The Art of Collaboration

This post was originally published on at Four Windows Books, a project I’m working on with my friend Christine Smith.

The Novel Incubator

A while back, I interviewed Lucrece Borrego about her Brewery Incubator project in Houston. The project met a need – home brewers who were interested in getting into commercial brewing, but didn’t have the capital or expertise to dive right in unsupported.

The Brewery Incubator would give them the space and equipment to work on their craft, as well as connecting them in to a community of beer enthusiasts who could give them feedback and encouragement as they started their journey.

The project wasn’t for dabblers. It was for those who were willing to put in the elbow grease to start their career.

In a way, Four Windows is a Novel Incubator.

It’s that safe space for novelists who maybe have felt they lacked the support or motivation to write the novel that’s been brimming inside them. Here, they’ll find the support and encouragement they need, along with a collaborative spirit that helps them hone their craft.

At our first critique session last week, Andy Gaines put it way: “Writing a novel is huge. But writing a novel that’s already supported, and with the feedback from other good writers, seems doable.”

Instruction by public consumption

A key ingredient of Lucrece Borrego’s Brewery Incubator is that of public input. Brewers participating in the incubator project get a chance to pour in the taproom, which is open to the public. Consumers get a chance to taste and give feedback to the fledgling brewers, and the brewers get a chance to build a following.

By publishing our novels serially, the authors of Four Windows get a similar experience. We’re not just getting the feedback of our peers, we’ll be getting it from our readers along the way. We’re not brewing our stories in a vacuum – we’re brewing them with the input of our readers.

Two of the biggest stumbling blocks in writing a novel are these questions:

“Will anyone like it?” – and – “What the hell will I do with it when I’m done?”

With Four Windows, those questions hold no power. You’ll know as you’re writing whether or not anyone likes it, and as for what will happen once you’re done writing?

Well, your novel will be published.

Belly up to the bar

The inaugural team of Four Windows authors are hard at work, shoveling inklings of plot and whispers of characters into the mash tun to boil. Pretty soon we’ll be ready to pour you a heady sampler tray of stories – to get in on the first batch, please check out