Monday, August 11, 2008

Guest Bloggers: Jean Hovey & Stephanie Jones

Our guest bloggers today are new(ish) members of our local RWA chapter. They came in quiet and unassuming, but we quickly realized these two ladies were go-getters of the first degree. They jumped in with a running start and have kept us laughing the entire time. When they say they have a story to tell, buckle up because it will be a hilarious ride. Though unpublished, they just got home from their first National conference with a record number of four requests! These ladies are going places for sure!

Let’s give a big welcome to writing team Stephanie and Jean!

You did WHAT today?

(Written from Jean's viewpoint with Stephanie's iron fist.)

Writing with a partner—most people wouldn't do it; most people shouldn't do it. It could easily lead to hair pulling, lawsuits, and funeral food.

We were friends first—not just friends, but the finish each other's sentences, swap shoes on the sidewalk, lend me a pair of panties kind of friends. The writing together was bound to happen because we always had a story to tell.


My spices are in alphabetical order and I read every issue of REAL SIMPLE MAGAZINE as if it was an oracle newsletter. Stephanie had no reason to expect that I would turn out to be a pantster—if we had known what a pantster was, which we did not. Nor did we know about RWA, GMC, HEA, or any other not yet discovered string of letters. We only knew we had some loose scenes kicking around and some characters that would not let us go.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of THE NANNY DIARIES, plot together, write chapters separately, and sit side-by-side as they edit. It sounds all very neat and ordered.

That is not how we do business.

When I am building a character, I take him with me everywhere. There is always a track playing in my head wondering what he would do in whatever situation I'm in. When I choose bread in the grocery store, I decide which he would choose. When I watch a movie, I consider how he would view it. It isn't important to the story; it will never appear on paper, but I need to know. Then I write. It flows. It's satisfying. I have no idea what's next.

That's when I email it to her. She says, "That goes, this stays, rearrange this, and he wouldn't use that word. By the way, these two scenes need a transition scene." She's never wrong.

Early on, when we were still finding our process, she said to me, "Who's the bad guy?" She had that smug look that told me she knew the answer and I had a test to pass.

"There isn't one yet," I said.

"Yes there is. It's Mallor."

"NO!" Because, clearly, he was a good guy. I said as much.

"No, he isn't. He's bad. Tell me why." And much to my surprise, I was able to tell her. I haven't told her no since.

We're a little more ordered now. There's a plan and we know the bad guy going in. And mostly, I stick to the plan. Only occasionally do I send her pages that have nothing to do with what she was expecting and, when I do, I call and warn her. She does not like a surprise.

And when she gets that call, almost never does she say, "You did WHAT today? Dear, Lord." Most of the time, those unplanned journeys have worked out.

Thanks for asking us to come out and play.

Stephanie Jones and Jean Hovey write together as Alicia Pace. Stephanie lives in Jasper, AL, where she teaches fourth grade and wishes for a coffee shop. She is a native Alabamian who likes football, civil war history, and people who follow the rules. She is happy to provide a list of said rules to anyone who needs them. Jean is a former public librarian living in Decatur, AL, with her husband, two Maine Coon cats, and a recently rescued stray kitten. She likes to cook but has discovered the joy of Mrs. Paul's fish fillets since becoming a writer.

Find out more about this writing duo on their my space page:

PS Our very own Instigator is visiting the Queens over on Soapbox Queens blog today! Check it out at .

Coming Soon!
Join us when author Kate Hardy blogs with us on Wednesday, August 13th!


Maven LJ said...

I can't imagine writing as a part of a team, but y'all do it very well and seem to have worked out all the kinks. It really does sound as if y'all are on the right track! Good luck with your requests.


Problem Child said...

I love the way you describe your friendship--LOL.

I think I'd kill any writing partner I had, but you two seem to have it worked out. Can you describe a bit more about the actual getting-it-on-the-page process?

MaryF said...

It is great you can work together and laugh in the process. I am so looking forward to hearing more about what you do, write, and how the journey goes.
on a side note: Stephanie, I'm a rule follower...most of the time.
Jean..I've also found the joys of Mrs. Pauls as I write...LOL

Jolie said...

I don't know that I could write with a partner either. It's tough enough having CPs rain on my parade sometimes--someone even more involved would be tough. Unless...I just haven't met the right person yet?? :) I hope the two of you sell and publish soon, because I'd love to read the product of your teamwork. Congrats on the requests!! :P

Angel said...

Well, my kids don't eat Mrs. Pauls, but I have found the joys of frozen pizza and mac 'n cheese from a box. Horror of horrors, I know...

Is the distance between your locations a problem? Do you get together on a regular basis or work via email? Stephanie, how do you find time to do this between grading all those papers? :)

Amen on the rules, sister!


Jean said...

Maven LJ--Thanks! It's a journey and we haven't been at this long.

Problem Child--It really does work well for us, mostly because we each think the other has the hard job. As far as the procress--We plot and make an outline. Then we talk in detail about what we want a scene to convey.
I put it on the page and email it to her, usually in the afternoon. She reads it several times and we talk on the phone, each with a printed copy in hand, at nine o'clock at night. We decide on changes and I make them the next morning. If they are minor, I go on to the next scene. If they are major, I send them back to her and we do it again until it's what we want. We seldom disagree when it's not right. Some characters, she knows better, others I do.

Maryf--Rules and frozen food--what a world!

Jolie--Writing with a partner isn't for everyone. It's almost like a marriage. Go to our MySpace page. There isn't much on it yet but there is an except from our first manuscript. We got some ideas at conference about a web page are are looking to upgrade soon.

Angel--I am sure Stephanie will comment when she gets home, but she is a fast reader and a fast thinker. It's amazing.


Instigator said...

Jean and Stephanie, I'm so glad you guys are with us today! I heart you both.

And I'm very impressed with the partnership you guys have!


Playground Monitor said...

I'm so impressed that you've not only worked out this process but that your friendship has remained intact. It was such fun having y'all in San Francisco with the group and I look forward to more conference fun with y'all next year in DC.

Congrats on the requests. You rock!


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Yay, Jean and Stephanie! Y'all were so much fun in SF, and you had the right attitude about the whole thing. Not only that, you accomplished your goals!

I honestly don't know how you write with a partner. I wish I could sometimes when I'm staring at that blank screen and wondering what the h*ll comes next, but I don't think I have the temperament. I'm very much a "sit by myself in the corner until I figure it all out" kind of person.

Love the description of your friendship. :) Y'all really are a great addition to HOD. I'm happy to know you both. I look forward to more chat sessions in the hotel bar. ;)

Anonymous said...

Well I'm impressed, so say the least. I'm just a reader who enjoys a good book. I will mosey on over and check out your myspace account.

Sherry W. said...

Funeral food!...You girls are a hoot! No wonder you work so well together. And four requests! I am in awe. Congratulations!

I can't wait to read Alicia's first book. :D

Michele L. said...

Hi Stephanie and Jean!

It sure is nice to have you here! I really enjoyed reading about your working partenrship. Yes, I would think it is hard to work with someone else when it comes to writing but you two seem to have the knack down pat!

Kudos to you girls!
Have a fantastic week!
Michele L.

catslady said...

I too think writing with a partner would be very hard and give you credit for figuring out how to work it out :)

Kathy said...

Hi Jean and Stephanie!! You girls rock!!! Thanks for letting me hang with you in SF. :-) I really enjoyed it and I'll never forget the 'reading'. LOL!!

We were walking down the street in SF and Jean was making up stuff as she went along just to show how their process works. Cool! You have a process made of steel, ladies. Keep at it. ;-)

I can't imagine working with a partner and I applaud the two of you for successfully working together. The choir gazing over my shoulder is quite enough for me. LOL.

How did you decide on the genre you write in?

Jean said...

Everyone—This is so much fun! It was great to be in San Francisco and even greater to be there as a member of HOD. I have never been exposed to a more supportive group of women. Everyone in the room wants everyone else to succeed. It meant so much to us that our chapter mates took time from their busy schedules to make sure a pair of RWA conference virgins knew what to do and where to go. The hotel bar chat was definitely a high point!

I really believe that writing together has enhanced our friendship rather than strained it. Angel asked how the distance impacted us. I'd say not much. In these days of one price long distance, Internet, and cell phones, we are in constant contact. We see each other at least twice a month, usually for the whole weekend. And, Sherry, we've made funeral food together. You know—the ham, potato salad, Coca-cola cake, and something with mushroom soup.

Kathy, as to the genre—we stumbled on it. Lots of the men in our lives are geeks, my sweet husband included. You know them. They read have engineering degrees, read science fiction and fantasy, and play role playing games. And they talk about it. And talk. And talk. Somewhere along the way we thought if these world saving heroes are so great, where are their girl friends? Don't they lust after something besides the villain's blood? Our stories are not fantasy with some romance. They are romances that happen to be in a fantasy world. Our heroes fight monsters with magic instead of working on Wall Street or spending their days at White's.

Crystal Lee said...

Congrats on the requests! I wish you both well on your journey. While I am too much of a recluse in thought and habit to write with a partner, I applaud your ability to do so. Stay with what works for you. You both are an inspiration!

StephanieJ said...

Hello to everyone and thank you for the kind and supportive words.
I agree with Jean that you gals all ROCK!

Since I have a day's worth of catching up to do I am just going to try to address as many questions and comments as I can at once.

The Partnership for Jean and I has worked for us. We do understand that it certainly wouldn't work many people, or even most people but it does work for us. When I went back to school I asked Jean to help me with writing my papers and it is the same sort of process we use now except back then I did more actual execution of writing for my papers.

As Jean said now we plot together and then Jean executes our plan at the computer. I am afraid she has represented me as some sort of word nazi and I am equally afraid that she is right. We both tend to be, as you all are, very selective with exactly what words we use. I mean changing a word from buttocks to a** totally changes the mood and tone and we both realize that I am just extremely picky, uh I mean selective sometimes.

Jean has done a great job of describing our actual day to day process but I would also add that our conversations sometimes create more changes or writing so that sometimes we work for a day or two on one section until we feel we have nailed it.

On to specific comments questions:

Thanks so much for your comments, we are kink free most of the time...not so much when Jean calls to tell me about how she "made it better" but I will say she is usually right, it just takes me a bit to re-adjust.

Thanks to all the rule followers for the shout outs. Without us the world be be anarchy. :-)

As for finding the time to keep up I have a few words for you, "No husband, no children, no pets" Think of how much extra time that gives me. Of course, now that I am seeing someone that may change a bit but as Jean said I am an extremly fast reader and that always helps whether it is the new pages or papers from school.

Thanks to everyone for your good luck wishes and for letting us have this much fun with you all.

Jolie-I hope you get the chance to read the product of our team work as well.

SF was a TON of fun and we were very happy to have exceeded all of our goals. It is just like the Mavens say, "The harder you work the luckier you get."

Thanks to those of you who check out our little myspace page.

Thanks again for all the great comments and support. This has been such fun!


Angel said...

Wow! This has been so inspiring to read about your process. It's kind of like the different hats I have to put on, depending on where I am in my process, be it plotter, writer, revisions (editing), etc. Cool.

Also, I really see how this is done when it comes to plotter. Often we call each other up and say, I need a plotting party!!! Although in that instance, the owner of the actual story has final say in what goes and what stays.

Awesome blog, ladies!