Girls Write Out
Friday, September 09, 2011
Have you ever wondered how a writer can spend hours a day alone in her own head, making up stories on the computer--or even by hand--without losing her mind?

Who says we don't?

A writer's life can be a lonely life, hence one reason we reach out to one another. I worked for fourteen years writing manuscript after manuscript with no sales. And then I met Mel, and we began to collaborate on the novels I had written. And then we got married and when he came home from work he would talk about the exciting life of an ER doc. He once told me that he felt his job was a sacred trust. I gasped and said, "Honey, what a great title for a book! Why don't we write one together?"

I would like to say the rest was easy, but it wasn't. Those first six novels I wrote with Mel's input were the most difficult I had ever written, because not only had I studied the art of novel writing for fourteen years, but Mel had studied the medical arts for about the same amount of time. We were very knowledgable in our fields, but I wasn't knowledgable in his field, and he wasn't knowledgeable in mine. Mel had to learn a new language when he went to med school, and it's called medicalese. I didn't understand that language. He didn't always understand mine. I had to explain what I needed for a specific scene, and then I had to get him to slow down and stop talking so I could write it down. Then I had to ask him to pretend he was talking to a kindergartner. Our six hard-hitting ER-type novels proved our love for each other in very concrete ways. If a marriage can make it through that kind of miscommunication without more than one fight, it can last through anything .

After those six books, we switched publishers, and they didn't want hard-hitting ER novels, they wanted women's fiction. We continued to write about characters with medical skills, and we still included medical scenes, but we backed far away from the constant trauma of ER medicine. You cannot imagine how relieved I was. Mel says he still misses it, but I think secretly he's relieved he doesn't have to work so hard. Editing a complete manuscript for me and placing a medical scene here and there is easier than dumbing down a whole book ilea with complicated procedures for someone with the understanding of a five-year-old.

Working together on a book is just like working together in life. There will be disagreements and misunderstandings. The trick to getting through it with friendship intact is to trust your partner's heart. Mel didn't purposely make medicine difficult for me to understand, he simply took for granted I had a brain. I didn't purposely make him rewrite and dumb down medical scenes just to irritate him, I simply needed to make sure all of our readers would be able to see the scene in their minds as they read.

Mel and I are thrilled with the books we've worked on together, and we look forward to working on many, many more. We also look forward to more years of marriage, of loving each other through the hard times, and learning to trust one another more deeply. That's what true collaboration is about.

What are some of your tricks and practices for getting along with others?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:36 PM  
  Comments (8)
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At 8:26 AM, Blogger Crystal Laine said...

I understand your perspective very much!My ER husband and I have been married for 30 years. And I knew him before that for 10 years. It helps that both of us have a great sense of humor....

I think collaboration writing is difficult but also it's how we all write. We have to do exactly how you've stated it here.

Humbling myself isn't always easy for me in any aspect of my life, but somehow I've been put there for almost everything. Ha! (That's why I have developed a sense of humor.)I think that's part of the process of working with someone.

Oh, and ER docs ( And their spouses!) are a breed apart. At one point someone made the comment to me--"you ER wives and husbands are pretty tough and not afraid of anything, aren't you?" (This includes the rest of the staff, too.) I just smile, knowing that a lot of us spend plenty of time on our knees, and said, "Don't you forget it!"

God bless you and Mel. :)

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

I know what you mean, Crystal. However, let me say that we were once watching a surgery on a learning channel, and Mel turned to me and said, "Sweetheart, I'm so proud of you for watching this with me and not getting sick."

I said, "Um, I don't supposed you've noticed that I stopped eating when the show came on."

We may be strong because of the odd hours and harrowing experiences, but we wives don't necessarily have strong stomachs. ;-)

I nearly lost it when our editor asked me to do a better description of a pinky finger that had been cut off. Another reason I'm glad we're not still doing the ER hard-hitting stuff.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Jackie S. said...

What were those SIX???? I have read Sacred Trust, Solemn Oath, Silent Pledge.....what did I miss?
Loved the ones I read.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Jackie, those six were the ones you mentioned, plus Second Opinion, Necessary Measures and Urgent Care. You can find them on Nook or Kindle, and maybe some used books are out there. Thanks for your comments!

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Crystal Laine said...

LOL, I've helped Chris sew up or do procedures on our kids or a relative on the kitchen counter...I was the teacher whom all the other teachers came to get when there was blood involved or broken bones sticking out...but when the first graders got colds, I was the teacher gagging and passing out tissue, turning my head the other way. Blood, ok. Boils or infections or bad colds...not. :O

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

I was that same way, Crystal. I worked as a dental assistant decades ago. I could assist with a procedure in someone's mouth that involved lots of blood, and I could go home and eat a nice lunch. Empty the spittoon, however, and I was gagging.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Jackie S. said...

THANKS....found them...used at A.
I don't have a Kindle, but sure tempted to get one cause they have a good price on them for Kindle. I just love sharing my print books with church library though.

At 12:06 AM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Jackie, I'm glad you found them, and yes, you can share the paper books with others, and spread the word. That's good for me, too ;-) I do love my ereader. It's a Kindle, and I've been able to give away so many books now because I'm not keeping them. I read everything on my Kindle. Very worth the price. I just can't wait until more of our books are out on ebooks at a decent price.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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