Two more unlikely partners there never were and probably never will be.
Laurie is a four time Golden Heart finalist and two time winner. All my manuscripts moldered on a closet shelf and only one had ever seen a contest or two (and while it didn't win, the scores were good, I'm happy to say.) Laurie put her writing before everything but her family. I agree, family first, but that's where we diverged; everything came before my writing.
When Laurie started writing she had no grasp of mechanics--ignorance of punctuation, grammar, formatting, point of view, etc., had no bearing on her ambition---she just knew she wanted to write and set about making it happen. I, on the other hand, started writing as soon as I discovered words, submitting short bits to our local newspaper (and getting them published) while still in elementary school, winning local and county competitions in high school, working for an ad agency, putting out newsletters for various organizations, even composing form letters for an international firm. Whoopty-do.
Laurie's drive humbled me. There are no excuses for not writing in her world and only one or, possibly, two good reasons. Death is one. If number two exists, I haven't discovered it yet.
And there's one more l i t t l e tiny difference; Laurie writes sexy, humorous home-and-family themed contempory romance. She is such a pragmatist, I tease her that her feet are so firmly rooted in solid ground that when it comes time to plant her they're going to have to dig her up first. It makes working on Science Fiction interesting. She can be such a hard sell, but she keeps me honest.
And the worst part? I wish you all a Laurie.
Why? Because she can be brutal in her honesty. When she writes TSTL (too stupid to live) next to a paragraph, I cringe, but that keeps the contrivances away.
Oh, and lest you think I take all the flak, never fear; we are both of the opinion that false flattery is the worst kind of lie. Friends tell friends the truth, and we quickly became friends, appreciating each other's strengths and weaknesses.
I offered to take a look at her stuff and see if I could help--that's what I'd been doing for several friends online, two of whom got published shortly thereafter, and I'd like to think my suggestions played a small part in their success. She hemmed and hawed a bit, but agreed to a trial run.
After a couple of weeks, she demanded I show her my stuff. The trial had, apparently, been a success, but she declared she didn't do one way street deals. Either I handed over some of my work, or the deal was off. Reluctantly, I dusted off a box and gave her a few chapters. The rest is, as they say, history. She pushed me to rejoin RWA (after a nine year hiatus), and enter the manuscipt in a national contest.
I placed third.
Next came the GH. I entered under duress--and made the finals, much to my amazement. So did Laurie, so we hied off to Dallas. Neither of us won, but what a fabulous time we had. (I'm smiling as I type this. We had a blast.)
Oh, there is one small item that needs clarification: Most of you are probably under the impression CP stands for Critique Partner. In your world, I'm sure it does. Finding the perfect fit in a CP is a goal worthy of any aspiring writer. Some writers have three or four CPs to give them guidance and balance, which is all well and good for those of you with a Critique Partner.
For me, CP stands for Cattle Prod, and trust me, one is plenty. (Love ya, Laur!