As 2008 comes to a close, I'm watching snow and wind derail my plans for tonight. Boo hoo!
This has been a difficult year for our country. The publishing business, in no risk of receiving one of those lovely federal bailouts, has suffered just like many other industries. I've said before that the only thing we as writers can do in this economy is to keep writing and hope for better days ahead. I still firmly believe that the stories we're working on right now will contribute to the industry's resurgence in 2009 and 2010. Three weeks from now we'll inaugurate a new president, and I can't wait to be dazzled by him. But before we step into the New Year, here are a few of my writing highlights from 2008:
--Seeing a book cover with MY name on it for the first time.
--Getting PAID for my work. Twice. WOW!
--Gaining admission to RWA's Published Author Network, a major feather in a romance writer's cap.
--Returning from vacation this summer to find a box full of MY books on my front porch.
--Sharing the moment I first held Line of Scrimmage as a real live book with my husband and kids.
--Getting one excited e-mail after another from friends and family, letting me know their pre-ordered copies of Line of Scrimmage had shipped from Amazon.com.
--Receiving many wonderful reviews for Line of Scrimmage, including this one from Booklist, "With its humor and endearing characters, Force’s charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans." (To read all the lovely reviews, click on the "reviews" link below this post.)
--Signing with agent Kevan Lyon, who has been TERRIFIC to work with and lots of fun to hang out with, too.
--Walking into Barnes & Noble and knowing MY book was there after years of wishing just ONE of the thousands of books in the store could be mine. (Ryan and Susannah's wedding song, "You're in my Heart" by Rod Stewart, coming on the radio as the kids and I were pulling into the B&N parking lot gave me chills and made me feel like my late mother was with me, sharing in the joy.)
Here I am visiting Line of Scrimmage at my local Barnes & Noble!
We're in a very good neighborhood next to Lori Foster, one of my favorite authors and a new e-mail buddy this year.
--Holding a launch party for Line of Scrimmage, where I was able to recognize and thank the friends who'd held me up on the long road to publication.
--Befriending Elena, the author liaison at my local B&N, who referred to me as her "most successful local author" in the four years she's been with the store. She says we're going to lunch when the 100th copy of LOS sells in her store. At last check, we were at 88. She held a fabulous book signing for me in September, made me feel like a star on more than one occasion, and became a valued new friend and advocate.
--Receiving real, live fan mail! One of my favorite comments about Line of Scrimmage came in August from J. Kaye Oldner on her blog: "It was a book that made me laugh as well as cry. The three-dimensional characters were so vivid. I’d have no trouble plucking each one out of a crowd. LINE OF SCRIMMAGE is Marie Force’s first novel. Her next is scheduled to be out in the spring of 2009 and it’s titled SAME TIME SUNDAY. You can bet I’ll be in line to get my copy, because hands down, this is the best romance I’ve read this year."
--Attending the National Romance Writers of America annual conference for the first time in my favorite city of San Francisco where I met so many of my online friends, rode in a limo to the publisher's dinner, and met my editor, publisher, agent and publicist in person.
Here is the Sourcebooks Casablanca gang at the publisher's dinner in San Francisco:
Back row (l-r) Michele Ann Young, Linda Wisdom, Dominique Raccah, Gail, Beth, Sharon Lathan, and our lovely publicist Danielle Jackson. Front row (l-r) Deb Werksman, Robin Kaye, Marie Force, Malena Lott, Judi Fennell and "Aunty Cindy" Loucinda McGary.
--Selling my second book, formerly known as Same Time Sunday, during the RWA conference. (New title pending, hopefully in early January.) I'm very excited about this book and can't wait to hear what readers think of it. I take a few risks in this one by showing my hero and heroine with other people before they get together. (And when I say with other people, I mean WITH other people... Tee hee, yes, there's sex in chapter 2!)
--Being featured twice in local newspapers.
--Attending the New Jersey Romance Writer's Conference where I participated in a multi-author book signing for the first time and connected with readers, one of whom gave ME a gift to thank me for writing a book she loved so much. That was pretty cool!
--Signing books at Annie's Book Stop in Sharon, MA. Thank you Merry Cutler, a great friend of romance writers! Hope we can do it again when the second book comes out.
--Making an astounding array of new friends, both writers and readers, who have been so supportive and invested in my writing career. My fellow Sourcebooks Casablanca authors have been such a joy to me, keeping me sane, focused and enormously entertained. You ladies are my favorite writing friends, bar none. Our Casablanca Authors blog has been a lot of fun this year, and I look forward to the start of another terrific year together.
--Participating in a group signing in Baltimore's Inner Harbor B&N with my good friends Robin Kaye and Kendra Leigh Castle, with whom I also share agent.
--Starting this blog and committing to it as an almost-daily endeavor beginning in November. Nearly 3,000 readers have stopped by, which is a major accomplishment in and of itself.
Yes, there have been downs to go with the ups, but as I look over the list above, I realize that the highs have certainly outpaced the lows. I will look back at 2008, my debut year, as a year to be remembered and savored as I go forward, hopefully for years to come, with new books, new adventures, and more new friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who loved Ryan and Susannah, who wrote glowing reviews, who took the time to send me fan mail to tell me they loved the book, and who made my year by getting what I was trying to convey about a marriage in crisis. I know this may sound hokey, but I also want to thank Ryan Sanderson for being one hell of a fun character. He is the heart and soul of Line of Scrimmage, and readers have responded with passionate love for him. Publishers Weekly said of him, "Ryan . . . is a good guy desperate to fix past mistakes, a terrific change of pace from the typical reluctant hero."
By far, the best part of this debut year has been sharing the excitement with the people I love and seeing my Dad enjoying every minute of it after years of urging me to get serious about my writing. At every party, cookout, gathering, and event I get grilled on how it all works: how you write a book, how you sell a book, how it feels to be published, etc. As my fellow writers will attest, we love to talk about what is for most of us a lonely, solitary pursuit. My secret life came busting out of the closet this year. I'm a writer, and now everyone knows it.
Wishing you good health, good friends, and good books in 2009!