Today we’re joined by co-authors Min Edwards and L.W. Ellis. Min Edwards is the pen name of Pam Headrick, archaeologist and owner of A Thirsty Mind Book Design. Pam is also the author of romance and romantic suspense novels. In her archaeological career, she specialized in North American paleoindian archaeology, historic archaeology, and archaeological illustration, producing more than 1000 images for published site reports and books from the Southwest, Latin and South America. Learn more about her and her books at her website and her Min Edwards blog and Nurture the Mind blog.
L.W. (Linda) Ellis is a writer down to her soul. Whether it's writing up the results of an archeological investigation or letting her creative juices flow freely, she enjoys telling a good story. Of course, after having spent 25 years as an archeologist working for two different Universities and various Cultural Resource Management firms, she has lots of adventures to draw on. You can find out more about her at the Nurture the Mind blog.
Co-Authoring a Series—The Beginning
Hi! I’m Min Edwards and thanks, Lois, for hosting my co-author, L.W. (Linda) Ellis and me on your blog today. We’re new to writing collaborations, but because we’re both professional archaeologists as well as writers, we think that our diverse interests and fields of expertise will be perfect for co-authoring our new archaeological adventure series: TARE: Talon Archaeological Research and Exploration.
The first book in the series will be The Ruby Eye, and the setting of the story is an island on the shores of Lingayen Gulf in northern Luzon, the Philippines. I lived in a small city north of Manilla for several years, and the country isn’t often chosen as a setting for novels ,which is such a shame as it’s beautiful and the people are warm and helpful. So we hope this book will spur on some interest in learning more about the islands.
The process of co-authoring this series at the outset has probably been more confusing than it should be, but we’re still trying to mesh our voices and our styles. To illustrate this we asked ourselves a few questions, which we’ve answered individually.
Why did we decide to Co-Author a book?
Linda: Min and I have known each other for many years and we worked together as archeologists albeit with slightly different yet complimentary skill sets. When we both hung up our trowels, so to speak, and started writing several years ago we became critique partners. Because we both like the same genres, we often find ourselves discussing books we’ve read and what we liked, didn’t like, or what would have made them better. We have a rapport that makes our interactions easy and productive. Because I also do developmental editing, Min initially sent me the first draft of The Ruby Eye to review. It’s a great story and I think our different strengths as archeologists will make it an even better one.
Min: Linda has a better eye for description than I do. If left to my own devices my novels would be 70,000+ words of just dialogue. She’s saved me from that while serving as my critique partner for all five of my previous novels. When I wrote the first draft of The Ruby Eye, I realized that what the story needed was Linda’s input, her research skills, her knowledge of current archaeological techniques, her wonderful use of language. We’re only a few chapters into our final polished draft right now, but I know without a doubt that my decision to co-author with Linda on this project was the right one.
What method are we using to co-author our books?
Linda: Since Min had already completed the first draft, I’ve been recasting the story from a romantic suspense to an archeological adventure story. I revise then send the chapters back to Min for her to review and/or add details. This way we play to each other’s strengths.
Min: Probably the wrong method, but this is our first joint venture. We are working very carefully on the process for our next book in the series. I think sending Linda an already completed first draft was overlaying the process of co-authoring with needless confusion. For the next book, we’ll first be laboring over a very detailed book ‘bible’ before we ever begin writing. That way we’ll both know all the characters intimately, the settings, the plot line. I think this will ease our confusion tremendously.
What do we each like about the co-authoring process?
Linda: It’s a challenge, but I think our books will be better for the collaboration because we both have unique perspectives that when combined, will enhance each story.
Min: I agree with Linda. But for myself, writing with Linda on this first effort has been very rewarding. I love the back and forth conversations over plot and characterizations we have almost every weekend. I’m grateful that the phone company no longer charges long-distance fees because Linda and I now live more than 2,500 miles apart!
What’s coming next in our series: TARE: Talon Archaeological Research and Exploration?
Linda: We’ll be publishing a novella, Talon: Unmasked, that will set the stage for later TARE adventures. But, that’s the beauty of archeology... there are so many fascinating topics to choose from so we’ll see which one leaps to the forefront.
Min: Right now we’re finishing up the ‘bible’ for that novella. It will tell the story of Marc Talon, the billionaire CEO of Talon Global, formed by his ancestor in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. It is a prequel to The Ruby Eye, and will act as the introduction of the major characters and relationships you’ll see as the series progresses.
Are we each working on our own novels as well as co-authoring?
Linda: Yes, I’ve written a two book series that is currently being reviewed by a publisher. The first book in the series is historical fiction, of course, and the second book takes place 150 years later when their descendants’ meet. I’m also working on a Contemporary Romantic Suspense that’s been languishing a bit since I started working on The Ruby Eye.
Min: Yes for me, too. I’m finishing up Precious Stone, Book 4 in my High Tide Suspense series. It’s in final rewrites after spending some time with Linda while she looked for holes in the plot line. So far, in the last few years I’ve indie-published five novels. While Linda looked over Book 4, I’ve been finishing the ‘bible’ and doing research on an historical novella (or maybe a complete novel, only time will tell) which begins in Russia during the Romanov Jubilee year of 1913. It’s the prequel to Precious Stone, so I guess it will be book 4.5 in the series.
The entire process of co-authoring has been eye-opening to say the least. We’ve had to compromise a lot. We’ve had to agree on the personalities of each character in the book and carry those throughout. We’ve realized that a crucial step in co-authoring is that ‘book bible.’ Without it, we’d be lost, and it’s the first thing we’ll do from now on before tackling another story in this series. We’re also contacting specialists in the field of marine archaeology to vet our final manuscript so we don’t stumble over details. And we’ve warned our editor that a collaboration is coming. I hope she’s prepared!
All in all, I think the most important accomplishment in our collaboration is that we’ve remained friends throughout.
Our co-authored novel, The Ruby Eye isn’t published yet, but we wanted to include our cover from artist Brian Wootan and a short blurb.
The Ruby Eye
A woman robbed of her life’s work: A man searching for his family’s legacy.
Bryn Carmichael is finally right where she wants to be. At the top of her archaeological career and with her dream project in the palm of her hands... until one aggravating Englishman throws his hat and his money in the ring.
Thomas Bedford Chambers, Lord Sutton, aka Ford Sutton, itinerant diver and all around good fellow walks into Bryn’s dive camp setting her bullshit meter on high alert and shooting her dreams down in flames. Can he win control of the project without completely alienating her? Can his family’s legacy finally come home?
Cold Tide Suspense, Book 1
Diana Jennings is hiding in the tiny village of Stone Bay, Maine. A year ago she was Robin O’Shea, supermodel, wife, soon to be mother. But it all went bad one afternoon in her apartment in New York City. Her husband, in a rage, tried to kill her and succeeded in killing her unborn child. Now she’s recovering from the trauma, but has learned that what her husband did to her and her baby just wasn’t enough for him. He’s behind bars but has persuaded his uncle, the biggest mob boss on the east coast, to hunt her down and kill her. Helped by her lawyer and a New York cop, she’s taken on a new identity and gone to a place no one would expect to find her... the edge of America. The last point before Ireland. She hopes it’s far enough.
Sam Gardiner is a structural engineer working all over the world, building geothermal facilities in out-of-the-way places, constructing bridges, cleaning up after storms. FEMA has him on speed-dial. But he made a mistake. He killed a man who was abusing a woman... the headman’s son... in a village in the mountains of Afghanistan. The men in the village wanted their revenge, but he was saved at the last minute by American forces and a wad of cash. Now he’s back in Stone Bay vowing to never leave again when he runs into, literally, a woman on the run, Diana Jennings. She’s been hurt, he can see it in her eyes, and he has to make her whole again. But Diana’s not really on board with that.