For today’s blog, Catherine Mann and Joanne Rock wanted to share a little about their new Runaway Brides series for Tule, but they also wanted to give readers a chance to be a part of their friendship and working relationship. So today, Cathy and Joanne are having a “Chat With…” and invite you to pull up a chair and make yourself at home.
J: Come in! Come in! We’ve almost got all our clutter tucked away so we’re suitable for company. When Cathy and I visit, we tend to spread out a bit and surround ourselves with snacks. Lucky for you, we left out some Jelly Bellys and Diet Cokes… can I get you anything?
C: Don’t mind the dog toys. And dogs. And foster puppies. And stacks of paperwork. (Not sure why I decided to start an animal rescue while writing full time, but find these furbabies do fuel the muse!) So, welcome to my writing “den.”
J: We were just brainstorming story ideas and lost track of the time. Once, when our kids were little, we got so caught up plotting out a series that our children ganged up on us and demanded we leave the McDonald’s Play Place.
C: I think that happened every time we went to the park. Or McDonald’s. (Remember the time one of our kids slid down the slide into a mud puddle and we were the ones crying because we had to leave the park?!) There’s something wonderfully synergistic about brainstorming with Joanne. Our minds travel plotting paths together in a way that makes this job so incredibly much easier.
J: But that was back in the pre-first s ale days when we had so many stories in our brains, they were coming out our ears. We talked about story premises and the craft of writing eight hours a day, I think. It was my full time job.
C: Kind of like now, except we don’t live in the same town. So we learned ways to brainstorm over the phone and via e-mail. And I gotta say, still seems like we have stories coming out of our ears!
J: Yes, but there’s a new kind of peace about storytelling now that there’s a relative certainty that we have an audience. When we brainstorm now, it’s more focused on a character or two, whereas in the early days, we would discuss every single facet of a story.
C: Linking all the stories through weddings and the Southern setting has been a particular blast, focusing in on the character quirks that led to how even the wedding gown was chosen. I love it! It’s like living in an episode of Just Say Yes to the Dress where each bride is there with her family or friends trying desperately to find the right look for her happily ever after!
J: It’s been such an incredible gift to work on a series together. We have invested a lot of time in one another’s stories over the years, critiquing each other’s books. I’ve read every word Cathy’s written since before her first sale, and vice versa! So we have a very strong sense of one another’s voices. It was fun to talk about the overlap—the kinds of books we both love to write—and come up with a series we wanted to do together.
C: It’s interesting to me that we never came upon the idea of co-authoring before. The Tule staff and supportive community of writers nudged us into this realization and we’re so very glad they did.
J: Tule has given Cathy and I a chance to visit again. And now that we live farther apart and don’t have small kids to drag to the Play Place, it’s great to have a reason to sit down and brainstorm together. Just having had this chance to work with a friend—to share more laughs and more Jelly Bellys—has given me new creative inspiration for the rest of the year. Working with friends helps you to love your work more, and that’s a really good thing.
C: I’m reminded of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” Thank you, Joanne, for believing in my work. And most of all, thank you for your friendship. Looking forward to many more projects and shared Diet Cokes over the years.
USA Today bestselling and RITA Award winning author Catherine Mann has written over fifty romance novels and her work has been released in more than 20 countries. Catherine has a Master’s Degree in Theater, having written her thesis about powerful Shakespearean women. Born and raised in the South, Catherine and her flyboy husband have four children and reside in Florida where she is the President and a founding member of the Sunshine State Animal Rescue.
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Joanne Rock writes romance of all shapes and sizes from sexy contemporary to medieval historical and an occasional Young Adult story. She’s penned over seventy books, appearing most often in the Harlequin Blaze series. Joanne taught English at the college level before becoming a full-time writer, and she returns to the classroom as often as possible to share her love of stories. A quiet and unassuming Virgo, Joanne married a fiery and boisterous Aries man in true opposites-attract fashion.
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Cathy and Joanne also have a lovely giveaway for Janeblog readers! For a chance to win this fabulous prize, leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win! Contest ends Sunday night with winner announced on Monday, April 13th. Good luck!!