A tale of creating a collaborative book

balloons

Almost time to celebrate!

 

Putting together a book like Mosaic: a collection of creative writing (to be released on March 25th!) is a lengthy process. I certainly had no idea how much work would be involved when I raised my virtual hand and said, ‘yes! I’ll do it.’

To start with, we had to do two things: write a draft of our stories, and come up with a plan.

The first part was pure fun for me. I love inventing stories. The second part was a little more tedious, but, between our more experienced writers, and the congeniality of the group, we decided that each story would go through two rounds of critiques, and then everyone would hire their own editors. We also decided not to charge for the book (which means that you’ll be able to get it for free!) Angelique Mroczka offered us a cover design – wait until you see the gorgeous job she did. Oh, and we came up with deadlines and the other details of getting something truly professional into print.

Our first deadline arrived. Ten people submitted works. So far so good. It was time to critique. Critiquing is an art, similar, but different from editing. One of the things which I find difficult is noting what’s good about a piece, especially when they’re a little raw, as some these were. What’s good might be the concept, the plot, the characters, or all of it. Then there’s what’s not working and some suggestions for how to fix it. Some critiques were almost as good as any professional edit, while others were pretty casual. Anyway, we (mostly) all read every piece and posted our critiques.

Then we had to read all of those critiques. Some of mine were pretty tough to take. It was clear that one of my two stories didn’t work at all. What a bummer. I’d written a short short (less than a thousand words), and it had to be completely rethought, re-plotted, etc. I remember tearing my hair out. I wanted to remove it, and I wasn’t the only author who had that reaction.

More about the process tomorrow! But now, I want to introduce two more of our amazing contributors, Stef Gonzaga and S. J. Henderson.

Stef Gonzaga:

Stef GonzagaStef has five poems in Mosaic. Initially, we’d planned on a book of short stories, but she wanted to write poems, and I’m so glad she did. They’re lively short pieces, which completely change the flavor of the book. There’s one about a snake (my personal favorite?), and one about love, and – well you’ll just have to read them, won’t you?

Besides being our only poet, she’s the only contributor who doesn’t live in the United States. Lots of onlies! She’s a writer and editorial manager for DesignGood, and has several books available on her WEB site (another collaborative project, a workbook on creativity, and more). Her techie skills were invaluable in allowing us to finish this project, and she set up our WEB site (yes, we have one!!!). Head over to learn more: stefgonzaga.com

S. J. Henderson:

Sunny Henderson

The most important thing you need to know about S. J. is that she loves to ride horses (can you tell from the photo?). I’m kidding, but they do seem to play a very important role in her life. Actually, the most important thing you should know is that she has published two wonderful, funny, children’s books for the 6-12 age group, Daniel the Draw-er, and Daniel the Camp-er,  and is working on a YA fantasy/horror novel (it’s fantastic, guys, really. I was a beta reader for her. I just wish she had published it already, so I could give you the link and you could buy it). Another important fact is her love of coffee. She has one not-at-all funny piece about autism and one hilarious piece about Daniel in Mosaic.

S. J., as the only one of us who’d self-published novels, provided lots of wisdom and advice as we stumbled along towards publication. She’s been a fount of information, and a steady head throughout, as well as a damn good critique-er who can see plot holes everyone else misses. I deliberately didn’t link to her novels up above, because you simply have to go to her WEB site, where you can get autographed copies. sjhenderson.net

Are you starting to get the idea that collaboration can be amazing?

Thanks to Naurich at freeimages.com for the photo of balloons.

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  1. #1 by Stef Gonzaga on March 24, 2015 - 1:00 am

    Ann, thank you so much for featuring me! Reading through it made me blush and smile all over. LOL

    I can only imagine how tiring and frustrating the editing process must be for short fiction. When my editor sent me back my poems for revisions, I felt my stomach sink to the bottom with each comment to clarify and revise words, lines, or stanzas all together. But I always try to keep in mind Leonardo da Vinci’s quote to keep moving forward: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

    Congratulations to us all for making it through to the end of the project!

  2. #2 by Liz on March 22, 2015 - 6:54 am

    It’s fascinating to talk to you in person once a month and then to discover an entirely different Ann Stanley when I read your blog. Are all writers like that? I look forward to reading the book soon.

    • #3 by Ann Stanley on March 22, 2015 - 8:53 am

      I don’t know if all writers are like that, but I suspect so!

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