Nicole Foster: Friends Who Write Together

Please welcome the writing team of Danette Fertig-Thompson and Annette Chartier-Warren, who write under the pen name of Nicole Foster, a name chosen after Annette’s daughter and Danette’s son.

Friends who write together, stay together. That’s pretty much been our motto for over 20 years, since we first met at a small town newspaper office.

Annette had just moved to Missouri, had two small children, and was looking for free-lance journalistic work to get her out of the house once in a while. Danette was and still is the editor of a St. Louis-based weekly paper. When Annette applied for the job with Danette, Danette wasn’t too impressed. She later told Annette she thought she was a froufrou sort of cheerleader type. But she tried Annette out and found out she could write.

So, Danette having a keen sense of humor, sent Annette out on all of the worst story jobs, for example, chasing Haley’s comet enthusiasts through a waist-high grass field in the middle of nowhere at 4 a.m. Danette knew Annette had two small kids and found it amusing as to how Annette would get out in the middle of the night to go interview comet watchers. Annette packed husband and kids and telescope in the car and drove right smack into the middle of the field. While she did interviews with other crazy astronomy addicts, the kids and dad had a once-in-a-lifetime experience viewing the comet.

Danette then sent Annette out into the woods on an “Owl Prowl” to interview people who talk to owls in the woods at midnight. Again, dad and the kids tagged along, learning how to do owl calls while Annette interviewed owl prowlers. These lovely assignments continued and slowly Danette began to gain a grudging respect for Annette’s tenacity and work. Much later Danette would confess to the hidden humor she found in choosing just the right assignments for Annette.

Annette, however, actually enjoyed the outdoors, oddball stories and the people she met. She used to drag her kids along on many of the interviews because she knew they’d learn a thing or two about the natural world. She also dragged her kids and their homemade play dough into Danette’s office to write her stories up on a now ancient word processor. The kids left remains of their play dough art in the carpet in Danette’s office. Later, Annette also confessed that was a bit of revenge on her part.


As our quirky friendship began to unfold and develop, we found we shared similar frustrations in terms of their writing. We both wanted to write fiction; neither had time to devote to the task. So, between chasing ambulances, talking to wolves, trying to stay awake to cover city council meetings and sharing lunch and counting calories together, we began to reveal more and more about a shared fiction-writing dream.

Finally, one night, we decided to go out to dinner. After a huge meal of Japanese food and too much sake, we went back to Annette’s house and began regaling each other with beginning “what if” ideas for a novel. We both loved romance, reading it, watching moves about it, listening to mushy romantic music and so on. So, we decided we wanted to write a romance novel. Both being of a rather dramatic, intense vent, we agreed a gothic romance would suit our literary mode. Lying on the floor of Annette’s living room, a bit tipsy, we stared at the ceiling and outlined our first novel.

The next morning, amazingly, the idea still sounded great. So, we began to divide the book in to chapters, and wrote outlines for the first and second chapters. From then on, we alternated chapters, editing over each other’s work as we went. As we worked, more and more ideas sprung up and the book grew—to about 700 hundred pages. But back then, that wasn’t too far off for what we were writing. Their first novel actually made it to a New York publisher, who, after expressing initial interest, found that as the book progressed, the writing regressed. We had no idea what we were doing. By the time we’d turned the book in, we sort of already realized that. So, we were hardly devastated when the first rejection slip came along.

We continued to work on another book, which, after joining a local writers group and learning about an agent that lived in St. Louis, we submitted to this person. She didn’t buy that book but instead offered us a contract on another book, an antebellum historical. We knew less than nothing about the antebellum South, but agreed enthusiastically to write the book. Cramming research day and night we launched into ALABABMA TWILIGHT, our first published historical romance.

A few books later, we were delighted to join Harlequin where we were able to write about the place we love most. Both born in the Southwest, writing about cowboys, rattlesnakes and ranches are where we feel most comfortable. We love the Southwest and are thrilled to be working on our seven book series titled THE BROTHERS OF RANCHO PINTADA for Silhouette Special Edition.

In terms of writing, we look forward to starting a new series, also set in the Southwest, next year. Who knows what the future holds for us beyond our writing career?

All we do know is that to this point, we’ve been through moves, graduations, birth, illnesses, marriage, divorce, travels, surgeries, job changes, childrearing, major life and family crises, deadline after deadline, and often simple daily hum drum existence. During these times we never stopped writing and we never stopped being best friends.

When one of us is sick or has a personal crisis, the other is there to pick up the slack. Our work and our friendship have been based on mutual respect, caring and understanding. All of which we hope comes through in the stories we tell of people who like us face new challenges every day.

And, who meet them because those they love give them the courage to do so.

Annette and Dannette are giving away autographed copies of The Cowboy’s Lady and The Bridesmaid’s Turn, one each of two winners!  Leave a comment to get your name in the cowboy hat.

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25 thoughts on “Nicole Foster: Friends Who Write Together”

  1. Oh wow what an interesting post! It amazes me that two people that work together can write a book. I do know that if you work with someone long enough they kind of become part of the family. Best friends become part of the family too. I thing it is neat the you ladies put your thoughts together and write. I guess it wouldn’t work for everyone but you must really have a strong bond. How do you do it? Do you have disagreements from time to time?

  2. Hi Danette and Annette!
    What a great story of friendship you have told. I have not read your books but will definitely be looking for them. It sounds like your great friendship adds something extra to your stories.

  3. What a great story! There’s nothing like small town journalism. It’s got more personality than national news and is just as challenging. Maybe more so! I did a bit of it before writing fiction. I like romance better!

    I remember your Harlequin Historicals, especially “Jake’s Angel.” I liked “Hallie’s Hero” too!

  4. Welcome to P&P! We’re so happy to have you here.

    Wow, what an entertaining story of how you met and started writing romance! And your names even rhyme. That’s so cool.

    Love the covers of your books. They look like something I need to read. They sure reach out and grab you.

    Enjoy your stay and come back again soon. 🙂

  5. Hello Ladies,

    It’s such a pleasure to be able to chat with you today. Thank you so much for taking time to send us a note. We’re glad you have enjoyed our books and we hope you continue to do so.

    Yes, we do have a rather unique story of friendship and partnership in writing. We are truly family and have been for years. Not only have we written several books, but we’ve helped each other through many personal and family issues that have arisen. Our basic belief is in supporting each other and our families no matter what surprises us along our dusty trails.

    You asked if we ever disagree on things? Yes, but usually it’s only when we’re both exhausted and cranky. Sound familiar to any of you? In all our years working together and being friends, we’ve honestly never had a fight. We’ve only gotten a little crabby when deadlines are tight and kids are demanding!

    We’re working on the last book in our Brothers of Rancho Pintada series and we have to admit we both might like this one the best. Ry is quite a different hero from the other brothers. And Risa is not the traditional heroine. But these two are made for each other and that makes for a fun book to write as well as to read–hopefully!

    All the best to all of you and thank you again for sharing a bit of your life and your day with us.

    Danette and Annette a.k.a Nicole Foster

  6. It is a pleasure to meet you both! 🙂 Thanks for a great post… I am looking forward to reading some of your work in the future! 🙂

  7. Wow!! What a friendship you two have!

    I also have a friend who is very dear to me. We call ourselves Sisters-of-the-heart, because our hearts chose each other. Our families met thirty eight years ago and became fast friends.

    All the covers of your books make me want to find them and think I have read some of them. Have check my ‘library’ to know for sure.

    Have a great day.

  8. I’m so in awe of writers who can write together.

    I’m curious how you handle the writing. Do you each write a chapter or do you split up the scenes or how do you coordinate?


  9. We can’t explain it ourselves, sometimes 🙂
    From the beginning, we found it very easy to collaborate. We roughly outline and story and characters, alternate chapters, and then both of us do a final edit to smooth out the transitions. We have similiar approaches to writing in that, neither of us like to get too detailed when it comes to outlining. We inevitably get about halfway through a book, and the characters – willful as they are – evolve and go in directions we never intended at the beginning.
    When we’re writing, we’re always talking so we can keep the details straight. Both of us have so much else going on that if we don’t talk for a couple of days, it’s easy to get off track.
    That’s especially true now, as we’re finishing the last book of our current seven-book series. The character list is starting to take on monster proportions!
    Of course, that didn’t stop us from making our next series eight books long …..

  10. Hi Annette and Danette! What a fabulous friendship you two have! I think that is so cool! I have read some of your books and they are on my keeper shelf. I can’t wait to read more of your books in the future.

  11. Hi Annette and Danette! You both are living in my home town too! Annette, it sounds like you were sent out on many Missouri Conservation outings..LOL! I’m going to start looking for your name in the paper!
    Thanks for sharing your stories and I’ll be looking for your books in the store!

  12. The outings were all my assignments and Annette holds all those Owl Prowls and (very) early morning stargazing expeditions against me.
    🙂 But she’s living in Albuquerque now, so her newspaper days are over. I still write for Suburban Journals in St. Louis, so you can find my stuff on stltoday, Kathleen. It’s not nearly as entertaining as the fiction, though!

  13. Welcome!Glad to have you here,Good to know friends can work together,I have some that I could work with too,those are the ones most precious,thanks for joining us today

  14. How neat! What a blessing for you both to not only find a friend, but a writing partner! It must be fun to be able to share so much of your lives on so many different levels. Plus, your books sound terrific! Thanks for posting today!

  15. Such a great story… They say best friends last a lifetime, but I never thought they could also write books together!

  16. Thanks for explaining your method of collaboration. That’s interesting how you make it work. I’d long wondered how two writers handle it and complete a book. I’ve never tried it myself. I prefer to write alone. I doubt anyone would want to collaborate with me the way I tend to write my stories. lol

  17. I’ve read alot of Nicole Foster books and had no idea it was two people wdriting the stories. No wonder they are so good-two minds are better than one.

  18. Hi ladies what a great post I enjoyed reading it all.
    Your books sounds great I’ll be picking them up.
    All the best


  19. Friendship is the most valuable thing a woman can have. I enjoyed your blog. I see more people wrote here than one prior one. God Bless.

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