Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rock Star Romance Week featuring Susan Landers

It's 1985 and twenty-five year old singer/songwriter Alexander Drake is riding the rock charts. He has fame, fortune, looks, and talent. He also has Vivian Martin, his manager, who rescued him from the streets when he was homeless at seventeen. As leader of The Alex Drake Band, Alexander calls the shots onstage, but off stage it is Vivian who controls the other aspects of his life. As his surrogate mother, Vivian has cared for and protected him as his own mother never did, but his past will come to haunt him, and Vivian will be unable to protect him from the truths he must learn. When Alexander receives an urgent phone call from his sister in South Carolina, his life is going to change forever. Against Vivian's wishes, he must return to the place he vowed never to go again: home.


I came across Shame's Ballad back in August 2012 while doing my daily "Rock Star Romance" search on Amazon. Of course I purchased it since I have a tendancy to buy anything and everything having to do with Rock Stars! Well, this is not your TYPICAL "Rock Star" read sure there is description of the lifestyle but that's not what this story is about! This book is much deeper and the life Alexander Drake had led up until the time he was discovered by Vivian could only be described as heart-breaking! Alexander Drake left home at the age of 15. He had no choice he had to go and his road to success wasn't gold-paved. NO! This poor soul went through trials most people couldn't even fathom much less talk about. When I was reading about Alexander's home life when he was a child my heart ached and I .......... God the emotions! The sorrow and pain! There were times that I was so mad and I literally wanted to jump into the book and kick his step-father Vernon's ass. Oh if I could've had five minutes with the man I would've.......................... Shame's Balled is told in several POV's but mainly Alexander's. He takes us back through each trial and tribulation he faced that brought him to where he was today, well 1985 that was! I watched this talented musician's road to stardom and at times was utterly flabbergasted! He was "saved" by Vivian and at times I would think of her and ................................................................ This isn't a story with "hot sex" and "boy meets girl." Well, there is a girl but this doesn't start or end up the way you think it might or at least the way I thought it would! All I can say is THANK GOODNESS there is a second book! I wouldn't say I was left "hanging" per se but I was left with a lot of questions that I'm hoping the sequel, Second Verses, will answer for me! The best way for me to describe this book is the only way I know and that's to take you on a journey of my feelings and boy did I have A LOT of feelings! This book starts off with Alexander finishing his last show of his most recent tour. He's tired of the road and ready to go home. Well he doesn't have far cause he's home in L.A. already. I loved the description of the last show and encore. His "white scarf" tied around the leg of his leather pants, remember 80's folks, and what the scarf signifies. He locks eyes with a "hottie" in the front row and if I was in the front eye and this long-haired hard rock GOD locked eyes with me, well....................................................................................... Remember I said he was tired? Well, Alexander returns home, his one sanctuary that's just for him, and receives a call from his sister Sheila that will change everything and take him on a journey that he least expected, didn't want to go on but needed to take. That call changes the tone of the book and Alexander starts to "re-live" his past in his mind. His past with his step-father, his siblings and his mother. When he get's home there was a point in the book that I wanted to tell him to turn around and ......................................
Alexander GO HOME get out of there just go!!! But then folks I wouldn't have a book to read would I if characters listened to me! So he stays and he goes through....................................................................................................................
I was totally like NO FREAKING WAY! That can't happen, oh but it did happen! What happened next to him left me.......................................................

Completely!!! It was during this time that someone from his past is brought back and I well I know I was doing this.............................................................

Alexander's flashbacks to his past increase and we see times of utter despair, heartbreak and what I would say a will to survive. He was always described as "pretty" but not in a feminine way. He did have moments of this .................
Heck, he had those moments with Groupies! He was a Rock Star! But those moments are not the focus of this book. When he finally gets out of where he was I so.................................................................................................................
Who helped him left me........................................................................................


But who really is there to help him? Does everyone have his "best" interest at heart? The secrets that surround Alexander Drake would've drove me into therapy probably and I don't know if I would have been the same. He does "fight" for his promises because once he makes one he keeps it! Well by the end of this book I was left....................................................................................

I'm really hoping that the follow-up book, Second Verses, will have me............


But until that's released I must wait, patiently and anxiously for the follow-up to Shame's Ballad. If you want an emotional read that does have suspense and characters that leave you wanting to beat the hell out of them then I recommend you read Shame's Ballad! Like I said don't expect a big ole love fest my friends at least not in the first book!

Here's my interview with Susan Landers....................................

~ What inspired you to write your first book?
I spent a number of years working in radio full time, both as an air talent and a music director.  As a music director, I received weekly calls from record promoters at all of the record labels, so I had some experience in how music promotion works.  It was in 1992 while I was working 7-midnight at a hot AC station in Ventura, California that the first draft of Shame's Ballad was written.  One night, the lines "As he ran off stage, he was thinking of nothing more than the encores he had to get through so he could go home and sleep.  He was grateful to be in Los Angeles; he'd sleep in his own bed for a change" popped into my head, and I wrote them down on a legal pad.  The gal who came in to relieve me at midnight, Dawn Daniels, picked up the notepad, read it, and said, "Then what happens?"  It became like the Arabian Nights--I had to have more story for Dawn each night!  This is why I had to dedicate the book to her because without her constant interest and prodding, it might have stayed a few scribbled lines on a legal pad.

~ Where did you come up with the idea for Shames Ballad?
I am fascinated with the duality of personalities that exists, not only in radio personalities but most entertainers, and I thought that this duality was on display in such abundance in rock stars--who they are on stage and who they are off stage are often quite different, and with Alexander, I set out to strike as stark a contrast as possible.  When I wrote the story originally, there was no internet, but it was a time when everyone was on every talk show talking about their awful childhoods or their deepseated issues.  Just a few years earlier in the early to mid-80s, it was much easier to keep things secret and to wear a fa├žade like the one Vivian creates for Alexander.  There were tell alls and tabloids then too, but nothing like TMZ and the like that we have today.      
A few years before I began to write the novel, I lived with a bass player who bounced around in different small local bands, and one evening we were going into a video store run by people who knew I was a local radio personality, and this bass player boyfriend and I were rather tensely disagreeing about something, but the moment the guy behind the counter greeted me, I turned, smiled brightly, and cheerfully said "Hey!  How's it going?"  To this, my boyfriend said, "Well, that's putting on the showbiz."  Later, when writing Shame's Ballad, I had Alexander 'put on' his rock star when he performs. 
It's a little bit of a Cinderella story in reverse also, with a male Cinderella, a wicked stepfather and a fairy godmother who happens to be a tough as nails music promoter.  I even make a blatant reference to this during a flashback scene when Alexander is a homeless teen.

~ Is there any "truth" to in your books, for example, have you met a Rock Star that became your muse for the story or do you have a muse?
I think I may have covered that in the question above (Emoji); though that bass player boyfriend was not in any way an inspiration for Alexander, he was one of the musicians who has graced my life over the years.  Though I gave up chasing a living out of full time radio about a decade ago because the business has changed so drastically, over the years, I worked mostly in medium to large markets in a variety of formats, notably in Phoenix and San Diego, and I still work part time at KCAL-FM in Redlands, which is a legendary station celebrating its 45th year as a rock station.  We stream live at  
Hence, I have been in the near vicinity of rock stars, bringing a band onstage a time or two or three, and have interviewed a few in studio and over the phone.  
~ Can you share what you might have in the works at this time?
Shame's Ballad is a much longer story than in the recently published copy.  The novel sat upon a shelf for a long time and with the new ease of self-publishing, I felt that it was time to do a rewrite and put it out into the world.  In the years between the first handwritten scribbles on legal pads and the typewritten copies and the advent of MS Word, I went back to school and earned my MA in English Composition.  When I pulled Shame's Ballad off the shelf, I saw what a large amount of revision was in order, but I teach college writing full time, write and copy edit for a regional lifestyle magazine, and am on the air every weekend, so finding the time to write/rewrite is difficult. I was growing impatient with the rewrite and it was becoming a tad long, so I essentially cut the novel in two halves to get it out on the market.  I leave the reader with some, but not total, closure, and when Second Verse (Shame's Ballad, part two, if you will) is finished, I think it will be worth the wait.   Second Verse picks up the very next morning after Shame's Ballad ends, so the reader won't miss a thing. 
I also have a prequel in the works -- written, but not revised-- that tells the story of Alexander's parents. 
My website,, has the novel for sale and links to buy it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, but something that is also important to me is the charities I would like to help with Shame's Ballad and eventually Second Verse.  If readers order the signed copy ofShame's Ballad from my website, I will give 50% of the purchase price to their choice of Boystown or Children of the Night, organizations that help homeless teens.  Shame's Ballad is a wonderful opportunity to help others.      

~ What types of music do you like to listen to?
I have eclectic musical tastes.  I prefer rock in most of its flavors, but I love everything from Bach (both Sebastian and Johann Sebastian--LOL) to the Beatles to Bon Jovi, from the Monkees to Metallica to Mozart, from Don McLean to the Doobies to Death Cab for Cutie, and just about everything in between.  It all depends upon my mood.  I like the 70s songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, 90s alternative like Gin Blossoms and Alanis, and my day is not complete without some Zeppelin, but I love to hear bluegrass sometimes, love early Motown, Elvis, Buddy Holly, and 40s swing.  My parents were of the 'Greatest Generation,' so I heard a lot of Glenn Miller, Mills Brothers, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis growing up as well as Andy Williams, Patti Page, and Jim Reeves.  Did I say I am eclectic?  LOL   

~ Name 3 of your favorite Bands
ONLY three, are you kidding?  I guess I got away with more if you've read the answer to the question above, but I was just trying to be clever!  I suppose if I have to name only three it would be Aerosmith, the Eagles, and not really a band per se, but I am a huge fan of Alan Parsons and all of his projects.  Can I get Pink Floyd in there too?     

~ Do you create a playlist while your working on your books?
Yes, in a way.  I actually write well when I am on the air, but when I am at home, and depending upon what era I am writing, the music helps to place me in the time. 

~ Name one Rocker you wouldn't mind meeting in person or have met in person
I've had a few encounters over the years, but one that comes to mind is about fifteen years ago, when Cheap Trick stopped by a station I was working at in Phoenix.  I have to say Robin Zander is as sweet as they come, and Rick Nielson is a hoot, of course. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shame's Ballad is available on Amazon and Susan advised that the weekend of March 1st through March 3rd it will be available on Amazon for FREE!!!! Here's the link for Amazon:

I would like to thank you Susan for graciously offerring 2 signed paperback copies of Shame's Ballad!!!!! Please be sure to "like" her FB per the Rafflecopter Giveaway!!!!


  1. Oh dear...Bruce Springsteen, I think I was like 10, and I asked my mom to save the cardboard box from our new appliances so that I could mail myself to him :( To this day...he is still my main squeeze <3

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  3. Bryan Adams is the first non-fictional musician I fell in love with :)

    Love GIF reviews and great interview! Thanks for the giveaway


  4. My first non-fictional musician I fell in love with is Bon Jovi :)

    Awesome review like always! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  5. My first non-fictional musician I fell in love with was Justin Timberlake! Yep, downright totally obsessed with him!!!! And I still love him :)

  6. Dating myself! All the guys from Duran, Duran! Lol! Loved!

    Thanks for the chance!

  7. Oh, this is good!
    Guns 'n Roses - Slash!!! Yeah, my mom used to blare the hell out of some GnR and I fell in love with Slash and his guitar riffs immediately.
    What can I say? I'm an 80's kid! lol

  8. My first non-fictional musician I fell in love with was Joey McIntyre. :)

  9. I fell in love with Jordan and Joey McIntyre!

  10. I actually don´t know the name of the first non-fictional musician I fell in love with. When I was 8 years old I saw a music video on the tv and I remember falling so hard in love with the guy. But I don´t know his name. Pretty annoying
    Danish rockstar Johnny Deluxe took his place when I was 11 :)

  11. I can't really remember. I used to always like Justin Timberlake when he was with Nsync lol!

  12. My very first non-fictional musician I fell in love with was Rick Springfield, damn I wanted to be Jessie's ;) And also around that same time John Taylor from Duran Duran! I was a HUGE Duranie!

  13. Rick Springfield was mine when I was a young girl.... My mom said though my first Love was Donnie Osmand she said I would stop whatever I was doing to either listen or watch him....

  14. My first rock star crush was Bryan Adams, I use to swear he sang evert song to just me!

  15. My first was Paul McCartney, watching him on stage when he was a Beatle was a joy to behold!

  16. Has to be either Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi - Carrie

  17. Replies
    1. Andy Gibb... Loved him.. First album... Posters on the wall...

  18. Jon Bon Jovi!!! And he still looks good!!!

  19. Bon jovi going to see him soon in PA Can't wait for this one..

  20. Andy Gibb... Loved him.. First album posters on the wall...