When we stuck out on our own, we didn’t immediately publish a story. We took it to the only medium we knew. Role-play. It started with a spark of an idea in Chris’s head. The original story grew from a dream Chris had melding technology, intrigue and romance. From that little spark, we spent the next three months creating the characters—who they were, what they liked, what their background was, where they went to school, where they worked. What their dreams and deepest desires were.
We plotted the story and researched heavily to be sure that the direction we were taking the story was feasible and not in the left forty. Before long before their story took shape and were (are) a living extension of us. We took the story to a role-playing environment as a test to find out if they could compete against the paranormal groups that ruled the role-playing world. Surprisingly, we found a loyal following once we began to play out their story. We had readers hounding us for the next chapters.
At one point, we also drew the interest of a small e-publisher who later released two of our short stories. It was during the posting of the story that eventually became the foundation of TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE that we realized we had to write the story of how our hero and heroine met and the events that led to them beginning a life of adventure together. That’s how COUNTERMEASURE was born.
When we write we do not carve out the story. We write each chapter together. There is not one paragraph or page in which only one person touches it. We divide our work by POV. It’s the simplest way for us given our background in RP. For example, if a chapter starts with Cassandra’s POV, I start it and if it’s Trevor’s POV, Chris starts it. Whoever starts writes it until we hit a wall. We pass the chapter to the other for additions, edits and then some. Then we continue to pass it back and forth, line editing with each pass, until we feel we can go into deep editing.
The whole thing has become so fluid that even if we start chapters out of order, when it gets to deep editing, they have been shaped to fit the mold. This also includes intimate scenes. We play them out and write them together. Chris and I are so in tune with the others thoughts and ideas that there is not a big divergence of opinion regarding the direction of the story and as far as the character’s POV, we respect the other’s depth of understanding of the character we play. So if Chris writes something in Cassandra’s POV, I always goes through it to “Cassiefy” it and if I write a Trevor piece, Chris will “Trevorize” (or geekify) it. If we have a disagreement, we talk it through until we understand where the other is coming from and reach a compromise.
Once we finished the manuscript, we did what every aspiring author does; we queried agents and publishing houses. The number had to be in the double digits. As we waited for the responses, we did not sit on our hands. We joined writing groups, learned everything about the market, continued to hone our craft through courses, seminars, webinars and reading anything we could get our hands on. We posed hard questions to established authors—both indie and traditionally published—and took their advice to heart. We began establishing our brand, promoting the book, and attracted a following. Not one agent or publishing house was interested. We were not the right genre for the market nor our story fit in the right slot. Although our story sounded intriguing, it was not for them. With each rejection, we asked follow up questions and chalked them up as a lessons learned.
Realizing that we were in a hallway of locked doors with the publishing world too afraid to even crack the cover of our book because they did not know how to sell it or because we did not make it to the right desk, we began reading everything we could on “self-publishing.” Chris has amazing connections in the web design world who have a diverse mix of backgrounds and experience that also added to our knowledge base.
You see, we had read and met several authors who have waited years to get their stories published and were still waiting for that one agent, that one publishing house to notice them. Chris and I weren’t interested in that need for validation by a publishing house. We just wanted to have our story in the hands of readers so they could decide for themselves if it was good or not.
Finally, armed with everything we had learned, we made the decision to publish the story ourselves. We vowed we would not fall into the stigma that had colored the indie world for years—poorly written books filled with typos and grammatical errors packaged under a poorly designed cover. We spent close to two months between line editing and deep editing. We recruited the help of a wonderful copy editor and, with her help; we tightened the story even more. Chris used his background to create our covers. When it was time to go to print, we were put in contact with a great typesetter.
In January 2012, a full year after the idea struck Chris, we hit the button and released Countermeasure into the world. We have been running ever since—marketing, classes, blogging, newsletters, and networking should be our middle names. Since then we have released a spin-off series of short Bytes of Life tied to the main characters of Countermeasure and released, To Russia with Love, the second novel in the series this past July. Currently we are plotting book three in the series.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I think I had to experience life’s lessons before the muse broke loose. Well the muse has broken free and both Chris and I plan to continue writing together and never leave this crazy ride.
Cecilia Aubrey (also known as C. Aubrey) has dabbled in writing on and off over the years. But it was in 2010, when she was offered a life changing opportunity within a role-playing group that writing placed itself front and center. The development of story ideas, research, writing, and participation in bringing those stories to life spurred a desire to take writing to a higher level.
A few months later, Cecilia and her partner in crime, Chris Almeida, began writing suspense driven erotic romance with sexy, technologically inclined men and woman filled with intrigue and enough twists and turns that makes a rollercoaster seem tame.
They have several published short stories to their credit. Their first novel, Countermeasure, was published in January 2012, and the second novel in the series, To Russia with Love, was released in July. Currently they are hard at work on the next installment. Through all the chaos and laughter, they still hold true to their roots bringing their favorite role-play characters and stories to life.