Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

In honor of the holiday, this morning I decided to read my first Gothic romance comic. I bought a couple over the summer, and have been saving reading them for the perfect time. I started with Charlton's Haunted Love #1 (April 1973) simply because the cover by Tom Sutton is really gorgeous.

The two sequential interior stories were alright, one called "Eternal Teacher," and the other, "A Kiss to Save Him from the Grave." The former had an O. Henry ending and the latter was very confusing overall -- in fact, I am not sure it completely made sense!

The genre of Gothic romance comics didn't last long. The first two appeared from DC in 1971, Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and Sinister House of Secret Love. Both ran for four issues each, before undergoing title changes to assimilate more with mainstream horror comics of the '70s. Haunted Love lasted slightly longer, from 1973 to 1975, with eleven issues. For a more in depth discussion on these Gothic tales, check out Irene Vartanoff's blog entry on them. In the meantime, have a happy and safe Halloween!!!

The New Thing in Romantic Fiction - Zombie Love?

British romance publisher Mills & Boon, meanwhile, is also preparing to branch further into paranormal romance after doing well with the vampire and werewolf lovers published under its new Nocturne imprint. Demon lovers are the new big thing, says editor Maddie West – "obviously fighting with their inner bad urges, and wanting to protect and defend the heroine" – with a raft of fresh publishing due out next year. In Divine by Mistake by PC Cast, out in January, the heroine finds herself transported to another world where she must marry a centaur (of course they fall in love); in The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter, just out, the heroine falls for the Lord of the Underworld himself. "Their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining," writes the publisher.

"It's a bit of a new departure for us; Mills & Boon is more known for classic romances, but it's been doing really nicely," said West. Demon, vampire, centaur and werewolf heroes, however, can all have the finely sculpted physiques of the classic Mills & Boon male lead; West revealed no plans, as yet, to move into zombie romances.

Rest of article here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fear is the Mind Killer: or, Don't Worry, this is not a post about the "Dune" Saga

Since today is the day before Halloween, I wanted to talk about fear.

Fears vary so much from person to person. My husband is afraid of spiders, while I'd rather catch and release them into the yard. Riding my scooter makes me fearless, yet fear of failure can make me an emotional train wreck.

The one thing that we all have in common is that our fears will make us do things we might not normally do. Fear is a universal motivator, although what it motivates us to do is as variable as our fears. Concern for ourselves and others will motivate us to act, or even to overcome another fear. As writers, fear is an important tool to convince our characters to do what we want them to do. Of course, the flip side to that, is that these fears must be established early on as a quirk or flaw of the characters. Ah, the joys of characterization!

But the most interesting part about fear is how humanity seems to crave a good scare every once in a while. Scary stories told around the fire pit didn't originate with the Boyscouts of America, they are as old as fire pits themselves. Americans go in droves to scary movies, especially this time of year, wanting to get their blood pumping and endorphins flowing.

I love a good haunted house, but none will ever be as frightening to me as the first one I ever went to-- first grade at my school overseas. I was six, a little gypsy, ironically enough, and I'd never been so frightened in all my young life. Not even when I fell off my trike when I was four and got glass in my knee. I wasn't scared then, because my big strong daddy picked me up and took me to the hospital. But without Mom or Dad to cling to in the haunted house, I'd never felt so vulnerable, even in a familiar place where I knew I was safe. I had nightmares for months of rubbery bats dropping out of the ceiling on me, and tripping over bones trying to get out of the dark. I still draw on that chest constricting fear for my writing, even though my rational adult brain knows that my first haunted house was probably not very scary at all. But the memory freaks me out far more than going to the House of Shock or the Mortuary as an adult.

Scary movies still give me nightmares, which is why I prefer campy horror of the Evil Dead and Cabin Fever persuasion. Only movies, though. I have no problem with reading horror. Something about the vivid imagery of the movies supplants itself indelibly in my subconscious and flashes behind my eyes when I'm trying to sleep. That's why you'll see me at Zombieland before Saw 87 gaziilion.

What scares you? How do you use fear to motivate your characters? And do you remember the first time you went to a haunted house? Does it still chill your blood and keep you up at night?

Or is it just me?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help Author Lori Foster Help Kids

Opening your heart to those in need will put you
in the running for a gigantic prize package.

Like most of us, I have my favorite causes, and children are always at the top of the list. Local to me is "The One Way Farm," a wonderful, caring home for abused and abandoned children.

The holidays are fast approaching, so I hope you'll join me in giving to the One Way Farm. To thank you, for every dollar donated you'll be entered in a special drawing to win fantastic prizes.

One entry per $ dollar donated. Example: A $5 dollar donation to the One Way Farm entitles you to 5 chances to win. Identical slips of paper will be used to write the name of the person donating, one slip per $ donated. All of the slips will be folded, and put into a large container. Names will be drawn at 3:00 pm on December 20th.

With each donation, please be sure to include:
Your name, address, and if possible, your email address. I will not add your name to any lists, but in case I need to contact you, email is the easiest way for me to do that.

Checks and money orders should be made out to "One Way Farm." Cash is accepted up to $5.

Mail to:
Lori Foster
P.O. Box 854
Ross OH 45061

Wannabe Scribe Book Giveaway!

Great contest opportunity from Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe that ends midnight on Friday, her time.

Up for grabs are:

NERDS signed by Michael Buckley
Dreamdark: Blackbringer signed by Laini Taylor
Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy signed by Robin Preiss Glasser

And you get to choose which prize you want. Sorry, U.S. entrants, only!

My current followers (meaning everyone who followed before today, October 26th) will automatically get five (5) entries in the contest when they comment. New followers will get three (3) entries when they comment. And if you don't want to follow, you can still enter and get one (1) entry.

But wait--there's more! (Heh. I've always wanted to say that.)
Extra Entry Options
+10 for writing an actual post on your blog about this contest. It doesn't have to be long, but I will be checking it to make sure it's there and it qualifies.
+3 for linking this contest on your sidebar
+3 for tweeting a link to the contest (please be sure give me your twitter name so I can track it down)
+2 for telling me why you want the book you are choosing in your comment
+1 for telling me I'm wonderful :) (What can I say? I feed off compliments.)

Just like last time, all entries will be written on equal sized pieces of paper, scrambled up, and then I will draw one winner at random. You have until midnight on Friday, October 30th to enter and I'll announce the winner Saturday, October 31st (weird how that worked out, huh?) And unfortunately I can only pay to ship within the US.

Good luck to all who enter!

Tips for Accepting Query Letter Rejection

GIMME CHOCOLATE, NOW! Dealing with rejection, written and submitted by Molli Nickell (we thank you Molli!)

Heart pounding, you open the mailbox. Digging through bills and letters, you spot something familiar. It’s the SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope) you’d submitted with your manuscript. Woo-hoo! Your heart dances with possibilities. “Finally, I can order ‘Published Author’ business cards.” You rip open the envelope and yank out the letter. Then . . .

There it is. That letter. You’ve seen it before. Crookedly copied, coffee-stained, unsigned, offering the same sappy platitudes—“blah blah blah, not right for our list. Best wishes for placement elsewhere.”

Your reaction? “GIVE ME CHOCOLATE, NOW!”

Or, you pull the mail out of the box. “Hmmm, there’s my SASE.” You carry it inside and open it. “Oh well, not a good match. I’ll cross this not-right-for-me agent off my list.”

Same situation, totally different reactions. What makes the difference? Mindset.

The second example demonstrates the reaction from a writer who understands the nature of the publishing business. Instead of the emotionally shattering, kicking-screaming-chocolate-cramming reaction, they simply remove this non-match from their agent list.

Is it easy to adopt a this mindset? No. Can you do it? Absolutely yes!

The next time you receive a non-acceptance letter and wolf down some chocolate, pause for a moment and consider the “why” of your reaction to the situation. As a writer, you’ve created something uniquely yours. Your manuscript is a product of your heart and soul, something that was inside of you, screaming to be written. You listened and loved it well enough to put your BIC (butt in chair) for the required hours, days, months, or years to bring your manuscript to life. Then, the time arrived to send your manuscript out into the world.

Moving from “telling” to “selling” can be a difficult, gut wrenching step. You open your manuscript to scrutiny, and release its fate to the actions of someone else. The feeling is similar to how you might have felt the first time you left your precious child at day care.

However (here’s where the situations differ), you probably never retrieved your child and found a crooked, photocopied note pinned to their little shirt. “Dear Parent, thank you for bringing us your child. So sorry, but he/she is not a good match with the other children in our program. Perhaps another school will feel differently.”

Nobody likes rejection. It doesn’t feel good, especially if your mindset tells you it’s personal . . . which it isn’t. However, some writers (maybe you) build up a case in which non-acceptance becomes vindictive rejection. You decide the person returning your query or manuscript hates you, your ideas, your writing skills, your family, your dog, your haircut, your grandmother, and so on. You expand your “rejection-it-is” to include your entire world.

If you must jolly yourself out of rejection depression, imagine the person who sent you the letter sprouting a wart on their nose (or developing a rash in a place where it’s not polite to scratch).

Then, consider this basic truth about the publishing business. It’s a business. When your query or manuscript is returned, it’s a business decision. The “no thank you letter,” (or no response at all) means that, for one or more of a zillion reasons, what you have offered isn’t what that particular agent is looking for at the moment.

So, what to do? Prepare your query or manuscript and send to the next agent (s) on your list. Give up mailbox angst. Start another project. Hold the thought that eventually you’ll match yourself up with the most appropriate agent to guide you through the publishing maze to publication.

Former publisher Molli Nickell helps writers create effective queries, synopses, first pages, and book proposals. Her “teaching” websites include:, and

30 Days of Write: Pre-November Planning and the Allure of the New Notebook

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about how NaNo can benefit me if I treat it as a serious writing exercise. As I've said before, my goals are to ignore my inner editor-- as in, don't get it right, get it written-- and to focus on my perceived weaknesses in craft and characterization. It seems as though a lot of people who participate in NaNo are changing their writing habits, whether out of desire or necessity.

A strange phenomenon is the planning that occurs in the time leading up to November, before any of the actual novel can be put down. Ordinarily, I'd love this time, plotting and writing character bios and researching. But since I'm also scrambling to finish up my WiP-- don't get it right, get it written!!-- I have very little time to devote to pre-November planning. Another reason I'm glad I chose a project that already has an established story/plot arc I'll be more or less following.

But does this expectation in October turn pantsers into plotters? How many self-proclaimed "fly by the seat of my pants" writers give in to creating plot arcs or storylines, or-- Heaven forbid-- even the dreaded outline before they're allowed to type that first sentence? There's nothing I'd love more than to snuggle into a chair tonight with a notebook and some cocoa and flesh out my characters for NaNo. Instead, I'm going to be forcing myself to finish my WiP's first draft. The end is in sight for Mara's story. Which is good, because we need some space. So you can understand the allure of Hans and Greta and a new notebook right now.

In my world, there's nothing more promising than a blank notebook. I have a bit of an addiction to adorable notebooks about 5 by 7. When I first started writing, I was afraid to write in anything other than an old, half-used Mead from my grad school days, 8.5 by 11. I didn't trust myself to break in a new notebook. As if what I wrote wouldn't be worth the paper it was inked on. It actually took quite a while for me to believe in myself enough to know my ideas were worthy.

It's a little thing, but now a get a distinct thrill of expectation when I start a new notebook. A new notebook means a new story, new characters to love and torture and dream about... well, you get the picture. Nothing promotes creativity for me, and helps me get the characters and the story straight in my head like writing it all out longhand. There's no way I can sit and stare at a blank screen and wait for the story to come drizzling out one line at a time, so I applaud those who can. Instead, the smaller the notebook, the easier I find it is to face those blank pages, to fill them with worlds of words and exciting detailed character backstory.

So if any of you pantsers feel the need to get your story started before November gets going, don't forget about the allure of the new notebook. ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Artist Spotlight - Elizabeth Berube

Elizabeth Berube
Secret Hearts #142 (March 1970)

If you read a lot of '70s DC romance comics, you will undoubtedly come across the work of Elizabeth Berube. Simply signed "Elizabeth," Berube's work stands out amongst other romance artists of the time for its quiet beauty and unique sense of movement.

In The Great Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins (Watson-Guptill, 2001), Berube is cited as being the "last woman to illustrate a romance comic" -- working on the DC romances until 1974. Elizabeth's contribution to the romance comics included fashion featurettes, horoscope pages, tables of contents and other various intricate and ornamental pieces.

"Beauty on a Budget"
Falling in Love #119 (November 1970)

"Think Thin"
Young Romance #166 (June/July 1970)

I personally am a fan of Elizabeth's artwork -- I think that something about its softness and femininity speaks to me. She did so many featurettes in the romance comics of the 1970s, so I have many examples to share in the future. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed this little taste of her whimsical style!

WIP Wednesday : There and Back Again

Some of my favorite stories end where they begin, and my WiP is no different. Wait a second, maybe it is...

If you study the tropes of literature and television, you may hear that there are only three plots. Or seven. Or thirty-six-- it's all very confusing, really, but worth the time to study. One of Christopher Booker's supposed seven basic plots is the "Voyage and Return" story. Obviously, this encompasses stories like The Hobbit, Robinson Crusoe, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, in which the main character leaves home, has an adventure, and comes back home.

Mara's story, however, gives the Voyage and Return a different spin. Yes, she leaves home and has a great adventure, but though she does get a little homesick, she finds a new life and a new home. Before she can start that new life, however, she must take care of some unfinished business at home, which is where she is when the story ends.

What I like about studying tropes is how you can use them to give an old story new life. Everything old can be new again when an author knows what has come before and how s/he can change a trope to suit their story. What I like about this method is that it provides the reader with a story that starts out familiar and comfortable, but in the end winds up surprising them by diverging from the story the are expecting to read. Of course, there's a danger in diverging too much, but a skillful writer can make it work with solid, likable characters, a uniquely lyrical narrative style, or a fast-paced plot.

If anyone still hasn't decided on a project for National Novel Writing Month, take a look at t.v. tropes (see the "television" link above). You may waste hours looking at this site, so don't say I didn't warn you. But knowing what has come before is a great way to decide what you'd like to write next. As my daddy always says, those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.

Which is why we'll be seeing Lord of the Rings rip-offs for another seventy years. ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

That Which We Call a WiP by Any Other Word, Still Smells as Sweet...

Morning, y'all! I had an amazingly productive unplugged week, but it's great to be back. I've got my yet-again-untitled-work-in-progress completely plotted and I think I've only got another 5-7k words left to go, so the timing is perfect to finish before NaNo.

Sadly, as you may have surmised, I'm back to hating my title. Frustrating to be so close to the end, yet still not see my finished work as a whole. It's like finishing a jigsaw puzzle only to discover that the picture you've completed has vanished from sight.

I'm holding out the hope that as I think more critically about my revisions, a title will make itself apparent. Not something I really want hanging over my head during NaNo, though, so I've been looking for inspiration in old French ballads and poems. I heard that Margaret Mitchell got the title for Gone With the Wind from a poem, so I thought I'd try that route. Of course, the translations lose something of the passion of the originals, so it hasn't been very forthcoming.

Hans and Greta have been in my thoughts this past week, as well. I even talked about it with my husband, who asked me why I decided to go with the traditional Wilhelm Grimm story when I could take it in any direction: A modernization in Eastern Europe where the step-mother sells them into the sex trade, or some rural American setting where the witch is really a cannibalistic serial killer. (Seriously, these were his ideas, not mine)

The easy answer was that the time frame-- one month-- would be too short to research like I'd want to (the rituals of serial killers and cannibals, or the truth about the sex trade). Hence, the appeal of a Grimm's fairy tale. I've read every version of Wilhelm Grimm's rendition, which is enough research for me to plow through a first draft in 30 days. I'm writing it as if the Grimms heard the story from an elderly Hans and Greta. And I was actually born in Hessen, the story's region of origin.

There are a lot of reasons-- including my love for the story-- that I chose to write an extended version of the Grimm fairy tale, but I realized that the long answer is similar to what Davin Malasarn wrote in a recent Literary Lab post:

"I'm hoping, through this experiment on non-experimentation, to pick up some good story-telling habits. I'm also hoping to direct my creativity into other areas of the storytelling process. By fixing certain elements, like structure, my creative energy will flow into other avenues, like scene building and character traits, that will force me to think in a different way."

Like Davin, I'm hoping that this exercise will help me direct my creativity into characterization and motivation, instead of plot twists. That it will help me devote more time to craft and style and whatever I tend to sacrifice while I'm writing for the sake of the story. Hansel and Gretel is pretty much all about the characters anyway. Motivation is the key, as I've said before.

As we read the children's story, we don't question why the father decides to give up his children. We don't question Hansel's devotion to his sister, or the witch's desire for fresh meat. In an extended narrative, defining the motivations of the characters is necessary to make the reader believe the story is real.

So there's the long answer. I'm not using NaNo as an excuse to crank out another mediocre novel like all the others I've written. It's an exercise to improve my writing skills, to stretch the writing muscles I hardly use.

Why will you NaNo? For practice? To let a WiP sit for a while? Or just for fun?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Changing Logos of Time for Love

In my opinion, Charlton's Time for Love series has one of the more iconic logo sets. Take a look and see what I mean!

This first logo was used for the October 1966 stand alone issue, #53,
as well as issue #1 (October 1967) through issue #22 (May 1971)

The groovy second logo was used for issue #23 (July 1971)
through issue #44 (October 1975)

The last logo for Time for Love was only used for
issue #45 (December 1975) through issue #47 (May 1976)

I am having a hard time choosing which Time for Love logo I like best. All three really appeal to me, but for different reasons. The first seems so classic, feminine, and well, romantic. The second is totally boss with its literal interpretation of the title, and the third just seems so '70s -- and I love it for that reason alone. I can't choose, so I won't even try! Do you prefer one over the others?

Book Trailer for 100 Ways to Market Your Book For Free (or really cheap)

Yes, I know, enough is enough! But please allow me to brag just once more about my newest book, 100 Ways to Market Your Book For Free (or really cheap).
I just put this book trailer together and I'm excited to share it with my viewers. The video cover image didn't quite work out the way I hoped so I'll have to adjust that at a later time.

Thanks for your patience. I promise to get back to the writing and publishing business very soon (next post)!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap)

Hey all, thank you for your pre-release e-book orders for 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap). Many of you have expressed frustration over having your only ordering option being through Pay Pal. Well it’s really not. If you are able to dig out your dusty checkbook, I will accept a check as payment. Please mail $6.95 to Plain & Simple Books, LLC, P.O. Box 1506, North Bend, Oregon 97459. If you wouldn’t mind writing the book title and your e-mail address on your check I would appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to get your order confused with another book.

The really good news is, the wait is already over and the book is now available! It will be sent out as an e-mail attachment shortly after payment is received (usually 1-2 days).

Visit for more information about the e-book 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap).

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Harlequin Has a Blog!

Check this out, Harlequin now has a blog!

Gospoken Goes French

Mobcast Services, which operates the digital book service, and French romantic fiction publisher Harlequin, have announced a partnership to distribute their French language eBooks to mobile phones. Mobcast will distribute Editions Harlequin’s eBook catalogue on and across partners’ app stores, making French language titles available for Blackberry, Nokia and Sony Ericsson customers that use the BlackBerry App World, Nokia Ovi store and Play-Now Arena app stores.

“Following the success of our partnership with Mills & Boon in the UK, we know romance novels are extremely popular on personal devices like mobile phones,” says Mobcast Business Development Manager, Gwen Delhumeau. “It was an obvious choice to select worldwide bestselling author Nora Roberts (300 million books sold worldwide in over 20 languages) for the first French eBook of our catalogue.” now offers more than 8,200 titles, and will have a catalogue of 25,000 by the end of 2009, growing to 100,000 in 2010. The service is accessible at or by texting SPOKEN to 60300 from the UK.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Poll Results Are In!

I hope you all enjoyed the interview with Irene Vartanoff! Her responses really got me thinking -- about romance, feminism, comics, etc. I hope it got your wheels churning as well!!!

As the title of this post suggests, the results of the last poll are in! The favorite decade amongst readers for romance comics was (by one vote) the 1960s! Next up with seven votes out of the total 21 was, the 1970s! The '50s didn't come in so far behind with five votes, but it seems the 1940s got left in the dust with only one vote! Better luck next time World War II era romance!

I have posted a new short poll, which will be up for two weeks. Help this lady blogger out by voicing your opinion as to which sorts of topics/features you would like to see more of here on Sequential Crush!

No worries -- it's multiple choice!!!

Author Michael Baron and His Writing Journey - Welcome!

Please welcome Michael Baron, guest author and read about his writing journey.

I’ve built my writing career around writing nonfiction books. It’s a nice life. I meet many interesting people. My research exposes me to things I never knew before. I have the opportunity to work with different agents and different publishers. It’s good, really. But a couple of years back, I found that writing nonfiction really wasn’t enough for me. No matter how fascinating the topic, I couldn’t find the level of fulfillment I desired. I realized that I needed to write fiction. I needed to do this because I needed to explore emotions that I couldn’t explore in a nonfiction book. Specifically, I needed to write about love.

It’s nearly impossible to write about love – really write about it – when one is writing nonfiction. I suppose I could have hooked up with a celebrity with a great love story for a book, but that would have been that person’s story and that person’s observations (though, admittedly, I always get in plenty of my own observations when collaborating on a nonfiction book). I guess I could have developed a book on the mysteries love with a psychologist, but I really had no interest in writing about the science of romance. I wanted to wade hip deep in the emotions. I wanted to explore on the page what I’d been observing and considering my entire life about relationships.

In other words, I wanted to get to the truth (or at least my version of it). I recently read an article about conspiracy theory and something called “the fact-fiction reversal.” I guess many conspiracy theorists believe that the real truth about who is pulling the strings in the world comes out in novels because novelists don’t have to back up their statements with “reliable sources.” I suppose in some ways I’ve come to have something in common with these conspiracy theorists (my mother would be so proud), since I now see that, if one is writing honestly about love in a work of fiction, one can reveal so much more than someone writing nonfiction ever could.

My first novel, When You Went Away is a novel about encountering love with a tremendous amount of baggage. It seems that by the time any of us have lived for a while, we all carry around a great deal that filters into our relationships. What was interesting to me was that I was able to write about this and still write about love in the optimistic, idealized way that reflects how I feel about the topic. I have always believed that you can have a realistic view about how hard it is to make love work and still have a romance for the ages.

If I were writing a nonfiction book about this, I’d have to cite any number of case histories, reference authorities on the subject, and make every effort to prove my point. But since I wrote this in a novel, I can just lay out the scenario, treat it as candidly as possible, and hope I’ve convinced you. That seems much more truthful to me.

When You When You Went Away –
Book Description:

Only a few months ago, Gerry Rubato had everything he thought he needed from life. He was passionately in love with his college sweetheart after nearly twenty years of marriage, he had a bright, independent-minded daughter, and he had the surprising addition of a new child on the way. Then everything changed with stunning rapidity. With little explanation, his daughter ran away with her older boyfriend. Then, only a month after giving birth to their son, his wife died suddenly.

Now, Gerry needs to be everything to his infant child while he contends with two losses he can barely comprehend. And when a woman walks into his life as a friend and their relationship verges on something more, Gerry must redefine all that he knows about himself, about love, about loyalty, and about his dreams.

An emotionally charged novel filled with warmth, humor, wisdom, and unforgettable characters, When You Went Away is a novel you will take to your heart.

Author website

Michael, thanks so much for stopping by Romance Author Buzz and best of luck with your January release.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap) is Available for Pre-Order!

After months of preparation, my newest release is finally available for pre-order! 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap) is the first “living book” of its kind. What is a “living Book?” Read on.

This new e-book is continually updated by myself and its reading audience. When you order the book, you have the “eternal” option to help keep the content fresh and re-order the most recent copy any time you wish, for free! When you come upon a new free or cheap book marketing idea, simply e-mail the information to me and it will be added to the books content, along with a linked credit for the contribution directly to you (more free book promotion!). Unlike most other informational books, this one will never become outdated.

Many new authors are shocked at how few books they are able to sell once published. The expense of preparing a book for publication can be overwhelming and frustrating. No longer are traditional publishing houses willing to fork out the big bucks to pay for their authors’ book promotion. Self-published authors find themselves at a standstill when their profits on a single copy are minimal. With that said, can authors really afford the added expense of paid promotion? With as many 30 new books released each hour of every day in the United States alone, authors need an edge to compete. There are many methods of book marketing available to authors—many for free. Researching and locating those free resources takes time and energy. 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap) will show you how to gain the edge in sales over most other books on the market—for free, or really cheap!

One of my favorite quotes:
"Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
-Thomas Edison

Like many of my previously published e-books, this new and informative resource is available only through my Website. I maintain a tight budget on e-book publishing and that keeps the price very low ($6.95). So expect that the editing may be lacking of sort, the layout unperfected, and the cover “B” rated. But the content holds all the information you will need to successfully market and sell your books without financial burden.

The release date of November 1 gives authors the time needed to prepare for holiday book sales. All orders received before the official release date will be sent the e-book in PDF format to their email address no later than November 2. Click on to and scroll down the page to order 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap).

If you have questions about the book, please feel free to e-mail me at

Interview with Irene Vartanoff!

Good evening! I promised last night in my post something special for tonight -- and here it is!!! I can't think of anything more special to share with the readers of Sequential Crush than this interview I conducted over email last week with writer and editor, Irene Vartanoff. You will probably recognize her name if you are a fan of Silver Age DC comics. She was one of the beloved letter writers featured in their letter columns during the 1960s! Even if you aren't familiar with her, take a second and read the fascinating tidbits she shared with me concerning her experiences in the comic book industry, her thoughts on romance comics and what she is up to today. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it!


Sequential Crush: From what I have researched, you got your start in the comic book industry by writing fan letters. How did you make the transition from writing fan letters in superhero titles to working professionally in the comic book industry, and working on romance comics in particular?

Irene: My generation of comic book fans had no comic book stores to go to, so we met each other through letter columns, fanzines, and conventions, which started quite small and thus were great breeding grounds for friendships. My first convention was in 1966, and I made lifelong friendships there. I also corresponded regularly with lots of comics fans, mostly male of course. Many of my comics friends were determined to break into the business, and they lived in the New York metro area. We kept in touch with each other and invited others into our circle. And we made connections with editors, whom we besieged with story ideas and samples while we were still in college. Some of us financed education through writing comics, such as my longtime friend, Mike Friedrich, who wrote Batman.

By the time I was out of college, I had already been a frequent visitor to DC Comics. It was not hard to convince them to give me a try, and in 1971 I worked simultaneously on superhero and romance stories. People at DC were extremely welcoming and I was insufficiently grateful at the time. I was very young, and arrogant enough to dare to go to the big city, but not quite ready for it on several levels. I did not ride out my moments of self-doubt to writing success in comics. I was a sheltered girl from the suburbs who was trying to make it in a strange place as a freelancer, without much support system or money. After a while, I had to take a break and go back home.


Sequential Crush: According to your website, you have worked for both DC and Marvel. Can you elaborate on your time spent with both companies?

Irene: My second try at living in NYC started with a full time job offer from Marvel in 1974 to be Roy Thomas’ assistant. I of course already knew Roy, but the opportunity came via my friend Marv Wolfman, who had married a good friend of mine, Michele Kreps, who was a high school friend of my sister Ellen’s. I had been the female witness at their Long Island wedding; Mark Hanerfeld, a dear, now departed friend, was the male witness. I had kept up with the business even while I was in graduate school. And I made frequent trips to the NYC area, visited the comic book companies, and went to conventions. The job offered stability, so I didn’t have to worry where the rent money was coming from each month. By then I had several sources of social-emotional support, good friends living in the area, and so I took it. I stayed at Marvel for over six years.

I started with various editorial assistant tasks and then moved to being the reprint editor (an assistant editor role) and then into managing reprint production. Then came special projects coordination. I spent most of my career at Marvel in production, supervising a handful of employees and freelancers and teaming with people from other companies to produce joint projects. I did hardcover and paperback books, newspaper inserts, posters, Star Wars reprints, newspaper strips, and more. I also did the infamous cleanup and inventory of the Marvel art warehouse.

I left Marvel in 1980 and went to DC to work for Paul Levitz, whom I had known since he was a young fan. I worked strictly in the business end, doing rights and permissions, writing contracts, and getting involved in licensing opportunities and business development. It was fun, but by then I was eager to work in the romance novel business. So I left in 1982 to freelance for Silhouette Books, and then Berkley and Bantam. I have never been sorry.


Sequential Crush: Romance comic advice columns such as, “Marc – on the Man’s Side” were written from a character’s perspective. Were you instructed to write from the character of Suzan, developing her as a personality, or were you given free rein to answer how you wanted – is Suzan you?

Irene: By the time I was writing Suzan Says, those Marvel comics were strictly reprint. We did it as a trial balloon to see if anybody even cared, and I had editorial input from the other women in the office, especially Michele Wolfman. So the answers were probably a consensus. (After all, what did I know about pre-teenage dating? Nothing.) We got into trouble with management once when somebody sent a joke letter asking if she should have sex with her boyfriend, and we told her to get some birth control. That letter and its answer did not see print. Adults have loosened up in our society considerably since then.


Sequential Crush: Sometimes the letters in the romance columns seem too unbelievable to be true! To what extent were the letters real in the romance columns? Where they primarily answered by men or women?

Irene: All I can talk about is what I did. The letters I answered were 100% real. The Marvel romance comic lettercols were reprints until I started writing them, so those letters could have been fake originally and likely would have been answered by men. But there were always a few women around at Marvel, and it may have been that the lettercols were thrown to them to do. You might ask Flo Steinberg. Anyway, I convinced Marvel to do a new romance letter column instead of the reprints; somewhere, I probably have the memo I wrote pleading the case. But I was wrong to think that it would spark more interest in the comics. The audience seemed to be 12-year-old girls, and not many of them. The romance comics were a moribund product.


Sequential Crush: How much interaction, if any, did you have with the artists drawing the romance comics?

Irene: At the time I was writing romance comics for DC Comics (1971), I saw plenty of artists around the offices, but I didn’t deal with them directly. I knew who they were from being a fan. But DC artists worked from full scripts, and all contact was with the editors.


Sequential Crush: In the comments you left on Sequential Crush regarding the Marvel story on the Women’s Movement, you cite the death of the romance comics as stemming from women not being able to relate to the stories – what direction should the romance comics have taken to ensure their survival, or do you think their decline was inevitable?

Irene: At the time, young women were as divided about what their lives should be as young men were, although we at least did not have to worry about being drafted. Some young women were living sexually liberated lives, and others were not. Some were intent on starting careers, and others were hoping to work only long enough to find someone to marry. And many were sticking a toe into both camps. As I said before, it was a confusing time.

DC Comics made a heroic effort to produce modern, relevant romance comics. But they never dared cross the line into the sexual revolution (or even the social revolution) that was the key to reaching the mass of women. All the comic book heroines were still crying over men and living soap opera lives and hanging out at the country club. There were a lot of underwear shots, too--and not of the men, darn it! Visually, the DC romance comics far surpassed most of what Marvel had to offer, not because they were better drawn (you could hardly improve on Johnny Romita), but because DC dared to use foreign artists and go for a genuinely modern vibe. Thematically, they both had issues.

At the time, a lot of young women were wondering how on earth they could manage to have careers and not alienate boyfriends or their families, and what, if anything, they should give up for love (including virginity), and more. These themes either were not addressed in romance comics, or they were given classic solutions: just quit your job, honey, and let the man decide it all; learn to love the status quo, etc. There was zero discussion of premarital sex; it did not exist in romance comics. We knew that was baloney. Not only were these comics out of touch with our reality, but they were propaganda for a prior reality. Yes, men have always pressured women for sex, but the pressure was far more intense on young women in a more sexually free society than it had ever been, because the negative consequences were lessening. The comics ignored this changed dynamic. He-men who were willing to take care of us the old-fashioned way were in noticeably short supply in real life (they were mostly in Viet Nam, getting killed or messed up), even if we wanted them. And some of us did not. So romance comics more and more seemed irrelevant to the mainstream of American young women, the same young women who might have read romance comics as girls a few years before.

My personal opinion is that the explicit sex that opened out the heroine-hero relationship in romance novels in the 1970s was the key element responsible for their boom. Why sex? Because it was an easier sell than social justice. Women had been raised to sacrifice, not to develop as people or reach out for what they wanted. Even women who knew what they wanted weren’t always ready to admit it to themselves and align with feminist goals. (Heck, they weren’t ready to admit they wanted orgasms, either.) Romance novels, though, did address those issues as well. But the come-on was sex. This could not be replicated by romance comics. If they had switched to a core of social issues themes, they might have alienated their still-confused audience, and if they had switched to more relevant sexual issues, the comics companies risked banning or arrests for producing immoral stories and pornography—because comics were considered a children’s product. Romance novels, meant for adults, could open the bedroom doors, and they did.

So the romance comics remained soap operas, which seemed safe enough but ultimately was a dead end. The problem with the soap was that in the early 1970s, confessions magazines (prose soap opera) were extremely sexually explicit themselves. Not safe at all. Romance comics dared not up the ante to match the confessions. Thus romance comics offered no truth and few thrills as compared with their direct competitors, the confessions, or with romance novels, or with the explicit movies of the day.

A strong line of female-oriented Gothic romances might have worked a few years earlier to transition the romance comic audience, but the Gothic comics eventually produced were mostly male-oriented weird mystery tales. And they were all started too late, after the subgenre had peaked, and after the romance comic audience had wandered away. I’ve covered this in detail in the blog at, “Why Gothic Romance Comics Stumbled.” Basically, the Gothic trend peaked around 1965, and comics finally noticed Gothics only years later. This would be like doing vampire love stories à la Twilight (but from a male point of view) five years from now. Too late. Also, when DC Comics did romance comics in the old days, and into the 1970s, they had female editors. Coming out with Gothic comics with male editors and male writers, years after the bloom was off the genre, compounded the error.

The decline of romance comics was not inevitable, but it would have taken a visionary with nerves of steel to turn them in a profitable direction. Our whole society was in flux; no one knew what would happen next. It’s not surprising that no one could steer romance comics to a new day.


Sequential Crush: How did you feel about men writing romance stories–were they legitimate authors of stories for young women?

Irene: A truly excellent writer ought to be able to write from the perspective of either gender, any age, and any personality, race, national origin, or whatever. And most men do not live alone; they live with women. The men writing romance comics in the 1960s, for instance, were mostly married men living in the suburbs. They could always check out point of view with their wives, or observe their daughters. But always, they would be filtering it through their own perspective. So that’s one strike against men writing romances for women.

The second strike is that most writers are not excellent, and therefore are not flexible enough to write beyond their instinctive biases. So in general I don’t think much of men writing women’s fantasies, or women writing men’s. I have no longing to see how various currently famous male comic book writers would write new romance comics for women. I’m interested in the authentic female experience. I think it is part of feminism that we should not have our fantasies dictated to us or even related to us by men. It is important for women to learn what their fantasies are, rather than be told what they should be, or worse, what they should accept as a happy ending.


Sequential Crush: What is your opinion when it comes to romance comics being relegated to the sidelines, and considered less “important” or “respectable” than superhero comics of the same period?

Irene: Everything women do or like is considered less important than what men do or like. To me a telling example of male literary bias is the way P.G. Wodehouse’s perfectly pleasant comedic novels were elevated to the status of literature with a capital L when they’re just entertainments. And were written as such. But they are entertainments for men, and thus, have stature. Oh, boo hoo.

Truth is, I can’t get riled up about this anymore. It still bothers romance writers, I know, even though they earn far more money than most writers in other genres because romances are so popular and widely reprinted throughout the world. But when simply reading comics of any kind meant that you were reading tainted literature that could rot your morals—according to Wertham—the fact that romance comics were mostly ignored was hardly important to me. At least they were beautifully drawn, and much of the allure of comics for me was visual.

As a business decision, ignoring more than 50% of your potential customers (that would be females) might seem stupid. But if you have no clue how to attract those customers, it’s smart. It costs less to launch a comic and aim it at 25 year-old men if you know that market well because you are a 25-year-old man or think and act like one. If you try to please both men and women in a shallow, careless, or know-it-all manner, then you end up with rom-com movies that please no one. Very bad ones, or is that understood?

On the other hand, if sales of your male-oriented products are tanking, then maybe you should reach out to the female audience. Japanese and Korean manga publishers don’t seem to have any problem selling plenty of imports to American girls and women, just as, years ago, Harlequin sold British Commonwealth imports to Americans. But American comics publishers today haven’t figured it out. The stories must have the genuine American female romantic sensibility, and even women working in American comics today often do not have it. After all, you don’t usually succeed in a male-oriented business by espousing a female point of view. This country is long overdue for genuine women’s comics, but they are not likely to be produced by current comic book insiders.


Sequential Crush: You now blog about romance novels. Do you see an intersection between the romance comics of the 1960s and ’70s and romance novels?

Irene: There’s too much to say about their similarities and differences. I’ve covered some of it in the blog in the past. Generally, the romance comics of the 1960s and what few were produced in the 1970s did not parallel romance novels; they paralleled soap operas. Sure, there were the standard secretary-in-love-with-her boss stories that also appeared in romance novels, but novels usually had some kind of suspense element as the main plot driver. In fact, most American-written contemporary romances in the 1960s had romantic suspense plots. Only Harlequin was content to let the entirety of their plots revolve around the romantic relationship; but those were not stories by or about American women. By contrast, Gothic novels often were American in origin (the late great Phyllis A. Whitney being a major example of an American Gothic romance writer) and had strong themes about trust and about how men were not supporting (emotionally or intellectually) the women they claimed to love. I’m pretty sure I’ve done a blog essay on how the heroes would keep dismissing the heroine as hallucinating the many attempts to kill her, for instance. One of the graphic novellas I wrote for (as Nazalie Austin), “The Beaufort Ghost,” is a straight Gothic; the hero does not believe that bad things are happening to the heroine, which causes her to have a crisis of faith in him. He’s quite the selfish so-and-so. Romantic suspense novels generally hinged on the same question: could the heroine trust this man with her life? The men usually turned out to be undercover FBI agents.

Romance comics at the time were not like that. During a period when romantic suspense (the genre to which Gothics belong) reigned supreme, there was none in romance comics. They seemed to be stuck in dating games; the heroines mostly lived at home and did not do anything but socialize and yearn. There of course were some classic wish-fulfillment tales like the aforementioned secretary in love with her boss who feels inferior to the glossy society girl he dates. It was sheer soap opera stuff. It’s true that the glamorous “other woman” did show up routinely both in romance comics and in romance novels until the 1980s. There is always a place for a bitch character in a world in which women compete against each other for men. But that dynamic no longer exists in contemporary romance novels, because women now see that they have other options in life besides marrying a man with a steady income.


Sequential Crush: What other projects are you currently working on?

Irene: I use blogs to explore many topics that interest me, at essay length. The romance blog is part of the site, so technically it’s not mine. The personal finance blog, Lose Your Money Blues, is strictly mine. And, yes, on it I talk personal finance and simplifying your life, and more. When I’m not blogging, I’m writing novels, as yet unpublished. So far I’ve got one that’s a light superhero fantasy novel melded with a gentle roman à clef plot about the comic book business, and two novels that are what are called women’s fiction—about several women of different ages with various intertwined issues to resolve. And I’m still in the midst of writing a historical novel (not a romance) about a girl observer at Henry VIII’s court during the rise of Anne Boleyn. I’m also working on a sexy time-travel romance involving the Tudor century. And soon I’ll be starting something new, probably romantic suspense, as it happens. I’ve set an ambitious writing schedule for myself for the immediate future, and it is very gratifying to see that I am managing to stick to it.

I’d love to write more romance comics, but no one seems to be doing anything new in that arena lately. If I could draw, I would publish web romance comics myself. I adore comics and always will. I am at peace with the lack of a major supply of American comics for women, although I do wish it was otherwise. But I worry that the age of illustrators has passed, and with it, the top-notch artists who could draw glossy, sexy women and men, plus fashionable, attractive clothing and settings, thus, suitable objects for romantic fantasy. I look at my old Lois Lane comics done by the wonderful Kurt Schaffenberger and wish there was anyone today who could come close to matching him. Or anyone who even cared to. Leonard Starr and a few others are still alive and working. But where are the romance comic stories for them to draw?


A huge thank you to Irene for answering all of my questions in such depth, and with such enthusiasm and vigor! I don't know about you, but her words have definitely given me a lot to think about and certainly add to my knowledge of the industry! Be sure to check out Irene's website to stay up to date on her current projects!

While I'm Gone, Don't Feed the Demons!

I've been driven to finish my wip as if I'm being chased by the procrastination demons. I've been working so hard, I even thought it might have a proper title. When I googled said title, I discovered it had been used by an author for a 2006 coming of age novel. But I figure for now it makes a good working title and looks snazzy topping a query letter. I'll reveal my new working title at the end of this post, but first--

I've got to unplug for a week. I've been making such good progress on Mara's story that I need to give it the attention it deserves, especially if I'm going to sign up for NaNo. I haven't even allowed myself to think about my dark, delicious NaNo fairy tale while I'm still working on my WiP, that's how serious I am about finishing this first draft.

But if, while I'm gone, anyone wants to leave questions for me in the comments of this post, I'll answer them to the best of my abilities. Anything from "What's your favorite ice cream?" to "How many places have you visited?" (Answers are, respectively, lychee sorbet, and not as many as I want to. ;) ) It's been a while since my last personal post, anyway, and there are just so many wonderful things to discover about yours truly. *bats eyelashes*

To tide you over until then, I leave you with an exceedingly rough query for my almost finished, as yet working titled WiP (constructive criticism welcome!):

Query: Strings Attached, a 65,000 word YA paranormal

When the boy she refused to marry goes missing, a selfish young Gypsy girl discovers that the gift she's always denied might be the key to finding him.

Mara has always known she’s different. She can see muló, the spirits of the dead still chained to this earth. Some are helpful, like Kira, the old wise-woman, and some, like the Tinker, have much baser desires. Far from being a normal Romani girl, Mara is still surprised to realize she wants more from life than to marry Alex and become a wife and mother. Spurned, Alex leaves for Paris. Following the death of her father, Mara decides to go find him.

Mara's quest to find Alex leads her to a Parisian cabaret where nothing is as it seems-- particularly not the backer's handsome son, Guy. And using her unique gift only seems to get her into trouble. After Alex's body is found in the Seine, Mara knows she has only until winter's end to discover what happened to him before her family moves on to a new campsite. The longer she stays at the cabaret, however, the less she wants to go home. When she discovers Alex's murderer might be someone at the cabaret, Mara needs to use all her wits to keep from being the killer's next victim.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Romance Quiz Ad

Well friends, it looks like I may have started to succumb to whatever cold thing is going around -- so I am gonna try to nip it in the bud, and head to bed early. I did want to share this groovy house ad though, from Girls' Romances #131 (March 1968).

If you answered "No" to all of these questions, then well,
Young Love #66 just isn't for you!

Be sure to tune back in tomorrow night. I have a very exciting little something lined up, that I think you will enjoy immensely! Until then...

Believing is Seeing; Making the Magic Work

Went to see Where the Wild Things Are this weekend and I enjoyed every second. From the very beginning I was drawn into Max's world, and stayed firmly put until the final credits rolled. Which inspired today's blog post.

I know, as a rational human being, that the Wild Things ARE NOT REAL. They are puppets with computer generated facial features. Yet I enjoyed myself more when I pretended they were real, living, breathing, eating, fighting, filthy, wild things. Why is that? Perhaps it's easier for me to lose myself in a fantasy world than some people, but there are certainly times when it's easier than others. It took all the elements of this movie mixed with the emotions it made me feel to suck me into the story. Which leads me to the question:

How do I do this in my own work?

What combination of craft and emotion do I need in my book to catch readers up completely in the web I've woven for them? How do I make them believe, and thus, SEE my vision?

There's a lot to be said about what a story needs to be successful-- all successful novels rely heavily on craft and style, plot and pacing. But how do these qualities come together and make... MAGIC?

I've decided to make a list of what my strengths and weaknesses are, so that I know what I've got to make magic with. From previous critiques I know that I do a good job setting the scene. That's something to work with, for what would the Wild Things be without their wild island? But I've also been told I need to work harder to reveal what's going on in the main character's head. Okay, I can work on that. I've also been told that my style can read a bit dated. Hmmm, I can work with that, too, especially since one of my strong points is making a historical setting believable.

I won't bore you with the rest, because behind the scenes, making magic is very tiresome. It takes a lot of getting it wrong first to get it right, and a lot of hard work to make something so difficult and time-consuming look so easy. I will tell you that knowing I'm armed with the proper components for my magic making takes a lot of stress out of writing.

Of course, there's one component that's more necessary to the magic than all the rest combined.

Every book needs to have the sort of magic spark that makes a reader want to suspend their disbelief-- a book must make them FEEL. Whether they sympathize with your main character's disadvantaged upbringing, or your antagonist's inexplicable love for his sick sister, the reader must feel something. And this, I think, I really where the magic starts. Where the reader really begins to get lost in the story, to call the author cruel for inflicting such hellish torments on the people they've grown to care for.

Your plot full of angels and demons and apocalyptic mayhem will simply roll off the reader like water off a duck's back until a character that provokes an emotional response comes into the story. Then it becomes as real in their head as it is in the author's.

Which is why we read books in the first place, is it not? To be taken away on a journey of words to a place where the problems of imaginary people become more real than our own?

To conclude, there's no reason why we all can't be masters of making readers feel. Haven't we all experienced pain, loss, wrath? Hope, fear, and envy? What writer (or reader, for that matter) hasn't experienced all the emotions life has to offer? Good writers learn how to harness the energy of these emotions, how to draw upon them to add reality to the novel they are crafting. This is something I'm slowly learning to do because as a writer, I instinctively feel what my characters are feeling. However, unless this emotion is properly transferred to the page, the reader will never truly know what they are supposed to be feeling.

The magic happens when the reader doesn't sense the author's hand forcing them to feel an emotion.

That's when they stop simply seeing your story, and they start believing it.

That's what I hope to be able to do with my current novel.

Make the magic real.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rest in Peace, George Tuska (1916-2009)

I was offline most of the day today and so, I just heard about George Tuska's passing. He lived to be 93, attending conventions up until the end I hear.

Besides his freelance work for Marvel -- working on such titles as Iron Man, Luke Cage, and Planet of the Apes, Tuska penciled a hefty amount of romance comics for DC, penciling both interior and cover art. Though his work on romance comics may not be as stylized as some, Tuska's ladies were always beautiful and filled with a sense of motion, as exemplified by one of my favorite Tuska covers, Heart Throbs #128 (October/November 1970).

"Which Love is Mine?"
Girls' Love Stories # 146 (October 1969)

"Too Young For Love"
Young Romance #172 (June/July 1971)

Tuska's work on the romance books have stood the test of time, and his diverse contribution to comic books will no doubt have an impact on artists and fans for years to come.

And the winner is...

Rebecca Sutton!

Send an email to the address in my profile with your mailing address to collect your very own copy of The Hollow! If I haven't heard from you by Monday, I'll try to contact you througth your blog.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free up your hands with the Gimble

Saw the link to this post on author Trish Wylie's blog and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Last Friday night some of us had lively discussions about romance books, how we read them, take care of them and yes I'm the worst reader specimen on the planet because I have to hold my books, turn down the pages, flag them, highlight them and then find them a happy home on my shelves. Especially the copies authors send me for reviews which are autographed.

So to people like author Susanna Carr, if you're reading this, maybe there's hope for me yet! All I know is that I love my print books and I'll probably never be an Ebook reader because that's how it is with me. xx

Here's the blog post from paperback writer and you can purchase these here in North America at Barnes and Noble. Do you have one?

Scoop on Lori Foster's Reader Get Together

"Hi Marilyn. I'm working on more details as we speak, and registration will go up in January on my site. You can check back periodically at Facebook or website under community link: Readers and Authors Get Together.

But for now I have cost, dates and SOME of the guests.

$50 - and that covers a Friday night pizza party with colas, Saturday continental breakfast, lunch buffet and dinner.

June 4th - 6th at Cincinnati Marriott North at Union Centre, West Chester Ohio.

Guests include St. Martin's editor Monique Patterson, Borders buyer Sue Grimshaw, B&N blogger Michelle Buonfiglio, Samhain editors, agents Karen Solem and Lori Perkins, and of course, lots of authors!

Everyone is welcome. We hit over 300 last year, and we all had a blast!"

Fan 2010 - Brenda Novak and Christine Feehan

2010 is going to be a wonderful year for the reader and fan! Check out this conference with Brenda Novak and Christine Feehan as the hosts.

"I’m very excited to be putting on a conference with romantic suspense author, Brenda Novak. We’ve got an entire river boat to ourselves and plan a weekend of exciting times. Everyone knows how very obsessed I am with the 1920’s. We’re putting on a speakeasy so dress up in something 1920's and come join us for a night of dance, laughter, and cards. Let’s hope we don’t get raided!

The following night we’ll be having a murder mystery dinner hosted by none other than Brenda herself. The food is fantastic, the theatre group impressive and the mood ominous. Just imagine if some of Brenda’s creepy characters decide to join us on board!
This convention is a tribute to our readers and should be wildly entertaining. I know we’re planning some fantastic gifts and loads of fun. Hope to see you there."

- Christine Feehan

"I'm so excited to be launching FAN 2010 with Christine and to have the opportunity to spend a weekend in Old Sacramento with a hundred people who, like me, love books. I hope you're anticipating the many fun events we have planned as eagerly as I am. I'm especially looking forward to the murder mystery dinner scheduled for Saturday night. I bet the actors will put on quite a show. Who knows, maybe some of the characters from my books will even show up. Along with Christine's Texas Hold 'Em, it's bound to be one of many highlights. See you there!"

- Brenda Novak

Friday March 5th

Guests Arrive
4 to 5pm - Registration for Conference at the Delta King
7 to 10pm - Christine Feehan's Speakeasy
Jazz, Texas Hold'em, Author Prize Gifts...

Saturday March 6th

10am to 12pm - Bingo Brunch with Brenda and Christine calling the game
Win FANtastic prizes!
1 to 2:30pm - Author Chat with Brenda and Christine
4 to 5:30pm - Private Book Signing for FAN attendees with Brenda & Christine
You may bring 2 of your private books from home
Book seller will be present if you would like to buy books
7 to 9pm - Brenda Novak's Mystery Dinner Theater
Join us for an evening of entertainment and more great prizes.
9 to Midnight - Mix and Mingle in the Lounge Bar with a Live Jazz Band

Sunday March 7th

9 to 11am - Farewell Breakfast
11am - Explore Old Sacramento.

Readers Who View Sample Book Chapters Online More Likely To Purchase

Article concerning data from the Frankfurt Book Fair here

Highlights of other general online book browsing trends include:
• Women are spending nearly 70 percent more time browsing books online than men do
• The most popular genre of books browsed online is romance novels, followed by books for tweens/teens and business books. The peak time for browsing romance titles is 11pm – 1am, in contrast to 4pm – 11pm for tween/teen books and 9am – 5pm for business books
• An average reader spends more than 15 minutes browsing a book. They also preview an average of 46 pages of each book they browse
• Adults are more likely to share links to content via email, while younger readers prefer to share within social networks like Facebook and MySpace

Christmas is Coming! AHHHH! How About a Good Book?

Okay, so every year I seem to “miss the boat” on early bird holiday shopping because I simply refuse to accept that it is never too early to shop for Christmas gifts. So there I’ll be, one week away from the big day and empty handed again. This year will be different. Apparently, holiday buying begins the day after Halloween now; I’ll be there this year—or here!

We all love books, and one reason many visit this Blog is because they have written and published a book (or two) of their own. So before any of us goes out to purchase a gift book for the holidays, how about we share what we ourselves have available?

I welcome all published authors to use the comment section on this post to list their book titles, description, and where they can be ordered. I also encourage all Blog visitors to check out the comments and see if perhaps the perfect gift is waiting there!

Happy early holiday!

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

As you may know, one of my favorite kid's books was made into a full-length movie that releases today! I have to work late tonight, or else I'd go see it, but I have plans to go tomorrow.

The reason this book still ranks as one of my favorites is that it taught me to use my imagination. It doesn't hurt that the main character, Max, is delightfully wicked and mischievous. Until he starts missing his home and his parents and his old life that he once found so boring and not Max-centric enough for him. I can definitely relate. ;)

In other, non-Wild Thing news, The Great The Hollow Giveaway will run until midnight tonight, CST. A winner will be drawn tomorrow morning, and the winner posted at noon, CST.

Good luck to all who entered.

PS, typed 2400 words last night. But who's counting?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Selling Romance - Vel-X Gum

You would be hard pressed today to pick up a women's or fashion magazine that didn't mention weight loss to some degree. Romance comics of the 1960s and '70s were not immune to the advertisement of products to help readers achieve just the right look. This ad for Vel-X gum appeared in Charlton's Time for Love #15 (March 1970).

"Don't miss dating and good times because you're FAT!"

I am guessing there was either a stimulant in the gum, or that the plan entailed chewing excessive amounts to reduce cravings. How ever it worked, the placement of this advertisement would have been seen by even the youngest members of the romance comic book audience -- 12 year olds.

We may sometimes think of the whole diet phenomena as a relatively modern thing, but as evidenced from this ad for Vel-X Gum and the following TAB commercial from the early '70s -- it is anything but new.

At least in the romance comics there were also ads to help the skinny ladies put ON weight. I doubt you will find that today!


Rom.Con I've just learned is having a convention in July of 2010 in Denver, CO. It's actually a convention designed for Readers with some pretty amazing authors scheduled, i.e. Susan Mallery, Brenda Novak, Anna Campbell and more.

Registration available November 1st. If you're so included and I've already expressed interest, there is an Author contest where the readers are the judges.

Details about Rom.Con here

Speaking of RomCon™, you won’t want to miss our one-of-a-kind romance fan convention. All events are geared toward the romance reader--workshops, author round tables, author- and publisher-hosted events, costume balls, and a weekend full of entertainment.

From thne Hea Cafe, "where readers and authors connect" and comments from co-founder Tiffany

Barnes and Noble Reader??

From Slippery Brick:

Looks like we have some early images of Barnes and Noble’s e-book reader. As we covered before, this thing is supposedly set for a Spring 2010 release, with a color display.

Then there was word that it would not have a color screen. But it looks like there is truth to both of those rumors. Apparently the dual-panel device will feature a typical e-ink display on top with a multitouch panel underneath. Think of it as a Kindle/iPhone mashup.

B&N will sell the books it also publishes at a deep discount compared to print editions. And the device will have access to all books scanned by the Google Books project. Probably out of print stuff.

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo-- Stretching my Writing Muscles

Thousands of writers have already signed up for National Novel Writing Month. If I finish up my WiP first draft in time, I'll join their ranks. *stretches hamstrings*

But you don't have to wait until November every year to have your own personal NoWriMo. Let's say I don't finish my WiP (Mara's Story, as yet untitled) until December. It seems to me that a personal WriMo would be the perfect opportunity to keep my mind off my completed first draft, off the nagging of revisions, and let the ink dry before I tear it apart. Like a fine roast, it needs to rest before I start carving it up.

Now, TerNoWriMo (that's Tere's Novel Writing Month, of course) would still follow the same guidelines as NaNoWriMo-- write 50K in 30 days. This will help keep me focused, goal oriented, and, most importantly, distracted from Mara's finished first draft. And when that 30 days is done, I'll return to my WiP to begin my second draft and then send it out to betas. Switching gears on projects like that really helps to promote creativity-- for me, anyway-- and will also provide me with an established, well-rested project to become my new WiP while I'm querying my old one.

I think this cycle will work pretty well for my writing because it will keep me from becoming too familiar with my work, which is one of my biggest hurdles. Ooh, you know how I love writing metaphors, so we can't skip this one...

To me, this new cycle of writing is a bit like a decathalon track. At first glance it seems pretty predictable-- it goes around in an endless oval, with a smooth running surface. But different events require different skills. A WriMo is a bit like a sprint, while revisions are definitely the 400 meter hurdles. The initial idea of a new story is sort of like the High Jump, where the realm of possibilities is wide open and you shoot for the moon. Plotting is like the Long Jump.

Querying imakes me think of the shot put at first, becoming more like discus throwing as you widen your query parameters.

So reading rejections must be like stabbing yourself in the foot with a javelin. ;)

Are you gearing up for NaNo? Planning ahead, or pantsing?

Good luck to everyone who participates!