Meet Tracy: The mother of four very funny boys. The wife of an even funnier husband--I'm talking stand-up comedian funny. The owner of the largest assortment of flipflops I have ever seen. The fryer of some really awesome chicken. The decorater of many a banquet. And the woman with a sense of humor and writer's brain and personality that perfectly complements mine. It's such a pleasure writing with her. I miss her when we're not involved in a project!
How did we get started?
Tracy and I were choir buddies, hanging out in the alto section, talking when the director wasn't looking. (I could do that--the director just happened to be my father.) I also followed Tracy's blog (don't look for it--she hasn't updated in ages. lol. But a new one is coming soon!), and she always managed to crack me up with her unique take on things or her drama queen storytelling skills. It helped, of course, that she had plenty of real-life fodder to pull from. Surviving an airplane crash in a soybean field in Santa Claus, GA, for example.
One day, Tracy mentioned she'd love to write a book. At that time, the chick lit genre was all the rage, with its snarky heroines and light-hearted take on life. In my idea file was this little tidbit I really wanted to take somewhere that would fit perfectly in the chick lit world. But I'd tried to write a romantic comedy already, and though I called it funny, an editor called it slapstick, which equaled a rejection. So one more funny blog from Tracy, and I was ready with a proposal.
"I have this idea. What would you think about writing it with me?" Tracy was game. After a long brainstorming session during an even longer walk on the beach (which took my feet a few days to recover from), we had a story.
After much research, we came up with a "contract" for co-writing. With a plan in place, we figured we wouldn't end up suing each other or getting into random cat fights during choir practice. Tracy Bowen and Jenness Walker were now officially writing partners.
It took a while. We did character sketches. We experimented with writing processes. We finally settled into a system that has worked well for us. (Tracy writes the skeleton of a scene, complete with her great one-liners; I come along and flesh it out while she works on the next section. I send my stuff back, she agrees or points out any issues, etc.) We submitted the first three chapters to a writing contest and Bliss placed in the Genesis Contest. The writing was slow, but we made progress.
Soon we signed with my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray from Hartline Literary Agency. We went out to dinner at a steakhouse to celebrate. And we didn't spill A-1 on the contract, either. Then we went back to writing.
When we were a couple chapters from the end, we took an editing retreat. At a country inn about 30 minutes from home, we sat on our twin beds for two days. Tracy read from the printed copy on her lap. I followed along and made approved changed on the laptop. Then, while I implemented the more involved changes, she whipped out the skeleton for the rest of the book. It was a crazy couple days, let me tell ya. But the end result? Tons of fun.
While we waited for Bliss to find a home, we started another project, then got involved in the group project I blogged about last week. Then, just in the past couple months, we got some news on Bliss again. The chick lit boom has faded, so though we did get some interest in it from a big house previously, they couldn't make a place for Bliss. So when a start-up company with a different type of publishing model (similar to the one Marcher Lord Press is using) made us an offer, we decided to go for it. Last month we signed a contract and Bliss should be released later this year. I'll post more details when I can.
Meanwhile, Tracy and I are working on creating a joint blog/website. We had a kind of an impromptu photo shoot together with Erica from Erica J Photography. We revised Bliss and are working on some marketing stuff for it as the release date looms.
Now my awesome writing buddy has started a project on her own, as well. It's non-fiction, and it's so cool to see how she's grown as a writer. As for me, we both cheer when I manage to make a funny all by myself. :-) Even though we both have separate works-in-progress and plans for many more, we love writing together. It was amazing how we never argued once through this entire process. We had very few differences, but when we didn't see quite eye to eye, it still never got to the place where we had to bust out our co-author contract to see who got to make the final decision. It's been a great experience having a built-in brainstorming buddy, encourager and accountability partner, and it's a partnership we plan to continue indefinitely.
Thanks, Tracy, for being such a great friend and co-author. Couldn't have asked for a better one!