We Picked Up the Phone!

by mindi scott

In 2012, Michelle wrote on this blog about how she and I communicate together regarding our joint writing projects. (Summary: We use G-chat, email, and texts non-stop.)

The method we’d never used? THE TELEPHONE.

And, in fact, the only times Michelle and I had spoken on the phone together at all ever were during conference calls with our agent and/or editor.

On December 4, 2015, everything changed.

Yes, on that day, Michelle and I opted to discuss with our voices all the final edits we’d each decided  in advance would need to to submitted back to our publisher from the Proofread First Pass Galleys. IMG_5365

After combined total of about five hours on our headsets, one accidental hangup, and one dead battery, we got it all done!

It wasn’t terrible; it was fun, actually. We learned that we each pronounce the name “Devynne,” (a minor character from The Way Back to You) differently, which we’d never have learned from textual communication. I don’t know about Michelle, but I might be up for Conducting Writing Business by Phone again one day. Maybe.  😉

Author Photos!

by mindi scott

Before Michelle came to Washington to visit me this summer, we got  a few price quotes from local photographers, and then set  an appointment to get photos of us together for  The Way Back to You‘s marketing needs.

We quickly learned that as stressful as it was to select a photographer, that had been the easiest part.

Because what in the world were we going to wear?????

We each spent countless hours online, looking for outfits and reading reviews. We wanted our clothes to coordinate, but not necessarily look like we’d coordinated on purpose. You know how it is.

We communicated with a ModCloth stylist. We set up a secret Pinterest with tons of options. We made collages of our favorite dresses positioned side by side. We ordered items. We returned items. IT WAS A PROCESS.

Here are a few selected-at-random shots of us taken by the lovely Brandy Stockwell while we’re wearing our carefully-selected dresses (and cloud necklaces!) from ModCloth. (In case you wondered, our photo shoot was at Flaming Geyser State Park. Also? Anytime Michelle looks taller than me, it’s an illusion! Haha.)
MnM Author Shoot-2447MnM Author Shoot-2469 MnM Author Shoot-2435MnM Author Shoot-2420MnM Author Shoot-2413MnM Author Shoot--2MnM Author Shoot-2423

That Time I Fangirled My Own Character. Sort of.

by Michelle Andreani

First, a little background: Remember when Mindi and I blogged about what Kyle and Cloudy look like? When figuring that out, we decided to use actual humans as a reference. Since we were writing the same characters, we needed the same pictures in our heads.  A good plan, yes? Yes! I agree.

The unfortunate part of all this was I didn’t know the name of the Cloudy-ish girl I’d chosen. (I’d saved the photo a few years ago — for another WIP — and never bothered to add her name when doing so. NICE FORESIGHT, MICHELLE CIRCA 2009.) It would’ve been nice to see if she looked Cloudy-ish in any other photos. And I felt rotten for not being able to credit her and the photographer in my post. Alas! In the end, it didn’t seem completely necessary to know who she was. So, that was that.

But then . . . it wasn’t!

Because God and MTV put Catfish on the air, which brought Google Image Search into our hearts and lives. Finally, I was able to find out this Cloudy-ish girl’s name! (FYI: It’s Devynne. And I only omit her last name in the hopes that she never, ever sees the nerdiness this hath wrought.) So, yep, I was VERY EXCITED when I found out. Very!

I rushed to edit that previous post, and finally give credit where it was due.  A few days later, I innocently clicked on a WordPress link (fine, it was an EW article about The Vampire Diaries), and I saw that I had a notification pending. A pretty, yellow star! It was this notification:

devynne_note

Guys.

WHAT.

NO.

BRB.

It was terrifyinggggggg.

Right away, I discounted the possibility that this was an Impostor Devynne . . . I don’t know why. Because I felt like it? After that, I was able to focus on the reality of her knowing I’d based a fictional character ON HER FACE. And clearly, she was now commenting to say I was big time creep, and to quit it already, oh and also she’s calling her lawyer.

But that wasn’t her comment at all.  She was full-on lovely — especially considering it is maybe not the most normal thing to stumble upon yourself in this context. She didn’t think I was crazy! Or, I mean, she didn’t SAY IT in text form, which totally counts legally!!!!!

So, then things went a little like this:

I’m serious. I had the kind of out-of-body experience that only comes from the purest, code-red kind of fangirling. Obviously, Devynne is not Cloudy. She is her own person, and very much incredibly separate from the Cloudy I know. But for a little while, just like when I met Max Irons (swoooon), it was sort of like this person who doesn’t actually exist did, well, exist. And she’d broken through and talked to me.

So I texted Mindi, and while I’m sure she was like, “Hey, that’s cool, just maybe calm the eff down?”, she nonethless gave me the sage advice to reply in a gracious and complimentary manner. So I did — at least, I hope I did. (After a looooot of agonizing, obviously.)

And I think I succeeded! Maybe not. I haven’t heard from any lawyers., though. That’s something! 😉

Something unprecedented!

BY MINDI SCOTT

When Michelle and I started this blog, it was to chronicle our adventures in writing a book together. Then . . . we kind of realized we weren’t having adventures together so much, so mostly we’ve just written about other stuff that’s reading and writing related.

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(This was never the type of adventure that we had in mind)

BUT SOMETHING ADVENTURE-Y HAS HAPPENED.

Okay, maybe not. But something unprecedented did.

So, the way we do things is that we alternate writing chapters. Michelle wrote the first chapter, so she writes all of the odd-numbered chapters from Cloudy’s point of view. I write the even-numbered chapters from Kyle’s point of view.

Until recently, this has gone smoothly. We’ve been able to line up events in chapters with the narrator for whom each chapter makes the most sense. (How many more times can I put the word “chapters” in this post?)

However, right now, we are in a place where a particular thing that is about to happen (and has to happen now because of where we are in the story) is going to be told from Kyle’s point of view. We both always anticipated that Michelle would be the one writing this part because it has more to do with Cloudy’s arc. But the only way to make it work timing-wise, would be if I wedged in some other thing for Kyle to do, so that this certain chapter can be left waiting for Michelle’s next turn at writing. I’m not going to do that, though, because THESE CHARACTERS NEED TO GET ON WITH IT.

Suddenly, I’m in the position of having to know what Cloudy’s out-of-town friends are like, how they’ll speak, and what they’ll all be doing–simply because I’m now the one introducing them. I spent several hours on Gchat, grilling Michelle about them, and I feel like I have some ideas for how this chapter will play out that will be interesting (a very important thing, you’ll all agree!). But it’s also inevitable that this isn’t going to go exactly the way Michelle would have written it. In fact, it might be very, very different from her vision.

I . . . hope that’s going to be okay. Eeeeeep.

Hold the Phone! (Co-writing and Communicating)

By Michelle Andreani

I hate to admit so soon in our relationship that I don’t know everything, but here we go: I wasn’t really aware that co-written novels existed until six years ago. That was when I stumbled into a Borders (RIP) and upon Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s dazzling Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist*.  I grabbed the novel without a second thought (it says right on the back cover that there’s kissing = the Only Purchase Incentive I Ever Need Ever), but I didn’t know how it would grab me.

It wasn’t until I’d finished reading Nick & Norah that I wondered how it had even happened. How did two super-talented writers join forces and write one super-wonderful book?

I didn’t wonder for too long, though. (I think Taylor Hicks won American Idol that year, so there was that to deal with.) I just knew I wanted to do it.

Sooo distracting! You don’t even remember what this post is about, do you?

When we first began brainstorming, Mindi and I did so over email. Mindi was busy with revisions for Live Through This — you should maybe definitely pre-order it right now. I’ll wait here . . . Ready? Okay, good! So, since Mindi was hard at work, and I’d been reduced to a shrunken head after the most God-awful writing year of my life, we began throwing out ideas casually and just for fun. But soon enough, it was Really Happening. We’d found our story! We’d found Cloudy and Kyle! Hooray!

That’s when, six-or-so years post-Nick & Norah, with no Taylor Hicks to distract me, I had to start wondering how this co-writing thing worked. Would there just be more emails? Skyping? PHONE CALLS?!

(This is where I should tell you that I HATE talking on the phone. And you can tell I mean HATE because I capitalized, bolded, and italicized the word “HATE.” Which is big-time emotion.)

My soul sister.

Thankfully, Mindi’s had mercy on me — there have been no phone calls. (Which I guess might sound weird to some? But I find it Junior-Mint-refreshing.) It does, however, raise the question: with that off the table (for now, anyway), how do we communicate effectively when we’re trying to collaborate on one story?

Emails, emails, emails! Naturally. It’s a very convenient way to talk through anything, especially since our timing is sometimes off, what with me living in the future and all. (Um, the eastern time zone. Not the future.) Plus, I’m a big fan of the folder option. See?

So much Cloudy-and-Kyle goodness!

It’s a great way to keep everything organized when you’ve got a bazillion ideas floating around – and, another plus, I’ll never forget where I put them!

Sometimes email just isn’t fast enough, and we’re not patient enough, and that’s why God and Google invented Gchat! Before we started the actual business of writing, Mindi and I had some marathon sessions discussing our characters’ motivations, outlining our story, and other Very Important Things. Yep. We are nooooo nonsense. We never, ever talk at length about Gchat’s weirdo smiley faces. And the best part is we can save the chats and always refer back to them if we need to. (Can’t do that with a phone conversation, can ya?! Not unless you’re recording your calls, I guess. Which carries kind of a creep-vibe, no? And then you’d have to keep rewinding and fast-forwarding to find the exact — uugghh. Tired just thinking about it. Point: Gchat.)

And, of course, when there’s just no time for emails and online-chats, there are texts. Texting especially comes in handy when we’re writing and need a quick question answered: What perfume does Cloudy wear? When is Kyle’s birthday? Can you use the word “ass” in the first line of a YA novel? All answered via text! Isn’t technology the best?

Except phone calls. Phone calls are the worst.

*Fun Fact: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist was actually published six years ago TODAY. Happy Anniversary, Nick and Norah! And thanks!