Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guest Blogger: Tanya Stowe, Author of Leap of Faith (Heart's Haven)

Zack Manning is a computer software genius. His company has just offered him a six-figure position. He thinks Zoe Wyndham is pretty in a wispy sort of way but she’s far too ‘other-worldly’ for practical Zack…until she shows up at his front door. Then Zack falls head over heels. There isn’t room in his world for someone like Zoe. Can he trust his heart and take a leap of faith?

Avoiding Land Mines
by Tanya Stowe

Books written in a series with other authors can be a process filled with dangerous land mines. Blow-ups can and often do occur, resulting in tension, frustration, and hurt feelings. Relationships can even be permanently damaged. But if the project is approached with the right attitude and a few smart tricks and tips, a writing partnership can create friendships for a lifetime. Just ask those of us participating in the Heart’s Haven Collection!

I wrote two books with a close friend and collaborated with four other authors on a very successful musical play. I had also worked with friends on a series of linked Valentine’s stories in the local paper. I was very familiar with the ups and downs of writing a series with multiple partners, but I was relatively new to the Pelican Book Group when Mary Manners approached me with the idea of writing a novelette in a series. Mary, Marianne Evans and I had already worked together on a short publicity linked story project, so I knew they were good partners. I simply loved Delia Latham’s story idea centered around an apartment complex with a grumpy landlord who sees angels. My imagination took flight and before I knew it, I had a rough draft and an outline. That’s when we ran into snags.

Great minds think alike. We were shocked and surprised to find we had many crossovers in our stories. We had taken our plots in similar directions, sometimes repeating, but at other times, we contradicted each other. That taught us our first lesson. Tip number 1:
     Create a detailed description of your setting, location, time line and characters.

With a detailed outline, each writer is free to describe the characters and setting in their own way without inhibitions. In spite of precautions however, we discovered that our main shared character, Mr. Hart, our landlord, had different speech patterns. Since he was used in every story, he needed a consistent way of speaking. Delia created a dialect, gave us a few rules of thumb and we stuck to it throughout our stories. This tip provided continuity to Mr. Hart and made Heart’s Haven real to us…and our readers!

After those initial corrections, the editing stopped. We were all experienced writers and knew better than to interfere with another person’s creative process or storyline. Tip number 2:
     Resist the temptation to edit too much.

As writers, our stories are close to our hearts. We write and re-write until we feel they’re perfect. When someone else is writing a part of our story, it never seems right and sometimes the itch to edit is hard to ignore. Ignore it, unless of course, it’s a simple grammar error or typo.

One of the joys of a series project is seeing where each author’s creativity takes the story. Too much editing can stifle an author’s unique voice, and in my opinion, is the main reason for the failure of most partnerships.
     3. Have a designated decision maker and speaker.

Since Heart’s Haven was Delia’s brainchild, we made her the designated contact point. Most of our decisions are made by consensus, but when we needed someone to make a call, that duty…by consensus fell to Delia.

     4. Know what you bring to the table.

Delia has a wonderful, smooth writing voice and is an excellent editor. Mary Manners is the best at creating atmosphere and setting scenes. Marianne clearly sees God’s hand in all things and shares that inspiration in her stories. I’m pretty good at plotting. Since none of these strengths competes or challenges the other, we had very little differences of opinions. Whenever a question did arise, we deferred to the opinion of the writer with that strength. Knowing what we did best and checking our egos at the door made our writing process run smooth and best of all…made it fun!

Following these simple tips, and keeping the right attitude, turned the four of us into a lean, mean writing machine. That writing machine created a community that is real, so real we even created a Facebook page where our characters live and breathe. We’d love for you to come and visit with Pia, Suzanna, Zoe and Kaci at There’s nothing those four love better than a cozy chat…except maybe another Heart’s Haven story of romance and love.

Something tells me more of those stories may be on the way. This lean, mean writing machine is just getting started!

Tanya Stowe has had an eclectic career in market research, arts education and event coordination. She has written for television, publicity firms, national publications, and even collaborated on a Christmas musical. Tanya has been married to her high school sweetheart for thirty-nine years. They have four children and eighteen grandchildren. Recently her husband retired from government work to take a new position. They live in the Middle East and are sharing many new adventures.

Visit Tanya at

Find out more about the Heart's Haven series at


Anonymous said...

Tanya, what a beautiful job you've done of sharing our co-writing experience with Cheryl's readers! Not that I'm surprised...I continue to be impressed by the outstanding talent each of my Heart's Haven cohorts possesses. It's been a beautiful journey, one I'll never forget...and I'm glad it's not over yet! :)

Cheryl, thank you so much for spotlighting our little corner of creativity! We love talking about Heart's Haven.

Marianne Evans said...

Tanya, fabulous post on the art of collaboration! It was such an honor for me to work with you, Delia & Mary - and I can't wait to see what else God has in store!!! Blesseings to you!!!