Guest post by Marie Force, author of Love At First Flight

10:28 PM

I have the great delight of welcoming Marie Force to Marta's Meanderings today. Marie is the author of Love at First Flight, a wonderfully cute, romantic love story that your all going to love. I'd like to thank Marie for being here and I hope you'll all enjoy her post.

When the Setting Becomes a Character

By: Marie Force

To me, the second most important decision an author makes—after characterization—is setting. What city or town—real or fictional—will you grace with your characters’ presence? For my debut novel, Line of Scrimmage, I had just begun to sketch out the story in late 2006 when I was sent to Denver for work. I’d never been there before and had a day to kill before my work obligation, so I wandered into tourist areas and talked to people. I asked a lot of questions such as where would a wildly successful football player live in this city? Person after person said Cherry Hills. I stayed in a fantastic hotel called The Brown Palace, which provided the location for my favorite scene in that book. The city lent its special charm to Line of Scrimmage and served, for all intent and purpose, as a third main character.

Baltimore takes center stage in my second novel, Love at First Flight, now in stores. For three years when my husband was still in the Navy we lived just south of the city. We strolled our toddler daughter through the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. Our son was born in Maryland just before we left, and I landed a job in the area that I have to this day (meaning I still get to go there frequently). My friend and coworker lived in a fabulous rowhouse right in the city that had gorgeous details: slate countertops, cabinets suspended from the ceiling, a roof deck that overlooked the entire city, and phones in every bathroom. When I needed a place for my hero in L@FF to call home, I didn’t need to look much further than April’s rowhouse. (Click here—http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com/2009/07/love-at-first-flight-launch-party.htmlfor some photos!)

Baltimore is a fantastic city with many eclectic neighborhoods that provided just the right atmosphere for Love at First Flight—a big city with a small-town feel. So how did I decide to set the book there? I overheard a conversation in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport ten years ago that gave me the inspiration for the book. Since that’s where the idea was born, I figured why not stay right there?

Love at First Flight gave me the opportunity to revisit some of my other favorite places and/or former homes. After we left the Baltimore area, we lived for four years in Jacksonville, FL. In L@FF, we’ll visit Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and Amelia Island. We’ll also take a trip to Dewey Beach, Delaware (never lived there, but it sure is pretty!) and my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island, where my hero, Michael Maguire, grew up. Each of these locations adds something special to the book’s atmosphere.

To the authors out there, how do you decide where to set your stories? To the readers, how important is setting to your enjoyment of a story? I’ll give one copy of Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight to two different commenters, so tell me what you think for a chance to win! Already read Line of Scrimmage? Just let me know.

If you wish to discuss all the rules I broke in Love at First Flight, join me Monday, July 20, at 7 p.m. EDT on my blog (http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com) for a Book Club discussion. Warning, there will be spoilers, so make sure you read the book before the party! I’ll be giving away some great prizes to participants.

Once you’ve read the book, come by my website at www.mariesullivanforce.com to find out how to enter the contest for the Love at First Flight Grand Prize gift basket. I’ll accept answers to daily questions about the book through July 15. The winner will be announced during the July 20 Book Club Meeting.

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Every year we lose more people to AIDS. It hasn't disappeared and it's not going away anytime soon. I urge you to seek out and support your local AIDS Organizations. Encourage everyone you know to practice safe sex and to get tested once a year. Even if you don't think you are at risk, get tested. I didn't think I was at risk either, and I almost died before I was diagnosed.

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