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Friday, February 27, 2015

My Friend, My Co-Author

By Joanne Rock
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!  












                                                                                                                                                                    

20 comments:

Amy Wright said...

My current job I started out as a temporary employee. There I met another temp who turned out to be my first real best friend in my whole life. Three years later and different jobs and we're still friends and help each other when we need it and give advice. I finally know what having a true best friend feels like.

vmaisie said...

When my kids were little ... Daughter was in second grade... She's now 37... I applied for a job at a record store... Out of 200 applications, 5 of us were brought back... Then two... Then.... He hired the other girl... I was back in the store shooing and the manager asked me if I had found a job... I told him no, and that it was all his fault... He asked why it was his fault and I said, because you didn't hire me...
He laughed and then hired me as temp Christmas help...
I ended up staying there for years...
He and his wife became very good friends...
Unfortunately for every boss ive had since then, I've compared them to him... He was the best.
And even though we, being a military family, had long moved away from there... We always kept in touch. He died right before New Years... And left a hole in my heart... And in the hearts of all that knew and loved him...

jcp smith said...

I've encountered people like that throughout my life.

dstoutholcomb said...

Congrats!

I've worked with people on fundraisers, but not directly for work collaborations.
Denise

Debra said...

I have several close friends of over 25 years whom I worked with at a bank. I cherish them!

Mary Preston said...

I met my best friend through work. It is an honest friendship which makes it the best.

Carol L. said...

On my very first job I met a co wvorker who ended up being my best frie d for over 36 years now. I've also worked with friends on fund raisers and school functions. I loved your post. Hat amazes me is How both of you hardly changed in 18 years. :)
Carol L
Lucvky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Carol L. said...

Sorry, my email should be Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com
Carol L.

Christy said...

I've been lucky enough to work with some great people whom I count as friends. Even when I haven't loved a particular job, the people have made all the difference! Congrats to the two of you! Love your friendship story!

Kelli Jo said...

The closest I've ever come to getting to work with a close friend was when I was working retail and my best friend was hired at the same store - we often worked the same shift.

Joanne Rock said...

Amy, I'm so glad you found that kind of friendship! There is no port in a storm like a good friend who knows/understands you.

Joanne Rock said...

So sorry for you loss, Vickie. There are some people who sure surprise us with how they touch our hearts! I had a friend-- also a man I worked for briefly-- who read my resume, decided I was overqualified, and gave me a different job overhauling the promotions for his small business. It was such a break for a struggling college student! And when the job was done and I moved ten states away, he called to check up on me. When he heard that I was without a television, he MAILED me an old one of his. Do you remember how much old TVS used to weigh? I was so surprised and touched. I'm humbled at the generosity of people who who have been all but strangers to me, especially when I was starting out and needed the hand. I try to give back where I can, but I know I've been very blessed. Thanks for stopping by!

Joanne Rock said...

A lucky thing, for sure!

Joanne Rock said...

Thanks, Denise! I'm excited to share the stories :-)

Joanne Rock said...

I know if I stopped writing tomorrow, I'd still be friends with so many other authors. The writing conferences I attend have become like my yearly sleepaway camp .

Joanne Rock said...

Mary, it's interesting you point this out... I married an incredibly honest man and I've always liked that about him. Sometimes he seems tactless. Too blunt. And I'm not sure he understands the idea of a white lie! But there is something really rewarding about that kind of person. You always, always know where you stand with them.

Joanne Rock said...

Thank you so much, Carol! I am so grateful to have Cathy in my life. She's helped me immeasurably as an author. But on a personal level, she's meant the world to me too. And we're halfway to 36 years... I'm so glad you have that kind of friend!

Joanne Rock said...

Thanks, Christy! We worked so hard *together* to sell our first books initially-- it was a personal mission-- that now it seems like a fun treat to see your names *together* on a book cover. The team approach really worked for us. We liked to think we learned twice as much, twice as fast because we were both going full steam ahead and sharing everything we discovered.

Joanne Rock said...

Well that must have made the work day go fast! That was a good plan ;-).

Joanne Rock said...

Winner! Winner!! Carol L is the winner of the thread prize!! Thank you so much to everyone who visited the blog and I'll be back on the 27th of March with another giveaway. Until then, Carol, all you need to do is email me at jrock008@gmail.com with a mailing address and I'll put the book in the mail asap!