Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jean James and Mary James Talk about Sparrow Alone on the Housetop

Today's guests are Jean James and Mary James who have co-authored Sparrow Alone on the Housetop.

AUTHORS: Jean James & Mary James
BOOK TITLE: Sparrow Alone on the Housetop 
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing
  1.  Please give me a brief synopsis of your book.                                                                                                               
The destitute villagers of Anne Sumner's Mexican mission become drenched in the wake of billion-dollar corporate ambition. When her pilot friend Jim Orr is forced to play the part of corporation scapegoat in order to hide their corruption, she daringly pits herself against the enemy in an attempt to save them all.
            Why did you decide to co-author this work? 
We have co-authored most of our books, plus a number or magazine articles and songs. Although we write very similarly, we each add something different to the writing that makes it stronger.
How did you meet your writing partner(s)?
Mother and daughter
How long have you all been writing and why did you decide to become writers?
Jean: I was ill a great part of my childhood and often missed school. My education never suffered because I had words, books full of words, written words that spoke to me better than any professor’s speech. When I was eleven years old, the printed words of my first rejection slip (from the Saturday Evening Post) taught me I could write better or market better. At thirteen my own words brought me my first sale and a five dollar check from the Florida Grower and Rancher. 
I’ve always been fascinated by words. The printed page taught me how to bake bread, build a boat, sew a shirt, construct a log cabin, track wild animals, identify venomous snakes, square a foundation, how to trap a skunk (and why one shouldn’t trap a skunk!), and how to read music. Words have taught me how to better write my own words. And words have shown me the path of eternal life. I’ve joyously gotten lost in the Word of God and yet “found” myself in the same place. 
I sometimes wonder if we actually realize what a wonderfully serious job it is to be a writer. Our words, used wisely, can comfort, instruct, entertain, and uplift. The words we write can change a life in ways we may never realize. Words are sharp swords of power, and yet God entrusts us, His merely mortals, to wield them.
Mary: What she said, LOL. I started by writing songs. I was five years old when I wrote my first song and just continued to be inspired from there. 
What genres do you each prefer to write and why?
We usually write suspense mystery, and there is generally some romance involved. Since we’ve both lived very active lives, our books are usually full of adventure. 
What are the difficulties of co-authoring a book? 
For us, none, now that there are cell phones and internet. 
What are the benefits?
Twice as many exciting ideas and lines. Two people making judgment calls. Someone to keep writing if the partner gets tied up in other matters. 
What is the process for jointly writing a book?
Jean: We do tons of research and collect notes on it - sometimes hundreds of pages of notes – and, after much discussion, we put together a rough outline. We also, from the very beginning, collect characters, write scenes, write lines, and write ideas we’d like to incorporate into the story. We may end up with a hundred or more pages of these. On the novel trilogy we are now writing, we have five different files, each with over a hundred pages of notes. We usually have to color code each note so we know if it’s to be used at the beginning, middle, or end of the book.
Mary: When we are both totally familiar with the notes, the complications of the plot, and have gotten to know our characters, we begin putting things together. The manuscript goes back and forth until we have a rough draft. At that point we each go over it and make tons of edits and suggestions. More discussions and more editing follow until we’re both satisfied with the final product.
What are your plans for marketing the book and where can readers purchase the work?
Mary: I’m constantly touring with my music, so this gives me a great opportunity to talk about the novel and, of course, sell copies. I also schedule radio interviews and radio concerts, where I can always mention our novel and talk about it a little. 
Jean: We both have newsletters with a large following. Mary’s (http://meanmary.fanbridge.com) is mostly music oriented, and mine (http://jameswriters.fanbridge.com) is more writing and inspiration. We also made a live-action trailer of the book (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGb78hWg2a4 ) and will be making a music-video trailer of it shortly. We’ve written the song we will use, but just have to find time to do the rest of the work. Since Mary already receives about 5000 visits a day on her YouTube videos, this seemed like a good avenue for book promotion.
    Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?
Our newsletters (mentioned above) and our websites:
Mary’s on-the-road schedule can be found at: http://www.meanmary.com/tour.html 
Any tips for other authors wanting to co-author?
It’s important you like the same books and movies, have the same moral values, and can compromise until something feels perfect to both of you.


Jean James was active in many outdoor pursuits before becoming a full-time writer. She collected live mammals and reptiles for international distribution, collected live venomous snakes for antivenom production, and worked on sundry wilderness construction projects. She’s married to WW2 veteran, William James, and they have six children.  
Mary James has spent half her life writing and the other half making music. From age five she has written songs and performed as a touring singer/musician. Today, she spends most of her time on the road but is always anxious to come home to her photographer husband and trouble-making horse.  
With sudden determination, she saddled and bridled him. Too
soon for her confidence to kick in, she sat high in the saddle, atremble
all over, and not even remotely certain she could handle him. He bent his
rubbery neck around backward and bit the toe of her boot to show his
impatience. In spite of her misgivings, she loved this spirited, contrary side
of Tom-tom. She held him in until they reached the trail and then eased up
on the bridle. Misreading his cue, he lowered his head to graze on a nearby
patch of grass. She laughed and was content to sit astride and rest a few
minutes. At length, she pulled his head up and gave him a slight dig with
her heels. She was ready when he bolted. She leaned forward to let him
break the wind for her in case he decided to run, and run he did.
Through half-squinted eyes, she watched the landscape blur past
while she pressed her face hard against his hot neck and gripped the reins
tightly. His flying mane stung her face, and the thunder of his hooves
drowned out the hard thumping of her heart. The dense line of trees and
brush bordering the lake trail turned it into a regular race track and made
control unnecessary. That helped immensely, because she needed all her
strength to stay on.
Unpredictably, his pace slackened slightly. She glanced ahead
through watering eyes to confirm they had about circled the lake and neared
the cabin again. When she saw Jim standing in the path ahead, she felt a
glow of pleasure, followed by immediate panic. Could she stop Tom-tom?
“Move! Move aside!” she hollered, but the words didn’t carry
even to her own ears. Sometimes Tom-tom exhibited an ornery streak.
He played stupid and ran into obstacles in his path, especially human-type
obstacles. It seemed he had chosen this very moment to render those
obstinate proclivities. She sensed it through every fiber of the throbbing
horseflesh beneath her. On the other hand, it was nice Jim would see
her astride and seemingly healthy, before Tom-tom trampled him into
oblivion, she thought philosophically.

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