Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Perfect Opening

I've finally got it, the perfect opening for what will be my 13th MS. Lucky 13? Who knows, but I've got one heck of an idea for the opening and the book itself. It's very exciting when an idea that's been percolating suddenly takes form and solidifies to the point where you feel ready to start writing it. This story I have in mind is based on something that actually happened in my town, but of course it will be a fictionalized version.

I'm not quite ready to write yet, however, because I'm revising yet another book and I want to finish that before I start something new. Life is chaotic enough without taking on too much on the writing "job."

This weekend is my RWA chapter's annual conference. This will be the third year in a row that I've been to the conference, and I'm looking forward to it. Being around other writers is always a shot in the arm, and getting away from home for a night is also just what I need right now. This will be the first time I've been able to sign a book at our Book Fair, so that's also a big thrill. However, it also means I have to stick it out to the bitter end at the conference. Oh well, it's worth it!

Sorry to be an infrequent blogger lately. Things have just been TOO busy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Striking Close to Home...

I'm very sad today about the passing of the lovely Natasha Richardson. Emily and I are huge fans of The Parent Trap, one of the movies we love to watch on an occasional girls' night in. We also loved her in Maid in Manhattan. Our hearts are broken for her family, especially her husband and children who are so very young to lose their mother.

What happened to Natasha strikes particularly close to home for us because my father suffered a similar traumatic brain injury in January—with a much different outcome.

Since he's thirty years older than Natasha and he was on aspirin therapy when he had his accident, it's even more miraculous to me now that he survived such a serious injury. It's even more miraculous that he appears to have made an almost full recovery.

These things come out of nowhere. One minute a person is perfectly healthy, the next they're fighting for their life. I remember the instant I received the phone call that something had happened to my father at his winter home in Florida. Since the news hit about Natasha, all I've been able to think about is Liam Neeson getting the phone call that changed his life forever.

God bless them all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If You Had Only Three Days...

Tonight at dinner, my daughter Emily mentioned a short story by Helen Keller that they read in school. In the story, Keller discussed what she would do if she could have the gift of sight for three days. Emily's teacher assigned them an essay in which they are to detail what they would do if they had only three days of sight left. Travel time and other reality-based restrictions are not a factor in this scenario (picture George Jetson-esque travel).

This is Emily's list:
1. Spend one day in Spain so she can see where she born, which is something we hope to do after she graduates from high school.
2. Spend one day with her entire family. (We were glad to make the cut—not a given in the teenage years.)
3. Spend the last day somewhere exotic. New Zealand was mentioned.

Here is Jake's list:
1. Spend one day with his entire family.
2. Get a three-day pass to the Boston Red Sox.

You can see that he's still somewhat math challenged even in 4th grade. We're working on that, but his sister did point out that he'd used up four days when he only has three. That led to some sibling bickering, and the conversation disintegrated from there.

Their debate did get me to thinking about what I'd do with those three days. Losing my eyesight is one of my greatest fears, and it's something I do think quite a lot about. I spend eight hours a day on the computer for work and then another three or four at night working on book stuff. That's a lot of hours, and I remember my grandmother always telling us to sit back from the TV so we didn't ruin our eyes. If I allow myself to imagine what she'd have to say about my love affair with my laptop. . . I guess only time will tell if I've shortened the life span of my eyes by subjecting them to so many hours a day of intense computer time. I have a feeling that if computers do turn out to be the enemy of the eyeball, I'll have a lot of good company at the home for the blind.

Well, anyway, about those three days. . .

Other than drink in the sight of my children so I'd remember every detail, I'd probably spend most of my three days reading everything and anything I could get my hands on. What would you do?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We're Having A Party!

The Casablanca Authors (those of us published with Sourcebooks Casablanca) are helping out with the last day of Barbara Vey's Beyond Her Book blog 2nd Anniversary Party over at Publisher's Weekly. We're giving away copies of our books to commenters, so come by and join the fun.

On our Casablanca Authors Blog today, we've brought some of the food to Barbara's party. Check out our fabulous recipes, including Line of Scrimmage Buffalo Chicken Dip, which is great for tailgating parties!

Alrighty, enough partying... Back to reading revisions....

Friday, March 13, 2009


Sorry to have been missing in action the last week or so. I've been in REVISION HELL. If you've never been to revision hell, picture a one-sentence bit of feedback from an agent or editor. And then imagine yourself mulling over that bit of feedback for a couple of weeks before it dawns on you that you have to rewrite the last quarter of a 100,000-word book. To put that in an equation format:

1 sentence of feedback + 3 weeks of mulling = 25,000 new words

Daunting. And at times... Hellish. The end result? A much better book. A much tighter mystery. A ramping up of the tension. I'm thrilled with the way these revisions came together, but we'll see what "they" think! This was a great learning exercise in which I was able to apply some of the things I learned last year when I added a 30,000-word subplot to an existing book to get it up to single-title length.

I'm looking forward to sitting down with a print out of the new version this weekend. I'll read it cover to cover to make sure everything syncs, and then I'll send it off.

If you've read the "About Marie" section of my website, you know that my dad has been a great supporter of my writing career. Long before I ever wrote the first word, he'd urged me to get serious about my longtime desire to write fiction. So when I finally finished my first book, shortly after my mother died, he became my No. 1 fan. Never much of a novel reader, he read each book as I finished it. Usually, he takes whatever I did the previous year with him on his winter jaunt to Florida.

This year his Florida trip was cut short by an injury, and he's been staying with my family for a couple of months while he recovers. While he's here, he figured he should get caught up on his reading... Gulp... It's one thing to have my dad read my sexy romance novels when he's fifteen hundred miles away. I'm finding it's another WHOLE story when he's reading them three feet from me. He recently finished the advance review copy of Love at First Flight, which got two thumbs up. When we were out to lunch today, he told my waitress friend that there's "some hot stuff" in that one. OY! Thanks, Dad! He's reading my first attempt at romantic suspense now and really enjoying it. Can't wait to see what he tells people about that one!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Since I finished my first book almost five years ago, I've had an ongoing and ever-changing relationship with my local post office. At first, I'd make regular trips to mail query letters, partials and full manuscripts. I was lucky to receive numerous requests for full MSs before I sold Line of Scrimmage in 2007. Back when I was first querying, most agents still wanted full manuscripts printed out and mailed. I spent a small fortune in postage during those years, and I got so I hated trudging over there to mail off another envelope full of dreams.

Since I signed with my first and then my second agent and sold Line of Scrimmage, I haven't had as much cause to stand in line at the post office. However, I did send copies of Line of Scrimmage to a couple "Best of 2008" contests. As I was waiting in line earlier today, thinking about all the many trips I'd made to that place, I had to smile as I realized another milestone in my journey as an author. I've gone from mailing manuscripts held together by rubber bands and binder clips to mailing off MY BOOK. That is very cool, and it's another thing to celebrate along the way, even if LOS doesn't make a ripple in any of the contests. Today I also mailed a copy of my most recently finished MS to my friend Mary in Florida, who told me she can't possibly wait until she gets home in April to read it. She was one of my first and most rabid fans, and I'm delighted that she hasn't lost her enthusiasm for getting "hot-off-the-presses" books.

March came in like a lion here yesterday, dumping 8" of snow in our neck of the woods. My kids were out of school AGAIN, meaning they are now in school until June 25! That's the latest I can ever recall them being in school. While I don't enjoy being outside in it, I really do love the way the snow has the power to bring life to a halt the way almost nothing else can in this go-go-go world. Everything is cancelled when it snows, especially when it's part of what we like to call a Nor'easter in these parts.

Finally, I'm pleased to report that I have finished the galley proofs of Love at First Flight! And yes, I did find a mistake late in the book on the second read through—just like I did with Line of Scrimmage. So while it was EXTREMELY painful to read the same book twice in a week, especially when you know exactly what's going to happen, it was time very well spent. Now I'm working on the revisions to another book, have two contests waiting to be judged, and two critiques I promised a couple of my new writer friends. I'm also starting to get my ducks in a row for the publicity blitz that will surround Love at First Flight's launch in July. At least this time, I have an idea of what to expect, which is why I'm thinking about it now! What's keeping you busy these days?

Monday, March 2, 2009

From Around the Blogosphere

I've been reading some great blogs lately, chock full of tremendous advice for writers. Whether you're published, seeking representation, or just finishing your first manuscript, the blogosphere is ripe with information to help make the journey a little less confusing. Here are some recent highlights:

From Agent Janet Reid, who is flat out hysterical in her bluntness: Things to Skip in a Query Letter

More great query advice from agent Jennifer Jackson in her latest Letters from the Query Wars

Agents are lamenting across the board on their blogs that there's been a huge uptick in new queries in 2009. Make sure you pay close attention to the advice they give out on their blogs every day to make your letter stand out in an ever-crowded pack.

From Author John Scalzi, 10 Things to Remember About Authors

A great blog from uber author Danielle Steel about her writing process, called "Writing." Love her books or hate them, you won't believe how hard she continues to work after more than 100 bestsellers. And, she still composes on a typewriter! She also has a great blog on her fear of flying that I could totally relate to!

Agent Nathan Bransford did a tremendous blog about Sympathetic vs. Unsympathetic Characters last week. This is really worth checking out. If you take nothing else away from it, remember this word: redeemability. You can create the most horrific villain, but there has to be something about him we can relate to.

Finally, as authors we talk a lot about voice and how critical it is that we develop our own voice and let it shine through in our writing. If you struggle with voice and don't read mega best selling author Meg Cabot's Diary, you're really missing out. Her unique voice shines through in every posting. You can't read more than a few entries without getting a clue as to why her books are so successful.

My agent, Kevan Lyon, recently started her own agency with fellow agent Jill Marsal, called Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Kevan and I were talking about agent blogs, and I told her I still read them all, even though I'm blessed to be represented by her. Why do I still read them when I am happily represented and published? Because I learn something new about the business, about writing, and about how it all works every single day by spending 30 minutes cruising the blogs. It's time very well spent and a worthwhile investment in your writing career. And, it's all free advice! I will continue to post worthwhile postings from time to time.