It’s happened more than once. I tell someone that I’m breaking into historicals, and how I excited I am to beco-authoring the Charm & Deceit series with my good friend Lisa Richardson. The next thing that happens is usually a look of surprise, then a question something like this: “You’re co-writing? How do you make that work?”
I’ll let you in on a little secret: At the beginning, we had a similar question. How the heck are we going to do this thing?
One approach we discussed was that we each write all the scenes in a specific character’s point of view. But it was clunky and impractical, so we discarded that idea. In the end, we decided to alternate chapters. We start out by brainstorming the idea and working up a synopsis with the general idea of where the story will go. Then Lisa starts us out with chapter one, because she’s a historical genius and she grounds us in the right time and place. Her first chapter really sets the tone for the rest of the book. When she’s done, she sends it to me. I read over her chapter, make notes, and then write chapter two. Then I send it to her, she reads over my notes on her chapter, makes notes on my chapter, then writes chapter three. And so on and so forth until one of us gets to write THE END on the last page.
|Lisa Karon Richardson|
Of course, there are pros and cons with anything, and co-authoring is no exception. One difficult thing is letting go of preconceived notions. When you write the way we do, there’s tons of room for deviation over a 300 page book. When one of us finishes a chapter, she generally has an idea of where the story will go next. But sometimes, when the manuscript comes back, it's somewhere else entirely--like a different county, not even the next town over! It's wonderful for the reader and the book overall in terms of keeping the story from being too predictable, but it can be jarring during the writing process. It takes a bit of thought to pick up the story thread from there and keep moving forward.
On the pro side, it great to be able to brainstorm together and throw ideas around. Where one of us is weak, the other is strong, and vice versa. But one the best things about co-writing is that it demands accountability. When you write with another author, you know that she’s depending on you to do your part in a timely fashion.
If anyone out there is pondering a writing partnership, remember that communication is crucial! Because Lisa and I were best friends before we became co-authors, the most important thing to us was that we could work together and not kill our friendship. We’d already been critiquing each other’s work, so we knew we could give and receive constructive criticism without a problem. But when you co-write a book, there are times when you each see things a different way. At those times, you have to be able to discuss how it best serves the story without digging in your heels and taking it personally.
So… how is that co-authoring thing working out for us? Fantastic! Thank you for asking. We’ve completed the first two books in the Charm and Deceit series. Diamond in the Rough is available now. Book 2, Vanishing Act is scheduled to release September 2013, and we’re thrilled with the way the story turned out. A Pinkerton Agent and a fake medium join forces to find President Lincoln's kidnapped son. There's adventure and romance and skullduggery galore! Next on our plate is the yet-to-be-titled Book 3, which takes us to New York City where an up-and-coming opera singer and a doctor of the mind join forces to solve a murder case that’s been cold for several years.
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Diamond in the Rough (Charm & Deceit, book 1)
Grant Diamond is a professional gambler on the run from his past. When he comes across a wagon wreck, the chance to escape his pursuers is too good a gamble to pass up, and he assumes the identity of the dead wagon driver. His plan takes an unexpected turn when local heiress Lily Rose mistakes him for the missionary she had asked to come work with the Wiyot Indians. Seeing Eureka as a promising place to lay low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he's bluffing his way through sermons and building an Indian school. But with a Pinkerton on his trail and a rancher rousing fresh hatred against the Indians, Grant fears the new life he's built may soon crumple like a house of cards.
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About the Authors
Veteran authors Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson have combined their considerable skills to create the action-packed historical romance series, Charm & Deceit, for Whitaker House.
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is discover her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her stories. Her novels include THE PASTOR’S WIFE (Abingdon Press, 2/10), THE MOTHER ROAD (AP, 4/12), A WILD GOOSE CHASE CHRISTMAS (AP, 12/12), and the upcoming PARTING GIFTS (AP, 9/14) and VINNIE’S DINER (AP, 4/15). Her novella, Comfort and Joy, is part of Barbour’s MISTLETOE MEMORIES anthology (9/12). Finally, she’s thrilled to be the co-author of a three book historical romance series with the talented Lisa Karon Richardson. DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is the first book of the Charm & Deceit series (Whitaker House, 5/13). To find out more, visit www.jenniferallee.com.
Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, LISA KARON RICHARDSON’S early stories were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now, even though she’s (mostly) grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her published works include “Impressed by Love,” in the Colonial Courtships anthology. The Magistrate’s Folly was published by Heartsong Presents in February of 2013. Diamond in the Rough, (May, 2013) was co-authored with Jennifer AlLee, and is the first in the Charm and Deceit, series from Whitaker House. Finally she has another novella coming out September, 2013 from Barbour entitled “Midnight Clear,” part of the Mistletoe Memories collection. To learn more, visit www.lisakaronrichardson.com.