Sunday, May 31, 2009

Choices in Life

Still remember one student of mine I talked about in my post entitled “Pursuing education, anyone?” I got surprising information about her a week ago.
When we were discussing “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” by Robert Frost, I led the discussion to some particular moments in our lives where people tend to follow their heart, to do what they want, and not what they must do. That particular student told me something surprising. When she was in high school, she wanted to be an English teacher, therefore after graduating from high school, she registered to Teachers’ College (alias IKIP Semarang). However, her parents didn’t agree with her choice. Although she was already accepted at IKIP, to make her parents happy, she registered at Economics Faculty of UNDIP, her parents’ choice. She got accepted there. Graduating from FE, she started working for one prominent private bank. However, she told herself that she would still keep her dream to be an English teacher. One day, if she had time, she would pursue this.
Apparently she had to wait for a long time! After working in the bank, as other ‘common’ people, she got married and got babies. She decided to wait until her kids grew up to make her dream come true.
And now, after she reached more than fifty years of age, she thought she had spare time. However, she did not study at a Teachers’ college, she chose to study at one Faculty of Literature and Culture whose campus is located not far from her workplace in the bank.
I was surprised and a bit touched to know this dream of hers. She didn’t lose hope to make her teenage dream come true. However, when I remember her pleading me to give her additional point from her diligence since she realized that her capability to grasp the knowledge I share is limited, I still cannot understand about that. If she really wants to be a teacher of English, I expect that she will be willing to study hard, to understand more.
Anyway, she is not the only one. A couple of years ago, I had two students who were teachers teaching English in Junior High School. They did not show full interest in the subject I handled—Poetry Analysis and Drama Analysis. Perhaps they considered these subjects were of no importance for their teaching material at school? Isn’t any knowledge useful for our lives?
PT56 17.37 310509


In one session of LIBRARY class, I assigned my Junior High School students to read TA-NA-E-KA, a short story written by Mary Whitebeard. My main reason to choose this story was I myself enjoyed reading the story. There are some reasons why I love it; first, the main character was a smart girl that could outsmart her cousin, Roger; second, TA-NA-E-KA as a ritual ceremony for Native American people who enter teenage period is very interesting; I opine that it will be a plus point for my students to know new kinds of ritual ceremonies from other cultures. That my students are also around the same age as the two main characters in the story, hopefully, will make them understand how difficult it is for Mary and Roger to undergo such an ‘extreme’ experience. Besides, I expected that they would not consider it as something too ‘far in the sky’.

The fact that most of my students are Chinese Indonesians whose parents perhaps do not really introduce them to the ‘indigenous’ cultures made me open my eyes that they do not think it important to maintain traditional ceremonies. This is my conclusion after reading their answers to the question “What is your reaction to the way Mary participated in Ta-na-e-ka? Is important to maintain traditional ceremonies? Or perhaps it was because they are still very young to understand that it is important that we maintain our cultures.

Here are some answers of my students to the abovementioned question.

Cheating. She borrowed money for evading bad food.
Sometimes it is. But not if we are in danger; survival first, and culture is next.

My reaction to the way that Mary participated in Ta-na-e-ka is surprising.
In my opinion it is in between important because even though the traditional culture practice is yucky but as the young generation, Mary needs to preserve traditional culture which has been passed down from one generation to another generation.

I am surprised because she is only a little girl but she is brave to live outside her house and survive in the forest.
It is a bit important to join maintain traditional culture practice because we can give this knowledge to other people and if we get situation like this, we are already prepared.

I was surprised that Mary didn’t really participate the tribe’s activity she was supposed to do honestly even though she said she was brave to do that.
In my opinion it is sometimes important but sometimes not because if we want to learn the past history of the Ta-na-e-ka culture and ritual. Somehow, it is disgusting when we are told to eat grasshoppers.

My reaction to the way that Mary participated in Ta-na-e-ka is quite impressive and surprised because she was so smart.
In my opinion it is not important because sometimes it is very dangerous.

My reaction to the way that Mary participated in Ta-na-e-ka is quite surprised and interested. Well, it doesn’t come to my mind that Mary would do such a thing. And it was exciting.
In my opinion, traditional cultural practices are done depending on the age and time. If it is no longer necessary, then it becomes less important to maintain

I feel that Mary is smart but she is also cheating the way of Ta-na-e-ka.
Yes, I think it is not too important to maintain traditional cultural practices because some people don’t really want it. Only people who want it should take it.

My reaction to the way that Mary participated in Ta-na-e-ka is: she is smart and brave.
It is sometimes important to maintain traditional cultural practices because it is hard to do and it is not really important.

Well it is good that Mary participated in the Ta-na-e-ka but still she should follow her cousin, Roger, to live in the wild for five days, not eating hamburger and milkshake and live in a good place. Even eating grasshoppers is disgusting, it is more natural to the culture if she doesn’t want it that way, she should refuse it hard from the very beginning.
In some culture it is important to follow / participate in the culture, but it is not always, because sometimes the culture that made our ‘people’ unique.

I got no reaction how Mary participated Ta-na-e-ka.
Not really for me. Sometimes I think it is important but sometimes I also think it not really important because it is boring while some are boring but very appreciated it so I take it as an important thing.

I was kind of shocked and … well, she was smart on using the restaurant but she should have done what her cousin, Roger, did.
It is important to maintain traditional cultural practices but it is sometimes ok if you want or do not want to do.

I think it is okay to do what Mary did because they were supposed to survive and they did.

With the Ta-na-e-ka, what is the use becoming a warrior? You’re not gonna make money and it certainly isn’t going to help you look for a job, so I agree with what Mary did.
It is not important to maintain a tradition that has existed for far too long to continue. It is absolutely primitive and out-of-date.

What Mary did was wrong but it was because she did not want to participate in it at the beginning. She thought that practicing Ta-na-e-ka was not important.
I think it is important to maintain traditional cultures because it is what makes our family special and different from others.

I wouldn’t want to participate in such a practice.
It is not really important to maintain cultural practice if it involves pain because it will not really help people except in spirituality.

I will support her to do Ta-na-e-ka that way.
I think it is important to maintain traditional cultural practices because culture is the main idea to develop the personality of someone.

Mary survived Ta-na-e-ka in her own way by living in the other’s house. I think she is smart.
We should have our tradition but we shouldn’t do it in the way that makes us difficult.

If I were Mary, I would go out of that place and never join something like that.
I think it is not important to maintain traditional cultural practices because that is just an old tradition.

Additional information:
I did not do anything before and after the task to read the short story; such as to have pre-reading discussion to lead the students to the topic, or post-reading discussion to find out their reasons why they came up with such answers. I haven’t done anything either to analyze the result.

LLTbl 13.53 300509

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Spy With My Little Eye...

A Green Lantern ring! How exciting! I am guessing this was no accident – as the penciler on this, Mike Sekowsky, drew not only a ton of romance stories but superhero books too!

"Happy Ending" from DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #5 (1971)
Mike Sekowsky (pencils), Bernard Sachs (inks),
Robert Kanigher (story)

One of the other rings looks a little Wonder Woman-ish, but it isn’t as obvious. I love hidden stuff like this… don’t you?!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brenda Novak GuestBlog: Bid! For The End Is Near! (And We've Got Some Real Steals)!

CONTEST TODAY!!! One lucky commenting Bella (LCB) wins an autographed set of Brenda's Last Stand novels (Trust/Stop/Watch Me)! Thanks,
Brenda Novak here

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Romance University - RU Ready?

Dedicated to providing resources for writers that will help build their careers and hone their craft, establishing a place where readers can learn more about their favorite authors, and opening a window into the male psyche.

Link here

Visiting Professors

Brenda Novak has three novels coming out this summer-The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar and The Perfect Murder, all part of her popular Last Stand Series. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May. To date, she’s raised over $500,000. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Milton Grasle lives in Illinois, just East of St. Louis with his lovely wife, Rhonda, and two spoiled-rotten dogs. He has written numerous short stories. Much of his success is owed to his wife, who has tirelessly critiqued and helped him with his writing. Rhonda is an accomplished author and has recently been offered a publishing contract on a novel.

Natalie J. Damschroder, author of Indulgence II, her second collection of short erotic romance, found her niche—romantic fiction—shortly after graduating from college. Four books and six years after starting, she finally sold. Now she struggles to balance her frenetic writing life with her family, the most supportive husband in the world and two beautiful, intelligent, stubborn, independent daughters (who have also decided to be writers). She somehow also fits in a day job and various volunteer positions in and out of the writing industry. Natalie’s published works include 7 contemporary romance novels, 7 novellas, and 14 short stories.

Lisette Kristensen is an aspiring writer of erotica and romantica. Through her writing, she attempts to explore all elements of erotica. It is her desire to show how the various fetishes and kinks can expand and deepen relationships, that would be presumably labeled vanilla. For she believes we all have a bit of kink in us, just waiting to bubble to the surface.

Theresa Stevens, Managing Editor, Red Sage Publishing
After earning degrees in creative writing and law, Theresa Stevens worked as a literary attorney agent for a boutique firm based in Indianapolis where she represented a range of fiction and nonfiction authors. The lure of the courtroom led to a nine-year hiatus from the publishing industry, but now Theresa is back as Managing Editor for Red Sage Publishing, a highly acclaimed small press. Her articles on writing and editing have appeared in numerous publications for writers. Visit her blog at where she and her co-blogger share their knowledge and hardly ever argue about punctuation.

Jessica Barksdale Inclán is the author of 12 books. Her most recent book, Intimate Beings, is the second in her paranormal series about a trio of siblings separated during childhood and forced on their own in adulthood to confront their special abilities and find not only each other but their own true loves. Jessica lives in Oakland, California and is currently at work on a contemporary novel and a book of essays and another romance.

Alicia Rasley is an award winning novelist and a nationally known writing workshop leader. Her articles are collected on Writer’s Digest Books released her writing craft book, The Power of Point of View, in 2008. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two college-student sons.

C.J. Redwine fears goats, loves stilettos and frequently lets her imagination run away with her. She writes edgy urban fantasy with a side of comic relief. You can learn more about her at and read samples of her writing, which is full of imagination and the occasional stiletto but is noticeably lacking in goats.

Romance novels offer comfort in down economy

Love may not conquer all in real life, but its power in relatively inexpensive books is quite a comfort in this economy. Publishers are seeing strong sales in the romance genre as other categories decline and consumers cut back on spending.
Article here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fashion Files - Menswear of 1971

Belt? Check! Sweater? Check!

Sure, it may be getting warm out there now – but believe me… you will want one of these come autumn!

I also read design and crafting blogs and came across the above images on a blog called doe-c-doe. I knew I had seen those groovy sweaters somewhere before! Presenting... belted sweaters for men! Oh my!

Heart Throbs #135 (November 1971). Cover by Art Saaf.
Who will she marry? I would pick the guy in the belted sweater if I were her!

Girls’ Love Stories #159 (May 1971).
Notice the guy in the background who appears to be ice skating... on land. None of that matters though, when you are the proud owner of a belted sweater!

1971 must have been a good year for fashionable men who disliked threading a belt through their pants!

Thanks Gina for digging up such a fun image and letting me share it with romance comic book fans!

Romance authors more beautiful than their heroines

This arrived in my email this am and I thought, how could anyone vote for the most beautiful author as they are all so lovely. Appeared in the Examiner here

Chef Amore - Recipes for Book Lovers

Tara Green has developed this website site and should be fun when it's launched in June.

Website coming in June 2009!
Recipes for book lovers - featuring some of your favorite authors and books!
What can you expect from our website?
• Recipes for your book clubs
• Recipes for their book clubs
• Recipes for the holidays
• Recipes for every day
• Printable Recipe cards to add to your recipe boxes
• e-alerts when new recipes are added
and much more... here

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carly Phillips & HQN Lucky Streak Contest

From a press release issued by Earthlink in the UK today:

"With all the doom and gloom in the world, I thought it was the perfect time for something fun and lighthearted," says the author. "There's nothing better than a romance novel to lift your spirits and take your mind off your problems. The theme and setting of my new book made this contest a natural."

To enter, readers must tell Carly about the luckiest moment of their lives, in 25 words or less. One lucky reader will win $1,000 to try her luck in any way she chooses. One entry will be chosen to win the prize, which can be used for a trip to Vegas, 1,000 lottery tickets--or just to pay a bill. It's up to the winner's discretion to decide.

In LUCKY STREAK, New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips continues to explore the effects of an old family curse upon the current generation of Corwin men (HQN Books, June 2009). The second book in her new trilogy, this is Mike Corwin's story. When he awakens in Vegas $100,000 richer and married to the gorgeous Amber, Mike thinks he's hit the jackpot. The bad news is that Amber's a con who takes his money and runs. Seems the family curse has finally hit him. Hard. But to Amber, Mike isn't business as usual. If only she didn't need the money to ensure her father's safety, she might actually have fallen for the intense lawman. But when he catches up to her and the attraction kicks in, her biggest problem isn't getting caught--it's figuring out how to catch him for the second time.

To enter online, readers should visit follow the onscreen entry instructions and tell Carly Phillips and HQN Books in twenty-five (25) words or less the luckiest thing that ever happened to them. To enter via mail, readers should hand-print (or type), on an 8 1/2" x 11" plain piece of paper, full name, mailing address, telephone number and the luckiest thing that ever happened to them, in twenty-five (25) words or less and send it to "The Carly Phillips Lucky Streak Contest 20902." In the U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 9069, Buffalo, NY 14269-9069 or in Canada: 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON M3B 3K9. The contest begins at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on May 26, 2009, and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on June 30, 2009. Online entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on June 30, 2009. Mail-in entries must be postmarked by June 30, 2009, and received by July 7, 2009.

Readers can learn more about the contest and review the official contest rules and regulations at A copy of the Official Rules can also be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope (postage not required from residents of VT) to "The Carly Phillips Lucky Streak Contest 20902 Rules," 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON M3B 3K9, Canada. Limit one (1) entry per person. If more than one (1) entry is received from the same person, only the first eligible entry submitted will be considered. By entering the contest, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Harlequin Enterprises Limited (the "Sponsor"), which are final and binding.

The stock market may be down and real estate sales plunging, but happy endings are up 32%, as HQN's parent company, Harlequin Books celebrates its 60th year of providing women with exactly what they want: involving, exciting, romantic reads. There's never been a better time to read a romance--or to win $1,000.

Tails of Love - Benefit book to raise money for local animal shelter

Pets victims of housing foreclosures

Benefit book to raise money for local animal shelter

Millions of households have pets and, annually, billions of dollars are spent on pet supplies and food. However, The Humane Society of the United States shares a much more sobering statistic.

Each year, millions of cats and dogs are left with shelters or abandoned to die on the streets.

With unemployment at a 14-year high and housing foreclosures at 60 percent, the situation is worsening. Pets are silent, invisible victims of housing foreclosures. It’s hard for people to find a place to live, pay bills and care for their pets.

To help ease the financial strain of the increasing numbers of abandoned pets, 10 authors have collaborated on Tails of Love, a romance benefit anthology scheduled for release June 2009 by Berkley Publishing. The authors and their agents are donating all of their proceeds to the Animal Adoption Foundation (AAF), a no-kill animal shelter in Hamilton County, Ohio.

A worthy cause

“This particular shelter has long impressed me as being very caring and very responsible to all animals,” explained New York Times best-selling novelist Lori Foster, the project’s lead author. “I visit the AAF and can see firsthand how caring and protective they are with the animals.”

In addition to Foster, Stella Cameron, Dianne Castell, Kate Angell, Ann Christopher, Marcia James, Donna MacMeans, Sarah McCarty, Patricia Sargeant and Sue-Ellen Welfonder have contributed original short stories to Tails of Love.

“Animals bring so much joy to our lives, and yet so many are left abandoned, sometimes even abused,” Foster said. “It breaks my heart to see animals in shelters. I want to bring them all home. I can’t donate time walking them or caring for them. The next best thing is to donate money to ensure that they always have what they need.”

Foster has a list of other non-profit organizations she’d eventually like to help with a benefit book. She tries to choose local places, such as the AAF. And, in 2008, she and 11 other authors contributed short stories to The Power of Love, an anthology benefiting the Hamilton County YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter.

“Without the support of truly wonderful readers, the benefit books wouldn’t be a success,” Foster said. “To all my readers, thank you so very, very much.”

For more information on Foster and Tails of Love, please visit her Web site

Tails of Love trailer

Contact: Lori Foster

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Romance Under the Covers - Review of Secret Romance #35 (November 1975)

Another major player in the romance comic scene of the 1960s and ‘70s was Charlton Comics. The Connecticut based company had dozens of monthly romance titles [Edit: Charlton's array of romance books were published bimonthly]. A nice timeline of Charlton’s history as a company can be found at the website of the Connecticut Historical Society. Be sure to check it out when you get a chance.

Secret Romance was one of Charlton’s many romance titles. I think issue #35 (the title ran for 48 issues) has a particularly gorgeous cover, drawn by Gustave Pujalte. I dig the heavy inks, especially the inking that makes up the hair of the two characters. The cover doesn’t have anything to do with the interior stories as far as I can tell, but it sure is pretty!

The first story, “Unwanted Woman,” was drawn by Enrique Nieto. Luckily, some of the Charlton stories are signed and Ramon Schenk’s website is helpful in fully deciphering the signatures. This story is about Isabel – a young lady who keeps getting jilted by her lovers, most recently by her lawyer-fiancé, Orville Bush. While trying to get involved in the local political circuit Orville gets drawn in by Governor Cosgrove’s daughter, also referred to as “horse-face” by Isabel. After the breakup, Isabel hears from her friend Ted –a newspaper man, that her ex is running unopposed for First Selectman. Betty, a server at the steak house plants the seed in Isabel’s head that she should run against him.

Isabel ends up winning the election. She seems to be rather successful in her position, shutting down a crooked bookie and preventing a factory from closing. Isabel is modest though, and tells Ted that she couldn’t have done any of it without his help. She confesses that she thinks that he should be the First Selectman, not her. Ted admits his crush on her and they make plans for the honeymoon.

The concept of this story was fine, but I found the art to be, well, how I say this delicately... a bit scary. The layouts are actually pretty great, but it’s the faces of the characters and the bizarre coloring that really threw me off.

The art goes to a less psychedelic tone with the second story, “Compulsion” with art by Sam Glanzman. In this story, sweethearts Amelia and Barry get engaged. They decide to go on a short trip to Nassau before telling their parents the good news. They stay at a nice hotel (in separate rooms of course) and spend the first evening in the hotel’s casino. Barry wins $1,100! Amelia doesn’t think anything of it and after gambling they dance and go for a stroll on the beach. Everything seems fine until they go to the casino again the next night. Barry yells at Amelia and tells her to get lost, telling her that she will jinx him. She goes off and an old lady sees her and tells Amelia that her husband gambles too, and that they have lost everything – including their house. As Amelia ponders the stranger's warning, she thinks to herself that it is was not Barry’s fault he acted that way, that it was the gambling making him act crazy. Amelia decides to confronts him the next morning anyway.

Amelia goes off to spend the rest of the vacation by herself. The airline stewardess from their flight to Nassau tells her she was smart to get rid of a gambler, as they are “bad news”. She introduces Amelia to the co-pilot of the plane, Paul. Just as Amelia and Paul are hitting it off, Barry wants to get back together. Amelia refuses, telling him that he’s really “married to dice, cards, and roulette!” Thankfully for Amelia, Paul thinks gambling is stupid.

“Buck’s Bag” is the advice column of Secret Romance. The art for the column is surprisingly good. The first letter struck me, as a young girl of 13 wrote in saying that she can’t forget about a guy that broke up with her. She went as far as trying to kill herself, she writes. Buck advises the heartbroken young lady to “fill up that void with new boys,” and that attempting suicide was an “extremely foolish act.” I am really hoping the author of the letter; “Desperate,” got some better advice than what Buck could give her and went on to live a healthy life.

The last story in the issue is “Heartbreak Ahoy!” The art is by Art Cappello, who actually started out as an assistant to Vince Colletta. This story is about a pretty girl with no self-confidence, Sarah. She works as a secretary in a big office in New York is very shy and unlucky in love.

Does this page remind anyone else of Mad Men? Miss Berkeley=Joan

Though Sarah works hard, she goes unnoticed by the men. But she saves up money and goes on a cruise in Bermuda for vacation. She goes all by herself, which seems a little uncharacteristic of a girl with no confidence, but I digress. A fellow passenger named Carrie introduces herself and points out the Captain’s harem of ladies. She also tells Sarah that there is a masked ball in the evening. Sarah decides to go to the party thinking to herself that perhaps if she is wearing a mask then maybe the Captain will look at her. Indeed, the Captain asks her to dance and they spent the rest of the ball together. At midnight he asks her to take off her mask so he can see who she is.

He tells Sarah that he loves her, and it is then that she realizes that it is in fact inner beauty that gets the man.

Overall, this Secret Romance #35 seemed to be a quick read. The stories felt shorter than DC romances, and the book contained a heavy dose of advertisements. With exception of the cover, I am not the biggest fan of the art in this particular issue. The stories were pretty good, but the art was a little rough in my opinion.

Amazon Kindle Version BEWARE! A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story…Fair?

Wow, authors, beware of submitting your title as an Kindle title! I’ve just received a poor review of my book A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story based on guess what? POOR EDITING and a “sample” page! I am shocked to say the least.

Apparently, through the download of my “perfectly edited” book, the text changes radically and the book appears completely juvenile! The “reviewer” downloaded a sample page (which one I don’t know)and wrote a negative review based on that one page and the poor editing as it appeared through Kindle’s version. As most authors know, one poor review such as this can destroy a promising writing career. Authors, don’t let this happen to you. If you have submitted your book for Kindle—get out now and save yourself!

Please let me know if you have had a similar experience as I would like to inform other authors of Kindle associated issues before they unintentionally and permanently sway their writing future.

Also, if you HAVE read my book and DID enjoy and learn from it, PLEASE leave a positive review on for me; it would be much appreciated!

As always, thank you for visiting my Blog!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview With Author & Publishing Expert Stacey Cochran

Today on A Book Inside, we are featuring an interview with author Stacey Cochran. Stacey is the author of Claws, The Colorado Sequence, Amber Page and the Legend of the Coral Stone, The Kiribati Test, and The Band. But his books are not only what he is well known for. He also teaches writing at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and is the editor of the Website How to Publish a Book at I think it’s important to hear from Stacy and I’m glad you as a writer are taking the time to read this information. So let’s get started by getting to know a little about Stacy.

Carol Denbow: Stacey, can you tell us how you began your writing career?

Stacey Cochran: Carol, you’re very kind. Thanks so much for your interest. And thank you for your enthusiasm and generosity in helping so many of us as writers.

My writing career began in high school. From 1989-1992, I worked as a projectionist at a movie theater. A few things happened during that time: 1) I learned that filmmaking was a profitable industry and I saw firsthand how much we value and enjoy a well-told story, and 2) I learned about dialogue, character development, and story pacing. In college, I pursued a degree in Creative Writing because I wanted to learn how to tell a story well. I published my first short stories in college, and after graduating I began writing novels. That was around 2001-2002, and I’ve been writing fulltime since then.

Carol Denbow: For some reason I feel as if my writing in this interview is being critiqued as I continue along with my questions for you (LOL)! How long have you taught writing classes?

Stacey Cochran: Ha, ha! The truth is I don’t place too much emphasis on grammar, unless it’s a serious issue for a student. I’m blessed to be teaching at NC State University, where our students tend to be in the top 10-20% coming out of their high schools. I’ve been teaching writing since I was in grad school myself in 1999. So about ten years now.

Carol Denbow: Why did you start How to Publish a Book?

Stacey Cochran: I started because I saw a need for information on the subject. It’s a Holy Grail for hundreds of us. Much of what frustrates aspiring writers is the lack of accessibility on the part of agents, editors, and publishers. People have books, and they want to know how to publish them. Too, I started the site because when I did bookstore and library events on the topic of literary agents or book publishing many people attended. The website became a hub for all the video interviews I did with agents, editors, and writers, and because of the nature of the Internet, became accessible around the world. My goal was to learn about the process of publishing and to help others achieve their goals to publish.

Carol Denbow: In my book, A Book Inside, How to Write Publish, and Sell Your Story I talk about the different publishing options for writers and the pros and cons of each method. With so few writers able to profit from their writing, what is in your opinion the most cost-effective way to publish a book?

Stacey Cochran: Well, the best way is to get an agent who sells your book to Random House, Simon & Schuster, or Harper for a million dollar advance. You seem to be asking though, what is the best way to self-publish? If a writer decides to self-publish his/her book, hundreds of options lie ahead. has a “ProPlan” where the per-unit cost of a 225-page Trade Paperback is about three and a half dollars. This is 40% of the cost of the exact same book printed through and about the same cost per-unit as Lightning Source. But, LS charges about 300 bucks upfront, and you have to buy a block of ISBNs. Other companies like AuthorHouse and iUniverse have many different rates and options, but I’ve not met one single author who used them and was terrifically happy.

So my opinion is that the best self-publishing option is to use to get a Trade Paperback. Also, you can make an Amazon Kindle version of your book available straight through Amazon. Additionally, I do an online audiobook version of my books through, which costs nothing as well. My last book on had over 50,000 total downloads. If you’re tech savvy, I’d encourage you to check them out.

Carol Denbow: I searched through your Website and found there were many benefits for writers. What would you say is the best information a writer can gain from visiting your Website?

Stacey Cochran: The best info is probably the interviews with actual agents and editors. Once I learned that these folks were real people with real tastes, hang-ups, issues, and ambitions, I stopped viewing them as some sort of nebulous group that I could never seem to penetrate. People in publishing are just like people in every other profession; they’re real people driven by the motivation to succeed and make a profit for their companies.

Carol Denbow: Well I do hope our viewers will visit your site and find some useful guidance there. Let’s talk about you books, in particular, CLAWS. Is this your most recent release?

Stacey Cochran: Yes, CLAWS is the most recent. Publication date was May 15, 2009.

Carol Denbow: Are there any more books inside Stacey Cochran?

Stacey Cochran: I’m afraid so.

Carol Denbow: Well Stacey, this certainly is all good information for our blogs visitors. Can you please let our viewers know where your books can be found and remind them of your Website address?

Stacey Cochran: Carol, thanks so much for all that you do. You are generous and selfless, and I hope you know how much we appreciate you.

You can buy a paperback version of CLAWS at for $10.99 or a Kindle version for less than two dollars. When you do read it, please write a review at Amazon. That would be a big help to me.

Here’s the link:

Thanks so much, Carol. And thanks, everyone, for reading.

Carol Denbow: Thank you Stacy for all this great publishing information and for sharing your new book with us. Visitors, please leave any questions or comments you have for Stacy below and thanks for dropping by!

Selling Romance - The 10 Way Hairpiece!

Anyone who has picked up a romance comic from the late '60s and 1970s has probably come across this advertisement for the "10 Way Hairpiece!" Sometimes it is in color and other times in black and white, but it is usually accompanied with this attention-grabbing ad offering a series of rewards for rare coins.

I am not sure that coins and wigs appeal to the same demographic, but hey! Who am I to judge? Notice that the address is the same for the Beauty Aids Co. and Best Values Co., as is the price for the advertised good -- just $1! It seems to me that a hairpiece would be a tad more expensive than a catalog, but again, what do I know?

Hopefully teenage girls mailing in for a "100% Glamorous Dynel" hairpiece remembered to send in a hair sample to be color matched by experts. You may be asking yourself, what is Dynel anyhow? According to Wikipedia, it is basically a synthetic fiber somewhat akin to PVC. Yuck! That doesn't seem like anything I would want on my head, but then again, being flame-resistant is a selling point.

While looking for more information on this mystery material, I came across this 1962 article from the TIME magazine archives. Wigs made from Dynel were a more affordable alternative to ones made of human hair. These synthetic wigs also allowed women not running in Hollywood circles to buy more than one hairpiece and change up their look without going broke. The Dynel wigs mentioned in the 1962 TIME article sold at Macy's in Manhattan for $49.50 (about $346 today), which still seems rather expensive.

The Beauty Aids Co. ad for Dynel hairpieces was written in 1967, and their versatile version of the fashion accessory sold for just $1, which equates to a little over $6 today. Wow! What a difference! The TIME article does warn of inferior knock-offs, but taking that chance must have seemed of little consequence for teenage girls trying to achieve the look of their favorite romance comic heroine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Author/Reader Event - Lori Foster

Check this out. Again, I didn't pay attention so I can't attend but I'm going to next year! Author Lucy Monroe raves about this event and please check out the work Lori does for our armed forces. If you can't attend, at least donate, please.

Event details

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pursuing education, everyone?

Around a decade ago, there was a quite interesting topic to discuss in the English book I used to teach in my workplace: a middle-aged woman pursuing her education in college. Her background was: she was married and a full housewife.

One memorable remark from a student came from a male student, a single one, and he was around thirty years old at that time. He was an employee. He said, “What is the point of this woman to pursue her study if after that she just would stay home and continue being a housewife? I am of opinion that she just wastes her time, energy, as well as her husband’s money. The case would be different—and more understandable—if she were an employee.”

The main topic was about education, especially about different kinds of learners: someone is either a visual learner, an audio learner, or a kinesthetic learner; or the combination of those three kinds of learners. Since I was not a feminist yet, LOL, I never led the discussion to gender problem.

Apparently that male student of mine didn’t comprehend Abraham Maslow’s idea about pursuing self-actualization need. If he already knew about that, perhaps he never thought that to fulfill this high-order need for women could be in a form of pursuing education to college—a somewhat masculine thing. Maybe he thought that women only wanted to do the so-called feminine things, such as cooking, sewing, and gardening.
You can guess that he would not let his wife pursue high education if she happened to be ‘only’ a housewife.


In the college where I teach, I oftentimes find female students who are more than thirty years old. All of them are employees. People can easily draw a conclusion that they all pursue their education with one sole goal: to enhance their position in their workplace. Higher position mostly means higher salary.

I know some of them are quite good. Some others really have to work hard to follow the material. A few really enjoy the study. Most others find it difficult. Even some of them think it unimportant to attend the classes. They appear only once or twice in one semester. This of course makes me unhappy; moreover if they are not good.

A few weeks ago, one female student of mine pleaded, “Ms. Nana, you know my English is very limited. And I am not young anymore. That’s why it is very difficult for me to grasp the knowledge you share. But you know I am never absent in your classes. If I cannot do the test well, will you give me some adding point from my diligence?”
I really did not have a heart to say, “That is none of my business.” LOL. Even, this academic year, for the first time I let the students open the book during mid-test, because of this ‘special student’. Her classmates are supposed to thank her.

Still, I am unhappy. And I am still expecting one day I will have students—both male and female—who pursue their study in their ‘not young’ age because of their craving in knowledge, just like Knute Axelbrod, one imaginary character in Sinclair Lewis’ short story.

PT56 22.40 160509

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Can You Spot the Differences?

As you may have realized by now, I am pretty partial to DC romance books. I tend to be drawn (no pun intended!) to their covers, and throughout the years have wound up with a lot of them. I wanted to share some Marvel stories as well, from their only two serial romance titles from the late sixties and seventies. So, the other night I went to the “O” section of my comics to find an Our Love Story. I picked out #38 because it is one of my favorite covers from the series. I then decided to go back and look through the “M” section. It was then that I remembered that the cover to My Love #9 is the same as Our Love Story #38.

The cover of My Love #9 (January 1970)

The cover of Our Love Story #38 (February 1975)

Which version do you like better? I think I like the later version more. The added lamp is a nice touch and I prefer the blonde hair.

The only story the two issues share in common is the first, “I Loved You Once – Remember?” It was “written from life” by Stan Lee, penciled by Gene Colan and inked by Dick Ayers. The cover is rather misleading and serves to draw the reader in, rather than reflect the interior story. The six page tale is about a girl Jackie, who is about to get married. One month before the wedding day she confesses to her mother that she doesn’t want to marry her fiancé Gary, after all. She thinks back on their relationship and rationalizes that she might have been too young when they first got together. Jackie has to tell Gary, and agonizes how to break the news. Conveniently, Gary breaks off the engagement first…

After living it up for a while, Jackie realizes she has made a mistake. Gary seems to have impeccable timing and comes to the door yet again. He tells Jackie that he could tell she was unsure about the commitment, so he gave her some time to think. They kiss and all is well.

My Love #9 and Our Love Story #38 are not the only issues of these two series that have the same (slightly altered) cover. The following charts break down which issues are duplicates. The issue numbers that correspond are adjacent to one another in the charts. As you can see, not only are covers duplicated between My Love and Our Love Story, but also within the individual title. In some cases the covers are not the same, but are incredibly similar.

On a side note – anyone out there go to the Motor City show this weekend? I usually go, but was unable to make it this year. I am pretty sad too, because it is always a great back issue show. If you did go, did you see any good romance books?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

7 Ways to Promote Your Book With Video

Today's post is part of a virtual book tour for Dana Lynn Smith. I think it's an awesome topic (and new book) and feel it's well worth reading. I hope you enjoy it!

Video is one of the hottest online promotional tools these days, and with good reason. People watch hundreds of millions of videos a day on YouTube, and folks who enjoy videos often forward the link to someone else, creating viral marketing opportunities.

Google includes videos in search results, and people also search Google and video sites for videos on a particular topic. So, how can authors take advantage of the power of video to promote themselves and their books? Here are some ideas:

1. Add a video greeting to your website, to get up close and personal with your audience.

2. Record a brief video promoting yourself as an author, expert, speaker, and/or consultant.

3. Create a video book promo (similar to a movie trailer, combining graphics, words, and music).

4. Offer free video tutorials.

5. Make video posts to your blog (known as vlogging).

6. Post video testimonials from customers on your website.

7. Create a video bio for your online media room or post clips of live speaking events or television interviews.

Short videos get watched more often, so keep your video under three minutes. About 30 to 90 seconds is usually ideal. Be sure to include your website address and a call to action in promotional videos.

You can create brief promotional videos with a webcam, the video capture feature of your digital camera, or a digital video camera such as the Flip Video Ultra. You don't necessarily need to use editing software to enhance your video—part of the charm is having it look homemade.

For book promos, you'll probably want a more polished look. You can get some basic video production tools and learn to produce videos, or hire someone to do it for you. Prices range from $150 to thousands of dollars, depending on the skill level of the producer and the complexity and length of the video.

I recommend uploading your video to YouTube at, then embedding a link on your website or blog. Just copy and paste the "embed" code from the video's page on YouTube. When you upload the video to YouTube, include important keywords in the title, description, and tags.

Here are some other ideas:

• Promote your videos in your ezine and through social media sites such as Twitter, Delicious, and StumbleUpon, and embed them in your profile on social networking sites like Facebook.

• Upload your video to other sites such as Google Video at and Yahoo Video at

• Submit your videos to video search engines such as Blinkx at and Truveo at

• Insert video links into your book's page on, through Amazon Connect at

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of The Savvy Book Marketer Guides. See more at

This guest article from Dana Lynn Smith is part of the virtual book tour for her new book, The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Romance under the Covers – Review of Falling in Love #128 (January 1972)

I chose to review this particular issue of Falling in Love today because it is one of the first romance books that I ever bought and read. Although I have always been a huge fan of comic books in general, my hunger for the romance genre didn’t start until about four years ago – when I myself fell in love!

My boyfriend, artist Justin Bleep (Brick City Bunch, Super Human Resources) is actually the person who introduced me to the genre. He has been a huge fan of romance comics for years, and well, it rubbed off on me! I will note though that my collection of romance books now surpasses his! Anyway, during one of the first comic book conventions that we went to together, Justin took me around and showed me all the great romance titles. Falling in Love #128 (edited by Dorothy Woolfolk) just happened to be one of those first books I purchased for my budding collection.

The first story in this issue is called “Stranger in My Arms.” It’s a rather heartbreaking story about the tragedies of war. On this page we see Jan getting ready to see her boyfriend Danny who has been at war for two years. She is very nervous to see him and gets all dolled up in anticipation. When they do see each other Danny drinks and become argumentative. His friend Nick tells Jan to be patient because Danny saw some terrible things while on the front. Jan is patient but Danny turns neglectful, and eventually stops calling. Naturally, she waits by the phone.

She finally goes to his house sick with worry, only to find him unshaven and zombified. To cheer Danny up, Jan takes him to the St. Gennaro’s Feast in Little Italy (so specific!). He is having a terrible time until a little girl comes up to him and mistakes him for her father. The mom apologizes for the child’s reaction and explains that the little girl doesn’t understand that her dad will never come back from the war. Danny wraps the orphan in a tight embrace. He then spills his guts to Jan – his friend was killed in action and he has been feeling overwhelming guilt. He couldn’t stop thinking how it should have been him instead, but the little orphan opened his eyes. She helped him realize that he must go on – for his friend’s memory and for the little girl’s father too. Jan patiently listens and then tenderly touches him. As beams of light radiate off of them, they kiss and all is well on the home front.

Overall I thought this story was pretty good, even though it’s maybe a little sappy. The semi-nude shower scene is a bit risqué perhaps, but does help with continuity and exposes Jan’s vulnerability in her uncertain relationship. Many, if not most romance stories show the protagonist in some state of undress (i.e. lingerie, bra and undies, nightgowns). I am guessing that besides showing the femininity and vulnerability of the characters, these particular scenes were fun for the artist to create!

The second story in this issue is titled “The Perfect Gift.” It is about two sisters who reunite at Christmas. Julie lives at home while Carla lives in New York City. Carla is sure to rub this in to Julie, reminding her that she is the “big town career type,” furthering Julie’s insecurity. Their brother Jim comes home too and brings a friend, Martin (hard to miss with that giant mustache). Julie and Martin hang out intensely and do things like build a snow Santa. They end up kissing and Martin tells her to stop belittling herself and comparing herself to her sister. Carla warns Julie that Martin could be a heartbreaker, so to be careful. But when he gives her a piece of jewelry as a forget-me-not gift, she has a hard time believing that he would hurt her. As her wise big city sister warns though, things don’t turn out in Julie’s favor.

Martin tells Julie that he came to their Christmas celebration because he was lonely and heartbroken over another girl and wanted to see if he could ever recover. Apparently kissing her and toying with her emotions was part of that recovery! After receiving the ever-so-disappointing, patronizing, patriarchal forehead kiss, she continues to sing Christmas carols with the family, moping quietly inside.

In between stories there is a brief interlude with essays from readers about their dream man. My favorite was the girl who wants a man with a big brain and who speaks in foreign languages that she can’t understand – for mysteries sake! She also wants to discuss the latest Dustin Hoffman flick with him (could be difficult without an interpreter) and listen to the Grand Funk Railroad together. Now that’s romance!!!

Probably the most compelling story of this issue is the third entitled, “I Was a Cheat.” The main character, Rita has a flashback to when she felt that she led a guy (Kirk) on and he tried to take
it too far. Though not said, it is implied that he tries to rape her. She tries to get away, Kirk chases her and he falls off a cliff and dies (or so she thinks). She flees the scene and leaves him there, holding herself responsible for his plunge – pretty ridiculous considering he tried to rape her!

Rita goes on the run and works in a small town as a waitress. She disguises herself by putting glasses on and wearing her hair in a ponytail. One day she serves a cop (Ben) who is interested in her. She panics about her past, but they start to date anyway. He asks her to marry him. She freaks out and says she needs time to think.

So she thinks and agonizes about the proposition – in her skivvies of course! She then goes to his office, but he isn’t there. She sees her picture (of her old self, pre-disguise) on his desk, so she freaks out again and decides to go on the run once more. Before leaving she leaves him a note with the truth, about how she had killed Kirk and how she was a liar and a cheat. She tries to run away and gets on a bus but it is stopped due to police activity in the road. Rita jumps off the bus and runs to Ben. She then in a frenzy explains everything to him. He reveals that Kirk didn’t die after all and the cops only had her picture because her parents had brought it to the station and she was considered a missing person. In an epic conclusion, Ben gives a cheesy speech about a guardian angel watching over them. It ends happily when she asks for forgiveness for what she used to be and is (to paraphrase Rita) washed clean by the rain.

I found this story interesting. The character Rita feels so guilty about being a tease and practically blames herself for the attempted rape. Though it is a bit convoluted, this story has a little more depth to it than many of the romance stories, à la “Glamor Girl,” the fourth story.

“Glamor Girl” is the simple tale of a model frustrated by her boyfriend because he is on a budget. She dumps him in hopes that she will meet a fancy, rich man. She then meets a wealth couple from Paris, and becomes a tad jealous. She then sees that they have problems too, and realizes that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. The French man reinforces this when he tells her that money can’t replace genuine love. Naturally, she goes running back to the boyfriend she dumped and he quickly takes her back.

The final story, “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is also on the fluffy side. Debbie goes on a vacation for a few weeks to visit her cousin. While she is away her cousin sets her up with a guy named Jerry, even though she has been dating a guy named Cary for five years. She falls in love with Jerry over the couple weeks. She feels terrible about telling Cary, but conveniently when she gets home, he tells her that he has found someone else –all before she can mention Jerry to him. Phew! She got out of that one easy! She gives him a kiss on the cheek and tells him not to worry about it. If only all breakups were that simple!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Falling in Love #128 in this installment of what I am calling, “Romance under the Covers.” Though these might not have been the greatest stories in the world, you can probably understand how reading this issue first got me hooked! In romance comics, some stories are good, some stories are bad, but they are all indisputably entertaining!

By the way, you probably have noticed that I have not mentioned any of the artists for this issue. It’s because I simply don’t know yet! Since most romance stories were unsigned it makes it difficult to always know concretely who penciled and/or inked a certain piece. I am keeping a record though of the individual art styles I see in each book. This hopefully will enable me to say with more accuracy later on who contributed to what. Artists with more distinct styles are of course easier to place, but also help to put the other pieces of the puzzle together. So, thank you for your patience and if you recognize an artist, please by all means, point it out! Wouldn’t it be great if someday romance artists were all given the credit they deserve?!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another Great Review (I'm getting pretty excited!)

Wow, I AM excited now! One of my books got yet another great plug! This time by Peter Jones of Great New Books Reviewed Blog at Peter has tons of awesome reviews on his Blog. If you're interested in some wonderful new books, stop in and see Peter's Blog. But first, read on!

I consider myself to be fairly involved in the publishing world. I’m a writer, publisher, and book marketing expert. I make my living by either being published, or through publishing myself. As a result, I have a really good grasp on the ins and outs of the publishing world. One of the more frequent questions asked from writers or those interested in becoming an author is how to get published. What is involved? How does the publishing process work? Are agents involved, or does one go the route of self-publishing these days?

The questions are many, and there is no one way to answer them all. It really depends on what you – the author or writer – is looking for and expecting to get out of the publishing process that will dictate the answers to these questions. Therefore, I was quite thrilled when I got a copy of Carol Denbow’s book, A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story in the mail for review. Could this book help answer all of the questions I get on a regular basis. It would be much easier, and more beneficial for everyone involved, if I could point them in the direction of a really honest, comprehensive, and useful resource. Although not perfect, I’m glad to say that Carol’s book is one of the best I’ve seen on introducing the writer to the publishing process.

Composed of eight solid chapters, A Book Inside starts at the beginning and walks you through the entire process. Beginning with writing your story, the book covers the basics of book writing – from copyright law to research, cover art, and professional editing – and delves into the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Although these sections are well done, and important for any writer or book author to understand, what I really liked about A Book Inside is that two other chapters were also included: Book Promotion and Selling Your Book.
Often overlooked by most writers and authors, the process of actually getting your book into the hands of readers is almost more important then the actual writing of the book was. If no one is reading your book, what was the point of writing it? Carol offers up a series of sage advice on getting your book into the hands of readers, publicists, bookstores, libraries, and online outlets. Finally, A Book Inside also includes a ton of resources for successfully navigating the writing and publishing process.

Although not exhaustive, A Book Inside is a good place to start for those who are interested in becoming authors. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a comprehensive book on how to publish your family history or memoirs, or to self-publish your own story, A Book Inside takes you through each step. Either way, along with Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual), Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on , and the annual Writer's Market, Carol’s book should be on most writers and authors shelves. I’ve been in the publishing business for over a decade – as both an author and a publisher – and I’m keeping my copy of A Book Inside on my shelf for easy reference. You should too.

(Peter's credentials)
Peter N. Jones, Ph.D.
Director: Bauu Institute and Press
Publisher: Great New Books Reviewed
Editor: Indigenous Issues Today
Editor: Indigenous People's Issues & Resources

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remembering Ric Estrada

This past weekend was a sad time for the comic book world and for fans of romance. As I am sure many of you know, the incredibly talented Ric Estrada passed away this past Friday, May 1st. He not only led a fascinating personal life, but also made a significant contribution to the romance genre. According to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, Estrada had 289 story credits under his belt, just for DC alone. Out of those, 56 were romance stories. This isn't even counting the likelihood of unsigned stories, or ones misattributed. It is almost inevitable that he worked on countless more.

Ric Estrada definitely had a handle on drawing gorgeous and sensual women. This panel from the story "The Wrong Kind of Love," originally featured in DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #5 (1971) (image from the 2000 replica edition) really demonstrates that. There is a certain "realness" to his girls and they tend to come off as effortless beauties.

Besides drawing females with great skill, Estrada also drew incredibly handsome men. This particular guy, Tony from "Not Good Enough for Me!" which appeared in Girls' Love Stories #137 (August 1968) not only has style, but the chiseled face to match. Good looking male characters are essential to any first-rate romance story and in my opinion, just as important as having attractive leading ladies.

Lastly, I picked one of my favorite pages to show the caliber of artist Ric Estrada was. This scene comes from Secret Hearts #148 (December 1970) in the story, "Love Song in Blue." The bridge over the young woman's head is really striking in contrast to the rest of the panels, and the closeup on her face is breathtaking.

I should admit that I happen to be the happy owner of the original page from this story. Perhaps I am a tad biased, but it really is a beautiful example of romance art and showcases Estrada's talent well.

Hopefully all of his family and friends know that the community is keeping them and Ric's legacy in their thoughts. It is always hard when the tight-knit comic book industry loses someone, and Mr. Estrada's passing is no exception.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flirting with Forty DVD - Jane Porter

If you're a Jane Porter fan and didn't get the chance to watch her Lifetime movie of the book, the DVD is available on Amazon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Free Comic Book Day!

First of all, I want to wish everyone a happy Free Comic Book Day! Be sure to go to your local comic book store and pick up your free comic, and if you have time- dig through the back issues!!! This afternoon I will be going to the Evansville (Indiana) comic convention, so I am sure there will be some festivities going on there for FCBD.

I have never been to this convention, but I am guessing it is on the smaller side. I am sure there will be a plethora of superhero books, but I can only conjecture on how many romance comics dealers will bring. I am guessing not a lot, but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised! I am not really looking for anything in particular, but on suggestion of my friend Jaz (who is very knowledgeable about comics) I will be keeping my eyes peeled for two books in particular, Falling in Love #99 and Young Romance #141.

I had never actually seen the cover to Falling in Love #99 before his suggestion, but it is most spectacular. It has a cover date of May 1968 and the cover pencils are by Ric Estrada. So, this is definitely one that I will keep my eyes peeled for today, however unlikely it may be.

Young Romance #141 (April/May 1966) and I have crossed paths multiple times, but I have never picked it up. Jaz said it was a good story, so it may be worth getting it. I will keep my eyes out for this one too!

I will be sure to report on any good romance finds when I return! Happy Free Comic Book Day!!!

*Images from the Grand Comic Book Database -- Check it out!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Contest - Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery

May contest - Susan Mallery's May release of Under Her Skin. To win, post your favorite Susan Mallery book and why it was so special for you. Also, I can't send you the book without your email, so please include it with your post.

Lexi Titan can just see the headlines. All of Titanville will be buzzing. Not that she has any other choice. Faced with exactly thirty days to come up with two million dollars, she is out of options. Marry Cruz Rodriguez or lose everything—the successful day spa she built herself, her tyrant of a father's respect. And the long-standing competition with her sisters for the family business.

Cruz has money, success, smoldering good looks—everything but the blue blood needed to become a true member of Texas society. If Lexi agrees to be his fiancée for six months, lending him her famous father's influence and connections, he'll hand her a check on the spot. And in six months they'll go their separate ways.

But neither one is prepared for their long-ago shared passion to throw a wrench into what would seem to be the perfect deal….

Welcome New York Times Best Selling Author, Susan Mallery


Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romances and she has yet to run out of ideas!! She has written series romances, as well as single titles, historicals, contemporaries, even a lone time travel and recently a women’s fiction. Always reader favorites, her books have appeared on the Walden’s bestseller list, along with the USA Today bestseller list and, of course, the New York Times list. She has won awards for everything from best single title contemporary, to best Special Edition of the year and recently took home the prestigious National Reader's Choice Award. As her degree in Accounting wasn't very helpful in the writing department, Susan earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction.

Susan makes her home in the Pacific Northwest where, rumor has it, all that rain helps with creativity. Susan is married to a fabulous hero-like husband and has a six pound toy poodle...who is possibly the cutest dog on the planet.


I would like to congratulate you on your latest HQN May release, Book 1 Under Her Skin- and the first in your Lone Star Sisters series. Can you tell us about the book and the series?

Susan: Thank you! I’m very excited about the release of the Lone Star Sisters series. The premise for the series started with a question: What would you get if you crossed Dallas with Sex and the City? The Titan sisters and their best friend Dana are like the women in Sex and the City, each unique but with a strong female friendship. They laugh together, cry together, support each other. Their father, Jed Titan, is a Dallas-type figure, a Texas tycoon on a major power trip. Instead of encouraging his daughters to be friends, he pits them against each other in a bid to inherit his entire estate. I was curious to see how these loving, supportive sisters would react with so much on the line. To them, it’s not just money; it’s their heritage.

The cover artists at HQN Books outdid themselves. Each of the covers is fun and flirty and right on point for the book. In Under Her Skin, for example, the heroine is a real girly-girl who loves all things feminine, so the red dress and kicky heels are very true to character. And there she is, kissing Cruz Rodriguez, who she met ten years before the start of the book. Back then, Cruz was a drag-racing bad boy with a wicked kiss. Flash forward ten years, and he’s got his own racing empire. He’s the kind of man who would succeed in any field because he simply won’t accept the alternative.

At the start of Under Her Skin, Lexi discovers that someone is trying to sabotage her luxury day spa by calling in a $2 million loan with just 21 days’ notice. She can’t turn to her father for help because admitting that she got herself into trouble will mean forfeiting her chance at the estate. So she goes to the only other man she knows who has a spare $2 million lying around.

Cruz loves the irony. Once upon a time, Lexi had been too good for him. Now she was coming to him for help. He agrees, but with a hefty price tag. He wants a toehold into the closed society of the Texas elite. He’ll give her the money, but she has to pretend to be engaged to him. And she has to make it look good.

What is your writing style like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Susan: Booklist has described my writing as both “funny” and “bittersweet,” and I’m very proud of both those descriptions. The humor isn’t calculated at all. It rises naturally from the characters’ reactions to the problems they face, the same way true humor comes in real life. My characters are like your friends and neighbors, real people facing life as it comes, dealing with real-world problems with wit and tenacity. And hey, in the midst of these realistic problems, they meet the love of their lives.

As for plotting, I’m such a plotter that I even have plotting parties. Seriously. My friends and I get together on a regular basis to help each other come up with new ways to torture our characters. I read recently that James Patterson writes 50-page outlines for each of his books. I come close to that. I write about a chapter a day, and for me, that means I have to have a detailed roadmap.

Describe a day in the life of Susan Mallery.

Susan: Oh, I lead a very glamorous life! I sleep in silk peignoir with a pillowed eye mask until about noon. After an hour or so of stretching and breakfast in bed, brought in by my hunky manservant, I don my feathered boa, dictate a few pages to my hunky secretary and then relax in the tub the rest of the afternoon.

Meanwhile, back in the real world… Successful writing takes dedication. I usually have a book at every stage of the publishing pipeline. For example, right now, I’m promoting Under Her Skin, Lip Service, and Straight from the Hip, my summer series. (Book four in the Lone Star Sisters series, Hot on Her Heels, will be released in November.) I’m also writing a book, expecting edits any day on my January release, The Best of Friends, and putting together proposals on future stories I’d love to write.

So a day in my life means saying goodbye to my hunky husband as he heads off for work, and then locking myself in my office for hours until I accomplish what I need to accomplish for the day. Did I mention I love it?

What are you currently working on?

Susan: I have a new series coming out starting next year. It’s open-ended, meaning it’s set in a specific place with an infinite number of characters. At least that’s the plan. So far, so good. The first book—Faking Perfect—features a former professional bike racer. Um, Lance Armstrong type bikes, not motorcycles. The town is Fool’s Gold, set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I’m having the best time creating my fabulous town.

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you get to visit the places you write about?

Susan: Most of my books are set in an area where I’ve lived. My husband and I have moved a lot for his work, which has been a boon to my work, as well. In the past year, for example, I’ve released books set in Seattle (The Bakery Sisters: Sweet Talk, Sweet Spot, and Sweet Trouble), California (Sunset Bay), and now Texas (The Lone Star Sisters: Under Her Skin, Lip Service, and Straight from the Hip).

I do a lot of research about my heroines’ and heroes’ careers. Research is a major chore. For example, for Under Her Skin, I had to spend a lot of time in luxury day spas, getting massages, mud baths, and pedicures. For Sunset Bay, I had to spend hour after hour watching Project Runway and shopping for designer clothes. But I think it’s important to be accurate!

What suggestions would you have for beginning writers as far as "breaking into the business”?

Susan: For all writers, the best, most important advice I can give is to write every day, even if you can only squeeze in half an hour. It’s important to exercise those writing muscles. Storytelling is a natural talent, but it’s also a skill that can be improved with study and practice. For romance writers, my additional advice is to join Romance Writers of America ( and to take advantage of everything you can learn through RWA.

Of all of your characters, do you have a favorite you identify with and why?

Susan: I get asked this question a lot. Honestly, the character I most identify with is always the one I’m writing about at the moment because I’m so deep inside her psyche as I write. (I say “her” because I tend to identify with my heroines more than with my heroes.)

I love all my characters, but the ones who stick with me the most are the most ordinary. These characters feel like real people, like true friends with whom I shared a lot of meaningful moments. I sat with them through problems and cheered with them when they persevered and found love. That’s why it’s so rewarding to me to write series, because it gives me the opportunity to check back in with these women who have come to mean so much to me.

What would you say has been your most significant accomplishment as a writer?

Susan: In terms of my career, I’d say the brightest moment so far was when I made the New York Times bestselling list for the first time. But my most significant accomplishment is affirmed every day in the emails I get from readers, telling me how my books helped them through a rough period in their lives. It honors me and moves me that I’ve had an impact in the lives of people I may never meet.

Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.

Susan: Even after all these years and all these books and a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction, I still consider myself a student of writing. I study the craft of writing on a regular basis. I get a lot of inspiration from how-to books on screenwriting, although I doubt I’ll ever write a screenplay. I like the structure they offer. I also read a lot of psychology books, which help me gain insight into character and personality.

On a humorous note, I’m possibly the worst gardener in the world. Serious, I have the black thumb of death. Plants physically recoil from me when I walk by in the nursery. I can hear their little plant voices screaming “Don’t take me. Take her!” I love flowers and gardens, but I can’t grow anything. I’ve killed air fern before. It’s very sad!

Who is your favorite author?

Susan: Oh, no. I’m not getting in trouble with this question! I offered a list of my favorite authors once and left out my best friend. I’m still hearing about it 10 years later. So no way!

Lastly, do you have any last thoughts you would like to share with your readers?

Susan: Thank you to all of you who have read my books and recommended them to your family and friends. I love hearing from readers, and I hope you’ll check in on me from time to time at Writing is a solitary occupation, but when you read my stories and tell me about how they’ve affected you, you inspire me to keep writing. You mean more to me than I can put into words.

Susan, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and best of luck with your new series, I have my copy and hope to have it read over the weekend. You can see my review soon on Marilyn’s Romance Reviews Blog.

Susan Mallery website

On a personal note, Susan has charmed me over the years with her Desert Rogues, Marcelli Sisters and The Buchanan's and I can't wait for this new Lone Star series. Again, thanks Susan for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview!