Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parents Just Don't Understand - Tomorrow is too Late

I am constantly scouring the web, trying to find any and all information about romance comics. From what I have found, some read romance comics and only see the stories that are simplistic tales of girl meets boy, girl waits by the phone for boy to call, girl cries, and so on and so forth. Some only see outdated social mores that are laughable and silly.

I don't. I have read enough romance stories now that I can say that -- yes, there are those stories that are simplistic and frivolous. To say that though and leave it at that, is too much of a generalization. The thing is, every genre has its examples of bad stories, but there are also some really good ones out there that make you feel something. A something that resonates deep down and gets you to think. This four page story, "Tomorrow is too Late" from Young Love #113 (December 1974/January 1975), illustrated by Creig Flessel is one such story.

This short romance tale weaves the reader into the sadness brought on by a young woman's rocky relationship with her mother. It has qualities rather similar to that of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle," which incidentally came out around the same time as this romance story. Hinging on the theme of the passage of time and regret, "Tomorrow is too Late" makes for an unexpected read.

You probably never thought a four page comic book romance story could leave you feeling that depressed, huh? The ending is sad in itself, but I think the abruptness with which the poem-like story ends adds to the tragedy.

Romance comics tend to get dogged on for being only about unrequited, puppy dog love that is kitschy and outdated, but I think this story is to the contrary. The genre can be generalized quite a bit, but it takes finding gems like "Tomorrow is too Late" to realize just how lovable and diverse in subject matter the romance comics from the 1960s and '70s really can be.

The Pink Heart Society Celebrates 3 Years

Happy 3rd Birthday Little Pink. Stop over to The Pink Heart Society to celebrate and win some prizes. I'm passionate about this site as I post reviews on The Pink Heart Society Review.

Because Forbidden Fruits Taste Much Sweeter...

... Read A Banned Book!

All over the blogosphere and in libraries and literary circles this week, writers and readers are celebrating Banned Book Week. Now, my parents were pretty liberal about what we read when I was growing up-- they were just glad we were reading. And I learned more accurate information from books about life, sex, and relationships than I ever learned at junior high slumber parties or overheard in the locker room. No one ever told me not to read Flowers in the Attic, or The World According to Garp, or A Clockwork Orange. Hell, I'd seen the movie versions by then, all of which struck me after the fact as far more graphic than the books. Thanks, Stanley Kubric. You're a right merzky droog. Real horrorshow.

I've read quite a number of banned books. And here I am before you, as well adjusted as any young writer. I don't have sex with my siblings, or beat up old or homeless people, and I've never given someone oral sex in a car without first making sure we weren't going to be rear ended. ;) See, you can learn a lot from banned books.

I even had to read more than my fair share of banned books in juinor high and high school, since my teachers were pretty liberal, as well. Lucky me. Maybe I'm just fickle that way, but being told that Of Mice and Men had been banned in other schools made me want to read it that much more. It didn't necessarily make me enjoy or appreciate the subtle symbolism of Steinbeck, but it exposed me to some great writers I probably wouldn't have bothered with on my own. And I'd rather be forced to suffer through A Catcher in the Rye fifty times than be told I can't read it.

Even so, I could usually spot the reasons these books had been banned. But I didn't exactly understand it (well, not until I read Little Black Sambo, or Tintin in the Congo). To me, Harper Lee's use of incest and the N-word in To Kill a Mockingbird contributed to the realism, and the sympathy the reader feels for the characters, not to mention motivation... And this was before I was thinking like a writer.

I know how lucky I was to have been blessed with such a liberal education and upbringing, which has had a profound effect on me as a writer. Not only where craft is concerned, but about having the courage to stick to my convictions-- even if I know my writing might be challenged. This has been one of the most emotionally difficult parts of being a writer: including my soul, my core beliefs in my work and really meaning it. Many of my decisions as a writer derive from what I learned from banned books, who have been my good friends over the years.

In the Night Kitchen (my first banned book!)
Huck Finn
Gulliver's Travels
The Lorax
A Wrinkle in Time
Forever, Deenie
A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules
The Handmaid's Tale
The Color Purple
The Awakening
Go Ask Alice

More recently banned books I've read that I'd recommend include:

I was a Teenage Fairy
Heather Has Two Mommies

And on my must read list:

The Bermudez Triangle
Looking for Alaska
Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When did you first understand the concept of banned books? Have any favorites?

Kristen Harmel and Italian for Beginners

Product Description:

Thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant Cat Connelly has always lived life on the safe side. But after her little sister gets married, Cat wonders if she has condemned herself to a life of boredom by playing by the rules. She decides to take a chance for once, accepting an invitation to spend a month with an old flame in Italy. But her reunion with the slick and gorgeous Francesco is short-lived, and she finds herself suddenly alone in Rome. Now, she must see if she has the courage to live outside the lines for the first time - and to face a past she never understood. It will take an unexpected friendship with a fiery Italian waitress, a whirlwind Vespa tour of the Eternal City with a handsome stranger, and a surprise encounter with an old acquaintance to show Cat that life doesn't always work out the way you expect, but sometimes you have to have fall in order to fly.

Italian for Beginners video

Kristen’s Bio:

Kristin Harmel is a novelist whose books have been translated into numerous languages and are sold all over the world. Cosmopolitan magazine has called her writing "hilarious," and People magazine has referred to her books as "Bridget Jones-esque." A longtime reporter for People magazine (where she specializes now in "Heroes" stories of good people doing good things), Kristin's other magazine credits include Glamour, Woman's Day, American Baby, Teen People, Men's Health, YM and Runner's World magazines. She has also worked as "The Lit Chick," the official book reviewer for the nationally syndicated morning TV show The Daily Buzz.

Kristin's novels include: HOW TO SLEEP WITH A MOVIE STAR (Warner Books, Feb. 2006), THE BLONDE THEORY (Warner Books, Feb. 2007), THE ART OF FRENCH KISSING (Hachette Book Group, Feb. 2008), and WHEN YOU WISH (Random House/Delacorte Books For Young Readers, Feb. 2008). Look for two more novels from Kristin coming in 2009!

Kristin graduated summa cum laude with from the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications and remains a big Gators fan! She has lived in Paris, New York, Boston and Miami and now splits time between Orlando, Fla., and Los Angeles, Calif.


Stop over to Everyone's Reading at Mills and Boon for free downloads from each of their series plus a chance to win a free Sony Reader, here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brainstorming Session; or Inspiration in a Tub

Afternoon, y'all! Still don't have my home office to myself yet since it's doing double duty as a temporary storage container/tool shed. But it's okay. I lived without a home office for years and found other places to write and think and brainstorm. You might laugh, but one of the places where I'm the most creative is the bathtub.

The tub has always been my go-to pace to relax. Not only is the feeling of the water soothing on my skin, the trickling and splashing noises calm me, too. Certain smells invigorate or inspire me, and I can really let go listening to the birds and wind-chimes in my backyard.

When I start thinking about my writing the ideas flow around me like the scented water. I feel free to imagine all the possible outcomes of my writerly decisions, seeing them as if I'd typed the scenes. There's no worry that I might make a mistake and choose the wrong path; I can see them all laid out before me like a master chess player. When I'm stuck, nothing helps me see all my options more clearly than a nice long bath.

Just this morning I worked through a particular problem in the tub that had been plaguing me for weeks now. I needed to introduce a character earlier in the manuscript, but I just couldn't think of where to stick him in until this morning's bath and VIOLA! Fifteen minutes of soaking and thinking did the trick where an hour's worth of brainstorming in my notebook failed.

Where do you do your best brainstorming?

Coffee shops, public transportation? The park, hidden away in your dorm/bedroom/office?

Farewell Kate Duffy

I never had the opportunity or privilege of meeting this remarkable woman. However, she was a giant in the romance community and I just wanted to honor her and send my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

On Twitter, Christina Dodd pointed out a picture of Kate Duffy on Jill Shavis blog. It's incredible and the story moving. Jill Shavis

A tribute to Kate Duffy from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, here.

Also, on Heart to Heart, Michelle Bunofiglio said this about Kate Duffy

Duffy remarked that the key to a good romance simply is the reader's knowing the hero and heroine are in love long before they understand. "The hero and heroine may think it's temporary, the reader knows it's forever." I remember howling when she added about the classic "opposites attract" construct upping that ante, "He's a demon and she's mostly human, but those kids were meant to be together!

More of the article here.

Borders and authors say farewell to Kate Duffy. A beautiful tribute.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And Now, A Story...

...Oh, nope! Just kidding. Its all over folks, nothing to see here!
Move along, move along.

It looks like the writer on this one was a true believer in
Shakespeare's theory on brevity!

Sweethearts #120 (November 1971)
Pencils by Charles Nicholas, Inks by Vincent Alascia

A Room of One's Own

In her book entitled A Room of One’s Own (1929), Virginia Woolf wrote to protest why there was no women playwright or women poet as monumental as William Shakespeare. This rhetorical question led her to read History of England by Professor Trevelyan where she found very bitter facts about women.

“Wife beating was a recognized right of man, and was practiced without shame by high as well as low . ... Similarly, the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents’ choice was liable to be locked up, beaten, and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted on public opinion. Marriage was not an affair of personal affection, but of family avarice, particularly in the ‘chivalrous’ upper classes. ... Betrothal often took place while one or both of the parties was in the cradle, and marriage when they were scarely out of the nurses’ charge.”

Similar to Woolf, her contemporary woman intellectual, Anna Wickham, wrote a poem entitled “Dedication of the Cook”

If any ask why there’s no great She-Poet,
Let him come live with me, and he will know it:
If I’d indite an ode or mend a sonnet,
I must go choose a dish or tie a bonnet;
For she who serves in forced virginity
Since I am wedded will not have me free;
And those new flowers my garden is so rich in
Must die for clammy odors of my kitchen.

The two works portray the condition of women very clearly in that era. Women are burdened by family matters and they don’t have any rights to choose what they want to do. Before they get married, they are the properties of their fathers or brothers. After they get married, they are the properties of their husbands (who oftentimes are not their own choice). In “Dedication of the Cook”, Wickham illustrate how women are busy doing household chores so that they do not have time to produce great literary works.


Now, almost a century has passed. The so-called woman movement for equality has come to its third phase. Have all women got what their predecessor struggled?

Sadly I must say not yet. Three years ago I posted a writing I entitled “Mental Depression” (click this site

Just a week ago I met this old friend of mine again. Apparently her life is like in a prison, created by her husband, a husband of her own choice.

I visited her house to tell her about a reunion invitation of our high school. When knowing that the reunion would be held at 7pm, she directly gave me excuses for not being able to come. Moreover when I said, “The invitation is only for one person; we are not allowed to bring along our spouse or kids.” She openly said, “Ah … absolutely I cannot attend it. I cannot go out of the house without my husband or kids. A married woman is not supposed to do that.”

I remember our time in high school. She belonged to the independent type. She enjoyed doing any activities without her parents’ strict control because they believed she could take care of herself. On the contrary, I could not do that.

“Nothing stays the same,” wise people say. “Changes are natural law that will always exist,” I say.

I found the answer why my old high school friend said so when her husband came to join us in the living room.

“What kind of reunion is that? Why are we not allowed to bring along our spouse or kids? When meeting old friends, we are supposed to tell them our status now, right? That we are married? That we have got kids? What is this reunion supposed to mean? What if we meet our past crush? What if that long-lost feeling comes back? This is crazy era where many people have secret affairs. Bla bla bla …”

I got stunned. I had better not respond but laugh exaggeratingly. LOL. but unhappily. :(

I remember one short discussion with a friend about ‘jealousy’.

F: Do you agree with me that jealousy has nothing to do with love?
N: I am of opinion that jealousy shows someone’s inferiority. He or she is not confident that his or her spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend loves him/her.
F: I could not agree more. Jealousy deals with someone’s own feeling, he or she is worried if the one he or she loves will leave him or her. Jealousy is insecure feeling.

A bit similar to what Woolf and Wickham illustrate in their works, I interpret ‘a room of one’s own’ as time for anyone—especially women—to be on their own, to be themselves. It is not necessarily related to be able to produce a great piece of work, but to do what they need to do. Women need their own private time for a change from their routine. To a certain extent, it even can lead them to healthier mental condition.
PT56 07.37 270909

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Am I Too Young?

I present to you "Donna Fayne Answers" from Heart Throbs #143 (July 1972). Her advice is pretty solid, and she seems kind and sincere. Unlike someone else I know of... cough*marc*cough!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Too Many Hats: Writer, Editor... Marketing Machine?

Today's blog post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner got me thinking about marketing. She linked to an article from yesterday's Washington Post and asked; "Does the requirement to be a marketer have any effect on your desire to be a published author?"

In my response to her post I immediately wrote:

"Isn't this the reason we writers blog and Tweet and network in the first place? I understand that writing the book isn't the end of my job-- I'm still trying to get a literary agent, and I know the hard work won't end there. Why would I want to stop working hard to sell myself once I finally get the opportunity to reach a huge market?

Reading articles about authors like Corrigan actually inspires me to do a better job marketing myself. And I want to get myself out there before my book is released. Book trailers and websites are one thing, but Corrigan got herself out there and physically sold over 2000 copies individually. It seems like a good strategy to spend a huge chunk of your advance (what the IRS won't take) on promotion. It paid off in the end for her."

But the more I've thought about it, the more daunting the task of selling myself seems. Do I have an online presence worth bragging about? Does anyone even read my blog? What do I need to do to get people to pay more attention to my writing? How the frack do I make a book trailer? Do I need my own website if I don't even have an agent yet?

Is it ever too early to begin marketing yourself? I mean, the querying process is like a practice marketing stage, right? Now that I've got a few rounds of querying under my belt, I ought to be ready for the next level. But I always thought I'd need to wait until I got an agent and sold a manuscript to start advertising myself and my novel. In today's competitive market (where agents can check a writer's blog or google them before offering requesting a manuscript or offering representation) am I selling myself short if I'm not presenting my best self to the online community?

Who cares about little old TereLiz if she don't even bother to use her real name?

I love the anonymity this blog offers me. I've also never been a fan of Facebook or *shudder* MySpace and never had an account for either. At first I didn't want to use my full name because I will probably be using a pen name if I publish a novel, using my own name for scholarly art history articles. I don't want to compromise my success as a writer just because I like my privacy, but am I shooting myself in the foot if an agent can't find my writing blog online by googling my name?

Reading Rachelle's post has me worried and the demons of doubt are starting to claw their way back into my life. It's been over a month since I've made any real progress on my WiP. Sure, that time hasn't been wasted since I'm still querying EVANGELINE, but I can't help feeling that the three partials I have out will garner me no full requests. Doubt demons are the cruelest of the bunch, you know, making me second-guess every decision I've made about my professional life. I feel like Bartholomew Cubbins up there, perplexed and not knowing which hat is which and when to wear it.

Perhaps I ought to lift the veil of anonymity here on my blog. If it is only holding me back, and hurting my chances of getting an agent, I should do it. I just didn't realize when I started this blog that I should be cultivating an online presence. As not another nameless, faceless writer, but as myself, a real person with a story to sell, er, I mean tell. ;)

I do know this, despite the demons of doubt: when I sell a manuscript to a publisher, I'll do whatever is in my power to sell it to the world. Writing the book is the easy part. Selling it takes long hours, hard work and devotion that make writing the book seem like writing a bad haiku. (Is there a such thing as a bad haiku? I mean, as long as it has the correct number of syllables it's a haiku, right? Something to think about.) If selling my book means traveling and spending my own advance and then some to do the marketing my book needs, I know I'll do it. But what do I need to do before I get to that point?

Any thoughts about the lengths you'd go to sell your book?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hippy and the Cop

During the 1960s and '70s, students across the nation questioned authority. The injustices in the South made them question authority, as did the Vietnam War.

It is no surprise that romance comics attempted (though sometimes insufficiently) to follow the relevant issues of the day.

Charlton's "The Hippy and the Cop" from Just Married #77 (June 1971) does just that by pitting characters from two diametrically opposed social groups against one another.

Drawn by Art Cappello and inked by Vincent Alascia, "The Hippy and the Cop" tells the story of Barbara, a studious senior at UCLA. Her friends are into Student Power, but Barbara has no time for such things -- although she doesn't say so outright. Her boyfriend Mitch Allen comes by and sees that her friends are protesting again. While discussing the ironic violent practices of the peace groups on campus, Barbara notices a mysterious package.

Is being a cube worse than being a square?

The package turns out to be a bomb. Thanks to Mitch's cool, calm head and quick thinking, he is able to put out the fire caused by the bomb. Barbara remarks that she can't believe a boy she knows would have done such a thing. Mitch is shocked that she knows who planted the package, and asks for his name. Without hesitation she tells him -- Eldon Sayers.

The next day when Barbara gets to campus, she learns from the other students in the movement that Eldon has been arrested. The other students are suspicious and wonder how the "fuzz" found out. As Barbara mulls over who she told, she sees Mitch at a police car and realizes that her boyfriend is an undercover cop!

Barbara is furious about this revelation, and as she shouts "let me go, cop" the guys from the movement fly over with fisticuffs.

As Barbara watches in tears, the other students taunt Mitch. They even throw raw eggs at him, soiling his undercover "regular college guy" outfit. Splattered with yolk, he thanks Barbara for not throwing one at him. News travels swiftly that the students are headed to a demonstration at the administration building. They plan to occupy it and ultimately shut down the school.

The police are right behind though, with Mitch heading the operation, this time in his uniform. As the students continue to hurl insults at him, Barbara hurls one of her own -- to the students! She tells them that never liked their movement anyhow and that she was stupid for listening to them. Barbara then proclaims her love for Mitch and announces that she will be marrying him.

You are such a good friend, Lanie!

Overall, its a pretty entertaining story with a compelling cover, also by Cappello. Just as there are multiple stories of the Women's Movement in the romance comics, there are also quite a few stories of Student Power. One thing I have noticed though with the student movement stories is that they are very general and the students just seem to be protesting for the sheer pleasure of protesting. The resistance never seems to fully develops their grievances or articulate what specifically they are fighting for. I know it is a lot to ask for in an eight-page story, but I think the characters in the Women's Movement stories tend to be more convincing in their rhetoric.

Barnes & Noble Romance Buyer Tommy Dreiling now is on Twitter - Michelle_Buonfiglio

SCOOP! Barnes & Noble Romance Buyer Tommy Dreiling now is on Twitter at @tdrei53589, and you'll wanna play follow-the-romance-leader with him Thursday or Friday and Monday mornings!

Not only does Tommy know a ton about romance fiction, he's hip to what's hot now and what's trending and happening in the industry. So you'll have fun reading his tweets and, I'm sure, be happy to offer him twinfo about the wacky world of byte-sized communication.

Readers, authors aren't the only ones who'll have fun following and tweeting with Tommy. In fact, you'll probably enjoy rubbing cyber-elbows with him more, because he likes to hear what romances you're enjoying and what you think the next big trend might be.

Michelle's post

A Mills & Boon book club launches in London's Soho

It’s early evening at the Yumchaa tea room in Soho and dotted among tables laden with chocolate brownies, raspberry muffins and marshmallows, are 20-odd women, aged from 28 to 88, who have gathered for the first night of a Mills & Boon book club. Despite the startling lack of men, romance is in the air. Miniature hearts are scattered like confetti on every table and even the loose-leaf teas, which have names like Egyptian Nights, seem to have entered into the sultry spirit of things.

There is, of course, very little tea drinking in Mills & Boon land. Romantic heroes are far too busy running business empires and chasing the heroine to ever touch the stuff, and romantic heroines are far too busy falling in love and having passionate sex to ever put the kettle on. But 31-year-old Trinh Hoang, who co-owns Yumchaa with her Canadian husband, Sean, believes that lovers of romantic fiction will flock to her tea room for the chance to swap notes on their favourite authors. "I wanted to put people together who are as nuts about Mills & Boon as I am," she says. "I’ve been reading them since I was 12."

Article continues, here.


Since the books and the movie, Forks and Twilightmania have become big business.

Over the last year or so, Forks (population 3,120) has morphed into a mecca for Twilighters, or Twihards as they are sometimes called. Visitors to this rainy town, whose main industries are logging and two correctional facilities, have more than tripled for the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce. Lodging occupancy is up, and local merchants sell little-vampire pacifiers and Bella and Edward action figures.

And a lot of the tourists are grown women:

“Women — traveling in packs, in pairs or on their own — make up a big part of those on the “Twilight” trail. Susan Englin, a retiree from Colbert, Wash., who has read the books seven times and has downloaded the movie to her iPod, was visiting stepchildren in the area recently and couldn’t resist an outing to Forks. “I get caught up in the characters,” she said.

These women are staying in extra-expensive Twilight-themed hotel rooms, reliving Bella and Edward’s first date in the nearby town of Port Angeles, and generally spreading the green on pretty thick for the sparkle of true love always that the series spins. via Cultured Traveler – Fans of ‘Twilight’ Book Series Put Forks, Wash., in the Spotlight – (article link)
Twilight and

Forks article continues here

My teaching experience

There are three elements strongly interrelated to one another to achieve successful teaching learning process. These three elements are teacher, students, and the material used.
In my teaching experience so far, I have three kinds of students, depending on their needs. The first kind are those who want to focus on studying mostly English grammar (somewhat similar to TOEFL material) to help them prepare to be accepted at state universities. The second kind are those who want to study English to help them able to speak English fluently as well as write in English. The third kind are those who study in formal school so that they do not have any special purpose except to follow the curricula they get from school.
Different kinds of students with different purposes make different material. The sense of having successful teaching learning process of course will be different too.
I will elaborate the three kinds of students in this writing.
The first kind of students are all twelfth grade students. The students are divided into two types: the first half is those whose knowledge of English is good enough so that what they need is just to enrich their practice to be fluent in doing the entrance test. Unfortunately the other half is those who really need to learn from scratch. As the teacher, honestly I prefer the first type, I do not need to work hard to explain any piece of grammar (such as ‘causative verbs’, ‘subjunctive’ etc). However, I cannot avoid the second type. Since mostly the students do the preparation in a short time, (approximately four months before the test, with only one hour a week for the session), I have to find the most effective way to explain. Using Bahasa Indonesia is okay in this occasion.
I will have sense of successful in such classes when I can see from the students’ facial expression that they understand the material I explain. It is proven by making very few mistakes when doing the exercise and they can explain why the answer is a, b, c, or d.
The second kind of students come from various background; primary and high school as well as college students. Similar to the first kind of students with the two types of learners, this second kind of students can be divided into two types too. The first is those who go to the institution because their parents force them to do that so that they themselves do not have self awareness that they need to study English. The second is of course the contradictory. They realize the importance of learning English for their life so that it will not be difficult to encourage them. The more mature a student is, usually the easier for him/herself to motivate him/herself. The most difficult is high school students—teenagers—who are in their rebellious period.
Nevertheless, the sense of successful in such classes with two contradictory types of students is the same. After I succeed motivating the first type of students to learn the material on one day, they will show eagerness to listen to my explanation—let’s say expressions to ask for and give direction. They will look excited to practice the new expressions they learn on one occasion. By the end of the session, I can see the satisfied expression on their faces that they learn something new.
In my experience so far, the number of students in class also influences their attention as well as eagerness to follow the class. For elementary and intermediate levels, the ideal number is around ten until fifteen. If less than ten, the students sometimes feel unexcited because seem uncomfortable that they will easily be noticed by the teacher. If more than fifteen, sometimes some students are busy with themselves, thinking that the teacher is busy with the other students. However, for advanced level, with assumption that the students’ capabilities are bigger than those who are still in elementary and intermediate levels, the ideal number in one class is around eight until twelve. They need more time to practice—speaking, listening, as well as writing.
The last kind of students are those who study in formal junior high school. My experience so far is teaching grade seven, eight, and nine. Since I have small classes (three students in grade seven, five students in grade eight, and thirteen in grade nine), it is not difficult at all to get their attention. Besides, they always show eagerness and excitement when learning the material. The daily language used at school is English (since it is an international school), so that the students have high self awareness to study English.
Different from the first and second kind of students where their capability in speaking English is not really good, the third kind of students have good speaking English capability. The challenge is to teach them grammar points. Therefore, I will get sense of successful when I can make them write sentences or paragraphs with only a few grammatical mistakes, or no mistake at all.
Talking about the material used in classes, the first and second kinds of students, books written by a group of Indonesian English teachers are used. It is understandable if the ‘culture’ of the books is Indonesian. While for the third kind of students, imported books (from Australia and America) are used. Western cultures decorating the material are sometimes obstacles to understand (for example when the topic is about ‘humor’), as the teacher I really feel challenged to explain to the students why a piece of writing is considered humorous.
In conclusion, in Indonesia, the role of a teacher in making perfect classes is very important; either to be role models (for example in pronunciation, chunking when reading, acting in role-playing) or to explain the materials thoroughly.
PT56 10.21 240909

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fashion Files - Dates 'N' Mates, Estrada Style

This Estrada piece from Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969)
is a nice way to start a Thursday, don't you think?

Nora Roberts' Harlequin publishers report rising sales despite recession

Harlequin relies heavily on the enduring popularity of Nora Roberts' novels in increasing its sales, a fact that is not included in the Time article. Since 1997 Harlequin has regularly issued omnibus reprint editions of the novels Roberts originally wrote for Silhouette Romances, a company Harlequin acquired in 1984. Although Roberts ceased writing new titles for Harlequin in 2002, the company has continued to reissue her early works in its Harlequin Special Releases series.

Harlequin has scheduled three more omnibus reprints to appear during the remainder of 2009. Windfall, to be released September 29, will contain Roberts' 1989 novella "Impulse" and the 1987 novel Temptation. Western Skies, containing Song of the West (1982) and Boundary Lines (1985), will follow on October 27. November 24 will see the release of Worth the Risk, Harlequin's reissue of Partners (1985) and The Art of Deception (1986).

WiP Wednesday: Motivation is the Key

Does planning my new home office count as writing progress? ;)

Of course, that room is still acting as a staging area for all the boxes yet to be unpacked, so it'll be a while before I can work on it. But our kitchen and bedroom are pretty much finished and I just love this apartment.

It's a half-shotgun, so you have to walk all the way through the house (including the bedroom) to get to the bathroom, but damn near every rental apartment in this city is a half-shotgun so I don't really mind anymore. It's clean and there's lots of storage and no neighbor on the other side yet, so for now it's perfect. Most importantly, it feels like home. And when I have an office of my own, I'll be able to shut out all the stress of work and the lure of the television and just plug away at my WiP. Maybe it'll even get a working title one of these days.

I can imagine myself being very creative here. Once all the boxes are unpacked.

I just need to keep myself properly motivated. In fact that's one of the reasons I've kept the office for last. I need to dangle that carrot in front of me to power through the unpacking process.

But all this analysis of my own motivations has helped me to work out some of my new MC's. I can blame not writing on moving all I want, but in reality, I've also been struck with a case of "Now what?"

I knew since I began this novel that there would be a shocking twist in the middle of the book. Well, I finished writing the twist, but now my MC is falling apart. I had no way to know how to put her back together again. Yesterday I found this sort of flow chart that was posted on a writing blog a while back-- I searched and have no idea where I found it, though-- and I spent some time thinking about her motivation:

What does she really want? How do her actions to get what she wants drive the plot forward? How do I, the author, keep her from attaining her desires? Hey, you've got to be cruel to be kind to your novel. She can't get what she wants the first time, and she can't get it without some kind of challenge, or without some kind of personal risk. I did some serious thinking about what really makes her tick, and how she's going to go about getting what she wants. I also have a better idea of how to keep her from getting these things.

The pieces are slowly but surely starting to resemble my cocky heroine again. Actually, she's coming together in the same sort of way as my house, one familiar part at a time. I'm thinking that by the time I've finished unpacking and I finally sit in my writing chair in my new office, I'll know exactly what she's up to next. And what troubles I'll be putting her through.

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion Files - The Peter Pan Look

Flipping through the pages of romance comics from 1969 to 1971 yield a plethora of monochromatic green outfits -- usually involving green tights. Fashion statement or perhaps an overabundance of green ink in those years? You decide!!!

Secret Hearts #133 (January 1969)

Girls' Romances #143 (September 1969)
Cover by John Rosenberger

Girls' Romances #138 (January 1969)
Pencils by Vince Colletta

Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969)

Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Pencils by Wally Wood

Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Pencils by John Rosenberger

Young Love #81 (August 1970)

Heart Throbs #130 (February/March 1971)

Nerd is the Word


It's been a while since the amazing Abby awarded me with this fabulous award. But I had to take the time to decide exactly which blogger would be the next lucky "Word Nerd". It's been a long and difficult decision, but I know the winner truly deserves it for all her selfless blog posts, her informative posts, her fun posts, her personal posts, her contests and everything else she gives us almost every day.

I found her series of posts on her experience at SCBWI to be extremely helpful... okay, I'm sure you all know now who has won, so without further ado, I award the Word Nerd Blog Badge to...

Jess Jordan at Say What? !!!!!

Your posts never fail to amuse, inform and entertain me, and I know you put a lot of hard work-- and yourself, which I know can be even harder work-- into Say What? with every post.

Thanks for making my decision even easier with your post on Mary Pearson's recent article What YA lit Is and Isn't. May your blog followers be fruitful and multiply, and may manuscript requests fill your inbox!

The Global Boom in Bodice-Rippers

Romance novels, an inexpensive escape for women, are helping some publishers hide from the worst of the recession. Frequently an impulse purchase, mass-market paperback romances, often bought on the run at drugstores and supermarkets, cost $4.75 to $5.99--a bargain when hardcover editions are typically $25 or more. Trade romances, which cost up to $14, are still a relatively good buy. The bodice rippers piled up nearly $1.4 billion in sales last year, the largest share of the consumer book market. More than 1 out of 4 books sold is a romance.

Harlequin Enterprises, the Toronto-based company that is the world's largest romance publisher, has been a great story for parent company Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star. Newspaper revenues are declining, but at Torstar's Harlequin division, revenues were up 8.7%, to $225.5 million in the first half, although the weak Canadian dollar accounted for some of the increase. That's an impressive result in a year when publishing giant Random House reported that its sales were down 4% in the first six months of the fiscal year.

Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes credits the recession with having lifted the company's profits. "We tend to do better than we would otherwise because we have the benefit of the kind of story that is very uplifting in all of our books." A happy ending is a sine qua non of romance fiction: girl catches guy, and all is well with the world. Hayes also credits series romance books, sold monthly like magazines, with lifting sales. "Where else can you get two or three or four hours of entertainment for $5 or less?" she asks.

Article continues here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Romance is in the air to escape money woes - In recession, readers buying sexy paperbacks as cheap entertainment

There are lots of things that aren't selling during the recession. But sex isn't one of them.

Similar to the Great Depression, when Gone With the Wind was the best-selling novel, people are looking for ways to escape their money troubles. So many are turning to romance novels to forget about things like unemployment and shrinking retirement funds.

''The romance industry is doing well . . . because in tough times like these, people want to be entertained and they want it to be affordable. Our romance books . . . have always guaranteed a happy ending,'' said Katherine Orr, a spokeswoman for Harlequin Enterprises.

Certainly not all romance novels are about sex, though that's a big part of the genre's appeal. (Which brings to mind a Time magazine story that reported folks are buying more condoms. Couples could be trying to avoid having another mouth to feed until the economy stabilizes, or just having some almost-free fun, but that's another story.)

Rest of article appears here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Want a Book Decicated to You? Become Susan Mallery's Fan on Facebook

Become a fan of Susan Mallery's on her Facebook page At the end of this month, Susan will choose a fan and dedicate a book to that person. What fun it that?

Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Cookbook

Now, from Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Cookbook, you can relish in your own home the same superb meals found in Cedar Cove's households. Charlotte Rhodes, one of the series' most beloved characters, invites all fans of Cedar Cove, as well as anyone who enjoys classic home cooking, to join her in touring the town's kitchens as she shares more than 130 of her treasured family recipes. (And she's got plenty to tell you about the people of Cedar Cove, too!)

You'll find such mouthwatering dishes as:

· Justine Gunderson's Grilled Salmon with Lime-Jalapeno Butter

· Teri Polger's Macaroni and Cheese

· Charlotte Rhodes's Cinnamon Rolls

· Olivia Griffin's Creamy Tarragon Chicken Salad

· The Pot Belly Deli's Broccoli and Cheese Soup in a Bread Bowl

· And many more

Whether you've just discovered the world of Cedar Cove or have devoured all the books, you can now partake of the town's culinary traditions and cook just like Charlotte, her family and friends!

I purchased this last night at Target 30% off and I'm thrilled with it. If you're a fan of Debbie's Cedar Cove series, then you'll love this cookbook. It's beautifully illustrated, the recipes are mouth watering and you'll also revisit some of those wonderful characters who reside in Cedar Cove. I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for a family member or friend.

As an FYI, Amazon has dropped the price and made it very affordable as well.

Ahh, the joys of scholarly writing...


... where I can use all the parentheses and semi-colons I want!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love Me Tonight, Forget Me Tomorrow - Falling in Love's Portrayal of the Women's Movement

"Love Me Tonight, Forget Me Tomorrow" is another tale of the Women's Movement in romance comics. This one hails from DC's Falling in Love #121 (February 1971), published just one month before "No Man is My Master." Similar in nature to Marvel's story, this one also grapples with the conflicting emotions of female liberation.

In it, Alice, a headstrong young woman who works for a magazine is determined to prove that she is equal to men. The story opens with Alice trying to pay her portion of the cost of the date. Her boyfriend (and co-worker), Bob isn't too hot on this idea as he wants to have treated her for once -- instead of going Dutch .

**Side note: "Going Dutch" was not the social norm in post-World War II American culture as it is now. If it was a necessity due to lack of funds or for another reason, it was proper etiquette for the girl to slip the guy her money in private before the public date.

When Bob offers to pay, the discussion erupts into a small scale argument. Alice delivers her thoughts on Women's Liberation, and the reader gets the idea that this wasn't the first time she had told Bob her feelings. He replies with words reminiscent of those in the My Love story, "...make like me Tarzan, you Jane?"

Alice is greeted by her mother who inquires about the evening. Alice, obviously still reeling from her discussion with Bob, has a hard time understanding why her mother would have sacrificed her life and career for the domestic life.

As any mother would, Alices's mom gives her some advice to ponder. She warns Alice to not lose sight of the difference between being a female and being feminine. Her mother also tells her to remember to keep her cool and not get so emotional around Bob. While falling asleep that night, Alice wonders if she is doomed to be successful and lonely, having only her work. She thinks about all the wonderful times she has had with Bob, and laments that he has fogged up her vision.

The next day at work brings Alice's focus back, as she seems to genuinely love her job at the magazine. She is called into the bosses office for an important, unexpected meeting. The boss, Russell reveals that he has decided to make her Editor-in-Chief due to her excellent work ethic, drive and ambition.

Alice is pleased with her promotion, until she sees Bob in the hallway who congratulates her by affectionately teasing her and calling her "boss lady." In that moment, the thrill of her success quickly wears off -- she believes she has lost Bob. To every one's surprise at her coronation meeting, Alice throws a curve ball by announcing that Bob is more deserving of the position. She is then taken off guard when Bob reveals that he was initially offered the position, but turned it down -- since he knew she had wanted it so badly.

Though the story may have been a bit disappointing for the plight of the Women's Movement, I do not think that all hope is lost in it. The last panel displays Alice's reverence for equality -- and in a way, the writer's respect for it. This story mixes the private and the public spheres of love and career, without trivializing their mutual impact on one another. Women (and men) no doubt had difficult choices to make about what was best for them concerning love and equality. In a time when the notion of a woman having a career outside the home was beginning to gain traction, this story serves well to exemplify the complexities of having it all.

How to Get More Visitors to Your Website or Blog

When I first began this Blog two years ago, I would get only four or five visitors per day. I was frustrated because I wanted to share book writing tips with others and I didn’t know how. I had befriended a wonderful person online who I shared my frustration with and she told me about Entrecard. Entrecard is a free service where all I had to do was add a link to my site (see link to the right) and other related, as well as some unrelated Bloggers, click on to my Blog to earn credits towards their own advertisements on other sites. It’s all free and increased my hits to over 50 per day! Now my site is highly ranked by the search engines and I get new visitors every day.

Entrecard has been a terrific asset to my Blog and has really helped me grow. I suggest if you have a Blog or Website, try it and see if your visitor count doesn’t increase substantially. If not, you can easily remove the link (but I think you’ll be surprised!). Click on to Entrecard!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Man is My Master - My Love's Portrayal of the Women's Movement

The late 1960s and early 1970s were dynamic -- to say the least. Chock full of changing attitudes towards people of various ethnic groups, women, and other marginalized individuals -- the years of the "Long Civil Rights Movement" (a term used to broaden the confines of what is traditionally thought of as the Civil Rights Movement, into time and place outside of the 1950s/1960s American South) are clearly portrayed in romance comics. The (intended) audience of young females consuming romance comics made for the perfect crowd for communicating thoughts on the Women's Movement.

"No Man is My Master" from My Love #10 (March 1971) is only one example of many. One of the predominant reoccurring themes in the romance comics of the late '60s and early '70s was the Women's Movement and its effect on character relationships. Like any blossoming social revolution, the romance comics dealt with issues of feminism in various ways. Many of the stories seem to have good intentions behind them, but fall flat -- especially for today's reader. One has to question the intentions of this story though, as the main character -- Bev comes off as flaky and naïve.

The cover (John Buscema) of this issue depicts a young woman who is torn between "female freedom" and her boyfriend. The interior, written by Stan Lee, penciled by Buscema and inked by John Verpoorten tells a similar story -- but with a different outcome than one may think based on the cover.

We are given a glimpse into the date of Bev and Nick, an attractive young couple. It becomes quickly evident that despite his good looks, Nick is bossy, brutish and self-absorbed. Not the most attractive qualities in a potential mate! Bev is obviously distressed about the state of their relationship, but carries on anyway.

The next day, Bev is convinced by a friend to attend a "female freedom rally." Bev is moved by the message on a personal level. From the rally she takes away the realization that Nick is no good for her.

After the rally, Bev resolves herself to only date men that treat her as an equal. The next time she speaks with Nick on the phone, she lets him know that she is going to be busy for a while. In the time away from him, Bev dates boys who are respectful, mild-mannered and who value her opinions. The men she dates let her take control of their outings -- they let her decide what to do and where to go. Bev becomes put off by this though, as she feels they are meek and indecisive. After an unsuccessful date one night, Bev rethinks her liberation.

Thinking that she has misunderstood equal rights, Bev ceases her casual dates with nice, respectful men and waits by the phone for Nick to call. Eventually he does, and comes over for a visit where he so supportively asks, "did you get whatever was buggin' you out of your system?" Nice!

Nick's tired, cheesy, barbaric line tugs at Bev's heartstrings and their embrace is tagged as "the start -- of something lovely!" Lovely indeed!!!

Before reading the story and purely based on the cover, I really thought the leading lady was going to stick to her new found idealism, but that is my bias from being a female of today. One has to remember when reading these stories, that they need to be understood within the context of the rise of the Women's Movement -- which to some was probably confusing, tumultuous and even upsetting. To today's reader, this story may just seem like a silly and sad product of mass culture. In reality though, this romance story should not be easily dismissed, as it helps give perspective to the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanied the large-scale social change of the early 1970s.