|Catherine Mann & Joanne Rock at RWA|
I’m so excited to be writing a book with my critique partner, Catherine Mann, this month. We’ve worked together—reading every sentence one another has penned—for almost eighteen years. I can always keep track of the date since I’d just had my second son the first time I went over to Cathy’s house for lunch and we embarked on the coolest partnership and friendship. The baby I’d been rocking over that lunch turns eighteen in April and my critique partnership with my fabulous friend has spawned a fun new creative direction—writing a series together.
Like all great ideas, it seemed to jump from our brains simultaneously. We might have been talking about the pressures to write more and faster in the current marketplace. Or we might have been discussing stories we’d love to write and hadn’t found the time. But something prompted the spark of an idea—what if we co-wrote some stories for fun?
|Snapped this pic on a long ago road trip|
Because at the heart of the business still rests the creative joy of writing. It's a tricky balance when you turn your creative outlet into your work. New pressures are applied. Deadlines become important, looming beasts. “Productivity” enters your vocabulary and makes you wish you’d never heard it. So it’s important to peel away the work environment around our beloved craft sometimes and remember why we started in the first place—for the sheer joy of telling a story and entertaining a reader with the effort.
Before either Cathy or I sold our first books, we dreamed about what it would be like to have readers who sought out our books. We worked hard to tell the best stories possible—to make our writing engaging and our storytelling unique so that an editor had to buy our manuscripts. We’d share fun books we’d read and dissected what made them great. But over the years, as we’ve each pursued our writing dreams, we have less opportunities to call one another and blurt out a story premise because it’s so new and exciting. Part of that is because we've each been blessed to find readers and audience so we blurt out fun ideas to them! But it’s also because our storytelling fell into a rhythm and pattern.
That’s good, of course. Yet it’s always fun to mix things up as a creative person. To dig deep. To reinvent yourself—if only a little facet of yourself—and see what else you can do. To try a new process and find out what it yields. Working on a story together has done all of those things for me. Cathy called me yesterday and the ideas she brought to the work-in-progress were so exciting. She took the story in new directions, added fun levels I hadn’t thought of, and forced me to up my storytelling game. Even eighteen years into our professional partnership, she’s teaching me things. I hope I’m inspiring her right back.
All of this is to say, I’m really excited about the new Runaway Brides series Cathy and I are rolling out on April 7th (would you believe that’s my middle son’s birthday? Kismet!). Tule Publishing is working on gorgeous covers for us that we’ll share soon. But first, we have some finishing touches to put on a series that has pulled from the very best of us and given us a chance to savor the creative fire of something new.
***Have you ever had the pleasure of working with a good friend? Or has your work led you to important people in your life? Share with me today on the boards and I’ll send one random poster a copy of my upcoming Harlequin Superromance, NIGHTS UNDER THE TENNESSEE STARS!