Monday, February 14, 2011

The Takeaway

Ten days ago, I spent the morning at The Tuckahoe Public Library. It's been months since I gave one of my library talks – and I'd forgotten just how much fun they can be. For authors, what could be better than to be with readers who both enjoy the mystery genre and are eager to understand the creative process? It's an honor and privilege to share what I've learned in writing.

And inevitably, I learn as much, if not more, than my audience. They share their favorite books, as well as what they don't like about books they've read and found wanting. This group of about 10 should get a special shout-out because they braved frigid weather and icy streets to come to this discussion. I found it interesting that only one person in the group had a Kindle, and in fact, another had been gifted with one and then re-gifted it to her son within a few weeks.

Even as Rhonda and I have been busy cannonballing into the deep end of the e-book pool, this was an important reminder that not everyone is so eager to give up the heft and feel of a print book. Yes, it's undoubtedly generational. A recent New York Times article revealed that many preteens are now proud owners of e-book readers and that the market for YA e-books is literally exploding. Perhaps it will take longer for the older generation (and heck, I'm one of them!), to embrace the technology, but I suspect it will be sooner rather than later, if only because it means that the reader can enlarge the typeface of all books. If I were one of the publishers of Books in Large Print, I'd be worried about the future direction of my company.

The conversation that morning inevitably returned to the concept of collaboration. On a basic level, there's always the question of mechanics.

Literally how do Rhonda and I write a story together? Does one do the rough draft and the other do the polishing? No, we each write scenes and pass the story back and forth dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times (and that's just an estimate for a short story!)

Do each of us write certain characters? Nope, we both write all the characters. No one has a proprietary hold on Mac, Rachel, Whiskey, or Brianna.

Of course, the final question is always, when are the two of you going to meet. We used to joke that it would be on a very special Oprah, but now that Ms. W is going off the air, we need a new punchline (ideas are welcome).

When I speak to these groups, I always hope that the takeaway, beside maybe a few sales, is that it's never too late to pursue your dreams – whatever they may be. Rhonda and I had each harbored a secret fantasy that we'd become mystery writers. Didn't seem likely as the years went by. I'm not sure either of us would have had the staying power it takes to become a published mystery writer without the collaboration. That's not a reflection of talent. Rhonda could write dozens of books on her own. But writing with a partner means showing up with something when you've said you would write the next scene, even if family and work demands are pressing. It means not wanting to disappoint someone else, even if you would be willing to disappoint yourself. Of course it also means having someone to gripe to when a rejection letter arrives; and someone with whom to shriek in joy when an acceptance or good review appears.

The Stiletto Gang is a diverse group of talented women. We write different kinds of stories but we share similar dreams. These library events remind me again just how lucky I am to be a writer, to be a co-author, and to have had the opportunity to pursue my dreams. Best wishes to all of you that your dreams come true.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series

I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series

Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake
- Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books
- Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home (short story)
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. I love giving library talks too. I love libraries.

    I also love my Kindle--and I'm really old. I have lots of my books on Kindle.


  2. I am one of those readers who won't give up traditional print books (even when I have to read them with a magnifying glass!). Is it weird to say I love the smell of fresh pages? I'm not sure an e-reader could duplicate that (yet!). I love hearing everyone's experiences on their writing journey. And I'm so glad there are places to gather like this (modern-day "watering holes," I guess!) that make us feel connected even if we live across the country. Wouldn't it be crazy trying to write books together, Rhonda and Marian, without the Internet???

  3. Thanks Dru, Marilyn, and Susan for stopping by.

    I wish I could remember which collaboration team it was -- but it was pre-Internet, and the two writers lived hundreds of miles apart and literally would mail the manuscripts back and forth, so it took days/weeks for scenes to be completed. It got a whole lot easier once Rhonda and I began talking on the phone :-)

    Thanks again everyone.

  4. I can't imagine what we did before the internet:)
    I think it would be so much harder to write a book with another writer, but what a learning experience!

  5. You're right, Maria. The first rule of collaboration is: Don't do it! But it's been surprisingly easy and fun, so I guess the collective Evelyn David is the exception to the rule!