Cheryl Serra’s Lesson From Marie: Writers Write
I love my job so much I rarely even consider a job. It’s something I am fortunate enough and honored to do.
I get to work for a friend I’ve had for more than two decades and in whose wedding I was a bridesmaid. To say that my ‘boss’ is one of the most prolific writers of stories that incorporate values that resonate with me, a marketing genius, as down-to-earth as the early days of our careers and funny as hell is an understatement. I am in awe of her.
I honestly get weepy when I think of her path to this day. And I’m not shy about telling everyone I come in contact with who has anything at all to do with books or reading or romance or about pursuing their dreams about her tenacity in the face of adversity and her grace since she’s achieved success. She hasn’t forgotten for one minute how she’s gotten here and is so appreciative to the readers who brought her to this dream place.
I met Marie when I was a reporter and she was an intern at a community newspaper in Rhode Island. I remember the first day my publisher introduced us. I was on my lunch ‘break’ in the newsroom, reading (what else?) a romance novel. We were introduced and I told her it was nice to meet her but I’d talk to her later, I was reading smut. We became friends pretty quickly.
Over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of stories. We played racquetball, which was generally followed by a healthy dose of nachos and beer at the nearby sports bar. We rationalized it was better than having beer and nachos without racquetball. We’ve spent many lovely days on her father’s boat in Newport. I became friends with her parents and her crazy funny, witty extended family. We’ve shared our real life romance stories (or lack thereof) and all the other things friends do. I was in her wedding and was able to watch her family grow to include two babies and two furbabies. She even introduced me to my husband, Pat, who she’d met when he bought her house in Maryland, a house I had stayed at as a guest of Marie and Dan. I was actually in MD from RI having a meal out with Marie when Pat saw the Force’s for sale sign, knocked on the door, found out that Dan was a member of a ‘running’ club with which he ran and a few beers later, they shook hands on a deal where Pat would buy the Force’s house. Marie says she has the ‘gift’ of matchmaking. I also wound up living with Pat in Marie and Dan’s former house. Our real life story sounds more like fiction, doesn’t it?
When Marie first started writing I was living in Nicaragua, Central America. She sent me a word document that contained Treading Water, what would become her first book. I read it and thought it was great. Our lives got busier and our geographic distance remained considerable. Marie and I didn’t speak as regularly as we once had, but I was still in the loop about her hard-earned success. And I was so impressed that she always found a way to bring her stories to readers, even when the traditional publishers weren’t buying.
In 2012, Marie was living in Rhode Island and I was living outside metro DC, commuting by car, train and metro two hours each way, three times a week, to my job as a deputy director on a large communications contract for a consulting firm. Like many others in the industry, I got laid off. I sought Marie’s opinion as to what to do next, as there was a glut of unemployed people and not enough jobs. She told me what she’s said lots of times to lots of people, “Writers write.” She offered practical advice about getting freelance work. It worked. And Marie became one of my ‘clients’ (it doesn’t even sound right writing that!) when I started working remotely for Team Jack in November, 2013. My official title is publicity director. I get to talk to her readers and write stories about them, investigate advertising options, and a host of other communications activities.
I’m simply amazed at all she does. Aside from the maniacal pace with which she writes four incredible series, she’s so intimately involved and engaged with her readers through so many channels. Whether it’s the brilliant beyond brilliant Reader Weekend in Rhode Island, her gazillion reader pages on Facebook, her virtual workshops…the list goes on and on.
As do Marie’s gifts.
written by Cheryl Serra is Marie’s director of publicity