To all my beautiful people,
I’ve discovered that I have a veracious love for being a part of blog tours, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to share in this one.
Shortly thereafter, Rebekah came and hunted me down. She expressed that she and Annie were going to do a joint publication. As usual, I got roped into the beta reading and editing process–and may I just say that it was a complete joy. I love fantasy, and it’s been a long time since I read a good retelling. The last good one I read was The Girls at Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.
Having the chance to read these girls’ versions of the tale of Snow White, a story which I do not generally enjoy, I was enthralled. Both were unique and enrapturing tales that I think anyone who loves fantasy will find worth a read.
About the Authors
Annie Louise Twitchell is an author whom I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over the last few months, reading excerpts of her work, and enjoying spending time with her on the Neverland writing forum. I have not read any of her other books personally, but I hear amazing things, so be sure to check her out!
In short, Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants, or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home. To find out more about her and her work, check out here blog and website, or contact her on Facebook, and other social media networks.
Rebekah DeVall, known to me as Bekah, is an old friend. I have had the pleasure of watching her writing grow and evolve over the past year, and I am proud to have been allowed to be involved in her side of this project. She’s a spunky little thing, and I think we can look forward to seeing many more interesting books from her in the future.
Rebekah DeVall prides herself on being the girl who wrote 200,000 words in 21 days. She’s a Christian author with a penchant for killing characters and a love for writing real female protagonists described as “the example of a Christian hero that young readers need to see”. You can check out her other books on her blog, and be sure to connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.
A Brief Overview of These Books
The first book was by Annie Louise Twitchell. It was entitled The Witch of Belle Isle. This book is about the struggle between two brothers trapped in a prison camp on Belle Isle and their journey together. A very moving story.
The second book was written by Rebekah DeVall. It was entitled Death’s Mirror. I had the pleasure of seeing it grow through many edits and drafts. I’m amazed at the progress that was made. This book is the tale of Snow White told from the eyes of Death himself. A very intriguing take.
So How Does This Relate to the Idea of Collaboration in Writing?
As noted before, I said I would do an interview with these girls concerning collaboration in writing. While the interview had to be short and sweet (because I totally would have grilled their little brains all day if they had let me), I thought it important for readers to see that even published authors agree that it is necessary to involve others in the process of their writing.
Therefore, without further ado, I present yet another long-winded interview.
CS Taylor: Tell me about yourselves in a sentence.
Annie Louise Twitchell: I’m a Fluffy Murder Kitten, and I love words.
Rebekah DeVall: I’m a twenty-year-old author with a penchant for killing fictional people and ignoring non-fictional ones.
CS Taylor: How did you start writing and what do you write?
Annie Louise Twitchell: I began writing when I was very small. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I know it was before I was eight. Now, I write…everything. Well, almost everything. I write fantasy, contemporary, romance, YA, dystopian, urban fantasy, apparently spiritual (that was an accident), supernatural, comedy, poetry, and…something else. It’s a lot, I know, but I have interests in a lot of areas, so I just go with the flow and see where I end up.
Rebekah DeVall: I began scribbling little stories so long ago that I forget when exactly it took off. I really started taking it seriously when I was twelve or thirteen and began writing poetry. After that, it kind of spiraled away. About four years ago, when I gained braces, I also gained a monthly access to WiFi, and that’s when the insanity began. I found myself googling things about writing, downloading podcasts about writing, and sharing said writing. Currently, my published works have been low fantasy, inspiration fiction with a focus on strong female characters in difficult situations.
CS Taylor: How did you first begin involving other people in your writing process, and how do you think it has changed how you look at writing/the quality of your writing?
Annie Louise Twitchell: When I was about seventeen, I asked for my first beta readers, followed by editors and proofreaders. The threat of people looking at my work has drastically improved my quality of self edits because I don’t want to stress over people finding stupid mistakes I should have caught. Now, I really enjoy it. I have my trusted group of people and having them involved gives me more to work with.
Rebekah DeVall: Oh man, it took a awhile. I’m one of those people that hides what’s important to me for a very long time before sharing it, and wow did it take a long time. I really started involving people in my writing around my senior year of high school. A “career paper” led me to talking to my parents about my love for writing and their help in contacting and interviewing several writers.
Funnily enough, Annie Louise Twitchell was one of my first (and favorite) beta readers! I’ve got my little circle of girls where we swap our writing and are just a general encouragement to one another.
Other peoples’ involvement in my writing is truly the reason my writing is where it is today. If it hadn’t been for other people pushing me to finish my work, other people beta-reading and editing my work, helping work through plot holes, listening to me rant…other people are CRUCIAL in my writing processes. Hands-down recommend getting other people involved in your writing.
CS Taylor: How do you think it helps/harms to involve other people?
Annie Louise Twitchell: Well, one area it helps is typos. I have dyslexia, so ‘bed’ becomes ‘deb’ way more often than I’d like to admit. And I don’t even see it. It also helps because I’m so involved in the inside of the story that I need someone to come look at the outside and say, “this doesn’t make sense.”
Rebekah DeVall: Other people have different life experiences. If I screwed up talking about my fictional horse’s gear, my horse-fanatic friend can correct me. Annie Louise Twitchell here helped me with a story set in a snow-covered world (Beauty and the Beast with dragons, anyone?). I live in South America, so I’m clueless about snow.
Once you’re in the trenches of writing your story, it’s VERY hard to look at it objectively. I heard the analogy somewhere that our stories are our brain-juice, and it smells like us. We can’t truthfully tell if it stinks or not, because it’s part of us. Meanwhile, someone else can come in and point out what’s off. (Wow, that analogy is weird.)
Now–a small caveat. Sometimes, it’s not good to involve other people. There are times and places when you have to look at your own manuscript and realize that this is YOUR story, and you need to tell it YOUR way. I don’t recommend involving people in your first draft (or if you MUST have people, involve them solely in brainstorming, not in giving feedback).
There’s also the case of involving the RIGHT people in your writing. There’s a delicate balance to strike between people who love you and want the best for your story, and people who will give you legitimate feedback/aren’t afraid to tell you it sucks.
But that’s a whole different topic for another time entirely.
CS Taylor: How do you know when your book is ready for an audience beside yourself/when you can’t fix it on your own anymore?
Annie Louise Twitchell: When I start to dread opening the file to do more edits. It’s either time to let it rest for a while or have someone else come look at it.
Rebekah DeVall: I agree with Annie. My book is ready for someone else when every time I open the document, I want to barf because I’ve seen it THAT MANY TIMES. It’s also ready for an audience when I’ve hit my deadline and can’t procrastinate any longer. (Face it. Without deadlines, I’d never get anything done.)
CS Taylor: How were others involved specifically in the process of this joint publication and its writing, producing, and marketing?
Annie Louise Twitchell: Pfft…a lot. Let’s see: everyone in the blog tour (9 people, I think); Rebekah (of course); my beta readers, Amy, Collin, and Rebekah; and my mom, who did the editing. Plus there was Christy who gave me suggestions for the cover design. And…anyone else? I’m not sure…Oh yeah, the judge from Rooglewood who gave me the encouragement and feedback to get this finished.
Rebekah DeVall: Soooooo many beta readers. I’ve lost track. Then there’s all the people from the blog tour–Windy, Jayla, Sarah, Rayleigh, Kathy, Anna, Selina, Rachel, Katie, the illustrious CS Taylor.
CS Taylor: Any final thoughts to add?
Annie Louise Twitchell: Thanks for having us. ❤
Rebekah DeVall: Yes, Further note (because I just don’t know where to stop, apparently):
Newbie (or not-so-new writer): I understand the fear of sharing your work with other people. It’s so easy to read an article like this one and shrug off what we’ve said because “It’s too scary.” “People don’t like what I write.” “What if they hate me?”
Your story is beautiful. It’s an extension of who you are. It shows so much more of your heart than anyone will understand from just talking with you. Even my closest friends have learned more from reading my stories than I would ever tell them “in real life”.
There will be haters. There will be nay-sayers.
When I first sent out Death’s Mirror to beta readers, through a long course of events it ended up in the hands of a sweet, well-meaning pastor’s wife, who was very firm in her beliefs that Christian girls “shouldn’t write stuff like this”. She went so far as to tell me that the whole story gave her “an icky feeling” and “God is life and light. Christian girls shouldn’t be writing about darkness”. (which is yet another topic for another time)
She had all the good intentions. So many people will.
Not gonna lie, I cried. I vented to two very dear friends who helped me so much. I wrote a very, very, very long email back to her outlining my reasons for writing about things such as death and darkness (because how can we appreciate the light if we haven’t seen darkness?).
Sharing your writing is going to hurt.
And that’s not a bad thing. Do you really want to only share your work with people who will pat you on the back and tell you you’re the next J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien? Or do you want people who will point out your errors and help you to correct them?
Writing is a very vulnerable career in the first place. You’re already sharing so much of yourself in the process.
Well, dears, that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this interview, and I hope you check out these girls and their books. They’re definitely worth the time and money. If you read these books or have thoughts to share on the matter of retellings or collaboration, comment below! 🙂
Your unaffectionate supernova,