Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Bonfire – Hours of the Night Book 1.5
Author: Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Release Date: 11/15/2016
Silent night, holy hell.
Thaddeus and Sarasija are spending the holidays on the bayou, and while the vampire’s idea of Christmas cheer doesn’t quite match his assistant’s, they’re working on a compromise. Before they can get the tree trimmed, they’re interrupted by the appearance of the feu follet. The ghostly lights appear in the swamp at random and lead even the locals astray.
When the townsfolk link the phenomenon to the return of their most reclusive neighbor, suspicion falls on Thaddeus. These lights aren’t bringing glad tidings, and if Thad and Sara can’t find their source, the feu follet might herald a holiday tragedy for the whole town.
Writing as a Team
Irene and I are pretty excited to be here at Prism! We’ve been blogging like crazy, getting ready for the release of Bonfire, Book 1.5 in our Hours of the Night series. Bonfire’s a holiday novella, and it’s the second project we’ve co-written. So we should be past the beginner’s luck stage, and have some ideas about how to make this co-writing thing work.
Well, maybe. When I searched variations of “how to write fiction with a co-writer”, I didn’t find much information. We thought it might be fun to dig in a little, to explore both why we decided to co-write a series, and how we’re making it work. It’s been a process, and now we want to share some of what we’ve learned.
Why work with a co-writer?
I posed the question to Irene, and here was her response:
“There are SO many good things about the team effort. Mostly (maybe because I’m lazy) you get work breaks while the other person writes and the story keeps moving along. It’s exciting waiting for the pages to come back. I have a tendency to drop everything and open the document immediately when Liv sends it back and – oh look! – there are beautiful words I didn’t have to scrounge up but will get partial credit for.”
While I disagree with her “lazy” assessment (because she’s totally not), I do second the excitement that goes along with sharing our characters. Maybe it’s because I’m an alto – and used to singing harmony – but I just love the spin Irene gives the voices in my head. I’ve also learned a ton about my own writing process through working with her. I’m the one who comes up with the wild ideas, and she’s the one who makes sure my bubbles are grounded in the characters and the story arc. Our strengths are complementary, and I can honestly say I’ve done my best writing in these shared stories.
So how do we make it work?
When Irene and I started Vespers, we weren’t terribly organized. We agreed on a basic premise, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a vampire/monk and a young college grad. We agreed that she’d write from the college grad’s POV, and I’d write the vampire. And we agreed that when it stopped being fun, we’d quit, because our friendship mattered more than the story.
Hasn’t stopped being fun yet, so I guess we’re okay.
As far as the nuts and bolts of our process, it’s pretty simple, really. We’re lucky in that there seems to be enough overlap in our writing styles that readers can’t pick out who’s doing what. Thaddeus and Sarasija are very different characters, but we mesh them pretty well.
We do less plotting than I’m used to and more than Irene likes, and after a couple preliminary discussions, we start writing. One of us does a scene and emails it to the other, and we keep alternating scenes. Every so often – roughly in line with the major plot turns, at least – we take some time to brainstorm what happens next. (But don’t tell Irene, because then it’ll sound like we’re outlining and she’ll freak.)
Working with a partner gives us each a built-in beta reader, which helps us clean up a lot of the minor stuff before anyone else sees the manuscript. Once we get a draft finished, we try to give it some space. We do an editing pass, send the book out to beta readers, then edit some more. This is generally where Irene has to get strict with me (“no you cannot add unicorns to that scene!!”). Then it goes to our editor, and though the developmental pass can be painful (“dig deeper, Liv!”) it’s so worth it.
We’ve also divided up the non-writing work that goes into self-publishing, because Lord knows there’s enough for both of us. For example, Irene does the formatting and coordinates all our vendors, while I write the blog posts and contact review sites. She organizes the paid promo, and I make the teasers. We didn’t sit down and make assignments, rather, things evolved in such a way that allowed each of us to take on what we were interested in and get all the work done.
What’s the hardest part?
I’m going to let Irene weigh in here…
“I guess the downsides are the very rare occasions when we disagree about something. Or we think we agree, then find out we’re down different rabbit holes and have to somehow tunnel them back together. I tend to be loud and set in my opinions. Then I have to eat crow and admit when I was wrong. (Kidding – I’m never wrong!) Liv is a bona fide saint for putting up with me.”
Saint might be a strong word (lol!) though I did see one article that suggested co-writers could solve their differences with pistols at twenty paces. Um, yeah. We haven’t reached such an extreme point – so far – though I do think dealing with someone in such an intensely personal way requires really good communication and a helping of patience. The process has the occasional frustrating moment, but we’ve both found the outcome to be tremendously satisfying.
About the time this post goes live, we’ll be diving into the Hours of the Night book 2. I fully expect we’ll discover new wrinkles, both for our characters and for our writing process. In the end, though, the story benefits, and that’s a good thing.
Thanks again for having us here on Prism. Check out our excerpt, and please do enter the giveaway. Happy Holidays!!
On the Vigil of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Sara crouched on the bench in the back of my pirogue, paddling steadily upriver. We’d waited until full dark to begin our search, and I knelt in the front and aimed a flashlight across the glossy water. If I controlled the light, I was much less likely to be blinded by his forehead beam. We were heading for the house once occupied by Bart and Adéle Perkins, Chase’s great-grandparents.
Everyone on this stretch of the Amite was related in one way or the other.
“Is that it?” Sara pointed to a patch of darkness. Reeds and water lilies blotted out the moonlight’s shine on the water where a finger of the river dwindled off into the swamp.
We were half a mile or so from the River house, heading away from Pinky’s. “I believe so.”
The only lights we’d seen so far were the small winter moon and the halo from my flashlight. We were armed, though not excessively so. I had my crossbow strapped to my back and a blade in a sheath on my thigh. Sara had his Colt handgun and his demon knife, “for good luck.”
Deo volente he would never again have to use it.
Somewhere in the darkness, a caimon gave its rumbling call. Sara echoed it with a soft “damned alligators.”
“We’re nearly there.” We would have been there even faster if we’d been able to go by land, but the bayou had eaten the old footpath. He paddled on, and the cypress closed in around us, filtering the weak moonlight.
Sharp golden eyes glared at us from the river’s edge. Fox, or maybe coyote. They blinked, then disappeared. In addition to the murky mud smell of the swamp, I detected a hint of smoke.
“We could be in a nice restaurant on Magazine Street having etouffee and drinking bourbon.”
I glanced at him over my shoulder.
“All right. I could be eating and drinking,” he said.
“You could be back home with your family, too.”
The paddle splashed rather harder. “We gonna go through this again?” Another splash. “We’re gonna go through this again.” Splash. “Booking a flight right before the holiday is ridiculously expensive, and now that Ma’s used to the idea that I’m staying, I don’t want to upset her.”
His persistent resistance had worn down my better nature. He paddled quietly for a while. “Besides.” He smiled shyly. “I’d rather be here with you.”
Caught off guard, I nearly dropped the flashlight in the swamp. “Well…” The swelling of my poor dead heart cut off my words.
“And”—his grin glowed brighter than the moonlight—“I want to see Santa with his eight tiny alligators flying through the sky.”
On cue, a thumping splash to our left signaled a caimon’s presence.
“Damn,” he said.
About the Author
About Irene Preston
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.
Where to find Irene
About Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
Where to find Liv
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