May 8, 2012

Made It Moment: Evelyn David

Filed under: Made It Moments,The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:09 am

Murder Off the Books

This post is one part Made It Moment (hint: if you want to make it, don’t check your sense of humor at the door) and two parts recipe for a collaborative writing life. Only Evelyn David throw in a wrinkle. How do you succeed if you’re two different authors in two separate parts of the country? Rhonda and Marian are about to tell you how–just as soon as they tell you who they are.

Evelyn David

Juggling Murder

Maggie Brooks, intrepid reporter and unexpected sleuth in our new mystery Zoned for Murder, finds herself juggling career and family with almost fatal results. While the stakes may be higher than most of us usually confront, that sense of trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time is a familiar sensation.

Both halves of Evelyn David have “day jobs” and families. The Northern half writes nonfiction books and blogs for a living; the Southern half is the coal program director for the state of Oklahoma. Creating murder and mayhem has to be sandwiched in between job demands and family responsibilities – it’s at least a triple-decker sandwich. Writing mysteries is a pleasure. Thinking of new, devilish ways to kill off bad guys, discovering clever methods of hiding clues and inventing red herrings – what’s not to like?

Finding a method to keep all the balls in the air, without dropping any of them, is more than a sleight of hand. It’s only possible because there are two of us juggling all the pieces. We’ve tried to figure out what makes a successful writing partnership and have concluded it’s part science and a lot mystery. But here’s what we’ve learned that works – for us and for our characters.

First, and probably foremost, you need a sense of humor. Writing is a tough business, hard on the ego, full of rejection. So if you can’t laugh at the absurdity of it all and keep going, it’s time to find another career. We’ve deliberately incorporated humor into all our mysteries. If we believe laughing at yourself and the craziness of the world is important to us, then it’s got to be important to the heroes we create in our books. Maggie Brooks often makes fun of herself and her predicament as “poor widow Brooks.” When she lost her husband she could barely brush her teeth in the morning. Finding her way back to joy in life is hard, but Maggie wants it. She wants to laugh again.

Second, if you are going to write with a partner, give up all pretense of an ego. Not only will that help when faced with the inevitable rejection inherent in publishing, but diva moments never help creativity. Do what needs to be done and forget about getting credit. The success of the team (oy, dare we say there’s no “I” in team) is paramount. In Zoned for Murder Maggie Brooks works for the Sound Shore Times, a small village newspaper. She has to cover everything from bake sales to city council meetings. Not that exciting for a former Newsweek reporter. But she’s got pride in her work and is appalled when a local resident advises her to turn over her notes to a “real” reporter. Maggie follows the clues to get to the root of the mystery of a local contractor’s death, even if the next time her name is in the newspapers it might be in her obituary.

After three full-length novels, eight novellas, and countless short stories, the collective Evelyn David is going full-steam ahead. We’ve embraced the e-book revolution and the options it gives us for choosing our own destiny. We write on our own schedule. We create our own covers. We publish when we’re ready. Like Maggie Brooks, we’re enjoying the challenges of walking the tightrope, keeping a balance of work, life, and family, and savoring the moments in each.

Evelyn David is the pseudonym for the mystery writing team of Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.

Marian lives in New York and is the author of eleven nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers!

Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries. Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person.

Please check out Evelyn’s website and their blog The Stiletto Gang for information about Evelyn David’s appearance schedule and writing projects.


  1. Thanks Jenny so much for hosting us today! We’d be happy to give one of your readers a coupon code for a free Smashwords (all e-book formats available) download of our ebook – I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries. They just need to leave a comment here and an email contact. Or they can send an email to us directly at and mention your blog and the giveaway.

    Rhonda and Marian
    aka Evelyn David

    Comment by Evelyn David — May 8, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  2. I sat next to one half of the Evelyn David team at a mystery convention(won’t tell you which one – grin), and when she told me how they collaborated, my eyebrows shot up into what’s left of my hairline. I couldn’t imagine collaborating on a book because I work at my own herky jerky pace, and I think the pressure of conforming to another person’s pace would cause emotional turmoil that no guy wants to endure.


    Comment by Norm Cowie — May 8, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  3. I think the prospect of doing a collaboration is intriguing, but as a fantasy writer, I think it would be tough to find somebody to collaborate with.

    I think Ego would be the issue. Fantasy authors put so much time and effort into world building, that it would be hard to bend on that sort of stuff without letting go of the ego first.

    Some great advice, and a great moment. :) Congrats on publishing and working as a successful team!

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — May 8, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  4. I’m currently reading Zoned for Murder…and LOVE it. And yes, a sense of humor goes far is writing and life. Great post, ladies!

    Comment by Anne K. Albert — May 8, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  5. Thanks for sharing your story with us. That is great that you can collaborate without even meeting each other in person. Another great moment!

    Comment by Kellie — May 8, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  6. I know what you mean about putting away your ego when you collaborate. You really have to be prepared to compromise and give–both of you! I wrote one book with someone and loved it, but we had different strengths and recognized them. We also had a lot of respect for each other’s expertise, but there were still times when we didn’t see things the same way. The thing is, he carried a gun. :-) Seriously, no one could have been a better writing partner than Jim Christopher. I wish we could do it again.
    I’ve put Zoned for Murder on my TBR list–I’d like to see how you did it, and it sounds good!

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — May 8, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  7. Having co-written a nonfiction book, I can say that collaborating ain’t easy – and the fact that Marian and Rhonda can pull it off …
    Well, let’s just say that I am hugely impressed!
    This is a great post, ladies – and I include you, Jenny, in that as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — May 8, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  8. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us. Marian and I go back and forth over ideas until we find something that works for both of us. There have been plenty of characters and plotlines that were cut for “lack of mutual admiration,” but we’re pretty good at letting the other “run” with an idea for awhile to see how it works out. The benefit of writing with a co-author is that they understand “writer’s block,” but don’t accept it as a valid excuse for not writing. Grin. We alternate who holds the whip and chair.

    Rhonda aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

    Comment by Evelyn David — May 8, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  9. Evelyn, hi and nice to meet the duet! Thanks for sharing on Jenny’s Made it Moment and good luck. What an unusual story.

    Comment by "Doctor Barbara" - Barbara Ebel — May 8, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  10. As part of a collaborative team for my next work, yes, it is an interesting endeavor (in my case, there’s seven!). But, as you already know, egos must be checked at the door. Anyway, love the dog’s picture on the cover…all my work includes them. So, good luck to you both! And, Jenny, another great Made It Moment..:)

    Comment by Rebecca Stroud — May 8, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  11. Nice blog about this writing duo, Jenny! It’s always interesting to see how the other teams live and work!

    Comment by joyce lavene — May 8, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  12. My husband (Mike Nettleton) and I have co-authored five books and there were times when I was certain divorce was imminent. Mike liked the process of collaboration far more than I did and I liked the alone writing time far more than he did. Never say never, but I doubt we’ll co-author again.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — May 8, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  13. I’m always especially impressed with collaborative authors!

    Comment by Judy — May 8, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  14. Good luck to all the “collaborative” authors and also to those of you who venture out into the literary wilderness alone. May you all get from “In the beginning” to “The End” with a minimum of bloodshed, turmoil and angst. For all the hard work, pain and rejection, there’s still nothing we’d rather be doing than writing!! Thanks Jenny for hosting us. The winner(s) of the free download of I Try Not To Drive Past Cemeteries will be contacted tomorrow!

    Rhonda and Marian
    aka Evelyn David

    Comment by Evelyn David — May 8, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

  15. Muskogee! Cool beans! I used to like in Tahlequah and shopped frequently in Muskogee. Awesome. Nice to meetcha. I hope you guys keep going and writing and being chipper. I love your work shoes (except Evelyn’s). ;)

    Comment by SavvyBlue — May 9, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

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