Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Husband Says He Invented the Y.M.C.A. Dance... What Do You Think?

Here, in his own Dan:

Jeffersonville ( "Jeff") High School, Jeffersonville, Indiana.
The date was January 12, 1979. It was a Friday. It was the first week back to school after the Christmas break. The unique "modular scheduling" that governed class periods at Jeff often presented students with an extended lunch period. After eating, there was usually time for roaming the halls, hanging out with friends, shooting baskets in the gym, or actually going to a study hall. This day was no different. And like most lunch periods at Jeff in those days, an impromptu dance party would happen on the balcony landing in the gymnasium. A student would plug-in his or her "boom box" and a DJ would proceed to play the latest pop and disco singles on eight-track, or the new cassette tapes. Dancing would last throughout the lunchtime period.

Jeff was, and is, a large school. During the 1978-1979 school year the student population was more than two thousand. The lunchtime dance party would generally take on the mood of an episode of SOUL TRAIN, with one student playing the part of Don Cornelius. In all, there were nearly a hundred students taking part.

But the innocent and unsuspecting actions that day by a couple of students would have a significant and lasting affect on dance culture.

Senior Dan Force (class of 79) had just finished eating his lunch. Upon leaving the cafeteria he strolled through the halls looking for his good friend and teammate Steve Hensley (class of 79) to discuss social activities for later that evening and plan which parties would be attended. Dan and Steve had spent their years at Jeff as members of the cross-country team and distance runners on the track team. They had become good friends and often spent time away from the track together as well.

After looking for, but unable to find Steve at all the usual hangout areas in the halls, Dan decided to check in the gym. Sure enough Steve was there. He was engaged in a pickup game of basketball.

Dan had entered the gym through the doors onto the landing where the dance party was taking place. It was a crowded day for the dance and Dan had to work his way through the dancers over to the balcony railing where he could look down 25 or 30 feet onto the basketball court where Steve was playing.

During a break in the action on the basketball court, Dan attempted to get Steve's attention but was unsuccessful. The dance party's boom box was too loud, blaring out a new hit single by the Village People called Y.M.C.A. The song had just recently started getting significant air time on the radio and from the cheers of the dancers when it began playing, this was probably its first time being heard there at the lunchtime dance.

So, since Steve couldn't hear Dan yelling over the music, Dan began to wave his arms over his head to try to get Steve's attention. Finally, Steve noticed Dan waiving his arms and pointed to himself to question if Dan was trying to get his attention. Of course Dan was and in turn pointed to himself, with both hands still over his head, in response to Steve. Now, with Steve's attention, and again using both hands, Dan gestured toward their usual hangout area in the was to Dan's left. And just then Steve threw the basketball up to Dan at which point Dan caught the ball over his head.

By now the song Y.M.C.A. was finishing on the boom box. One of the regular dancers, Craig Miles (class of 79) ...a sprinter on the track team...approached Dan and asked a question that puzzled Dan: "Did you just make up that dance or did you see it somewhere else?" Dan said he had no idea what Craig was talking about and told him that he was only trying to get Steve's attention down on the basketball court. Craig said "But all those moves...they were in perfect rhythm to the song. The Y, the M, the C, the A." As Dan had gestured to Steve, and caught the basketball, he unknowingly spelled out Y-M-C-A with his arms. Still puzzled, Dan replied "What moves are you talking about?" Craig explained that as the lyrics to the song said "Y-M-C-A," Dan was forming the letters Y-M-C-A with his arms. Dan told Craig that any dance moves he executed were completely inadvertent. Nevertheless Craig was fascinated with Dan's moves and asked if he could use them. "They're all yours buddy." Dan said.

The dance craze was an instant sensation. At some of the parties over the weekend kids were already gyrating to the music and waving their arms to the new song spelling out Y-M-C-A. The following Monday at school, during the lunchtime dance party every other song played was the Y.M.C.A.

Over the years, ageless teenager and pop music critic Dick Clark tried to take credit for the Y.M.C.A. chorography. He claimed that a week earlier on his January 6 American Bandstand show that featured The Village People, the teenage dancers were using the moves after he had suggested to them during a TV commercial break. But the only footage that could be produced showed only a shadowy figure on the fringes of the American Bandstand TV set waiving his arms in an unrecognizable sequence. It was later discovered that this individual was a dancing extra arguing with the show's producer because he was not being allowed to return to the dance floor after a TV commercial break.

Today, more than 30 years later, the Y.M.C.A. remains extremely popular and is played and choreographed regularly where dancing enthusiast gather. But it was the inadvertent acts of two Indiana teenagers in 1979 that set the dance craze in motion.

That's his story. What do you think? Is he full of it or did he invent the Y.M.C.A. dance? I like to joke that the kid he "gave" the dance to, Craig Miles, is probably living large in the Hamptons while we've got this old house in Rhode Island.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some Great Query Advice Floating Around

I've been reading some terrific blogs on querying lately that I wanted to share with anyone who is embarking on this scary phase in their writing career. Even though I've been signed with my current agent for nearly two years and did another year with a former agent, I still read the agent blogs just about every day. Why? Because I once or twice a week, I learn something about the business that I didn't know before. I like to think of the agent blogs as publishing 101. Just about everything you'll ever need to know is covered by the agents who blog.

Lately, a lot of them have been doling out some practical advice about querying. In this post, agent Jenny Bent covers common rookie mistakes. I like the one about conference guy who confronts her publicly about why he needs an agent in the first place. That's a really smart move. NOT!

Here, agent Nathan Bransford talks about how over-hyping your query can land you in the spam filter.

These two are from Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, which will publish my book, Fatal Affair, in June. Query Dos. And, Query Don'ts. Some of this seems like it should be common sense, but the agents and editors are seeing enough of the "don'ts" to blog about them. I thought Angela made a great point about not using rhetorical questions to open a query. Sure, we hear this advice a lot, but what does it really mean? Well, Angela spells it out: If the agent or editor's answer to your rhetorical question is NO, do you want them starting your query with the word NO in their head? I didn't think so.

I thought I'd share my query to Carina for Fatal Affair. While it may not be a perfect query, it did the trick!

Dear Carina Press,
On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano, sets off to O'Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, and the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator's killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction simmering between them, which seems to have only grown over the years.

In the 99,000-word FATAL AFFAIR, it soon becomes clear that the Senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to catch a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they'd lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.

FATAL AFFAIR kicks off a potential series featuring United States Senator Nick Cappuano and Washington, D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland. The second book in the series, FATAL JUSTICE (96,000 words), picks up Sam and Nick's story as a controversial Supreme Court nominee comes to Washington for confirmation hearings and is murdered execution-style. With high interest in the “ins and outs” of the Washington political scene, this unique story is sure to captivate readers with fast-paced intrigue and heart-warming romance! In addition, readers will fall in love with the colorful cast of secondary characters. Both manuscripts are complete and an outline for future books featuring Sam and Nick is available upon request. In the spirit of the wildly popular J.D. Robb "In Death" books, the "Fatal" series tells the story of a complex marriage in which readers will discover that politics really does make for strange bedfellows.

My first novel, LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, was released September 1, 2008 from Sourcebooks Casablanca. My second novel, LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT, was released from Sourcebooks in July. My third contemporary from Sourcebooks, tentatively titled SEE YOU NEXT TIME, will be out in the Spring of 2011. Of LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, Booklist said, “With its humor and endearing characters, Force’s charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” Wild on Books said, “LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT by Marie Force is most definitely a keeper. It is an astounding book. I loved every single word!” I've worked hard to build up a core group of readers who are clamoring for more! I believe a partnership with Carina Press would be an outstanding complement to my print books.

Since 1996, I've been the communications director for a national organization similar to RWA. I recently completed a two-year term as newsletter editor for RWA’s New England Chapter, and I'm a member of the From the Heart and Published Author Special Interest Chapters. A resident of Rhode Island, I'm married with two children. Visit me online at or on my blog at I'm represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Please feel free to contact me or Kevan ( with any questions. Thank you for considering FATAL AFFAIR for the exciting new Carina Press endeavor.
Marie Force

Query questions? After hundreds of queries over many years, I may have some answers. Fire away!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Love Facebook

When I was a high school junior, I had a friend named Cindy. She and her family had come to the Newport, RI area for one year so her father, a Marine Corps officer, could attend the Naval War College. Cindy and I hit it off and became fast friends. I remember she drove a yellow Volkswagen beetle (the original version), and we used to zoom around town together. One day I asked her to teach me to drive her car, a stick shift. We pulled into a parking lot, traded places, and I looked down at the floor. "What's the third pedal for?" I asked her. She gave me a shocked look and said, "Get the hell out of my car!" After having owned several cars with standards transmissions, I find that memory even more funny! At the end of the school year, Cindy and her family moved on, and I never saw her again. I think we kept in touch for a while (the memory is sketchy on that), but lost track of each other over time. A few months ago, she popped up on Facebook and we're back in touch. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed Cindy until I heard from her again. That's one reason why I love Facebook.

Since I separated my friends/family page from my author page, my author page has grown in leaps and bounds to nearly 2,000 friends, most of whom are in some way connected to the romance business—either as readers or writers. I've met so many new people who've gone out and bought my books after getting to know me on Facebook. Some of them have also become active readers here on my blog. I'm grateful for every one of my new friends, and they are 2,000 more reasons why I love Facebook.

Earlier this year, my little family of four embarked on a family project to find a new dog. Consuela has been gone almost a year, and we felt ready to start again with a new pet. We scoured the Internet, visited local shelters (a few too depressing for words) and put the word out that we were actively looking. Our search was going nowhere fast until I posted a notice to my personal friend/family page and the network kicked into gear. A friend of my cousin's who I haven't seen in years, but who I'm friends with on Facebook, had a coworker whose college-age daughter had a puppy that was too much for her to care for. (Did you follow that?) We connected via Facebook, exchanged a few e-mails and that's how Brandy the dog came to live with us this week. Brandy is just the latest reason why I love Facebook.

Have you had any blasts from the past or interesting networking experiences on Facebook? I haven't ventured into Twitter yet. I'm too afraid of being taken over. Any thoughts on that? Are you my friend on Facebook? If not, click on the link to the right and join my fan page (as much as I hate that they call it that—sounds so egotistical! LOL)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Friend to Love

Today, Lila joined our family! She is 13 weeks old and simply adorable! So far she loves to chew on socks, shoe laces and my friend Lisa's high heels. Dan has already had her out on her first run—just one mile, but he's getting her ready for longer runs. He's thrilled to have a new running buddy after many years without one. Consuela was just too old and tired the last few years. She has been gone almost 11 months, and we felt ready to open our hearts and home to a new friend. Emily and Jake are really excited and already in love with her. We are debating changing her name, but I kind of like it since Lila is a character in Friday Night Lights, the only show the four of us watch together. My dad was calling her "Baby Dog" tonight, and we liked that too. Maybe Babe. I dunno. I'm sure we'll figure that out! And now, with no further ado, is LILA:

Isn't she so CUTE????

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where Has March Gone?

Sorry to have been absent from the blog these last couple of weeks. Things have been nuttier than usual! I was sad to hear on March 2 that my friend Doug Haywood died during heart surgery at the age of 59. Doug is a past president of the Association I work for, and as the communications director, I work closely with the presidents. Yesterday, at Doug's memorial in Phoenix, I told his friends and family that my job is to make the presidents look good during their year in office. Some require more help than others, but Doug didn't need much help from me to look good. We hit it off right out of the gate and have been friends ever since. In 1997 we held our annual conference in Doug's home city of Phoenix. Doug and his wife Kathy held a memorable party at their home the night before the conference began. I hadn't been back there again until yesterday when we gathered at Doug's house after his memorial service.

The last time I saw Doug was this past June, at our conference in New Orleans. He "kidnapped" me from the welcome reception and invited me out to dinner with Kathy and one of the other past presidents and his wife. I said I was worried about being a "fifth wheel," but Doug told me not to be ridiculous and insisted I come with them. I'm so glad now that I did. We had such a great time with lots of laughs and old stories. Doug treated us all and was in high spirits to be spending time with old friends. That's how I'll remember him, as an old friend who was always happy to see me whenever our paths crossed, as a devoted family man who loved his wife and daughter, as a dedicated public servant who gave his entire professional career to the state of Arizona, and as someone who was taken from us far too soon.

After the memorial service, Dan and I headed over to the Arizona Grand Resort, the same place where my company held its meeting in 1997. Way back when, Dan and then two-year-old Emily joined me here and we had such a great time. We went exploring this morning and checked out the place where we held the conference, which I remembered like it was yesterday and not 13 years ago. It's nice to enjoy some kid free R&R after a crazy couple of months.

This past week, I blogged at Magical Musings about the sale of Fatal Affair. If you didn't get a chance to check it out, here is the link. There's a great story behind the story, and I hope you enjoy it. Have a great weekend!