This morning while Chris was handling some promotion rounds for us, I took a moment to sit back and relish the feeling—a feeling of accomplishment.

Back in September 2010 when we met and were paired as a writing team in a role-playing group, we clicked from the start. It turned to be three of the most wonderful months of our lives as we poured our heart and soul into the characters we portrayed and the story lines we wrote.

The partnership, writing, camaraderie, and laughter are things we still cherish. We handled (and still do) the characters we portray with kid gloves, respectful of the characteristics the author has instilled in them and stay within the guidelines established on the books. Portraying another author’s character is a deep responsibility and there isn’t much wiggle room to make them grow and progress further than what is currently on the pages of their books.

By the end of 2010, Chris and I realized that we wanted more. We wanted the freedom to take our own characters and develop them, play in a world of our own making. One night, Chris had a dream and a story line idea. After careful discussion, we ran with it. We created the characters and posted their first interaction on December 14th. Reaction was immediate and we were hopeful.

The next month and a half was spent completing character outlines (likes, dislikes, life style, desires/needs, physical characteristics, etc.), 8-point arc, story summary, and the first five chapters’ outlines in bullet format.

 We spent weeks researching the subject to be sure it made sense, was feasible. Tapped into contacts we had made through Facebook and got a hold of friends who spent hours on end discussing the ins and outs of how to infiltrate systems with Chris (a nod to Alan Langford).Others chased down Russian translations for us putting us in contact with friends of theirs who were happy to help (that would be you Anders).

Out of all that character development, plotting, and research, Trevor and Cassandra were born. Their world was introduced in a role-playing environment in February, 2011, to a handful of followers.
We had concerns—concerns that our story did not have merit, would not be well received in a world where Paranormal and other things that go bump in the night reigned supreme. As we completed and posted chapters, we started to receive emails asking for the next installment, urging and encouraging us to continue. We were pleasantly surprised when the story became a hit.

Friends who were avid paranormal readers, who had never strayed from the genre, were hooked on our story. They were reading a Contemporary Romantic Suspense Thriller with a touch of spice (hey we couldn’t completely stray to far from something we do well.).

 They were reading Trevor and Cassandra’s story, TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

By the time the story was finished it on June 28, 2011, it contained 18 chapters with multiple postings within each chapter and was approximately 115,000 words in length. The equivalent to a 460 page novel.

What was more stunning was the realization that this story had the makings of a Romantic Series Sequel.Our story was actually a “Book 2.” That Trevor and Cassandra’s HEA was screaming at us to be told.

From the realization came COUNTERMEASURE, Book 1 in the Countermeasure Series. Once we were able to find our brains again and stuff them back in our heads, we went back to the drawing board.
Let the plotting begin. We had to make decisions on what the story would entail, and how to handle Trevor’s parents—the trigger for the entire series. Enter Chris’ dream —an entire prologue and, voilà, as Chris likes to say, COUNTERMEASURE made its presence known.

With our course fully charted, we created additional characters and began outlining chapters. From there we dove back into research once again and leveraging contacts who graciously had the patience to give us the rundown on a crazy industry and answer the gazillion of questions we posed (Thank you Lisa Fitzpatrick); Alan Langford was once again in our back pocket bouncing ideas and confirming if the direction we were taking regarding data file theft, intrusions and all other things geek where on the up and up. Wonderful Anders and his lovely wife, Nina, filled in the gaps for us regarding Paris, France—Nina’s home country.

 We set beloved TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE on the back burner and attacked our keyboards, COUNTERMEASURE was screaming to get out. It flowed from our fingertips with ease and we quickly found our grove. We turned over the first chapters to our beta readers in July 2011, and the ride continued through October. Our beta and test readers loved the story and we were encouraged once again as we began to fully edit the 120,000 word novel.

Those who know us will shake their heads because, again we, being who we are, never rest. As we wrote the novel, we trolled Facebook, Twitter, Blog sites, and Review sites. Attended workshops addressing craft, writing, and publishing. Joined organizations like RWA, TRWA, and Passionate Ink groups who offered knowledge and guidance. Posted mini slices with Trevor and Cassandra and went back to our roots, role-playing, as an exercise in writing. If that wasn’t enough, we jumped feet first into NanoWrimo.
Chris created our author and series websites and Facebook pages, backgrounds for Twitter accounts, and pretty much jump kicked us into the dreaded world of promotion and marketing. We began blogging about our journey and promoting the series.

We submitted our story to dozens of publishing houses and agencies. We entered contest like the Golden Heart. While those endeavors did not pan out, we were not defeated. We continued to learn all we could and turned our direction to Self Publishing. We studied best practices and the stigma, weighed its merit, and, most importantly, took a hard look at what we wanted.

When we finally made our decision to jump into the Self-publishing arena, we did it with eyes wide open. Once we had edited the story to the nines, we networked and were put in contact with a fabulous editor, Emmanuelle, and an exciting typesetter, Gyorgyi, who produces beautiful work.

COUNTERMEASURE dropped on January 11, 2012. I can still see us sitting at the dining room table in Chris’s house when the upload button to Amazon was clicked, our eyes grew wide, and we laughed like loonies.

 It is now March 2012. The book is doing well by our standards. Reviews are wonderful, sales are what they are. We enjoy the discussion with readers who have reached out and those good friends who continue to support us.

 We have come full circle and are back at the beginning of it all, TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Currently we are a fifty percent through editing, rewriting when necessary, adding new chapters as applicable, and introducing a new sub plot. Once again, our beta posse is hard at work, providing good discussion, taking us to task when something is off in the story, better yet; we are still laughing and enjoying the process.
For those of you looking to start your own journey, go with your heart; follow your instincts, sponge up everything you can, network, but most of all have fun!!!