Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Joy of Working with A Co-Author

            Readers have often asked me and my frequent co-author, Sue Viders, how we work as co-authors, since we have written so many books together. For years, we taught writing classes individually and jointly as well as writing several books on the writing process. But that work was all in nonfiction. Several years ago, Sue and I decided we wanted to try writing a fiction book as co-authors--something neither one of us had ever done. Over the years, writing non-fiction had become fairly easy for us as we worked together. We both had our own ideas of what we wanted to say to help readers, and Sue had been teaching writing classes for much longer than I had. We both had attended conferences together and separately to teach writing classes. We also both individually taught classes online.

           Each of us enjoyed writing fiction books as well as non-fiction, so we decided to work on a fiction project together. The first decision of genre was easy for both of us. We enjoyed writing suspense fiction with some romance thrown in for good measure. As we discussed the project and what we wanted to write, a cozy mystery novel set in a small town seemed like a natural fit. As a great planner, Sue immediately began making up character charts and charts of the story location. When I am writing, I more often see the scenes as I put the story on the written page. Sue put together the location ideas and began developing the characters while I began determining the various scenes we were going to need.

            Unfortunately, before we could get very far, Covid hit. Our weekly breakfast meetings came to an abrupt stop and suddenly we were thrown into writing individually just at the time we needed to sit down together and devise a plot and develop our ideas into scenes. We didn’t let the interruption end our plans. We came up with our scenes over the phone and Sue took the first pass at writing a few scenes. Using our character charts, I brought in more of the development of the scenes and the characters themselves. We both enjoy writing dialogue so we worked on that together. We were off and running. We were working as a team again!

            Sue most often took the first pass at writing a scene, and I developed it as well as playing first editor. She is more of the planner, while I used my years of television newsroom editing experience to check our story for correct punctuation and proper language usage. We both worked together on the overall story flow and developing characters and scenes. Over the years we have found we play off each other’s ideas very well. One person will come up with a thought and the other person then follows with more ideas. The process works very well for both of us. We have been able to fully develop our characters and our scenes without having to be together while writing. I think it probably improved the project because we each got to utilize our strengths while shoring up the other’s weaknesses. Sue is much better at planning. I am better at grammar and spelling and improvising when we need it.

            That is the key to working with a co-author--working as a team. What I’ve seen in working with writers for many years as a news producer,  everyone brings something different to the table. When I assigned stories back in the newsroom to writers, I always tried to give each story to the person I thought would do the best job. Some preferred political stories, others were great on fast moving stories, while others excelled at taking a long boring subject and making it interesting.

            One of the keys to working with a co-author is to determine individual strengths and weaknesses and then play to those strengths. Some fiction writers are better at grammar, some at dialogue and others at developing scenes or the plot. If you’re going to work with a co-author, think about how to play to the other’s strengths and then use your own wisdom and vision to add to the partnership.

            The other key to working with a co-author has to be that you must be ready to shove down that ego every so often. Your way is not always going to be the best way and you have to be ready to let the other person win some of the differences in opinion for the good of the work. In the end, you both want the same outcome – a marketable book that draws in readers and makes them want to read more of your joint work.

Using these basic principles was how Sue and I have managed to work together for so long and to continue to want to work together, but does writing with a co-author work for everyone? Probably not, and many writers find that working alone is very satisfying and prefer  to work solo. Sue and I like working alone too. We have both retained our personal fiction writing as well as working on our co-authored books together. We began as critique partners and we still regularly critique each other’s individual fiction works.  Because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so well, it allows us to look for problem areas in the other’s work as well as help each other through any plotting difficulties.

We have decided that whether writing alone or writing with a partner, the key to output is to take what you’re doing as a writer seriously. Daily writing is not always necessary, but being a writer every day is. Thinking like a writer is to be constantly looking for ideas and constantly thinking of new dilemmas or ways out of those dilemmas. We are always coming up with plots even when we’re not working on a particular story.  We’re also constantly coming up with new ideas for characters since we both agree that great characters are the key to any story.

             Good luck with your writing, and if you find yourself stuck, why not try writing with a friend or with several others? It might improve your own writing and it might result in seeing your name in print!

            Here’s the blurb on our latest book, Secrets and Swindles, which is now available from Amazon.com. It’s a cozy mystery about two aging sisters trying to solve a crime in their small Colorado mountain town and it’s the beginning of a series starring the two sisters. We’ve already started planning the second story.

When artist Jo finds that her paintings are being copied and sold as postcards, she goes on a search to find the culprit. Shop owner Olivia has problems of her own when her clerk’s husband dies in a mysterious accident, and then someone breaks into her store. Both sisters want answers, but now they are both being threatened. Are all the strange events related and is someone watching the sisters’ every move?  

About the authors

            Sue Viders, an artist with a B.F.A degree, began writing marketing columns in national art magazines for her fellow artists, but switched to teaching writers around the world on how to write more effectively so their books would sell better. Her nonfiction book, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroines and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes, a best seller, is used by writers throughout the world. She has taught numerous classes, both online and onsite, written over fifteen books for writers including Writing a Novel (workbook) and co-authored several books on writing with Becky Martinez including Creating a Villain and Writing Tips for all types of Fiction Writers. She has also written Out of the Box a collection of humorous essays. Her current work-in-progress book is Elsie's Earrings, a paranormal cozy mystery


            Becky Martinez is an Emmy award-winning former broadcast journalist who took up fiction writing after spending 30 years working in television newsrooms from Denver to Seattle to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. As Rebecca Grace, she writes romance, as well as romantic suspense and mystery. Her most recent individual work is a romantic suspense novel, Dead Man’s Treasure. Her previous book, Secrets of Sara, was published in early 2022 and has received excellent reviews.

Here are our buy links and social contact information:

Buy Secrets and Swindles at Amazon

Co-author Web site:  Writethatnovel.net

Amazon:  Sue Viders

Amazon:  Rebecca Grace

Fiction Website: RebeccaGrace.com

Non-fiction Website:  Writethatnovel.com

Any questions?  Sue and I both love to answer writing questions!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Trip To A World Of Enchantment

Ever since I discovered the fantasy and suspense genres, reading a book series has become one of my favorite reading pleasures. Once I find a particular author or a particular set of characters or location, I love to dive right in and read book after book of a series. My guest today in My Writing Corner, Jennifer Ivy Walker, is joining us to present the second book in her series. It's title The Lady of the Mirrored Lake, the second installment of her series. Book one, The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven, was featured on my blog back on November 29th.

Enthralled with legends of medieval knights and ladies, dark fairy tales and fantasies about Druids, wizards and magic, Jennifer Ivy says she always dreamed of becoming a writer. She fell in love with French in junior high school, continuing her study of the language throughout college, eventually becoming a high school teacher and college professor of French.

As a high school teacher, she took her students every year to the annual French competition, where they performed a play she had written, "Yseult la Belle et Tristan la Bête"--an imaginative blend of the medieval French legend of "Tristan et Yseult" and the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast", enhanced with fantasy elements of a Celtic fairy and a wicked witch.

Her debut novel, "The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven-, the first of a trilogy-- is a blend of her love for medieval legends, the romantic French language, and paranormal fantasy. It is a retelling of the medieval French romance of "Tristan et Yseult", interwoven with Arthurian myth, dark fairy tales from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, and otherworldly elements such as Avalonian Elves, Druids, forest fairies and magic.

The Lady of the Mirrored Lake,
Book 2 of the trilogy, is being released worldwide this week. The conclusion, “The Emerald Fairy and the Dragon Knight”, will be published by The Wild Rose Press in a couple of months.

Let's get a blurb:

Hunted by the Black Widow Queen, Issylte--a healer with the verdant magic of the forest--must flee Avalon with the two finest knights in the Celtic realm, both wrongly accused of treason. The trio travels to Bretagne, where Issylte heals a critically injured wolf and obtains fiercely loyal, shapeshifting allies.

In mystical Brocéliande, Issylte becomes a warrior priestess of the Tribe of Dana and otherworldly mate of the Blue Knight of Cornwall, discovering with Tristan a passion that transcends all bounds. When she becomes the Lady of the Mirrored Lake, sworn to defend the sacred waters of the Goddess, Issylte must undertake a perilous quest to discover what priceless object lies hidden in its murky depths.

As a nascent evil emerges in a fetid cave, Issylte and Tristan must face a diabolical trio that threatens their lives, their love, and their kingdoms.

Enchanted. Enflamed. Entwined. Can their passion and power prevail?

Want more? Let's get an excerpt:

Extending his hand, he asked gallantly, “Would you do me the honor of dancing with me, my lady?” At his touch, a thrill of pleasure flowed up her arm and spread throughout her entire body.

Lifting the folds of her deep green gown with her other hand as she stood, Issylte followed him to join the revelry. The wings of a white dove fluttered wildly in her breast.

Tristan walked backward, facing her, grinning from ear to ear, as he held her hand in his outstretched arm. He pulled her seductively to the dance floor without ever removing his intense eyes from her smile.

In Tristan’s embrace, Issylte’s breath felt shallow, her heartbeat rapid, fully aware of the hulking shoulders and enormous arms that held her close. His scent was the salty tang of the ocean, mingled with evergreens of the forest and an earthy, musky, distinctly male essence that called to her. Despite the open doors, the room was very warm, and the heady fragrance of him, combined with the sumptuous food and superb wine—Issylte swooned and lowered her face to his chest, longing to touch the dark hair she knew was hidden under his deep blue tunic.

Want even more? You can explore Jennifer's realm of Medieval French Fantasy in the links below. She says she hopes her novels will enchant you.

Website: https://jenniferivywalker.com/

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22671046.Jennifer_Ivy_Walker

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Mirrored-Lake-Wild-Raven-ebook/dp/B0BKYHZGFJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=13647SWRD1MQV&keywords=lady+of+the+mirrored+lake&qid=1673574202&sprefix=lady+of+the+mirrored%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-lady-of-the-mirrored-lake-the-wild-rose-and-the-sea-raven-book-2-by-jennifer-ivy-walker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferIvyWalker

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bohemienneivy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferivywalkerauthor/

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@jenniferivywalker

Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Jennifer? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Fighting the Winter Blues

Unless we're into winter sports, aren't we almost tired of the cold, harsh days of the winter season? Isn't it time to warm up with something spicy and exciting? I'm not talking hot chocolate or tea here, but a spicy romance that gets the blood to the boiling point.

My guest today in My Writing Corner is Chloe Holiday, who has appeared on my blog previously, and now brings us a new novel perfect for a cold wintery night. 

Chloe is a military physician-turned-novelist who says she writes the things she loves to read. We're talking steamy, fun stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. She says they include smart women, and men who aren’t jerks. She likes to write about friendships, whether it’s close women or a good bromance. She tells us she wants readers to feel the thrill of a smoldering gaze or the barest brush of fingertips, and hear the shocked gasp at the underhanded villain, as well as feel the angst of heartbreak, the joy of reunion, and of course, then she likes to conclude with a perfect happily ever after!

Chloe likes delivering a sneak peek into intriguing scenarios, drawing from her background of military personnel, medicine, as well as drawing from other worlds like the Greek culture. She also enjoying bringing a bit of danger into her writing.  

As you might guess, she says she hates to read the same old type of stories, with only the names and places changed. Her goal is to bring readers a fresh, fun, new story, with NO CLIFFHANGERS!

More than anything, she wants to craft a rollicking, great story that readers can’t put down, one where love prevails in the end, one that will whisk people away from their own tribulations.

Her newest release, Desire in Deutschland, a part of the Passport to Pleasure series from Wild Rose Press sounds as if it fills that bill. Let's get a blurb:

Never again. University student Birgitte Schumacher swore off men, after an American GI seduced her, then left Germany for good. But when she runs into a sexy military policeman on the streets of Kaiserslautern, he just might be her ruin.

Just one beer was Lee Klein's plan. Yet when he sees the woman outside the pub, she’s all he wants. Birgitte’s irresistible pull leads him into a steamy rendezvous. He hopes for more until a conflict of interest ignites a culture clash of simmering attraction versus duty, which threatens their affair.

Now, let's get an excerpt:

What Lee needed was more time around this woman, with her sexy accent and cheerfulness. “I’m glad you were available. I was tempted to just stay in today.”

 Birgitte laughed, a warm chuckle. “Sometimes you have to ignore your innerer schweinehund and make yourself do something.”

 Lee frowned, picking apart the words. “My inner… pig dog?”

 “Yes, your inner pig dog. You don’t say this? It’s the thing that makes you want what you want, even if it’s a bad idea.”

 Lee laughed. “I’ll remember that one. German is more fun than I thought, with all those words strung together.” He watched the road curves ahead, instead of staring at her legs the way his pig dog wanted.

 Down, boy.

 Lee smiled. My innerer schweinehund is strong. Very strong.

Want more? Join Chloe at http://www.chloeholiday.com/! and sign up for her newsletter to download a free copy of Finders, Keepers

Thank you Chloe, for appearing in My Writing Corner.  Following are Chloe's Buy Links and Social Contact information:

Desire in Deutschland is also available on Audio:

AUDIO:  978-1-952775-17-8 (Still waiting for ACX approval)

Direct from author: https://chloeholidaywriter.gumroad.com/l/ojzqg 

Google: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Chloe_Holiday_Desire_in_Deutschland?id=AQAAAEDCqEfolM

E-Book Buy links: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BKYF66TS or 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Desire-Deutschland-Passport-Pleasure-Holiday-ebook/dp/B0BKYF66TS 

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/desire-in-deutschland/id6444192317 

Nook/Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/desire-in-deutschland-chloe-holiday/1142600179?ean=2940186700760

UBL: https://storyoriginapp.com/universalbooklinks/747fa55e-5ed8-11ed-80c2-3f4c5b771926

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63163565-desire-in-deutschland 

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/desire-in-deutschland

Chirp: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/desire-in-deutschland-by-chloe-holiday 

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/desire-in-deutschland-chloe-holiday/1142600179 

BingeBooks: https://bingebooks.com/book/desire-in-deutschland 

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/612918643/Desire-in-Deutschland 

IMAGES to download: https://bookbrush.com/reader-hub/ChloeHoliday/desiredeutschland

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19579299.Chloe_Holiday
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chloe-Holiday-Writer-102345001394478
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/chloe-holiday
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Chloe-Holiday/e/B0875SGW6J?ref 

If you'd like to read more of Chloe’s works, here are the links:

Finders, Keepers  (audiobook here)
New Heights
Submerged Hopes
Hard Truths
A Boy & his Dog (audiobook here)
Fly Boy (audiobook here)

Any questions or comments for Chloe?

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

An Intriguing New Series

Secrets and families...they seem to go together so easily and can make for some fascinating fictional stories as easily as they can for true stories. Today's guest in My Writing Corner brings us a suspenseful story that sounds like a wonderful invitation to spend a cold afternoon reading by the fire. My guest today is Ed Baker.

Born in Massachusetts, Ed says he and his family traveled widely when he was a child because his U.S. Marine father was transferred to new assignments across the U.S.A. on a regular basis. By the time Ed was twelve, he says he had crossed the United States three times. And at the ripe old age of sixteen, he drove a stick shift Ford from Virginia to California, following his dad who was pulling a camping trailer behind the family’s station wagon. Sounds like a real adventure!

An English major at Elon College, Ed earned a master’s degree at Appalachian State University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership at the Sage College’s Esteves School of Education. After thirty-five years in higher education and after retiring as Interim President of a public community college, he turned his attention to his first love, writing, while continuing to teach undergraduate and graduate courses on an adjunct basis at a private college in upstate New York.

During the warm months, Ed and his wife reside in their cabin on Galway Lake, New York. During the cold months, they “hole up” in their winter quarters in Saratoga Springs, New York. When he’s not writing or teaching, Ed is engaged in woodworking projects or playing with his four-legged canine companion Sudsy.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I always wanted to be a writer.  In college I was editor of the college’s literary magazine and its satire publication.  Although my creative writing should not have been derailed after graduation, I openly admit I let that happen.  All my creativity turned to work-related grant-writing.  At one point, however, when I was leaving a stateside position for one in Micronesia, I wrote a novella explaining my personal quest.  I shared that work only with my family and best friends.

After retirement, my good friend Larry fell from a ladder and scrambled his brain.  I took turns watching him during the healing process and, while he napped, I began writing again.  A 120,000 word novel poured out of me in three months.  Its 96,000 word sequel was completed in another three months.  These were semi-autobiographical in nature and have not been published.  Then I conceived of the Dan Arrow character—a private detective whose investigation carries him into situations where the New World Order is working with aliens to dominate the world.  I wrote four Dan Arrow novels in total, all infused with popular conspiracy theories.  I submitted Dan Arrow and the New World Order to fifteen publishers before Black Opal Books snatched it up.  They, then, readily accepted its three sequels.

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?

My wife is my toughest critic, always asking, “Do you want your children or grandchildren reading that?”  Honestly, my greatest challenge is writing around sensitive situations such that my wife doesn’t object to what’s in the text.  To the point: I can describe a grisly murder or a rape in painfully minute detail, or I can avoid the potentially offensive description and bring my sleuths in after the incident has occurred. For example, in Bloodbath, I describe in detail the kidnapping of a child, but my readers don’t see her being tortured or ghastly murdered. They don’t need to see that.  Instead, I focus upon my characters’ reactions to the unseen incident and their determination to identify the perpetrator.   

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

My latest novel, The Devil Never Asks, was published just yesterday by The Wild Rose Press.  The idea landed in my lap during a family conversation where my children were comparing their results on a popular DNA analytic.  My wife refused to participate in the analysis, citing several reasons related to how the pool of collected data could be used in the unforeseeable future—ethnic cleansing, denial of medical insurance, illegal breeding, etc.  I had to agree with her concerns.  In my new novel, the lives of several characters are destroyed by the innocent submission of seemingly harmless DNA samples to a commercial vendor.  My lead characters, detectives Bartholomew Jones and Helen Martin, seek the killers of two individuals, a child and a gang member, whose deaths are curiously related by DNA samples.

The book sounds fascinating! Let's get a blurb:

When a baby’s skeleton is discovered during an urban renewal project, DNA databases identify the child’s parents. Michael, now a judge, claims that he and Margo were teenage “friends with benefits.” But Margo, a housewife, claims Michael raped her repeatedly, resulting in a still-born baby that she buried in secret when she was only seventeen years old. Then, a second skeleton -- this one an adult -- is found at the same building site. As Police Detectives Bartholomew Jones and Helen Martin peel away the layers hiding the truth behind the possible homicide, they discover evidence linking several players in the second case to the baby’s case: Is Margo possibly the killer of the unidentified man? Why did her estranged sister help to bury the man’s body? Why is the victim’s skeleton missing its little finger?

Ready for more? Let's get an excerpt!

     “Were you there when BabyX was born?” I asked.

     The judge shook his head. “I didn’t know there was a BabyX until right now. I’m shocked and mortified. How’s my wife going to take this? To what end will the press go to embarrass my family and humiliate me? For God’s sake, I’m running for the State Supreme Court of Appeals. The election is in just a few weeks.”

     “We know,” Agent Casola said. “That’s why we asked to meet you here. You should probably hire an attorney and prepare your wife for the worst. We don’t know where this is going at the moment, but there’s the distinct possibility of a murder charge against you, your high school FF, or both of you.”

     “I assure you on my word of honor as a representative of the West Virginia legal justice system

that the DNA analysis may have found me guilty of fathering that poor child, but I had no knowledge of his existence until today, and most certainly I didn’t murder him.”

      After the judge left, Special Agent Maxwell asked, “Do you believe him?”

     “It’s hard not to,” I said.

     “He’s probably a liar,” Agent Casola sneered. “All men are.”

What’s your next project?

My second novel in the Bart Jones series is a spin-off of The Devil Never Asks, using the same hero and heroine. Entitled Blood Bath, the novel follows Jones as his marriage collapses while he and Helen are investigating the death of an individual whose body has been drained of all its blood.  That novel, also under contract with The Wild Rose Press, explores the world of Sanguinarians living as our next-door neighbors.

My current project continues to follow the unraveling of Bart Jones’ personal and professional life as he morphs from police detective to private detective when his maverick attitude runs afoul of the police chief during the “Defund the Police” movement.  His only client (he later discovers) is a businessman who is running a shill corporation for a Mexican cartel.  Soon, Bart entangled in a “garbage war” as the cartel moves to illegally eliminate competing waste removal companies.

How do you develop characters?

My novels are “quick reads” because most of the dilemmas are exposed through character interaction.  I don’t depend upon long passages of narration to expose a character’s flaws.  Instead, my characters self-expose their strengths and frailties through dialogue with other characters.  Once these elements come to light, I push the characters into situations which challenge their beliefs about themselves and others.  Then, they either self-destruct or grow strength as individuals.

How do you come up with your plots?

I find that plots and sub-plots are thrown at me every day by current events, as well as by the interactions we have with other people. Who couldn’t find a plot and numerous sub-plots in the arena of American politics? How about the many potential stories in the Russian war with Ukraine or in the positive and negative aspects of human interactions during Hurricane Ian? (Anyone for a giant squid seeking victims in the flooded streets of Fort Myers, Florida?)  I find mind-expanding scientific advancements announced every day. Spawned by the rocket launches of SpaceX and Blue Origin, my next project will explore the creative ways in which a crime syndicate might make millions by serving the habits and prurient interests of men and women in space, especially those living at isolated military and commercial outposts on the Moon and Mars.

Buy Links:



Social contact information

Email:                   esbaker47@gmail.com

Web Page / Blog:   www.edwardsbaker.com

Facebook:              https://www.facebook.com/edward.baker.31337

 Twitter:                 Edward S. Baker @esbaker47

Thank you, Edward, for being my guest today and introducing us to your work. Any comments or questions for Edward?

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...