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Are We Having Fun Yet?

By: Marie Force
This past weekend, I attended the NJ Romance Writer's annual conference for the first time. The conference was really well done and full of great info. I enjoyed keynote speakers Eloisa James and Lisa Scottoline, who both encouraged us to write from our hearts and our lives, to write what we know and believe to be true. I think that's really important advice, and while we can't always experience what our characters do (hello, never been married to an NFL star my own self), it's essential that we tap into our own wealth of life adventures to bring life to our characters. Last year I wrote a book about a woman who was dealing with the aftermath of her mother's death. I don't think I could've done that story justice before I lost my own mother. I knew exactly how my character felt, what chores she had to deal with, the logistics of probate court and cleaning out her mother's belongings. I still choke up when I read certain parts of that book because it's taken right from real life. Deb and I have been talking about that book, Georgia on My Mind, so I'll keep you posted.

I also attended the editor and agent panels where I learned that contemporary is, in fact, making a comeback in the romance genre. Yay! Hot genres continue to be paranormal and romantic suspense—no surprise there. By far the best part of the conference was visiting with my Casa sisters Robin Kaye, Michele Ann Young and Judi Fennell. Here are Michele, myself and Robin with our books right before the book signing on Saturday:

Judi will be in that picture next year with her mermaid book, In Over Her Head, due out in June. Judi was a true sister and sent a lot of people my way to buy Line of Scrimmage. You're the best, Judi! I'm also the proud recipient of a signed copy of Romeo Romeo, which I positively DEVOURED when I got home on Sunday. I even got up early on Monday (unHEARD of in my world) to read more before work. It's a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. I wish Robin and I had thought to take a photo with our lovely agent Kevan Lyon, with whom we had a very fun dinner on Saturday night.

During the book signing, a woman approached me to tell me that she had loved Line of Scrimmage so much she read it twice in a row! She even had a gift to thank ME for writing the book. Talk about a pinch me moment. I should've given HER a gift for such a wonderful compliment. Here I am with my new favorite reader, Elise:

As I was downloading the pictures from this weekend, I discovered a few others I'd like to share with you from the LOS whirlwind. Here I am with my BFF Lisa, who also has the distinction of being my daughter's third grade teacher, at my signing at Barnes & Noble, the same store that used to inspire me to wonder why just ONE of those thousands of books couldn't be mine. Well, now one is and another one is on the way! Lisa is wearing the LOS t-shirt I had made for my most ardent supporters so they would stand out at my launch party. She was sick that night and was determined to get to wear that shirt in public, so she came out to be my wing woman at my signing.

Here I am with my father and brother at the signing. My brother even wore his Tom Brady shirt for the occasion! (Oh and if you want to continue to be my friends, don't tell me how cute my brother is! LOL)

Finally, I had to show you the display my new buddy Elena at B&N did for me in the romance section. She is amazing and so supportive. I'm delighted that we have become friends since the book came out.

How awesome is that? Someone asked me this weekend if having my book out has been as cool as I thought it would be. I have to say honestly that it is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. Are we having fun yet? HELL YES!

What do you think of Eloisa and Lisa's advice to write from the heart? To invoke your own life experiences? Can you think of an example of that from your own work?


  1. "During the book signing, a woman approached me to tell me that she had loved Line of Scrimmage so much she read it twice in a row! She even had a gift to thank ME for writing the book."

    O-o-o-o-o-h! That's so beautiful. What a moment to treasure.

    And re: contemporary. I wrote SWAK because there was such a dearth of good contemporaries (compared to Regencies.)

  2. Yes, Mary Margaret, it was a lovely moment. She was so cute and thrilled to meet me. I kept wanting to look over my shoulder to make sure she wasn't talking to the author behind me. LOL!

    I hear you on the contemporaries. The market is fat with paranormals right now, which is great for the para readers, but it's hard to find contemporaries. It's up to us--and Robin--to write them! :-)

  3. Oh Marie! How wonderful it all is. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

    Writing from the heart is the only way, IMHO. I can't think how else to do it! I have been so blessed to have many readers express the joy my stories have given them, and have even made several life-long friends via the process. That is the very best feeling in the world. Knowing that what you are creating is truly touching someone else. So glad that you had Elise give you that blessing.

  4. Thanks, Sharon :--). It's great to be able to share the joy with my Casa sisters. I know you will have some wonderful adventures when your books come out, too, and that your already strong fan base will help you get those numbers Deb referred to the other day! Go DARCY!

  5. Great post, Marie~

    It was so much fun hanging with you, Michele, and Judi in NJ. I always feel recharged after a conference.

    I'm so glad you seemed to love Romeo, Romeo as much as I loved Line of Scrimmage. I was a little worried!

    Hugs...Robin :)

  6. WTG Marie & friends!
    I think you did have fun!
    I've written loads of contemporaries, but I think I'm already the writer's equivalent of being typecast!

  7. Hey Robin,
    It was fun--as always--to see you!! And I'm glad we loved each other's books. We contemporary girls have to stick together!

    Nothing wrong with being known as the sexy sci fi chick, who also happens to be a nurse, right?

  8. That's the kind of news we want to hear, Marie.

    Writing from life experiences? I don't think I should give away ALL my secrets. :}


  9. Oops, forgot this. We have to write from the heart. That's where our books begin.


  10. Marie, it was fun, and informative. What more could you want. I love the picture. Such a wonderful memory. When you and Robin are best selling authors I will say that I had my picture take with you in New Joisey.
    I met some frosty people at the conference. (Frosty is the new "cool" I'm told, though its probably something else by now.)
    And the PAN retreat was excellent.
    Best of all, we got to meet.

  11. Frosty comment, Michele, and that suit you were wearing was ULTRA frosty. :-) I never got the info on the PAN retreat even though I checked the PAN box. Oh well! I should've thought to ask! Great to see you.

  12. Hmmm, "Frosty" sounds more like "stuck up" than cool to me! Cool it has been, and cool it will always be. Amen.

  13. Hey Marie,
    Looks like you all had a BLAST! Thanx for sharing the pics and info about the conference.

    I'm with Sharon, I don't know any other way to write except from the heart. And I know I put way more of myself into my books than I ever intend. But I'll leave it up to you to guess which parts and how much! :-P


  14. Thanks for sharing all those cool photos, Marie! I'm so glad it's been such fun! I know I loved reading LoS, and am glad you are writing from your heart!

  15. Hey Marie-

    Thanks for sharing your NJ experiences! As someone who dabbles in her own writing and knows you lovely ladies rather well, I know that writing from your heart (whether that means writing about an experience you had yourself, or something one of your characters shows you along the writing journey) is great advice! I'm not sure I know any other way to write (even when I'm writing press releases)!


  16. Cheryl,
    We may have to put out an appeal to the group but I love new ways to use old words. And that suit of Michele's? It was FROSTY, sister! :-)

    You don't want to tempt us into GUESSING what parts of TWS were all you, do you? You know how evil I can be when tempted this way!

    Thanks for coming by and being one of my favorite new reader friends! It's always a delight to hear that someone enjoyed LOS!

  17. Our Danielle is a dabbler? Did we know this? We may need to know about her secret writing life on top of her dynamic press releases!

  18. Thanks Marie, for sharing this experience. Sounds like you had a great time. And what a lovely moment you had with your reader. Your pictures are wonderful, too . . . such happy faces!

  19. Thanks, Christina. It's been a happy celebration that just keeps on going!


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