Sunday, April 26, 2009

Petit Fours and Hot Tamales: Book on a Blog

By Marilyn Baron

We didn’t know much about each other when we first began our journey. All 19 of us belong to Georgia Romance Writers. All but two of us are PROs. Some of us are friends, many just acquaintances. Some of us might not have recognized each other if we passed on the street. But in the process of forming, naming, and launching our blog, Petit Fours and Hot Tamales (PF&HT), in January 2009, and finding our way in this strange new world of blogging, something miraculous happened. We bonded.

Prayers and a Swift Kick in the Pants from our PRO Sisters

The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales are all about Reading, Writing and Romance. The words below our banner in the right-hand column tell the story.

But PF&HT is more than a blog. It’s a family. We are staggered by the talent of our sister bloggers, blown away by the generous offers of successful authors and editors to guest blog for us, so much so that almost every Friday through the end of the summer is booked in advance with “Guest Chefs.”

But it’s what goes on behind the blog that is amazing. We’ve laughed over each others’ funny posts, cried when one of our members lost a beloved parent, sympathized with a member who sat in the hospital comforting a critically ill child or sympathized with a member nursing an injured pet. We’ve offered words of encouragement to boost sagging spirits or a swift kick in the pants when one of our own was wrestling with self doubt. Whenever our confidence falters or when we face an impossible deadline, we have 19 sisters to turn to. The way everyone rallies around each other has been an exercise in camaraderie and compromise.

We’re even having our first Write Away next Saturday, a full day of writing away from home, where we’ll meet at one of our members’ homes with laptops, notepads and storyboards in hand, and an endless supply of food. We’ll belly up to the writing bar and write, talk with others when we’re stuck and write some more. What’s important is we’re not alone in our quest for publication.

The Long and Winding Road

Now nine of us have written a group novel. Technically, it isn’t really a novel. Here’s how the process worked. Each one of us independently wrote one chapter. Each chapter took the story in a new direction, with twists and turns the next writer had to run with. Sally Kilpatrick and Ana Aragón were responsible for editing all the chapters for consistency and to make sure the story flowed and errors in style were corrected. Ana Aragón formatted the chapters as an e-book, with each chapter as a separate PDF book so they could be uploaded individually as each chapter is released. Then she’ll reassemble the chapters after the entire “book” is finished. Several members worked with her on the cover design. All of us had input along the way, suggesting ideas for the title, and making revisions as we progressed. At the end, we had a nice formatted “novelette” to offer our readers.

“First thing we need to get clear – this is not a real novel,” explains Ana Aragón. “It’s more like a writing exercise to see where people go with the base, which is very cool. Think of it as a daytime serial. Things going every which way, highlighting each writers’ individual style. Fun. Quirky. Out there.

“We don’t have the hero’s point of view,” Ana says. “At one point we weren’t even sure who our hero was.”

“If we wanted to create a more uniform novel, the group would have had to sit down and do a more detailed plot,” agrees Tami Brothers. “That way everyone would have more of an idea where they needed to be by the midpoint, what the black moment was, how it would end, and (most importantly) whether it was a romance, romantic suspense, young adult, paranormal, etc.”

“It started as a romance, which Tamara continued, moved into suspense/intrigue with Marilyn, which both CiCi and Tami Brothers played out,” says Ana.

“Up until Chapter 5, it was in one POV only,” she says before she started writing her chapter, “and I’m not sure I want it to stay that way. I may just have to shake things up a bit.”

“I think it’s fun to be involved in a group write, since nine heads are turning out to be as good, or better than one,” says Sandy Elzie. “I ended it and it was actually easier to write the end than the beginning and much easier than the middle. All I had to do was take everything that everyone had thrown into the hero’s and heroine’s lives and tie up all the ends. It was as fun for me to read each chapter as it came out as it will be for our readers to anticipate where the next chapter or entry will take them.”

“I think we have something great here,” says Tammy Schubert. “All the writing is terrific.”

After rejecting such names as “As the Aspen Turns,” “Kiss My Aspen,” “Fiancée For Hire,” and “Aspen Flakes,” we agreed on the title, “Aspen Exposé.” The serialized chapters will begin posting every Sunday starting May 3.

For the time being we’re going to showcase our work, see how it’s received and then, who knows? We might write a real group novel.

It’s been thrilling not to know where the book will go and we hope the readers enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. After all, RWA is all about pleasing readers.

If you want to read our serial, check back next Sunday, May 3 at

Here’s a taste of what you’ll see:

Aspen Exposé

When JACK DAVENPORT, sexy CEO of Mira Technologies, offers to pay Computer Programmer RACHEL LIVINGSTON $5,000 to pose as his fiancée for a Board of Directors retreat in Aspen, Colorado, he sweetens the deal with these words, “I’ll only need you at night.”

So starts a rollicking charade of espionage, suspense and intrigue, twists and turns and romance that’s almost too hot to handle. Log on every Sunday, starting May 3, 2009, as the writers of Petit Fours and Hot Tamales shake things up with their unique spin on an original serial thriller.


Got the Answers to Aspen Exposé? You can win in our “Group Novel” Contest

To launch our Group Novel, Aspen Exposé, we’re sponsoring a contest. Each chapter posted (every Sunday beginning with Chapter One on May 3 and ending on Sunday, June 28 with Chapter Nine), will pose a question about that chapter at the end of the post. Anyone who leaves a comment with the correct answer to the questions in all nine chapter posts will be entered in a drawing to win a great prize.

So keep reading!

Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Blog Authors


Sandra Elzie said...

It was fun writing my chapter and I can't wait for everyone to read our offerings.

I'm sending an e-mail blast out to all my friends!

Sandy Elzie

Marilyn Baron said...


Your chapter was great! I can't wait for everyone to read it.


Marin Thomas said...


Kudos to you and your fellow writers! My son's 4th grade class did this exact exercise but they wrote short stories and broke up into groups of 4 kids each with their parents. They called t Popcorn writing. I typed out all the stories and gave them a title and the kids had a wonderful keepsake for their school scrapbooks.

Can't wait to read the group's story!

A Cowboy's Promise (April 09)

Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks, Marin,

What an interesting exercise in your son's class.

I remember writing my first "book" in fourth grade. It was called "The Adventures of East West Island" and it featured all the kids in my class as characters. My teacher read it in installments every day and they all enjoyed being a part of it.


Tami Brothers said...

This was SOOOOO fun!!! I can't wait for you guys to read this. I haven't read the last three chapters yet, but you better believe I'm drooling with all the hints that have been splashed around our Yahoo Group.

I KNOW you guys will love it!!!

Tami Brothers

Marilyn Baron said...

I HAVE read them all - I don't believe in delayed gratification - and they are great. I can't wait until everyone gets a chance to see them. It has been a lot of fun working with everyone on this project.


Maxine Davis said...

I am truly looking forward to reading what my wonderful and talented friends have written. I know it was from the heart(s) and will be just fabulous!!

Sandra Leigh said...

What fun! I look forward to lots of Sunday treats.

Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks Maxine and Sandra for your comments.


The Writers Canvas said...

Very cool concept and group. Look forward to visiting y'alls blog more!


Sandra Elzie said...

Hey Everyone,

Don't forget that there is a contest connected with the 9 week presentation of our Aspen Espose'.

If you visit each week (and all 9 weeks), read the chapters, answer the questions correctly and leave a short note each time to let us know you were with us, your name will be put in the drawing for a really great gift. (I know what it is, so I'm not eligible...darn it!...but I know you guys will all love the prize. (guys too, so let's hear from the stronger sex!)

Hope you all enjoy the read and thanks to all who participated and all those who put in extra to edit,format and do the cover are...(coming soon).

Fantastic job, ladies.


EC Spurlock said...

I applaud you, ladies! What a great idea, and knowing how talented you all are, I am really looking forward to reading the whole thing!

My best friend is also a writer and when we first met some thirty-odd years ago, we wrote a lot of stories together in a similar way, mailing each chapter back and forth and daring each other to get our characters out of the scrapes we thought up for them! (We used to call this game Stick-the-Coauthor, and it could be both hair-raising and fun!) I'll bet it was even more fun to use a bigger group, with a wider variety of writing styles. Very much looking forward to reading the result!

Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks for visiting Elaine.


My daughter and her friend are writing a book together and they're really having a great time although it's going to be difficult to reconcile their writing styles and voices.


CiCi Barnes said...

Marilyn, awesome job on the write-up for our little endeavor. Thanks for taking the time to get the word out for us.

Hope all PFHT readers will tune in.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Can't wait to read it, ladies! With all the talent here, it should be a lot of fun.

Great summary of our experience, Marilyn.

Ana Aragón said...

I had a great time writing my chapter, especially as I tried to block Sally Kilpatrick in the bedroom with our hero and heroine!

I've read all the chapters and they're great!


Carol Burnside said...

Looking forward to reading it, ladies! I'm proud of the way everyone on this project worked together to make Aspen Expose a reality.

Marilyn Baron said...

CiCi and Debbie, thanks.

Ana, Your chapter is great and you did a great job on the cover, which everyone will see when they log on next Sunday.

Carol, we did work as a team on this project and we're proud of the final product and proud to be part of this blogging group.


J Perry Stone said...

Sounds fabulous. I cannot wait to read it. I also cannot wait to read each of your voices as one.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Marilyn!
Love your blogspot!!! Such a fun place to hang out! Congrats on all the attention it's getting. The community book idea sounds great as well --I'll be looking forward to each chapter as it debuts!

Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks Debby,
We appreciate your interest and we can't wait for it to debut.