Meet the Co-Authors, Who’s Got the Money? Part II

Who’s Got the Money is an amateur sleuth mystery, spiced with humor. Where did the idea come from?

Morgan: You would not believe how many funny things happen in real life, particularly with the type of marketing position both of us held for four years. We’ve been inside the prison factories, military warehouses and “fought the battle” to get orders as high as millions of dollars. It was a zoo! Most people think of prison manufacturing as making license plates. They are shocked to find it’s almost a billion dollar a year business.

Which situations are based on things that have happened to you?

Meredith: The actual scam is fiction but many of the things the trio of sleuths experience were based in things that actually happened to us.

Morgan: For example, the scene with the sleazy guy offering sex in return for a big order really happened to me. Not in that particular job, but in another. He was the purchasing agent for a major aerospace company. Meredith and I also ran down the street in Anchorage, Alaska pushing a cart loaded with thousands of brochures looking for a place to dump them (A scene in the book) because the prison factory sent us thousands, not hundreds as requested for a trade show. The warehouses filled with merchandise stacked to the ceiling–that’s real. Some of our scenes are truly exaggerations, but others will sound familiar to our former co-workers if they buy the book.

How did each of you come to follow the path of a writer?

Meredith: This is my first book, collaborating with Morgan St. James.

Morgan: I began to write years ago with published magazine and newspaper articles. In the late 1990s my sister, Phyllice Bradner, also a published writer, and I developed the Silver Sisters Mysteries series. The first book in the series, A Corpse in the Soup, was released in 2006 and won an award in 2007. We followed it with two more and the fourth currently is in development. Meredith knew about my books and approached me with her idea for Who’s Got the Money? I knew it was great, and jumped at the opportunity.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Morgan: It is really simple. Do your homework, learn your craft and don’t give up. Always put out a quality, well-edited product even if you self publish. I once read a Facebook rant that showed how important this is. The author was upset by poor reviews of a self-published book that lambasted spelling and grammar errors, information dumps, poor formatting and more. The rant was, “It should be about the story, not the mechanics.” No. That is not correct. When a reader pays for a book they deserve a professional product.

Meredith: I believe it’s important to network with other writers for encouragement, help, and promotion. Joining a local writer’s organization and writers conference will help you develop friendships and give you support as you develop your craft of writing.

Getting Even, A prequel to Who’s Got the Money is available on Kindle only. This book tells how our heroine, Jennifer Hayes, gets even after the loss of her job and her money.

Morgan St. James bio: Award-winning Author/Speaker/Columnist Morgan St. James’ says her just-released books, Confessions of a Cougar, and Who’s Got the Money? are stories that begged to be told.

Her short stories appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other anthologies. The recently released The MAFIA FUNERAL and Other Short Stories collection covers everything from true stories to fiction, mystery to romance and some genres in-between.  She has written over 500 published articles relative to the craft of writing and people in the industry, as well as the book Writers’ Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing Fiction.

Meredith Holland bio:

This is Meredith Holland’s debut novel. She graduated college armed with a degree in Interior Design and designed environments including commercial spaces from healthcare and educational facilities to hospitality.  Her diverse background and passion for problem solving combined with her interior design education easily qualified Meredith for the position of sales executive, marketing products manufactured by The Department of Corrections.

As a marketing representative she supported the programs, products, inmate rehabilitation mission, and government policies. Meredith says she appreciated her time spent growing her region’s Federal customer base and interacting with contracting agents and clients.

St. James and Holland met while they were both part of the marketing team for prison-manufactured furniture and conceived the idea for this comical crime caper.   Meredith resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband and son.

You can find Meredith blogging at http://funnycrimecapers.blogspot.com

Morgan’s websites:

www.morganstjames-author.com

http://morgan-james.blogspot.com

http://silversistersmysteries.wordpress.com http://funnycrimecapers.blogspot.com http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com

You also can connect with Morgan on Twitter: @MorganStJames, and Facebook: facebook.com/morganstjames

Co-Authoring a Novel: Who’s Got the Money?

My guests this week are writing duo Morgan St. James and Meredith Holland who collaborated on a very entertaining, exciting and humorous novel, Who’s Got the Money?

Synopsis: With $800 Million worth of products produced in federal prisons every year, division director Abby Hamilton had a diabolical scheme to become a very wealthy woman. In fact, she had almost reached her $35 million goal when she made the mistake of hiring three savvy women who blew the lid off Pandora’s box. Despite comical backfires, Jennifer, Kate and Cameron were determined to find out what happened to missing bonus money and managed to pull off an intensive amateur undercover investigation. What they discovered was shocking evidence of something so much bigger—Abby’s clever multimillion dollar embezzlement plot.

How did the two of you come to collaborate on writing a book?

Morgan: Meredith and I both have backgrounds in interior design and design related sales. We met while working for a private contractor who marketed furniture manufactured in the real Federal Prison Industries factories and became fast friends. Meredith knew I’d written several funny mystery books and after we both resigned from the now defunct company she approached me with her idea.

Meredith:  Our experience with manufacturing arm of the Federal Prison system allowed us to develop an interesting angle for Who’s Got The Money.

How do you handle it—do you each write a scene or chapter?

Meredith: Morgan and I collaborate and brainstorm. Working with a partner helps to see the potential in ideas I might otherwise not use.

Morgan: Because I’m the seasoned author, Meredith was my idea person. She has a quick wit and remembered many incidents I didn’t. Between us we hatched a plot that according to a retired undercover FBI agent, really could have worked. I did the majority of the writing and preliminary editing and Meredith just kept those ideas flowing, but also let me know when she didn’t agree with something I’d written. Then we worked it out until both of us were satisfied.

What was the hardest thing to overcome in writing with a partner?

Morgan: From my experience and the talks I give to other writers, I’m quite aware of what will work and won’t work. I’ve written with various writing partners in the past, but all were trained writers, so the challenges were different. I had to make sure our clues and plot were not too complicated or convoluted, because then you lose or confuse the reader. It had to be something everyone could easily understand.

Meredith: Working with a partner helps you stay focused and helps you be more productive.  Our differences or the creative yin-yang are important to collaboration that helps to develop the story line and bring an extra range of knowledge to tap.

What is the best thing about being a co-author?

Morgan: I love the interaction. My epitaph will say, “She wrote well with others.” Writing is a solitary endeavor if you are writing solo. When you have a co-author there is the exchange and balance of ideas and techniques, plus the friendship and fun conversations. You always have the opportunity to learn something new from your co-author.

Meredith: Working or collaborating with a partner can make you a better writer.  We learned to accept and welcome our differences.

Have you written or are you writing other books together?

Not at the moment, but we made sure to leave an open end for Who’s Got the Money? which presents a myriad of possibilities for future books featuring our trio of amateur sleuths.

Where can readers buy Who’s Got the Money? It can be ordered from most online booksellers or from your favorite local bookstore.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview, when Morgan and Meredith talk more about the book and how they each got into writing.

You can find Meredith blogging at http://funnycrimecapers.blogspot.com

Morgan’s websites:

www.morganstjames-author.com

http://morgan-james.blogspot.com

http://silversistersmysteries.wordpress.com http://funnycrimecapers.blogspot.com http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com

You also can connect with Morgan on Twitter: @MorganStJames, and Facebook: facebook.com/morganstjames

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