Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh, the trials and tribulations

Picture a gray-haired woman, exhausted, head thrown back and the back of her hand at her brow. Sighing. Gasping even!

Yup, that’d be me.

Okay, got that picture firmly entrenched. Read on.

Now, here’s an example of an IM shared between co-authors:

J1: <--Jenna!
But I don’t know anything about pony boys

J2: <--Jude!
What’s to know, guys with horse attire being trained like horses. Oh and don’t forget the sex.

J1: Ewww!

J2: What ewww, it’s great gay sex with one fellow whinnying instead of groaning.

J1: Yeah, I guess you’re right. What about cops. We could do cops and have one of them being kidnapped and the other one has to do some kinky something to rescue the guy. They’re lovers you see.

J2: Oh, that sounds cool. Kinky, you got something in mind?

J1: Uh, well no, but I’m sure we can come up with something…lol

J2: I’m sure we can. *G* A little exhibitionism maybe, how about the free guy has to show off or the guy who was captured gets strung up outside city hall on Monday morning.. naked and in some kind of bondage gear.

J1: Oh! That works

J2: You got a city in mind or do we want to create one of our own? This is a shorter one, might be an idea to not even mention a name unless we need to

J1: I agree. Four chapters, remember that.

J2: Grrr yeah, I remember…LOL

The conversation goes on, suggesting, rejecting, revamping ideas until the rough plot is sorted out and then I get the inevitable:

J1: Okay, do you want to start this thing?

With little more than a rough idea of where we’re going with this, but one hell of a bunch of ideas floating around in both Jenna’s and my minds, the story begins. I’ll write, usually around 2500 words, but sometimes it’s 4000 or more. It all depends on how the story flows for me. When I’m feeling like it’s a push, I’ll send it to Jenna, with ideas on where to go from where I left off, or just a simple… ‘Your baby now, have fun’

This isn’t the first time I’ve written with someone else, but it is the first time I’ve felt so comfortable doing it. It’s taken time, but it’s definitely been worth. The first book Jenna and I tackled together, and I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong, was Feral Heat, the first of our Untamed Hearts Series. From the information I still have stored on my computer, we began working on this one in March of 08. The series, which we thought was done at three books, is apparently well liked enough that our publisher asked us to do one more so the books could all be put into print. We’ve sent off the fourth book and I do hope you like horses.

To me, that’s a huge accomplishment. The first two e-books, Feral Heat and Bear Combustion have been combined into, Untamed Hearts Vol 1, and is available now at Total E-Bound. I am totally jazzed about it.

It’s taken time, and it hasn’t always been simple dream up an idea and bingo off we go. If it was, everyone would do this. Jenna and I were good friends before we even thought of writing together. She’d edited quite a bit of my work and I’d done the same for her. We knew the strength and weaknesses. We knew the professionalism and dedication to improving the skills each of us has. We also know that we have lives outside of writing and make great efforts to make sure we don’t pressure each other more than necessary. I’ve had eye surgeries and Jenna has had a very ill husband who needed a great deal of care. We worked when we could, we let up when it was important to do so. Our friendship came first.

Perks of co-authoring:

1. Someone to bounce ideas off

2. Built in editor. She writes some, I edit hers, then add my bit. She does the fixes I’ve suggested, then edits mine and adds her bit. Finally, we both do an edit, then we send the MS to our editors

3. There are times when a story just flies. There are times when it flies then falters. When you’re writing with a partner, you can hand it off and be fairly sure it’ll fly again.

4.Honest feedback. When you’re working alone, you can ask for comments from friends, and you’ll most likely get some nice remarks. But, if the writer has a vested interest, royalties, he or she is going to be much harder on the MS. They want their work to be as perfect as you want yours to be.

5. We all have our strong points when it comes to writing. If you chose wisely, your co-author’s talents will compliment yours. I write hot sex. Jenna has this awesome ability to create a twist at the end of a story that is simply astounding.

Disadvantages of co-authoring:

1. Royalties, and this might very well not be a disadvantage. You cut any royalties in half. But, you also may very well garner a following which drives the numbers up, so it could very well be one heck of a perk.

2. Schedules. There are times when one of you may not be available for a project. Family always comes first, so when you see this really cool call for submissions, but one of you has a wedding in Zimbabwe to attend, it’s not going to happen unless you want to tackle it solo, and that’s always an option.

3. Hmm, I honestly can’t think of a 3.

Let’s see, Jenna showed off a couple of our covers, so I’ll show off a couple of others. I hope you enjoy.

Phaze Rocks, Slippery When Wet Series

Book #1 Wanted Dead or Alive

Dan Radisson has been released from Corcoran State Prison and never intends to go back. He's working his twelve steps, minding his own business, and trying to resume some degree of normality living in the home of his sister and her family.

Trey Wallace knows what he likes and isn't afraid to go after it. When he meets Dan at an AA meeting he sees exactly what he wants, but questions whether the newly freed man is ready to dive into the type of sexual relationship Trey has in mind.

Dan's ready for the sex, but not so sure about life on the outside. When he stumbles upon a homicide and runs from the scene in the same way he did in the past, suddenly he's a wanted man. Dan must either solve the crime or risk returning to the place he dreads the most--the prison that changed his life.

_ _ _ _ _

"This is an excellent mystery with suspense and eroticism that keeps it fast moving." ~ Dee, The Romance Studio

~ Read excerpt or buy now

* * * *

Book #2, Living on a Prayer

Logan White is released from prison after serving eight years on Corcoran prison for his part in a B &E where a man was killed. Enter Reverend Shane Grayson, a gay man of the cloth who helps find Logan a job, but that turns into a horror story. Can the two lovers find a way to be together or will the underbelly of society win this battle?

Fallen Angel Reviews - Livin' on a Prayer makes you truly walk in someone else's shoes, giving a little taste of what it must be like.

~ Read excerpt or buy NOW

* * * *

Book #3 Never Say Goodbye

Damien Hall has never done an honest day's work in his life. On his own from a young age, his street wiles got him by until he ended up in Corcoran State Prison, found guilty of theft. Five years later, he's moved in with a man who only wants him for one thing, nightly hot sex. But he's off the streets, and Damien thinks the trade-off is worth it.

Travis Slater wrangles horses for a living, and wants to wrangle Damien in his off hours. He sees potential in the man who suffers from extremely low self esteem, and quickly falls in love with him. He hopes to take Damien and leave, knowing they can make their own way in the world.

Damien isn't so sure, and is terrified at the thought of being homeless again. When his employer admits the real reason Damien was hired, it's decision time. Do what's easy or do what's right? Only Damien can decide.

_ _ _ _ _

Number One on the Top Twenty Bestseller List for Phaze in June, 2009.

"This book gets a 4 (recommended to buy) for being such a good story in such a short package. Don’t let this one pass you by!" ~ Acquanetta Ferguson, the San Diego Examiner

~ Read excerpt or buy now

* * * *

Book #4, I'd Die For You

Snake Thompson is out of Corcoran and looking for revenge. He meets and falls for Abel, a lusty blond guy who winds up quitting his job and tagging along. Can the two of them find the truth and clear Snake's name, or will drugs and money send them both to the grave?

Top ten list at Phaze for July 2009

Read excerpt or buy now

That's my bit on co-authoring. I think if you chose who you want to write with, the experience can be nothing less than amazing for anyone who is serious about it. Pick the wrong person and it can be exactly the opposite. Go into it with your eyes open. Possibly try a shorter piece first and get out if the feeling isn't what you want. Always, be honest.

I'd really love to hear from others who have tried this.


  1. Sounds like co-authoring is the way to go, to me! Great post. I love the sound of having a co-authoring mentor, although, an established author probably would see that as baby sitting. :)

    Start small, think big, good idea.

  2. Thanks for the peek inside your joint creative process, Jude! It's very enlightening. (Entertaining, too!)

    Clearly your collaboration has been wildly successful, given all your top tens.

    Keep it up.


  3. Hmm, if I hadn't already come visited, I might be concerned about this "edit your face" threat...I guess I'm safe from here.

    And I must say, she makes me sound dumber than I am in those IM examples. Yesterday, for instance, I had lots of great ideas. After only thirty minutes of sitting there typing "thinking..."

    Jude also didn't mention that she writes beautiful descriptive passages. Personally, I choose to skip over the description to get straight to the dialogue, so this works well for both of us!

    Nice blog, Jude. I guess I won't go in and edit it.

    hee hee hee



  4. I juststarted co-authoring myself and have really enjoyed it. Another benefit that I love is that writing is no longer a solitary experience. A critique partner will help once in a while but your partner will keep in touch daily or more often. It's a closer friendship and when you are in front of a computer typing all day you need a support network.

    Her strengths fill my weaknesses and vice versa.

  5. Hi Jude,

    I'm not often envious, but I do think you and Jenna have a wonderful writing relationship and I have to admit to being a little jealous.

    One of the things that seems to be behind the posts you've both made, yet I don't think either of you have actually mentioned it explicitly, is that there is an enormous amount of trust between you.

    It takes a lot of trust to hand your work over to someone and let them change what you've written. And it also takes a lot of trust for a co-author to hand it back with their ammendments.

    It's fascinating to read about such a successful working relationship.



  6. Sassy,

    Great to see you here! Jenna and I really have hit it off well. It's not always that way though. I've had a couple of rough experiences, but I learned from them too. Building that trust and communications is really huge.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


  7. Lisabet,

    We really have done well. I'm thrilled we work so well together. There are times though when both of us are just too damn polite. I know, hard to fathom, but it's true. LOL!

    The readers do seem to enjoy the books we've come up with. Thanks so much for commenting.


  8. Hey GF

    Well, that lil dialogue thing was just for fun. Jeeze lady! We both sound like dumbasses there. I think we often do until we get an idea flowing. LOL

    It really is an honor to work with you.


  9. Ash,

    Just thought I'd hop in, here. I do trust Jude immensely. With our co-authored stuff, I can let her make changes or fixes and don't care if I even see them. We're on the same wave length.

    Now, when she edits my stuff, I don't always accept all her suggestions. We live in different regions, obviously, and don't always speak the same. There's the time I'll never let her forget, when she changed my use of "town" to "berg"...I emailed her back WTF? We don't have bergs in the Midwest...LOL As I said, I try not to let her forget it. It's good to keep her ego in check. *G*


  10. Missy,

    You make a very good point. Having someone to bounce ideas off and knowing they're going to take the time to really be honest and work with you is pretty huge. Jenna and I don't actually chat a lot when we're working on a project. We touch bases, share bits we might want to change or whatever, but that's about it. Five minutes and we get to work. It's pretty cool.

    Good luck with your co-authoring.


  11. Ash,

    The trust element is enormous. You have to know in your heart that the person you're working with won't flip off and use the book you've been working on as the rough draft for something they're going to hit the best seller list with. LOL I think that's one reason why you should start small. Talk a lot at the beginning, make sure you're both really comfortable with what's going on. Be prepared to toss in the towel if it feels wrong.

    Hey, I'd definitely work with you. I believe you and I actually started a book together a few years ago and it didn't go far. One of us had other commitments, or something. I most probably still have the beginnings of that one stashed on my hard drive.

    Thanks for commenting.


  12. Jenna,

    I don't have an ego... or I didn't before I started working with you. Hmm, think I can get compo for it?


  13. It's a privilege to hear about the collaborative relationship from both partners, from the "big picture" insights to the nuts and bolts of how your particular arrangement works in practice. Thanks for these illuminating posts!

  14. Hi Jeremy,

    It seems that when it works, it really works well. I've heard it can be a pretty horrible experience, though.

    We do like to illuminate stuff. LOL Thanks so much for your input!


  15. It must be nice having a writing partner, especially when you get stuck, which happens to me a lot. I notice you write segments, but don;t mix prose styles. That's interesting.


  16. Hi Garce,

    Yes, we usually do a segment each, or as much as an entire book each in a series. When we're both working on a book, our aim, or at least my aim is to try to make it seem as if the book is told by a single person. We want it to be seamless. We don't want the readers to have to think about who did what part or be pulled out of the story by our different voices. It's not always easy.

    When we wrote the series, Slippery When Wet, Jenna did two books and I did two. These one's you'll see the different styles.

    It's funny, we don't talk about what we're trying to do, we seem to instinctively know. There are times when we're typing in IM and both of us are typing the same thing, whether it's plotting or just talking. A tad eerie!

    Thanks so much for commenting.



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