Team Writing: How Two Authors with Totally Different Voices Write Together When They’re 1400 Miles Apart
Nancy Fraser and Patti Shenberger have known each other since 1995, but it wasn’t until 1997 that they even considered writing together and, like a lot of things in life, it all happened by accident. Patti wanted to practice her pitch before an editor appointment. Nancy made the suggestion that she could beef up one of her secondary characters and possibly pitch it as a two-book series. Then, we thought, well if one secondary character deserves a story, shouldn’t another? And, voila! … the idea for a series was born.
Now, you might wonder what happened between then and now that it’s taken this long for us to bring the McCade Legacy to the readers. Well, we shopped the first book around to all the big name houses (you know … the ones that take nine months to a year to response). We kept hearing: great writing, nice voice. Unfortunately, because it was a time travel historical, we weren’t finding any buyers. Then, Nancy moved away … far away … in a crazy grandma-like trance to follow her military son and grandchildren all over Canada.
Even long distance, we did end up publishing that book through an e-publisher back in 2007. With the first book in the hands of the publisher, we were putting together the proposal for subsequent books, when life reared its ugly head. Over the next four years, we both took turns with life-threatening medical issues. However, even illness can’t keep a good idea down!
We began working on the second book, Gambling on Love in the Spring of 2012. By the time we’d finished, Entangled Publishing had announced their new Scandalous line and we decided to send our brand new baby off to them. We heard back very quickly with a contract offer. Needless to say, we were elated! That first contract has turned into two contracts for a total of three books, with the outline for five more books, taking our wonderful relationship with Entangled into 2015. Some days it feels almost like having tenure!
Enough about “how” it all started. Let’s focus on “how” it works! First of all, we both had to acknowledge the fact that our voices are entirely different. Patti’s strength is dialogue while Nancy’s is all about the frivolous, touchy-feely, steamy stuff! Luckily, we do share an almost uncanny ability to spot what the other is doing wrong. However, with such divergent writing styles, we knew we’d never be able to alternate scenes or chapters. So, we devised our own way of team writing. One of us writes the entire book while the other is responsible for all line edits, final read-through and acts as the liaison between the team and the publisher. Then, next book, we switch roles.
That’s not to say, the words are set in stone, because everything is negotiable. If Nancy’s dialogue sucks (see Nancy shake head emphatically), then we discuss it rationally and come up with the best alternative. If Patti’s love scene isn’t “steamy” enough, Nancy always re-writes it! (See Patti shaking fist!)
For the second book in the series, The Lawman’s Agreement, we tried a new tactic. First, we wrote a synopsis, and then broke the synopsis down into a twenty-five chapter outline. We set a writing quota of one chapter per day. Once five chapters had been completed, they were sent to the other team member for editing, then the next five and so on. We kept this schedule for the entire book, finishing it within five weeks, including the final read-through and getting it sent off to the editor.
Book three, The Barrister’s Temptation, will be released in the spring of next year as part of Entangled’s shorter Flaunt novella line. Again, we did the outline and blocked off chapters and, despite some outside personal issues, the process went smoothly
We’re not saying the system would work for everyone, especially if you can’t agree to disagree sometimes. However, it’s certainly worked for us. Either Nancy or Patti would love to discuss the details of our system with would-be writing teams and how best to maximize your individual strengths. We welcome your emails on the subject, or any writing subject in general.
Author: Nancy Fraser and Patti Shenberger
Length: 254 pgs
Post-Civil War Mississippi
U.S. Marshal, Zack McCade takes pride in protecting the good folks of Greenville—especially the beautiful Dr. Suzanne Martindale. He doesn’t always understand her need for independence, but he sure does like getting under her skin. It’s not like he’s looking to settle down—his job is too dangerous to risk taking a wife and family.
In an era when women aren’t readily accepted in the male dominated world of medicine, Suzanne doesn’t have time for courting—especially a charming Cajun rogue like Zack. When he proposes a fake betrothal to keep the matchmaking town out of their hair, she’s sure it’s a bad idea, but can’t deny her longing for a respite from the over-zealous bachelors in town.
Their ruse starts a fire in their hearts that neither expected, but will the re-emergence of Suzanne’s real fiancé douse the flames?
Suzanne entered the woman’s ward of the hospital and lifted Felicity’s chart in her hands. Four days had passed since the night of the harrowing delivery, and both mother and baby were progressing even better than she’d hoped.
“Enough lollygagging around in this hospital bed,” Suzanne said. “It’s time for you two to head on home.” She smiled down at Felicity and baby Chance, and then raised her gaze to meet the new father’s. “Jake, if you wouldn’t mind getting Chance settled in for his trip home, I’d like a few minutes for one last exam of Felicity’s stitches.”
Jake laid the baby in his basket and lifted him from the bed. “I’ll be right outside whenever you’re ready to go,” he said.
Once the door had closed behind him, Felicity breathed a long, deep sigh.“Finally. It’s been one visitor after another for four days. If I weren’t already exhausted from the delivery and nursing, the well-meaning company would have done me in for sure.”
“You should have said something. I could have placed orders to limit the visiting hours,” Suzanne suggested.
Felicity shook her head. “It wasn’t as much the string of people as it was the fact you and I have barely had a minute alone.”
Concern for her patient, her friend, was paramount. “I’m sorry if it seems like I’ve neglected you. Did you have questions?”
“No, silly, you haven’t neglected me at all. And, the only question I have is, what’s going on with you and Zack? I haven’t seen the two of you together since the night Chance was born.”
“We’ve been busy, that’s all. I’ve had my patients, yourself included, and he’s had his…his…”
“His what? I don’t recall any news about an outbreak of bank robbing.”
“He’s just busy, that’s all.”
“Have the two of you called off this unusual arrangement of yours?”
Rather than remain standing, Suzanne took a seat next to Felicity on the edge of the bed. “No, we’ve not called anything off as yet.”
“Then why aren’t you wearing the ring?”
Suzanne rubbed her fingertips over where the ring should be. “It’s complicated.”
“Oh, my,” Felicity said, the two simple words catching on a gasp of surprise. “You two have been together, haven’t you? You’ve made love.”
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“If I’ve learned anything over the past year of my marriage, there are only two types of complications between a man and a woman. Either they’re making love, or they’re not.”
Suzanne shook her head in the negative, but then admitted. “Yes, we made love. Once. It was…” her words stalled on a long sigh. “It was wonderful. Yet, it broke our agreement and I’m not sure how to get past it.”
“And so, for that reason, you took off your ring?”
Suzanne met Felicity’s gaze and a single warm tear ran down her cheek. “I didn’t exactly take it off. I lost it.”
“You lost it? How? When?”
“Well, I suppose I did take it off, but not for the reason you were thinking. I removed it on my way to the operating room just before your surgery. I put it in a small cup on the shelf above the sink. In the excitement of the evening, I forgot to go back and get it. When I came in the next day, the cup was gone and so was the ring.” Suzanne stood and helped Felicity to her feet. “Enough about me and my forgetfulness. It’s time for you and your new baby to go home.”
“I thought you wanted to check my stitches.”
Suzanne shook her head. “No, I checked them earlier this morning and they were fine. I just wanted these few minutes alone with my favorite patient.”
“I’m glad we talked,” Felicity admitted. “Now you and Zack need to talk and resolve whatever issues you have about what happened.”
“It’s not just that,” Suzanne said. She plucked at the apron covering her shirtwaist, and ran the cotton edge through her fingers. “We also have our reputations to think about. This isn’t New York, or even New Orleans. This is a small town filled with people who thrive on gossip.”
“No doubt,” Felicity agreed. “However, you also have to be true to yourself. And, as for the ring, I know Zack won’t be the least bit concerned over the fact that you lost it.”
“I suppose you’re right. Perhaps, tonight, I won’t run out of here so early. Maybe, with any luck, I’ll have an escort home.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Patti Shenberger recently signed a contract for her twenty-first romance novel/novella sale. She’s published in short contemporary, historical time travel, paranormal and erotic romance, as well as multi-published in fiction and non-fiction magazine length work.
Patti is a wife, mother of two, mother-in-law of two, brand new grandmother to a beautiful baby boy and pet mommy of two. Patti resides in Michigan, where she complains about the heat in the summer and the snow in the winter. When she’s not writing, Patti can be found with her nose buried in a book.
I found this book quite fascinating. It really varied from the classic story line of the scared older virgin that was past marriageable age and I must admit I really enjoyed it. The cast of the story was quite unique, and several potential strong women popped up as future main characters in their own right. These two authors flowed beautifully together and you could not tell that this story was written by two different people. It flowed as if it were one author.
Suzanne was by far my favorite character in this story. She was dedicated, logical, and hard-working. I know she had to have it tough during this time-period being what she was, but she never let her sex deter her. She was an admirable character and one that would be easy to look up to.
I look forward to more adventures with these authors in this particular series. I was truly an intriguing and quite steamy read!!
GIVEAWAY!!!!Nancy and Patti are giving away an amazing prize!! You have the chance to name a business in their next book and have one of the characters named after you!!! The grand-prize is inclusive also of a copy of said book and a copy of The Lawman’s Agreement!! Second place is a copy of book 1 and 2!!!