A Daughter’s Gift
Kara Conrad, a beta reader for Marie, decided to give her extremely well-travelled mother, Linda Rickel, something she’d never had before—a trip to the Ocean State to meet one of her favorite authors and see some of the sights Marie writes about and Kara has talked about. The pair attended Reader Weekend in Rhode Island 2015.
For Kara, the road to Reader Weekend—to Marie, in fact—was circuitous. Kara lives in Benton, Arkansas, and is a special education teacher. She won a contest Marie had offered through her blog several years ago. The contest entailed sharing funny stories about kids and “we’ve been sharing funny stories about our kids since then.” Kara won a signed copy of Line of Scrimmage. Later, Marie was having a signing event in Orlando and Kara coincidentally had a teachers’ conference across town that ended in time for her to attend the event. She met Marie in person and says, “We just hit it off.” She soon began beta reading for Marie and has subsequently brought many new readers to the FanGirl (and FanGuy) fold, including mom Linda. Despite Linda’s extensive travels, Kara explains, she’d never been to RI, so Kara wanted to bring her somewhere for the first time. Mom and daughter also share a love of Marie’s books.
When asked if Reader Weekend held surprises for her, Linda replied, “Yes, Rhode Island is a surprise. I have an 85-year-old friend who told me, as we were leaving, ‘You know that Rhode Island is a myth, because you never hear of anybody that ever came from there’.” Linda later called her to dispel the myth, adding Rhode Island not only exists, but it is in fact gorgeous.
Despite Marie sending Linda books as generous gifts, Reader Weekend was Linda’s first time meeting Marie in person and she says she loves her (who doesn’t?). Linda says she shares the books with her Sunday school class—comprised of women over the age of 65, adding she may have to review some before sharing. She said she once asked Marie to put a note in her books that would be shared with the class, letting them know which pages they could skip, “Because once you’ve kissed one part you’ve kissed them all.”
The Sunday school students also belong to book groups, giving Marie’s books a wider audience. Linda’s also shared the books with her 81-year-old sister, JoAnn. She and her sister favor the Fatal Series, although Linda thinks, “She’s moved on [to another favorite Series] and hasn’t really told me.” Linda hasn’t read the Quantum series yet, but says she has some great nieces she’s sure would like it because they like other series in that genre.
In addition to seeing the great sights of Rhode Island and spending some quality mother/daughter time, the trip allowed Linda meet a lot of fun people, including Marie’s team.
Kara also helps share the books with her teacher friends and swim moms (her younger son, Aaron, is on the school swim team). She says she probably gets a text once a week from someone to whom she’s recommended the books and they concur they’re wonderful. “We’re doing our part in Arkansas to spread the Marie word,” she says.
by Cheryl Serra, director of publicity for Marie Force