I’ve been published for a few years now, mainly in the short story arena, though I have novellas available and others contracted, as well as a novel coming later in the year. I always keep my eye on what’s out there, what’s coming soon, how people are working, their achievements, and so on. And one thing that’s caught my eye several times has been co-authoring. To me, it looked like a brilliant way to work on a project with someone, have fun and then end up with a piece of work at the end of it. But I admit I didn’t really understand how it worked, so it just bubbled away in the back of my mind, and I didn’t do anything about it.
However, towards the back end of 2012, my good friend and fellow writer Lily Harlem suggested co-authoring something together. I explained I had a few projects on, so I couldn’t start right away, but I would definitely be interested. She was busy too, so we said we’d start in the early part of 2013, when all the Christmas and New Year festivities were over and done with, and life was back to normal.
The writing bug bit Lily, however, and in December she sent me a chapter that had just come to her, so she’d written it down. I managed to read it quickly, but knew I still wouldn’t be able to do anything with it until January. I was eager to try out co-authoring, but other commitments had to take priority.
Then 2013 arrived. I’d cleared my commitments and was free to start something new – hurrah! I read the chapter again and then bombarded Lily with a million and one questions about the process of co-authoring, how she thought it would work, our intended publisher, and so on. I was very lucky in that a) Lily had co-authored many times before so knew how it worked b) she was very, very patient with me and answered all my questions c) that our writing styles are quite similar, so that although we wrote from separate character viewpoints, our respective sections would still fit together well and d) we know each other well enough to give constructive and honest feedback that will be truly helpful, rather than trying to sugar coat anything for the sake of being nice.
And so we began. The chapter Lily had written back in December was from the female perspective and I was happy to write from the male perspective. I’ve done it many times before and enjoy it very much. We’d already agreed that if things didn’t work out, we wouldn’t worry too much about it, so I opened the document and began to write without thinking too hard. We had no plan, no idea what on earth the book was going to be about, really, just that it would be an erotic romance. Despite this, the words came. Fast.
After writing a chapter of roughly the same length as Lily’s, I skim read it and sent it back to her. And thus the mad email exchange began. Prior to this project I’d only written one full-length novel by myself and found it a learning curve, albeit it a fun and very satisfying project, but often I had to force myself to carry on and not procrastinate. With this book, however, it was totally different. It was full of surprises – because we hadn’t planned it, the chapters we sent back to one another were a total surprise, and we both had to think on our feet to work out where the plot would go next. We’d agreed not to rush one another for chapters as we both had other things on, too, and although we didn’t pressure one another, we still produced the words at lightning speed (for me, anyway!). I grew eager to read Lily’s next chapter, to see where the characters – which I’d quickly grown very fond of – would go next, what they would do. There was very, very little procrastination! None, really. Just lots of use of Google Street View.
The only thing we’d really planned was that the book would be longer than 50,000 words – to make it novel length. We did discuss how it would end, but never made a set decision, we just decided to keep writing and hope it came to a natural conclusion. We agreed that because Lily had written the first chapter, that I would write the last. That was the only time throughout the project that I felt pressure – and it was from myself, not my co-author. I had to write the last chapter, therefore the ending, therefore it had to be good, and satisfying! I put my fingers to the keys of my laptop and hoped that what came out would be good. When I finished the final chapter I read it again and made tweaks, then decided that no benefit would come of me staring at it – so I sent it to Lily. And waited with baited breath for her reply.
She loved it!! She even said that it made her cry. Naturally, I was incredibly relieved that she liked it – and the fact it made her cry was a huge bonus. Poor Lily was suffering with a bad cold at the time so she wasn’t feeling her best, but I decided to take the compliment anyway. And voilà – our novel, which had been through what felt like a bazillion title changes throughout the writing process, was finished. We smashed our 50k minimum and ended up with 70,000 words, roughly. In five weeks (with me even doing two chapters in one day – one in the morning, then one in the late afternoon as Lily sent hers back in the early afternoon) we penned a novel that we were both absolutely delighted with, and characters we adored.
Next, we made ourselves leave it alone for a while. We both agreed that jumping in with edits and polishing too soon wouldn’t help. We’d made comments on each other’s chapters as we went along, asking for clarification of certain points or even just saying parts had made us “LOL” and that helped immensely. So much so that after our waiting period, we didn’t change very much at all.
Then came the discussion on submission. We’d had a publisher in mind all along – Ellora’s Cave – and we submitted to them. Thankfully, they said yes. Cue much happy dancing from Lily and I! As we waited for news, we had a bit of a debrief and agreed we’d both loved the process and were amazed at how quickly the book had come together – and even discussed making it into a series. Now that series is in progress, and even has its own website: http://rawtalentseries.co.uk. The first book, Grand Slam, just released – cue lots of nerves from the two of us –but thankfully, we’ve already had some excellent feedback. So our baby is out in the world and people are enjoying it – what could be better?
I totally adored the process of co-authoring with Lily. It was genuinely fun and we just seemed to work really well – and quickly – together.
So if you’ve been thinking about co-authoring, I would say go for it. If you know someone that you can work well with, and you will be honest with one another and complement one another, then it’s a great way to write a book. You’ll have to ask lots of questions to make sure you’re both on the right wavelength, but it’s worth it in the end.
Well, I think Lucy summed our co-author experience beautifully, Grand Slam was borne from a ‘yeah, lets give it a go’ comment one evening on London’s South Bank over a glass of wine and a gourmet burger, and is now a fully fledged novel that we are both so proud of. Thank goodness we took the plunge!
As Lucy said, that first chapter did just come to me. I’d been watching tennis on Sky Sports, some hunky player whose name I don’t recall, all in white and darting around the court with skill and grace. And it had me wondering, as I often do about athletes, that if he was that focused, so utterly in control in his chosen sport during the day, what was he like at night, in the bedroom? Mmm, you see how my naughty mind works now, don’t you?
I also liked the contrast of his pristine whites and his tanned skin and brooding expression. This got me wondering what other layers he had? Were his desires dark? Did his passion also go to the physical extremes he clearly put his body through during a match? And was his determination to find satisfaction as unstoppable when he was with a woman as when he was facing an opponent?
That is how Travis Connolly was created, though because I wrote the first chapter I didn’t actually get very far into his head. As it turned out Lucy wrote Travis – and because of her A Taste of… Series, a male viewpoint is something she is exceptional at – and I wrote Marie. Oh, la, la, now I think I got seriously lucky there, because every time Lucy sent a chapter back my heart flipped. I just needed to read it. I was desperate to know what big, bad Travis had done next to me… I mean… Marie! LOL, you see that is the beauty of co-authoring, as long as you’re easy going, writing with someone with a similar style, then it is just a whole heap of fun. Marie and Travis were in our heads, bouncing off of each other, their voices loud and clear. The sex scenes were steaming up our laptops and having them from the both characters point of view made them very intimate.
The next book in the series is currently our work in progress, and readers of Grand Slam will already know the two main characters – cryptic, I know! Co-authoring is incredible, I guess it helps if one person has done it before and ‘gets it’. My first attempt was with Natalie Dae, and she was wonderfully patient with me, and encouraging, she certainly taught me a lot too. Sharing writing experiences, the highs and lows, makes it a less lonely profession for sure, and like many things in life, the more I learn about it, the more I realise I don’t know, which is where an easy going attitude is worth its weight in gold if you want to be a co-author. So give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen…?
We’re on tour right now with Grand Slam, so if you want to learn more about the book, feel free to follow: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/lucy-felthouse-and-lily-harlem/
“Some people like pain,” he said, still not looking at me.
“Masochists you mean?”
“Yes, I suppose.”
Shit, was he trying to tell me that he enjoyed the pain the accident had left him with? If so, we really needed to discuss this. “That’s not the majority of people though.”
“No, but more than you think. And some people like administering pain.” He turned to me, cocked his head slightly and moved into the space I’d left between us.
I looked into his eyes. Swallowed and tasted his cologne as it traveled into my nostrils and then laced my tongue. “Would you consider them to be good people, Travis? These individuals that like to hurt others.”
“I’ve known a few people who like to give and receive higher sensations, and most of them I consider to be good friends as well as good people.”
I hesitated, felt his body heat radiating toward me, wrapping around me as I pondered his words. We were close, very close, and his consuming presence made logical thinking much harder than normal. “I’m not quite sure what you’re telling me.”
“You talk about pain like it’s a bad thing, Marie.”
He smiled but it wasn’t a sweet smile, more like one of a hunter who’d spotted prey.
“Pain is unpleasant for a reason,” I said. “Because it’s bad.”
“I disagree.” He raised his eyebrows and widened his eyes. It was a challenging, cocky gesture.
A tingle snaked its way up my spine and threatened to wreak havoc in my body by turning into a tremble. But I beat it down. I wouldn’t let a patient get to me this way. I was the one supposed to be holding the reins here.
“Maybe, Marie, you should open your mind to new ideas with a little more grace.”
“I fail to see how I haven’t been graceful in discussing your theory that pain is good.”
“Can we keep it that way?”
“I hope so.”
“In that case,” he flicked his attention from my eyes and looked at my hair, “would you like me to demonstrate?”
Damn, the guy made me feel tiny. Even though I was wearing heels, his broad chest and wide shoulders were looming over me. “Okay.”
He twitched the right side of his mouth into a half-smile. Now he looked like a hunter who’d captured his prey. A trickle of fight or flight seeped into my system. Which would be my best option?
“Now that’s the first rule.” He reached up and undid the clasp holding my hair on the top of my head. It tumbled around my shoulders as the clasp fell to the floor.
“Doesn’t consent require knowing what you’re agreeing to?” Fuck, with him this close and stroking my hair, spreading it out, I’d pretty much agree to anything. Who was I kidding? Fight or flight was not an option, the only thing that shot through my mind was giving myself over to him. Allowing him to do whatever he wanted, control my body, feed it what it needed.
Damn, it had been too long since I’d been with a man. It was making me desperate.
He slotted his other hand over the left side of my head, the sound of him sliding his fingers over the shell of my ear noisy. My breath hitched and I locked my knees to stabilize my stance. I stared up at him, noting the small shafts of black hair sneaking out of his skin on his chin and the way his bottom lip was a little plumper than the top.
“You see, some pain,” he said, gathering my hair up at my crown and tugging to create tension on the roots, “can heighten the awareness of everything else going on in the body.”
He pulled harder, forcing my head to tip back.
I gasped as discomfort shot across my scalp.
He increased the pressure a little more.
I reached out and clutched at his shirt, felt his hard chest beneath. “Travis, I—”
“Shh, I’m just showing you.” He slipped his arm around my waist, dragged me close and yanked my hair, really hard.
“Ow, I—” A barrage of sensations blasted through my system. The feel of him pressing up against me, hot hard male, all wide pecs and solid thighs. The pain from having my hair tugged with force, and the awareness that my belly was shoved right up against his groin. A groin that held a wedge of thick flesh.
“Just feel,” he whispered, hovering his lips over mine. “Endorphins are rushing into your bloodstream, giving you a natural high as pain alerts your nerve endings that something exciting is happening.” He slid his free hand up my back, tracing the outline of my spine through my blouse.
I breathed in the air he was breathing out, warm and sweet. The scream of hurt in my scalp made me want to wriggle but being held so firmly and confidently kept me still. The heat of the discomfort slipped down my nape and neck and over my shoulders, then combined with the lovely sensation of him stroking my back.
“Can you feel it?” he whispered. “Pain mixing with pleasure, the lines between the two blurring.”
I could feel it with every fiber of my being. My skin was alive with awareness, my breasts were heavy and desperate for stimulation, and between my legs I was buzzing for action. Good, hard man action, preferably of the naked, sweaty variety. “Yes,” I gasped.
California had seduced me with promises of a new life working at Los Carlos Tennis Academy. What I didn’t expect was the dark, brooding number one seed, Travis Connolly, resisting my help. He wasn’t interested in my psychology skills. Instead his attention was drawn to the edgy, sharper corners of my desires, proving that they existed, setting me challenges and driving me crazy to the point of combustion.
I’m the best tennis player in the world—officially—so why would I need a damn woman full of psychobabble to get me on form? Despite my irritation, however, I can’t resist pushing Marie Sherratt’s buttons even though doing that shows her the darkest shades of my lust, the parts of me I buried deep. So I set her a challenge, one she rises to, one that has me rising too, and before long my game relies on her calling the shots, hitting the target and bending to my will. One thing was certain, being not just master of the court, but also of Marie is seriously good for my soul.
Buy links: http://rawtalentseries.co.uk/book-1-grand-slam/
Add to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18212109-grand-slam
Lily Harlem lives in the UK with Mr Harlem and a host of rescued animals. She is an award winning author of contemporary erotic romance and writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including Ellora’s Cave, HarperCollins, Total-E-Bound, Xcite and Sweetmeats Press as well as self-publishing. Her HOT ICE series regularly receives high praise and industry nominations and sportsmen who are talented both in and out of the bedroom often feature in her novels. But whichever book you choose of Lily’s one thing you can be sure of is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy. Enjoy!
Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Harlem-author-page/200182030094568
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012, 2013 and 2014 and Best Women’s Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9