Sunday, January 31, 2010

In My Mailbox (11)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show off their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

Swapped:

"Impossible" by Nancy Werlin


This one is supposed to be fantastic!!

"Generation Dead" by Daniel Waters


I've heard a lot of mixed reviews lately of this one, but I guess I'll find out for myself soon!

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery



This is another one I've read great reviews about!


What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

Top Pick awards for 2010


Photobucket






Laurie's 2010 Top Pick awards




Cynthia's 2010 Top Pick Awards


Ronda's 2010 Top Pick Awards

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Young Love Featurette - How We Met

The later years of DC's Young Love had more than its fair share of slightly kooky stories and featurettes. One recurring featurette that I really like is "How We Met," an ode to first impressions. Though they aren't much, the little stories are sweet and give a nice sampling of various artists.

This one from Young Love #116 (June/July 1975) chronicles the first encounter between a store cashier and a customer.


Next up we have the unlikely meeting of Joan and Rog from Young Love #123 (January 1977), with art by Michael Nasser (now Netzer). In love, looks sure can be deceiving!


Young Love #125's (May 1977) "How We Met" serves up a little dose of girl power from the guy's point of view -- written by Steve Skeates and art by Juan Ortiz and Vince Colletta.


I saved my favorite for last. This one comes from Young Love #112 (October/November 1974) and looks quite a bit like Winslow Mortimer (though inked by someone else). The reason I really like this one is because it is how my parents met! No joke!!!


After reading these, do you have a fun story about how your parents or you and your significant other met? With Valentine's Day approaching, I'd love to hear it!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Krewe du Vieux! Wahoo!


It's that time again! Carnival time!

What, you don't have carnival in your town? You mean you don't stuff yourselves with king cake and crawfish and cochon de lait and Abita Amber and Old New Orleans Rum and listen to brass bands, and second lines, and Dr. John, and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, and Kermit Ruffins and Allen Toussaint?

Oh. You really don't do any of that? Sorry.

I guess that's why Louisiana ranked as the happiest state in the union in a study by Hamilton College and Warwick U in the UK. Sure the information from their study was actually collected pre-K, but I have a hard time believing that the rest of the country is doing much better what with this recession we got goin' on. And what with dem Saints marchin' into de Superbowl, I doubt anyone is happier than Louisianians right now.

Krewe du Vieux is tonight, marshalled by none other than Mac Rebbenack, the Night Tripper, himself. That's Dr. John to all y'all. This krewe gets their name from the traditional name of the French Quarter, the Vieux Carré, the old square. They are a walking krewe, hence they are allowed to parade in the Quarter. Some small mule-drawn carts are allowed, mules that are pretty used to the crowds and noise of the quarter from pulling buggies, but sometimes they balk a little. I think that's just another part of the allure.

This parade is all about satire and poking fun at our politicians, big news stories, and ourselves. With sub-krewes named "Drips and Discharges", "C.R.U.D.E.", "L.E.W.D.", "Seeds of Decline", and "Underwear", what were you expecting? ;)

While Phunny Phorty Phellows traditionally started carnival with their streetcar parade on Twelfth Night--what, you don't celebrate 12th Night, either? Your loss-- Krewe du Vieux has become the contemporary parade that kicks off the mayhem that will continue until February 16th. Fat Tuesday. I work in the quarter, so we're closed Monday and Tuesday for obvious reasons. So if I'm not blogging, you'll know I'm probably drunk or sleeping. I love this time of year. :) I'll most likely be all carnival-ed out by the time Fat Tuesday rolls around, probably sleeping in and then going to see The Wolfman, since I know not too many other people will have the same plans.

So that's what's going on here in the happiest state in the union. And ya know, I'm feeling pretty happy. Until I remember that there will be not one, but THREE (3!!) 18 year old boys staying in my shotgun apartment for their very first Mardi Gras. That's just old enough to get arrested, in case you hadn't made that connection. ;)

I just keep reminding myself that they probably won't be around very much. And the three of them should keep each other busy so I don't have to do any entertaining. I just hope the three of them don't get each other into trouble.

Pray for me, won't you?

On a parting note, I saw this t-shirt on Bourbon today:


Yes, it says "What Would Breesus Do?" Obviously a vast improvement over the last big sellers:
"I Got Bourbon-faced on Shit Street", and "I Drove my Chevy to the Levee but the Levee was Gone." Who buys this crap? (okay, secretly, I want an "Even Jesus Loves the Saints" tee. But don't tell anyone.)

Peace out, and enjoy... whatever it is the reast of the country does while we're throwing a party for ourselves! Wish you could all be here!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Return of Bruce and Lisa!


Back in November, I introduced you to the contest "Can This Romance Be Saved?" It detailed the plight of Bruce -- a shy, concert-going introvert and Lisa -- an extroverted party girl. DC asked readers to write in and voice their opinions on whether the two should split or stay the course and get married.

Many of you Sequential Crush readers voiced your opinion in the comments and had some very sage advice for Lisa and Bruce. Want to see how your advice stacked up to the winners? Click the image below to see the results of the contest that appeared in Girls' Love Stories #171 (July 1972)!


Winner of the contest, Barbi Smith of Brooklyn, New York won $10 dollars (approximately $51 today) for her mature answer -- not too shabby for a comic book contest! I have always wondered if and how many guys were reading romance comics, but judging from the name of the second-runner up, there was at least one!

"An Indecent Proposition"


"An Indecent Proposition"
by Emma Wildes

Source: Swapped

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

My review:

This book was so romantic! Emma Wildes was able to mix up a dreamy romance while the relationships remained totally realistic, not to mention there are some very funny parts of the story too.

Lady Caroline Wynn suffered in her arranged marriage. Her dead husband had put her down so forcefully, and often, that she started to believe she was incapable of feeling passion-just like he accused her. When infamous playboys Nicholas Manning, the Duke of Rothay, and Derek Drake, the Earl of Manderville, make a ridiculous bet over who is the better lover, Caroline sees it as a way to find out if her husband was right after all.

It's easy to see where this story will lead as soon as Caroline and Nicholas meet for the first time. The story becomes not about a game or a bet, but a slow, tender journey to love between two people scarred by their past relationships. Caroline was emotionally abused by her husband, and Nicholas was made cynical by his first love who crushed his heart.

I loved how there was a secondary romance and all four of the characters became friends through each other. Derek is a light contrast to Nicholas' serious intensity. He provides a lot of comic relief in his egging on of Nicholas. Derek's love for Annabel is just as strong as what Nicholas and Caroline feel for each other, and he's much more eager to let her know how he feels. But he has a huge mistake from the past that he must make up for before she will give him a chance.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
(love the secondary romance!)
Setting: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5

Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line: I was very surprised, considering the premise of the wager, but this was one of the most sweetly romantic books I've read for awhile. I will definitely be reading Emma Wilde's next historical romance!

Review: My Sister is a Werewolf by Kathy Love


My Sister is a Werewolf (book four in the Young brothers)
Author: Kathy Love
Paperback 280pgs.
Kathy Love website

Book summary:

Elizabeth Young's brothers think they have it rough as vampires? Ha! Two words for them: unwanted hair. What werewolf Elizabeth craves is a normal life with a husband, kids, and less shaving. Unfortunately the vaccine she's researched isn't working yet. Worse, she's in heat—and soon every dangerous wolf pack for miles around will be at her door. To buy time, she needs to have sex, and often, with the first human male she can find

Veterinarian Jensen Adler just meant to drown his sorrows, until a stunning, leather-clad brunette made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Now he's caught up in something really weird, definitely dangerous, and, okay, extremely hot. So his new girlfriend's hiding something (and she's a little freaky about the moon), but Jensen knows true love when he feels it, and this time, he's not giving upno matter how hairy things get.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Laurie's rating 4/5
Sexual Mild very nice
Paranormal, Werewolf
Laurie's review:

This is the fourth book to the Young brother series. I kept putting this book off because of the low rating, but I really enjoyed the story. I loved Jensen, he fell in love in high school and the passing of his love left him empty until he seen Elizabeth in a bar and gave her a ride home, the passion that they found this night could not keep them apart long. Elizabeth is great she comes with a past and mate she has not seen in years, that she is in need to get rid of.. I love the scene it take place in the town where two of her vampire brothers and their wives lives, so they are in the book also. This is a fun, easy read book with excitement and great romance.

Hush, Hush

So I'm reading Hush, Hush, finally. Yes, I know I'm like the last person on the planet. I'll try to keep this spoiler-free, but there's something I'd like to address.

I just finished chapter 13, and things are really heating up. There's intrigue, danger, misdirection, and Vee, who just happens to be the most fun best friend/sidekick ever. It's been easy to gulp down whole portions like a boa constrictor eating an elephant--which might look something like this:
Seriously, though, there's something about Becca Fitzpatrick's writing that's addictive. It's more than just style; I suppose she's given the reader a reason to read on voraciously from the very beginning-- we want to know the truth about Patch. And as we read, the questions keep coming:

Will the characters in the prologue come back into the story?
What, if anything, do they have to do with Patch?
What happened to Vee in the cemetery?
What's the deal with Elliot and Jules?

And those are just the ones I can list here without giving too much of the plot away.

I'm taking this as a lesson, a new writing resolution, if you will. I vow to keep my readers asking questions, the kind that make them want to keep reading, of course, not throw the book across the room in frustration. ;) I will make them gulp down the story like a boa eating an elephant!

Take a page from Becca Fitzpatrick's book:
Keep them asking questions, and you'll keep them reading. Damnitall, I guess this means one last read-through of Mara's story.

If Looks Could Chill


If Looks Could Chill
Author:Nina Bruhns
I have a HB book club 335pgs.
Nina Bruhns website

Book summary:
A mysterious predator stalks the bayou - and Louisiana state trooper Tara Reeves enlists the aid of Marc Lafayette, a too-sexy-for-his-own-good heartbreaker, to guide her as she searches for evidence. But she soon discovers the mysterious deaths are more horrifying than she could have imagined; a foreign terrorist cell, plotting an attack on U.S. soil, is testing its deadly biological agent.

What Tara doesn't know is that her sexy guide is part of a covert special ops team out to destroy the terrorist threat, and he isn't happy about babysitting a nosy cop - even one as beautiful as Tara. But though he knows love and work don't mix, a harrowing showdown with the enemy will make the steamy passion between Tara and Marc boil over...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Laurie's Review and rating:
3 1/2 stars

This book is good in the way of suspense, but when it comes to staying with the main Characters Mark and Tara it did not. A few pages your reading about Mark and Tara then all the sudden when it gets good it changes to, Darcy and Bobby Lee same here a couple pages it gets good, then you reading lets say about Gina now this one lady is special to the book she has a big roll with her kidnapping, she goes through a lot of abuse, but just as it gets good you change again to Rebel and Zane a few pages then it’s Rebel and Wade This back in fourth goes through the whole book. If you can get past this it’s a good read full of excitement, sadness, romance and steamy sex.

UK publishers hail the iBook moment


Publishers have welcomed the launch of Apple's iPad as an "important step" in the transition towards digital books, with one branding it "the most significant development yet". Dan Franklin, digital editor at Canongate, said: "I sat there and thought 'this is what we've been waiting for'." John Makinson, chief executive at Penguin, said the announcement represented "an important step in the development of a digital audience for books".

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled the much-anticipated iPad, alongside the iBook and its iBook Store, at a press conference, with the iBook Store launched with the backing of five publishers, Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and HarperCollins.

The Bookseller, like many publishers, followed the event via live video streams with news of the iBook Store not breaking until about 90 minutes into the press conference which began at 6pm GMT. The Apple chief insisted that the iBook Store would sit alongside its popular iTunes and Apps stores. Jobs said that the company was ready to open "the floodgates" to other publishers, adding that he wanted to "go a bit further" than Amazon.com's Kindle.

Dan Franklin, digital editor at Canongate, told The Bookseller: "It's the most significant development yet. Everyone's been talking about the iPod moment [for e-books] and who else was going to deliver it but Apple!"

The device is 0.5inches thin, weighs 1.5 pounds and has a 9.7inch display. It will not be available internationally until "June/July" at the earliest, shipping in 60 days, with 3G models to follow after 90. It is not yet clear whether international users will be able to buy the device without internet access, or what price it will be sold at outside of the US.

But publishers are already eagerly anticipating the iPad's arrival in the UK, with Franklin pointing out that Amazon's Kindle "hasn't taken root here". He highlighted the $499 price point as "not too expensive" for a multi-purpose device, and said he was "encouraged" by signs that publishers would be able to set their own prices.

Franklin added the iBooks Store, effectively an iTunes for books, was one of the biggest draws, as well as the "slick and sexy as hell" user experience. Makinson agreed: "The iPad and iBook Store will, we believe, appeal to existing Penguin customers and also attract millions of new readers to the world’s best books."


Tim Cooper, director of direct and digital marketing at Mills and Boon, added: "It looks great, fundamentally it's going to make a pretty big difference. It's fantastic news for publishers and the consumers as well, it must have sent a few shivers down the spines of other companies with e-reading devices. At that price point and with those multimedia opportunities, it's great for everyone. I think this will definitely help the e-book market."

Agents spoken to by The Bookseller at the A W Bruna party held at the Groucho last night were also thrilled to learn the news of the launch, with one quipping that Andrew Wylie had already begun offering "iRights" to his authors' books.

28.01.10 The Bookseller Staff

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They’re teaching a romance novel course at Yale, but it’s not what you think


NEW HAVEN —
Romance novels. The term conjures up a paperback with an airbrushed Fabio enclenched with a wild-haired young maiden on the cover. Hardly the stuff of great literature, right?

But, that’s just the image that Yale grad Lauren Willig and, as Willig calls her, “another Yalie-turned-romance-novelist, Andrea DaRif” (pen name, Cara Elliott), are trying to dispel in their “Reading the Historical Romance Novel” course at Yale this spring.

Romance is a rather broad term for a whole genre of books ranging from historical romance fiction, mysteries, family sagas to chick lit. This is purported to be the first such class at an Ivy League school.

And Willig — well, when you read her background, you won’t be surprised — is sandwiching in a book signing, Monday at 6 p.m. at the Yale Bookstore for her sixth novel, “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily.”

The course is part of Yale’s College Seminar Program: classes taught in the residential colleges for full undergraduate credit.

The two best-selling authors submitted their syllabus for review by committees of faculty and students in October, and, after rigorous examination, it was approved in December for the spring semester in Saybrook College.

Willig is not surprised by either the popularity of the course (80 applied for 18 spots) nor the willingness of the university to endorse it. The genre has been embraced by academia for years, early on by Eric Selinger at DePaul and Sarah Frantz at Fayetteville.

“The two of them have been instrumental in the movement to treat romance novels as text in their own right, rather than a sociological construct,” says Willig. “The trend was to treat romance novels only as interesting as to what they told us about the readership. They weren’t being looked at in terms of structure, theme and the usual critical literary apparatus.”

Romance novels or “bodice rippers” in a commonly used parlance, are the most widely read genre in the world. This course is meant to discern the difference between those, modern “chick lit, works of great textual quality or even historical significance, including the vampire gothics. It narrows its examination to the sub-genre of the Regency romance novel (think Jane Austen), “because it’s small enough to trace its origins to multitudinous genres,” says Willig.

“It has a distinct time period, from 1811-1820, but what we call long Regency extends from the French Revolution to the 1820s and even well into the reign of Victoria,” Willig says.

“But it encompasses such a broad range of things, which is what we’re talking about in class this year. We’ve had students talk about how they would define a romance novel. That stretches on one side from great harlequin to great sweeping stories.

“My books, for instance, are hard to classify. My publicist calls them historical fiction, and they’re frequently shelved in mystery or chick lit — I’m all over the spectrum, which I think speaks to the variety of the spectrum.”

This is not like signing up for a conservation course to fulfill your science requirement. This is a rigorous, scholarly two-hour class on Mondays, with Willig and Darif, who has a master’s in graphic design, sharing the teaching chores.

When the semester ends in April, the students will, after first getting a foundation by reading critical works of the genre by academic experts, be expected to read a novel a week for a total of 14 books, and “complete three writing assignments: a book review which needs to be analytical rather than emotive (3-4 pp), a short critical essay (5 pp) and the final project (10-15 pp).”

“We were blown away by the response,” says Willig.

Part of the impetus for the course also came from Willig’s membership in Lady Jane’s Salon, a Manhattan group of romance writers and readers which meets monthly for readings “and to hang out and drink. It’s become in a very short time an institution and a way for various people from various parts of the industry to share their love of romance novels,” says Willig.

Any parent would be happy to have their kid’s interest in romance novels turn into Willig’s career.

Willig, Yale class of 1999, has been reading the novels and trying to write them since she was 6. After double-majoring in Renaissance studies and political science, she entered the doctoral program in English History at Harvard, adding on Harvard Law School in her fifth year of grad school, where, oh by the way, she happened to write her first three novels while she was picking up her law degree at Harvard. She even practiced law at a top New York law firm before finally giving her all to her writing career.

Her Pink Carnation series is a staple on best-seller lists, with a faithful fan base eagerly awaiting the next installment of her latest heroine Pamela Devereaux.

“I started the first book in the series when I was doing my Ph.d at Harvard. It was two years of coursework, then orals, then a dissertation. I promised myself I would take the summer off and write fiction. I started writing ‘The Secret History of the Pink Carnation,’ and finished it two years later.”

She talks of her fiction writing as a diversion, juggling law work with book deadlines.

“I ended up leaving law school magna cum laude with three books. It was an incredible experience,” says Willig, and you don’t even hate her.


Contact Donna Doherty at 203-789-5672 or ddoherty@newhavenregister.com.

MEET THE AUTHOR

- Event: Book signing with Lauren Willig, author of “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”
- When: 7 p.m. Monday
- Where: Yale Bookstore, 77 Broadway, New Haven  - Admission: Free
- Info: 203-777-8440

Lucy Monroe Celebrating Paranormal Release of Moon Craving with a Contest!





Lucy Monroe’s February release, MOON CRAVING — Lucy will be giving away a special gift package in celebration of hwr paranormal release.

Book Description:


If it were up to him, Talorc—laird of the Sinclair clan and leader of his werewolf pack— would never marry. But when the king orders that Talorc wed an Englishwoman, the lone wolf is shocked to find his mate in the strong-willed Abigail. And after an intensely climactic wedding night, the two fiercely independent souls sense an unbreakable bond…

Deaf since childhood, Abigail hopes to keep her affliction from Talorc as long as possible. And for his part, he has no intention of telling her about being a werewolf. But when Abigail learns that the husband she’s begun to love has deceived her, it will take all of his warrior’s strength—and his wolf’s cunning—to win his wife back. And Talorc will have to face his biggest challenge yet: the vulnerability of a man in love…

Go to Lucy Monroe's Website to enter and the best of luck!



WIP Wednesday: One Last Line Edit


I feel like I've spent half my adult life doing line edits of my as yet unpublished novels. It's frustrating and exhausting because while every read cleans up some plot line or grammatical typo, each read also robs me of the enjoyment and excitement that the novel once provoked.In comparison, I love starting a new project. The words and ideas just flow out of me. But slogging through revisions slowly wears on me, grinds me down to a nubbin of my former writing self.

Familiarity breeds contempt? Maybe. Let's be kind and rather say separation makes the heart grow fonder. But even after a short hiatus, I'm starting to feel too close to Mara's story. The revision demons are starting to nag at me now--Did you fix that character arc? Did you add all the correct French accents to the names? Did you know you still don't have a title worth mentioning?

Yes, damnitall, I know! *grumble grumble*
Friggin' demons think they know everything...

Anyway, to keep from sounding like such a Gloomy Gus, I've linked some excerpts that I posted earlier. I'd love it if someone liked the story enough from the excerpts and wanted to beta for me. It's only about 64,000 words, so it's a pretty quick read.

Teaser 1
Teaser 2
Teaser 3
Teaser 4

Here's a tentative query blurb, too, why not:

While most Romani girls her age desire a husband and a wagon of their own to care for, what sixteen-year old Mara wants is to stop seeing muló, tortured spirits of the dead. To keep from passing this curse along to her unborn children (mostly), Mara refuses the marriage proposal of her childhood sweet heart. Soon after he leaves for Paris, Alex’s letters stop coming. Since her other dream is to play her violin on the Parisian stage, it doesn’t take much to convince Mara to go in search of him. Especially since leaving her family also means leaving behind the frightening muló that haunts her.

Accepting Alex’s old job and room at Hysteria, a nightclub in fin de siècle Montmartre, Mara learns nothing of his whereabouts. Though Guy, a handsome tenor, goes to great lengths to determine that Alex is dead, Mara won’t accept the truth. Alex appears to her that night, telling her to leave. In the morning, the reality becomes all too clear: she’s actually been visited by his muló. Despite the danger, Mara’s guilt won’t let her go home-- not until she learns the identity of Alex’s killer. The problem is, Alex won’t tell her. He won’t even show himself. Though she’s ruined her chances with Guy, the longer Mara stays at the nightclub, the more she likes life there. The lure of the stage grows stronger than her desire to uncover the truth. Will Mara find out what really happened to Alex before the murderer strikes again?
<><><><><>
Hope that piques some interest! I really love this story and want to make it the best I can, but I can't do that without your help! It's not just the idea, but the time period that makes it my current favorite of all my "kids". I love the art, the music, the performance art of this period. I love the artist Alphonse Mucha, who illustrated the cover of the magazine above, which was printed during the same winter in which my novel occurs. I've been in love with the artsy 18th arrondissement--Montmartre--for years. Hopefully, I've done it justice!

Thanks bunches, y'all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Romance Romp + Poll Results

In our most recent poll, Miss Page Peterson has taken the cake! Readers of Sequential Crush would have rather listened to her advice over Mr. Marc's or Suzan's. If you didn't get a chance to vote in that one, fear not! I have a new one up, and it is sure to be a discussion-provoking one!



Ready for some links? I thought so!

If you haven't already checked out the in-depth romance comic book blog Out of This World, hop to it! KB has a lot of great posts -- many of them concerning the depiction of nurses in romance comics.

As Told to Stan Lee is the newest of the romance comic book blogs. Drop by and join Spectergirl on her journey through the loveliest of comic book genres!

Another new blog out there is Apocolyte's World of Comics, which has promised to cover all sorts of various comic books, including romance!

Though my personal focus lies primarily in American romance comics, Curt Purcell of The Groovy Age of Horror demonstrates that romance can be found all over the world! Be sure to flip through his copy of the British circus romance comic, The Performers.


Well everyone, that's it for me tonight! Enjoy these links, and be sure to weigh-in at the poll station!!!

Waiting On Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:
"Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake"
by Sarah MacLean

Avon
Release Date: March 30, 2010

The following description is from Goodreads.com:



It's a well-known rule that a proper young lady should never steal into the house of a notorious marquess and demand a passionate kiss.

But to romance this rake, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell will break
all the rules.



Many of you might have already read this author's YA book, "The Season." A lot of bloggers have already read this book too and have given it rave reviews! I am on a historical romance binge right now, so I'm eagerly awaiting this one!!

What are you waiting on this week??

Teaser Tuesday: Hysteria


Thought I'd share an early passage from Mara's Story today, the novel I'm almost done revising. In this scene, Mara is being shown to her new room at Hysteria, a nightclub in fin de siècle Montmartre, by Élodie, one of the dancers. Mara has trekked across half the country disguised as a boy to get safely to Paris, only to discover that the old friend she's looking for is missing.


<><><><><><><>

Élodie tugs me back behind the stage, but not before I catch Guy's eye. He grins at me. I follow her up a narrow flight of stairs while she is chattering so quickly I can only understand three words she says out of ten. Climbing the stairs doesn't wind her much, though my feet feel like lead weights and my boots too tight. When we get to the third floor above the stage, we take a dark hallway. There is a row of door-less rooms overstuffed with costumes and reeking of cedar, but the last room has a thick wooden door that Élodie opens with a flourish.

"This was Alex's room," she says, something I understand right away.

"Did you know him well?" I have to ask. She is thin and beautiful with long blonde hair and a slim body I can see through her tight clothes.

"Better than some," she admits, dropping my skirt bundle on the bed.

"When did you see him last?"

She purses her pink lips thoughtfully. "Oh, a month and a half ago. I was sorry he left. I liked him. I didn't believe he stole anything for a moment."

"Honest?" Is she just lying to my face or does she truly mean it? Her dark blue eyes look sincere, and she doesn't look smart enough to fool me.

"Honest. Sorry the room's not the nicest. Alex never complained, of course, and it's far enough from the other rooms that no one else ever did, either."

I understand what she is not so subtly telling me, and am sorry for insulting her intelligence, even if it was only in my head. This is where they house the unmentionables, this third-floor room with a hole in the roof and a pair of doves nesting under the eaves.

Still, it is the size of a small wagon and it's all mine. The cracked window looks down on a damp, urine soaked chute of a courtyard and the first rays of sunset paint the dull walls a bright orange. The metal bedstead is rusty, the mattress looks lumpy and the blanket scratchy. There is an old wardrobe in the corner, a dry, dusty basin, and a small brazier. Four pegs stick in the interior wall where Alex must have kept his violin. Mine is almost too small to be securely held but I set it there anyway.

"It's not much, but at least it's yours alone. My sister and I share a windowless room this size, and some of the guys are crowded in head to toe. There's a brazier and some peat if you get cold tonight, but you won't have to sleep here if you don't want."

"What do you mean?"

"You're new and pretty enough." She says this with a sweet smile, like she is trying to explain to a toddler that the stove is hot. "You could have your pick of beds tonight, or any night. Stay warm and maybe make a little silver on the side if that's your thing. Only keep your claws out of Campion, if you like violin players so much, all right?"

Her smile tells me she's kidding, but her eyes don't.

"I haven't met your Campion, but I promise to steer clear of his bed. Is he not...," my tongue stumbles for the word, "a faithful lover?"

"He's more of a dream lover." Élodie giggles and her fair skin blotches into red strawberries across her neck and chest, her cheeks become crisp frost apples.

"He doesn't know you like him?"

"Not yet." She flips her long hair back over her shoulder. "There a dress in that bundle? Let's get you presentable before the Three Hags get their hooks in you."

"Three Hags?" I unwrap my skirt and blouse. Everything else I stow under the pillow for now.

"Mme. Laurent, the costume mistress, Mme. Moreau, the money, and M. David, the owner. He's the biggest hag of them all." She pauses while I turn away to change, pulling my skirt over my trousers and sliding them off. "It's Mara, right? Modesty is a waste of time in this place. Almost every night I have to change in front of the other girls, and guys, sometimes, too. There's not a lot of time between acts, some nights. Now hurry, they'll be expecting us."

"Alex didn't tell anyone he was leaving?" My skirt flutters around my legs. I am a girl again. I wonder briefly what Guy is doing.

"Not a word. It's strange. He really seemed to like some of us." Her color flares again and I wonder if she ever shared that narrow bed with him, keeping him warm, keeping him from thinking about me. She seems comfortable with this dark hallway and the staircase. We are opposites, she and I. Élodie. Even her name trickles off the tongue like a song.

<><><><><><><><>

Monday, January 25, 2010

Twitter!

I've finally joined Twitter, everyone!!

I'm going to be adding everyone so I can follow all of you via twitter as well!

In the meantime, I'd love it if all of you followed me at https://twitter.com/in_the_hammock


Follow in_the_hammock on Twitter

Thank you and I look forward to your tweets!!

What are You Reading on Mondays (5)


What are You Reading on Mondays is a weekly event at J. Kaye's Book Blog. It's a great way to show everyone what you are reading this week, and maybe what you just finished or are planning to read, too!

Books I finished reading last week:

"Not Quite A Husband" by Sherry Thomas
I loved it! My review is coming soon!



Currently Reading:
"Sold to a Laird" by Karen Ranney
Very good despite the uncomfortable title! And I love the cover :)


I'm on a historical romance binge this week!!

What are you reading this week??

The Whole Story

A little after nine last night I look up from my television when I hear what can only be gunfire.

A single shout drifts through my usually quiet neighborhood, a single shout that swells, multiplies, grows into a cacophany of yelling. Car horns break up the screaming. The sky is on fire. Dogs are barking, and I hear the sound of church bells punctuated by more gunfire.

It sounds like the end of the world.


Unless you know the context.


Maybe you don't follow football, but--

The SAINTS are in the SUPERBOWL, baby!


When the game ended, the whole city erupted into celebration, that, at first glance, sounded almost threatening, maybe even apocalyptic if you've never been to New Orleans when something happens worth celebrating.

That made me think of my writing in an interesting way. Part of the reason our own writing seems so alive to us, is that we're seeing the whole story when we write, and read the words back to ourselves. The words have extra meaning to us because we associate them with pictures in our heads and moods that we're feeling. Moods that we may not be translating properly to the written word. Moods the reader may not be experiencing.

This is something I'm going to keep in mind next time I sit to write. Something I should know already, but I've never really been able to put into words before. Hopefully, my own revelations might help others, but this post will serve as a reminder for me. Just another writing resolution I'm going to try my darnedest to keep!

Had any good writing resolutions of your own, lately?

Multiculturalism

A couple of days ago I read a very interesting article in JP, the title is “Literature boosts Gus Dur’s spirit of pluralism” written by Setiono Sugiharto. In short, the article tells us that reading literature can maintain the idea of pluralism proposed by – one of pluralism scholars in Indonesia – Gus Dur.

The article reminded me of one class I joined when I was in college “American Multiculturalism”. The professor assigned us to read various kinds of literary works – mostly short stories and poems – written by many American authors from different tribes, such as Native American (e.g. Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Yellow Woman”), African American (e.g. Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”), Mexican American (e.g. Sandra Cisneros’ “Woman Hollering Creek”), Chinese American (e.g. Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds”), until one poet who was born in Indonesia, Li Young Lee; we discussed his poem “Persimmons”. We absolutely also read works written by white American, such as Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going? Where have you been?” The main objective of this class is to provide the students how rich American culture is, and of course also to respect those so-called marginalized authors’ works. America is indeed multicultural.

Going back to Indonesia. After the fall of New Order regime, we can find more various kinds of books – read it novels – written by authors from different ethnic as well as religious groups. It means Indonesian people are more exposed to their own country’s multiculturalism. (However, this ‘freedom’ has recently been stained by the banning of books. SBY followed his predecessor’s way to maintain his position?)

However, we must not forget that in Indonesia books are still considered very expensive so that not all people can afford to buy books. Besides, the interest in reading among Indonesian people is still very low. Not to mention if teachers at school do not read a lot. How can they suggest what books to read by their students? Moreover, if those teachers are not ‘plural’, or do not respect multiculturalism.

Absolutely Setiono Sugiharto’s idea is very good. The implementation needs work hard. Schools as well as public libraries must provide more various kinds of books. Teachers of ‘Bahasa and Sastra Indonesia’ must increase their readings so that they can suggest their students which books to read to increase their awareness of the existence of multiculturalism in Indonesia. Media must help by providing articles written using point of views which support pluralism.

PT56 21.51 24.01.10

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Speaking Tours with Author Doug Benton


Speaking tours are a great way to promote our books; garnering the interest of our potential audience without screaming, “buy my book!” This type of exposure can be a good platform for our future releases as well.

Author Doug Benton, as well as being a special friend, is the author of several works of poetry and what I would call, “directive storytelling” works of fiction. He is by far one of the most talented writers I have ever met.

I recently had the opportunity to briefly interview him regarding his upcoming speaking tour. I've posted the interview below.

Carol Denbow: Doug, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk a little with us about your upcoming speaking tour. You are the author of a couple books, one I am very familiar with, and the other is a new release. Can you start by telling us a little about each one?

Doug Benton: Well, let me start by thanking you for the opportunity to discuss my work. As you know, The Road To Veritas was published back in 2005. In fact, you were most helpful with that one. It is a collection of narrative poetry dealing with life, liberty and spiritual truth.

In November of 2009, my most recent book, The Hummingbird Goose was released. It is a book for children of all ages that addresses the age old myth of the hitchhiking hummingbird through a fable of faith in friends and family.

Carol Denbow: I understand you are attempting to organize a speaking tour. Are you focusing on one particular book or will you try to touch on each one?

Doug Benton: I will be primarily selling The Hummingbird Goose while developing interest in my next book.

Carol Denbow: How did you decide who exactly your audience would be for your books?

Doug Benton: Well, as it turns out, the market potential is still evolving. The preliminary feedback is far ranging. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised at how many parents and grandparents have seen fit to buy The Hummingbird Goose to be read aloud to kids.

Carol Denbow: How did you go about finding suitable locations to speak?

Doug Benton: As you know, I have a background in Christian broadcasting and ministry. Many of my friends and colleagues are pastors and workers in the recovery field. Referrals for guest speaking are a natural outcome of such association.

In addition to promoting The Goose, this tour is a preview of my upcoming non-fiction work A Most Excellent Way which chronicles the eight years of “hands-on-experience” my wife and I had sheltering those recovering from drug and/or alcohol abuse.

Carol Denbow: How many tour stops would you consider “enough” to see results?

Doug Benton: “Enough” is an elusive term. I expect that referrals will result in developing many venues for the tour.

Carol Denbow: How do you find is the best way to “break the ice” with an unfamiliar audience?

Doug Benton: Humor is a great “ice breaker,” Carol and you know how funny-looking I am.

Carol Denbow: LOL! How will you go about selling your books to your listeners?

Doug Benton: The topics of the tour will deal largely with the methods we discovered for restoring “self-respect” and its companion “self-discipline” to those abused by life. The preliminary speaking engagements in the Portland area have resulted in both book sales and in gathering contact information for my e-mail feature Living Bread Crumbs. I am building a data base for continuing contact with my readers.

Carol Denbow: Do you have any additional words of wisdom for our readers?

Doug Benton: Science has determined that the “Human Spark”, the quality that sets homo sapiens apart from other creatures, seems to arise from the development of language. Insight and imagination are shared through the documentation of language….writing. Authorship provides the “footprints” that mark the human path. What a privilege it is to leave tracks!

Carol Denbow: If our Blog visitors would like to learn more about your work, do you have a Website we can send them to?

Doug Benton: www.hummningbirdgoose.com or www.booksaboutabba.com

Carol Denbow: Now let’s ask the important questions. Have you any “concrete” scheduled tour stops you can share with our readers in the event they would like to come and listen? If not, where will they be able to see your tour schedule once it’s all organized?

Doug Benton: I have a radio interview with Light House Radio Group (K-Light) later this month and I will begin to develop the tour schedule after that. I will be publishing the incremental schedule by e-mail. If any of your readers would like to be included in future mailings you may contact me at dgbntn@hotmail.com.

Carol Denbow: Well I thank you Doug for sharing this information with us. F.Y.I., K-Light Radio is in Oregon). Hopefully by reading this, our Blog visitors will be able to get some ideas for their own speaking tours.

Read some of my favorite poems by Doug at http://www.booksaboutabba.com/poems.php, then come back here and leave your comments. If you are interested in knowing more about Doug Benton, please e-mail him or click on his Website.

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show off their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

Swapped:

"The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein" by Libby Schmais



I've read so many great reviews of this one! It looks so cute!

Won:
"Black Tie Affair" by Sherrill Bodine


I won this one in a Goodreads Firstreads contest, it was sent to me by Hachette books. I love the fashion storyline, it looks so fun!

What did you receive in your mailbox this week??

Home is Where the ♥ is

Ever wonder where your favorite DC romance comic book characters live? Wonder no more! Sequential Crush presents for your viewing pleasure, a tour of their homes!

From "The Most Wonderful Boy in the World"
Young Romance #150 (October/November 1967)

Little does Joan know, her new apartment in
Greenwich Village doesn't have a closet!


From "The Love That Was Mine"
Young Romance #151 (December/January 1967)

Nice coffee table!


From "Don't Pity Me -- Love Me!"
Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)

This groovy pad is wheelchair accessible!


From "Please, Please, Don't Tell Him About Me!"
Falling in Love #113 (February 1970)

Are you sure you don't want to kick Clarisse because
she forgot to water the houseplants while you were out of town?


From "Bachelor Girl!"
Falling in Love #117 (August 1970)

Sweet freedom!
(Don't let Clarisse near that plant, by the way!)


From "Hide My Past, My Heart"
Falling in Love #120 (January 1971)

"It is lovely honey, but I think the place could use
a tad more green!"



From "Heavy Date!
Girls' Love Stories #165 (January 1972)

Creepy clown painting alert!


From "Last Fling!"
Falling in Love #135 (August 1972)

Eviction stinks!
Be sure to pack that awesome chair!


Well friends, I hope you enjoyed this rendezvous through our favorite gals' humble abodes! Have a most wonderful remainder of the weekend!

Author Solutions CEO Invites RWA, MWA, SFWA to Discuss Choice and Opportunity in Book Publishing


Kevin Weiss, chief executive officer of Author Solutions (ASI)--the world leader in indie book publishing--released a video statement today calling for three major authors' guilds to join him for a discussion about choice and opportunity in book publishing.   Video here

I'm inviting the three writers guilds who've expressed the greatest objections with the partnerships we've established with traditional publishing to sit down with us and discuss how we can improve the opportunity for their writers and the choice for readers

Not only do I want to discuss the differences they have with our business, as well as the partnership models that we're engaging with traditional publishing, but I also want to discuss the things that we are doing and plan to do to advance the cause of their members on a daily basis

Bloomington, Ind. (PRWEB) January 22, 2010 -- Kevin Weiss, chief executive officer of Author Solutions, Inc (ASI)--the world leader in indie book publishing--released a video statement today calling for three major authors' guilds to join him for a discussion about choice and opportunity in book publishing. Weiss specifically addresses the leadership of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA)--all vocal critics of ASI's new partnerships with leading traditional publishers.

"I'm inviting the three writers guilds who've expressed the greatest objections with the partnerships we've established with traditional publishing to sit down with us and discuss how we can improve the opportunity for their writers and the choice for readers," Weiss said in the statement.

In response to ASI's announcements of partnerships with traditional publishers, the three writer's guilds led a campaign to discredit the publishers involved in creating these groundbreaking opportunities, even going so far as to de-list one as a qualified publisher. Weiss believes the guilds may not fully understand the role self-publishing can play in expanding options for writers and consumers while at the same time providing benefits to traditional publishers who are in the midst of tremendous upheaval.

"Not only do I want to discuss the differences they have with our business, as well as the partnership models that we're engaging with traditional publishing, but I also want to discuss the things that we are doing and plan to do to advance the cause of their members on a daily basis," Weiss said.

Weiss invited the groups to engage in a direct conversation with him and other ASI leaders at their convenience.

For more information on Author Solutions and its leadership of the indie book publishing revolution, visit authorsolutions.com.

About Author Solutions, Inc.

Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), an Inc. 5000 company, is owned by Bertram Capital and is the world leader in indie book publishing--the fastest-growing segment of publishing. ASI's self-publishing brands--AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, and Wordclay--have helped more than 85,000 authors self-publish, promote, and bring to market more than 120,000 new titles. Through strategic alliances with leading trade publishers, ASI is making it possible to develop new literary talent efficiently and provide emerging authors a platform for bringing their books to market. Headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, ASI also operates offices in Indianapolis and Milton Keynes, England. Visit authorsolutions.com, or call 1-888-519-5121 x5238 for more information.



Love Likely to Last a Lifetime for Brides over Age 25 - Susan Mallery


If you stop in here at Romance Author Buzz you'll see that I'm such a fan of Susan Mallery's.  Her Marcelli series is going to be re-issued this year.  Here's an article I found this am which I find quite interesting.

The National Study of Family Growth (NSFG) reports that brides age 25 and older are about twice as likely to enjoy long marriages than teenage brides. Teen couples who get engaged over Valentine’s Day might want to consider a long engagement to increase their odds of a successful marriage.

 -- Many couples will get engaged on Valentine’s Day. On the whole, people wait longer to get married these days than ever before, and that may be a good thing. Women who get married at age 25 or older are twice as likely to remain married for at least ten years when compared with teenage brides, according to a report based on the National Study of Family Growth.

The Sparkling One by Susan Mallery“The heroines in my books tend to be in their late twenties,” says New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery. Known for her funny and sexy writing style, Mallery writes romance novels, books that focus on the developing love story between a man and a woman. “I believe women at this age have matured enough to know what they want in a husband, and are better at shrugging off the small stuff. Plus, they’ve been dinged up by life a little bit, and we’re all more interesting with scars.”

People who have never married have a higher risk of death at every age. Not a bad reason to get engaged this Valentine’s Day.

Is divorce inevitable for younger couples?

One of Mallery’s most popular series of books centers around the Marcellis, a family of California vintners. The first book, The Sparkling One, features a young couple whose engagement announcement sets the hero and heroine of the story at odds with each other. The sister of the bride-to-be is all for it, and even offers to plan the wedding. The father of the groom is adamantly opposed. So will the teenagers go through with the wedding, and will the marriage last?

“I don’t want to ruin the surprise,” says Mallery with a laugh. “I will tell you, though, that I positively believe that young marriages can last. That study says 40% of women who marry when they’re 18 or 19 years old divorce within the first ten years of marriage. That means that 60% don’t. That’s a lot of happy couples who are laughing with each other, loving each other, and finding a way to grow old together.”

In fact, they may grow older than their unmarried peers. A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people who have never married have a higher risk of death at every age. Not a bad reason to get engaged this Valentine's Day. The Sparkling One is being reissued this month, with the next two books in the series – The Sassy One and The Seductive One – coming in March and April.
(PRWEB) January 23, Napa, CA

"The Amaranth Enchantment"


"The Amaranth Enchantment"
by Julie Berry

Source: Borrowed

My Rating: 5+ out of 5 stars

My Review:

"The Amaranth Enchantment" was an excellent fantasy book with lovable characters, a fast-paced plot, and a swoon-worthy romance!

Lucinda is an orphan, taken in by her uncle and wicked aunt. She is treated like a servant in their house and in their goldsmith shop. One day, everything changes when the mysterious woman known as the Amaranth Witch brings a spectacular gem into their shop to be set. The same day, Lucinda meets Prince Gregor, who is in search of a bauble to give his betrothed, whom he has never even met. Combine the magical world of the Amaranth Witch, the handsome and gallant Prince Gregor, a lovable street rat named Peter, and an endearingly loyal goat who thinks he's a dog, and you get one fantastic story!

I loved all of the characters in this book, and the way they were all so cleverly intertwined in each other's lives. Lucinda was a strong-willed heroine who had been through a lot, but she still had a soft and tender heart underneath it all. She wasn't so strong and hardened that she couldn't cry or be vulnerable with her emotions.

Lucinda's romance (almost a love triangle, actually) was just exactly what I love to read. Gregor and Lucinda's special night at the Winter Festival is exactly what every young girl dreams of. Gregor's small gestures of affection were heart stopping and really stood out as very romantic.

Peter was a lovable rascal and he was just like a cute puppy who you could never really be angry with no matter how many times he messes up. And Dog, the goat, practically steals the entire show-what a hero!

The only complaint I could possibly have about this book is that it could have been longer and the characters and situations even more fleshed out. There was so much to love, all of the scenes could have been even more in depth. However, the simplicity and innocence of the book was one of its charms.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5

Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line:
I loved this book and will definitely put it on my keeper shelf! The characters really put this story over the top!

Main Scorcher awards post





The Scorcher award is for books that we find extremely hot. Now you might say all erotic or romance books are Scorchers, but most are not. This award is for books we read with great character connection and true seduction along with hot sex scenes.

2010
Venice Vampyr by Tina Folsom
Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase

2011
The Demons Bargain by Lisa Alder
Live Wire by Lora Leigh
Last Minion Standing by Eve Langlais 
Once Bitten,Forever Bound by Stacey Kennedy and Eve Langlais
What a Goddness Wants by Stephanie Jullian
Visions of Skyfire by Regan Hasitngs

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Blood Red by Heather Graham


Blood Red
Author: Heather Graham
Vampire
Paranormal Romance

Summary:

When a fortune-teller shows bridesmaid Lauren Crow an omen of her gruesome death, she and her friends laugh it off as cheesy theatrics—until women begin disappearing in the night.

Even as the streets become more dangerous, Lauren finds herself lusting after a man who is himself dangerous— and quite possibly crazy. Mark Davidson prowls the city by night armed with crosses and holy water, in search of vampires, whose existence, he insists, is real. He is as irresistibly drawn to Lauren as she is to him, and not only because she's the image of his murdered fiancée. But Mark's frightening obsession with finding his lover's killer merely hides a bitter vendetta that cuts deeper than grief over a lost love.


As Lauren wrestles with desire and disbelief, sinister shadows lengthen over New Orleans, threatening her friends and foretelling a battle that may spell the end of the city's uneasy truce between the living and the undead.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Laurie's Review
Rating 1 star

This book starts out good. You have a spooky prelude and first chapter start, then you go in to reading about three women having a bachelorette party in the New Orleans, they go to see a voodoo queen or a fortune teller, they get spooked there and the teller tells them to leave town, but you know predictable they stay. I kept reading for a while and got to board with the storyline, it was way to predictable and just didn’t have enough boost to keep me interested. Plus the vampires was not like I expected

Giveaway- Kim Harrison



Giveaway time. I have the first two books in The Hollows series. These books are used but my daughter is a book neat freak, so they still look new.




Dead Witch Walking:
The underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves—creatures of dreams and nightmares—has lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But after a genetically engineered virus wipes out a large part of humanity, many of the "Inderlanders" reveal themselves, changing everything.
Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter with the Inderland Runner Services, is one of the best at apprehending supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati, but when it comes to following the rules, she falls desperately short. Determined to buck the system, she quits and takes off on the run with an I.S. contract on her head and is reluctantly forced to team up with Ivy, Inderland's best runner . . . and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death . . . not to mention her own roommate.




The Good, the Bad, and the Undead:
Rachel Morgan s back, and in more trouble than ever! Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and other vampire novels won t want to miss the second novel in Kim Harrison s addicting--and already bestselling--supernatural series.
Former-bounty-hunter Rachel Morgan has it pretty good. She s left the corrupt Inderland Runner Service and started her own independent service. She s survived werewolves, shape-changing demons, bad-hair days, and sharing a church with her vampire roommate Ivy. She even has a cute (if human) boyfriend-what more could a witch want?
But living with a reformed vampire isn t all it s cracked up to be, particularly when your roommate s very bad ex-boyfriend wants her back, and wouldn t mind you in the process. And especially when he s six feet of sheer supernatural seduction, and you ve got a demon mark that makes vampires literally hotter than hell....


Open for old and New Followers US, Canada and UK. To enter please post below. Please leave a email so you can be contacted if you win. Giveaway ends 29 of Jan.


+3 For being an old follower

+1 For being a new follower

+2 for telling us your favorite vampire book or series

+3 For spreading the giveaway around either by tweets post on your blog etc, just please leave a link




Pink Heart Society Interview with Border's Sue Grimshaw


For those of you who are not members of The Pink Heart Society, this interview with Sue Grimshaw from Borders was posted on the PHS blog yesterday and a very interesting one that I wanted to share.  Hopefully you'll also stop by the PHS blog and the review site.  It's contemporary romance at it's best with international readers and authors participating. 

A huge Pink Heart Society welcome to our special Industry Insider guest today, Sue Grimshaw! Sue is the Romance buyer for Borders and well known in the industry as being a marvelous ambassador for the genre. Thanks Sue for taking the time to answer a few of our questions today!

We'd like to know a bit about how things work at Borders in respect to the Romance genre. How does Borders view category - is it best left on the endcap for 3 weeks to do its thing, or is there more to it?

Borders has always viewed category romance as part of the romance business overall. Harlequin works very closely with us to determine our assortment and; merchandising presentation, as well as, promotional opportunities that we can offer the customer. It has been a stable business for us & one that we will continue to offer as long as our customers continue to buy, & that should be for a very long time.

Is there are particular order the books are put in their end cap?

Romance maintains two end-caps in most stores. Title selection for those fixtures is determined by the publishing schedule and volume of the buy. The theme for the endcaps can vary between Best Sellers, New Releases, author themed, sub-genre themed, etc. We do leave some placement up to store discretion as well so they can merchandise the right books to their customers.

Which are the most popular lines at Borders? Does it vary from region to region?

Book trends vary from region to region, store to store, even vary month to month :-) . Much is determined by what is being published so when we review trends we try to take into account a broad enough period of time. Right now, paranormal romances continue to top the charts as far as sales trends above last year; contemporary romances are also very strong.

Do the lines carried vary much store by store?

Title selection varies from store to store but the sub categories within romance are available in all stores.

Do category romances ever catch your eye?

Oh sure – much like the customer I end up reading many of the best selling authors that continue to write category books. Certain titles seem to sell better than others so I review those books as well to see what triggered the customer’s interest.

What trends in romance are you noticing? Are the trends the same in category?

The nostalgic, small town contemporaries continue to sell well. Paranormal romances also appeal to our readers & sexier stories no matter what the sub-genre, sell very well. Desire & Presents are the top selling lines in category & those are predominantly contemporary stories.

What do you think category romance offers that is unique?

Category is a great way for readers to find new authors without much time or financial investment. For busy moms, it is a quick read but fulfilling story, & they’re great to take on vacation – the smaller size is easier to pack.

And a few more personal type fun questions:  What is the very best part of your job?

Reading the books of course! I really enjoy all aspects of the job but being able to read all the different books within the genre is great fun to me. I enjoy meeting romance readers too, just like them, I love to discuss the books with others that have the same interest. Getting to meet romance readers is one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to ROMCON, as I can’t wait to chat with everyone (www.romconinc.com). I also enjoy meeting with readers on our blog, Borders True Romance (www.bordersblog.com/trueromance).

What is the worst part?

Oh, probably some of the mundane stuff I have to do from day to day --- but, even that I don’t mind – every job has that, right?

What are you reading right now?

Nick’s story in Stephanie Tyler’s new romantic suspense series, TOO HOT TO HOLD – yummy! OOps done with that (& loved it!), now reading ECSTASY UNVEILED by Larissa Ione -- what a voice!

What’s your absolute favourite subgenre to read? What’s your reading weakness?

Favorite sub-genre is historical – not sure why really but even with all of the new sub-genre’s romance has acquired over the years, historical books are my favorites. I'm all about the characters & the emotional relationship, so if an author can serve that up I'm all over it!

Thanks PHS for having me and Borders on your blog – I’d like to encourage your readers to stop on by BTRB, Border’s True Romance Blog (www.bordersblog.com/trueromance) to visit & comment on some of our author, editor & blogger posts – we always manage to have a fun time & you never know when there is a giveaway!  All the best in the New Year,   Sue