I’m so stoked that I was able to interview Livy as she celebrates the release for the third and final(sobs) book of the Tarsurella Trilogy.
This is the last book in the Tales of Tarsurella Trilogy- how did you feel when you were writing it?
The Wedding was actually a really fast writing process for me. The entire story spilled out in just a few short months. I was so excited to get to this chapter of Addison and Vanessa’s story, so I think it all came together very naturally!
What does your writing process usually look like, and do you change it around for each book/series?
Yes, my writing process definitely changes with each new project! For The Coronation, I 100% didn’t know what I was doing! Haha! I hadn’t done any pre-plotting, so I really just went wherever the story took me. It was all fun and games until I reached the dramatic climax – and had no idea where to go next!
After writing The Coronation, I wanted to learn more about plot and structure. I quickly realized there are a lot of “rules”, “do’s and don’ts” and I had already broken so many of them in my debut! I decided that if I was going to be a rebel, I at least needed to be an educated rebel. I once heard someone say, “Learn the rules, so you can break them.” When you take time to study the “why” behind plot and structure, why our brains gravitate toward it, what makes a good story, etc, you can decide what “rules” you’d like to apply to your writing, and what to throw out. For me, I know my writing will always contain a certain element of “pantsing” (AKA, flying by the seat of your pants!) but I’ve also learned the value of having a moral premise and creating structure before you dive in and write a bunch of words.
So I plotted both The Rebellion and The Wedding before writing them. Yet, I still left enough wiggle room for characters to lead and hijack a scene, if they so desired.
What do I mean by that?
I mean, I never want to force a character to do something that isn’t natural for them. I might have a good, solid plan in mind, but when my character decides to do something off script, because that’s truly the most organic, true-to-self thing they would do in that moment…I have to get them go with it! Personally, I love when this happens, because it keeps writing exciting, and it keeps me, as an author, on my toes! I think I would be bored if I knew every last detail about my story, before it happened.
You’ve also written nonfiction books- was the process very different, and which genre do you prefer writing in?
Yes, so my first book was When Life Feels Like a Taylor Swift Song: A Girls Guide to Boys, followed by Beauty Boys and Ball Gowns, and Secrets of Royalty. All three of these titles were written when I started my online ministry, Crown of Beauty Magazine. I loved writing encouraging articles and posting on social media, but I felt like there was so much more that I wanted to share: more than what would fit in a blog post! So each of these titles really came from a place of just desiring to minister and encourage that audience of girls who was following Crown of Beauty.
I never really planned on publishing The Coronation, or becoming fully immersed in this wild world of fiction! But God has a funny way of switching up our plans, and He’s always so faithful to direct our steps, so five YA titles later, here we are! I absolutely love writing what I am right now, but my heart is still very open to returning to non-fiction. I’m sure I’ll publish more non-fiction in the future, but it has to be in God’s perfect timing.
I know that as a reader, it’s really hard waiting for new books to come out. Do you have any tips for authors on ‘entertaining the reader’ in between books?
Oh, this is a good question! After publishing The Coronation, I asked myself that exact question! “How do I keep my audience engaged and excited, while they wait for the next book in the series?”
I decided to release small “episodes” on a weekly basis. Every Friday, I shared a new installment of “Regal Hearts”. I thought it would be fun to write and release it in a “TV show format”, and encouraged readers that it would feel a lot like watching a new episode of their favorite show each weekend!
Well, that snowballed into ten “episodes”, which turned into the Regal Hearts Season 1 Bundle, a book in paperback! Now we’ve published Season 2…and readers are asking for Season 3! Soooo, just a word to the wise, if you decide to do a “side project” to keep your readers engaged, it may become far more consuming than you intended! Haha.
I think it can be tempting for authors to feel like we “owe” our following more content. We live in such a consuming, driven, binge-watching generation, it can be easy to slip into a mindset of entitlement. I know that after I finish watching my favorite TV show or movie, I always say, “I want more! I NEED more! I can’t wait, give it to me now!”
And when you think about it, that’s not very healthy.
So I think as authors, it can actually be a good thing when we ask readers to wait (uh oh, don’t throw your tomatoes at me yet!) because waiting makes the fulfillment of that thing we’ve been waiting for, so much sweeter and more special.
If you cranked out a new book for your readers every month (which um, that’s amazing if you do, I need to learn your secrets!) I get the feeling that STILL wouldn’t be enough. It’s wonderful that readers always want more, because it means you’re writing something that’s touching them in a really personal way! So if you have this problem, it’s a great problem to have.
But I think it’s just important to remember that you can totally take breaks, and you don’t need to be cranking out content 24-7. Also, there are other ways to engage with your readers during the “lul” times, especially on social media!
I for one have a blast chit-chatting with readers on Instagram (@livylynglittergirl) and posting weekly vlogs on my YouTube channel! My content isn’t always writing relating, it more so just giving readers a peek into my real, everyday life. But I feel like it’s still a valid way to connect while they’re eagerly awaiting the next installment.
What can we do as readers to support you and other authors in any stage of your writing career?
Wow, another awesome question!
So, there are a few things. Number one: leave your reviews! I’m sure readers get tired of hearing this, but reviews are actually really meaningful to authors, for several reasons. First of all, it reminds us that people are actually reading our books. (Sometimes we forget! Hearing from a reader, even if it’s just in an email or via Instagram, absolutely MAKES our days!) Secondly, you don’t have to write a massive school-report including all the pros and cons, when you share on Goodreads and Amazon. I know sometimes, the idea of writing a “Review” can sounds super scary and overwhelming. But just a simple, “I enjoyed this!” totally counts as a review!
Lastly, YOUR reviews help other readers find our book. And this is why we value them so much. It doesn’t matter whether the review is a glowing 5 stars, or a simple, “Eh, it was okay”…your honest review shows both the digital algorithms on Goodreads and Amazon AND people in real life, that our book exists! And that alone is huge.
The most powerful marketing for an author, is word of mouth. Meaning, we could spend hundreds of dollars on Ads, marketing, doing interviews, running a Blog Tour, etc, etc…but all of those efforts pale in comparison to one hearty fangirl raving over a title to her best friends! (Never underestimate the power of a fangirl!) My favorite thing about word of mouth, is it helps readers discover books offline as well.
Those who request The Coronation at their local library, pass the book off to a friend at church, or post about the title on Facebook, ARE GROWING THE TARSURELLIAN ARMY! So a huge thank you and ten-billion high-fives to all of you who are out there spreading the word! ❤
There are a lot of pressures that authors face. Do you have any in particular that you struggle with, and how do you cope with them?
I think every pressure all roots back to one thing: it’s a mental battle. If we’re feeling pressure from anyone, whether it’s the pressure to perform, the pressure to write better, the pressure to publish more, the pressure to sell more books; whatever it may be, we have to remember that it’s our choice whether or not we give into it.
For me personally, I didn’t start writing so I could win the approval of others. I didn’t set out on a mission of trying to read a certain “level”, or perform in a manner that would cause people to be impressed.
As a child of God, everything I do is out of relationship with Him. When I write, I want it to be for the right reasons, simply enjoying the process of creativity I have with Him. Of course I want to be excellent at what I do, and I want to grow, and get better, and reach more people, and impact lives: but at the end of the day, that’s not what it’s about.
My identity doesn’t come from my writing, and I think that’s a HUGE factor that has helped me avoid some of the “pitfalls”, so to speak, that a lot of authors struggle with.
I’ve seen so many writers get down on themselves, or get discouraged because of bad reviews, lack of sales, rude “fan” interactions, or whatever it may be…but when we slip into a place of discouragement, mentally, it’s because our focus is no longer in the right place.
Personally, I hold my “writing career” very VERY loosely. When I was younger, I did struggle with feeling the need or pressure to “perform”, to reach a certain pinnacle of success and “prove” that I was worthy of my title. But God has been SO faithful to draw me out of that place, to bring me into the Palace of His Love and say, “No, no, no that’s not who you are, Livy. You’re seated in heavenly places with Me. You have such high calling and destiny, as My Daughter! Your identity is not in what you write or what you accomplish on this earth, it’s in the fact that you’re Mine!”
Over the years, God has helped me shift my mindset to align more and more with His. And no, I haven’t arrived yet! I’m still growing, everyday! But I feel like a lot of the struggles authors deal with are 100% mental, and if we’re willing to go on this journey with God and let Him deal with our heart issues, He will bring us into a place of such joy, where these things aren’t even an issue anymore.
Do you have any tips for aspiring fiction and nonfiction authors?
Absolutely! And just to keep things simple, here are 5 things to keep in mind. 🙂
1. Start Everyday with Jesus! (He is your source, don’t try to write without him.)
2. Turn Off Your Inner Critic! (Don’t self-edit while you’re writing. Reject all negativity and critique, or else it will totally kill your first draft. Editing comes later.)
3. Know Your Characters! (Get to know your characters as deeply as you can. Interviewing them is always fun, as you learn more and more about who they truly are. Let this shift and change your story.)
4. Work With a Team! (Don’t go on this writing journey alone. Get connected with a writing community. Whether you’re doing fiction or non-fiction, connect with friends who can critique your writing, offer feedback, and encourage you!)
5. Have FUN! (Writing, publishing, and marketing, can all feel like a bit of an uphill battle. But if you lose your joy, and are just pressing through and have no idea why you’re so frustrated, it might be a good idea to stop, release the pressure, and return to a place of joy and simplicity with Jesus! If you need to take a break, work on a different project entierly, and write just purely for FUN, do it!)
Thank you so much for being here today , Livy.
If you want to know more about The Wedding, and how to connect with Livy, keep reading.
Vanessa Bennett is living in a real-life fairytale. Now that she’s engaged to the man of her dreams, The Palace Staff is consumed with wedding preparation. The upcoming event is no small affair, as Vanessa is bombarded with hundreds of decisions she needs to make before the wedding date arrives. Amidst the endless details concerning dresses, decorations and napkins, a greater question looms: is Vanessa truly ready to become Queen? As tensions rise within Tarsurella, the role of joining her betrothed in governing an ever-shifting nation is no small task. Will she crack under the pressure?Meanwhile, Jane Akerly is hoping to awaken from a nightmare. Her father has been missing for months. Advised to accept the harsh reality that he may never return, Jane isn’t ready to give up. She finds comfort in the one place she’s always run to for escape–her daydreams. Her imagination has the power to carry her across the ocean, stroll the streets of London, and imagine that all is well. In an unexpected turn of events, Jane is given the opportunity to create the future of her dreams–but will her pen be enough to save her? The Wedding is Book #3 in The Tales of Tarsurella Series
YA Christian Fiction Author of The Tales of Tarsurella and Regal Hearts