There is one question we are almost always asked when we introduce ourselves as Reggie and Kasi Alexander. That question is, “Do you team write?” The next question is invariably either “How do you do that?” or “How does that work for you?”
So we decided to use our experiences in team writing as the basis for a book, and it became “Writes of Submission,” due out from Siren on July 2. The story deals with a woman who wins a writing contest and the chance to team write a book with her idol, romance author Candee Appelbaum. Of course nothing is as she expects. Candee is actually a gorgeous hunk of a man who drinks more than Nikki approves of and listens to odd music while he writes. To make things even more challenging, there is a second hot man who is to be their marketing guru and she learns that sometimes teams have more than two members.
It seems like team writing is something that everybody has either always wanted to try or simply can’t imagine is actually possible. So, for those of you who are contemplating it, or are curious about how it can be done, this is our recipe for making team writing work for more than a week.
The first ingredient you must have is the ability to take criticism. We have both come to the realization that, no matter how good we think the scene we’ve just written is, the other person can make it better. It’s not an insult or a condemnation of my writing or his: it’s simply the fact that you’re handing your partner a first draft and they’re adding their own personality to it. For some reason, having two personalities in a book seems to make it more than the sum of its parts.
The next ingredient is a willingness to allow the story to develop in ways you didn’t foresee. We have a Great Dane, and we love playing Frisbee golf, so we routinely go out in the afternoon and evening for a walk or a game and brainstorm out the next scene or two of the book. (I would have loved to be a plotter rather than a pantser, but life doesn’t always work out the way we’d like it to!) In some ways, that is my favorite part of the writing process. One of us will suggest a plot element, then a light bulb goes off over the other’s head and they will suggest an improvement on that. That, of course, will spark yet another idea (there’s nothing I love more than to see Sir’s face light up and to hear him say, “Oh, I know!”), and before you know it you have a whole new chunk planned out.
We each come out of those walks knowing which scene we need to write next, but when it comes time to trade and read each other’s writing, there are often little surprises. A completely new character will show up at the door, or someone will reveal something completely unexpected about their past. That’s when you want to look at your partner and say, “Were we even in the same neighborhood yesterday when we discussed this scene?”
The last ingredient is something Sir calls due diligence, and I call obsessive behavior. I read through the manuscript and give it a polish, then Sir reads through it and does his magic, then we all sit down and Sir reads it out loud for everyone (the two of us and our two partners) to watch for repeated words and continuity problems and things. That used to be quite stressful for me, having everyone picking apart a word choice or catching something I missed. But I’ve learned not to take those things personally (or at least I’m almost there). I’ve always been afraid of criticism, but when you start publishing you absolutely have to develop a thick skin and realize that not everyone is going to appreciate your brilliant talent. Sometimes it’s even your writing partner who doesn’t, and then you have to accept the fact that your ideas aren’t always the best ones.
Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, even if it’s a little different than you had in mind. But that’s how life always goes, isn’t it? You just have to have faith in the process, be flexible, trust your partner and it generally turns out just fine.
Nikki Sutherland can’t believe her luck. She’s won an all-expenses paid trip to the BDSM resort Clifftop Fantasies to co-author a book with her idol, erotic romance author Candee Appelbaum. Unfortunately, Candee is really a man—a very good-looking man—named Kane Harris. Another gorgeous hunk, Dante Hunter, is also at Clifftop to market the resort owner’s new cookbook, Stealth Veggies. The guys are both younger than her and way out of her league—or so she thinks. Even worse, Kane is a wisecracking eccentric with a skewed fashion sense and an odd taste in music who writes late at night with a bottle of wine. Dante likes to do his thinking during yoga or biking, things Nikki hasn’t done in years. Nikki’s journey teaches her the difference between reading hot, sexy ménage scenes and living them with the two best-looking guys she’s ever met. Can she handle the Writes of Submission?
Want to know more about this writing team? Visit their blog at www.naughtyeverafter.