Please join us in welcoming honored guests Bette Golden Lamb and J.J. Lamb, collaborators extraordinaire. Bette, a feisty ex-Bronxite, writes crime novels and plays with clay. Her sculptures and other artistic creations appear in exhibitions, galleries, and stores. She also hangs out with her 50+ rose bushes, or sneaks out to movies when she should be writing. Her being an RN is a huge clue as to why she writes medical thrillers. J. J. intended to become an aeronautical engineer and commercial pilot, but was seduced by journalism, then Bette, and then fiction writing. He's also something of a jack-of-all-trades, befitting a born and bred Hoosier. An AP career was interrupted by the Army, which gave him a Top Secret clearance; a locked room with table, chair, and typewriter; and the time to write short stories. A paperback PI series followed, then collaboration with Bette. Find out more at www.jjlamb.com.
Nice word. Solid sound. Good potential.
We're not talking about an I'll-pay-you-to-write-my-story opportunity, or any other write-for-hire project. When that happens, you weigh the money against the projected time and aggravation, then take your chances.
We're talking here and now about fiction, shared fiction, collaborative fiction.
You know how it goes -- spouse, sibling, parent, child, aunt, uncle, grandparent, significant other, friend, or acquaintance says those brain-freeze words, "I have this great idea; all you have to do is write it."
Remember that old song, "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover?" Well, substitute collaborator for lover and you have an inkling of all the things that could go wrong. If you're not familiar with the lyrics, trust us -- have an escape plan.
The I-have-this-great-idea scenario for us turned into a lover-collaborator or collaborator-lover situation, take your pick.
From that first brave start, we've written and published five novels, the latest being Bone Pit, the third in our Gina Mazzio, RN medical thriller series. There's another completed novel on the shelf, waiting for a timely release situation, and another Gina book that has survived most, if not all, of the usual middle-of-the-book miseries and is cresting for its grand finale.
All smooth sailing? Not necessarily. For instance, one of us writes like a fast-moving stream, the other like the flow of cold molasses. But there've been no bruises, broken bones, or serious wounds, at least none that show.
One of the first things collaborators need to agree about is a mutual goal, beyond sharing in the fame and fortune, of course.
Maybe you want to get involved in writing together simply because it sounds like a really fun thing to do.
Maybe there's something going on in the world that you both feel strongly about and want to comment on through fiction.
Maybe there are certain genres of fiction you enjoy reading and would like to try your hand at writing – mystery, sci-fi, horror, romance, or whatever.
It helps if the two of you have at least a modicum of experience in working on projects together ... happily and successfully. Also, similar backgrounds in writing are a real plus.
Our literary collaboration started by merging a career writer of fiction and nonfiction with a practicing registered nurse and artist who hadn't written either fiction or nonfiction since leaving school. While our reading tastes were quite similar, one wanted to write sci-fi, the other didn't; one wanted to write mysteries, the other wanted to write thrillers; one wanted medical backgrounds, the other tended toward journalism-related back stories.
There was greater agreement on what we didn't want to write -- romance, historical, and cozy mysteries.
A bit of a rocky start perhaps, but we did avoid throwing any rocks at each other.
So out of all that mish-mash came Bone Dry, the first of the Gina Mazzio series, followed by Heir Today..., a suspense adventure about a husband-wife team of journalists. Which illustrates a very important ingredient in collaboration -- compromise.
We also learned the necessity of finding a mutually suitable way to actually write a novel. We tried all kinds of procedures -- writing every other chapter, writing only about certain characters, doing individual scenes, and writing virtually every word together. None of these worked particularly well.
We eventually discovered that the best method, after we'd agreed on a storyline, was to have whoever came up with the idea, or had the most pertinent personal background, write the first draft, with input from the other with respect to plotting and character development.
We then switch off for the second draft and after that, actually sit down at the keyboard together to create the final manuscript.
Out of that has come the recently released No Pat Hands by J. J., the fourth book in his Zach Rolfe P.I. series, where tragedies of the past overlap frustrations of the present when Rolfe is hired to ferret out who is sabotaging a small Northern California Indian tribe's efforts to build an oceanfront casino/resort.
Bette just signed a contract for a near-future medical thriller, Rx Deferred, which is scheduled for publication the latter part of next year. The underlying concept is a look at what medical treatment might be like in a dystopian world where all governments have been replaced by corporations.
First and foremost, if you're part of a writing team, and regardless of whether you're collaborating or writing individually, there's an implicit need to keep each other from crashing and burning.
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P.S. Please note that this piece was a joint effort. :)