Tricia Goyer and I are co-authors in a new Guidepost cozy mystery series. We’re both head down writing our first book in the series, and it’s a fun time of exploration. When you write on a Guidepost series, it’s a little different from writing a book for yourself. I thought today I’d take you behind the scenes and show you how these books come to life.
First, I love writing on these series, because they are a collaborative process. The first two series I auditioned for and either wrote with from the beginning or got brought in when someone had to bow out (Patchwork Mysteries and the Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop). The last series (Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries) I came in to help Tricia while she was under some intense deadline pressure and we wrote three novels and a novella together. It was such fun! Now we’re on the Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard series from the beginning and writing with some of my favorite writer friends including Janice Thompson, Ruth Herne Logan, Deanna Dodson, and Lisa Ludwig.
Second, because these books are collaborative, all of our characters and settings overlap. That means earlier this week I was spending time online trying to orient myself to Tisbury and Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. We have a Facebook group where the authors and editors for the series work together to keep the details organized and flowing together. We also have a series guide so that we can keep people, locations, and descriptions consistent across books written by eight different authors.
Third, I’m writing about a place I’ve never been which means I need to do research. Google maps becomes my friend when it comes to seeing the maps but then photos of the actual streets and locations. I’m a detail person, so I love getting them right. That means I can go a little crazy, liketaking screenshots like the one below and uploading them to the group, so we’re all seeing the same things.
Fourth, working with another writer to write one book is like a dance. Tricia and I have been friends almost from the first day Is tarted writing. I’ve shadowed and done light edits on some of her books and we’ve taught together at writing conferences, so we knew what we were getting into when we agreed to write together. The flow of the who does what changes with each book. With this one, Tricia generated the idea while I worked on another book we were writing. Then I fleeshed that idea out to a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, so we both know what is happening in each chapter. Then I started writing the book, tackling chapters one through four, while she started at chapter five. She’s then editing mine for flow, and then I’ll do the last edit. That means as I have ideas or want to make sure she knows something, I’m adding notes like this to the chapters I write.
This way she knows who I’m thinking of when I write about a character, and she can see the same person. I can also include research details for her, and she can do the same for me.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into how a collaboration among authors can work. A few last notes
I wanted y’all to know that Canteen Dreams is FREE, yes free!, for a limited time in all ebook formats. You can access those here. The audio book for Canteen Dreams also just released. It’s currently available on Audible and will be available on iTunes, etc., shortly. Crazy exciting times around here!