Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dear Diary: The First Month

Here we are at Jan. 31, the end of my first month as a self-employed writer. So how did it go? Well, it's been an interesting time of transition and discovery, that's for sure. As I've mentioned before, I expected things to go on pretty much as they had when I was working full-time from home for an outside company. The biggest surprise of this month is that wasn't the case. I'm finding I have to be a lot more self-motivated than I was when I had requests from coworkers and contractors and association members framing my days. It's also been an adjustment "giving myself permission" to write during the day after so many years of only being able to write at night. That adjustment seems to be happening finally. Yesterday, I wrote nearly 5,000 words in HOPING FOR LOVE. Yay! I'm really loving this new McCarthy book, and I hope you guys will, too. I've been torturing poor Evan, who can't quite figure out what's so different about this one woman who turns his head around and makes him forget all about his best laid plans to stay far, far away from anything that smacks of commitment. Super fun!

Another thing I'm trying to "train" myself to do as new life enters the second month is to allow for an occasional night or *gasp* full day OFF. Imagine that. I honestly can't remember the last time I took a full, complete day off from all things "work" related. Nothing about writing books or corresponding with readers feels like "work" to me, so that's part of the so-called problem. I like my work. Thus, it doesn't feel like work to me. Not a bad problem to have, all things considered!

I'm getting excited for the release on Monday of Fatal Flaw, book 4 in the Fatal Series. Here's what you can expect in the new installment:

Back from their honeymoon, Senator Nick Cappuano and D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland are ready for some normalcy after the whirlwind of their wedding, but someone has other plans for them. When Sam discovers wedding cards containing thinly veiled death threats, she's not sure if she or Nick is the target.

Already on edge, Sam and her team start investigating a series of baffling murders. The victims are well-liked with no known enemies, and the murders are carried out in a clean and efficient manner. Unable to find a clear motive for the deaths, she feels like she's chasing her tail.

With no obvious connection between the victims, Sam soon suspects that she may be the ultimate prize in the killer's clever game. When the danger starts to hit a little too close to home, she has two goals: find the elusive murderer and manage to live long enough to enjoy her happily ever after.

If you haven't yet pre-ordered a copy, you can get it here:

Also, if you haven't yet joined the Fatal Series groups, we're having a lot of fun chatting about the earlier books as we prepare for the launch of book 4. Find the groups here:

After you've read the new book, you can join the Fatal Flaw Reader's Group to dish with other readers. Just don't join until AFTER you read so we don't have to worry about spoilers. 

Thanks to all of you for reading my books. You'll never know how much I appreciate you!

Have a great day!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear Diary: Super Bowl Mania

It's all Patriots all the time in New England this week as the team headed to Indianapolis yesterday for the Super Bowl. The picture of a smiling Tom Brady was on the front page of the Providence Journal this AM. I adore him and that smile. He's so damned cute! Looking forward to Sunday's game and hoping for a better outcome than the last time we faced off against the Giants. I have to laugh at my son, the Boston sports fan, and the run of luck he's had since he started rooting for our local teams:

1. Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and 2007
2. Celtics win the World Championship in 2008
3. Patriots play in the Super Bowl in 2008 and lose, but have an undefeated season. What will happen in 2012?
4. Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011

He's suffered from an embarrassment of riches in his young life as a sports fan. We tell him all the time about my mom who lived her whole life as a Red Sox fan without seeing them win a World Series. In fact, she died Aug. 31, 2004, two months before the Sox won their first series in 86 years. My husband's father lived 86 years as a Chicago Cubs fan without ever getting the big win. I fear my son is in for a future of disappointment after such an amazing run! Can it continue? We certainly hope so! GO PATS!

I was supposed to go to the gym today, but I've got a sick boy home with me, so I'll be hanging with him. There's always tomorrow! Over the weekend, I cruised past the 50,000-word mark with Hoping for Love, so that brings us within shooting distance of THE END. Will keep you posted on how Evan's book is coming along!

Since it's Monday again, I thought I'd share some more reader mail from the past week...

From Marian:

Just wanted to let you know how much I loved Falling for Love. I'm completely smitten with all of the McCarthys of course and have been since I first met Mac & Maddie!!

From Hattie:
Omg Marie! Just finished reading true north. You are my new favorite author. I'm about to go on a reading spree. This is the first of your books that I've read. I've got some catching up to do! 

From Jane:
Gansett Island series...wow! Great series!  I'd downloaded your Love at First Flight  last year and really enjoyed it. Recently I went looking for other titles you'd done and found the Gansett Island Series.  I'm hooked!! I just downloaded the 4th one to my NookColor and finished Janey and Joe's story last night.  I couldn't put it down. Please keep up the great series; you're a very talented writer!

From Debbie:
Just finished the 4th book in the McCarthy's series. I just couldnt read the series fast enough. Cant wait for the next one. Time to start the Treading Water series.

From Barbara:
I'd forgotten what a wonderful island Gansett Island is.  I've decided that it is a magical place full of a powerful love potion.  WHY did I wait so long after finished "Starting Over," before starting "Falling for Love?"  I was so glad to be back home on Gansett Island.  I'd forgotten what a glorious place it is to reside.  Of course, now I've got to re-read all of the series.  I'd forgotten some of the storylines in the other three books.

So who are you rooting for in Super Bowl? Do you watch the game or just the commercials?

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dear Diary: Surf's Up!

What a gorgeous day in Rhode Island! It's not often that January 28 counts as a gorgeous day in my neck of the woods, but it's a balmy 45 degrees today. I'm sitting at the beach watching scores of surfers wait for the next great wave. Admiring their grace and balance, I watch them fly over the surface of the water with breathless anticipation of the inevitable crash. Despite growing up at the beach, I've never once tried to surf. After failing to conquer gravity on skis, I can't imagine I'd be very good at surfing.

As I do every Saturday this time of year, I dropped Jake off at his hockey practice and went to do a few errands. I returned to the rink, which is just up the hill from the beach intending to write for the thirty minutes remaining in his practice. Then I said to myself, "Are you freaking crazy? The beach is right down the hill! You're going to sit in a PARKING LOT facing trees when you could look at awesome surf and white sand and water sparkling with the thousand diamonds of bright sunshine?" Good thing half of me has some sense, huh? Watching the surfers is absolutely mesmerizing, and it's giving me some ideas of how Evan McCarthy might expend some of the considerable rage he feels when a sweet, lovely woman finally manages to penetrate the tough outer shell he's used to protect himself from love his entire adult life. Oh the possibilities...

After a trip to the gym, I got some good work done on Hoping for Love yesterday. I'm really enjoying this story about two people in the throes of first love somewhat later in life than most people experience it.   As always, the Gansett Island crew is providing lots of fodder for my overly active imagination! From where I'm sitting, I'm looking toward Block Island, the real-life inspiration for my fictional Gansett Island. I'm thinking a lot about ideas for new Gansett stories, even beyond the original plan for the McCarthy siblings and a few of their friends...

So what're you up to this weekend? Anything fun?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dear Diary: One Word—OUCH

The new mattress is here. They told us it would take some getting used to. We aren't sure we'll survive the "getting used to" phase. Dan suggested we both might need a sick day to recover from the first night. In the store it was soft and squishy and lovely. In our house, it's made of concrete. The good news is that Brandy had no complaints and slept like a baby. And of course that's really all that matters because the new bed is for her. Ahem.... We can return the mattress within 60 days if it's not working for us. They suggested we give it two weeks before we decide anything. I wonder if we'll make it that long. Dan moved to the sofa at 3 a.m. Not a good sign! On the plus side, the new bedding looks AWESOME with the paint. You gotta love when that happens. :-)

I got some good writing done yesterday on Hoping for Love, and we're up to about 45,000 words. I hope to bang out a big chunk this weekend to keep things moving. I'm also thinking a lot about Fatal Attack and hoping to get deeper into that one very soon. I was talking to my writing friend Jessica yesterday, and she was mentioning about how she is thinking a lot about her new book but not getting much chance to write. That gave me the chance to share one of my writing philosophies with her: thinking IS writing. It counts. If you are thinking about your book, mulling over where you want to go, getting to know your characters, or plotting as you drive, shower or cook, you ARE working on your book. Writers often fail to give themselves credit for the time it takes to puzzle out a story. If we aren't putting words on a page then we feel like we're wasting time. It all counts.

It's pouring rain here in RI, my favorite kind of writing day. I'm heading to the gym and then my Realtor friend Dawn and I are going to an open house at the house former Congressman Patrick Kennedy is selling in my town. Naturally, we have to grab lunch, too, so let's hope I can get my work count in this afternoon! Speaking of that, I used to think it was funny when authors would Tweet or FB about not making their daily word count or the various challenges to meeting the daily goal. I'd think how I'd hate to be beholden to a daily goal. Shudder. That was when I had a full-time job on top of my writing and couldn't set unmanageable goals for myself. I don't believe in setting myself up for failure. Now that I can do whatever I want during the day, I'm seeing the point of the daily word count goal. It keeps us from being total slackers! These days, I'm setting myself up for failure by NOT having a daily word count goal. Food for thought as I move forward with new life, month two!

I want to add a daily mention here of what I'm reading for fun. My reader friends at Marie Force Book Talk were gabbing about Lisa Kleypas (one of my all-time favorite authors) this week, and a few titles were mentioned that I hadn't read. Here I thought I'd read all her books, but alas that was not the case. Even though I'm supposed to be reading/judging books for the RWA RITA contest, here I am reading Then Came You (which I loved) and Dreaming of You (just started). How am I supposed to read RITA books when there are unread LK books demanding my attention? What are you reading? What's the latest book you just couldn't put down?

Last night I attended my daughter's swim meet (they won!) and she swam the 500, which is 20 lengths of the pool. Watching her cut through the water, it occurred to me that at no time in my life could I have done that. Neither of my kids are what you would call "natural" athletes like their father (they got just enough of my genes to ruin them!). Rather, they are "scrappers." They get out there and give it their all. They'll never be the best one on the team, but they bring plenty of heart to the game, which makes us very proud of them. Since it was a girls-only meet, I was surrounded in the stands by a group of high school boys cheering on the girls. That was the perfect time to receive an email from a 17-year-old boy in New Zealand who has been reading my books and "learning a lot" about women and relationships and sex and what is expected of men in these situations. The very sweet note from a lovely boy halfway across the world got me to wondering if reading romance novels shouldn't be mandatory for all teenage boys. Maybe if they better understood women and how to be half of a successful relationship, there'd be a lot fewer divorces. What do you think?

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dear Diary: This is Why I Read Romance

Another crazy day in house renovation land. Have I mentioned that I'll be glad when this is all over? Yes, I thought so! I need to compliment the speedy customer service of the furniture company, which set my mind at easy that they can send us a new drawer to replace the damaged one. As a result, we were able to complete the furniture set up and get the old stuff ready for pick up by the Salvation Army today. It pains me to get rid of a bed and dresser that belong to my grandmother, but you can't keep everything. If I had a bigger house, I'd stash it away, but I know it would stay stashed for many years to come, so why do that when someone can be using it? Sigh... The new mattress will be delivered later today, allowing us to move back upstairs to our regular bedroom. Last on the renovation list is new doors for all the rooms. The guy came to measure them yesterday. I think of the doors as the "final frontier" before we're back to normal around here.

The upside of the "some-assembly-required" bed was that while Dan was putting it together last night, I did Jake's basketball practice drop off and pick-up (normally handled by Dad), which is how I managed to be standing five feet from him when he sank a perfect three-pointer in a scrimmage game. The basket was so perfect, it didn't even touch the rim and went through the basket with an audible "swish." He doesn't score many baskets, so his entire team (along with his friends on the other team) went crazy congratulating him on the perfect shot. His grin spread from ear to ear. I was very glad I got to witness such a great moment for him, and it was all because of the house project from hell. There's always an upside, right?

Yesterday was a day of nonstop interruptions. After the gym, one thing after another kept me from writing. By about 3 p.m. I realized it just wasn't going to happen with so much chaos going on around me, so I put up the white flag and surrendered. I decided to read the first chapter of "Fairy Tale Interrupted," by RoseMarie Terenzio, who was JFK Jr.'s assistant for the last five years of his life. Of course, one chapter turned into the whole book, which I finished at 1:30 a.m., feeling unbearably sad at the terrible grief described by the author upon the loss of her boss and good friend, as well as his wife, who had also become her close friend. I liked this book a lot because it felt like a love letter to John and Carolyn, and not at all like the self-promotional stuff some of their inner circle has done since their deaths. 

RoseMarie said in People magazine that it took her 10 years to even be able to talk about it let alone write about it. She gave them her whole life for five years, and when they were gone she was left literally with nothing. She couldn't even get a job. As she put it, when you've been the assistant to the most famous man in the world, where do you go from there? I was awake for a long time thinking about the book, about the terrible waste of three young lives, and wondering about what might've been for JFK Jr. had he lived. Would he be president today instead of Obama? They would be roughly the same age, so it's very possible he may have turned his attention to elected office in the next decade of his life. I so vividly remember the details of that awful weekend in July of 1999. Having grown up in Kennedy country, I've always been interested in their family. That weekend, we held our collective breath waiting to hear the unimaginable. It was the weekend of Emily's fourth birthday, and I recall forcing merriment for her sake in the midst of terrible sorrow. I also remember the poignant words spoken at John's funeral by his Uncle Ted: "Like his father before him, John had every gift but length of life." 

This is the first non-romance I've read in ages. As I sobbed my way through the retelling of the accident that took the lives of John, Carolyn and her sister Lauren, I was yearning for the happily ever after that wasn't to be for them.

What was the last non-romance you read? Did you feel the same way afterward?

Thanks to all the new members of Marie Force Book Talk who've joined after reading about our merry group here on the blog. It's great to have you! Off to write! Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dear Diary: Best Laid Plans

The furniture I ordered on the Internet arrived yesterday in five boxes so heavy we couldn't budge them when they were placed in our dining room. We had put Brandy on the back deck for the delivery since she would've been totally underfoot greeting the delivery men if we'd let her run free. So now we have five stupendously heavy boxes blocking the sliding door. Dog is trapped, quickly figures that out and begins to panic! Thirteen-year-old son to the rescue! Jake devised a plan to bring her in through one of the windows that face the back porch. Success! Brandy was none to keen about being hauled through a window, however. The Brandy rescue was the good news. The bad news was that the dresser and part of the bed arrived damaged. Of course we discovered this just as the California-based retailer was closing for the evening. Hoping to get resolution—quickly—today since Dan and I are cellar-dwellers until our new bedroom furniture is set up. Jake said last night that he's tired of all this house stuff. I'm with you there, buddy! This is what happens when you put it off for years and then decide to do it all at once!

I totally forgot to mention that I hit the gym on Monday. Now why is this a big deal, you ask? Well, let me tell you... It's the first time I've gone on my own without a date with the trainer. I see her on Wednesdays and Fridays. Adding the third day on my own has been the goal, so this week I started adding that extra day. Of course after lugging furniture around last night, I'm sore as hell, but I'm still going today. Damn it. LOL

Yesterday I mentioned the very fun groups we've formed on Facebook and membership exploded, especially in Marie Force Book Talk. It's great to have so many new members hanging out over there, and I hope more of you will come join the fun! We're also having some great chats on the Falling for Love group about important topics, such as whether David Lawrence, who cheated on Janey McCarthy in Fool for Love and does something downright heroic in Falling for Love, deserves a HEA in a future book. Hmm, what do you think?

The writing of Hoping for Love continues to go well with the word count almost to 43,000. I can "see" the finish line in my mind, and I'm looking forward to writing the last half of the book. I'm having fun, as always, with the Gansett Island crew! I also want to say thank you to everyone who gave Falling for Love such a terrific launch week. I've been so excited by the reader response to book 4. Thank you all so much!

In other news from yesterday, I've agreed to be the President-Elect of the Romance Writers of America's (RWA) Published Author Special Interest Chapter. Gulp. This is my first leadership position within RWA, and it's something I felt I could take on now that I no longer have the day job to contend with. I'm looking forward to getting more involved with PASIC!

So what are you up to this week? Anything fun or crazy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Diary: Reader Mail

Before I get into today's post, I have an update from yesterday. We broke the news to Brandy that her under-the-bed office is shutting down, since our new bed will have drawers and not provide access to her favorite hideout. Later in the evening, I went into my room and noticed Brandy had barfed on the bed, which has never happened before in the two years she's lived with us. And they say animals don't understand English? Mine does! I've always thought so, and now I have proof. She's pissed, and she's letting us know it!

Yesterday was a really good writing day that took me up to 41,000 words on Hoping for Love. Things are heating up between Grace and Evan, but he's about to do something he'll regret for some time to come. Can't wait to dive back into their story! I mentioned this yesterday to some of my readers, but I thought it would be fun to bring it up here too: I hate writing love scenes. In fact, I hate writing them so much that it takes me a day or two to "recover" before I can go back and re-read what I wrote. My readers tell me they like my love scenes, which I really appreciate, but they do give me grief! What's funny is, like the act itself, when it's going well, I can tell. Everything is firing on all cylinders (literally—LOL) and it's "coming together" the way it's supposed to. Okay, enough with the puns. You get the picture!

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about my readers. I've been blessed to encounter the nicest, friendliest, most supportive group of readers. We are having BIG FUN over at Marie Force Book Talk where we now have 95 members, and we're growing every day. I really enjoy being able to hang out with my reader friends on a daily basis. Our Falling for Love Readers Group is now up to 75 members, and you're welcome to join us after you've read the book since there are spoilers galore in the individual book groups. We have groups for each of my books as well as the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series. Anyone is welcome to join, so come on down! For a full listing of all the reader groups, visit my Facebook page. They are listed under "Info."

In addition to all the fun we have on the groups, I receive such lovely email from readers after each new release. Here is a sampling of what readers are saying about Falling for Love:

Naomi wrote:

This book had so much going on that it kept me so excited the whole time. And I loved it when you left so much possibility for at least 2 or 3 more books! I can't wait to find out about Owen/Laura. I loved the banter between Grant and Stephanie.  Gals with attitude are always great! And love scenes were very steamy, yet really tasteful.  I enjoyed reading it.
Anyway, I enjoyed every word.  There is so much hope for more stories!  I love it! I can't wait to read Evan's story, as well as Adam, Owen and maybe Doctor David?!?! Now, I'm getting myself ready for another Fatal series!  I've already pre-ordered it. So while I wait, I'm reading Love at First Flight once again! Thanks for all the books you write.  You make me laugh/cry and make my day a lot more enjoyable!

Anna wrote:
Just finished Falling For Love, and it was sooooo good!! I loved it!! I am so glad that there is more to come. You are amazing, and you have such a gift for writing. You blow me away every time with your books, and I am always left wanting more. Thank you for all your hard work in writing such excellent books!!!!!

Jill wrote:
I have just finished reading Falling for Love which I only found online yesterday...don't know how I missed it  and as usual absolutely loved it. I am pleased to hear that you are now writing full time as this means not only more books  but more often as well....A win win situation....Can't wait. Best wishes for a long and happy career.

Rhonda wrote:
You've done it again!!!! I couldn't put this book down! It killed me to have to work today and not sit at home to read!!! You're writing really makes me feel like I'm right there in the story with them. You truly have a amazing gift! And I loved the first glimpse of Evan's book. 

Karen wrote:
I then decided to try your McCarthy series and have been consuming them like a crazy woman. I read Maid for Love and Fool for love within two days and I'm hooked. I just started Luke & Sydney's story and was so happy to see that I have Falling for Love waiting for me once I finish Ready for Love. I cannot wait to hear more about my favorite couples, Maddie & Mac, Janey & Joe and the rest of the family. I just read your blog and found out that you're now a full time author. Congrats! I promise to keep you in business and will look forward to reading more of your books. 

Alyson wrote:
Picked up the McCarthy series & I swear to you, a marching band could have gone thru my bedroom & i'd have been none the wiser. My mom RAVES about the Fatal series, but I'm going to have to wait till the last one comes out so that I can have a marathon. Write faster! You're fabulous. :)

Now you see why I love my readers. Thanks to every one of you for making my new life as a full-time author possible. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing. Deal?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dear Diary: What Weekend?

Another weekend has flown by in the blink of an eye leaving me to wonder what happened to the last two days. We spent some time on a snowy Saturday getting ready for the next phase of our home renovation project. Our new king-sized bed arrives tomorrow. I ordered it online and "some assembly required" has Dan up in arms about just how much assembly may be required. We went with a storage bed with drawers underneath since we have a small room and can use all the storage space we can get. Brandy the dog will be bummed to lose her under-the-bed "office" hideout, but it's her fault we needed the bigger bed. She insists on sleeping with us and is a huge bed hog! We're also sacrificing bedside tables for a bookshelf headboard. Can't wait to see it all put together, but tonight we get to move everything out of our room. Our current bed is going to the guest room downstairs, so that's where we'll be sleeping until the new bed is put together. Good times! More upheaval! Can't wait to be done! My goal was to have it mostly done by the end of January. We may make that goal. We'll see!

Yesterday, I spent a big chunk of the day on the odious task of paperwork. Where does it all COME FROM? It piles up in my kitchen until it starts to avalanche and I have no choice but to deal with it. There's personal stuff and business stuff and kid stuff galore. I caught up my business checking account and tax deduction spreadsheet that I let go for a staggering amount of time and then I am left to piece my recent life back together so it makes sense to the accountant. When the check register says "PayPal," something else has to go with that transaction. Thus a trip through the PayPal history is required. Are you seeing why this process always gives me a headache? New Year's Resolution (it's not too late to make them, is it?): Keep track of expenses and deductions AS THEY HAPPEN rather than weeks later. If that actually happens, I'll be shocked. But I will try...

Also yesterday, I got to see my son score a point in hockey and then get into a scuffle with another player that involved the use of their hockey sticks in an unauthorized manner (AKA stick to body). Dan and I were shocked that Jake took a swing at another kid with his stick, because that is soooooo not like him. He says he was provoked. We say if he does it again he won't play anymore. Sheesh! This isn't the NHL, boys!

Watching the New England Patriots earn another visit to the Super Bowl was a highlight of the weekend. The game was sooooo stressful! Can you tell me why I care so much? I'm not much of a fan until things get interesting at the end (sort of the same way I am about the Bachelor—talk to me the last three weeks. Before that, who cares?). However, I'm ALWAYS a fan of Tom Brady who is just too cute for words. He's not only the best quarterback of his generation, but he's a gentleman and not afraid to say he played terribly in a playoff game in which he didn't throw for a single touchdown. I like that about him. He takes the blame when it's his fault. There's not a prima dona bone in his body, at least not that he shows us. We're hoping for a different outcome than we got in the 2007 Super Bowl face off with the Giants, a win for NY that my son still calls "cheap." (One of his favorite words.)

Over the course of this weekend, I also did a re-read of what I've written in Hoping for Love so far (good news, I don't hate it) and laid out the print version of True North while I watched the game. That will be coming soon to Amazon! I'm trying not to put pressure on myself to write on the weekends, but I'm certainly using that time for other business-related matters. Here's another New Year's Resolution (I really hope it isn't too late): Take a day off every now and then. What must that be like? I can't remember!

Have a good Monday!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dear Diary: It's Finally Snowing!

Our snow-free winter is no longer, which is good news in one way: It forces my husband to take a day off from talking about global warming. He's been "on fire" on that subject during our unusually warm fall and winter. As one who grew up in Rhode Island, I've tried to tell him it's always been this way. Some winters we're hit by one snow storm after another and others are relatively snow-free. I blame the lack of snow up to this point on him. After nine winters of shoveling our long driveway, he finally bought a tractor with a plow last fall. That all but guarantees several snow-free winters, right? The used tractor sounds like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with the emphasis on BANG BANG. It backfires. Loudly. After which he is usually heard to say, "Oh, shit!" The kids and I listen for the bang and laugh at his reaction. We also make sure the windows are closed to keep Chitty's fumes from overtaking us, which nearly happened last fall! The bad news about the snow is that I have to drive in it, which I hate.

So back to business! Yesterday was a productive day in the writer land. I got quite a bit done on Hoping for Love, had a good talk with my agent, Kevan Lyon, about the Fatal Series and some other things that I hope will come to fruition soon. A lot of people ask me why I still need an agent when I'm doing pretty well as an independent author. Well, for one thing Kevan represents me on the ongoing Fatal Series and has been very helpful in dealing with a number of things on that front. She keeps her eye out for potential opportunities for me and helps to decipher the always-perplexing royalty statements I receive from two different publishers. We've been together for three-and-a-half years and have always had a great relationship. Is our partnership different now than it was before last year? Yes, it is. However, I have to say that from the day I first told her I planned to self-publish some of my unsold books Kevan has never been anything but supportive of my endeavors. She sees the big picture. Any progress I make on my own will be beneficial to the books I have with her, too. She "gets it," which is why I'm glad she's still my agent.

I made it to the gym yesterday for the first time all week, and today I can barely move. Next week, I aim to go three times so I can get back into a regular routine. We'll see how that goes. Hubby's company holiday party is tonight. They always do it in January, which is actually nice. December is way too busy, so we're glad to not have to add another obligation to the schedule. We're just wondering if the party will be snowed out! We'll see!

Hope you're having a great Saturday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dear Diary: How Did I Ever Fit a Job Into This Life?

(Note the addition of Fatal Flaw to the banner above...)

Back in the day, TGIF used to be one of my favorite sayings. I was always thanking God for Friday. These days, every day is Friday because the next day, I get to do what I most want to do: WRITE! Happy dancing all around! As the third week of "new life" comes to an end, I'm already wondering how I ever managed to fit a day job into my hectic schedule. Here's how yesterday went...

7 a.m. Wake up and see off the kids and hubby, snuggle with Brandy, take care of some e-mail, write a blog, do some Facebooking and tweeting.

8 a.m. Plug in the backup hard drive I bought last week to fully back up my hard drive for the very first time. As 1.3 million items made their way onto this tiny device, I gave some considerable thought to producing a TV show for computer horders. For surely I must be one with 1.3 MILLION items on my laptop.

9 a.m. Talk to my dad, who is in Florida for two months, for half an hour. As my self-appointed director of productivity, he wants daily reports on what we're up to in the office. At the moment he called, Brandy and I were having our second snuggle of the day. Shhhh, don't tell him! He'll be so jealous. Brandy is the one he misses most when he's away.

9:30 am Open HOPING FOR LOVE and get to work. Wrote 2,500 words over the course of the day that came rather easily, which is always nice. Things are heating up between Evan and Grace!

10:30 am Admitted the carpet guy, who was back for a third day to do the upstairs. Had a freakout when I saw the carpet going in because, as feared, it's way too light for the high-traffic area. Reminded myself that it's really a very small area we carpeted (hallway and dining room), so if it doesn't work, we'll live with it for a while and then redo it. Why sweat the small stuff, right?

Moved downstairs with Brandy and her food for the rest of the day. The new carpet smell from the recently installed basement carpet gave me a headache, but I kept working as the hard drive kept moving 1.3 MILLION files. The laptop got kinda hot during the big transfer, which made me hot as I toiled away in the COLD basement.

11 am Call from a close friend who just realized HER boat is on the cover of my book READY FOR LOVE. Now how crazy is that? Seriously....

Noon Got a text from a friend that led to a 90-minute catch-up lunch with many laughs. We sat in the sun at lunch so I would get some photosynthesis. You gotta kill two birds whenever you can.

2 pm Rushed home to be here when the high school girl got home since there was a guy working in the house. Now I've got a dog and a teenager in the room with me while I'm trying to work. She buried herself in the iPad for a while, so that was great until the carpet guy started on the basement stairs, quickly driving us out of the room with the banging. Upstairs we go with computers, backup hard drives, backpacks, dog bowls. Are you getting the picture? We were refugees in our own house! Yet I still wrote 2,500 words. (Just needed to get that in there again in case you were thinking TOTAL SLACKER at this point...)

3 pm Wondering where the boy is. No bus, no call from him that he is staying after school for something. At 3:10 I call the school to see if he stayed after. They haven't seen him. The heart begins to do that funny little pounding thing it does whenever something isn't right with one of my kids. I wait on hold while the school pages him to see if he is in the school, never realizing that the WHOLE TIME I AM ON THE PHONE I AM LOOKING AT HIS BACKPACK sitting on my kitchen table with the ballcap he wears every day resting on top of it. Being the good boy he is, he scooted around the carpet guy, into his room and out of the way. He missed the, "Hey, Mom, I'm home" part of the program. He was in his room the whole time I was organizing a search party. Mother of the Year nominee, at your service! Apparently, he called downstairs to tell me he was home RIGHT at the exact moment his sister and I were walking around the house to come in the front door. You gotta laugh. After you find the kid, that is...

4 pm Phone call from an old friend, lots of laughs.

5 pm Hubby is home, time to move all the dining room furniture back to where it belongs. Sweat, grunt, sweat, argue a little...

6 pm Get everyone fed. Decided the carpet doesn't suck after all. Phew. Carpet guy tells me he handles a customer freakout at least once a week. Apparently, buyer's remorse is common in the carpet business. Who knew?

7 pm Leave for daughter's swim meet one town over. Pools are insanely loud, hot and smelly during swim meets. Bleachers make you back and butt scream for mercy. Seeing your kid whipping down that lane, graceful and smooth through the water: Priceless.

10 pm Return home from swim meet, watch American Idol, Grey's Anatomy (the scene between Richard and Adele was one of the most moving things I've ever seen on that show) and go to bed to read How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long, which I am absolutely LOVING.

11:30 pm Lights out.

How did I fit a job into this life? Can you tell me that? The morale of the story is this: MORE writing. LESS of everything else.

I forgot to mention one other really cool thing that happened earlier this week. Years ago, when I was first writing books, I started referring to my writing journey as the "House That Jack Built." You've probably read the story on my website (if not, here it is). I always said that if I ever incorporated a business around my writing, it would be HTJB, Inc. Well, this week, HTJB, Inc. is becoming a reality at the advice of my accountant and attorney. While it may seem like a big pile of paperwork, which it is, underneath it all it's another bit of the dream coming true, and it needs to be celebrated as such. So, here's to HTJB, Inc. You've been a long time coming!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dear Diary

So much for my big plan to post every day. I totally blew off day 2! That's an auspicious start! Yesterday was a productive day with another 2,000 words in the bank on Hoping for Love, more promo work on Falling for Love and (shocker) MORE work on the website from hell. I also registered for the Romance Writers of America Conference in Anaheim, CA. I'm really looking forward to the three conferences I have coming up:

  • PASIC (Published Author Special Interest Chapter) in New York City on March 8-10 (I'm on a self-pub panel)
  • New England Chapter Conference in Salem, MA, April 27-28. I'm the Saturday luncheon speaker (gulp)
  • RWA in Anaheim from July 25-28 (I'm organizing a reader dinner on July 25 after the literacy signing if anyone is interested in joining us.)

I'd love to connect with nearby readers at any of these events, so let me know if you are interested in getting together.

Today I'm hoping to get a lot of writing done, but the carpet and tile guy is back for another two-day engagement that has my house turned upside down AGAIN. So I'll do what I can!

Oh and this AM I was invited on a local TV show, the Rhode Show, which is Rhode Island's equivalent of the Today show. I have to be in Providence at 8:30 a.m. for this engagement. I predict getting up at 4 a.m. to make myself presentable!

Finally, I'm celebrating the very good showing Falling for Love has had on Barnes & Noble, where it was ranked no. 71 overall this morning. That is very exciting! It's doing well on Amazon, too, with a good placement on the contemporary romance bestseller's list. Thank you to my lovely readers for making this possible!

Off to write! Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Today is not only launch day for Falling for Love. It also begins the third week of what I'm calling the "new life," or life as a full-time author with no day job, and I've got a few observations from the trenches. First, even though I've worked from home for thirteen years on the day job, I'm not doing the same job, so it's different. I didn't expect anything to be different, but when you think about it, of course it's different. For one thing, I don't have 27 coworkers to interact with anymore, which cuts the daily email total WAY down, from 300 to about 100 a day. I don't have any of those 27 coworkers or the thousands of members we worked for checking in, asking for help with various things, deadlines, publications to produce or a quarterly magazine requiring my attention. Rather, I have a website and books and readers and Facebook and Twitter and this blog to manage, and none of those things are as demanding as the job was. Each of those things is FUN! And this is WORK??? Pinch me, please!

I've talked to a few people about this odd transition stage I find myself in, and every one of them has said and done the same thing. First, they laugh at me, and then they remind me it's only day 17 since the "big change." I've decided I'm in "adjustment mode," and eventually I'll get used to my new routine. Even though I "work" all day, I'm doing something I love so much it never, ever feels like work. During these transition weeks, we've been having some work done on our house. Paint that requires everything off the walls and carpet that requires everything out of rooms, all of which equals chaos around me for weeks now, which is NOT conducive to creativity. This is stuff we've needed to do for a while now, but I just didn't have the mental capacity to manage home projects on top of two full-time jobs and two teenagers.

I've also been aiming to get to the gym more often, and at times other than lunchtime, which is when I went when I was "working"—for someone else, that is. Finally, I've been dealing with some business matters that require my full attention. Is it any wonder that I don't feel like I'm writing enough? LOL!

Without the big busy job framing my days, I've decided I need some sort of accountability system to prove that I'm actually getting stuff done and started keeping a log of what went on in a given day. The more I thought about that, the more I realized it would be fun to share the log here on the blog (that rhymes!) So here is what I've got so far. I'll share the future updates here as we go forward into "new life."

Jan. 8
Fun book club meeting at the home of Karen Medeiros, a reader friend I've gotten to know through email and Facebook. When I got home, after being gone five hours (including driving time), I asked my husband if I was allowed to take a half day that week since I "worked" on Sunday. Did I mention how much FUN the book club meeting was and how GREAT Karen, her friends and family were? Sure, this is work. Uh huh! They read Georgia on My Mind and really seemed to love it. What I loved about the group was that most of the 15 or so women there said Georgia was their first romance novel. A couple of them said they were now hooked and would never read anything else again. LOVED that I flipped them! :-)

Jan. 9
Today would've been my mom's 75th birthday and my 16th anniversary at the day job. I always thought it was cool that my work anniversary was my mom's birthday, especially after she died in 2004. I like to think she'd be proud of me and what I'm doing now. She fostered my love of reading, and I have no doubt that she's the reason why I became a romance writer since she was the first to put a Danielle Steel novel in my hand when I was a teenager. I was hooked. I did another book club meeting via Skype today, with reader friend Karen Lawson and her friends in Ohio. They read Love at First Flight for their meeting.

Jan. 10–11
Interviewed a couple of candidates to figure out who will be my new editor for the Fatal Series at Carina Press. It was fun to talk about the series and my plans for Sam, Nick and the gang and try to get a handle on who would be the best editor to help me take the series forward. I made a choice I feel good about, and I'm looking forward to working with my new editor when I hand in book 5, Fatal Attack, later this year.
Wrote 2,100 words on Fatal Attack
Wrote 2,000 words on Hoping for Love
Formatted Falling for Love and reposted the new cover
Went to the gym

Jan. 12
The basement carpet was installed today, so the house is still upside down, which makes productivity difficult. However, it was a dark, stormy, rainy day—my favorite kind of writing day.  Wrote 2,000 words on Hoping for Love.

Jan. 13
Wrote 1,300 words on Hoping for Love
 Promoted The Fall as a freebie
Went to the gym
 Went to Apple store in Providence to return defective laptop cord, buy a backup hard drive and get my daughter's iPhone fixed. Shocker—the phone can't be fixed and had to be replaced. While we were there, the guy waiting on us tried to convince us that Apple screens aren't fragile. Um, okay. WHATEVER! Why does everyone I know have a broken screen on one of their Apple devices? Despite the screen issue, I'm a huge fan of all things Apple.
Went to dinner for the last time at my favorite restaurant in Newport, which shut down Saturday night after 60 years in business. Sadness.

Jan. 14
Worked on the website
Wrote 2,000 words on Hoping for Love
Drove the boy to hockey, went to his basketball game and hosted a small party to watch the New England Patriot's game. Tom Brandy was UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE against the Broncos. Tim who? :-)

Jan. 15
Worked on the website all damned day. Every time I thought I was done, I discovered another disaster that needed to be attended to. It's like a sink hole! Watched the Golden Globes, which I thought were unusually dull this year. Watching George Clooney ham it up all night was a highlight. He is so damned dreamy!

Jan. 16
Continued to work on the sink hole website. Wrote some more on Hoping for Love, but didn't count the words. Enjoying Evan and Grace's story so far! Did some story brainstorming with my friend Ronlyn who had some great ideas for ways that I can torture poor Evan. LOL!

Jan. 17
Launch day for Falling for Love! Lots of Facebooking, Tweeting and interacting with readers. SO much fun and such a great first day for the latest McCarthy story! Wrote a couple thousand on Hoping for Love, the next McCarthy book, bringing the word count to 30,000 as of today. I usually aim for 65-70K on the McCarthy books, so that brings us to about the halfway point. I hope to finish it before the end of January. We'll see! Had lunch with my Aunt Betty and her friend Alice, who is learning all about the Kindle and was so excited to start e-reading on her new toy. I love that my books have helped to bring me closer to my aunt, who is one of my biggest fans. She is always so cute introducing me as her niece the AUTHOR when we are out to lunch together. After lunch, I went to my son's science fair and let him show off the great projects he and his friends had done. As I was getting ready to leave, he said there were 20 minutes left in the period and would I stay to keep him company? Since I'm now self-employed and can do whatever the heck I want, I took off my coat, sat down and spent 20 more minutes with my son. We had a nice chat with the mom of one of his friends, and I was glad I stayed. I think he was glad, too, even though it's not cool for a 7th grade boy to act like he LIKES his mom! God forbid! Hubby and I picked out a new mattress tonight, which is a truly ridiculous process since you have to make this huge decision based on 15 whole minutes of lying on a mattress in a store. I think we found one that will work, but I guess we'll see. Good news is we can return it within 60 days if it's not working for us. Much speculation tonight about what happens to the "gently used" mattresses after they are returned. Decided we don't want to know!

In conclusion, random thoughts by Marie Force:
  • The images from the cruise ship disaster in Italy continue to horrify me. HOW in the world, in 2012 with all the technology at their disposal, could this possibly happen?
  • I'm totally addicted to Adele's voice. "Someone Like You" haunts me. I may, for the first time ever, download an entire album onto my iPod: 21. I really hope Adele's recovery from throat surgery is progressing. The world needs more of her incredible voice.
  • I'm totally bored by this season of The Bachelor. Ben seems like a perfectly nice guy, but he's too nice to be The Bachelor and far too nice for the crazy women they've paired him with.
  • Totally psyched for the new season of American Idol! Thrilled that JLo and Steven Tyler are back for another season.
  • I remain addicted to the show Parenthood. One of the best shows I've ever watched. Ever.
  • I can't believe my oldest kid is taking mid-terms in her JUNIOR YEAR of high school. I can't believe she'll be driving at the end of next month. I'm so not ready for all of this.
More to come!

Falling for Love, Available TODAY!

Since he won the Academy Award for best original screenplay a few years ago, Grant McCarthy's personal and professional lives have fallen apart. Abby, the woman he was supposed to marry, is engaged to someone else, and Grant is back at home on Gansett Island helping to run the family marina business while his father recovers from a serious injury. While all Grant's focus should be on winning back the love of his life, pesky Stephanie, who runs the marina restaurant, is working her way under his skin and into his bed. As Tropical Storm Hailey cuts off Gansett Island from the mainland, Grant suspects Stephanie is hiding something big from her past. When he finds out what it is, what will be more important to him? Winning Abby back or helping Stephanie to right a terrible wrong?

After you've read the book, join the Falling for Love Readers Group to dish about the Gansett Island gang!

Read an excerpt.

Get it at:
Nook/Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks
Google Books

Monday, January 9, 2012

FALLING FOR LOVE, Coming Jan. 17

Fans of the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series will be glad to hear that FALLING FOR LOVE, featuring Grant McCarthy, is coming next week! When we left off with Grant in READY FOR LOVE, he was in shock over the fact that his longtime girlfriend had meant it when she told him it was over between them the summer before. Now he's back on Gansett determined to win back Abby while another woman has slipped under his skin. Here's the full description:

Since he won the Academy Award for best original screenplay a few years ago, Grant McCarthy's personal and professional lives have fallen apart. Abby, the woman he was supposed to marry, is engaged to someone else, and Grant is back at home on Gansett Island helping to run the family marina business while his father recovers from a serious injury. While all Grant's focus should be on winning back the love of his life, pesky Stephanie, who runs the marina restaurant, is working her way under his skin and into his bed. As Tropical Storm Hailey cuts off Gansett Island from the mainland, Grant suspects Stephanie is hiding something big from her past. When he finds out what it is, what will be more important to him? Winning Abby back or helping Stephanie to right a terrible wrong?

Watch for FALLING FOR LOVE, everywhere ebooks are sold, on Jan. 17! Read an excerpt.