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Friday, October 28, 2022


Today we welcome the writing team of Sue Videos and Becky Martinez to tell us about their working partnership. Learn more about them and their books at their website.


H.G.Wells said it perfectly…and I use his words in reference to co-authoring ….


No passion in the world is equal 

to the passion 

to alter someone else’s draft.


Which of course is what co-authors do on a daily basis, or should I say on a critique basis.


Becky and I have worked together for many, many years, first as just friends in the same writing groups, and then as teachers. We taught on-line writing classes together all over the county.  Then suddenly, about two years ago, Becky emailed me one day and asked if I would like to write a book with her.  My answer, “Oh, yes!” I was thrilled, because we both brought to the table different, unique skills based on how we write. 


Becky is definitely a fly-by-the-seat type of writer--that is, she comes up with an idea for a plot and characters and simply starts writing. Her characters and scenes come to life as she writes the story. 


On the other hand, I am a planner. I don’t even begin to write until I have the whole idea planned out and the ending written down.


So how do these two different ways of writing blend so well? First of all, when writing with another writer, ground rules need to be determined before the first word is typed.


Our ground rules were:


1- Decide on the type of story to write. 

We agreed on a light cozy mystery.


2 - Create the plot and the main characters.

We wanted an artist as one protagonist and a small boutique owners as the other, and we wanted to set the story in a small Colorado town (since we both know the area.)


3 - Decide who would do what.

We had meetings to loosely plot the story. I would write the first draft of each chapter. Becky would heavily critique it and add any additional information. I would then critique what she changed. Then together, on the phone, we would critique the chapter, line by line, word by word until we were satisfied. We set deadlines and did this once a week. 


The reason this worked so well for us, is that I am dyslexic and cannot spell very well and have absolutely no idea where the damn commas go. Becky, on the other hand, as a retired journalist, spells exceptionally well, and is a comma queen. 


I kid her a lot because she is also the world’s best editor. She takes my short, sometimes unfinished sentences and often in the wrong tense, and smooths them out. She has, hidden on her keyboard a “delete” key which she uses all the time. And this makes the writing flow smoother and better.


If I were to give any advice to a writer who is contemplating co-authoring any genre, I would state that before writing anything agree on these ground rules:


1 - Lose the ego.

2 - Learn how to critique constructively.

3 - Set deadlines.

4 - Learn how to disagree.

5 - Be honest in your comments.

6 - Bottom line, all that really matters is how to make the book a great read. 



…and that’s the way it is…--Walter Cronkite at the end of  every CBS news broadcast


Sue and I have been able to make co-authoring work because of our constant desire to collaborate and to join together to make our books as entertaining and correct as possible. Sue is well known for her nonfiction books on writing, and we have worked together both on nonfiction and fiction over the years. She excels in creating characters from the very beginning, while I often let my characters come to life on the pages as I write them. She fills out character charts in advance, while I have character charts that I fill out as I write the story. I usually know the beginning of my story and the ending, but everything in the middle comes out as I write. It’s not that I can’t plan—I just know that things will change along the way. So I like to be prepared for when that happens and a character gets out of line and starts acting differently.


As a television news producer, who had to plan a newscast every day but never saw one go in the exact order I planned it, I have learned to be flexible over the years, and I do that with my fiction writing. One thing I always knew as a TV news producer—the network news was coming on the air at 6:00pm no matter what I did, so my newscast better be done at that exact second! 


I do that with my writing too. I know how I am going to begin and end my books and everything else in the middle might change, but I need that beginning to make my readers want to keep turning the pages, and I want to end the story with them feeling as though they got everything they needed to know and ready to “tune in” (or buy my book) the next time they see my name as an author.  


As co-authors Sue and I have had to combine our distinctive styles, and it can be quite rewarding even though it can also be challenging. She considers me the queen of commas, but I consider her the queen of character building, and she is also very dedicated to the writing process itself. Together we work hard to make our characters, our locations, and our plots come to life. We both also love to talk about writing and learn from and about other writers, which is why we began co-authoring books on writing and teaching classes many years ago. We’ve learned everyone has a different style, so we recommend, find what works for you and your writing co-author, and then team up and enjoy the process.


Together we have managed to write not only not only nonfiction but fiction books together.  Our newest co-authored novel, Secrets and Swindles, is a cozy mystery that was published this month.  It took months of working together, both formulating the plot and then writing and editing it, but it was a fun book to do, and we are now working on a second installment even while we both work on individual fiction. 


Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, the writing process may be challenging, but neither one of us intends giving it up any time in the future, continuing to work together as well as write our own suspense books. 


Secrets and Swindles

A Sleuthing Sisters Mystery, Book 1


All Josephine and her sister want to do is enjoy their senior years in a small community in the Rocky Mountain foothills, but when Josephine discovers that someone has made prints of her artwork without her permission and is profiting off them, she is determined to track down the thief. She knows the person must be nearby, but who could it be?

Olivia runs a resale clothing shop in town and has growing problems of her own. The alcoholic husband of her store clerk, Ginny, has just been killed in a suspicious automobile accident. Now police are questioning the cause and Ginny may become a suspect in his mysterious death. Olivia wants to help, but how? And now she has her own doubts about Ginny.

As the two sisters search for answers with the help of an elderly ex-judge and his grandson, they suddenly find themselves caught in a web of deception and danger. Someone is watching them…leaving vague warnings to stop their sleuthing. The next warning could cost them their lives.

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