A Fond Farewell to an NJRW Friend

Life has its ups and downs. But knowing this doesn’t make it any easier when we lose a friend. Unfortunately, a dear NJ Romance Writer member, Valerie Luna, passed away a few days ago. This tragedy is a loss for her family as well as the NJRW family.


Having only been a member of NJRW for four years, I haven’t known her long, but did get to spend time with Val at RWA Nationals in New York a few years ago. Val also served as a category coordinator for NJRW’s Golden Leaf contest for many, many years. As co-chair, I had the pleasure of talking with Val about how much she enjoyed reading the entries, collecting the scores, contacting the finalists, and handing out the awards.

Until this year, Val also served as NJRW’s basket chair. Each year she would collect books and other assorted donations, store them in her house all year, and host the conference committee when we came over to assemble the baskets. The one year I went to help, we must have assembled 60 or 70 baskets!

When I joined NJRW, Val served on the NJRW board as Hospitality Chair. Each month, she’d greet anyone visiting, welcome new members, and acknowledge our published authors. She’d also get the fun of handing out Hershey kisses to all members who submitted their writing (to an agent, editor, contest, etc), and Hershey Hugs to those who were rejected. Anyone who had good news to share was presented flowers. Val also handled matching up critique partners. It took me a good year of attending the NJRW meetings before I got up the nerve to ask for a critique partner. When I did, Val matched me up with Femme Joanna, for which I’m eternally grateful!


Femmes Joanna, Michele, and Jaye may remember Val’s love for lighthouses. I’m sorry I never got to write that lighthouse scene for you, Val, but when I do, I’m dedicating it you!

Val, you’ll be missed forever and always be remembered for your loving nature, positive attitude, and bright smile. May you be at peace and spend eternity writing happy ever afters.

If you’re so inclined, please share your special memories of Val, as we pay tribute to this special woman.

Leave a comment


  1. Lovely sentiment, Maria. I also have such fond memories of Val. She was truly one of my favorite people in NJRW, and I’ll always remember her as a cheerful Hospitality Chair. When I last spoke to her at the Conference, she said she’d made peace with whatever happened with her illness, that she’d had a great life and no regrets. Her wish was that her family not suffer in with her in a long protracted illness, so it makes one feel a tiny bit better knowing she got her wish.

    Val was one of the nicest ladies I knew and she will be missed.

  2. I really didn’t know Val, so thank you for telling us a little bit about her, Maria. It’s clear she touched many people in NJRW and I am very sorry to hear of her loss.

  3. Val was a real sweetheart. She was devoted to her family, her friends, NJRW, books, and her cats. She will be missed.

  4. Like you, Maria, I can’t help thinking of lighthouses when someone mentions Val. She was such a warm, nurturing person, and truly cared about all of us at NJRW.

    I had held out such hope for her when we saw her at the conference this year. She was upbeat, optimistic, and ready to forge ahead. Her passing is truly sad.

    Thanks for writing such a difficult post. She deserved such a wonderful tribute.

  5. Maria, thank you for sharing your memories of Val. She was a wonderful and gracious person, and will be missed.

  6. Maria – I’m glad you wrote this.
    I also know Val ‘from the other side’ – she was a huge supporter of the romance genre and authors. She hosted events at the Spotswood Library that brought authors and readers together. She featured romances prominently in the library’s collections. She READ AND LOVED romances….And when she was chosen as the RWA LIbrarian of the Year, she was thrilled and enjoyed every moment of meeting ‘her’ authors.

    But mostly I will remember her kindness and enthusiasm. When faced with the health challenge this summer, she faced it boldly, telling me she would get through whatever she needed to do. And she did….

    I will miss her.

  7. A lovely tribute, Maria. Val was a truly special person with her sweet smile and her always positive outlook. She brought light and grace to NJRW. Thank you for marking her passing in such a beautiful way.

  8. Jennifer Wagner

     /  November 23, 2013

    Lovely words, Maria. Val was a warm, gracious person and I know her family, friends and the chapter will miss her presence immensely.

  9. Beautiful Maria. I first me Val at a book group for Romance readers in EB B&N. She heard I was a writer and raved about NJRW. So, I attribute my joining NJRW to her. The amazing thing about Val was her kindness. She’d always find the time to touch base and give a call to check in. We talked about everything from our sons, to taking care of our elderly parents, to writing, and she’d lend support—a kind word, or a good piece of advice, or simply her ear. Like Jaye, I too was hoping she’d pull through and be okay. But through everything she kept on smiling. We should all learn from that. Val was extremely spiritual, and said on many occasions what will be is God’s will. I know she’s at peace with him now. Thank you for doing this Maria.

  10. This is such a lovely tribute, Maria. Val was one of the first people to welcome me to NJRW. She had a wonderful spirit and will be missed by many.

  11. Karen Bryan

     /  November 24, 2013

    Val was such a wonderful lady, and it was my pleasure to know her. I am deeply saddened to hear of her passing.

  12. Jenna Blue

     /  November 24, 2013

    Maria, this is so very thoughtful, and really speaks to what a sweetheart Val was. I’m still wrapping my head around her passing. My heart goes out to all of the njrw folks that knew her much better than I did, and especially to her husband and sons. God bless and keep you, Val.

  13. This is a wonderful post, Maria. Val was a lovely woman and I always looked forward to talking with her at NJRW meetings. She will be missed!

  14. Thank you for this, Maria. Val was such a lovely person. So giving and thoughtful. My heart goes out to her family. She’ll be missed.

  15. This is lovely, Maria. Thank you for doing this for Val. She was a wonderful woman and huge supporter of Romance. I attended more than one author event at the Spotswood Library over the years. She was always so organized, and there with her beautiful smile to greet us as we arrived, and then she spread her love of Romance to all of the readers who attended. She loved her job and it showed because she was voted RWA’s Librarian of the Year. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. I’ll miss seeing her at meetings. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

  16. Lovely post Maria for a lovely person. Val was my Basket Chair the year I was Conference Chair and we were on the Board together. She was always so kind and concerned about everyone around her. After I had been very sick that year, she would ask me at every meeting how I was feeling and look genuinely relieved when I told her I was feeling better – you could tell she cared. So, I took it really hard when she shared her news at the conference – it’s hard to believe that was just a month ago. Still, as others have said, she seemed strong, upbeat and ready to face whatever happened. In fact, she seemed more concerned with a problem I shared with her about my son, and said she’d pray for me and my son. Always caring for everyone else – that was classic Val. She was a remarkable lady and I will miss her. We will all miss her.


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