Blog Tour and Book Giveaway: Athena the Wise by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

As part of The Teen Book Scene Blog Tour for Athena the Wise I have authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams here to do a guest post.

Kathy: Welcome, Joan and Suzanne. I’m wondering: What is it like to co-author a book? Is working with a co-writer easier or more difficult than writing alone? What are the advantages, disadvantages, etc.

Joan: Hi Kathy! Thanks for having us here today to help us celebrate the release of Book #5: Athena the Wise in our Goddess Girls series.
We had these same questions when we first thought of collaborating. Suzanne and I had been friends for ages, and we often had dinner together when I lived in Seattle. (Usually at Claim Jumper because they would let us hang around for hours, talking.) I admired her writing and sense of humor and thought we’d make a good team, so I popped the question: Would she consider co-authoring a series with me? She’d had experience writing chapter books for elementary ages (Princess Power and Fairy Blossoms, for Harper Collins, etc.), and I had written the Doll Hospital chapter book series for Scholastic and the Why Do Cats Meow? / Why Do Dogs Bark? series for Dial/Puffin.
We were both ready to try writing some chapter books for a slightly older audience–tweens.

Suzanne: I thought Joan’s series title and concept for Goddess Girls were brilliant. She’s always been a huge fan of mythology, and by now I’ve certainly become one too! I was flattered that she wanted to write a series with me, and I too thought we’d make a good team. When I started to think about possible storylines, I got even more excited about the idea.

Joan: From the outset, we knew that, in addition to alluding to and building on the myths, we wanted to include a little light romance, plenty of friendship drama, and action. So we put together a series proposal for an initial four books and each of us came up with synopses for two of those books.

Suzanne: It was over two years before Simon & Schuster bought our idea, and by then Joan had moved to North Carolina! Luckily, we have technological tools today that make it very easy to collaborate over long distances.

Joan: As to how we worked together, we didn’t have preconceived ideas about the best way to proceed when we got started. We just worked it out as we went along. Like other authors, I’m used to making all of the decisions about my work, with the exception of input from the editor and copyeditor. I think compromise got easier as we went along and began to really trust each other. That happened surprisingly smoothly.

Suzanne: I do remember my stomach sinking a few times when Joan suggested changes to early drafts of our first few books that I knew would take a lot of work (but that I also knew she was right about.) She probably felt the same way when she read some of my comments.

Joan: Yes! :o)

Suzanne: At the end of one lengthy email, suggesting changes that would require a fairly major rewrite on Book #3, Joan wrote: “What are your thoughts? Not to kill me I hope.” Tee-hee. (Easier to laugh about now than at the time!) The thing is, we help each other with those changes; we don’t have to do them alone. Our individual contributions to each book are so intertwined that I don’t think I could say for sure whose line is whose anymore.

Joan: I agree completely. Working with Suzanne is like having a critique partner who’s as wholly invested in a manuscript as I am. For instance, if there is a plot problem, she doesn’t just offer suggestions. She figures out ways to solve the problem and writes the solution into the manuscript.

Suzanne: Joan is a dream to work with. She’s smart, hard-working, organized, perceptive, funny, honest, and everything else you could ever hope for in a writing partner.

Joan: Gosh, we sound like a mutual admiration society! But honestly, sharing the workload is a big plus when you’re co-authoring a series. On the flip side you also share the money, so it’s basically half the work and half the pay.

Suzanne: Yeah, there’s the rub. But it’s worth it. And when it comes to promoting new books—that’s so much easier with a partner. Being able to split up promotional tasks has increased our motivation and drive to do it. We’ve been far better at promoting the Goddess Girls books than the books we’ve written alone!

Joan: I think our collaboration has succeeded because Suzanne and I each have our strengths as writers and they blend well. We both follow through on our obligations–VERY important when you’re writing as a team. So, if any of you are considering it, make sure you and your potential co-author are good at this aspect of things.

Suzanne: Right. Neither of us have to worry that the other won’t do her share of the writing. We work through the plots together, then exchange every manuscript numerous times. We tweak each other’s work a LOT, adding dialogue and description, rewriting each other’s sentences, deleting parts that move too slowly, etc. We don’t worry about stepping on each other’s toes.

Joan: It’s always all about creating the best books possible, never about ego. Our collaboration has worked out so well that—when we’re not so busy with Goddess Girls (we’re now at work on Books 7 & 8!)—we plan to work on some new series proposals. For series updates, readers might like to check out our Goddess Girls Facebook page or our sites: www.joanholub.com & www.suzanne-williams.com/ And our blogs, where we post giveaways: joanholub.blogspot.com & www.suzanne-williams.blogspot.com

Suzanne and Joan: Kathy, thank you so much for having us on your blog! We enjoyed it.

Kathy: Thanks for taking the time to be here!  Now on to the giveaway!

Book Giveaway:

Athena the Wise:

Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills…
Athena isn’t the only new kid at Mount Olympus Academy. When a mortal named Heracles transfers in, Athena understands what he’s going through. She started at MOA a few months ago.
Not only does Heracles need help fitting in, he also has to complete twelve “labors” or he’ll be kicked out of school! When Athena’s dad, Principal Zeus, asks her to secretly look after the new boy, she winds up capturing mythical beasts and shoveling poop. It will take all of her famed wisdom to sort out her own problems and help Heracles succeed!

To learn more about the Goddess Girls:

http://www.suzanne-williams.com/

http://www.joanholub.com/

Goddess Girls Series:
Athena the Brain
Persephone the Phony
Aphrodite the Beauty
Artemis the Brave
Athena the Wise
Aphrodite the Diva – coming in August 2011
Two more titles coming soon!

Giveaway Details:
1 copy of Athena the Wise
Open to US only
Ends 4/21/11

To enter just leave a comment on this post.  Make sure there is a way to contact you if you win.