Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Alix Sloan and Amy Eyrie to the blog today. They are here to share some tips on co-authoring, and on their new book, Petsitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery. If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, please use the buy links at the bottom of the post to pick up a copy!
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Ten Tips for Co-Authors
So you think co-writing a novel might be fun? You’re right— it is fun. But co-writing is also a minefield of logistical and emotional challenges as you hash out plot points, characters and make creative decisions— together.
Pet Sitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery was our first co-authored book. We quickly realized the adventure was going to be bigger than either of us anticipated. The experience went far beyond writing a book; deeply impacting our lives and making us better writers.
Before starting on the second Jenna Stack Mystery, we discussed the technical challenges and lessons we learned along the way. Here is our list of top ten tips for successfully and happily co-writing a long format project:
- Pick a partner you respect and trust. We got lucky, our temperaments, talents and quirks were compatible. But you’ll be spending a lot of time together, so choose wisely.
- Create interesting characters. You’ll be spending as much time with them, as with each other. If a character doesn’t sit right, speak up and noodle it out. You don’t have to love all of your characters, but you do have to understand them.
- Memorize this mantra: Story comes first. Leave your ego at the door and focus on the well being of the project. Even if an idea is pure genius, it might not work. Let the story dictate when you fight for an idea and when you let it go. Remember, ideas are recyclable.
- Before you begin writing, discuss scheduling, expectations and division of work. Then write an outline. This leaves more time for constructive, inspired writing and less chance of getting frustrated, derailed or writing yourselves into a corner.
- Empower each other. Partnership is a built in, ongoing support system. Help each other carve out precious writing time and say “no” to distractions without guilt. Encourage each other – not just for your project but all creative endeavors.
- Life happens. Plumbing breaks. People get sick. Sometimes the muse just isn’t in the room. Expect and accept disruptions. Writing a novel is an intense process. So cut each other slack when you need a break.
- Your partner is your first audience. Don’t be shy. Even if an idea seems silly or thinly developed, share it. Batting small ideas back and forth often leads to a BIG idea. That moment is an exhilarating reminder of the magic of creative collaboration.
- Promote your partner as if you’re her biggest fan. You probably are anyway. If you’re shy about promoting yourself, focus on her. Everything good that happens for her ultimately helps your project.
- The better you listen, the better the end product will be. Share ideas, concerns and instincts. When an idea isn’t sitting well, or you have trouble explaining a thought, keep pushing through.
- Be generous. You’ll be amazed at the results. Partnership creates the opportunity to give directly and immediately to another person. If you’re lucky enough to be writing with someone you like, practice generosity unabashedly. We guarantee your project will be better and your life will too.
AMY EYRIE is a graduate of the Columbia College Chicago’s fiction writing workshop program with a BA in creative writing/poetry and a minor in astrophysics. She has worked as a journalist and editor for magazines in both the US and Europe. Amy has written articles, poetry and reviews for Fantastic Films, Score, Midnight Graffiti, Paramour (UK), New Musical Express (UK) and Drew Struzan’s Oeuvre (1st Edition). She has worked as an editorial assistant at Video Action (Chicago); a publicist for Titan Books (UK); an editoron the UK release of Modesty Blaise and the Star Trek novel series. In comics, Amy was editor on Blue and produced a comic series for Dreamwave. In 2010 she founded Dharma Lounge, a blog dedicated to yoga and spirituality.
Currently, Amy is a contributing editor to Midnight Graffiti Magazine, is writing her own dystopian SciFi novel and continuing the Jenna Stack Mystery Series with co-writer Alix Sloan. She teaches yoga in Los Angeles where she lives in a wonderful home filled with creative roommates, two dogs named Mister Wickham and Miss Darcy and a devilish cat called Angel.
ALIX SLOAN earned a BA in Humanities with a World Religions concentration from California State University, Northridge. In addition to being a fine arts writer, consultant, curator and gallerist, she has worked as an advertising copywriter and a film and television production coordinator.
Most recently, Alix wrote introductions for “La Luz de Jesus 25: The Little Gallery That Could” and the upcoming “Incurable Disorder: The Art of Elizabeth McGrath.” She also curated “Awakened,” an exhibition of over sixty artists to celebrate the release of “Pet Sitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery.”
Alix is the owner and director of the contemporary art gallery Sloan Fine Art, and consulting firm SFA Projects. She lives on the Lower East Side of New York City with her two adorable rescue cats, Sam and Bram.
You can find Amy and Alex online at
When criminology student Jenna Stack finally breaks up with her cheating boyfriend Liam, she finds herself broke, single and technically homeless.
Thanks to her best friend Dave and his pet sitting business Tails of the City, Jenna secures temporary housing and a way to make some extra cash. She also comes across an international mystery that puts her life in peril.
With varying degrees of help and interference from an eccentric mentor, neurotic client, hipster hacker, arrogant cop and enigmatic FBI agent, Jenna must face her fear and trust her instincts to solve the crime and save the day.
Cintia barely has her hand in the air to hail a cab when two fight to stop in front of her. She climbs in and waves as Evan disappears around the corner.
Okay Max, it’s just you and me. I check out the meticulously drawn map to Battery Park, drafted with A + penmanship on the back of Evan’s business card. I try to lead Max towards Broadway. The problem is, he isn’t the least bit interested in heading that direction. I tug on his collar but he digs in his paws, yanking me East with all of his strength, panting and whining, and looking back at me with wide, earnest eyes.
“Come on, boy. Don’t you want to go to the park?” I ask in that special baby voice reserved for adorable pets and tiny people.
Max dances over to a hydrant, pees and yanks again. I give in. I know it’s probably not smart to acquiesce this early in our relationship. But I’m new and temporary. And if the little guy prefers the urban landscape who the heck am I to deny him? He weaves back and forth, tangling me in his leash. I’m starting to see why Tony had trouble. I try everything from stern commands to gentle coaxing, but it’s like dealing with a tiny canine sailor who drank too much on leave. I finally figure out if I keep the leash short and walk with determination, he falls in line… kind of.
At the end of the block, Max turns the corner and hurries on, squat legs hustling. He seems to be on some sort of mission. Halfway down the block, I realize what it is. He’s following his master. Evan is walking briskly ahead of us, briefcase in hand, headed towards an outdoor cafe. I observe two very attractive women blatantly check him out. He doesn’t respond or even acknowledge them. Either he’s used to the attention or he’s clueless.
Evan approaches a dark skinned man with a bald head and neatly trimmed beard. He’s wearing a gray suit with a red tie. A color coordinated handkerchief peeks out of his breast pocket. This must be Adar Abassi. He is seated, sipping from a tiny espresso cup, reading a newspaper. His posture is stiff and formal. He nods at Evan in greeting and stands up.
“Okay boy, good dog. You’ve seen your daddy. Let’s go.” I tug, but Max strains at the leash. “What is it?” Max looks at me, ears up, panting, reaching in the direction of Evan. He starts to whine. I may not be a professional pet sitter, but I’ve spent enough time around animals to trust their instincts, sometimes even more than my own, and this dog is acting strange. “What’s the problem, buddy?”
Looking around I notice a handsome, tough looking man in sunglasses and a suit talking to himself at the corner, twenty feet from the cafe. No phone, headphones or bluetooth. Weird. He glances right and I follow his gaze. Another guy, heavy set, with pockmarked cheeks, in a blue sweatshirt and a Yankees baseball cap, nods. Are they talking to each other? Interesting. Evan and Abassi leave the cafe and sure enough, the two men follow. We learned about surveillance techniques last semester and these two are going by the book.
Petsitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery is available on Amazon.