I'm off to see my CP Pam Mantovani today. We're writing, brainstorming new books, and attending our Georgia Romance Writers of America's Margie Lawson Workshop on the 26th of April. Pam and I have worked together for almost 4 years, but we met 6 years ago when she was the Overall Coordinator of the Unpublished Maggie Awards. I called her to ask a "I'm form challenged" question and we immediately hit it off. Then I finaled in the Maggie that summer and I went to the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference along with my dear friend and Critique Partner Sharon Wray.
I didn't win the Maggie that year, but I did win the jackpot in a bigger way. Though I was working with Sharon Wray and Karen Johnston via long distance critiquing, and they certainly made me a stronger writer as a result of our collaboration, neither of them wrote in my genre. I was in the market for a contemporary category series romance critique partner and it turned out that Pam was targeting the same publishing houses as me.
Over the next two years, we developed a strong rapport as writers and as people. I'd read some of her manuscripts and I knew this Maggie winning writer would make an excellent critique partner: if she'd generate more pages and be willing to take a chance on working with me. In January 2011 I drove out to Georgia to ask her to work with me.
She said yes.
And I hit the jackpot.
Through the days and months that have followed we've worked on multiple manuscripts together via long distance brainstorming on the phone, emailing documents back and forth for critiquing, and driving to and from each others' houses to work together. There's something special about the synergy that is created when creative minds share the same space.
We've grown as writers, pushed ourselves beyond our self-imposed limitations, and we've supported each other through the many ups and downs of being unpublished writers. Imagine how cool it was for both of us to sell within 6 weeks of each other.
It was very cool.
I believe Pam is a very gifted story teller. A master at pointing out the Picky Alerts. And I'm the lucky girl who gets to work with this Belle Books Debut Author.
Writing is often a solo enterprise, but if you open yourself up to the possibilities, you might just find wonderful companions along the way. I didn't walk away from my other CPs. Karen Johnston and I continued to exchange quick critiques and talked often about the industry and getting our product out to the market.
Sadly, Karen passed away from an inoperable brain stem tumor in March 2014. But I still feel her fierce and encouraging presence with me whenever I start getting scared. She was bold, beyond strong, and she always made us believe we could do anything we put our minds to accomplishing.
Sharon and I also continue to work together as friends and writing partners, but in a different way. We encourage each other with daily texts, we exchange information about the craft of writing, and we have exchanged manuscripts or partials for quick read throughs. We cheer each other on, and I'm blessed to know this sensitive, talented and dedicated woman both as a writer and as a dear friend.
So choose your writing companions carefully. Each one brings a different strength to your writing world. Karen taught me to be brave, Sharon teaches me to keep learning and growing as a writer, and Pam keeps me tethered to reality with her sage advice, wisdom, and empathy. I would not be the writer I am today without any of them.
So now I'm heading off to Georgia in my trusty little Ford Escape with my laptop in hand and my writing journals and brainstorming supplies tucked into my briefcase. I can't wait to get there!
See you all next week!