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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Behind the scenes with Jude Mason

I thought I’d share a little bit about what it’s like to write with a co-author. As some of you might know, I’ve been around for quite a few years, but have written solo for most of that time. That is, until I met Jenna Byrnes, who turned out to be a wonderful friend and someone who I grew to trust as a reader and editor for works I planned to submit. She’s also allowed me the same privilege with her work and it’s worked out amazingly well for both of us.

About a year ago, Jenna approached me with an idea. She’d just been accepted with a new publisher and she wanted to try a new project, but not alone. Say what? Handholding wasn’t my forte, but if she needed me, I’d be there. Okay, so that’s not exactly what she was looking for. Her idea was this: She had a series in mind but wasn’t sure she wanted to tackle it by herself. Would I consider co-authoring it with her?

Oh wow! The series she was thinking about really grabbed me but I had concerns. I knew we’d become good friends. We edited for each other, we bounced ideas off one another, and we belly ached about our husband’s/kids/the state of the economy, and felt very comfortable about it. I really didn’t want to lose such a good friend if our writing attempt fell flat. Turns out she felt the same. The biggie here was, did we trust each other enough to call it quits if we were endangering our friendship, even if the books were turning out to be spectacular?

Feral Heat was the first. Cougar changelings — gay cougar changelings no less—and man are they hot! It took some time, some very hard work and some give and take, but we did it. And, we learned a lot about how we fit together as writers. Jenna has some amazing talents. She can make a character come alive. Her dialogue is good, her pacing is great, but her ability to bring the characters off the page and into your heart is breathtaking. I on the other hand, write great sex. *G* Oh, I can do other stuff too, but a reviewer mentioned it and that just makes me smile.

Our Untamed Hearts series includes: Feral Heat (cougars), Bear Combustion and Wolfen Choice. All are gay changelings and all linked, but can easily be read as stand alones. We’ve just been told they’ll be going into print in the near future and Jenna and I are thrilled. One tiny problem, our publisher, Total E-Bound, wants to put 2 books, back to back, in each print volume. Hmm, slight problem, we have three books. We have to fix this. So, we are in the process of writing one more. Just deciding on what animal to use. Jenna doesn’t like snakes, so that was out (rats!) I suggested a couple, she suggested a couple. We talked, and came up with horses. Yay! Stallion Pride is in the works.

Jenna and I have almost a routine now. I begin the book; she takes over when I pass it to her at about the 2 to 3 K word count. She then edits the heck out of what I wrote, than adds 2 to 3 K. Sometimes the word count goes higher, thousands higher, but we really do work well enough together, and sort of follow an outline pretty well, that it just works. We’re professional enough to know that if she hates a bit I’ve done, she can tell me, and does, so we change things. Or, if either of us feels it’s a necessary part, we can say that too. I think it’s really about trusting each other enough to know neither of us is going to steal a work, or quit halfway through, or whatever else could happen between two people.

The Untamed Hearts Series was just the first. We’ve now got two other series’ created together. One, the Slippery When Wet series, we did a different way for the Phaze Rocks books. We found the singer we wanted to focus our four book series on, Bon Jovi, and we each wrote two books. We still worked together creating the scenarios for them, we had to because we wanted them to link somehow. They can also be read as stand alones, but if read in order, you’ll get just a little more out of them.

The next series, and this could very well be an ongoing one, is called Kindred Spirits. Think of an inn on the west coast of Canada owned and run by two hunky guys who are madly in love with each other. The inn has been around for decades and has ‘history’ as well as some permanent guests who aren’t always visible. LOL

Learning how to deal with another author’s quirks and foibles has been an incredible experience. I hope Jenna feels the same. I know she has grown and learned tons over the past year. I really hope she can say the same of my writing. Course, our editor shreds us each time we send something to her, which does tend to keep Jenna and I grounded, sobbing.

What can you expect to see from Jude Mason in the next few weeks? I’d Die For You, which is Book #4 in the Slippery When Wet Series. This book will be available from Phaze on July 6th. Check out the others in the series, here:



Snake Thompson is out of Corcoran and looking for revenge. He meets and falls for Abel, a lusty blond guy who winds up quitting his job and tagging along. Can the two of them find the truth and clear Snake's name, or will drugs and money send them both to the grave?

I’d Die For You,
Book #4 in the Slippery When Wet Series

From Chapter One
The rumbling power of the Harley engine against his inner thighs made Snake Thompson feel alive and glad to be free. The road was clear. The rolling hills stretched out before him like a blanket of soft velvet. The occasional lump of green or the tall reaching limbs of a Saguaro cactus whizzing past reassured him that he was covering the miles. With a day's travel to go yet, the temperature already surpassed the one hundred degrees Fahrenheit forecasted by at least ten degrees. Sweat oozed from every pore and his leather pants held it in, making them slick against his skin. He'd tossed his jacket into the saddlebag hours ago and continued riding wearing just the tight black tank top. Parched, he'd have given his eyeteeth for a beer. 

Mirages flowed across the roadway ahead and he yearned for the promised water he never quite reached. He saw a sign ahead, and as he drew nearer could make out, Casey's Grill Ahead, in big, bold, red lettering. 

Snake looked down at the gas gauge and wondered if they had pumps. Half a tank would get him a ways, but he liked to work on the top half of the tank, not the bottom.

He sighed and worked his shoulders. The skin felt taut, dry. The smooth play of muscles under the overheated flesh a reminder of how many hours he'd lifted weights. Corcoran didn't offer much else in the way of entertainment, unless you got into more trouble. He'd decided to keep his nose clean. Prison wasn't where he wanted to spend any more time. His anger rose, even after all this time, just thinking about the place pissed him off. He'd spent the last six years there, long enough to let the anger mature, fade and then reform into a gut numbing ball of hate. He never should have been there. 

A vision of the courtroom flashed into his thoughts. His lawyer, a rookie, was too young and naive to know his ass from a hole in the ground, let alone how to build a defense. The judge, a gruff old coot took one look at Snake's long, black hair, rough day old growth of beard, and biker leathers, and made up his mind before he'd told the courtroom to be seated. Drugs that someone stashed in his saddlebags were found and confiscated by the cops. He was arrested, of course, and no matter how many times he pleaded his innocence, or pointed out how he abhorred drugs, he was found guilty. Sentenced to COR, the common term for Corcoran, and said to be the worst prison in California, he spent the time inside trying to steer clear of trouble and just get along. 

Another sign promised the grill was even closer and he kept his eyes peeled for it, hoping they'd have a liquor license and he could get that cold beer. Across the hills, he saw a small group of scrub trees and wondered if there might be water out there. It didn't look promising. 

He'd just about given up on the grill when on the horizon a building shimmered into being. The brilliant red roof acted like a beacon. The gray siding and its lighter gray, pothole marred, parking lot at the rear seemed insignificant under its fiery scarlet cap. A red sign painted on the front of the building declared that this was indeed Casey's Grill. A row of gas pumps out front got his hopes up for a full tank, but only for a moment. In the middle of nowhere, he knew the tanks might not even hold anything. Gas prices were more than double what they were six years ago.

He geared down and squirmed in his seat. His ass was numb from the hours-long ride. His fingers felt like sausages from having his hands raised for so long. He eased the bike into the right lane and kicked it into first before pulling off the tarmac onto the gravel. A dust cloud rose around him but fell behind, the wind in his favor. A single car and two old trucks inhabited the parking lot, each vying for a small patch of shade. 

He pulled up to the gas pumps and made sure he was in the shade of the overhead before he switched the ignition off. The rumbling came to an abrupt halt and he sighed. He kicked the stand down and swung his leg over the seat, standing a little unsteadily while he unfastened the black beanie helmet perched on the back of his head. Hanging it over the handlebars by its straps, he raised his arms and stretched the kinks out of his back and shoulders. Hours in the saddle ate up the miles, but left him aching in places he'd forgotten he had. 

Running his fingers through the mane of tangled black hair, he shook out the dampness. The dessert heat evaporated the moisture quickly, cooling him in the process. 

"Let's go see about that beer," he mumbled to himself. He looked around and couldn't see anyone eager to pump gas, again wondering if there was any. Shrugging, he looked toward the grill and hoped it had that license. Beer, he thought and pulled out the ignition key before heading for the door. 

The front porch had seen better days; the posts looked like some enormous beast had gnawed on them at bumper height. The bright red door stood half-open. The screen door sported a hole in the center and a small swarm of flies circled. On either side of the door, large dirt smeared windows stood vacantly staring at the dessert. 

Snake pulled open the screen door and stepped inside. The temperature went from a throat-parching one-ten outside to possibly ninety-nine a few feet from the door. A fan roared beside him, an air conditioner blasted its chill from the other side. Why the fuck don't they close the door? He peered around, taking in the half dozen people sitting around a table playing cards. Eight other tables sat empty, all round and scarred, he assumed from decades of use. Chairs littered the room, some pushed close to tables, others left haphazardly scattered. A pool table filled the far corner, its cues lining the wall to the right. A bar with colorful bottles of booze took up most of the wall to the left.

"Ah, yes, there is a God." Snake turned that way and meandered toward a brew. His boots thudded on the wooden floor, announcing his approach to the lone figure behind the long bar. The walls around him were stained, but looked like, at one time, they'd been painted tan or cream. Pictures and memorabilia hung from nails or sat on shelves wherever the fancy struck. There seemed no rhyme or reason to any of it. The dull brown head of a bison leered down at him from above the men's room door. 

He was so busy checking out the decor he didn't notice the guy behind the bar until he parked his right butt check on one of the red leather-covered stools. His jaw sagged open and he stared. 

Tall and built like a swimmer, the twenty-something man's blond hair spiked in all directions. A large gold hoop hung in one ear and a brilliant blue stud in the other. A black net t-shirt showed off a physique Snake would love to get to know better - intimately. 

"What can I get you?" the hunk asked in an incredibly deep voice that made Snake shudder.


To check out the other series’ Jenna Byrnes and I have together, here are the links:

Untamed Hearts Series

Kindred Spirits Series


Jenna Byrnes said...

Wait a minute, I have quirks and foibles??? Hey!

Seriously, it's been a blast doing these series with you and I think our writing is just getting better. (Don't tell Janice that.)

And might I add, Jude writes the best descriptions of things I've ever read. Where I tend to gloss over things, she goes back and fills in the gaps so it works wonderfully. I think we make a pretty great team.

Here's to many more opportunities!



Jude Mason said...


I think we work really well together and it's been a real joy working with you. Oh and about Janice, MOMS the word. LOL


Erotic Horizon said...

Hey Jude...

I feel like I have been with you guys from the beginning.

I love the three series -you have graced us with already...

I can't believe there's another book in the Untamed Heart series - I love that series... and horses - yes please......

Who am I kidding, I love all the books...

I am eagerly awaiting Snakes story and you have just about kill me with this teaser - as I said from two books back " Something is coming and I don't want to miss it"..

Love the insight in how you started with Jenna and I agree with you - Jenna is something special(I'm para-phrasing here - go with me on this) - she is great..

So are you too.


Jenna Byrnes said...

Wow, I'm gonna stay here all day, makes me feel nice and squishy inside!

EH, you'll love Snake's story. It's a great book. Thanks for the lovely comments.

Hugs, Jude!

Jude Mason said...


Oh, you are such a sweetie. I just sent you an email. *BG* I'm afraid I don't have Snake's story quite yet, but as soon as I do, believe me, you'll have a copy.

Thank you so much for your kind words. They really mean a lot.

Jenna, get back to work... LOL


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Jude (and Jenna),

I'm really fascinated by your prolific partnership. Do you guys talk on the phone a lot? Or is your communication mostly electronic?

Here's another question - when you're working together, does the book get finished more quickly? Or does having two sets of opinions slow things down, though it may make the book better?


Jude Mason said...


We've actually never talked on the phone. Jenna did phone once, but I wasn't home. LOL We have talked a couple of times on Yahoo messenger, but even that's a once in a blue moon kind of things. It's all been via messenger messages or email.

As for whether a book gets done any faster, that's difficult to say. Perhaps. We do create a rough guideline and many times when it's passed from one of us to the other we discuss something we've added or make suggestions on where the other should think about taking it. Opinions, we seem to think a lot alike on what should be done. We both do our very best to put out a quality piece of work and we're both very willing to listen to what the other has to say.

I don't know, it really hasn't been hard to work with her.

Thanks for the questions, Lisabet, and for stopping by.