Double Dish ~ Two Veteran Authors Join Forces

authors Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson have combined their
considerable skills to create the action-packed historical romance series,
Charm & Deceit, for Whitaker House.

AlLee’s  publishing credits include the
novel, The Love of His Brother (2007) for Five Star Publishers, and several
books with Abington Press: The Pastor’s Wife (2010), The Mother Road (April
2012), and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012). She’s also published a
number of short stories, devotions and plays. She lives with her family in Las
Vegas, Nevada. To learn more:
Lisa Karon
Richardson has led a life of adventure— from serving as a missionary in the
Seychelles and Gabon to returning to the United States to raise a family—and
she imparts her stories with similarly action-packed plot lines. She’s
published Impressed by Love (2012), for Barbour Publishing’s Colonial
Courtships anthology, and The Magistrate’s Folly-(Jan. 2013) and the upcoming
Midnight Clear, part of the Mistletoe Memories anthology releasing in the fall
of 2013 from Barbour. Lisa lives with her husband and their two precocious
children in Ohio. To learn more:
Double Dish  
How two very different authors
combined forces
How did the two of you decide to write a book
Lisa:  It all happened very organically. Before we
were writing partners, Jen and I were critique partners and best friends. She
wrote women’s fiction, sometimes with a supernatural twist. I wrote
historicals. Then she had an awesome idea for a historical romance. As she was
telling me about it, I was thinking how great the premise was and how I wished
I had thought of it. She put together a blurb and a hook and pitched it.
But, I
believe she got a bit daunted by the research needed to write a historical.
(Jen correct me if I get any of this wrong!) That’s when she asked me if I’d
like to collaborate. I already loved the idea, and I loved her, so I was all
over it. We started brainstorming to flesh out the plot and Jen pitched it to
Whitaker House at the next ACFW conference. They were interested, but preferred
series. So we went back to the drawing board and put together a couple more
ideas drawing from both of us.
Jen pipes
up: Yes, I must correct Lisa on one point. I wasn’t a bit daunted by the
research, I was extremely daunted! After about the fifth or sixth time I went
to Lisa for help, I thought, “This is silly. We should be writing this
together.” Thank heaven she agreed!
What’s the best thing about co-writing?
Jen: It’s
hard to pick one best thing. First off, I love working with Lisa. It’s so great
to be able to brainstorm together and throw ideas around. She’s strong in areas
that I’m not, so when I miss something, she’s right there to build up the
story. Of course, that works both ways. But, if I had to pick just one best
thing about co-writing, I’d have to say it’s the accountability that’s
necessary. I have a tendency to procrastinate (an admission which shocks no one
who knows me). Left to my own devices, I can find all kinds of ways to fritter
away time. But with this series, I know that Lisa is depending on me to do my
part in a timely fashion. And since I don’t want her to throttle me the next
time we see each other, I hop right to it. Frittering is not an option!
What’s the hardest thing about co-writing?
Lisa: First
I have to say that Jen is fabulous to work with. None of this has been very
hard and we’ve been able to give and take really well I think. The answer to
the question is probably going to be as individual as the author. For me, the
hardest thing is letting go of some preconceived notions. We essentially take
turns writing the next chapter from a loose outline that’s about three pages
long. That means there is tons of room for deviation over a 300 page book. 
I finish my chapter I’ve generally got an idea of where I would take the story
next. But when I get the next chapter back it’s somewhere else entirely–like a
different county, not even the next town over! It’s wonderful for the reader
and the book overall in terms of keeping the story from being too predictable,
but, true confessions, it’s jarring to me at first. It takes a bit of thought
to pick up the story thread from there and keep moving forward.
Tell us about the process. How do you share the
Jen:  That’s exactly what we asked each other when
we first started this project. One approach we discussed was that we each write
all the scenes in a specific character’s point of view. But it was clunky and
impractical, so we discarded that idea. In the end, we decided the best way to
do it was to alternate chapters. First, we brainstorm the idea and work up a synopsis
with the general idea of where the story will go. Then Lisa starts us out with
chapter one, because she’s a historical genius and she grounds us in the right
time and place. Her first chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book,
When she’s done, she sends it to me. I read over her chapter, make
notes, and then write chapter two. Then I send it to her, she reads over my
notes on her chapter, makes notes on my chapter, then writes chapter three. And
so on and so forth until one of us gets to write THE END on the last page.
What advice would you give writers thinking
about co-authoring?
Jen: As in
any relationship, be it personal or business, communication is crucial! Because
Lisa and I were best friends before we became co-authors, the most important
thing to me was that we could work together and not kill our friendship. We’d
already been critiquing each other’s work, so I knew we could give and receive
constructive criticism without a problem. But when you co-write a book, there
are times when you each see things a different way. At those times, you have to
be able to discuss how it best serves the story without digging in your heels
and taking it personally. Thankfully, we’ve had no problem with that—probably
because we’re both so bright and levelheaded. (Ha ha!)
What’s next for you?
Lisa: Jen
and I just turned in the manuscript for Book #2 of the Charm and Deceit series, Vanishing
. I have to say I was thrilled with the way the story turned out. A
Pinkerton Agent and a fake medium join forces to find President Lincoln’s
kidnapped son. There’s adventure and romance and skullduggery galore! That
story is scheduled to come out in November of 2013. And we both have novellas
in the Mistletoe Memories anthology
from Barbour, which will come out 9/1/13. In the meantime, we’re getting ready
to tackle book three in our series. So we have lots of work ahead.
Diamond in the Rough (Charm & Deceit, book 1)
Diamond is a professional gambler on the run from his past. When he comes across
a wagon wreck, the chance to escape his pursuers is too good a gamble to pass
up, and he assumes the identity of the dead wagon driver. His plan takes an
unexpected turn when local heiress Lily Rose mistakes him for the missionary
she had asked to come work with the Wiyot Indians. Seeing Eureka as a promising
place to lay low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he’s bluffing his way
through sermons and building an Indian school. But with a Pinkerton on his
trail and a rancher rousing fresh hatred against the Indians, Grant fears the
new life he’s built may soon crumple like a house of cards.