Maggie! 14:00
bethrevis: Hi all! 14:00
Olivia: Hi everyone! Hi Ms. Revis!  14:01
Maggie: Aaand it's 3, so without furthur ado... 14:01
Stephen: Well actually my father bumped me off my computer lol so I hoped it would work this way  14:01
Rachel: Hi Beth! *waves* *tries not to fangirl* 14:01
Maggie: @Stephen Haha, it's always someone, isn't it? 14:01
bethrevis: Hi Olivie  (And please, call me Beth!) 14:01
bethrevis: Hi Rachel! 14:01
Maggie: Hey Matt! You made it!  14:01
Stephen: Yeah lol 14:01
Matthew joined the chat  14:01
Matthew: Hi all! 14:02
Stephen: Hello 14:02
Maggie: Okay, so for those who don't know, this is how the question-asking system works: When you have a question, simply raise your hand (type and exclamation point). I'll put your name on the list. When it's your turn to ask, I'll call your name. 14:02
bethrevis: A giant hello to everyone! Thank you all for having me as a guest today! 14:02
Maggie: Also, please feel free to discuss and ask questions relating to someone else's question. 14:03
Olivia: ! 14:03
Maggie: Make sense? 14:03
Maggie: Go ahead, Olivia. You're first.  14:03
Matthew: Yep  14:03
bethrevis: Makes sense to me  14:03
Rachel: Yes! Thank you so much for being here, Beth! We appreciate it so much.  14:03
Maggie: ^ ditto 14:04
bethrevis: <3 14:04
Olivia: Yay! Okay, so this is probably a slightly strange question, but how much input do you have in your cover design as a traditionally published author? I remember visiting a publishing house a couple years ago (Chronicle Books), and one of the editors had an ARC of your book Across the Universe. We just all stood around it oogling the cover for awhile, and the editor used it as an example of awesome cover design. It's simply gorgeous.  14:06
bethrevis: Ah! I'm so glad that you liked the cover! But to answer your question...practically none. In most traditionally published author's cases, they have almost zero influence on the cover design. 14:06
Maggie: *nods eagerly* It IS gorgeous. 14:06
Rachel: ! 14:07
Maggie: Gotcha, Rachel. 14:07
Stephanie joined the chat  14:07
Maggie: What do you do if you hate your cover? O_o 14:07
Maggie: Yay Stephanie! 14:07
Stephanie: Helloo  14:07
bethrevis: My favorite cover was actually the first mock-up that was made for Across the Universe--it was never made public, but it was the best, imo. When they changed the covers recently, I only found out about a week before it was made public. 14:07
Olivia: Aww, that's sad news to me, as an amateur artist.  But at least you ended up with one awesome cover!  14:08
Maggie: Oh, sad!  14:08
Stephanie: ! 14:08
Maggie: Gotcha Stephanie. 14:08
bethrevis: If you hate your cover, you can go to your agent and try to have them change. But keep in mind that the publisher wants to make the book cover better, not worse--so while some people (maybe even the author) hates it, the publisher has a reason for it. Talking with the publisher about the cover design will lead to information about why the cover was changed (in my case, to reach a broader audience) 14:08
Maggie: (By the way Beth, whenever you're done answering a question, feel free to nudge me...I have trouble guessing.) 14:09
bethrevis: There are a few cases where an author has more impact--for example, if you designed your own professional cover and they liked it, I'm sure you'd have more imput 14:09
bethrevis: Oh, no worries Maggie!  14:09
Stephanie: I love the new and old covers, Beth! They're so prettyy. And they don't just have faces on the cover. Which I hate. 14:09
bethrevis: I think that about answers it  14:09
Olivia: Thanks! 14:09
bethrevis: Thanks Stephanie! I'm partial to all the incarnations of the cover  14:10
Maggie: I do, too. 14:10
Maggie: Okay, whenever you're ready, Rachel, you're next. 14:10
Maggie:  14:10
Rachel: Awesome, thanks.  I love hearing about the cover process, BTW. It's fascinating. 14:10
Matthew: ! 14:10
bethrevis: Oh! And also--if an author has a really good idea for a cover, the publisher DOES listen. For example, I believe Melissa Marr came up with the idea for her book covers in the Wicked Lovely series (not 100% sure on that one, but I think it was the case). Ok, now I'm done on that question  14:11
Maggie: Gotcha Matthew. 14:11
Rachel: One thing that really, REALLY struck me about ATU is how powerful the imagery/sensory aspects were (I mean, I loved all of it, but for purposes of the question). Did you have a system designed to give scenes that kind of oomph? 14:12
Stephanie: Great to know, Beth. 14:12
Rachel: (I realize that sounds rather vague, so let me know if I should clarify a bit!) 14:12
bethrevis: Oh! This is going to be a gross answer! 14:12
bethrevis: But I have this saying that I repeat whenever I get to those sorts of visual scenes. I call it, "sticking my fingers in the wounds." Like, if someone has a cut, and rather than put a bandaid on it, you jam your finger into it to make it worse. I basically always ask myself how to make it worse 14:14
Stephanie: haha love it. 14:14
bethrevis: It leads to some interesting attempts on my part to make it better in the book, though! For example, in the first chapter of Book 1, when Amy has the tubes go down her throat--I wanted to make that as accurate as possible, so I kept sticking my own finger down my throat so I'd know exactly how it feels! I nearly made myself throw up! My husband thought I was CRAZY. 14:15
Maggie: Oh my goodness. 14:15
Rachel: Oh, dear.  14:15
Maggie: Such a dedicated writer right there! 14:15
Olivia: Oh, gosh! 14:15
bethrevis: But I do definitely always want to make it worse. The best death scene I ever wrote is in the third book, and the whole time, I kept saying to myself, "stick my fingers in the wounds"....and it just kept getting worse for that character.... *is evil* 14:15
Stephanie: Wow. 14:15
Maggie: Eeep 14:16
Rachel: I can totally believe it, though—all those scenes were super powerful, and I could practically FEEL it while I read. 14:16
Maggie: *nod* 14:16
bethrevis: I know!  I'm weird!  14:16
Maggie: It worked, though. 14:17
Maggie: ! 14:17
Rachel: As an aspiring author, I've been trying to rub salt in my characters' wounds, but I'm still learning, so this is incredibly helpful.  Thank you so much! 14:17
Maggie: *puts own name on list* 14:17
Rachel: (That sentence was horribly constructed. I apologize.) 14:17
bethrevis: No worries! Just remember to make your characters SUFFER  Next question, Maggie?  14:17
Stephanie: Another book that does an EXCELLENT job at the whole making-things-even-worse deal is the second (and third) book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Just as another example  14:18
bethrevis: Ah! I've only read the first one, and I NEED to read the rest... 14:18
Maggie: 'Kay. Stephanie, you're next. 14:18
Stephanie: they are SO GOOD. oh my. 14:18
Stephanie: okay awesome. 14:18
Stephanie: So, I'm on submission right now, which makes me super curious/anxious about that whole process. XD I'm wondering what sort of time frame it took for you to hear back from editors, Beth. I know it's different for everyone, but in your experience was it a LONG time or not so much? 14:19
bethrevis: I had a looooooooong submission time to agents, but my publisher sub time was relatively short. I know personally one person whose agent subbed the book on Monday and had a book deal by Wednesday. I also know a different person who had a sub time of six months. So it's definitely variable 14:21
Maggie: Wow. By Wednesday. Best week ever?  14:21
bethrevis: I like to think my short time of subbing to editors was the universe's way of making up for the fact that it took me 10 years to get an agent! 14:21
bethrevis: ikr?! 14:22
Maggie: 10 years!! 14:22
Maggie: No way! 14:22
Taryn: in that case my getting-an-agent within a week means I'll be on sub for years?  14:22
Maggie: Did that just make your success all the sweeter? 14:22
bethrevis: Yup! I have ten trunk novels and subbed nearly all of them over the course of ten years before signing on with my current agent. 14:22
Maggie: Wooww 14:22
Stephanie: dang, that's fast. Thank you! 14:22
Maggie: lol Taryn 14:22
Stephanie: ohh Taryn, it'll happen soon. 14:23
Taryn:  14:23
Maggie: If you're good Stephanie (and Beth), then Matt, you're up!  14:23
Stephanie: It took me six years, so...maybe it won't be that bad. *knock on wood* 14:23
bethrevis: It has been my experience that those who don't give up, get published. And yes, what's your question, Matt?  14:23
Rachel: *is jealous of Taryn's Writing Awesomeness* 14:24
Matthew: Woah, Taryn has an agent?! 14:24
Matthew: Right, my turn. 14:24
Taryn: since feb  haha 14:24
Maggie: I think that goes for everything in life...those who don't give up succeed. *shrug* 14:24
bethrevis: (And congrats, btw, Taryn! Finding the right agent is HARD!) 14:24
bethrevis: Def true, Maggie 14:24
Matthew: I really hope this isn't a FAQ because I'll feel like a total idiot, but when you wrote AtU, did you plan for it to be a stand-alone novel, or the first in a trilogy/series? I'm reading AMS at the moment (*so* close to finishing it) and I've found that some things that you introduce in AtU fit so perfectly into AMS it's like you planned it right from the very start. 14:26
bethrevis: Oh, I'm so glad you think it was planned that way! Because it totally was NOT. I had written AtU as a stand alone. My original idea was to leave it open-ended, so you never really know what happens to Amy and Elder. And then my agent suggested a trilogy, and my editor loved that idea, so I had to suddenly scramble to come up with sequels! The plot of the second and third books were developed over a WEEK before subbing to my editor. They changed a LOT from that original idea, but I tried my best to make sure they flowed well together! 14:28
Matthew: Wow, that's awesome! 14:29
bethrevis: My philosophy in writing is that the world should be so detailed that any sequel could flow naturally--that it should be almost as if there's a natural progression. Just like people keep living day after day, the world of the book should be so detailed that it would be possible for the characters to continue living day to day (and into a next book). That's how I tackled the sequels, anyway. 14:29
Maggie: Wow. I never would've guessed. 14:29
Stephanie: That's such a good philosophy. *takes notes* 14:29
Matthew: A very good philosophy! Thanks, Beth!  14:29
bethrevis: I know some people do a LOT of planning in the beginning--and life would definitely have been easier if I'd done that! 14:30
Rachel: Awesome philosophy. Worldbuilding FTW! 14:30
bethrevis:  14:30
Maggie: Yeah, I agree worldbuilding FTW 14:31
Maggie: Worldbuilding is everything 14:31
Maggie: And I loved yours, Beth. Just sayin'. 14:31
bethrevis: Thank you!! 14:31
Matthew: ^^ Agreed  14:32
Maggie: Ready for the next one? 14:32
bethrevis: yup! 14:33
Stephanie: ! 14:33
Maggie: OK. It's mine. ^^ 14:33
Maggie: Gotcha Stephanie 14:33
Maggie: Particularly while I was reading AMS I really felt tense...like, couldn't-put-it-down kind of tense. I was wondering how you managed to do that, to keep things so exciting throughout the whole thing. Is that something you had to work on, or did it come naturally for you? 14:34
bethrevis: Ah! I'm so glad you felt that way! 14:35
bethrevis: I think it's a combination of effort and skill acquired through practice. I DID want the reader to have the sense of not being able to put the book down, so I did a few strategic things. The conscious effort for this definitely came in the way I ended the chapters--I tried to end each chapter with a mini-cliffhanger, and start each chapter with a little bit of a hook. I figured people mostly put a book down when they finish a chapter, so I tried to make sure that the chapters ended on scenes where you wanted to know what happened next. 14:36
Maggie: Oooh. So smart! 14:38
bethrevis: The other thing I did was gauge my own reactions while writing. I know that I have a tendency to feel that there are things that HAVE to be there, but they don't really. A lot of people do this when they start writing--for example, they feel like they have to show the character waking up, getting dressed, getting in the car, driving to the store, etc., but that's all boring. You only really need to write the scene when the crap hits the fan. So if I ever felt that my writing was getting a bit boring (i.e., while writing it *I* felt bored)...I either killed someone or blew something up. 14:38
Maggie: I try to do that...the cliffhanger thing...but it doesn't always work. 14:38
Maggie: Haha, that's great. 14:38
bethrevis: It's something that took a LOT of practice, and I don't think I always succeed at it. 14:39
Maggie: So...here's a related question... how do you handle those boring transitions, such as driving somewhere or getting dressed? Things that should be assumed, but we often feel the need to address anyway? 14:39
Maggie: I know I fall prey to this a lot... 14:39
Maggie: *nod* 14:39
bethrevis: Cut as much as possible. Seriously. Ruthlessly cut it. Try to sum it up in a sentence rather than a scene. Whatever it takes to get your character to where the story is. You'd be surprised how much you don't need at all--readers naturally skip this anyway, and their minds jump to the relevant scenes 14:40
Stephanie: I LOVE your cliffhangers. I try to do that in all my novels now. 14:41
Maggie: Huh 14:41
bethrevis: Thanks Stephanie! 14:42
bethrevis: Why the "huh" Maggie?  14:42
Maggie: How do you handle the 'down time' then? Because sometimes I feel like it'd be ridiculous to have one action-y thing happen after another (when I'm writing)... and then I promise, that's the last of my questions. 14:42
Maggie: That's a thoughtful 'huh'. 14:42
Rachel: I'm also a fan of your cliffhangers.  They inspired me to try something similar. I tend to fail, but I try.  14:42
Maggie: Like a hmmm 14:42
bethrevis: One thing that really helped me with the progression of the story (getting characters from point A to point B without being boring) was using the writing program Scrivener. When I used Word, I felt like I needed a certain number of pages to be in a chapter. When I used Scrivener, there are no page counts (only word count), and it was harder for me to gauge how long the story was "supposed" to be. Using Scrivener meant that I quit caring about length, and focused only on writing the story. A lot of fluff and uneeded things became stuff I didn't write, because I wasn't so worried about filling the page with words rather than telling the story. So if you know you have trouble with this area, I highly recommend Scrivener! 14:44
Maggie: I only use Scriv anymore. ^^ 14:45
Maggie: But I still get hung up on word counts and story lengths 14:45
bethrevis: It's so good, isn't it?! 14:45
Maggie: I LOVE it. I'd never go back to Word.  14:45
bethrevis: I think you can turn off the word count at the bottom. Try not to look at them. It really helped my writing out! 14:46
Maggie: Oooh. 14:46
Maggie: I'm totally going to do that. 14:46
bethrevis: I used to think there was a "proper length" for a chapter or book or whatever. But there's not. And good stories come from the story, not the word count. 14:46
Maggie: You're so right. 14:46
Maggie: I'm gonna hang that over my desk or something.  14:46
bethrevis:  
bethrevis: Are there any more questions? 14:47
Maggie: Anyway...if you're done Beth, then it's your turn, Stephanie! 14:47
Stephanie: Scrivener is my favorite. <3 14:47
Maggie: Though it says Stephanie's offline... 14:48
Maggie: Oh! There you are. 14:48
Stephanie: Yay! I'm wondering how long it normally takes you to finish a first draft. And on a related note: do you tend to plot more or panst your way through a draft? 14:48
Stephanie: (sorry, school internet is sketchy where I'm sitting) 14:49
bethrevis: I'm a total pantser! Although with a current project, I've found that I'm planning more and more (I'm going into it planning for multiple books, so I'm trying to make the sequel writing easier by planning a bit more than normal!) 14:49
Maggie: Yay! There's hope for me! Pantsers FTW. XD 14:49
bethrevis: It usually takes me about 3 months to write a rough draft, but the real work for me comes in the editing phases. It's not uncommon for me to have to rewrite the book 2-3 times before it's ready. For Shades of Earth, I rewrote the book solidly 3 times--I estimate I wrote about 350,000 words for a 100,000 word novel. 14:50
Matthew: O.o 14:50
bethrevis: Rewriting usually takes me about a month--it goes faster because I have the base draft done. But it still sucks! 14:50
Maggie: O_O 14:50
Maggie: Wow. 14:51
bethrevis: Ha! Writing is a TON of work! It never seems to end! 14:51
Maggie: I hate rewriting... and you do it 2-3 times!? 14:51
Maggie: Quick question that I'm sure will be inspiring to hear the answer to... what makes you keep writing, even though it IS a ton of work? Why do you do what you do? 14:52
Matthew: How do you rewrite? Do you have the first draft open next to a blank Word doc, or do you just... start agin? 14:52
Maggie: Oooh, double questions! XD 14:52
bethrevis: I have to! I have a theory--you have to put in the work at some point. You either spend a lot of time outlining and planning the novel, or you spend a lot of time rewriting and editing. Since I don't plan, I have to rewrite/edit. But yes--I definitely rewrite every novel at least once, usually 2-3 times. It BLOWS, but each time, the book is better and tighter 14:52
Maggie: Wow 14:52
Maggie: I'm so encouraged right now. 14:52
Stephanie: wowza. But I totally know what you mean, lol. My book went through multiple re-writes before and after signing w an agent. 14:53
Matthew: I suppose the rewriting is all worth it in the end. 14:53
bethrevis: Typically, to rewrite, I use Scrivener. There's an option to split the screen, so I have the old draft on the top of the screen, and the new draft on the bottom, and then I just rewrite. I can usually scavenge some scenes from the old draft into the new draft. I estimate about 20% of the original draft is in the final version of Shades of Earth--mostly in the opening chapters (which didn't really change that much) and the descriptions of the setting. It was all the character interactions that changed, and plot. 14:54
Maggie: Wow. 14:54
Matthew: *nods* 14:54
bethrevis: The rewriting IS worth it--but it so hard. And it's NOT something I could do without an editor. I think I got lucky with AtU--that's the only book I've written that didn't need a rewrite. 14:54
Rachel: I ditto what Maggie said. Rewriting terrifies me, but this is SO encouraging. 14:54
bethrevis: Oh, good! I was hoping I wasn't scaring y'all off! 14:55
Maggie: Wow. 14:55
Maggie: No, not at all.  14:55
Matthew: Huh. Not that I've ever tried it beore, but I've always thought that rewriting would be som much easier than editing. 14:55
bethrevis: For me, it sort of is. When I got my edit letter for A Million Suns, I rewrote the book entirely--mainly in an attempt to change who the bad guy was. My editor was surprised I rewrote--but it was esaier to tear the whole book down and build it up again than try to do a patch job 14:56
Maggie: *nods* makes sense! 14:57
bethrevis: Any last questions?  14:57
Rachel: HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME? 14:58
Maggie: Hahah, THAT ^ 14:58
Matthew: Oooh I really wanna know who the original bad guy was! Can you tell Maggie in private, and she can tell me tomorrow once I've finished the book? 14:58
Stephen: Rewriting sounds better that planning even though I haven't ever done anything but plan  it sounds quicker to a certain extent 14:58
Rachel: Ahem. Sorry. The Fangirl in me escaped.  14:58
Maggie: LOL Rachel 14:58
bethrevis: Sure I can Matthew  14:58
bethrevis: AH! <3 Rachel 14:58
bethrevis: Stephen, I agree SO much  14:59
Maggie: I have a last question!! 14:59
bethrevis: ok! 14:59
Maggie: What's the biggest, best advice you can give to all of us, in conclusion! 15:00
bethrevis: Hmmm.... 15:00
bethrevis: When you have the choice between writing, or going out and doing something new, always pick the adventure. Practice is important, but living a life full of adventure is more important. You can't tell a good story without having lived and seen and been a part of the world. So--go! Have adventures! 15:01
bethrevis: Also, be wary of all advice, including mine  15:01
Matthew: Awesome advice! 15:01
bethrevis: There is never an absolute answer, there is never one right way to write (or do anything else) 15:01
Maggie: Ooh, that's wonderful advice. 15:02
Rachel: I love this. *clings to advice whilst being suitably wary* 15:03
Stephen: Their is your own way I agree  15:03
bethrevis:  15:03
Olivia: Love it! Thanks for the awesome advice.  15:03
bethrevis: Glad to have been of help  15:04
Maggie: Big hugs and thank-yous to Beth for coming today and being so awesome! 15:04
Rachel: Thank you so much for chatting with us! 15:05
Matthew: Yes, thanks! 15:05
Maggie: By the way, when is SoE's release day? 15:05
Olivia: Thank you, thank you!  15:05
bethrevis: SoE comes out January 15  15:05
Stephen: Yes thank you  15:05
bethrevis: And thank you all for having me! 15:05
Maggie: YES. I will be buying.  15:05
Maggie: Thanks so much for everything!! I feel so encouraged. 15:05
Stephanie: Sorry, lost internet. <_< Thanks for answering our questions, Beth! 15:06
bethrevis: I'm so happy to have been a part of this! Thank you all! 15:06
Stephanie: I'm PSYCHED for Shades of Earth. Like, you don't even know. 15:06
Maggie: I've got to run. Everyone, chat will be up in the forums later for re-enjoying. 15:06
bethrevis: I hope you enjoy it, Stephanie  15:06
Maggie: Thank you again, Beth! 15:06
Rachel: Thanks so much! 15:07
bethrevis: Thanks all! And feel free to poke me on Twitter (@bethrevis) if you have further questions! 
bethrevis: ok, back to work with me! Bye all! 15:07
Matthew: Bye! 15:07
Stephanie: Bye!! 15:07
Maggie: Bye! thank you! 15:07
Olivia: Bye! 15:07








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