My connection to author Anne Greenwood Brown is a modern online fairytale friendship story complete with a happily-ever-after scene involving Anne and Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. There are also appearances by Kate Middleton, Prince William, church talk, plenty of Yiddish, and even a circumcision. That’s right.
But back to ME first. Naturally.
The purpose of this post is not only to celebrate the long-awaited release of Anne’s novel LIES BENEATH (think murderous mermaids in Lake Superior!), but also a celebration of the power of a writing partnership and a friendship found in an unexpected place.
In early 2010, after sending out short stories throughout the previous year, I had an exciting acceptance letter. It was from an online magazine I admired called Literary Mama. As it turned out, Anne had a piece published on Literary Mama the following month.
Her very personal essay and the way she told it left me breathless. (I’m not exaggerating.) It’s short and I suggest you read it. In the comments section I wrote, “Such a beautiful, piece, Anne. I can’t wait to read more of what you have to say some day. I’m sure it will be soon.”
Turns out I’m psychic. Just kidding.
In all seriousness though, I did end up seeing more of Anne’s words soon after that comment. Anne recognized my name from an incredibly resourceful blog for writers that we both frequently commented on called Writer Unboxed. Just goes to show the real community that exists on these blogs!
When Anne noted that we both lived in the Twin Cities (albeit on opposite corners), she bravely reached out to see if I was looking for a critique partner. I say “bravely” because even as frequent visitors to the Writer Unboxed site, we only knew each other on a surface level. Taking on a critique partner is a big deal. First of all, you make yourself vulnerable when you share rough drafts. Also, agreeing to read someone else’s work is a massive time commitment. Finally, as the reader you have to learn how to give constructive, honest feedback. “Good job” written in the margins of your partner’s work-in-progress doesn’t quite cut it—hence the aforementioned time commitment.
The manuscript I read for Anne (several versions actually) went on to get literary representation and eventually sold quickly to Random House in a two-book deal. Side note: Anne’s “How I Got My Agent” story is a fantastic one involving years of hard work and a few strokes of luck. She explains that crazy experience best in this article for Writer’s Digest.
As for the other piece of our partnership, all of the stories Anne helped me edit were eventually published. One was even nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She continues to encourage me to complete any one of the quarter-finished novel manuscripts she’s read for me, but as my regular readers know I’m hanging out in the non-fiction section these days. No matter what, Anne is constantly humoring my ever-changing writing goals and helping me think through the bigger picture.
In the year+ between Anne’s book deal and the LIES BENEATH release, we’ve been to each other’s houses (we live 50 minutes apart when traffic is light), and had many in-person lunches, dinners, coffees, and of course countless emails and texts. One major highlight was traveling together from Minneapolis to Boston for The Muse & the Marketplace writing conference in early 2011.
In the tiny room we shared in the old hotel, we watched CNN’s coverage of William and Kate’s wedding as Anne patiently explained the differences between Catholic proceedings and the Anglican customs of the Church of England. Seven months later as the only two red-heads in a sea of brunettes, Anne and her daughter made the 50 minute drive to attend my son’s bris.
Anne and I are far more than writing partners now. We’re close friends, and it is in that spirit that I ask you to
support my uber-talented friend’s debut novel. See why Anne’s agent scooped her up quickly and why Random House rushed to sign her! Buy a copy for a teen in your life or for yourself. (Hello Hunger Games and Twilight. “Young Adult” fiction is all the rage.)
AND, because Anne is generous and fabulous she’s sending TWO of my blog readers a signed copy!
I’ll pick two comments at random. Tell us below about an unexpected friendship in your life. OR, just say “I want a copy.” That works too!