How To Successfully Co-Write

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By Cheryl Yeko and Char Chaffin, Senior Acquiring Editors for

Soul Mate Publishing

Co-Writing as CiCi Cordelia

Welcome to Soul Mate Publishing’s First Editor Blog. Char and I would like to discuss how we became acquiring editors for Soul Mate Publishing, then writing partners under the pen-name of CiCi Cordelia. We’ve been friends since 2011, when we both came onboard Soul Mate with our debut novels. We got to know each other virtually, and by the time we met in person at our first romance conference—Atlanta in 2013—it was as if we’d known each other forever. Soon, we both became acquiring editors with Soul Mate, cementing an already strong friendship.

During RWA Atlanta, we’d tossed around writing something together, and after one frenetic brainstorming evening came up with our first co-written book, Rodeo King, which debuted in 2014. We were thrilled when Rodeo King finaled in the 2016 Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Awards.

We had so much fun writing together, we decided to keep doing it, and agreed a pen name was in order. CiCi’s first name was easy, since both our names start with ‘C.’ All we needed was a last name. Eventually we came up with ‘Cordelia’ which means ‘heart,’ and our tagline is ‘Writing From The Heart.’

Co-writing is an exciting adventure, but it also comes with challenges, and is not for the weak at heart. Mutual respect and compromise is the key to a successful co-writing partnership.

Char and I talk on the phone frequently; every day if we’re working on a project. I’ll bring Char in here and we’ll discuss our writing processes and how they combine seamlessly into our works as CiCi Cordelia.

We’ll answer some of the questions we routinely receive regarding our partnership:

How do you combine your voices: Since Char’s a heavy plotter, and I’m a total fly by the seat, Pantser, it’s always fun!

Char: Writing with someone else opens up a whole new world of compromise. ::grin:: For me, I had to write more on the fly than ever, and Cheryl found herself dealing with my incessant need for outlining. Part of why CiCi succeeds is our ability to meet each other halfway.

Cheryl: True dat. Since I started writing with Char, I’ve learned to plot, just a bit. We do a general outline, so we can stay on track. But the stories never turn out the way we originally plotted them, so there’s still a lot of pantsing going on.

Who writes what chapter?

One of us writes a chapter, then sends it to the other for edits. We usually have two or three editing rounds before the chapter is polished enough to move on. Then the other one writes a chapter and we repeat the process.

How do you work out disagreements?

Char: We are both strong writers with strong opinions, so obviously we sometimes come at our basic plot in completely different ways, whether or not we’ve already set down an outline. We’ve never not been able to talk it out and find common ground we can both accept. I think that’s because we do know each other very well and consequently know when it’s better to cede rather than argue. Also, we understand when a project won’t work for us, the same as we instinctively know when we have picked a winner that will benefit from what we both bring to its creation.

Cheryl: This is where compromise comes into play. Char and I are fortunate that we love the same type of books and don’t often have disagreements. But, we’ve had a few. It’s a delicate balance because usually we are both right, it’s just that we’re having a difference in where we see the story leading. So, we carefully and respectfully work through it, until we agree upon the chapter, and where it’s heading. The best thing about co-writing is that this process leads to a better read, imo.

How do you both settle on genre? Characters? Titles?

Char:  It depends on whether one or both of us have an idea that won’t leave us alone, or whether we’re just chatting on the phone and brainstorming occurs. We both get so excited when we start talking plotting and characters, that often the genre and our hero/heroine creates themselves. As for titles, those can be toughies, but again if we just talk it out together, we find what’s right for our work.

Cheryl: Yeah, what she said . . . ::smile::

Do you use an outside editor and cover art services for your co-written works?

Char: Since we’re both editors, we usually edit each other during the creative process. Cheryl is a great developmental editor, and I’m punctuation-crazed and grammatically anal. Both of us are strong characterization editors. Cheryl handles all the cover art work, either creating it herself or working with a cover artist to come up with a selling cover.

Cheryl: We edit each other and that seems to work well. I do have a handful of critique partners I run my work through, and they catch a lot of stuff. By the time we finish our stories, they are pretty clean.

Does your writing partnership affect your working relationship as acquiring editors at Soul Mate Publishing?”

Cheryl & Char: That would be a yes . . . but only in a good way. Sometime in the fall of 2015, we were chatting as usual, and started toying with the idea of a long-range book/series project we could develop together as editors, and The Legend of The Soul Mate Tree was born. Thirteen books written by thirteen different Soul Mate authors. When we presented the idea to Soul Mate Owner and Senior Editor Debby Gilbert, she fell in love with the premise and gave it her professional blessing.

realmofthedragonThe first book, written by CiCi Cordelia, (aka Char Chaffin & Cheryl Yeko) Realm of the Dragon releases in January 2017, and then one book per month follows thereafter.

We’d like to share the promo trailer Cheryl created for the project. We hope you enjoy it! https://youtu.be/VjxyyD3TVoA

Cheryl also created a sexy little promo trailer for Realm of the Dragon that we’d love to share with you. https://youtu.be/YKFSkLDKpP4

We have great expectations for The Soul Mate Tree project, and plan for more co-editing projects in the future.

What would you advise for other authors who might be considering co-writing with one or more authors?

Char: First and foremost, you need to trust your co-writer. And it helps if you work with an author whose writing is similar to yours. I believe you should go at co-writing for the right reasons. Cheryl and I co-write because we love writing together and we believe the books we create together combine the best of both of us. As mentioned before, compromise is key. You’ll have to find common ground through every aspect of the process and you’ll need to leave your ego at the door, too.

Cheryl: As Char mentioned above, make sure you like and trust your writing partner. That’s key. Then look for someone who complements your work. It’s important to find a writer who makes your own writing stronger.

I do believe Char mentioned she’s anal . . . lol. True. I, on the other hand, am not. So I’m always rushing, wanting to get to the exciting part. That sometimes means leaving out details that would make the scene stronger. And Char sometimes writes with so much detail I find my mind wandering. So I edit her down, and she edits me up, and the pacing of our stories is the better for it. So don’t just look for someone who writes ‘just like you.’ Look for someone who melds with your own writing style to make a great story even greater.

Good luck, but most importantly…have fun!

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About Cheryl Yeko

My writing career began when my wonderful husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas and changed my world. I started reading romance novels, and fell in love with them. I decided to write one myself, and disappeared into my room over a long Wisconsin winter and wrote my debut novel, PROTECTING ROSE. I submitted to a few publishing houses and was offered a contract with Soul Mate Publishing, which I quickly accepted. PROTECTING ROSE went on to win the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the romantic suspense category. Well, I was hooked. Today, I'm a multi-published, award-winning author, and live in Wisconsin with my husband Patrick. I love to read, play piano, and spend time with family and friends. I enjoy novels with fast-paced action and steamy romance, protective alpha men and strong heroines. I belong to several writing groups, including Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Sisters in Crime. I can also be found under the pen name of CiCi Cordelia, with my writing partner and BFF, Char Chaffin.
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