CO-AUTHORING: The Process
This past year I’ve been writing with a co-author on an inspirational series. The project happened so fast, it’s hard to believe we actually wrote and published a 3-book series in about eighteen months time. Over the next few blogs I will be dissecting our process for you; what worked, what didn’t, what obstacles we faced.
My motto is, within reason, say YES to everything that comes along. I’m not getting any younger! Life happens, people and opportunities cross your path, and so many times things do not work out. But sometimes all the pieces fall into place and there you are—in the right place at the right time.
JUST WRITE IT
Long story short, my co-author Denise and I actually pitched the idea at a writers conference to an editor while waiting in line to board a bus. We all met later in an empty dining area at the hotel to talk more in-depth, and then went home and got busy. I’m not gonna lie; it took FOREVER to write book one because writing fiction with another creative brain is not for the faint of heart.
We wrote and passed the chapters back and forth. I started writing in Scrivener, but as a professional editor Denise liked track changes in Word better. That first book went through way too many revisions, but it had to be solid and stellar. The whole project weighed on the premise and the writing in that first book. I worried that it might read like two people wrote it, but our Beta readers assured us they couldn’t tell who wrote what. Finally we hit a rhythm and finished book one. The editor who never lost patience on us loved it, and we had a deal for a three-book series.
KEEP AT IT
For books 2 and 3 we changed up the process again. I took the lead on book 2 and worked on a first draft. Denise took the lead on book 3 and wrote that first draft. We came together to work on edits, passing one chapter at a time back and forth using DropBox in between numerous texts, emails and phone calls.
Maybe it was how everything slowed down from the virus in 2020, maybe it was me spending less time on social media because of the election posts I didn’t want to see, but irregardless done and done! We actually wrote three books. The publisher uses a rapid release method and we were added to the publishing roster in the first available slots for January, February, and March pub dates. Our books are out there. At this point we are waiting and watching to see what readers think.
PROMO: Tell Them!
Our publisher handles the ads and the lion’s share of promotion. So what can we do? There’s plenty more. Now is the time to tell everyone about our books. We posted Amazon links in emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. We offered personalized print books to our friends through an email campaign. I signed and mailed a lot of books, and the goal here is to build a fan base. My favorite, the new Pinterest boards under the series name and each book title. I’m thinking a postcard mailer at some point?
We are currently working on a short story written in the POV of a secondary character who becomes a main character in book two. Remember when Stephanie Myer rewrote her bestselling Twilight series from Edward’s POV? (Midnight Sun) I thought that was brilliant idea.
This short piece will be offered free as a promotional tool. We have changed our process again, with a more rapid turn around time in mind. We are going to pass it back and forth with each revision. As soon as I had the rough draft done, I posted it to DropBox. Denise edited and sent it back. I’m going back through now adding more emotion, deeper dive into internal dialog and more imagery. I’ll send it back to Denise and she’ll do the same. I think the key is more. It can always be better. There is always a better word, a better structure for the sentence, a better hook. It’s an unending process and at some point, you both have to be happy with the outcome. Better is good.
THE BEST THING ABOUT COLLABORATION
The best thing about having a co-author is the ability to bounce ideas off of someone who knows the characters as well as I do. It’s been a great experience and I encourage you to work with someone if you ever have the chance.
Thanks for following Wordsmith Six. Check back every Monday where I’ll be blogging more about my new series, the Wild Cow Ranch published by Wolfpack Publishing under the imprint CKN Christian Publishing. Here’s a more in-depth interview with Denise and I about our process and more about the series:“Get the Know The Wild Cow Ranch Co-Authors”
What are you working on in 2021? Keep writing the stories of your heart! Never give up.
15 Years of Critiques
After 15 years and some change, our local writers critique group will cease to meet in 2021. Several members have moved away, and with the pandemic restrictions it has become more and more difficult to come together. The good news is we hope to keep the WordsmithSix blog going.
We also promised to make every effort to exchange work online. But it will never be as effective as a face-to-face meetings. I’m very sad.
It’s hard to believe the years that flew by and how much those people mean to me. Thursday evenings was the day and my day-job office was the place. As 2021 keeps moving onward, I’m thinking about these writers and how they influenced my writing and why. What are the best reasons to belong to a critique group?
- Accountability. There’s something to be said for sitting your butt in that chair and typing the words because you know there’s a group of people who will be reading it. The other option is you have to look them in the eye and say, “I didn’t bring anything to read this week, but here’s some chips and dip.”
Everyone is just as busy as you are, even bestselling authors. But they have a strong work ethic and the self-discipline to make their writing a priority despite everything else in life. Writing is a job; the hardest work you’ll ever do. It’s important. Treat it as such. Say yes to every opportunity.
- Honesty. We did not go easy on each other. “I Like it. This is good,” is always pleasant for your ego but they are empty words. You can’t improve a story from words like that. Sure, we included positive comments and mentioned the good stuff, but we did not hold back on the bad. The more specific you can be with your critique partners, the better. “I don’t like that character.” “Why would that character say that?” “Does this move the plot?” “What is this character’s story arc?” “More imagery here.” “This is a rabbit trail and has nothing to do with your theme.” “What is your theme?” …and so on. Be specific.
Because of my critique partners, I now give tough critiques and I usually step on toes. But the people who I exchange work with knows that I will be brutally honest. And in the end, it’s not anybody else’s story anyway. It’s yours and you make the final decision. So take that chip off your shoulder and just listen. Consider the possibilities.
- Like-minds. It has been so important for me to absorb the creative energy from like minds. Only other writers know our struggles. Only other writers understand the tug we feel from a universe that tries to distract us from the stories inside our heads. All we want is time; time to write. You can gain a lot of inspiration from like-minded people.
At our meetings we made every effort to begin on time, read and critique, and then those who had to leave, could. Those who needed to vent could stay and visit.
Hats off to my WordsmithSix critique partners. Happy New Year to our WordsmithSix subscribers and thanks for following us! I hope you realize all your writerly dreams in 2021 and that you have many, many pages of words that find readers.
Writing Is Hard Work
Greetings WordsmithSix Friends! We’re back after taking a brief break in June. Hope this find you all safe and well. I’m in the middle of developing a new series with a co-author and we’ve been working on plotting. With two brains, you have double the ideas and characters and plot scenarios. It’s awesome, but it can be an overwhelming process too. We are writing furiously, trying to keep up with our ideas. The creative energy has been flowing all summer. My co-author sent me a link to several great articles on story plot, so I thought that I would share them here with you.
WRITING IS HARD WORK~ That’s an understatement!
“Good storytelling should be hard—not because it’s impossible, but because it is a high-level skill that requires understanding, insight, energetically clear thinking, and absolute discipline when it comes to choosing elements that will support a worthwhile vision while rejecting those that detract.” K. M. Weiland
“Ask yourself two questions: Is your story idea
weighty enough to warrant 75,000 to 100,000 words, and Is it powerful enough to hold the reader to the end?
“Make your predicament so hopeless that it forces your lead to take action, to use every new muscle and technique gained from facing a book full of obstacles to become heroic and prove that things only appeared beyond repair.” Jerry B. Jenkins
Happy writing, Y’all!
WRITING A NOVEL BY SCENE
Useful Tools: Scrivener
So many times I have heard, “I’ve had an idea for a book for so long, but I don’t know how to start.”
Start anywhere! Just write it. The truth is you don’t have to write a novel in perfect sequence from beginning to end. Listen friends, the honest truth is that first draft will be total crap.
If you’re like most writers I know, you wake up with character dialogue or pieces of scenes playing out in your head. Start writing the scene or bits of dialogue as soon as you can. You’ll put it in order later. Scrivener makes it easy to do that.
For my current WIP, I knew the ending would be a snow storm, so I wrote that scene first. This climactic scene has to be intense and self-revealing for the main character, so it’s good that I had the bones first and am now able to intensify the internal dialogue and sharpen the imagery. I keep working and reworking that scene as I develop earlier chapters which will lead me to that final scene. In between times, I finally decided where to start the story so I am labeling the text folders in chronological order:
and so forth, up until
Friday snow storm
Scrivener makes it possible to insert scenes easy, or move them around with no problem.
In the creative process, you are your own worst enemy. Don’t over think this. Write the scenes that are in your head and fill the imagery with the emotions from your heart.
Once you have the bones in a rough draft form, that’s when the fun really begins allowing you to edit and polish to perfection.
Keep writing and stay sane!
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
– E. L. Doctorow
Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office
Setting writing goals in the New Year and realizing those goals depends on you being productive. That means butt in chair and words on the blank screen. Where you work is just as important as crafting a phenomenal sentence. Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a haven of inspiration.
Feng shui (fung SHWAY) is the Chinese art of placement to increase energy in the spaces you occupy. Literally, it means “wind and water”, or the intersection of the seen and unseen. The natural force of a body or space moves in predictable patterns. In Chinese philosophy, this is called qi (chee). Furniture and objects can be moved, colors can be changed, and the creative energy of a room can be restored, imbalances corrected.
As I have blogged about before, my creative space changes with each project. When I wrote the inspirational book about a deep loss, I sat at the kitchen table. Chaos was all around; kids going in and out of the back door, television blaring, dinner cooking. The noise enabled me to write instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrow of the story. The book I just finished was written in our spare bedroom, although feng shui practitioners recommend not working in a bedroom. It was the only place I could shut out the world. From my little desk in the corner, I could watch the covey of quail that milled around outside the window every morning. I could hear the songs birds that gathered in the snowball bush. With my back to the door, I was able to ignore reality and step into the world of my creation.
Clutter is another major deterrent to productivity. When doing research, I use the floor and guest bed to spread out the information. True, it can be distracting but I like having the information at my fingertips. And I love my stacks of books. I did invest in a collapsible table. To anyone else, it looks like a mess, but I know which projects are in which stack. Whatever your methods, I hope you find the perfect space and have a productive and energizing New Year.
Feng Shui Design Tips for your Office
- Is your back to the door? Do you have trouble concentrating? Move your desk to the center of the room and listen to your body. What bugs you? What do you like about the room? Give any change at least two weeks.
- What colors are dominate in your working space? Red stimulates fame and reputation. Blue represents wisdom. Green represents growth and new beginnings. Purple inspires spirituality and adventure.
- Does the furniture placement flow, or is it distracting? Can you move freely throughout the space? Your energy might be stifled by clutter.
- Bedrooms should be a place of calm, whereas offices are spaces of active energy. If you must work in a bedroom, divide the area by using a screen or curtain.
- Organize your desktop as you would the room. Personal symbols can be inspiring, like a favorite coffee mug or candle. Invest in bookcases or additional tables to declutter and organize your projects.
- Declutter to clear your mind. Clean out your email inbox and computer files. Toss those distracting sticky notes and start an idea notebook instead. Focus your energy and stop stressing over undone tasks.