Strive to keep learning
Here's a typical workday for Amy Reingold, 56, and Marilyn "Maz" Rauber, 59. They sit side by side at a long wooden desk in Rauber's light-filled 14th-floor apartment in Silver Spring, Md., dreaming up story lines for Capital Girls, a series of young-adult novels published by St. Martin's Griffin. Rauber types the scenes on her laptop; then they print them out, cut them into strips, reorder and paste them back together, and presto: a 70,000-word manuscript is born. Their first book came out in August, under the pseudonym Ella Monroe. The second book arrived in November, and the third will be on shelves in April.
"It's been liberating, both personally and creatively," says Rauber, who spent more than two decades as a newspaper reporter. "We check our egos at the door, and the hours fly by."
For Reingold, a former professional chef and stay-at-home mom, writing a book was a long-postponed childhood dream. "I was scared to do it on my own," she says. "I'd find excuses, like raising my two daughters. But after they headed off to college three years ago, there were no excuses left."
To pull off this career metamorphosis, the partners developed many new job skills, from learning research online to navigating the quirky world of book publishing. To master young-adult argot, they read Seventeen, studied slang at UrbanDictionary.com and asked their kids to vet their work. "We needed to answer questions like 'How much do they talk about sex?' and 'What kind of lingo do they use to describe a cute boy?' " says Reingold.
Once the first book was published, last summer, they had to learn how to market it via social media and build a website. "It was intimidating," Rauber admits. "But I had to say, 'OK, I can do this. I can't avoid it. If I can write a book, I can figure out Twitter.' "