Monday, June 27, 2011

Collaboration, Trail Mix, and Sleep Deprivation

Around a year and a half (or more) ago, Josi Kilpack and Julie Wright went on a fabulous book promotion trip together.

Somewhere along the way, on the open road, they were struck by brilliance. They asked me and Heather Moore to have breakfast with them one morning at a restaurant, where they laid out the idea:

What if we created a series that actual book clubs would enjoy reading?

What if we did that by coming up with four great characters, each with her own set of problems, and throwing them together?

What if the four of us each wrote one book in the series, which featured an actual book club?

What if the books could stand alone but had stories that intersected?

By the time I finished my omelet, we already had a general idea of who the four characters would be, which of us would write which character, and what their main problems would be.

Over the course of the next few months, we played around with time lines and story ideas. We all had other things we were working on, and we had to put those projects "to bed" before tackling our book club idea, but eventually we reached the point where it was time.

Since January, we've had several writing weekends, where we get together at a library, write most of the day, take a break around 3:00 for a late lunch/early dinner, check into a hotel, write our brains out (with snack food alongside so we don't have to leave) until we can't keep our eyes open any longer, go to bed, write in the morning, then check out.

During that time, we pause to pick one another's brains. We throw out ideas. We ask one another questions about characters, back story, and geography. We smooth out time lines (each book covers the exact same period, and each book features some scenes that show up in others). We do Internet research. We consult maps.

And . . . we get addicted to trail mix. Walk the halls of the hotel in pajamas to stretch our legs. Laugh. Lots. And go home with lots of new words on our laptops.

In between those weekends, we do a lot of emailing back and forth, sending one another scene clips, details we need from each other, corrections to scenes, and so on.

As of last Saturday, I finished drafting my contribution to The Newport Ladies Book Club series, called Paige. Each book is titled after that book's main character, and they're all written in first person.

The four books are all either drafted or almost so. We're entering the stage of swapping manuscripts for editing and revision (and for flow and accuracy between books) before submission.

It's an exciting project, something totally unlike anything I've done before, and something I couldn't have done with just anyone. The series works entirely because the four of us are friends and have already worked well together professionally. And because we get each other. I don't know how many other groups of women who hang out this much, working so hard, with so much give and take, and still love each other to pieces at the end. It's been an amazing ride.

I can't wait for the final result and for when readers, too, will get to learn about Athena, Paige, Livvy, and Daisy. I hope readers will come to love these fictional women like we do and discover how they impact one another's lives.

Each book will be able to stand on its own, but readers will only get the full braided story by reading all four, although you can do that in any order, so it's not a "series" in the typical sense.

In the meantime, I get to celebrate the completion of a shiny new draft with a little chocolate!


Jordan McCollum said...

How fun! I did a parallel novel with a friend once, and that was pretty complex. I can't imagine doing it with three friends.

Sherri said...

The idea was great and the fact that the four of you can pull it off--amazing! I can't wait to hear more. :)

Susan Anderson said...

This is such a creative idea. I would love to be a fly on the wall, observing your progress.

Good for you. ALL of you!


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Annette, that sounds amazing! I can't wait till I can get my hands on a copy (COPIES, that is).

Josi said...

It has been so much fun--can't wait to see it come to life. Great summary!

Heather Moore said...

It has been really great--like having writing coaches and plot-helpers right at my finger-tips.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

I am totally jealous....totally. Enjoy this!!

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Since I've had the chance to hear parts of both Annette's and Heather's books in the series, I know it's going to be fun. I look forward to not only reading the rest of their books, but adding Josi and Julie's characters' story into the mix too!

Shanda said...

Oh, wow. What a fantastic idea. I can't wait to read these four guaranteed-to-be-amazing books by four absolutely amazing and talented women.

Nick and Dani said...

That sounds great! It sounds like something I'd really be interested in reading! I need to find another book club!

Rachelle Christensen said...

That sounds incredible! You gals are awesome. Can't wait to read them.

Melanie Jacobson said...

This sounds like the MOST fun! I'm already itching to get my hands on these stories.

Alice Beesley said...

sounds exciting and fun. What a great idea!

Happy Mom said...

Cannot wait to read the series!!

I've been reading Their, There, They're (those may be in the wrong order, but I'm not gonna run get the book to check).

Oh, how it's taken me back to Mr. Alma J Pates, Mechanics of English class where I, a girl loath to ever diagram a sentence, learned to love it so much that I diagramed mondo sentences from the Book of Mormon just for the fun of it. There wasn't an english sentence on the planet that I couldn't name what part of speech each and every word played.

I've forgotten so much, but you're book is rekindling an old flame.

Thanks for that!

Tanya Parker Mills said...

What a terrific concept! Can't wait to read the series.

TisforTonya said...

so much fun! ummm... I guess I really mean "so much work!" - with a little fun thrown in to keep you sane! I'll definitely have to read these!!!

Jessica G. said...

WOOT! Way to go, you!

Julie Wright said...

it has been so dang much fun!

Anna Maria Junus said...

Jealous. Jealous. Jealous.

What a fabulous idea and what fun. I wish I were friends with other writers in my area.

Lara Neves said...

This was genius. I already can't wait to read these books, how fun will that be?


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...