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Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I was originally going to write with my fellow co-conspirators of the anthology -- but as usual, life got in the way.

Some of us are in edits of our next release; others have personal stuff going on.

So you get to put up with me, the "Evil Overlord", telling you what to watch out for when you collaborate with other authors, the way we did with the four stories making up "A Passionate Christmas".

1. Know who you're working with.

By this I don't just mean the people, but also what their schedule looks like. With our anthology, people were scattered across the world, time zones were a huge factor contributing to the whole process. It determined when we could all get together to discuss things and brainstorm "live" so to speak.

At least one of you needs to take the bull by the horns and crack the whip the entire time. Trust me. I've been there. They don't call me Evil Overlord for nothing.

2. Know each other's stories.

If, like us, you interweave your characters in each other's stories, things become infinitely more difficult than just having separate stories. If they encounter each other, you need to discuss where, when, how. If they have a conversation, you need to go through it and fix it if your character acts, well, out of character. Speech pattern, word gets tricky.

We all have different voices, and so do our characters. Make sure yours still sounds like yours, even in someone else's story.

3. Location, location, location.

On top of our characters "mingling", all the stories are set in the fictional town of Five Oaks -- which brings a whole other set of problems. Not only did we have to make sure our characters were in the right place at the right time, but also that the right place really is the right place. (And looks the same in every story!)
i.e. If I said my character is at Stumps Diner, leaning on a Formica counter top -- it won't be any good if the next person describes it as "the quaint little corner cafe with the polished pine counter".

4. Details, details, details.

As I said above, you need to know where you're at. But even more important, you need to be aware of every detail that might crop up in someone else's story. Secondary characters need detailed descriptions, because other people may encounter them too. Road names, how long it takes to go from A to B, what's on the corner of Main and Peak, the weather, how things work in that little town you made up, how another character reacts or speaks -- it's important, even if it seems unimportant when you write it.

5. Critique each other.

You must do this. You all have to read, and critique, each other's stories. It's the only way you'll appreciate the points above, and see how much it matters. We all had to be intimately familiar with every aspect of each other's work.

6. Communicate!

I can't stress this enough. Communication is the key at all stages of writing something like A Passionate Christmas. Without it, you'll lose track, and it's hard to fix later without some major rewriting. And if you are rewriting, that almost inevitably means everyone else has to.

We went into all this blind. Completely, and utterly blind. We hadn't thought about any of it, had no structure at first, no plan. It grew, and grew. We did talk a lot amongst ourselves, both on our critique group's forum, and online, via Skype.

A forum helps a lot, because you have a threaded view of the conversation, and you can go back and read the details in sequence, rather than having to hunt down individual emails. (Or find you deleted them!) It's time you can spend better. Like -- gasp -- writing.

It all came together, but if we'd had some pointers in the beginning, we could have saved ourselves a lot of stress.
Miss Clairol needed to come to the rescue, believe me. At least for those few tufts we didn't tear out.

Right now we are working on the print version of the books, which will be released around April, containing all four stories. Yours truly is tasked with more hair-tearing (just as it's grown back!), as I'm in the middle of getting the cover done. (No mean feat, trying to come up with something all four of us like.)

All of us are working on new projects; at least two of us are in mid-edit of the next book. Mine is the June release of "Howl", from Lyrical Press.

And since that's not enough, I'm figuring out a project with a critique partner at the moment, though none of us know at this stage whether it will actually happen -- so I'm keeping semi-quiet about that one. ;)
You'll just have to wait and see!

You can get my current release, Smitten, from Decadent Publishing, or you can find it for the Kindle on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble for the Nook.

Silke was born and raised in Germany, but has successfully infiltrated Great Britain some twenty years ago. (That thing with the tanks? Well. It didn't work so well.) Having a musical ear when it comes to languages, no one noticed, as she sounded American, rather than German.

She likes to travel and has seen pretty much all of Europe, and a few other far-flung places. These days the accent is rather British/South African, and she still lives in the UK with her partner. When she isn't writing, or "mucking about" with 3D Graphics, she likes to go horseback riding in the Surrey countryside.
She likes to hear from her readers, and you can find and contact her on her blog:


Jennifer Shirk said...

Great post! And great advice too!

Redameter said...

Wow. Sounds like you've got a wild anthology there. Good luck with it.

Love and blessings

The Sweater Curse said...

I always thought, won't it be clue to write with a group of writers. You just sprinkled some reality into that fantasy--thank you.

JM said...

Wonderful post. And the information is so correct! Communication is key. In our digital age, it's so much easier now than it used to be, so there should be no reason for glaring inconsistencies like I've seen in some anthologies.

Maureen said...

I can't really imagine this at the moment. Heck, collaborating with another blog for a blog can sometimes be a hair tearing event! But I like the idea of doing an anthology, so the blog sharing is a good exercise!

Thanks for the guidelines!

Silke said...

At times it was harrowing, I have to say.
Especially since our stories all involve the others to some extent. (Some in a "Round Robin" / "Tag Team" way) Above all, it was hugely inspiring though.
I recommend going for it, collaborate your heart out.
@JM - Yes, the digital age definitely made a huge difference. Skype to the rescue lol.
@The Sweater Curse - you never know until you try. :)

Anonymous said...

Thumbs up, Silke! Wonderful post.

By the way, the cover is so good. I love it.

Clarissa Yip said...

You've definitely earned the title "evil overlord". You're the best!

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

Great tips, Silke. This was a wonderful collaborative project. It sounds challenging, but fun.

All the best,

Silke said...

It definitely was that, Kathleen :)
But in the end we got it sorted!

Sherry Gloag said...

Thanks for sharing all this info for aspiring anthology writers. It give pause for thought, and set up a great challenge at the same time.
Best wishes for your book