First of all, I want to extend a great big country thank you to Liz for inviting me to be a guest on WordWranglers. I thought I would just share a little of my story and talk about the writing process from a debut author's perspective.
When I moved back to the family farm late last year, I had no idea how things were going to shake out. I'd started an editing business as I finished up grad school in Boston, and one of my clients was the bestselling romantic comedy and humorous mystery author, D.D. Scott. As we bounced ideas off each other during a conversation this winter, we ended up deciding to co-author a new series together with a bit of a twist.
The twist is that we decided to release the Stuck With A series in serial format. We're still going to release the novels in the series via Amazon, B&N, etc., but we're also releasing them a chapter or two per week via subscription to a Yahoo group. We chose this method for a couple of reasons. D.D. often gets questions from her readers wondering when her next title will be available and we looked around and didn't really see anyone else releasing indie novels in serial format. To date, we've released a prequel and nine chapters of the first novel, Stuck With A Stiff, to our serial subscribers. So far, it’s going great.
D.D. and I settled on using Google Docs to collaborate on this project. Because the master manuscript is constantly auto saved, we both know that we are always looking at the most current version. I can’t imagine what fiascos might result from passing a Word document back and forth. I have found the process of writing with a co-author to be very exciting. We’re able to bounce ideas off one another and help tighten up the each other’s scenes and dialog. We have different voices, so the finished product is different than it would sound if either of us were writing on our own. Working alongside an established author such as D.D. Scott has proven to be invaluable to me as a debut author, and that’s not just the creative side of the process. She is also really great at utilizing social media to connect with readers. I’m getting a real education on the fly.
The most taxing part of the process for me has been finding time to balance all of my responsibilities. I don’t think it would be an issue if each day consisted of 72 hours instead of 24. Besides freelance editing and writing, I’m living on a working Angus cattle farm. We are currently in the middle of calving season. The one thing you need to know about cattle is that they do not care about any schedule that you have set up to accomplish a list of tasks. In order to help clarify this point, I’ll share with you some of the events of the past couple of days. Friday night, one of our very best cows gave birth to a giant of a calf. Generally, a newborn calf is in the neighborhood of 70-80 pounds. This heifer was well over 100 pounds, making us wonder aloud how she had managed to give birth without assistance. We found the cow and calf just after she’d given birth and the calf was unable to stand. The night that followed started out by driving the calf back to the farm and placing her in a warm bath to get her core temperature back up. Once she seemed to be stabilized, we used a hair dryer and towels to get her dried off and propped her up using rolled up towels. We finished with this process around 1:30 am. Someone got up to check on her every hour that night because she would die if she flopped onto her side, being unable to breath properly. The next morning, she seemed to have a little more life and we took her to be reunited with her overly protective mommy, who thanked us by giving my brother-in-law an unexpected moment of flight when she caught him with her head. In the end, she didn’t make it. We’d spent most of a solid 24-hour period doing all we could for her, but it just wasn’t to be. The birth had just been too traumatic for the little gal. I had planned to spend Friday night and most of Saturday writing for the series and working on this blog post, but when you live on a cattle farm, things generally don’t end up going as planned.
The farm doesn’t just conspire to rework my schedule. It’s also a source of inspiration. Stuck With A Stiff is a humorous mystery set partly right here on this cattle farm. One of our cows is a professional escape artist, and she was the inspiration for my character’s bovine arch nemesis. I’m also using the farm to help brand myself as an author with by posting a Farm Pic of the Day on my website and on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the photos. Who doesn’t like to see cute little baby calves running around?
Well, that’s a little glance into my world as a debut author and cattle farmer. I hope you’ll come on over and join me in sharing a little of my life down on the farm.
David Slegg’s Website: davidslegg.com
D.D. Scott’s Website: ddscottville.blogspot.com
About the Stuck With A series: davidslegg.com/the-stuck-w-a-series-serial-novels
David’s Twitter: @davidslegg
Editing Site: theeditdude.com