Friday, October 12, 2012

The Birth of Two Books - a Challenge that Grew

My blog's doing a lot of birthing this week, isn't it? But I think today's post will interest both writers and readers.

It's about a challenge that author Ute Carbone and I took part in and its surprising outcome. I'll hand it over to Ute to explain to you.

A while back, my fellow writer friend Sue Roebuck had a terrific idea: we’d each write a story from a single premise. Originally, it was thrown out as a challenge and a way to get out of a writing slump and get our pens moving and our fingers typing again.  I thought it might be fun and besides, I’m not one to back away from a dare. So I took up the gauntlet.
The rules of our writing adventure were simple:
  • ·      The story had to include a firefighter and a veterinarian
  • ·      The main character had to go to and stay in a house (or building) that they had never been to or seen before
  • ·      There was to be a neighbor named Slater
  • ·      The story had to be in a genre we had not tried before
  • ·      We couldn’t show each other the stories until both were finished

And so we began. There were lots of e-mails passed back and forth where we complained about snags and crowed about how far we’d come. Initially, we agreed to short stories but we soon amended that rule as the stories overflowed those constraints—mine becoming a novella and Sue’s a novel.
Finished, we exchanged manuscripts. Much to our surprise, the two stories were entirely different from one another. Sue wrote a wonderful dark tale about good and evil. Her fireman hero, Jude, is a good man who has been badly wounded both physically and emotionally. Her neighbor, Slater, is a demon; evil incarnate, a hideous beast who deceives Jude by seducing  him into thinking it is something it’s not. My heroine, veterinarian Gwynn, travels back in time to find her true love and soul mate, Slate—who is the hero of the story and far from demonic.
The stories do have one thing besides a beginning premise in common; they are both published. Sue’s horror tale, Hewhay Hall by Etopia Press last April and my time travel romance, The Whisper of Time, by Whispers Publishing last September.  
I hope you’ll read them both!  There’s more about the murky and treacherous Hewhay Hall and on Sue’s take on our venture at my blog today. (Ute's blog)

Here’s a little blurb on The Whisper of Time:

When fate offers Gwynn Powell a chance to start over, she jumps at the opportunity. Laid off and living with a husband whose gambling problem has eaten through a good part of their savings, Gwynn buys a farmhouse sight unseen, leaving both her marriage and her old home behind.
But fate has more in mind for Gwynn than just a new home. The farmhouse, tucked away in the Green Mountains of Vermont where even GPS can’t find it, is also a step back in time. And Slate Peck, the farm’s caretaker and part owner, is tied to Gwynn’s destiny in ways she never expected.

Thank you Ute! It was an amazing challenge and one that proves just how varied people's creative minds are.  Here's my review of The Whisper of Time

I'm an avid fan of Ute Carbone's books. I enjoy her style and her observations of humanity. In her latest novel, she has created a believable time-travel story with the premise that our fate is connected to our souls - we can't escape it. As usual, she has written about such likeable, vulnerable and altogether human characters that you don't want the book to end. And she kept me wondering all the way through how on earth the characters would solve their situation. Told with her trademark wit and humour there is, as usual, a serious side as she deals with the realities of how fate can sometimes take a wrong turn. A wonderful writer. Read it.


  1. Julia Roberts11:58 am

    I love to see how stories start - and how the same prompts can spark very different stories (an exercise I use as a tutor)!

  2. What a unique idea! And I bet the stories are so very different.

  3. Excellent idea!

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. And they both got published, Julia! I'm so glad I took part, Alex and Shelly. choccy? Yum!

  5. It was fun! Thanks Sue, for the challenge.

  6. You're welcome, Ute - and thank YOU! :-)

  7. Wow! This is an inspirational post! Two writers working together, challenging one another, and publishing!!!

  8. This sounds like a really cool idea and a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Congrats to both of you!

  9. It's interesting how authors will interpret the same thing. Sounds like you both benefited from the challenge. :)

  10. Thank you Tyrean, Edith and GE - it really was a fascinating exercise.

  11. This sounds like a great idea. And look at the end result? Amazing!


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