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I say that because --as a rule of thumb-- it is only appropriate for
about 10 percent of my background research to show up in my books.
The other 90 percent looms below the surface.
With luck, my readers will never notice that it's there. :-) After
all, for every cool, alien-seeming flower or fruit, there are lots of
equally exotic plants that aren't useful for the purposes of my story.
My furious hero is stuck on a deserted island with an unwilling
heroine who won't take off her fancy (but wet) clothes to save her
life .... which she should! According to SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud,
the best way to avoid hypothermia is to doff the wet dudes and share
body heat. So, he decides that life will be more tolerable if he can
construct a distillery and a guitar --or a flute.
It doesn't much further the story if my hero then plans exactly how
he will go about fabricating his moonshine still or his instrument,
but the author needs to know, and a true detail here or there gives
the hero something to do in coming scenes.
Research is on my mind partly because my "Research" for a desert
island survival romance was the topic of a radio interview I was
given yesterday. Also, because I have suggested to the organizers of
next year's Romantic Times Convention that I'd like to put together a
workshop on "Research". And finally, because I am about ready to get
into the Research phase of writing my next book.
Thank goodness for the internet! Imagine walking into a public
library, and asking the librarian to point me to the stacks dealing
with unauthorized exhumations, for example.
I'll leave you with that thought, pretty much. I'd like to welcome
the new members to this group, and wish you all a prosperous and
Somewhere, apparently not here, I pledged to blog on Sundays, so here
I am, but I must confess that I almost forgot!
I'm in the middle of an editing exercise that I'm finding
fascinating. Recently... (actually May 31st -- I'm the sort of
person who simply has to check facts) my Dorchester editor, Alicia
Condon, emailed that she liked my suggestion that maybe the heroine
of Insufficient Mating Material ought to have a nickname.
The heroine has a royally long, formal, hyphenated name. I began to
feel that constantly repeating the full name was a bit tedious, but I
didn't have time before my deadline to put sufficient thought into
shortening it. I'm doing so now.
Have you ever given much thought to nicknames? Just because a hunk
comes into the heroine's life, and he decides to call her "Ro" (for
example) doesn't mean that she thinks of herself as "Ro" all of a
sudden, when she has spent thirty years as Rowena, or Ro-Ro, or
Janey, or I.
The rest of her friends and family won't suddenly start thinking of
her as "Ro" or addressing her as "Ro". Will the hunk introduce
Rowena to his friends as "Ro" or "Rowena"? How will Rowena feel
about mere acquaintances using the "private" name?
Is this an alien idea? Different nationalities have different
sensibilities about how they are addressed, and by whom. Factor in
that the nicknamee is a member of a royal family, and life becomes
Up the ante. Suppose the nickname isn't a variant of her given
name... "Sugarpuss"? Suppose there's a slightly rude innuendo?
So, maybe only the hero uses the nickname. Does he ease into using
it? At first, does he substitute "Ro" in conversation, where before
he might have addressed the heroine as "Miss Rowena"? At what point
does he wonder whether "Ro" can cook, and what "Ro" is like in bed.
You might suppose that he wondered such things from a distance before
he even learned the heroine's name!
Anyway, for what it's worth, this is what I'm wrestling with this
I very much enjoyed the notes from readers on last week's blog on
research. Thank you to all who took time to drop me a line. For
those who find this blogging intrusive and uninteresting, you could
try switching to Special Notices mode. :-)
Does that Subject line smack of gratuitous sensationalism?
If so, I apologize. Swords, secret underwear, and biting insects
seem more in keeping with my sense of humor!
I began with "Behind the Scenes", wrote my modest little blog, and
then decided to pump it up by lowering the tone. Do let me know
which way you think I should have gone.
Yesterday, I finished self-editing INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. The
editor-directed edit comes at the beginning of August, but there are
some errors I'd rather find--and correct--myself.
When my editor first saw this particular manuscript in July of 2005,
she felt very strongly that there wasn't enough sexual tension in
INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. So, in the Fall and Winter of 2005, I
rewrote the first fifty pages, then the first 100 pages, then the
first 200 pages by which time there was enough sex for the first 200
I sold INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL based on that, by which time the
title had become a bit of an in-joke. (It is actually a Google-
searchable chess term for an unwinnable situation).
My contract called for me to send in the final 400 page draft by
March 10th. As my deadline approached, I thought that adding
nicknames, clarifying whether or not I could use rock song lyrics,
and fitting in SURVIVORMAN's advice about water, wilderness condoms
and incontinence wear could wait until the editor's edit, but I did
not realize that the official editing would be in August, with galley
proofs to be checked in September.
I decided I'd better tie up a few loose ends on my own and make
absolutely sure no one was sitting at the same time that they were
bowing elaborately with their ceremonial sword sticking out at an
attractive angle. (Someone did sit down before he bowed. My choice
was to delete the act of sitting, or add a stage direction for him to
Also I had to check that no one's ancestors' eyes changed color
between this book and the prequel. (That was an intellectual
challenge, because eye color was a story point. Yes, I found a cool
To be honest, I do not have any incontinent characters in my novel.
Well...there is a god-Emperor who has a problem with escape velocity,
but he does not leave the dignity of his Palace. However, if a woman
is unexpectedly marooned on a desert island without a month's supply
of toiletries, she might wonder how she'd improvise.
SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud, suggested that my heroine consider the most
absorbent material available (cut from an ejector seat, or from
clothing) plus Spagnum type moss. I hear from a female survivalist
that red bugs can live in moss -- so one must be sure to boil the
So, now you know!
By the way...
if anyone is looking for a publisher for a 10,000 word short story,
New Concepts Publishing has just put out a call for submissions.
I've posted the details on my Rowena Cherry Remarks blog
"Do all good stories revolve around a journey of some kind?" a friend
asked me. "If so, do both the hero and heroine have to grow along the
So that was the question on my mind yesterday, when I meant to blog,
but couldn't resist watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets -
-again-- last night. My favorite scene is the demonstration duel,
where Gilderoy is so busy posing that he gets legally zapped by
At least, I'm pretty sure Severus Snape is simply quick on the spell-
casting draw, in neat dramatic contrast to Draco Malfoy, who cheats.
Why do I like that scene? I find it immensely gratifying when a
poser gets their come-uppance! Don't we all? One of the most
enduring themes in literature is hubris: the dramatic downfall of
someone who gets too big for their boots.
As for journeys, I think --as long as the journey could be a literal
journey, or a metaphorical one-- the answer might be Yes...
especially if the story includes the rise and fall of someone
I suspect that we'd all love to announce, "Your High-and-Mightiness,
you are in deep shit!" but in real life, we probably wouldn't dare
say that to a boss or world leader.
(One of my characters says it --and lives-- in Insufficient Mating
There's another popular literary tradition that it isn't healthy to
be the bearer of bad news... as was demonstrated on a documentary
yesterday morning about Great Intelligence Blunders.
Yes. I watched too much television yesterday.
The most powerful example of a story based on a journey might be Lord
Of The Rings. Does anyone not know that the Ringbearers travel from
The Shire to Mordor in order to destroy the Ring and save the world?
The Odyssey would be another example of a long and difficult journey.
Both are sagas, not romances, although Odysseus's travels are
prolonged and complicated by various powerful and dangerous sexual
Metaphorical journeys might have the hero or heroine move from Moral
Point A to Moral Point B; or from Unmarried and Innocent (or not) to
the presumptive Happy Ever After.
Usually, when I write, I am more interested in one of the two
protagonists. I don't have a problem with one of them doing the
lion's share of the growing, or changing, or traveling.... or
Sometimes, I don't have a problem using a really good cliche, either.
I wish you all an interesting week.
Alien Romances -- Rowena Cherry is happy to announce the formation of
a group blog at
Alien romances (http:aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com) is a by-
invitation blog by authors who are pioneers, best sellers, or award
winners in the subgenre of alien romances. Participating authors
blogging about SEX, SCIENCE FICTION, and all sorts of ALIENS include
Linnea Sinclair, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Susan Kearney, Cindy Holby,
Margaret L Carter, Susan Sizemore, and Rowena Cherry.
Comments are welcome (you just have to do that letter recognition thing)
Would I want to see Mr Spock vacuuming up my dustbunnies?
I don't think the spectacle would be either romantic or funny. Not
for me, anyway. I'd be most uncomfortable about the situation.
I imagine that Mr Spock, if faced with the need to use alien
household appliances, would locate the appropriate user manual, study
the instructions, and carry out the domestic operation with great
efficiency and a deadpan expression.
Maybe he'd raise a quizzical, Vulcan flying eyebrow. Actually, that
might be romantic in a traditional Regency romance sort of way.
Does this beg the question Why? Why would a highly intelligent alien
take an interest in my housecleaning? Loveslavery springs to mind,
but if he's doing housework that would reflect badly on my libido and
sex appeal, wouldn't it? Maybe, the rational alien is on a quest to
recover some incredibly valuable (it would have to be valuable) and
tiny object that fell to Earth like a meteorite, and got lodged in my
I've almost got the makings of a story here!
Of course, in my home, a highly intelligent and efficient alien might
have trouble finding instruction manuals. If I were to write a blow-
by-blow account of the exercise, I think an alien would comment. His
remarks would probably be very funny to everyone except myself, the
butt of his cool wit.
I am sure many authors have written scenes where their aliens have
issues with human home appliances....
Dara Joy's splendid early novel, Knight Of A Trillion Stars, comes to
mind. What was it her alien hunk attacked with his broadsword,
thinking it was a rival? A TV? An answering machine?
Is chopping up the furniture the closest that any alien hero has come
to housework? If not, I'd love recommendations. Generally, I think
alien heroes tend to be extremely macho. They are world rulers,
starship commanders, space pirates, intergalactic diplomats or
trading tycoons.... they have servants, or orderlies, or androids to
do the domestic dirty work.
Maybe I just haven't read the right books. No one seems to wash their
clothes, or scrub toilets in an alien romance. Susan Kearney said
that her aliens' clothing was self cleaning (smart!!! and with nano-
technology, this is becoming a reality). Intelligent spaceships have
aircleaning devices that work a lot better than the monsters we keep
in our human furnace rooms. I once thought of modeling an alien
toilet on a whole-house vacuum.
Then I read a joke about a sexually adventurous man who did himself a
In FORCED MATE my alien prince does have a little bit of trouble
drawing a bath, mostly because he takes a macho stand (sitting on its
edge, waiting for the heroine to take her clothes off and get in)
without realizing that human baths don't automatically stop filling
once the water reaches a sensible level.
He also has trouble with a shopping list. How was he to know that
one does not buy Marijuana in the feminine toiletries aisle?
And... he has trouble with the heroine when she discovers that his
spacecraft toilets perform automatic urinalysis and a few other
functions and announce the results. Romantic? Maybe not, but it
appealed to my low sense of humor.
And then, there's recycling. We all do it, I suppose. My heroine of
FORCED MATE is grossed out when she learns how spacefarers obtain
yeast to make deep space bread. But that's getting into cuisine, and
housekeeping, rather than house cleaning.
My "thing" is to gaze at the underbelly of an alien character's
lovelife and poke fun at it. And, you might not have guessed it, but
of all the sciences in science fiction, Biology is my favorite.
I'll be gone for the next four weeks. Do you know the ins and outs of
a crab's sex life? I do. :-)
Maybe I'm peculiar, but when I read a book, I expect to come across
the scene on the cover, and I feel vaguely cheated if it is not there.
I'm not so bothered if the cover is an artistic grouping of
artifacts, although... if there's a bejewelled dagger and a lace
doily, I suppose that I do expect them to be used to good effect in
Please do not misunderstand me. I'm not criticizing anyone's cover
or art department. I am simply sharing my inner thoughts about
covers in general, and my gut reaction to the gorgeous cover of my
next book... and the hazards of hasty research.
The colors are fabulous, and the artwork is sexy. I couldn't ask for
a better looking cover (unless I was absolutely out of my mind).
It's just a little more "romancy" than I had in mind.
An author friend who is a bit of an expert on cover psychology says
that I should tell readers, especially male readers, to ignore the
cover. But should I?
My gut instinct is that if the scene is on the cover but not in the
book, then I have to --somehow-- write the scene and beg my editor to
fit it in. Is that extreme?
If only they'd given me a bare-chested hunk staring out to sea (face
not visible, so his features could not be wrong) or up to his waist
in the ocean... I should have suggested that! I'm not blaming the
Art Department at all. I was warned that I could not have a hunk in
underpants out of respect for buyers' fine sensibilities.
Anyway, how many cover models would want INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL
displayed boldly across their groins?
Verisimilitude is important, and there are times when you just cannot
ask your more exhibitionist friends to commit an illegal act and tell
you how it felt.
Illegal? Well I think you can be pinched for doing the deed on a
In case any members of the law enforcement community are reading this
with professional interest, I must disclose at this point that the
sea was too cold for my husband.
Suffice it to say that my scrupulous --and ingenious-- attempts at
research took longer than expected. Either the tide was wrong (too
far in or out), or the waves were too mighty, or too placid, or the
sand was too gritty, or the light was wrong....
On the last day of my time by the sea, when my bags were packed and
it really wasn't convenient to get my costume wet again, my dear
husband and our child decided that despite the low tide, and a stiff
onshore breeze, it might be fun to experience the surge of surf.
My mother went to get towels from the car, and we splashed into the
North Sea (English Channel) to join dozens of screaming bathers and
people surfing on one sort of board or another.
August. Low tide, but only a seven foot drop, not like the nine foot
range one gets at the full moon or with the spring tides. For a
month I'd watched the shallows at low tide for signs of sinister
movement. That day... I forgot.
I did get to refresh my memory of whether there is any difference
between the feel of sun-warmed masculine, muscled skin in cold
seawater (as opposed to in a fresh water bath, shower, or chlorinated
swimming pool) but it's not useable.
Not worth the risk.
If anyone in my immediate family had to step on a weaver fish, I'm
glad it was me. I have very high arches, and go barefoot a lot.
Thanks to that, only one spine got me, and it broke off before it
could deliver much of the excruciating neurotoxin.
Knowing what had stung me, I flicked off the spine, got out of the
water, got home as quickly as possible (luckily it was not far), and
immersed my throbbing foot in the washing up bowl filled with water
as hot as I could bear. And epsom salts. And more water.
That's what you do to draw out the poison, if you are unfortunate
enough to step on a weaver fish or lesser weaver fish. They are
spined, venomous little predators (they eat prawns, I believe) who
like to bury themselves all but the spines in sand when the water is
Keeping the water as hot as possible until the pain was gone meant
regular top ups. My dear husband was especially enthusiastic about
this, and had no compunction about tipping very hot water onto my
toes (the arch area was what needed it). I noticed an odd thing.
Near boiling water feels almost cold for the first second or two as
it is added to hot water. Then the brain resets, and registers that
the water is very hot.
I didn't even limp the next day, as I lugged (schlepped) my little
family's three heavy suitcases from Guernsey, to Gatwick, to
Detroit. I was lucky.
I'm glad to have my feet under my desk again.
I hope your summer holidays have been fabulous!
In case anyone is interested in reading more of my thoughts (or the
same ones rehashed) tonight--unexpectedly... because the scheduled
guest dropped her computer and smashed it-- Rowena Cherry is the guest
on Debra Parmley's Make Believe Monday blog.
Check it out. Menstruation, moss and other things to know if you are
unexpectedly marooned with a hunky alien on a deserted island.
Best wishes, (and thanks to anyone who gives Debra some traffic)
"Rowena, do you like writing sex scenes?" I was asked recently.
It's the sort of question that makes me want to straddle the fence.
Well, I do. And I don't.... and I'd rather call them love scenes.
Whether you see it or not, Sex usually happens in a romance. It's
part of the most important story of a person's life… not necessarily
sex with an alien, though if that happened and especially if the
alien happened to be a little bit anatomically different, you can
imagine that a blow by blow account could be quite fascinating.
On the other hand, one can write a first rate romance without a
graphic description of what might happen once the bedroom door is
closed behind two relatively normal people. Georgette Heyer's
Georgian and Regency romances spring to mind.
I do like to write the sort of love scene (or sex scene) where
something goes dramatically wrong -- I have a rotten sense of humor—
or at least not according to the hero's expectations.
I usually pick on the hero, for reasons that are probably perfectly
He's more likely to be … less philosophical … not to mention sore,
if he can't get the heroine's chastity belt off, or if the heroine's
beloved pet cat mistakes his equipment for a funny looking mouse, or
if the film crew falls out of the air duct, or if the lubricant
contains a dye that won't come off.
What—apart from its effect on character, and its potential to annoy
the protagonists and shift the plot into a higher gear—is the point
of a love scene in SFR or in a Futuristic?
Oh, yeah. But in my opinion, lovemaking that is good for both of
them isn't proof of a happy ever after, and it isn't the high point
on which I like to end my books.
Another thing I like about alien romance love scenes (or sex scenes)
is that if the hero and heroine are from different planets, and do
not have infallible translators implanted in their ears, one can have
such fun with grammar.
Men with knives... will they always be necessary?
I'm not thinking about alien assassins, aliens with table manners, or
futuristic barbaric warriors. I'm thinking surgery.
Assuming for a moment that wars are not fought by champions playing
chess, or out-singing each other, or displaying their terrifyingly
impressive tails (or other body parts). Someone is going to get hurt.
I do "buy" heroines who can "do" pyschic healing.
In fact, the 2006 Romantic Times Conference, Pyschic Sunday was a
real mind-opener. Two psychic healers --one hands-on, the other
hands-off-- helped an unfortunate person with a visibly swollen face
and abcessed tooth, and also on a number of others.
The psychic healing was very responsible, the point was made that all
methods are complementary and the sufferers were also told to see a
conventional doctor. However, whatever they did seemed to work.
I like medicine based on plants and other natural substances, too.
I have trouble suspending disbelief when a mortally injured party is
put into a futuristic light box (like a seed propagator? like a
tanning bed?) and they recover "just like that" --to quote the
memorable, Fez-wearing magician, Tommy Cooper.
Maybe I accept it for some ailments. Immersion in the sea is
supposed to be restorative. It certainly does great things for my
feet... unless I step on a weaver fish, of course, or get stung by a
jellyfish. So, I can believe that being bathed in some sort of light
might be as good for me as being bathed in some sort of liquid.
Should I infer that the light box is akin to teleportation as
medicine. I should re-read The Physics of Star Trek (which is on my
keeper shelf). Beam Me Up, Scotty, is fine. Beam Me Well?
Sometimes, just taking my rotating head electric fan apart and
putting it back together again the way it was does work for a time,
but it wouldn't if something was broken or rusted.
Lasers, I suppose, could replace knives. My problem is, when I think
of lasers, I think of a couple of James Bond films... Goldfinger, Die
Another Day... and I shudder at the thought of laser eye surgery. I
know I shouldn't.
Do I think that a machine with a laser could replace a man --or a
woman-- with a surgical knife? Yes, but I don't want to write about
it, any more than I --personally-- want to write about an android
with a libido.
Terminator with a tool? Great for action adventure, and I daresay he
would have been very competent in the Operating Room. But for a
fictional frisson, give me a masked man with a very sharp knife,
By the way--
INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL opens with a damaged hero on an
operating table, surrounded by his enemy's surgeons, hoping fervently
that the masked men don't take a surgical interest in his tattooed
Occasionally it happens that even with two months between my newsletters, I get
minute hold-up. Either a cover model's pictures don't forward owing to yahoo or
some other ISPs concerns about hunk sharing!!!!
Or, my webmaster is travelling and I didn't know that.
Or, I get the perfect storm of conflicting priorities. That's what happened
My editor wanted about thirty minor-seeming revisions to Insufficient Mating
The villain wasn't quite nasty enough. The heroine wasn't insecure about the
feelings for her for long enough (like, even after they've had the most
wonderful sex in the
sea).... just by way of example.
Well, a villain can't just crank up the nastiness out of the blue. Either his
nastiness has to
be apparent all the way through, or else his nasty habits have to build like
gathering throughout the course of the book. That takes time for me.
Then, I heard the absolutely marvelous news from Romantic Times that my proposal
Research panel has been accepted, and I had to produce a proposal and a panel in
And, the builders turned up to repair our garage. And my husband (who cannot
needed help preparing for a meeting. And the only computer with decent internet
connections had to be replaced before August 31st (four shopping trips, hours
transfer data). And, it's Back To School time.
That's not all, but it's enough to give you an idea.
Anyway, the newsletter is up with a contest, new puzzles, excerpts from two
authors, an interview with a really versatile cover model.
I hope you enjoy it.
My editor--Alicia Condon-- does not work on Fridays, so last Thursday (eleven
was my deadline for finishing revisions on INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. I made
Over the weekend, I discovered that although we had deleted a passage about
large alien creature resembling a rabbit, but bigger, we had not removed a later
to the skinning.
To be specific, the deleted skinning conversation between the hero and heroine
detail about handling genitalia and other sources of potential contamination of
Once that was gone, the heroine's subsequent thoughts about touching a rabbit's
did not make sense.
On the following Monday, I spoke with my editor and she assured me that she had
care of the rabbit's nuts. I shall have to wait four weeks for the galleys to
see if she did it
acceptably. If not, I can request a change at that point.
Since then, I've been putting together Advance Review Copy formats for
bookmarks to booksellers, doing interviews, booking advertisements, and
promoting the book, even though it is not due for release until Feb 2007.
I planned to tie up a few loose ends, and maybe catch up on domestic chores, but
imagine where last week went.
By the way, if anyone is on the paranormal romance loop, I am chatting on Monday
http://www.writerspace.com/chat 8pm ET / 7pm CT and there is to be a door prize
might be of interest to some of you (ARC of IMM)
and there is an interview with me up at
I'd also like you to know that INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is already up for
at Amazon. Another cool new feature is that readers or potential readers can
add TAGs to
say how much they are looking forward to the next book (or whatever).
Also, anyone who wishes to start a discussion can do so. Deborah MacGillivray
know how much mating was sufficient, for instance. I started another discussion
Helispeta. If anyone has something they want to ask, or discuss, Amazon is the
Now, while the sun is still out in Michigan, and before the cold front comes in,
I have to
get on my house's roof and get the early autumn leaves out of the roof drains.
I'd love some input on your ideas of what a fascinating alien might be
like, and I've changed this into a proper Yahoo group (at least, I
think I have!).
Which characters did you love from Star Trek, for instance?
Good Thursday morning!
I'm hoping to "do" a Book In A Quarter marathon in October, OK, October is not
but if I can only get a draft done in 31 days, I shall feel fabulous. Right
now, I am on a fact
Not knowing where else to research grave-robbing, I Googled "exhumation"
This is what I found.
Whatever you're looking for you can get it on eBay.
I had to share that!
Do you ever read authors' interviews on various blogs or review sites? If so,
I'd love to
know what you think of this one.
I'm told that some readers pay more attention to interviews than to reviews. I
whether or not that is true, but I do know that an electronic interview takes me
part of a day, if not longer.
Therefore, a gracious note from the interviewer like this
Rowena: First, thank you for your OUTSTANDING responses to my
questions. Yours is a prime example of exactly what I was hoping for
with the interviews. Education, entertainment and promo. Extremely well
It's now up on the blog. Thanks again! It would be great if you could
put a link on your websites/blogs.
----end of snip----
really does make my day.
It's been a bit of what I call a "Michelob" day. Sometimes rock music perfectly
feeling, other times it's an ad jingle. Michelob beer had that "Some days are
I like the positive spin to sing on one of the not-so-better days.
Yesterday I had oral surgery. Today half my face looks like I'm made up ready
as voice talent in an anthropomorphic cartoon-animal movie, and I'm living on
and sober liquids until my stitches come out next Monday.
I got the business part of my handbag out this am to order some products from
to help some romance writers group out with goodie bag stuffers, but Vistaprint
having computer problems, so my History and my Images were "down" and I could
reorder, and the default imagery seemed to me to strongly suggest that I had
Vistaprint money for a long time.
Not so!!!! I was instructed--by someone in India, I think-- to come back in an
by that time, something had gone wrong with the admin area of my website. When
to collect my child from school, I forgot to scoop up the credit cards and ids
(set aside for
when Vistaprint got its act together) and off I went, only to discover my error
Kroger supermarket wouldn't accept a check for $30 for absolute necessities,
since I had
no id and no other way to pay.
Thus, it was really wonderful to discover Lynda's appreciative email. I do hope
gets lots of hits and comments. Her blog is First Sale stories and is targeted
who are trying to break into publishing.
Have I told you how much fun I have with researching my alien romances?
Possibly the high point of my week this week was a visit to a sword master's
lair. My quest
was to get inside the head of my next hero: Prince Djarrhett.
'Rhett is a swordsman, which seems rather anachronistic in a high tech, albeit
world, so the Sword Master and I had a wide ranging chat lasting nearly two
covered the real-life Sword Master's opinions of the fight scenes in the Bond
Another Day, and The Phantom Menace. (He feels that the light sabres are cool,
concerned about the balance of the hilt, given that light can't weigh much,
which is why
Darth Maul is his favorite!!) We also discussed the logistics of weapons aboard
ships. Swords come in various lengths, and the big ones --like rapiers-- could
I so love this analytical thinking!
You can bet that if an opportunity presents itself, a lot of Sword Master Todd's
will filter through into 'Rhett's point of view.
"Have you ever cut someone?" I asked, never hoping for an affirmative answer.
supposed to be safe, right?
"What does cutting someone feel like?"
I couldn't believe my luck! After all, if I'm going to write a swordfighting
duel from the
point of view of my hero, he is going to have to sink some portion of his weapon
someone else's flesh.
The answer presents some literary challenges, but I can handle that, secure in
knowledge that if any Sword Masters read my next book, they will not hurl it at
trash can-- because my hero feels unrealistic sensations.
I think I must have asked more than twenty questions. I will share one more:
"Is your image of yourself different when you have a sword in your hand?"
(Oh, I did ask what he'd fight in, if he did not have to worry about protection.
believe, Underarmor? )
"I feel younger, stronger and faster with a weapon in my hand."
I really liked that answer, because I can make use of a double entendre. Now, I
books to read, including The Secret History of The Sword. I had no idea there
was a secret
history. I cannot wait to find out what it is!
Until next week.
Actually, the real issue is why I chose Sundays for the day I blog, and the
truth is pretty
self-serving. Last March I was at the EPIC conference in San Antonio. We might
gone except that my husband grew up in San Antonio, and had yearned for years to
me there to see the three houses he used to live in, the Alamo, the
San Antonio is a four-day drive from Michigan.
The keynote speaker was George MacKenzie, and he gave a brilliant lunchtime
while his audience chomped on not-quite gourmet cold meat sandwiches.
Mr MacKenzie, former baseball player and sports/new commentator shared his
self-promotion and the gem that I treasured most was why Sunday of all the days
week is the best day --and night-- for finding an audience at home and
Do you think that's true? Are you more easily pleased on a Sunday?
Sundays are also hectic family times... if one is the mater familias. Our
tradition is to have
kedgeree for breakfast or brunch depending on whether or not we attend church.
Kedgeree is an Indian dish of smoked (or otherwise preserved) fish, turmeric-
yellowed rice, herbs, onions, spices. The rice is brown, and cooked from
scratch, so it
takes about 40 minutes, but is fiber rich and healthy.
We really over-eat on Sundays, because, depending on whether there is a ball
some sort or a motor race (or both!!!) we have a tailgate lunch and pretend we
involved than we are. Otherwise, we might have a Sunday roast. If we do, it's
So, now you know what I eat on Sundays!
This week, I was supposed to be trying to get the first --and dreadful--draft of
Fork written. However, I won an award for MATING NET and had to promote that a
decided that I needed to get my bi-montly newsletter written and edited.
interviews with the cover models need work.
I don't know the guys beforehand, so I tend to ask portmanteau questions.... or
question with five follow up questions. Generally, two specific questions get
answered, if I
get more and the answers are better than monosyllables, I need to split up the
Other times, the gentleman will reveal that his second career is something
extraordinary. Perhaps he is a male lap dancer... and didn't you always want to
know if his
knees had ever given out and he'd sat --unintentionally-- in a lady's lap?
Unfortunately, my interviewee was too gallant to reveal all details. This is
why so many of
them are Romantic Times Mr Romance contenders.
Anyway, on Monday, my webmaster will be working on formatting the excerpts and
censoring photos that show the cover model enjoying his other job a little too
for my PG website.
Now... yes, I should be returning to my sword fighter's mindset, but I have a
romantically explicit books to read and judge for a contest. Someone has to do
Everyone has a leaning tower of To Be Read books, right?
I certainly have. Right now, I have five dangerous books about men
who think it is jolly good sport to lunge at each other with cold
steel; a couple of books telling me how I can write faster... my
problem is, I need to read faster!
Open on my desk (as opposed to looking like a jammed paper shredder
owing to all the pages I've marked with thin strips of paper) is
Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias, and it's quite fascinating.
Mr Tobias divides all plots into two sorts, just like ancient Greek
plays: Tragedy or Comedy, plays of the body or plays of the mind.
Tragedies are plot driven, action packed, not necessarily tragic.
Comedies aren't necessarily funny, but they are more
thought-provoking, and tend to deal with characters' moral dilemmas.
Interestingly, Mr Tobias points out, Dante's vision of hell is divided
into two, too. (Forget all the rings.) Those who committed sins of
the body are not punished nearly as severely as those who committed
sins of the mind, like fraud.
Not to be political about current events and recent sentences for
various offenses, but similar thinking may be at work today in the
justice system. I digress.
Apparently--and I find this an immense relief--books which hinge on
character/mind/ideas/comedy/fraud or deception of some sort are
supposed to take longer to write!
A book that is action driven can be outlined and rough drafted,
leaving gaps for "someone has sex here" or "something explodes here"
which can be filled in later. But, a book about a character's
struggles to save the world/a political system/a species/ a tree
cannot be written until the author knows a great deal about the character.
Well... they can, but a pantzer has to do a lot of rewriting, and
editing. I had a bit of a break-through this week. My horoscope said
<<Your on-point suggestions for finishing a work-related project earn
a nod from an authority figure...>>
I like to implement my horoscope, if I can. My editor doesn't do
email on Fridays, so I had to look around for some other authority
figure. I decided to google Coroners. They come under dot-gov.
Authority, you see.
I picked up the phone, made an international call, and was fortunate
enough to be graciously granted permission to send an email asking all
sorts of questions about death, mortal decay and DNA.
My next hero might think of himself as a masculine Cinderella. That
doesn't make him Beta, just because he gets to do all the family's
dirty work. I suppose, if his task is to keep the family skeletons in
the proverbial closet, he needs to know what "the right thing to do"
is, even if doing the "wrong thing" is more convenient.
So, I'm diving back into research, and feeling less guilty that I
didn't pound out an outline a month ago.
Next time I write, it'll be to tell you the newsletter is out.
I've just checked back and find that my original messages seems to
have gone missing.
If you go to www.rowenacherry.com/newsletter you will find my
newsletter, with one of the most revealing interviews ever. In fact,
it was lucky it is the Thanksgiving issue and I was able to make
appropriate use of a cartoon turkey.
Has anyone visited the group blog at http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com
otherwise known as alien romances ?
I often feel like I'm the intellectual lightweight, and that everyone else's
blogs are more
serious, profound, and simply better read. On the other hand, I write
futuristic comedy, so I
try to blog in the same tone as I write in my books.
If you haven't visited the group blog, you might try it. Susan Sizemore is
charming story about a lingerie model and an alien emperor. Linnea Sinclair
asks the most
On another matter, if anyone has the time and the inclination, I'd love feedback
on my latest
interview with Romance At Heart.
Have a lovely weekend (what's left of it!)
Do you watch your horoscope? I confess, I do (and I hope I haven't
blogged about this before. If I have, I apologize.)
Sometimes, I wonder whether I am ill-advised, because I happen to be a
cuspal Gemini. On days like today, my horoscope tells me that I am
invincible... a bit like that computer expert in Golden Eye, no doubt.
Then, in the foolish confidence that I can do nothing wrong, I
proceed blithely to offend people whom I cannot afford to offend.
On other days, dire warnings cause me to keep a very low profile, and
maybe I shouldn't efface myself as much as I do.
Nothing great has happened today, the business day is almost over, and
in an hour's time I am due to be at the dentist's office to have a
triple cracked tooth prepared for a crown.
Wince for me! I should have been writing about swordsman Rhett and
Princess Electra, but today was teacher appreciation day at my child's
school, so I spent the middle of the day happily minding children
while the teachers were feted.
Welcome! and thank you to all the new members.
I don't bite my nails. I don't pare them with a pen knife either,
which I read recently that explorer, adventurer and swordmaster
Richard Burton did! (I'm friends with his half-brother's daughter).
However, this is a time when many authors will admit that they are
nervous. Insufficient Mating Material is in printing. ARCs are out
for review. Nothing can be changed now, even if someone finds a
horrendous typo or terrible authorial --or copy-editorial-- slip.
Before I was published, I did not understand this. I thought that
books were reprinted all the time, and that it was helpful to point
out a misspelling or misprint. Not so!
Now, powerful opinion makers whom I've never met have my novel in
their hands. I desperately hope that they like it. I tried really
hard to write my best work, and I think that Insufficient Mating
Material is the best book I've written to date.
But... who knows?
Imagine my relief and pleasure when Rose Brungard of Romance At Heart
liked my ARC.
A year ago Tarrant-Arragon wouldn't believe he was going to set his
sister up… I loved this book, and I know Insufficient Mating Material
is a book you will not want to miss either.~ Rose, Romanceatheart.com
you to the review, and the Feature is on the index page at
One down, but I imagine that there will be at least seventy more
reviews, and I don't exactly write "vanilla" or perhaps in the case of
romance I should say "chocolate" because I've never met a romance
reader who didn't love chocolates.
Oh, talking of chocolates, and please forgive the vulgarity, I saw a
great one-liner yesterday about life:
<<Life isn't like a box of chocolates....it's more like a jar of
jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.>>
Isn't that a motto! However, IMHO, it's only a modern take on Charles
Kingsley's The Water Babies and the character Mrs Be Done By As You Did.
I think someone once asked me whether the British celebrate
Thanksgiving in the same way that Americans do.
My immediate, and hastily censored, reply would be something along the
lines of, "That would be rather like King George III celebrating
Independence Day," but upon more mature consideration, I recall that
the Anglican church does celebrate the Harvest Festival.
I dimly remember altars resembling tasteful farmers' market stalls,
and congregations singing, "Come ye thankful people, come. Raise the
song of Harvest Home..."
I might have remembered the wrong verbs for the second line of that
hymn. I don't remember eating turkey (too close to the Christmas
turkey, anyway) or pumpkin pie, or watching anything particular on TV.
As for me, today, I've got the smallest butterball turkey breast I've
ever seen, and will be cooking an approximately traditional feast this
evening (since my husband has a business meeting mid-afternoon). So
far, I haven't seen a pumpkin pie flavored yoghurt, but there are
apple pie, key lime pie, and cherry cheesecake flavored yoghurts.
While my husband is out, we'll record the football game... I'm rooting
for Joey Harrington because he was fired from the team he's playing
against... and I shall watch a swordfight-featuring video or two,
because I am researching swordmasters.
It will either be the James Mason --love his voice-- Prisoner of Zenda
or the Anthony Hopkins --likewise-- Mask of Zorro!
Have a lovely day, whatever you are doing!
Stayed up late last night, I did.
Empire Of Dreams was absolutely fascinating, to me, and to those with
whom I watched it. I'm sure each one of us took something different
away from it.
As an author, my sympathies went out to George Lucas at the point
where Harrison Ford was explaining how George Lucas (with his author
hat on) thought that the screen play contained everything necessary
for the parts to be acted, and could not understand why the actors
were making such a meal of certain scenes.
I thoroughly appreciated the story behind the carbon freezing, where
Harrison was supposed to tell Leia, "I love you, too," and ended up
improvising, "I know."
How cool, though, that George Lucas was his own editor. I especially
liked the detail about that clip at the end of the fight with the sand
person, where they needed more action but didn't have footage, so
instead of having him brandish his weapon over his head just once, as
filmed, they copied and spliced so he shook it in the air three times.
What serendipitous world-building.
The insight that I appreciate most (at this moment) was the fact that
the actor inside Darth Vader's helmet was pronouncing --and acting--
from one script, and Luke was reacting to another.
Now that really was the ultimate in saying one thing and meaning
another... or of not being on the same page! I suppose it wasn't
really much different from script management for Who Shot JR...? But
it seemed deeper to me.
I knew that Darth Vader's voice had been dubbed in later, but how cool
it was to hear the difference in soundtrack when the original actor
spoke. What a difference the "right" voice makes! Or the right
howls. Wasn't it fascinating that Chewbacca originally had lines?
Talking of Chewbacca, I greatly enjoyed the revelation that some of
the movie makers were worried about the Wookie's lack of underwear.
I'd noticed that uncivilized omission only the night before.
On Thursday night I tried to watch The Empire Strikes Back. I have it
out from the library too, but it's a VCR and in almost unwatchably bad
condition. Imagine my joy when it was on TV on Friday night. I was
very pleased to see swordmaster Bob Anderson's name in the credits as
a stunt double. (Recently I blogged about the account I'd read in By
The Sword of why a genuine swordsman, not an actor, had to perform
Darth Vader's fight with Luke.)
The music was something else I'd never really thought about--apart
from the "declarative" Imperial theme for whenever Darth Vader stalked
across the screen, like the wolf theme in Peter And The Wolf, only
much more wicked.
How fascinating that the composer had recently finished the score for
Jaws, where the antagonist got the catchy, sinister theme music! What
a twist for those of us accustomed to the Bond theme... the Here Comes
The Hero refrain. When the movie music is really, really good, I
don't notice it much, apart from the theme tunes. It's amusing what a
difference a good orchestra makes to an aerial dogfight, isn't it?
I've watched a lot of The Making Of... documentaries, but I don't
think I've grasped how much goes into making a great movie quite as
vividly as I did last night, watching Empire Of Dreams.
What did you like best?
I'm not really blogging... I should be writing my Christmas cards, or
finishing all the library books I borrowed and renewed until I could
not renew them any longer.
I hope the bad weather wasn't too bad where you are. We had a 2 hour
power cut this am, so I defaulted to paying bills by candle light!
Kenda Montomery has put up a new review of INSUFFICIENT MATING
MATERIAL on Amazon.
What is it like, exactly, when two gods go head to head?
Stellar wit, wonderful characters and amazing research into basic and
not so basic survival techniques make for a very real and relatable
environment for the prince and princess. This was without a doubt one
of my favorite reads of 2006! ~ Kenda Montgomery
For anyone interested, there's a lot of chatting going on at the
Members of the Dorchester book club get much better prices, by the
look of things.
The public lending library wants its books and videos back, so I am
under a bit of a time crunch, but I have a follow up thought from last
time's blog about The Empire Strikes Back.
This is just my opinion. As I've said, I'm researching what I
consider cinema history's best sword fights to try and figure out what
the most "sexy" fencing moves are, who made them, and how I'd put the
action into words.
I mean, "He thrust in tierce, and he parried in quarte" (if that's
possible anyway) isn't going to communicate to the average reader what
is going on, is it?
So, I was watching TESB, frame by frame, and in my opinion... I might
be mistaken ... the champion fencer Bob Anderson was inside Darth
Vader's mask for the really, really cool duel scene in the Han Solo
carbonfreezing room (which is not a revelation, Richard Cohen wrote
about that), but someone else wielded the light saber for the scene on
the inspection platform.
In the first scene, Darth Vader appeared to hold his light saber in
one hand, in the other he used both. In the first, there was a great
deal of wrist action, and the saber moved in smooth, efficient arcs.
In the second, it was like Darth Vader was splitting tree trunks for
I hope this doesn't ruin anyone's enjoyment! It's a marvellous movie.
By the way, did I mention the Dorchester book club, and the
increasingly lively Dorchester forums? Deborah Anne MacGillivray (A
Restless Knight, The Legend of Falgannon Isle) and I have been
chatting quite a lot on the threads there.
forums@... is the link, I think.
No, I'm not going to complain.
I'm hoping to warm up for writing my Christmas letter, and since this
is already the 6th, this is a matter of urgency. Unfortunately for me,
I have a reputation for writing long and amusing booklets.
Then, I read someone else's Xmas letter from last year -- I am a wee
bit behind with my mail -- and was totally demoralized. Sherrie
Holmes writes so much better. Apparently, though the time frame was a
little blurry, she accidentally wormed herself by swallowing her cats'
worming pills, her furnace exploded, her horse stole her laundry off
the clothes line and treated it much like those Olympic gymnasts with
the banners. She also had an accident with bouncing tofu in a smart
Japanese restaurant, and frightened a bear in her back garden.
What an exciting life she leads!
I don't think I can make backyard deer who simply pass through, a rash
that we thought might be ringworm but that came from using the wrong
soap, a Banded Kingfisher behaving like a drunken swallow... sound
anywhere near as adventurous.
Have I mentioned the Dorchester Forums?
I've been chatting there a bit, which is fun but way too time
consuming, however, if you once looked in and thought it was deserted,
do go back. :-)
We talk about everything from James Bond to sitting on vibrating
washing machines wearing thongs... not personally, of course.
This is a link to the Dorchester Forum.
You can sign up for email notification of new books' releases.
They ask a question to get an idea what you will pay for a book, where
you buy it etc.
What interests me is the fact that low down in the questionnaire is a
chance to list your five favorite Leisure/LoveSpell authors.
Of course I chose you :D
Welcome to the Literary World of Wonder....
>From: "rowena cherry" <ROWENABEAU@...>
>Subject: [rowenacherrynewsletter] Dorchester Forum link
>Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2006 12:50:51 -0000
>This is a link to the Dorchester Forum.
>You can sign up for email notification of new books' releases.
>They ask a question to get an idea what you will pay for a book, where
>you buy it etc.
>What interests me is the fact that low down in the questionnaire is a
>chance to list your five favorite Leisure/LoveSpell authors.
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