Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill, both accomplished, internationally read authors, agreed to embark on a collaborative, creative journey writing as Charlotte Kent at the beginning of this year. The following is a summary of their experiences and the lessons learned as they faced each new challenge:
On January 11 of this year, the two of us sat down to discuss possible new directions for Juliette’s writing as authors and their publishers often do. I suggested that she consider writing a series of stand alone romances as her next project.
“Are you serious, Annie?” she asked, perfectly aware of the huge volume of work already taking up space on her desk.
“I’ll tell you what,” I said, leaning forward as if to share an important secret, “I’ll give you an idea that’s been in my head for decades, if you’ll use it.”
Intrigued, Juliette listened politely as I described a white Queen Anne Victorian situated in a small Midwestern town. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed heroine entered the scene, having inherited the house from her grandmother. Circumstances allowing her to do so, said heroine decided to move into the house, where she would rent out downstairs rooms to various craftsmen and provide upstairs accommodations like in a bed and breakfast. Those renting the rooms would have their romantic stories told by me.
The more I explained my idea, the more excited about it I became, until finally we agreed to collaborate on the project – a first ever for both of us. I would write 1000 words per day and then read them over the phone to Juliette, who would then critique and make plot suggestions. She would also handle the majority of copyediting and public relations as well as maintaining the all important when writing a series list of character and place names and descriptions.
Immediately, we discovered we were in trouble. The main character of what became A Clue for Adrianna refused to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed, preferring the dark hair and eyes of her Italian mother. In addition, she had her feet planted firmly in an oversized, turret-embellished granite abode on a cliff known as Captain’s Point on the eastern shore of Maryland.
Finally, in the interest of progress, the two of us gave in. After all, what did we – two internationally read authors – know?
Flying across country to her new home, Adrianna was immediately joined by a petite, silver-haired lady named Edwina, who refused to vacate the seat she had taken. Arriving together in Captain’s Point, the older woman then proceeded to move there as well, where she insisted on striking up a relationship with a widowed artist named Arthur.
Juliette and I had believed ourselves to be writing a contemporary romance between a 27-year-old and a 33-year-old, so this elderly romance came completely out of left field.
“What are we going to do, Annie?” my collaborative writing partner asked.
“I don’t know.”
In the end, neither Arthur nor Edwina chose to budge, so their developing story became a subplot and we crossed our fingers. Readers have indicated repeatedly that they can’t imagine the books without the elderly twosome, so all is now right with the world once again.
The next to poke his rather long, pointed nose into our business was Max – a Chihuahua/Beagle mix who had featured in my cozy mystery novel Chocolate Can Kill, but now cast himself in the role of Adrianna’s rescued pet and added a surprising amount of sartorial elegance to what was rapidly morphing at the insistence of the male characters into a series.
Forced to do so by the fact that our characters had taken over my dreams, waking me up repeatedly at two a.m. with complete storylines for future books now in my head that, of course, had to be committed to my computer immediately, Juliette and I sat down and titled the next three books in the series.
“How are you holding up?” Juliette asked one day, concern evident in her tone.
“It’s nothing that a drinking five pitchers of espresso per day habit can’t take care of,” I replied with bravado.
A Clue for Adrianna was published slightly over three months after our first discussion. A Man for Susan flew onto the pages in slightly under two months. Then I began serious writing on Love’s Surprise, the third novel in the series that we two had envisioned.
Three days into the project, I called Juliette. “Houston, we have a problem.”
“What is it this time, Annie?” My writing partner released a small sigh, already having taken on the additional role of writing the Edwina/Arthur storyline as well as stand alone Captain’s Point short stories that kept cropping up.
“I can write the book just like we want it,” I explained, “but it will take somewhere in the neighborhood of 160,000 words to do so.” Too exhausted to fight the characters that I now recognized were stronger than both of us put together, I slumped at my computer and waited.
“All we can do is split it into two books,” Juliette pointed out wisely.
“I’ll call it Love’s Journey,” I stated for no reason whatsoever.
Friday, November 22, is the official launch day for this newest book in our Captain’s Point Stories series, although it should be available in ebook form on one or more venues as early as Sunday the 17th.
In a little over ten months, Juliette and I writing as Charlotte Kent will have completed and published three, full-length romantic women’s fiction/family saga novels, with considerable writing already accomplished on five other titles in the series. As writing has proceeded, have two writers been more effective than one? Absolutely!
Daily, we have written, edited, brainstormed, reviewed and opened our two minds to possibilities as we floated together along a continuous stream of creative productivity. Still, both of us would have to admit that we haven’t been the only ones writing these stories. Our characters took over this series at the beginning, and neither of us expects any of them to leave us alone at the helm soon.
“Oh, my goodness, Juliette! Look at what Chase, Jack and Larry are up to now!”
Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill
Links to Websites and Books:
Juliette Hill: http://www.onevintageheart.com
Annie Acorn: http://www.annieacorn.com
Juliette Hill: http://www.twitter.com/@JulietteHill1
Annie Acorn: http://www.twitter.com/@Annie_Acorn
A Clue for Adrianna: http://amzn.to/ZqYJz9
A Man for Susan: http://amzn.to/16ecUfI