Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Special Guest Laura Baumbach Visits to Talk Collaboration

I'm so pleased to host Laura Baumbach on my blog today. She is an award-winning author and publisher in the male/male romance genre. I am also thrilled she is speaking about a subject close to my heartcollaboration with other authors. Be sure to keep on the lookout for her new novel, Jackson & Nick, part of the Wildfire: Storming Love series published by MLR Press.

by Laura Baumbach

I'm Laura Baumbach. I've been writing m/m erotic romance for about 15 years. Before that I wrote fanfiction. I won't bore you with the fandoms. I loved them, you probably wouldn't even recognize them. Yes, in author years, I'm that old.

Fanfiction presents its own constraints and rules but, for the most part, anything your imagination can create for your chosen characters, you can write about. They have rules that allow alternate universes, slash, and series bible fiction. It gives you freedom to create even though you are using someone else's characters.


I found that once my desire to create my own fictional characters took hold of my muse the sky was the limit. I was suddenly the one making up the constraints that applied to my stories. It was a whole new type of artistic freedom. I wrote contemporary characters in A BIT OF ROUGH, werewolves in my next novel, OUT THERE IN THE NIGHT, 17th century pirates and alien bounty hunters in the third, DETAILS OF THE HUNT, and then I switched off to vampires in THE LOST TEMPLE OF KARTTIKEYA. (That mix actually won me a couple of EPPIE AWARDs.)

THE LOST TEMPLE OF KARTTIKEYA was a very different kind of writing. I was invited to join a group of mixed romance category authors that were putting together series. Each author, whether m/f or m/m writers, wrote a story where each individual story's characters found a piece of an idol statue. Sort of like a treasure hunt. We all turned our found item over to the same central character we had jointly created before we started the stories. As the author of the final story in the series,

I had the challenge of pulling all the previous eight story elements into a plausible story along with my own piece of the puzzle and wrapping the story up. I had never written in collaboration with other authors so it was a huge challenge. I was terrified I would let all the other authors down. Luckily for me, the story was well received (yes, it won an EPPIE), and the series did well for the publisher. The experience was invaluable. As a trauma nurse, I'm used to being a team player when necessary, but this was different. I learned a lot through being involved with it. It was a lesson in collaboration I reminded myself not to jump into lightly again. At least until the next time.

The next time came in the form of co-authoring a book with another author. MEXICAN HEAT was written with another author and the result was a story that brought us both kudos, awards and recognition from both the romance community and the LGBT community. I thought I knew what I was getting into since I had done the series collaboration but this was entirely different. Another challenging lesson in the art of writing.

So by now you would think I'd be more cautious with accepting invitations to join a series and collaborate. But, then you'd be wrong. I, apparently, do not pay attention to myself.

A few months ago, MLR Press's ongoing STORMING LOVE SERIES, a group of stories all centered around the same natural disaster, was doing one in a wild fire. Usually an editor, in this case Kris Jacen, works with 6 authors and helps them create a plausible disaster scenario that everyone works their story around. Details have to match, dates, times, some stories even have mention of characters from the other co-series authors stories. Just as this group started their group ideas, one author had to drop out because of a change in personal circumstances. A replacement was invited and accepted and they were back in the running. Until a second author had to drop out. With the time crunch running, Kris came to me and asked if I would fill in.

Sounds like a no-brainer. I'm an author. I have lots of writing experience. I have lots of collaboration experience. Probably more than any of the other authors writing in the entire STORMING LOVE SERIES.

But the hitch in the plan is that I have been so busy running MLR Press, (did I mention I own it?) I haven't written a story in three years. I'm out of practice. And collaboration, at least to me, is one of the hardest forms of writing.

Could I muster up a convincing couple of characters? (They usually pop into my head when I lay down at night—so they can make me crawl out of bed and write them down somewhere. Could they not have shown up five minutes earlier?)

Could I conform to the already established story guidelines? (I'm not good at being handed a foreign story idea and running with it.)

Could I meet the deadlines? (Actually, I didn't. Not a one. I'm an editor's nightmare. It's so sad.)

And worse, readers probably don't remember my work or my name. (Seriously, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE named me a pioneer of the m/m genre!)

And even though I was writing m/m erotic romance before RWA would recognize it, or before review sites would even review it, would my offering add to the series?

The one thing that hasn't changed since I last released a story is that I'm going to have to let you, the reader, answer that question. On Friday, October 9th, you'll find my offering, JACKSON & NICK, the last of six stories in the MLR Press current WILD FIRE: Storming Love Series, here:

This is the main page to the site. You can wander through my backlist if the mood strikes you with links on the actual book page when it releases. —Laura Baumbach

Laura Baumbach, Author, Owner/Publisher of ManLoveRomance Press is a graduate of Santa Ana College, Santa Ana, CA with a degree in Nursing. For thirty-four years she specialized in critical care and emergency trauma nursing. Now retired, Laura devotes herself full time to publishing and writing. She honed her business and people management skills as a hospital department head and supervisor which she puts to good use in the publishing industry. MLR Press was founded in January of 2007.


  1. A really interesting post. Thanks for sharing your experiences on collaboration, a territory I have yet to explore from the author's perspective. :)

  2. Laura Baumbach came through the school of hard knocks writing m/m romance long before it was fashionable - kudos to her for great writing and for maintaining MLR Press, a super friendly and supportive publishing company.

  3. Thanks, Nic. Collaboration is a different type of writing. It takes a lot of give and take to make the final product a true representation of the participating authors' talents. It is rewarding but requires honest give and take. Series collaboration is easier than co-authoring.

  4. Hi JP. You know exactly where I'm coming from. You've been there with me!