Multiple Personality Day

Jessie: Thinking about booking a vacation anywhere warm!

I love those publicity calendars with made up holidays and every now and again one of the dates mentioned especially tickles my fancy. Today just happens to be Multiple Personality Day which of course made me think of the Wickeds.

All the Wickeds now write more than one series and four of us write under multiple names. What I would like to talk about is how you juggle your different writer’s personas and/or the personalities of your varied protagonists and POV characters?

Edith/Maddie/Tace: Let’s do one thing at a time! Juggling author names is a challenge, but not insurmountable. Tace Baker is the pen name I used for the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries, but since Lauren is on a semi-permanent sabbatical, Tace is, too. Edith Maxwell (the name I grew up with) writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the five-book Local Foods Mysteries, and short stories, and she also manages the web site for all my writing. Maddie Day creates the Country Story series and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maddie and I get along splendidly. Nobody ever said my multiple personalities couldn’t link our names, and we do so enthusiastically!

Edith/Tace/Maddie’s latest books

As for my various protagonists, I’ll echo something I heard Wicked Accomplice Sheila Connolly say a long time ago: These characters are so real to me, and are so different from each other, I don’t mix them up.

Sherry: I’m just dipping my toe in the second series pond as I’ve recently finished the first draft of From Beer to Eternity, the first Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera mystery. At first I thought maybe I’d write one series in the morning and one in the afternoon, but it didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t going to work for me. So, I set aside the first draft and I’m now working on the ninth Sarah book. Since Sarah and Chloe are at very different points in their lives and live in very different places, it hasn’t been hard to separate the two series.

Barb: I thought my series would be easy to keep separate. Julia Snowden of the Maine Clambake Mysteries is in her early thirties and the books are narrated in the first person. Jane Darrowfield is in her early sixties and the books are narrated in close third person. But recently, when I was revising the eighth Maine Clambake book, I found two paragraphs written in third person! It was so strange. I often stray into present tense when writing first drafts, even though the books are written in simple past tense. But I’ve never found third person narration in a Maine Clambake book before. What was going on there?

Liz: I had a similar incident, Barb! My Pawsitively Organic series is written in third and Cate Conte’s Cat Cafe Mysteries are written in first. I did start mixing them up during my last draft and had to change a whole Stan chapter back to third person. But aside from that, Stan and Maddie James are pretty different. Maddie is younger, and a little spunkier than Stan. She’s always worked for herself and ran her own life, whereas Stan takes a little longer to unravel herself from the corporate mindset and get comfortable in her own skin. They are both really fun to write. Although every now and then something comes out of one of their mouths that clearly belongs to the other character and has to be revised…

Julie aka JHAuthors: I faced the multi-name challenge when I signed the contracts for the Theater Cop Mystery series and the Garden Squad Mysteries series around the same time, and each publisher wanted a separate name. I’d chosen Julianne Holmes for the Clock Shop series, and wanted my name on one of the new ones. (I chose the Theater Cop series, since that was coming out first, and I wanted my folks to see my/our name on the spine). So I decided to go with JH names, so they books would all be near each other in a book store or in the library. And the first names are all Julie-like names, so I can respond. That’s why I brand as JHAuthors, so folks can find my other series.

Readers, which parts of your life require the most juggling? Do you wear a lot of different hats in your work and personal life? Writers, any tips for writing multiple series?

16 Thoughts

  1. I’m very much afraid I’m going to have to actually finish that first book before I’m beset with the problem of writing as multiple personalities.

    However, I suspect it isn’t too different from dealing with multiple clients simultaneously (as I do as a consultant in my “real” life). More than once, I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with a client, describing the state of our project and realized that I was actually talking about a different client’s project.

    Unfortunately, I generally realize it when a client says something along the lines of, “What do you mean you’ve finished the Opportunities? We aren’t even doing Opportunities?” I’ll have to admit I’ve been sorely tempted to respond something along the lines of, “Yes, well it’s evident you’re going to need them eventually, so I just went ahead and implemented them for you.” Fortunately, thus far I’ve been able to resist that temptation and have simply confessed to the client that my ditz gene has temporarily stopped being recessive.

    It’s interesting about that first-person/third-person issue. I’ve already changed my book from first-person to third-person and back to first-person. Now, when I’m working on a new chapter, I’ll go back to review it and find that I’ve intertwined them, sometimes switching back and forth four times in a single chapter. If I could figure out how to write in second-person, I’d probably have done that as well.

    Well, I’m going to get back to working on my book. Lee reluctantly left The Wickeds web page and opened up his most recent chapter. As I looked at the turgid and virtually unreadable prose I’d most recently written, I fervently wished I was back with The Wickeds. But, alas, his work-ethic kicked in and he buckled down to try and make his latest chapter readable.

  2. I tried a lot of different jobs before I ended up as a writer, but not more than one at a time, thank goodness. As for the series, my main characters range from 25 to fortyish, blue-collar and professional, secure and insecure, and some are snarkier than others. I kind of like sarcastic comments from some of them, but I wouldn’t want all of them to use them.

    I keep threatening to write something short where all my characters end up stranded in an airport waiting for their planes. That would be an interesting conversation!

  3. I did a lot more juggling of hats when my kids were younger. Now that one is in college and one is a junior in high school (and newly transportation independent since he has a car and a license) there’s a lot less juggling and I’m happy for it.

  4. I’ve heard author talk about writing a line that belongs to another character before, but never switching up first and third person. Very interesting.

    My day job as accountant and my evening job as reviewer are very different. About the only issues I have is when my old job expected me to work overtime and I had blog stuff to go home and do.

  5. I have no solution, having once given the car of a character in one series to a different character in a different series. I caught it before publication, thank goodness! I TRY to keep track with spreadsheets. When I make a boo-boo, like the car, I add a column. This time, “vehicle.”

  6. Thanks to Julia who uses the same initials so I can use the same page to record her books. There used to be 2 series with witches who ran bakeries. I was halfway through one of the books before I stopped looking for a different boyfriend. I usually don’t get series mixed up like that because I alternate mysteries with romances or autobiographies, and try to read certain types like culinary or knitting mysteries too close together. Credit to the authors who make characters with similar histories their own persons.

    1. I have done that sort of thing as a reader from time to time too! As authors we all strive to make our characters so real that readers are not likely to confuse them with any others.

  7. I provide legal research, writing, editing and related services to attorneys and non-attorneys all over the United States and internationally. This basically means I spend a lot of time doing research for and writing blogs for other people (among other things). So my biggest challenge is 1) finding the time to devote to my own blog; and 2) finding time to write my second book, which has been “in progress” for the last five years! lol

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