I met Anne Stuart online first through the GEnie RomEx boards in 1993. My first book was just out; she was on her . . . I don’t know, fiftieth maybe? Of course she’d been publishing since she was eight (not kidding), and I didn’t publish my first until I was 43, so she had a headstart. She was a role model and a mentor; she talked me through bad times, gave me great career advice, and told me who to get for my first agent. She was wonderful. I don’t know when we met in person for the first time,* and even then we didn’t become close for a long time. Geography, different subgenres, and general life distractions kept us from really connecting except at conferences where I enjoyed her company tremendously. There was always SOMETHING going on around Krissie. And then in 2006 we collaborated on a book called The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes with a mutual friend and we bonded. Something about writing those witches made us really close friends.
I met Lani Diane Rich . . . I don’t remember how I met Lani Diane Rich.** But I did, and I liked her a lot, she has a great attitude and a great laugh, and I envied her all that youth and enthusiasm, plus I really liked her books. And we sat together at the 2005 RWA Rita awards in Reno and were both appalled by the ceremony and delighted by each other’s Rita wins, so that was a shared moment. Then one day we were chatting online with a mutual friend and decided to write a collaborative novel called Dogs and Goddesses, and while we working on that we bonded. Something about writing those goddesses made us really close friends.
Then our mutual friend had to drop out of the project, and I said, “You know who would be good to join us in this?” and I became the mutual friend who introduced Krissie and Lani. And then magic happened.
I know, that sounds ridiculous, but the synergy of the three of us together clicked so strongly that we moved beyond friends to sisters. I’ve never had anything like this before, true sisters, the kind you fight with and it doesn’t matter, the kind you cry with and it matters a lot, the kind who are there for you even if you’ve been bitchy, if you haven’t showered in a week, if you’re so depressed you can’t scrape yourself off the floor, they’re there. It’s absolutely amazing to me that these two women still love me after everything we’ve been through. Lani and I live together, so we’ve had some real knock-down-drag-em-out fights, and I never once thought, “After that, our friendship is over;” I trusted she’d stick by me no matter what. Krissie and I have done some heavy-duty traveling together and there have been any number of times that we’ve thought about killing each other–“She was so mean,” Krissie said to Lani after our last road trip (she tried to talk to me in the morning)–but we’ve never thought about letting go of each other. This sisterhood is a freaking miracle to me, the family we made that’s so much stronger than the families we were born into.
And considering all the hell we’ve gone through in the past years, that’s a damn good thing. I’d never have made it without them, without the sure knowledge that I could turn to them and say, “Help me,” and they’d be there in an instant. I treasure my friendships with each of these women individually, but I need the family the three of us make together. We were always meant to be here.
So this is a thank you to my sisters for sticking with me even when they wanted to strangle me. And to say, the family you’re born with is not your last shot at family, the family you make may be the one that keeps you warm, keeps you safe, and keeps you going.
Thank God for Krissie and Lani.
* I ask Krissie how we met and this is what she said:
I do remember how we met face to face. We were at the Romex retreat in … some place in the midwest. St. Louis? Anyway, we were walking from the hotel to dinner and I ended up walking next to you and I asked who you were (in friendlier terms, of course) and when you told me I said “no, you aren’t. Jenny Crusie sounds like a a petite brunette, not a strapping blonde.” Again, there’s always the possibility I was more tactful, but there’s no guarantee.
**I asked Lani how we met and this is what she said:
The first time we actually spoke to each other was in 2003, at the RWA Conference in NYC. You did the keynote, about how the world doesn’t need writers, it needs storytellers, and I was totally enthralled. Then we bumped into each other in the walkway and I vomited my love and adoration all over you. You were incredibly patient. As far as the first time we met that you might remember… I don’t know. Sometime between then and when we hung out the night of the 2005 Ritas in Reno – the terrible disaster-themed one. I won for Time Off, you won for Bet Me. We laughed all night, and I think that was the first time I looked at you and thought, “I could really be friends with this woman,” but thought it was silly because you were Jennifer Crusie and I was becoming one of those crazy fans who say, “I just know we’ll be best, best friends!” I think that was the first time we ever really connected. It was fun!