The Rave Reviews Book Club SPOTLIGHT is shining on Maureen K. Howard—pen name of mother/daughter writing partners, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard.
How do they do it? The dynamic duo is here at 4writersandreaders today to fill us in… plus, they’ll share an excerpt from their book SUNNY SIDE UP by Maureen K. Howard, of course! ~ Bette A. Stevens
“Here’s How the Magic Happens”
~by Brigette Howard
Have you ever had a paper to write for school or a letter to compose, and you wished you could just write down all of your ideas, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning with a perfectly formatted and beautifully finished document? Me too. I am lucky enough to have this dream come true when working with my writing partner, who is also my wonderful mother.
People are always very curious about how two people can write a book together. I don’t know how others do it, but in our team, we have come up with a great system that works for us. It also helps that I often feel like we share a brain.
My mom and I live only about a mile from each other in Findlay, Ohio, but our writing is almost always done in separate locations using Google Docs, text messages, and phone calls (or book talk) as we like to call it. Our basic practice is to start with an outline that may or may not have a fully-planned ending. Character names and personalities always seem to be the first thing we try to define. We chat on the phone or over a glass of wine until our cast of characters really take on their own lives. And then the fun begins.
This very rough outline is posted into a new Google document that each of us can access at any time from our own personal computers. From here, we expand from the outline to form our first draft.
Since we both worked at full-time jobs and the business of everyday life while writing Sunny Side Up, we were hardly ever able to dedicate the same time in our schedules to write, but that was alright because we each fell into our own roles in the creative process.
Personally, I am an idea person. My head is filled with plot twists and zany situations that I can’t put into words fast enough. I get frustrated when I have to worry about punctuation, grammar or finding just the right phrase. My mom, on the other hand, is a word wizard. She has multiple degrees in English language and literature as well as over twenty years experience as a high school English teacher.
On most nights, I sit at my computer sipping a glass of red wine, much as our characters, Francie and June, often enjoy, and I just pour out onto the screen everything I can without worrying about the technical stuff. I often write in bullets, change tenses in the middle of chapters, sometimes adding tons of dialogue, and sometimes realizing that the characters haven’t spoken in six pages, but I get my thoughts down on paper. This is where the magic happens.
When I wake up in the morning or log on to my computer the next afternoon, my three-page jumble of nouns and verbs and scattered punctuation has transformed into a perfectly polished six- to eight-page masterpiece. It is so exciting to see my ideas transform into so much more, and Maureen (Mom) gets the same fun seeing more of the story develop each time she logs on. It has been a great system for us so far and has given us something great to share. (Psst…I can’t wait to see what she does with this piece. I better go take a nap so the elves can do their magic)!
Maureen K. Howard is the pen name of mother/daughter writing partners, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard. They both live in Findlay, Ohio. Maureen recently retired from a long career as a high school English teacher and now focuses her time on spoiling her three granddaughters, spending long weekends at the lake with her husband and their golden doodle, and making friends with fellow mystery writers and readers across the globe via social media. Oh yeah, she also writes books. Brigette works full time managing multiple national restaurant franchises. She enjoys taking her charcoal lab on running adventures and spends her free time reading, gardening with her husband, cooking, and planning the perfect murder.
- Twitter: @mhowardbooks
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maureenhowardauthor
- Website http://mhowardbooks.wix.com/lake-erie-mysteries
- AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Side-Lake-Erie-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00Q79DB90/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434554136&sr=1-2&keywords=sunny+side+up
- B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunny-side-up-maureen-k-howard/1121262131?ean=9781634432887
Read an excerpt from SUNNY SIDE UP by Maureen K. Howard:
Did I leave my vibrator on? Oh wait, I don’t own a vibrator, so what was causing the riotous pile of clothes on my bedroom floor to buzz with such urgency? The mundane truth was that I’d switched my cell phone ringer off so I wouldn’t lose focus while trying to assemble my weekend wardrobe. Obviously that wasn’t working out so well for me.
I located the gyrating devil under some discarded tank tops and swiped the answer button on the screen just before the call was switched over to voicemail. “Hello?”
“Francie! Is it a go? Did you get the hubby to agree to run us over to the island in the boat this weekend?”
“It’s good to hear from you, too, June. And no, I haven’t even gotten around to asking him yet. He’s downstairs whipping up one of his gourmet meals, and I sure don’t want to distract him from that. I was trying to figure out what I should pack. How do you prepare for freezing cold mornings, balmy afternoons, torrential downpours and high winds—and fit everything into one suitcase? At least I don’t have to worry about bathing suits. After the winter we’ve just had, the lake probably won’t warm up until August.”
“Sorry. I’m just anxious to get to the island. My editor is jumping down my throat to get this story in before the official start of the season.”
June’s passion was hard to resist. She was like that about everything she did—she took off running and didn’t look back. I could feel myself being lured in to the promise of fun and adventure. It wouldn’t be the first time.
My best friend was a freelance writer. She worked for a consortium of specialty magazines running the gamut from Fruit Aficionado to The Neighborhood Cigar, to my favorite, Lady Sings the Tools. Two years ago she gave up her high-profile job as an investigative reporter for WCLV, the major network news channel in Cleveland. After her divorce, she bagged up all her corporate outfits, chopped off her hair, and set off on a new career path that didn’t hamper her free spirit. Her new job now requires her to spend time with all kinds of interesting people from every walk of life instead of digging up dirt on the lowest of low-life criminals.
Recently, I even got to meet Christie Browne, the beautiful model, while June was working on a story about the latest beauty product the star was endorsing. In our enthusiasm to prove our support for the much-touted self-tanning lotion, we doubled the recommended amount as well as the recommended usage time. Our skin turned a frightening shade of burnt pumpkin, and wouldn’t you know it, I had to accompany Hammond to a formal dinner party given by his firm that same evening. June, on the other hand, was able to postpone her face-to-face interview, and by the time we met Christie, we both looked sweetly sun-kissed. She got rave reviews on her piece. I got put on a prayer list.
“I get that you’re under a deadline, but if I don’t approach Hamm in just the right way, I’m fried. Let me call you back in a little while.”
“Okay, but let me know soon. If I don’t take this assignment, I’ll be stuck documenting the mating behaviors of ferrets for the next two weeks.”