Guest Blogger: Marie Force

marieDon’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.
By: Marie Force

On my website I have a quote from President Calvin Coolidge that I absolutely love: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Good old “Silent Cal” might not have said much worth remembering, but that quote is a winner, and the longer I’m associated with the publishing business, the more important perseverance becomes to me. I thought I’d share my latest example of how you shouldn’t ever give up on a book of your heart.

In the fall of 2007, I read about a U.S. congressman who was found dead in his house in Arlington, Virginia. For a brief time, the police investigated a number of possibilities, but it was soon determined that he fell down the stairs after having a heart attack. But what, I wondered, would the story have been like if he had been murdered? That question became the seed for my book, Fatal Affair, which will be out in June from Carina Press, Harlequin’s new all-digital arm.

I finished Fatal Affair in February 2008. I signed with my current agent shortly after that and sent the book off to her. She loved it and put it out on submission. We had lots of nibbles and many of the editors had high praise for the story, the writing, etc. One house was interested enough to request revisions, but there was a pervasive issue that we heard about over and over again. My vision was for a series about a U.S. Senator involved with a Washington, D.C. police detective. The publishers we spoke with, however, wanted a new couple front and center in each subsequent book. Apparently, that is the romance series “formula,” and no one was willing to deviate from it.

At one point, my agent asked me, “Are you sure you want to do it this way?” Yes, I replied, even though my heart was breaking at the thought of Fatal Affair not selling. I was very sure that my series, written the way I wanted to write it, featuring this one fabulous (in my humble opinion) couple, would resonate with romance readers. It was just how I saw it, and try as I might, I couldn’t change my vision. While we were still hoping to sell Fatal Affair, I decided I’d better write the second book to see if this vision I was fighting so hard for would even work as a series. The second book, Fatal Justice, took ten months to write, which is about three times my usual pace for a single title-length book. It was, indeed, a huge challenge to write an already-established couple, to keep the conflict alive in their relationship, and to make sure they continued to grow as individuals and as a couple. Fatal Justice made me work for it in a big, big way. In fact, I’ve never worked harder on a book. At a few points along the way, I thought about abandoning it and moving on to something else, because it was just too damned hard. But I made myself finish it, and in the end, I liked it even more than Fatal Affair. Finishing that book under these circumstances was a huge accomplishment in my journey as a writer.

When Fatal Affair didn’t sell as a romance, my agent and I talked about retooling it for the mystery market, but she said I’d have to scale back the romance. Well, I’m a romance writer, so that idea didn’t appeal to me one bit. Saddened, I put Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice on the shelf, hoping that somewhere down the road the market might change a bit and my series featuring an established couple would be welcome. Then Carina Press opened its doors late last year, vowing to shake things up in the romance business. Executive Editor Angela James was very well regarded thanks to her great work at Samhain, and I decided to submit Fatal Affair to them. They bought it on February 18. Right out of the gate, Angela and my editor, Jessica Schulte, told me they loved the idea of a series featuring my dynamic couple, Sam and Nick. Hallelujah!

Here’s a brief summary of Fatal Affair:

On the morning of the most important vote of United States 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, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth 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 between them that seems to have only grown over the years.

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 find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they 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.

I’m so glad I never gave up on Fatal Affair. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

Marie Force is the author of Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight from Sourcebooks Casablanca. Watch for Fatal Affair in June from Carina Press. Her next book from Sourcebooks, Everyone Loves a Hero, will be out in the Spring of 2011.

Find out more about Marie at www.mariesullivanforce.com on her blog at http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Force/248130827909.

On a note, Marie had to take an unexpected flight to Phoenix, but will be commenting this morning, during layovers, and Friday. So if you don’t see her comment Thursday, you will Friday. Marie’s one dedicated lady!

About LaDonna

LaDonna Paulette writes women's fiction, and loves using her southern roots as a background for her stories. She believes that great stories and chocolate have a lot in common. She happily craves both!
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47 Responses to Guest Blogger: Marie Force

  1. Becca says:

    Marie, your persistence and output continue to inspire me. I am so glad this series found life with Carina Press – I know how much you love it and I am so glad your dedication to your vision has paid off!

  2. Marie Force says:

    Thanks so much, Becca. I’ve been blessed along the way to have friends like you who prop me up when things are tough and who celebrate with me when the good things happen. I’m soooooo excited about finding a publisher for Fatal Affair who shares my vision for the series. Fingers crossed for Fatal Justice and beyond!

    Thanks to LaDonna and the Magical ladies for having me today! It’s great to be back with you.

  3. Mary G says:

    Hi Marie
    Good for you for sticking it out. Went to an RWA meeting & one author told me that she didn’t have success until she wrote in her own voice (not for the market). I know its safe for publishers, but the books I’ve loved the most dared to be a little different. There is no magic formula for romance/suspense. It whatever works for that story.

  4. Marie Force says:

    Thanks, Mary! You are so right about doing it our way rather than writing to the market. Sure, I could’ve retooled my series but I didn’t want to. It was definitely worth holding out for a publisher who was able to see it the same way I do. The ladies behind Carina are super dynamic and full of big ideas. I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with them.

  5. Edie Ramer says:

    Marie, I love your story. And I’m guessing I’m going to love your books too! Kudos to you for never giving up. I have a book like that too.

    The book I just finished is the hardest I’ve written and has taken the longest to write. I hope mine has a happy ending too.

  6. Maria D says:

    Marie,

    Congratulations on finding a publisher for Fatal Affair. When speaking to Dan I have learned of all the heartbreaks and disappointments you have had trying to get your books published. It’s great to see that with persistance and dedication a person can live out their dreams.

  7. Marie Force says:

    Thanks, Edie. Best of luck with your book, too! Sometimes the ones that make us work the hardest are the ones we learn the most from. It was really great to have a second book already written when they bought the first one, so all that blood, sweat and tears was worth it!

  8. Marie Force says:

    Hi Maria,
    Dan (my DH for those of you who don’t know him) has definitely been on the rollercoaster ride right along with me, so he knows about the highs and lows. I’m very happy to have four books sold now, and that definitely makes up for some of the difficult times. I’m also grateful for all my readers and the people I’ve met along the way. It’s not just about the destination. For me, it has also been about the journey. Thanks for coming by today, Maria!

  9. Charnell says:

    Good Morning Marie,
    I absolutely love your books,I can’t wait for the next one. After meeting you and reading your books,an
    interesting thing has happened, I’ve been inspired to write again. The blog that was once read by people as far away as Australia and South Africa has sat cold due to a horrible case of writer’s block. But Thanks to you and some of the other wonderful authors I have met,I going to try it again. Thanks for everything. Yes, the mail came yesterday and I will make sure Paulette gets hers too.

  10. Marie Force says:

    Thanks for coming by, Charnell! To the Magical ladies, Charnell is a bookseller for B&N in the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. I did a book signing there in late 2008 and we’ve been in touch ever since. It was a great thrill to me that my B’more pal loved Love at First Flight, which is set there.

    Soooo glad to hear you are writing again, Charnell! That is so exciting!! Keep me posted!

  11. Mary G says:

    Sorry – forgot Marie.
    The other reason to just write in your own voice: The speaker said that what’s hot now might not be hot by the time your book goes to market 6 months to 2 years later.

  12. Marie Force says:

    That is so true, Mary! Fatal Affair was finished just over two years ago. Love at First Flight was three years from finished to market. You never know how long it will take, and the book had better be timeless. Personally, I’ve never written to the market. If I did, I’d be writing paranormals, which are way more popular than contemporaries. But oh well, contemporary is where my heart is. And now, contemporary romantic suspense, too!

  13. Mary G says:

    Since I’m mostly a contemp & rom/susp girl, you have a reader for life.

  14. Debbie Haupt says:

    Marie, Hi and what a great article and advice we should all follow in our everyday lives wether we’re writers, readers or anything in between.
    You know I love your books and I am so looking forward to this one and the next in the series, I hope there will be more. And good for you for sticking to your guns. I’ve heard so many authors who fall under the pressure to change so many things in their works and to deviate from what they first felt so strongly about. And you know me I have a big mouth and I usually use it to shout about authors I love and who deserve it.
    For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading Marie, please do so.
    Her debut novel Line of Scrimmage was one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read and her second novel Love at First Flight was too. So you’d all be doing yourselves a favor if you check her out!
    Thanks Marie for the great works of art you’ve given us so far and I am looking forward to many many more to come.
    Your Fan
    Debbie

  15. Fedora says:

    Hi, Marie! Thanks for sharing that story–I love hearing how patience and persistence pay off! It can be hard to hear what sounds like no, but sometimes it turns out to be a not yet when we ask again! Congrats on the sale, and looking forward to reading more excellent writing from you!

  16. Marie Force says:

    Thanks, Mary! I’m so glad to have you as a reader for life!

    Debbie, thank you so much for such a lovely note. I was so lucky when you were chosen to judge Line of Scrimmage last year! The only reason I enter contests is to find new readers, and that certainly has paid off with new readers and new friends! I’m so glad you’re looking forward to Fatal Affair! I think you’ll enjoy it!

    Fedora, thanks so much for coming by! Funny about patience–I was born with NONE, but I’ve had to find some along the way in the publishing business. Nothing happens fast, that’s for sure. But sometimes, it is surely worth the wait!

  17. Nancy Naigle says:

    What a wonderful story and journey! I can’t wait to read the Fatal books and I bet working with Angela James is awesome. Love her humor on twitter and facebook, and her deep knowledge of the industry shines.

    Keep on giving us those great stories.

  18. Marie Force says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks so much for coming by. I’m so glad you are excited about Fatal Affair. Angela has been great, and I am impressed by how much ground she covers in a week’s time! Looking forward to learning a lot from her!

  19. LaDonna says:

    Marie, not only are you a great guest, but an amazing gal! Having you here is always such a joy. 🙂

    Loved your story, and it just reaffirms to me how important it is to stay true to your vision and voice. I’m so happy for your success, girl!

    Have a safe trip. Can’t wait to celebrate your next book at Magical too!

  20. Marie Force says:

    Thanks again for having me, LaD! It’s always great to catch up with the Magical ladies! Sometimes it is painful to stick to what we know is right for ourselves and our books. If you get to read Fatal Justice, maybe you’ll see why it was so important to me to do it my way. Fingers crossed!

  21. LaDonna says:

    Are you kidding? 😆 I read ALL of your book, girl! Whoo Hoo on the series! It sounds fabulous!

  22. Tina says:

    Marie,

    AWESOME!!! I knew you could do it and after years of NOT reading romance novels, I will say I really did like Love at First Flight for many reasons. Mystery interweaved, set in our beloved Baltimore, and character development was great.

    So, when are you writing a story with awesome Southern Spain as the setting? Bull fights, tapas, the beach, May Fiesta, and can’t forget the Vino and Sherry 🙂

    Can’t wait to read this new series!

  23. Mary G says:

    Ooh Tina
    Spain would be so romantic. Just remember Marie, I asked for a tennis player story. How about a Spanish tennis player a la Nadal LOL.

  24. Marie Force says:

    Thanks, LaD. I am so honored that you read my books! 🙂

    Tina, our beloved Baltimore was very good to me in L@FF. I can’t say often enough how much I love it there and how much I loved living close enough to visit all the time! I remember strolling Emily through the Inner Harbor on many a weekend and now she’s almost 15! Southern Spain does feature in one of my unpublished books (one that is now under consideration). Fingers crossed! I’d love to get Espana in there!

  25. Marie Force says:

    LOL, Mary! A Spanish tennis player. Will think about that! Of course he will look totally HOT in his white shorts, right?

  26. Tina says:

    Set in Spain would be great. aahhh, to remember those years. Don’t mention how old Emily is as I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by. I still remember babysitting her 🙂

    And, oh yes, some of those Espana men were HOT! Just remember in your book, he has to be tall, dark, gorgeous with an air of mystery and oozing sex appeal. I gotta stop or else I’ll starting writing.

  27. Linda Wisdom says:

    I am so proud of you, grasshopper!

    You’re writing the books of your heart and it shows it.

    Linda

  28. Kara says:

    Can’t wait to get this one in my hands!! So glad you stuck to your guns and waited for the right moment without changing your storyline. Congrats on the contract!!

  29. Mary G says:

    perfect – see through white shorts.

  30. Marie Force says:

    Ahhh Linda, my wise wise owl, thank you so much for always being there for your little grasshopper. I’m so glad owls don’t eat grasshoppers! 🙂

    Kara, I soooo hope you enjoy it and thanks for the congrats. I so adore Sam and Nick. I hope you will, too!

    Mary, got it–see through shorts just for you! You are so fresh! LOL

  31. Ana Morgan says:

    Marie,
    Yours is a great story. I can also attest that you are generous with your fellow writers. Perseverance, generosity, commitment–good gals do win in the end.
    Ana Morgan

  32. Marie Force says:

    Aww, thanks so much, Ana! That is so kind of you to say. Hope you enjoy Fatal Affair!

  33. SUPER CONGRATS, Marie!

    I’m so happy your romantic suspense series will be coming out soon! I met the same kind of resistance when I pitched the idea of continuing the same couple in an additional book(s). But GOOD FOR YOU on actually following your heart and instincts!

    AC

  34. Marie Force says:

    Thanks for coming out to play today, Aunty Cindy! I am soooo glad I stuck to my guns on this one. There was just no other way for me to write these books than the way I wanted to do it. I’m so glad Carina sees the possibilities! YAY!

  35. Marie, you KNOW I’m thrilled about Fatal Affair finding such a wonderful home! Sharing this wild ride with you has been one of my favorite parts of becoming a crazy writer. You have great things ahead of you…Scooter:-)

  36. Marie Force says:

    Kendra (aka Muffin, not to be confused with Muffin Top), thank you so much for holding my hand on the wild ride. I’m so thrilled with the wonderful home Fatal Affair has found at Carina. I am having the best time working with my editor Jessica. We have a lovely groove already! Thanks for being a pal. You guys in “the lair” make my day every day!

  37. Liz Kreger says:

    Thanx for joining us here at MM, Marie. And huge congrats on the sale of Fatal Affair. Perseverence paid off big time. Glad your vision was realized.

  38. Diva Donna says:

    Marie,
    I’ve loved everything you written. I’m glad you didn’t give up. Have a safe trip. Looking forward to this series.

  39. Marie Force says:

    Thanks for having me, Liz! And thanks for the congrats!

    Hi Donna, thanks so much for the kind words. I’m glad I didn’t give up, either!

  40. Debbie Haupt says:

    Marie, It was good to talk to you and spend time with you and some great fans today. Take care
    Deb

  41. Emmanuelle says:

    Marie, you know I’ve LOVED you stories so far. I’ll be reading that one too for sure !! That was a nice behind the book blog. Congrats !!

  42. Jane says:

    Congrats on the upcoming release, Marie. Thanks for sharing this story with us. I’m so glad we’ll get to read “Fatal Affair” soon.

  43. Marie Force says:

    Debbie, thanks for hanging out with us today! Great to catch up with you!

    Emmanuelle, I brag all the time about my reader in France! I love being able to say I have a real, live reader France! Thanks for coming out to play today!

    Hi Jane, thanks so much for your comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story behind the story. It was well worth the wait to find an editor who really connected with Sam and Nick!

    Leaving Philly soon for Phoenix! Will check back in later on!
    xoxo
    Marie

  44. Marie, huge congrats! I am working on book two of a series that has the same couple as the first book, and I know how hard it is. It brings its own set of challenges. I look forward to reading both your FATAL books, and kudos to you for never giving up.

  45. Marie Force says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Glad I’m not the only one who is struggling with this type of series. It definitely brings unique challenges. A few years ago, when I was just starting out on this journey with these two characters, I attended Nora’s chat at RWA National. I asked her if it is hard to keep up the tension and passion between Eve and Roarke after so many In Death books. I’ll never forget her reply: “They’re young, hot, hot for each other. No, it’s not hard to keep them hot.” Words to live by! Best of luck with your series and thanks for the congrats!

    Thanks to everyone who came out to say hello! Always a pleasure to visit with the Magical Musings ladies!
    Marie

  46. donna s BFF says:

    I am so very Happy For You on the GREAT BOOKS you have written!! Look so forward to your next!!
    I have a shelf for “Marie Force Collection”

    Sincerely,
    Donna S.

  47. Marie Force says:

    Thanks so much, Donna! You’re a doll!

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