Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Playing –And Writing—Well With Others

I want to welcome Tawny Weber, one of my favorite Blaze authors, to Over Coffee. She writes some wonderful stories and may I add, they're hot enough to sizzle bacon. Her characters are fun, quirky, and realistic.

Today her topic about writing with others and in particular with the new four part Mini-Series launched by Blaze, Dressed To Thrill.

Writing is, by nature, a solitary pursuit. We spin tales and weave make believe in our minds, then carefully craft them into stories with pen or keyboard. For some, that’s done in a quiet space, others in a cacophonous crowd. But it’s generally done alone.

At least it is in my little world. I’m a major lone-writer. I’ve tried doing the writing-group thing, where a bunch of people sit with laptops and tip-tap on keyboards together. But a part of my writing process is the up and down, the talking to myself, the humming along with music that tends to be a distraction (ie: irritating pain) to others. So that doesn’t work well for me *g*. I do brainstorm with my critique partner, the amazing Beth Andrews, and revise with my editor. But the story writing itself is an isolated process. At least, it was until my latest book. FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME is part of the Dressed to Thrill mini-series, which ties together a giddy-falling-in-love costume shop clerk and her costume mix-ups through four different stories. Mine kicks it off this month, with Samantha Hunter’s story out in October, Karen Foley’s out in November and Lisa Renee Jones winding it up on December. Together, the four of us brainstormed the costume shop plot, then shared and bounced back and forth on the actual prologues and epilogues that showed that story in each of our books.

I had no idea it could be so much fun to write with others like that. The give and take, the shifting of ideas, the group mind kind of thing. It was a fun change from my hermity writing ways. It also, I think, pushed me outside my comfort zone, which is always a great learning tool. And even better, instead of angsting alone as my book is released, I have three other people to angst with me. Of course, I get to share their angst for the next few months, too, so that’s a fun thing LOL.

But best of all was writing the connected stories. I’m a huge fan of getting to know characters in one book and following them through multiple others. It’s like revisiting and hanging out with friends I haven’t seen for awhile.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, do you write alone or do you have a group you work with? As a reader, are you a fan of connected stories? When you find one you like, do you go in search of the other authors stories to see how they all play together?


Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course).

Come by and visit her on the web at

Be sure to pick up the next in the Dressed To Thrill series:

Caught in the Act
Available in October 2009


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome Tawny. It's good to have you visit again. It was my coffee that brought you back, heh? Fresh made breakfast goodies? I know you enjoyed the laughter and fun we had last time.

To answer one of your questions. Often I will pick up a book that is the second in a series. If I like it, yes, I will go find the book(s)I've missed. Connected stories, such as you are writing, if I liked the premise of the first, I'll check out the next one especially if I like the author.

BTW, I thought Josie was an interesting addition to set up the stories. I had to laugh as I read the epilog and now I'm curious as to how she messes up the order for Sam's book in October. :-)

Sherrie Super said...

First of all, any article that mentions bacon in any form is tops on my list. Second of all, great post as usual! It's interesting to see how the solitary aspects of writing can be fueled by brainstorming on the side.

The humming comment cracked me up! I'm a solitary writer, mostly because I'm easily distracted. Hey, is that a BLT? That book cover looks particularly spicy. Oh yeah.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Tawney! I have to write alone as well. I have met with several local authors at different places and tried the group thingy-only to find I talk a little tooooo much. I have to have white noise going on, whether it be radio or tv. I might break out in song or have a full on conversation with my hero about his behavior or my heroine about the outfit she is trying to wear...only writers understand! LOL

Kat Sheridan said...

Tawny, nice to meet you, and very hot cover! Yes, I'm a fan of connected stories--I loved the Crimson City series and hunted down every one of them, as well as the 2076 series. So yes, that format can be a winner for all the authors. I'm curious about why it was you four and the original concept. Did you decide to put this together as a proposal, or did Harelquin come to the four of you and ask you to work together?

I'm totally anti-social when I write. For starters, I don't think wearing all the proper undergarments, shoes, or anything else confining is conducive to writing, and I don't think they'd let me show up at Starbucks or wherever in my bathrobe and mismatched socks.

Sia, great interview again. But I really, really need coffee. And a muffin.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I really, really need coffee too this morning, I'm considering an IV. I searched out all the Crimson City series and did the same with The Immortals. It was interesting to see different authors write full novels to the theme and have to keep each other's characters and storylines in mind and even mention or weave those other characters the story. Don't imagine that would be particularly easy.

Side point to those two series. The authors I liked? I went out and looked for their single title books not a part of the series. So as an author you can also get more readers.

VA said...

Tawny after reading the exerpt, whew! Seriously getting ready to set fire to the pages. Reunions do sounds horrifying and I've never been lured. More than a little intrigued, plus I have a trip to the bookstore planned for later today.

Writing? Alone in the quiet, otherwise I can't hear the voices in my head. If I can't hear the voices I can't see the movie.

Sia another good pick. Thanks for being my book reviewer :)

Beth said...

Hey, Tawny! Hi, Sia!! Great post *g*

I write alone. With nobody else. Oh, you know when I write alone...I prefer to be myself.

Okay, so Tawny knows I break out into song quite often (sung to George Thorogood's I Drink Alone *g*) which is probably one of the reasons why I really do write alone.

Another would be the loud YES! I yell when I come up with what I think is a totally brilliant idea ;-)

And I LOVE connected stories! I'll definitely seek out the others in a series to see how they all play out.

I highly recommend this book - it's fabulous! Fun, super sexy and Zoe especially is so easy to relate to and root for :-)

Tawny said...

Morning all!!! Sia, your breakfast goodies are so yummy, and so welcome on blurry-eyed mornings ;-) But its definitely the good times that keep me coming back :-)

I love that you're into connected books- I'm a big fan myself. Actually I have a method. If they're connected like the Dressed to Thrill books (different authors, very loosely connected characters) I'll get them and read as they come out. If they're a tighter connection (one of Nora's trilogies for example) I'll get them and wait till they are all out to read. I'm weird that way LOL.

And Woooot!! that you loved Josie *g* That was the best time, coming up with her story together with Sam, Karen and Lisa. Seriously fun :-)

Tawny said...

ROFL Sherrie, I had to go back and find the bacon comment. Now I'm hungry ;-)

I hear you on the distractions. And I've found the couple times I did do a writers weekend where I wrote in a group, I was definitely more disciplined and forced myself to sit and write without giving in to the distractions. But its like when you have a twitch in your leg or something, sooner or later all your focus is on not twitching *g*

Tawny said...

Hey Tonya! Those group writing sessions are definitely NOT conducive to character conversations, are they?! I think one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is knowing our writing process and then working it for all its worth - including chatting with our heroes ;-)

Tawny said...

Thanks, Kat - the Harlequin art department is fabulous. I've been blessed with gorgeous covers, that's for sure.

The Dressed to Thrill series was initiated by Samantha Hunter, whose editor suggested she hook up with some other authors for one. She invited Karen, Lisa and I to join her :-) After we'd kicked around a bunch of different ideas, the senior editor at Blaze suggested the costume shop, and we authors brainstormed the details from there.

btw, lol on Starbucks dress code. You know, if they relaxed that, they'd probably get a lot more authors in there. Think of the neverending supply of coffee and maple oat scones!!

Tawny said...

I'm obviously going to have to track down the Crimson series, it sounds great.

It has been a great experience writing with others. First for Dressed to Thrill, then next month I'm starting a novella for the Christmas 2010 anthology that I'm in with Kate Hoffman and Rhonda Nelson that actually connects the heroines as sisters. I'm looking forward to that one, too!

Tawny said...

Writing? Alone in the quiet, otherwise I can't hear the voices in my head. If I can't hear the voices I can't see the movie.

LOL VA - you said it all right there!!!!!

and thanks ;-) Let me know if you pick up FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME and what you think ;-)

Tawny said...

See, now this is why I hum when I write. Beth starts singing in my head. Seriously, I read her words as lyrics because I know she's singing them LOL.

I think one of the best 'write with someone else' modalities we've found is using instant messaging. We're essentially writing together (or sometimes in a group) but nobody is RIGHTTHERE interrupting the flow or distracting us from our distractions.

and thank you, Beth, for the book love ;-)

Sheila Deeth said...

Mmm. Thanks for the coffee and the read. I've never tried collective writing. But I do like reading story collections. Interesting.

nicolerko said...

I love reading connected stores, I like seeing how the characters from previous books are doing. After I read the first book I like to look up the other books in the series so I can see what characters are going to get their story told.

Tawny said...

Sheila, Nikolerko, I'm with you. I'm so curious and always wondering - not only what the next characters might do, but how the characters I read and fell in love with are doing after their Happy Ever After.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff! I do like reading connected stories but have yet to find a book by co-authors that I like. The ones I've read seem to have a disjointed style that distracts my absorption into the story.

I've done some brainstorming and idea sharing with other writers and that's so inspiring, but I've never tried to co-write. That could be due to my tendency to be a control freak. :)

Julie Zimmer George

Tawny said...

Julie, thats so interesting that the disjointed styles pull you out of connected stories by different authors. I can see how that could happen, especially if the different authors don't have quite the same 'take' on the characters they share. But I've enjoyed the connected stories from a writers standpoint especially, because it adds another layer of POV to each character. Nobody sees us quite like we see ourselves, so when we write, its easy to absorb into the authors/character's take on themselves. Then the other stories give another characters take on the previous one, etc.

Hmm, it could be an interesting study LOL. OR it could be that the different strong voices in this Dressed to Thrill mini-series will shift Josie's short story so much between each book that they'd do exactly what you say :-)

Judi Fennell said...

Hi Tawny!

I love the brainstorming as a group idea (originally I wrote "grope" which is just soooo wrong...), but have yet to try it. This writing to deadline thing takes some getting used to. I can't imagine having multiple deadlines.