By Jenna Byrnes
Heh heh heh... *rubs hands together*...Co-authoring is an easy topic for me. Jude Mason and I have been writing together for more than a year, though honestly, I can't remember when we first started. It seems like we've being doing it forever. Checking in with her on instant messenger is a regular part of my day, after I've gotten caught up on email (in case we have important business to discuss- we do not gossip!) It feels natural to touch base with her before I start writing each day.
When we decided to try our hand at co-authoring, we set down a couple of rules. First and foremost, our friendship was more important than any book. If we got deep into writing and either of us felt like there was a problem, we'd stop right then. We're getting ready to start our fourteenth project together (if my math is right) and we haven't had a hint of a problem yet. Maybe we're both too damned polite. We never argue, and always agree on our plots. (And we both find it hard to say no when we're asked to come up with something for an editor or publisher.)
Or possibly, we're so much alike that it's scary. When we talk on instant messenger, half the time we're both typing the same thoughts at the same time. One of us invariably questions why we even bother tapping the keys. We seem to be very attuned to each other. So much so, that I flew 1800 miles this summer to meet her in person. We walked right up to each other in the airport, hugged, started talking, and didn't stop for five days.
My favorite part of co-authoring is having Jude to lean on. There are some days I write like a house on fire, and some days I fiddle with the widgets on my blog for two hours. But when we're in the middle of a project, we're accountable to one another. Jude and I encourage and motivate each other, and cover each other's arses in the editing and proofing departments.
We have a little routine-- we brainstorm an outline for each story together, then she writes the first few thousand words. We pass the manuscript back and forth, editing the previous bit and adding our own segment, until we get to the end, when I wrap it all up in a pretty little bow. She edits, I edit, then we turn it over to our editors. You'd think we know where the commas go by now, wouldn't you? (We don't. Hence, the other editors.)
Sometimes we write individual stories that are connected, like our Slippery When Wet series for Phaze. In those instances, we edit for each other and provide support. We let each other know what works and what might need some improvement. It's a wonderful system, and I rely on Jude a lot. I'm grateful to have her as a writing partner, editor and friend.
And I'm glad I get to post the day before she does. Because we'll probably say a lot of the same things.