Collaboration Without Getting Shot, Part 2 (Alicia Rasley)

Alicia and Lynn, Back in the Day

After that, we started collaborating. Fortuituously, we had the same editor at Kensington, who was willing to let us try. But even halfway through plotting the book, we’d communicated only online. We agreed to meet at the RWA conference in St. Louis, fondly remembered as the “hell or highwater conference,” as the Mississippi River was flooding and the Arch was unreachable.

There at the conference, I was trying to track her down (back in the dark ages, children, we didn’t have cell phones!) at the hotel, and had punched the elevator button to go down to the bar, where I was sure I’d find her, or at least a martini.  The elevator, going up, opened, and after a moment, a woman inside reached out, grabbed my arm, and pulled me in. It was Lynn, and she said she just knew this was me. (I’m glad it was. Imagine if she’d yanked someone else into the elevator like that!)

This uncanny recognition set the pattern. We just knew each other. We didn’t have one moment of awkwardness, and could talk for hours like old buddies from the very first. Later that night at a banquet, I don’t think either of us was surprised when we met near the door as both of us tried to sneak out.  Well, of course we both wanted to avoid the speeches! There was actually another writer involved in the project, but with her, there wasn’t that immediate sympatico feeling. The next year, when Lynn and I decided to write another book together, it was only the two of us. We are both, you won’t be surprised to hear, arrogant enough to think that we didn’t need much help.

The first book together, we each wrote separate novellas that were later joined in a novel. But this new book, Gwen’s Christmas Ghost (no, we didn’t choose the title), we decided to write together. Yep. Me with my long sentences and affection for semicolons, and  Lynn with her muscular prose and her hatred of any punctuation that wasn’t  a period or a comma. Writing together. Rather quickly we divided up the tasks and the characters, deciding on a major romance (her responsibility) and a secondary romance (mine), and agreeing to alternate the intervening scenes. Because she would do more of the writing, I took on the final edit to unify the prose, and if I do say so myself, I did that well enough that I doubt anyone can tell who originally wrote what sentence. (She refused to let me add semicolons, and I refused to let her shoot my hero, though a ceiling falls in on him.)

Another Rasley Masterpiece

Why did it work? Well, first, we really respected each other as writers.  I don’t think it would be exaggeration to say that we each thought the other one of the best Regency writers in the business. And we knew our own strengths. Lynn is a much better plotter than I am, and quick to notice when a character is acting or speaking out of character. (Even now, I need only say the word “opprobrium” to send both of us into gales of laughter.) I am the romantic, always reminding us both to deepen the conflict and provide the resolution for our couples.

I’m not saying it was an easy process to create this book. But heck, we’re still friends (aren’t we? Lynn? Lynn?), and the summer after publication, we were back at the RWA conference, as Gwen’s Christmas Ghost had been nominated for the RITA award. I was lucky Lynn was there at the awards ceremony. I was sure we weren’t going to win as I’d written an acceptance speech (usually a kiss of death), so I wasn’t paying attention when they announced the winner. Lynn gave me a poke in the side and made me rise and follow her on the stage. We’d won the award—the first collaborators to win a RITA. The honor was all the sweeter, I think, because we won it together.

And here we are, collaborating again.  Some would say this is “the triumph of hope over experience,” but I think we both will agree, the pain of writing is more fun when suffered together.

At some future time, I’ll blog about the current-day adventure of revising our joint backlist book for re-publication. I’ll go ahead and predict a happy ending. After all, Lynn and I have remained friends all this time, and we’re pretty sure our friendship will survive yet another collaboration!

The Librarian Meets an Adventurer


Poetic Justice is available at Amazon:

Alicia Rasley is a RITA-award winner (yes, we agreed that we could each claim this, though we won it together) and Kindle bestseller. Her book Poetic Justice, inspired by Lynn, is currently available at Amazon.