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Newspaper and Magazine Articles

6 of 13

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

6 of 13
The Calgary Sun


By: Jennifer Isaac

Ever wanted to star in a romance novel, to be the ravishing heroine swept away by a dazzling hero of your choice? Now's your chance.

Mike Pocock, publisher of Love's Next Door, has developed a personalized romance novel filled with love, passion and lots of humour. "The way it works, you co-author your own novel by selecting the names, features and places to personalize," says Pocock.

"You can include a spouse or significant other, friends, relatives, co-workers or Hollywood stars. Readers can put themselves in the leading role and even include a pet."

Upon completion of a character questionnaire, which includes queries on 30 details such as your nickname, hair and eye colour and favourite drink, you can then order your personalized book.

For $29.95, plus shipping and handling, you'll receive a 10-chapter, 160-page, professionally-bound novel.

The plot is the same in each book: The heroine -- a magazine editor who has become homesick for her small-town roots -- moves back home. She quickly takes up her old habit of playing practical jokes on her next-door-neighbour (the hero). The only problem is, he's got a girlfriend (the villain), who is two-timing him.

The Calgary Sun

The idea for the novel struck Pocock while he was lying on a California beach last year. "I was on holiday, enjoying a glass of wine with the sea breeze gently blowing and I said, this is right out of a romance novel," he says. "The funny thing is, I really don't consider myself a romance afficionado by trade."

Pocock took a year to develop the story, which was launched in October 1999. "Everyone likes to think of themselves as romantic at heart," he says. "This is a perfect romantic gift."

Originally, he thought the book would appeal mainly to women. "As it is, we're seeing a 50/50 split, with men buying the book, too."

Don't scan the pages searching for steamy sex -- there is none. "The love and passion in the novel is warm and fun," Pocock says. "There's nothing explicit. There's just a lot of heavy breathing and rolling around."

There's also a lot of sales in the romance novel industry. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. -- which publishes the immensely popular Harlequin romance series -- reported annual earnings of $87.6 million in 1998.
That translates to 160 million books printed in 24 languages and sold in more than 100 countries. "Romance is what keeps people going," says Catherine Orr, vice-president of Harlequin. "It's the adventure, the surprise element, the 'if I'd only taken that left turn, what would have happened."  She says romance novels have always provided a great outlet for fantasy, though stories now tend to be more realistic.  "It's not unusual to have stories of two single parents juggling their relationship with each other and with their kids," she notes. "The stories always touch your heart."

Pocock agrees. "Sometimes you're laughing at the story, other times you've got a tear in your eye," he says. Rosie O'Donnell has wiped away a teardrop or two. So have Donny and Marie, Valerie Pringle and Dini Petty, who have all had books personalized.

"You'll find it's a fun, light-humoured book that will be cherished and remembered forever," he notes.

For more information on a personalized romance novel, check out www.romancebyyou.com or call toll-free 1-877-659-4844. Orders placed before midnight Monday can be guaranteed delivery by Feb. 14.

Excerpted from Love's Next Door, Book By You Publishing:

Alexandra brushed her warm, wet lips against Tristan's neck.

"Stop that!" he pleaded, glancing again at Caroline to see if she was watching. His girlfriend's eyes glared back at him from their table. She hadn't missed a thing. The glance spoke volumes -- the rest of the evening was going to be hell.

Alexandra, once again, moved her lips ever so slowly along his neck. "That bothers you?" she said, in a soft, sultry voice...