Once upon a time there was a girl named Jenny who liked to read romance novels. One day she thought, hey, maybe I should write a romance novel. How hard can it be, really?
Well, the gods heard that one, and after they finished laughing and doing some minor smiting of the prideful, they sent her a critique partner named Sandy.
Sandra Owens and I met in an online chapter of Romance Writers of America. We were both writing Regencies at the time—or trying to. We shared some opinions in common about that experience but I can’t tell you what they are OTHERWISE I WOULD HAVE TO KILL YOU. And I like to leave the suspense-writing to Sandy.
I’ve written before about the weird and awesome relationship that you develop with critique partners, about how you skip all the “real life” getting-to-know-you stuff and get right to the guts of things: you want to be a writer. Hi, you say, here’s this thing I wrote, tell me what’s wrong with it, and also, should I get a blog tour company for this next release or is that just a waste of money?
Sandy was the first person I practiced being a writer with, both technically, in terms of honing my craft, but also emotionally, in terms of ADMITTING I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING I MIGHT FAIL AT. I’ve said before, and I don’t think Sandy would disagree with me, that on paper, we don’t have that much in common. Our books are different, we live in different countries, we’re in different stages of life.
But it never mattered. (I guess it could have. We’ve both talked about what a relief it was to meet for the first time in person and actually, you know, LIKE each other. But I think we were always destined to end up with our feet propped up, drinking wine and talking about the fake worlds inside our heads.)
Sandy and I read each other’s “bad” books. (Hers is getting overhauled; mine will never see the light of day.) When we met each other, neither of us had any pubishing credentials and neither of us had an agent. One of us (not Sandy) might have been a little shaky on the concept of point of view.
Fast-forward a few years. Today, a funny thing happened.
Yes, there we are, #1 and #3 in the Amazon romance series store. Dang. I rewrote this a thousand times because like most women, I’m socialized to be uncomfortable with self-praise, but I’m just going to say it. There was a lot of luck in there, for sure, and a kick-ass literary agent. But there was also a crapload of hard work.
We did it, Sandy.