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Collaborative Writing: The LitChix share secrets

Patricia Browning, Joann Dunn, Karen Karen McColgan The Lit Chix

The LitChix, the collaborative writing trio of Patricia Melton Browning, Joann Wasem Dunn and Karen Purnell McColgan, write under the pen name - Georgia Adams.

Writing is often thought of as a solitary occupation. Many writers (including fiction and creative non-fiction writers) prefer to research, write, and edit their work with little, if any assistance before sending it to an agent or publisher. The reasons are varied. The choice to work alone may be a preference for total creative control or the glory of publication. Collaborating with other writers is often dismissed, if even considered. While collaboration may not work for everyone, joint writing ventures can lead to successful and rewarding writing. Just ask the LitChix.

The LitChix are the collaborative writing trio of Patricia Melton Browning, Joann Wasem Dunn and Karen Purnell McColgan. Several years ago the three Atlanta women, each over sixty, were having lunch together and discussing their respective empty nests and future plans.

"I was reading about doing things you want to do before you die," said Browning. "I thought that I'd like to write a murder mystery."

"We can do that," replied Dunn. After some discussion, the trio decided upon a name, a writing schedule, and they were off.

"For the next several years, we wrote most Wednesdays and in-between as well," explained Dunn. "We called ourselves The LitChix, and we modeled the amateur sleuths in our novel after ourselves, at least in part. They were book club members and called themselves The LitChix too."

"After editing, rewriting, more editing, and lots more rewriting, we had a manuscript we liked," said Dunn. "We looked at the calendar, the Medicare announcements coming in the mail, the sheer volume of face cream on our bathroom shelves and decided we wouldn't wait to be discovered. We published it ourselves using the publishing company that I had set up."

Writing under the pen name Georgia Adams, The LitChix completed their first novel,

A Well-Manicured Murder, in 2009. The novel is set in the present day Atlanta and begins when a flamboyant deal-maker Sonny Simmons is found dead at the bottom of his unfinished pool - poisoned, strangled, bludgeoned, and covered in barbeque sauce. The evidence points to his socialite-wife as the killer. Fortunately, her friends The LitChix is on the case. The novel takes the reader on a sophisticated and funny jaunt through some of Atlanta's landmark neighborhoods and introduces them to some of the South's most colorful characters. The trio's second novel,

Killer Condo, was published in 2010.

The LitChix's experience illustrates one benefit of collaborative writing: the ability to draw from a wider range of cultural backgrounds, experiences, and education over what is often available to an individual writer. Browning is a Southerner born and bred, holds Masters in American History/Political Science, and has experience teaching as well as being active in many civic organizations. McColgan is from New Jersey, majored in Psychology, is an experienced teacher, but is now CFO of James McColgan and Assoc. Dunn is a Midwestern transplant, retired attorney, and has published a number of books of fiction. Dunn was a 2009 nominee for The Georgia Author of the Year Award.

This collective experience helped guide The LitChix through the difficult, yet rewarding collaborative writing process. An added challenge for the group was reinventing themselves as women over sixty. They share their struggles with others in their workshop: "Over 60 and Gaining Speed." The message: There is no age limit on goal setting and achieving.

In their workshop

"Collaborative Writing - Seven Steps to Your Co-written Book",, The LitChix teach other writers how to use social media to gain project recognition prior to and after publication. They guide readers to evaluate each writer to pin point strengths and weaknesses delegating writing responsibilities on a collaborative team. Character development exercises include picturing a cast of characters, writing what you know and giving your characters distinguishing traits.

So,if you're considering collaborative writing, look to The LitChix for inspiration for direction. Group writing may require ego pruning, but the collaborative rewards of publishing are worth the momentary sting. And then there is joy of relationship with like-minded writers. What you learn as part of a writing team may spur you into a new comfort level with your own writing.

Meet The Lit Chix at KSU as part of the Georgia Writers Association's Second Saturday Writers Series on Saturday, April 9, 2011. For more information: www.georgiawriters.org

Contributing writer - Michael Gavalas

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