July 22nd 2009 the universe shifted just a little. That was the day Loretta Nyhan stumbled onto our blog, ripped apart the first few hundred words of our WIP and became one of our closest friends and readers.
We had exchanged emails with Loretta a month before when she emailed us to ask questions about how to choose an agent. To be honest, we didn't put two and two together when we read her comment on our blog. We just knew her feedback was dead on. Instead of telling us what we wanted to hear, "You're amazing!" "Have you won awards for your writing?" "Get this to your agent NOW!" she told us what we desparately needed to hear--that we were close, but could do better. As writers, isn't that always what we're striving for? Our best? That and incredible beta readers. Two birds with one stone, my friends.
From that day forward, we decided to exchange work. We sent her our baby and she sent us hers. We were blown away by her writing, wanted to recommend it to friends, our mom, anyone who would listen, couldn't wait until it was published so we could do just that. And in return, we received honest, constructive feedback on our own writing. There's nothing better than a critique partner who isn't afraid to tear into your work, but does it in a way that makes you want to get better, that forces you to improve as a writer.
And then somewhere along the way, a few emails in, we forged a friendship with a complete stranger--but that's the funny thing. From the beginning, Loretta just fit. She never really felt like a stranger. She always felt like a friend. Sure she supplied endless advice on our works in progress, but she also listened to family stories, served as an herbalist, cured our colds and linked us to the best Etsy shops. She was one of the first people who knew when Lisa had her baby and when Laura found out she was pregnant because Loretta is just someone you tell. We've talked on the phone, sent Christmas cards and the day of our launch, met.
That's right...Loretta traveled all the way from Chicago and surprised us at our launch party. Talk about surreal. As we were simultaneously sweating and signing books, someone approached us in line who looked awfully familiar. Cue tears. And hugs. And squeals.
Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan's I'LL BE SEEING YOU, a story of unexpected friendship told through letters shared between two American women on the home front during World War II, to Erika Imranyi at Mira, in a two-book deal, by Anne Bohner at Pen & Ink Literary and Joanna Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.
We always knew this day would come, but there's absolutely nothing like seeing a friend's dream come true. Jump up and down and squeal with us in the comments. We demand it.