When Networking and PR Turn into Something Else Entirely.

Faith HunterFaith Hunter
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Finding that creative spark all alone is hard enough, especially that spark that says, “I can write a *whole* book on this!” But finding that same creative spark with another person is really difficult. It doesn’t usually happen fast and the transition from solo writing to team writing can be a bumpy one.

I wrote my first two book with a cowriter, and I know how hard it can be. Gary Leveille and had our difficult moments—not in how we’d divide up that work, but in getting him to find time to write. You see, I think he had a life. I was pretty much free all the time, working only two days a week at the lab, (two, 17 hour days, but who’s counting?) and with a hubby who worked 14 hour days, five days a week. I had a lot of writing time back then. Gary didn’t.

As a full time writer (even before I was published) the lack of writing time grated on me. I was stupid. I could have started another solo project, but I didn’t. I let someone else’s schedule get to me and control my life. I’m smarter about that now. Now I just take on too much and live with the stress. J

Anyway, once I stopped writing with a partner, I decided I was happy writing alone, until CE Murphy joined us at MW. I don’t really remember how it came about but I *think* that Catie and I decided to do a PR interview between her Joanne Walker character and my Jane Yellowrock character. And it was fun. And the novella is now a profitable history.

Well, something like that might have happened between David B. Coe  (D.B.Jackson) and me. Below is the crossover PR piece appearing today on my website, promoting his new release, Thieves’ Quarry. Writing it was so much fun we might turn it into a novella. So, relax and enjoy a bit of fiction from David and me.

Note: Questions and more thoughts at the end of the fiction.

 

Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, July 3, 1768:

The conjuring that Janna has used to send me to this place is unlike any that I have encountered or felt before. I have written a date and location at the top of this entry in my daybook, but the truth is, I am not sure where I am, or perhaps more to the point when. I know only that in the last day, my pursuit of Nicholas Greene has taken an odd and most frightening turn.

Greene was a scoundrel, and worse; he deserves whatever eternal punishment awaits him. But as it turns out, his earthly fate was far darker than I ever imagined possible.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

After murdering Missus Susan Bray, and stealing from her corpse a necklace of great worth, and of equal sentimental value to her family, Greene eluded me for a number of days. By the time I learned where he had been hiding himself, he was gone from Boston. I knew not where to resume my search and despaired of ever finding him or the item he stole. I had but one clue: a blade that he dropped during our lone encounter.

I took this blade to Janna and asked her if she knew a spell that would enable us to locate the fiend. She did. But when she cast the spell, she made a most remarkable discovery. She could locate the man, but not in any place she or I knew, and not in our own time. Even more remarkably, she used a second conjuring, the one to which I referred before, to send me where I am now.

I am in a city called New Orleans, in a nation of which even Samuel Adams himself can still only dream: the United States of America. In spite of my continued loyalty to the Crown, I admit to liking the sound of that.

This city, however, is an odd and disturbing place. It is huge beyond imagining, and filled with miscreants engaged in all manner of licentious behavior. But it contains wonders as well. Lamps that shine without benefit of a flame. Carriages that move without beasts to pull them, that yet belch foul fumes into the air. Objects no larger than a man’s hand that can speak and summon images that dazzle the eye. Enormous craft that soar through the sky, rumbling like thunder. Had I come to this place simply at my leisure, I could have reveled in these marvels. But upon my arrival I remained consumed with my impending confrontation with Greene.

I knew from Janna’s spell what building he was in — a formidable but disreputable looking place on a street that smelled of sour refuse and the aforementioned bitter fumes. I entered, inquired after him with a man at a desk, whose attention was fixed on yet another wonder: a box from which emanated both sound and glowing images. He directed me to a room on the second floor.

I proceeded to the room forthwith and knocked at Greene’s door. My first attempt elicited no response and I pounded at the door a second time. Seconds later, the door opened, revealing Greene.

His appearance had not changed at all; he seemed in the bloom of health. But he wore clothes that looked odd to me, though they were much like those I had seen on others in this alien town. His eyes widened upon seeing me, and after a moment he began to laugh.

“The thieftaker,” he said. “What a surprise.” His tone belied the words; he sounded not the least bit astonished by my presence here. “Come in. Close the door.” He turned away from the door and returned to his bed, where he reclined and leered at me.

“I had no idea that you had been turned, too.” He regarded me head to toe, a frown furrowing his brow. “You been dressing like that for two and a half centuries, or is this for my benefit?”

“My clothes are not your concern, Greene. I have come seeking justice for Susan Bray and her family.”

He sat up, his expression sharpening, like a wolf when it catches the scent of prey. “You haven’t been turned. You’re human. I can smell you.”

Faster than I would have thought possible, Greene was on his feet and then on me. He was unnaturally strong, like some villain from the great myths of Greece. In the span of a single breath, he lifted me off my feet and slammed me against the wall. His face distorted horribly: his eyes red around enormous black pupils, his teeth like the fangs of a wild beast. . . Once more I was reminded of a wolf. I struggled to free myself. I bit down hard on the inside of my cheek, drawing blood, and silently recited a scalding spell.

Greene snarled, recoiled, and I dropped to the floor, stunned but free for the moment.

He glared at me, rubbing his hand where I had burned him with my conjuring. “What the hell are you?”

Before I could answer, the door flew open and in stepped the most striking woman I have ever seen. She was tall and lean, with raven black hair that she wore in something akin to a bun and yet nothing like one at all. She wore breeches and a jacket of black leather. Around her neck she bore an odd silver necklace that put me in mind of ancient chain mail. She carried a firearm, much like a flintlock pistol, in one hand and a wooden stake in the other.

Seeing her, Greene snarled once again and launched himself at her, moving faster than my eye could follow. I lurched to protect the woman, but my injured leg gave way. Before Greene had covered half the distance, she leveled her small pistol at him and fired. The report was deafening; her aim true. The shot tore through his chest, dropping him to the floor. I pushed myself upright to see blood pooling around him. Such a wound would have proved fatal to any normal man. But Greene struggled to his feet once more and staggered toward her. Calm now, her face oddly impassive, her eyes burning a bright gold, the steely light of the warrior, the woman stepped toward him, ducked under a blow that might have rendered a lesser fighter senseless, and stabbed him in the chest with her stake.

A low grunt escaped Greene. He collapsed to the floor and moved no more.

“I didn’t want him dead,” I said. “I had questions for him.”

The woman looked at me, seeming to realize only now that I was there. She regarded me much as Greene had, a crooked smile on her full lips.

“You in a show?” she asked.

“I know not what you mean. I came here looking for Greene, seeking justice for a crime he committed long ago.”

“Yeah, well, he would have ripped your throat out before you got your justice. You should be thanking me.”

“He would have found ripping my throat out more difficult than you might imagine.”

She cocked her brows and studied me from my hat to my feet, seeming most interested in my footwear. Staring at them, she leaned toward me and sniffed, as if she were an animal taking my scent. “That right? You ever staked a vamp before?”

“A vamp?”

“A vampire.”

I laughed. How could I not? “Do you take me for a fool? Vampires are the stuff of legend.”

“Well, that legend would have had you for lunch if I hadn’t shown up when I did. Come here.” She stepped to the far side of the body and, using another wooden stake, pried open my quarry’s mouth. The animal teeth I had seen for a moment as he attacked me were indeed fangs, but these . . these were attached upon small bony apparatus, like hinges. The woman pushed them back into his mouth and they made a small snick of sound, one that I only now remembered hearing as Green attacked me.

The woman cleaned the stake on the man’s strange clothing and placed it in a sheath in her breeches. Green’s head rolled to the side. She lifted his hands to display two inch long talons at the tips of his fingers. I touched one. It was real, not some paste or plaster-made toy for a drama upon the stage.

I did not understand all that I was seeing, but I had to admit there appeared to be more to the legends than I had credited. I should not have been surprised.  After all, how many people in Boston thought that conjurers were not real, or worse, that we were witches who deserved to be hanged or burned at the stake?

I met the woman’s gaze once more. “I have only seen one woman fight as you did. Have you heard of Sephira Pryce?”

“Nope. Should I have?”

“Where I come from, she is renowned. She does not deserve the adulation she receives, but she can handle herself with a blade or with her fists. She would want to meet you.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” She glanced around the room. “I have orders to leave him for the Master of the City. But we should go. I don’t want you here when the cops show — too many questions.”

I didn’t know what she meant by “cops,” but I followed her out into the corridor and waited as she shut the door.

“So where do you come from?” she asked, as we walked toward the stairway leading back to the ground floor.

“You would not believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

I halted, faced her. “I live in Boston. And I come from the year 1768.”

Her face betrayed not a hint of surprise, though a grin curved her lips again. “Well, I guess that explains the hat and the shoes.” She lifted a hand and touched the pistol at my side. “And the flintlock. Good oogly moogly. You went up against a vamp with a flintlock and a steel blade. How did you get here? You a witch?”

“I most certainly am not! I am a conjurer!”

“Witch, conjurer. It’s all the same mojo, isn’t it?”

I bristled, but tried not to let my ire show. I did not sense that the woman meant to offend. “Here perhaps. Where I come from ministers rail against witchcraft in their sermons, and men and women are still hanged as witches.”

She nodded. “Yeah, I get that. All right, conjurer it is.” She proffered a hand. “Jane Yellowrock.”

After a moment’s hesitation, I gripped her hand, which was as smooth as I would expect a woman’s hand to be, but as powerful as that of any man. “I am Ethan Kaille.”

We began to walk again.

“Yellowrock,” I said. “What manner of name is that?”

“Cherokee.”

“You’re a savage?”

“A what?” she asked, her laugh not quite concealing a note of warning.

“A savage. An Indian.”

By this time we were on the stairs. She halted again and put a hand on my chest, forcing me to stop as well. Her smile dropped away. “I’m Cherokee, and if you call me a savage one more time, my calling you a witch is going to be the least of your worries.”

“Forgive me,” I said. “I meant no offense.”

“You thought that by calling me a savage you were flattering me?”

“To be honest, I did not give much thought to what I was saying. It is . . .what people of my time and place call such as you. I won’t use the word again.”

She nodded, considering me through narrowed eyes. “Fair enough,” she said at last, descending the stairway once more. “Though in your time I would have been called War Woman by my own people.”

“And apt title, to be sure, and well deserved.”

“So what can you do with that mojo of yours?”

“My conjuring?”

She nodded.

“I can do a good deal. What is it you have in mind?”

“Well,” she said. “Your friend Nick Greene isn’t the only rogue-vamp I’m hunting right now. And it might be handy to have a wi–” She flashed a smile. “A conjurer watching my back.”

I have never hunted for vampires; until a few moments before, I had not even believed they existed. But this woman and her grim task intrigued me in ways I could not quite explain, either to myself or to my friends back in Boston. That last thought gave me pause, as I knew not how I might return to them. I would have to trust in my conjuring skills, and Janna back in my own time, and perhaps in a bit of good fortune.

I returned her smile. “I think I might enjoy that as well.”

I followed her back along the city street, with its peculiar sights, smells, and sounds, and as I did my hand strayed to the hilt of my blade. At least that felt familiar. Upon touching it, I felt reassured, though that was, perhaps, foolishness on my part.

She looked me over again. “The first thing we’re going to have to do, though, is get you a shower and a shave. And it might be a good idea to find you some new clothes. I can hear your boots a mile away.”

 

(To be continued . . .)

 

I hope you can see how much fun this possible novella could be. And how difficult.  I’d either have to write Jane from a third person POV or we’d have to figure out the two-character, first person POV. David would have to work with me. LOL. But it’s a possibility.

Have any of the rest of you written with another person?  (I know a few have.) What did you have to do differently from writing alone? What were the pros and cons? And do any of you who have never co-written, want to try it? Why?

Faith Hunter 

 

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28 comments to When Networking and PR Turn into Something Else Entirely.

  • Fun mashup! Funny that you should bring this up, too. My husband and I were listening to James Patterson being interviewed on Monday evening, and that launched a discussion about co-authoring. We were concentrating on whether mega-stars like Patterson actually contribute much to the final product. But I ended up mentioning a number of partnerships that I thought were balanced and true… (You and Catie were one of them!) I’ve never tried it myself…

  • Thanks Mindy. Working with Catie (and not under deadline) was so much fun. It was creative beyond anything I had been able to do for ages. Work with David seems just as easy.

  • Great story! I *love* crossover fiction.

    I see some challenges right away. The first working with voice, making sure that the character voice rings true. One thing I love about this snippet is that Ethan sounds like Ethan, and Jane sounds like Jane. I’m sure the conversation happens about “Would your character do this?” Another being writing time, and fitting busy schedules in together. Yet another being ego: the collaborators must be willing to work together, relax a bit of control, and make concessions if needed for the good of the story.

    I’ve never exactly co-written, but I’ve worked with another person on what is basically a collaborative project (their universe, mostly my writing, not fanfic). It helps to be able to get the voices that aren’t originally mine down pat, to be able to channel that energy. Working within that universe has been fun, too. It’s a great change of pace, and it stretches my muscles, and it may lead to something worthwhile. Whatever comes of it, I’ve enjoyed myself.

  • Loved this story, and I’d definitely like to see more!

    There’s a very funny book by Lisa Lutz called Heads You Lose, which is a comic take on two writers collaborating on a mystery. The two writers alternate chapters, and disagree on pretty much everything, which leads to some wild plot twists and character developments and hilarious “notes” to each other about the book and the collaboration. Made me laugh out loud multiple times, but did kind of scare me away from collaboration :)

  • Vyton

    Fantastic! I really enjoyed this piece. The two first-person POVs seems to me to be the way to go. Not easy to write probably, but great fun to read. My WIP involves time travel and keeping track of things is tough. Try explaining plastics to someone from 1838. Looking forward to the novella.

  • I LOVED working with Faith on this, but I will admit that collaborative work is tough for me, mostly because I’m such a control freak. The last time I tried writing with someone it was a little tricky because I don’t think that our writing styles meshed well. With Faith it was far easier and far more fun because I trust her artistic abilities and impulses implicitly. That, it seems to me, is the key to making it work. That trust has to be there, or else it becomes too difficult (at least for me) to let go and enjoy the process.

  • Laura, you are totally right on all fronts. Voice is easy to lows when one person is writing another’s voice. When I was writing with Catie, she had Jane saying the F-word. I had to change it to something less strong and explain that Jane never cusses. That was an interesting conversation. :)

    Thanks SiSi. That sounds like a fun book!

    Vyton, I think you are right re the double first POV. And yeah — keeping track is always hard.

    David, I have no ego with my writing. It’s all about communication and understanding. And control freaks don’t bother me much. I live with one.

  • mudepoz

    Not me, but there are three erotica writers I beta for. Yep, the three of them write a BDSM series (don’t look at me, I just beta, half the time I have to close my eyes and bleach my brain, but hey, they are good friends). The biggest issue is one person wants to write the sex scenes. They each write a chapter, then at the end, they each read through, then I get the joy of checking continuity. Since they are quite highly ranked in the erotica section, I have to say it works for them.

    I don’t think I can co-author. I have enough trouble just keeping in present tense for George.

  • Very fun crossover – I would love to see more!

    I tried working on a co-writing project once, but it didn’t work out. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying again someday, though, with a project we came up with together from the beginning, or a crossover project like Faith and David have done here.

  • Amy Bauer

    I enjoyed the story. I imagine it must be challenging to keep the tone and voice of the story straight in collaboration but I think it helped in this case that both Ethan and Jane are characters with a lot of darkness in them.

  • Mud, it’s a tough business writing together, unless the ground rules are set in stone. Catie and I agreed up front that the Easy Pickings project would be done between other things. And it was. When we had time to write, whoever was free would contact the other one and say, “I’m free. Will do a few thousand words.” Then, when done, would send it to DropBox and send a note saying, “Tag, you’re it.” If one of us took too long getting back to the project, we’d send a nudge saying, “Just checking your schedule. How’s it looking?” And if other deadlines were keeping one of us busy, the free one might look at the ms to clean it up and post comments/queries. Or might ignore it for a while too. No pressure, no deadlines worked for us.

    Gypsy, Thanks! It helps, I think, to have worlds already built and then revise the worlds when necessary for the overlap story.

  • Amy, you have a good point. In the crossover I did with Catie, Joanne is not as violent as Jane, but she is as dark in other ways. Working through the levels of violence and darkness actually made the story easier and gave levels of internal conflict. But I can’t see pitching Jane against a Glenda Good-witch character and making it work.

  • Ken

    Love the crossover idea. I haven’t tried co-writing with anyone yet. It sounds like fun, but it also seems like there’d need to be a bit more up front work done in terms of setting up the framework of the story.

  • Ken, once Catie and I decided on writing a story together, we spent over a month outlining back and forth. Fairly in-depth outline. Then we went ahead. And yes, prep-time is important!

  • Razziecat

    That was very entertaining, and really flowed smoothly. I might be imagining it but it seemed as though Ethan was a little more “formal” in terms of voice. But it was really good, and I’d read the novella, definitely. As for me, no, I don’t think I could work with another writer. I want to have control of all the characters and all the action! ;)

  • I’ve written with five other authors and each experience was different, although all were fun. I think the one that was the most creative was one similar to what you two are playing with. My friend had started a story with a male vampire, turned during the civil war; I had started a story about a woman contemplating suicide who meets a vampire. Both stories were in 1st person and we decided to stay with that, alternating chapters. The only thing we fixed on each others’ chapters (besides grammar, spelling, etc.) was our own voice in dialog.

  • Razzie, it’s really hard to let go and let someone else take over my character. But it’s equally hard to take over another’s character (with that outside view) and write for him. David and I negotiated back and forth. In one point, I wanted the (yes very formal) Ethan to cross his hands behind his back like a sailor might. David wanted none of that, and so there was none of that. :) It was his character.

    Lyn, that is similar to what Catie and I did, but adding in the changes of magical systems. Those had to stay true to our novels and we had to address the differences.

  • sagablessed

    I’m late, but the answer is no. I wish I could. I think the experience would be teaching.
    Someday I might, but I would have to find someone who would be willing first. I am too green for that…for now. :)

  • quillet

    Late to all the parties on this site, and nothing to blame except summer laziness (that dang sun keeps on shining). But no, I’ve never co-written anything, and right now I have no idea how well I’d cope with that. I’m a terrible control-freak-perfectionist, so I kinda pity any co-writer of mine. ;)

    I love this mash-up! One thing I’m really struck by: Ethan and Jane have a surprising number of characteristics in common. On the surface, they’re very, very different, Ethan being so formal with a back-it-off-mister attitude and Jane so informal with a bring-it-on-mister attitude.* Yet they both adapt to new situations very quickly, both keep their cool in the face of great stress, both think very quickly on their feet (they have to, in their lines of work!), and there’s a spark of dry humour in both which makes them click immediately. Love it!

    *My opinions only. Feel free to disagree. :)

    PS: I’ve got my copy of TQ and have already started it…

  • Saga, it isn’t always easy. Gary and I had tempestuous relationship despite 2 books together. I was often mad. And often ornery. (Don’t gasp. I can be ornery. Really!)

    Quillet, Thieve’s Quarry is wonderful! And you are right, though I never thought about it. They do react much alike. The humor I hadn’t noticed until now either. And . . . can you imagine the first time Ethan puts on a pair of really good running shoes. And American underwear? (giggling)

  • Razziecat

    Hmmm….Faith, those are some interesting observations….Wonder what Ethan thinks of the differences in women’s clothes? ;)

  • Google-eyes and uncomfortable and embarrassed. And very very happy.

  • Ethan, I think, is most uncomfortable with what he would call “the immodesty” of the women of this time. And yet, I would imagine that he steals more than a few glances. I mean, the guy’s only human.

    Responding to Faith’s exchange with Razz. We were a little pressed for time, and so I never explained to Faith why I objected to the hands behind the back thing. Yes, it’s sailor-like — something he probably did a lot when he was second mate on the Ruby Blade. But he’s a creature of the streets now. His life is violent, filled with unpleasant surprises. He has been ambushed too many times by Sephira and her toughs, or by others. And the idea of crossing his hands behind his back is alien to him now. It would be like sitting in a tavern with his back to the door and the crowd. He stands ready all the time, expecting a fight, because that is what his life as a thieftaker has taught him to do. And it would be even more imperative in this alien environment. So, yeah. That’s why.

  • (laughing) Yeah re the stealing looks.
    Ahhhh. This makes perfect sense, David! Jane would never walk that way either. :)

  • For a good idea of writers working together on a communal project, you can look at the Thieves World books. They all got together and set down a set of ground rules regarding each of the owned characters and what could and could not be done with them before they began to write in the setting. I think it would be interesting to do a communal setting like Santuary and the surrounding places. There’s a preface somewhere that talks about how it all came about. Good reading for anyone even a little interested in writing in a collaboration type setting.

    Long, long ago, back in the days of the Commodore 128D and GeoWrite, my cousin and I wrote collaboration style. It’s an interesting way to write, provided all involved are on the same page, so to speak.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    In undergrad my roommate and I collaborated on some fanfiction. I think we did the bulk of it over Christmas break, passing it back and forth by email, each adding the next section. We’re both kind of control freaks, but we made it work by just being outlandish and goofy with it so that we couldn’t be too upset if the story went in some other direction from what we were “planning”. We posted it on fanfic.com under a single psuedonym and had many laughs over the fact that *none* of the comments complained about the probably *wild* back-and-forth swings in writing voice.

    It was tons of fun and is probably a big reason why I got started with writing my own bigger and better things later on!

  • Hands behind back – Why do sailors do this? I can understand the “parade rest” aspect – but why do it on a ship when underway? Why would it become a habit to carry over on land? I would think with the ship rolling around underfoot you would want to keep your hands out for balance.
    Is it a “bad-ass” thing – showing off to younger men?
    It isn’t something women do naturally very well – men with their broader shoulders have better leverage for the “reverse arm fold”. Some body stances are physique driven, for example women naturally place items being carried on hips because of body shape – both because something is in the way on the chest so holding items securely there can be problematic and the natural protrusion on the hip bone provides a good hook to rest things.
    Anyway, just wondering how this counter-intuitive stance came to be regarded as a “natural” stance for sailors.
    PS – Can’t wait to see what happens next with the story.

  • Okay, this is just off the top of my head and I promise I’ll consult my books when I have a minute, but I want to say the stance is taken when the commanding officer addresses the crew, and it’s to show that they’re doing nothing but listening. Crossing one’s arms in front or planting the hands on the hips are both more aggressive body signals. As far as balance goes, since they really don’t move around with their arms in that position, I’d say no one’s in much danger of tipping sideways. Especially if they’ve been at sea long enough to have gotten their sea legs under them. But David was right – that arm position wouldn’t have worked for Ethan in that situation. (Sorry, Faith!)

    Whether or not women are able to do it easily, well, that really depends on the woman. I can slide both arms behind me without a thought, and often do when I’m standing around waiting on something to happen. I don’t generally walk around that way, though. :D