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?