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.
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?
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!!!