Coauthoring A novel: Part Three

9 Sep

When I realized Sooz and Sarah were blogging about Coauthoring, I was pretty stoked. It’s something not many people do, and I was excited to get the behind-the-scenes peek into how they worked. Before I had ever co-authored a book, like Sooz and Sarah, it seemed intriguing…and hard to pull off.

So let’s rewind a couple of years, to when Cyn Balog and I were writing BFFs and CPs, but nothing more. If you don’t know Cyn, she writes paranormal romances for Random House– her first was Fairy Tale, followed by Sleepless, and this summer, Starstruck. While she’s been churning out books for them, I’ve been writing for penguin. Our careers have been amazingly similar– we signed agents within months of each other, sold more than a year later, and our debut novels released 11 days apart.

But, I digress. On this fateful day, I was driving to work and Sarah McLachlan’s FALLEN came on the radio, and one line hit me over the head like a ton of bricks:

I got caught up in all there was to offer.

Immediately, I thought: Isn’t that what YA books are all about? Getting caught up in love, lust, war, popularity, power, a hundred other things? Wouldn’t Getting Caught be such a cool title? But what would it be about?

And an instant later, I knew: A prank war. That would only end when one of them got caught. But it would have to be dueling narrative. Two distinct characters and voices. Hard to pull off by myself. And so I got to work and fired off an email to my CP and said… So, are you in?

She was. So we worked up character sketches. True story,  I used a picture of a young, not yet-completely-glamorized Taylor Swift for her to work from for my character, Peyton.

This is what I sent her —->

I thought it was important that she and I had the same mental picture of our characters.

The next day, I wrote a chapter and emailed it to Cyn. The next morning, she sent me one back. I turned on track changes. Critiqued her chapter.

It was a total high, the back and forth flurry.  The constant critique. I still think it was one of the most useful processes I’ve ever gone through. It pushed me to be a better writer.

Sarah and Sooz pretty much covered the “rules” but I’ll add one more, which Cyn and I did: Decide in advance what to do when you disagree. Cyn and I knew early on that if we disagreed on something, whoever wrote that character/chapter would have final say. It worked wonderfully.  Sometimes I edited sentences or phrases she loved, and she put them back.

A few chapters in, we realized that with a dueling POV and a specific story arc, we’d have to plan it out. We used an excel spreadsheet to map out the chapters and figure out how long the book would be. We noted when a prank would occur in what chapter. And then we wrote, knowing it was okay to stray.

It took only a few weeks to write the rough draft, and several more to revise. We took turns revising, we sent it to CPs. We discussed it with our agents. 

And now, this week, the book went up on Amazon as an eBook exclusive:

   It can be  downloaded for any kindle device (Kindle, Ipad, PC, etc), for just $3.99.

  Here’s the synopsis:

Sometimes in war… there are no winners.

Peyton Brentwood is pretty, popular, and Harvard-bound. Or so she hopes. Her only distraction from AP classes and entrance exams is the prank war with her ex-best friend, Jess Hill. Peyton is used to getting what she wants, and she’s not about to let a loser like Jess gain the upper hand.

For Jess, the prank war is an outlet, a way to get revenge on the best friend who left her behind. As if Peyton has the guts to do what it takes to win. Please. There is no way in hell Jess is going to lose this one, even if she has to hit Peyton where it hurts.

These two girls are about to discover it’s best to keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.


I hope you guys enjoy the novel!

~Mandy Hubbard

Author of: Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, Ripple, But I Love Him, and others

Agent with D4EO Literary




2 Responses to “Coauthoring A novel: Part Three”

  1. Sammy Bina September 9, 2011 at 9:55 PM #

    Really great advice, Mandy!

    And how did I not even know you were doing this?!

  2. Sydney September 15, 2011 at 8:24 AM #

    I was wondering if this book will be out in print? I don’t have a Nook or Kindle, and it seems REALLY interesting. It reminds me of the french film Love Me If You Dare. 😀

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