Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Crazy Week/RWA Photos

I keep waiting for things to slow down, but the relentless pace continues! I've been meaning all week to write and say a huge THANK YOU to all the friends who made my first blog book club meeting such a success. It was so great to have the chance to talk to you about the book (as well as potential future books) and to hear what you thought about various controversial decisions I made for Michael, Juliana, and their cast of supporting players. Readers are key to everything we do as writers, so let me say thank you again so much for your support of me and my books!! Congratulations to Pat L. who won the Love at First Flight Grand Prize Gift Basket and to all who answered the daily questions about the book on my website.

While I'm talking about readers and how much I love and adore you all, I wrote this for a blog stop at Love is an Exploding Cigar this week, but I wanted to re-run part of it here in case any of you missed it:

This last month has been an exciting whirlwind as my second book, Love at First Flight, hit the shelves. I’ve been on a “blog tour” and been part of four different book signings. I had a party for my friends and family, who are such wonderful supporters and deserve their own signing!

Then I went to RWA and experienced a major “first” in my writing career—connecting with readers who’ve enjoyed one or both of my books. Both books have been published since last year’s conference, so this was my first one as a truly published author. At the literacy signing, three women rushed up to my table just after the doors opened because they wanted me to sign copies of Line of Scrimmage. They gushed about how much they’d loved it, and by the time they were done, they had me in tears. I kept looking over my shoulder, for surely they had to be talking to one of the other authors in the huge room!? I said to them, “You ladies do know that Nora is in this room, right?” They laughed and said they’d come to see me. Overwhelming.

Another woman came up to me at the dessert reception after the RITAs to tell me she’d picked up Line of Scrimmage at the Sourcebooks signing earlier in the day and had spent hours in her room reading, skipping the sessions she’d planned to attend. Thanks for your kind words, Michele from Texas! I'm so glad you enjoyed Line of Scrimmage! Again, however, as we were talking, I wanted to glance over both shoulders to find the author she had to be talking about behind me. You mean me? There simply are no words to describe that moment of connection with a reader who truly gets what you were trying to do with a story.

This past Monday evening, I hosted a book club party on my blog where I posted questions about my new book, Love at First Flight, and encouraged readers to sound off about some of the romance rules I broke in the story. Eight minutes after the start time, no one had shown up. I was beginning to sweat. Oh well, I thought, it was worth a shot. And then they came and came and came . . . I typed like a mad woman for over an hour while my husband sat next to me on the sofa cracking up at all my muttering and sputtering. I said at the beginning I would’ve been happy with fifty comments (including my own) but ended up with nearly one hundred. This ability to interact with readers, whether in person at conferences such as RWA, or through the various blog stops, is my favorite part of this new phase in my writing career.

Technology has made the bond between author and reader so much more immediate and intimate. Over the last year, readers have become friends and frequent correspondents. They love to tell me what they liked, what they didn’t like, what made them laugh, what made them cry. Nothing is more gratifying from my end than to hear that I made them feel something, even if that something was anger.

So to all my readers out there, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made this last year so incredibly rewarding. I'm working hard to make sure there will be more to come!

A few more fun photos from RWA:

Me with Nora Roberts. Her books made me want to be a romance writer, and it was a huge thrill to meet her in person. Did you see the photo I posted a few days ago of Nora with my daughter after the Ritas? Thrilling!

I was signing books at our Sourcebooks signing on Saturday and glanced over to see this HUGE line waiting for ME. Another pinch-me moment! Thank you to Emily, my able daughter/assistant and birthday girl, for taking this photo!

With Emily at the RITAs:

The Sourcebooks gang going to dinner:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Love at First Flight Book Club Meeting

Whoo hoo! It's party time! I'm so excited to be here tonight to talk to my lovely readers about Love at First Flight. This book breaks a few of the more firmly entrenched romance rules, so I've been looking forward to this opportunity to hear what you have to say! I've been blessed with wonderful reviews and lots of emails from satisfied readers. However, I know there were a few twists and turns that had you muttering to yourself! Tell me about those mutter moments and maybe win one of the prizes I have sitting here with me on my sofa!

Picture a well-stocked bar and some hot, shirtless guys serving up a wide variety of tasty treats. (FOOD, people! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

One last warning for those who haven't read the book... This meeting will be fat with spoilers, so don't click on the comments if you haven't read the book yet. You can always come back later and weigh in.

With no further ado: ready, set, CLICK on the comments and let's get going!

Love at First Flight Book Club Meeting TONIGHT

Come by TONIGHT at 7 p.m. EDT tonight for a book club discussion about Love at First Flight. Want to tell me what you REALLY thought when you know who did you know what? :-) Here's your chance! I look forward to talking with you in the comments section where we'll air it all out. I'll be giving out some great prizes and awarding the Love at First Flight Grand Prize Gift Basket, so come on out to play and win!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Emily!

My darling daughter is 14 today and spent the day with me at the Romance Writer's conference in Washington, D.C. Look what happened tonight:

Emily met Nora Roberts!!!!!!! And congratulated her on her RITA win! Nora was so lovely when she heard it was Emily's birthday! What a thrill for all of us. Congratulations, Nora! And happy, happy birthday to my "little" girl!

More photos coming when I get home!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Grand Unlearning of Everything I Ever Knew

I read an article recently about Terry Gilliam, the director who was making a film with Heath Ledger when the actor died last January. Quoting directly from an article on

He was directing Heath Ledger in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," when the actor died—and it's not the first time he has lost a leading man.

Is there a filmmaker in the world with worse luck than Terry Gilliam?

Jean Rochefort didn't die eight years ago, but Gilliam had to abandon "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" after a few days when 70-year-old star Rochefort became seriously ill and a flash flood washed away the entire set. The whole fiasco is captured in the documentary "Lost in La Mancha." But the animator-turned-director who made his name with the surreal opening sequences of "Monty Python" is also known for never giving up. He saved "Parnassus" by enlisting the help of Ledger's friends, among them Johnny Depp. He has even resurrected "Don Quixote," which will start shooting next year.

Two questions asked by The Screening Room really struck me as interesting and applicable to the writer's life:

TSR: What have you learned over the 30-plus years you have been making films?
TG: There is no one thing -- it's just going through life. I don't think you ever learn just one thing. At some point you start unlearning things. I have been working hard to unlearn everything I know.

I love that line: "working hard to unlearn everything I know." What a great statement. As I head this week to the Romance Writers of America's annual conference in Washington, D.C., I do so with the same wariness I always feel as I approach writing-related training events. While I believe there's always room to grow and learn new things, I'm extremely protective of my writing process and tend to be reluctant to let too much in that could possibly undermine my confidence in my own abilities. It's a fine line we walk between keeping it real and fresh and unique while taking the time to learn new techniques. A few times I've wanted to put my hands over my ears and cry LALALALALALA when someone was preaching to me about plotting or the need for character sheets or all the other tools I refuse to use. Don't. Want. To. Know.

So at the conference this year, I'll focus on sessions on promotion, business, career, and of course the chat with Nora Roberts, which I wouldn't miss.

Gilliam's second interesting comment came in response to this question:
TSR: What advice would you offer to aspiring filmmakers?
TG: Talent is less important in filmmaking than patience. If you really want your films to say something that you hope is unique, then patience and stamina, thick skin and a kind of stupidity, a mule-like stupidity, is what you really need.

Couldn't those same characteristics be applied to surviving a writing career? While patience and stamina and a thick skin are critical, the mule-like stupidity is essential. For without it, you run the risk of becoming run of the mill. And for a writer, that's a fate worse than writer's block!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Signing Party

Last Thursday, I held a book signing party in Newport, RI, for my friends and family, all of whom have been so incredibly supportive of my writing career. In fact, Love at First Flight is dedicated to all of them. Without their overwhelming enthusiasm and encouragement, I never would've made it to book seven--Line of Scrimmage. I was delighted when more than 100 people showed up and my Barnes & Noble rep friend was thrilled to sell 85 books. Here are some photos from the big night! I'll post some more from tonight's B&N local author event in the next few days.

With a bunch of girlfriends, including (far right) and (third from right), my daughter's fourth and third grade teachers.

With my dad, who like last time, got the first signed book out of the box:

And with Jake, Emily and Dan at the after party hosted by our friends Ilana and Warren where I realized my 10-year-old son was playing pool at 12:45 a.m. and said, "Maybe we should go home!" A good time had by all!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Love at First Flight A Review Top Pick with Night Owl Romance

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters came alive and you truly could see and understand the conflicts and power plays that were happening. The story had a fullness about it as it encompassed two careers and two people’s friends and families. There was a real feel to the story and scenes that reinforced that feeling. Things didn’t randomly happen to move the story along but happened within the story in a logical manner.

The characters were terrific. Juliana had security in Jeremy. She needed that security and leaving it was tearing her apart. She was attracted to Michael but felt a loyalty and commitment to Jeremy. This came across extremely well. Michael came across as a guy that knew what he wanted but was willing to compromise for those he loved. He wants to do the right thing and is willing to put himself out to do it. While he is willing to work with those he loves, he is not willing to let them run his life. This comes across with his relationship with Paige and with his family. Jeremy and Paige aren’t even written poorly. Each comes across as a complex character with issues and desires. Their interactions with Juliana and Michael are normal reactions to the situations they find themselves in.

This isn’t just a romance novel or a legal story or any other classification but a mixture of many that cannot be separated. It’s a fantastic mix of romance against a legal story with danger lurking around every corner. There are high-speed car rides as well as romantic dinners with walks along the beach. An assassin comes into play as well as a teenage witness. It’s a book that should interest a broad spectrum of readers.

Read the full review.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Launch Day News: A Bunch of New Reviews!

Is it a good omen that my beloved Boston Red Sox secured a come-from-behind victory in Baltimore on the day my book, set in Baltimore, launched? Hmmm, what do you think?

Launch Day was crazy and hectic, but tons of fun! Thanks to everyone who came out to comment on the Launch Parties here and on the Casablanca Authors Blog as well as on my post at Happily Forever After! Just a reminder that the Launch Party comment period is open on my blog and the Casa blog through July 4, so leave a comment to enter to win a copy of one of my books. Tomorrow I'm giving away more books at Magical Musings and Crave More Romance.

Today, we received FIVE new reviews for Love at First Flight and I loved them all!! Here they are with highlights, in no particular order:

Musings of a Bibliophile: The romance between Micheal and Juliana was angst filled. There were some moments where I thought things couldn't get any worse, and of course, somehow they did. Michael and especially Juliana, had to work out the problems within themselves before they could move on to a healthy relationship. Once they had done that, things fell into place and in the end, everything seemed to work out just the way it should.

Overall, I really liked Love at First Flight. This book was my first by Marie Force and after reading it, I'm eager to try her previous release, Line of Scrimmage, and I look forward to what's to come.

My Thoughts . . . Your Thoughts: The worst part of the book was the ending! I didn't want it to! Michael, Jeremy and Juliana pull out all the stops at the end, and are all truly fighting for what they want and believe in. It was such a perfect ending to a great love story. The thing that I came out with is that love knows no bounds. Michael made that very clear.

What a fun story! I look forward to other books by this author. True romance books aren't usually on the top of my list, but it was very well written and I really enjoyed it. I had planned on giving this book away here on my blog, but I can't part with it. This is one that I know I'll read again.

The Book Binge: Marie Force really has a knack for getting the reader emotionally involved with her characters. I felt the same way when I read Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight is no exception. I have to give kudos to her for writing such an unconventional romance so well. The fact that she could engage my emotions throughout the whole book really is a testament to her skillfulness of storytelling.

Cheryl's Book Nook: Another good read from Marie Force. Her last novel, Line of Scrimmage was an instant hit with me. What I like about these books are the characters. They are people that readers can fall in love with. Plus the story lines are very believable. I liked that Michael and Juliana met on an airplane and that they are complete opposites. Like the saying goes…opposites do attract. Juliana and Michael share this great chemistry between the two of them. I can’t wait to read more by this talented author. Marie Force is a force to be reckoned with!

Book Loons: Marie Force hits all the right marks with Love at First Flight, a story that's got a little bit of everything: a great premise, endearing characters, a racy romance, and a nice dash of suspense as Michael struggles to balance personal life with a high visibility gang member murder trial, a situation that ultimately draws Juliana into the line of fire. Marie Force knows how to tell an emotionally charged and entertaining story.

Love at First Flight Launch Party!

By: Marie Force
Welcome to the party! Come on in, have a drink, hit the buffet table, and settle in for a good time! That's what I'll be saying tomorrow night at my book signing party at which I expect about 90 people. I've been very blessed to have a huge circle of supporters cheering me on from the sidelines. Love at First Flight is dedicated to them because they kept me going long enough to write and sell Line of Scrimmage, which in turn led to this one—a ten-year labor of love from idea to publication.

The book is set in Baltimore, one of my favorite cities. I lived just south of B'more, as the locals call it, for three years in the 1990s. I have vivid memories of pushing my now 14-year-old daughter around the Inner Harbor and Fells Point in a stroller. When the Southwest planes used to go over our house on their way to the BWI Airport, she'd say, "Welcome to Baltimore. Enjoy your stay." My son, who is almost 11, was born in Bethesda, MD, right before we moved to Jacksonville, FL, which also features prominently in L@FF. The third location you'll visit in the book is my hometown of Newport, RI. So in many ways, L@FF is a sentimental journey. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, I still work for the company that hired me when I lived in B'more so I get down there from my current home in RI quite often.

My friend and coworker, April Force Pardoe (no relation, if you can believe that) and her husband Rich, lived for years in a fabulous rowhouse in the city that I "borrowed" to use as Michael's house in the book. Michael tells Juliana that he lived across the street in an apartment and became friends with the guy who owned the place as he was renovating it. When the owner had to move suddenly for his job, he offered it to Michael "for a song" because he knew Michael would take good care of the place. That's exactly how April and her husband Rich came to own 8 South Chester Street in Baltimore. So I thought it would be fun to give you an inside look at the place where Michael and Juliana fall in love:

Here's the view of the living room from the front door. See that first wood door on the right side? That's the teeny tiny bathroom that Juliana marvels over when she first sees it. She mentions that she can't believe there's a phone in there, and Michael tells her the former owner put them in every bathroom. "You'll never miss a call in this house," he says. Picture Michael and Juliana sitting on that sofa, folding clothes and drinking wine the night he tells her about the brother he lost. Picture Juliana coming down those stairs (far left) to offer comfort after Michael's ugly confrontation with Paige.

Rowhouses are tall and deep. So the living room feeds into the dining room...

...which feeds into the kitchen. Note that the cabinets are suspended from the ceiling. Very cool!

Here's another view of the kitchen. I love those slate countertops. Can't you picture Juliana rocking out at the stove, stirring the sauce as Michael watches her from the doorway? Or when he brings her roses and champagne to celebrate after the trial finally goes to the jury?

Going upstairs from the living room, here is April and Rich's bedroom. This is on the second level and was Juliana's room in the book:

Also on the second floor was another bathroom and a second bedroom that Michael uses as an office and a home for his Bowflex machine.

Up one more flight of stairs to the room April and Rich used as a TV room, but this was Michael's room in the book. So picture his bed against the brick wall. The curtains cover the sliding door that leads to the lower deck and the roof deck.

Another view of Michael's room:

Michael's bathroom (more of that fabulous slate):

And finally, the view of the Inner Harbor from the roof deck where several important events occur in the book:

Thank you so much to Rich and April for "sharing" their former home with me, Michael, and Juliana. At one point, Michael talks about how proud he is of his home. After growing up in a three bedroom ranch house with three sisters, "I can breathe here," he says. Juliana, who has struggled for everything in her life, completely understands what he means. Because April and Rich moved into this house in the city after I left the area, I was only there a couple of times. But it made an impact on me. When I was thinking about what Michael's home might be like, I kept seeing April's place. It was too good to pass up!

For the writers out there, have you ever been somewhere, even briefly, that stays with you long after? Have you used any of those places in your books?

For the readers, how important is setting to your enjoyment of a story? Do you think it will help you to better picture Michael's house to have seen these photos?

Now, down to launch day business! I'll give away a copy of Love at First Flight and one of Line of Scrimmage to those who leave comments here and on the Casablanca Authors Blog. The comment period will close on July 4 on both blogs so check back to see if you won. If you've already read Line of Scrimmage, just let me know. Have you heard about my Book Club Meeting on July 20 at 7 p.m. EDT RIGHT HERE? I will post some questions on the main page, and then we'll air it out in the comments. There'll be prizes, hot dancing boys, and lots of fun! WARNING: there will be spoilers so make sure you read the book before the meeting. Also, make sure to check the listing on the sidebar for other opportunities to win copies of my books.

Finally, I'll be running a contest on my website beginning today and going through July 7. Check in every day for a question from Love at First Flight. The questions will be posted at random times each day, so you'll have to check in often. Email the answers to me to be entered into the drawing for the Love at First Flight Grand Prize Gift Basket. You must answer all seven questions correctly to be included in the drawing.

Everyone set to party? Ready? Set? LAUNCH THAT BOOK!!! Go forth and READ!