Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post with Karen Booth

Tempting Brits, Dual POV, and Getting Dragged From the Mud

Karen Stivali and I have been critique partners for just under two years. Our co-authored erotic romance, Long-Distance Lovers, will be out in February from Ellora’s Cave. Karen and I talked about co-writing since we first began working together, but we didn’t find time until we were both in the throws of the submission process with our first full-length novels.

Other writers and friends have asked how we handled the mechanics of co-authoring. We started with good old-fashioned brainstorming (via instant message, that’s the non-old-fashioned part). We both like complex characters, so the starting point was Tim and Jenna. After that, it was a matter of getting to know them and their back-stories, how they would meet, what their difficulties would be, and how they would fall in love.  

We knew we wanted Tim to be a musician and we had to make him British as we both have a preoccupation with Brits. Tim’s physical attributes came quickly—we both had the same type in mind. His personality embodies much of what Karen and I adore about British men. There’s no denying a sensitive bloke with a quick wit and an enthusiastic sex drive. It’s very appealing.

Jenna, our heroine, came together in an uncanny way, both of us drawn to eerily similar traits for her, on our own. Jenna’s very strong, but there’s a real vulnerability to her because of her past. That’s part of what Tim is attracted to, but that also becomes a stumbling block when things fall apart.

In terms of the writing, we went with dual POV. Karen S wrote Tim’s parts and I wrote Jenna’s. We alternated as we went—she would write one scene, I would write the next scene and so on. When one of us came up with a new plot point, we inserted it into a shared master plan to keep track of where the story was going.

One of the best things about co-authoring is having the chance to bounce ideas off someone who not only knows the story as well as you do, but also has as much emotionally invested in it. When you get stuck, there’s that other person there to drag you out of the mud.

Blurb for Long-Distance Lovers:

British musician Tim Wentworth trades his London flat for an apartment in
NYC so he can record with a promising American band, but when he arrives
in Manhattan he learns that the gig has been canceled. With no job and a
two month stay in the States he wonders if the whole trip has been a waste
of time, until he meets the charming and talented jewelry designer, Jenna

Unlike the groupies who throw themselves at Tim after shows, Jenna
couldn’t be less impressed by his music credentials. Bad experiences have
caused her to have a strict “no musicians” policy. When Tim rescues Jenna
from the advances of an obnoxious drunk they strike up a friendship that
in spite of her rules, turns into a passionate affair full of intense and
unexpected emotions. As they try to find a way to prolong their time
together, a family tragedy forces Tim to return to England. Jenna and Tim
must each decide how far they’re willing to go to see if their whirlwind
romance can lead to a lifetime of love.

You can learn more about Karen Stivali at http://karenstivali.com

You can learn more about Karen Booth at http://karenbooth.net

Karen S and Karen B also maintain a site at http://thekarens.com


Tina Donahue said...

I've never authored a book with another writer. So how do you and Karen work out the logistics? Do you write one chapter and she writes another? How do you match each other's styles? Enquiring minds want to know! :)

Kathy Otten said...

I'm not sure I could co-author a book. My characters and story ideas become too personal to share with someone else, although I can certainly see the advantages of bouncing ideas off someone else and keeping procrastination at bay. Like an exercise buddy. Best wishes for lots of sales! :)

jean hart stewart said...

I co-authored one book when I hit my first writer's block with a bang. I had the book pretty well-sketched out, but it was way too short and I didn't have a clue. Lee Pearce stepped in and rescued me with Quest for Magic, which Passion in Print promptly accepted. In the long run it turned out to be fun.

KarenStivali said...

Hi Tina! I'm guessing Karen Booth will have an answer for you too, but I'll answer in the meantime.

Yes, Karen and I alternated chapters. We'd edited each others full length novels so many times we were very well acquainted with how our styles match and differ. All of Karen B's chapters are from the female character's pov and all of my chapters are from the male character's pov, so our style differences helped define the characters.

It also helps that our sense of humor and our general writing style are similar. I could "hear" her character talking when I wrote my scenes because I knew how Karen was writing her. There's no way we could have done this if we weren't so familiar with each others work. Since we are, it wound up being a lot of fun. :)

Liz said...

sounds AWESOME! I'm gonna give a collaboration a try later this year myself. Can't Wait!

Karen B said...

Karen S did a great job providing clarification about the process. Kathy, I liked your point--it's true that co-authoring could be difficult for some on that level. You have to trust the other person, no question about that. Luckily, Karen S and I often err on the side of TMI, so we're all too happy to share our craziest ideas with each other without fear of what the other will think.

Thanks, Tina for hosting us today!