Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time and survival

Timing-wise, I really lucked out this year, if having (alien romance) blogging rights to Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve counts as luck. My wrist watch also stopped for Christmas, which is an inconvenience.

When I was a virgin (there's superstition for you), I used to stop watches regularly. I had to wear them pinned to my breast, like a matron (in the medical sense). Now, it's probably a matter of battery life!

Happy New Year!

I don't consider myself an astronomical heavyweight, intellectually speaking.

My natural, romantic bent is to consider Pink Floyd rather than Cepheid Variables,
a man's reaction to the passing of his life (Time) rather than the fact that a light year is a measure of distance (nearly six trillion miles). The coolness and romance of the idea of The Dark Side of the Moon rather than the possibility of habitable worlds (moons) in tidal lock around a Gas Giant.

Not so long ago, I was seated at a dinner party next to a member of the Pink Floyd, and --naturally-- I asked about the thinking behind The Dark Side of the Moon, which is why I feel free to mention coolness and romance.

Time is rather interesting as part of world building. How would a civilization tell time if they spent generations aboard a space ark? What method would remain relevant? I chose the female reproductive cycle when writing Forced Mate... No doubt it had something to do with my inconvenient effect on wearable timepieces when I was younger.

Looking back, I'm immensely amused by the spoilsports who all said that we all celebrated Y2K on the wrong date (wrong year). I must have spent at least twelve hours watching televised celebrations from around the world: rock stars and sopranos atop magnificent buildings, paper lanterns rising into the sky like miniature hot air balloons, ballet on beaches, fireworks along major rivers...

Obvious as it is to say, tonight, different nations --and different states-- will mark the arrival of 2007 at different times. I'm especially aware of this for a really silly reason. Not because my mother lives in England and will be celebrating five or six hours earlier than I will, but because my publisher's forums are on Central time and I'm on Eastern, and I'm determined to log in at midnight, and help break an attendance record. (, midnight Central).

Greenwich Mean Time is very useful, but we don't all set our clocks by that. Not everyone follows the same calendar. Take the Chinese New Year.

Suppose there were an Antichthon

Would that world measure time in the same way that we do? Would Antichthon have a moon? How likely is that?

Too complicated for me, this morning, is the idea that someone leaving Earth, traveling into outer space, and returning years later would experience the passage of time differently, and may return as a time traveller (not the same age as the friends and colleagues who remained on Earth). It is an issue I must look into before I get much further with my next book, though.

The Sparrow was interesting on time. I know Star Trek measured time in Star Dates, but I don't know how that was calculated. I never noticed time being measured in Star Wars...

Happy New Year.

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Cosmic Plan

A 24 minute video talking about topics like... seeing UFOs, contact with extra-terrestrials, how extra-terrestrials have colonized Earth, and that human beings are a genetic experiment. I had fun finding this video today on YouTube because I used similiar ideas in Lord of the Night in Relic. Actually, in my story, it is the extra-terrestrials that are the "genetic experiment".

“We live in a Universe that is alive with stars. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, has four hundred billions stars (or suns)... The Earth is like a tiny grain of sand on a huge celestial beach, and this isn’t the only beach. Why would there only be life on Earth?”

~ Annalee Blysse.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

50 ways to help your author friends

50 ways to help an author
(without buying her book)

Originally I had a longer and more accurate title, but I can’t get the song “Fifty ways to leave your lover out of my head”. I’d love feedback, or additional suggestions. The idea is to share all the things that authors can do to help each other, and that authors’ friends and family could do, might like to do, but may never think of doing. For the sake of argument, all authors for the purpose of this blog will be considered female. (No sexism intended).

Help the search engines find her:

1. Google your friend.
2. Ask Jeeves about her.
3. Dogpile her.
4. A9 search her. (That’s the Amazon search engine)
5. Does Yahoo have a search feature?

Even if you know where to find your friend, her blog, and her books, “hits” help. The more visitors the search engine spiders find, the more priority the author's website gets.

6. Visit her website… not just the home page.
7. Visit her blogs.
8. Find her Amazon Connect page

This link is to the alphabetical directory by author’s last name. Click on the name (which is blue, underlined and therefore a live link) and you will go to the author’s Amazon page. From there you can:

9. Invite her as an Amazon Friend
10. Add to your list of Interesting People
11. E-mail the page (about her… to your other friends)
12. Add her posts to your plog

As you explore her Amazon Connect page, you will find:

On the left, under her picture, links to any reviews she has written.
13. Click on them. Read her reviews. If you like them, click on Helpful.
14. If you see an opportunity to comment on her review, do so if you have something nice to say.

If authors write reviews, their books are advertised free in the attribution line, and their links to their page and their books are seen by people who are interested in the products that your friend reviewed.
There’s a link to her own web site.
15. Click on that… just to bump up the site and give it traffic. Then go back to Amazon.

If the author has blogged (written a note about what she is doing/thinking/ or given an insight into her books), there is a blue link to Comment.

16. Comment! Vote that you liked her post (it’s encouraging feedback)

If the author clicked “product” as she wrote her blog, there will be a live link on her blog to one of her books.

17. Click on the cover. Give her book page traffic. Or scroll on down and see her bibliography, who your author friend’s friends are, what reviews she has written, what search suggestions she has made, what “tags” she has created for each of her books, and what tags her readers have added. See her Reminders.

18. If you live near to the author, and she has a reminder on the calendar for a booksigning near you, click on Remind Me Too. Support at a booksigning is always wonderful.

19. While checking out her friends, maybe click on the image of other authors whose books you like. Amazon often pairs up two books by different authors and suggests “Buy Both”.

When you are on a book page, without buying that book, click on links to:

20. Put it on your wish list. It’s extra, free advertising.
21. Tell a friend

Scroll down the book page to Tag this product. (or make a search suggestion)
22. Add a tag. (Loved it! Can’t wait to read it! Soooo romantic! Etc)

23. Join in the Customer discussions. Ask a question. Start a discussion. The search engines pick up on the discussions, and quote interesting responses.

If you have read her book:
24. Write a customer review. It doesn’t have to be long or scholarly. Be as generous with the star rating as you can. Try to be specific about what you liked best about the story or one of the characters. Don’t give away the ending.

25. Ditto all of the above for Barnes and Noble, E-Bay, Borders, Chapters Indigo, Waterstone’s, Amazon uk, Amazon ca, or any other bookstore chain that allows customer reviews, comments, discussions etc. Or, simply search for her name, titles, reviews.

26. If you have a MySpace page (and if you don’t, but really want to help, get one… it’s free) invite your author friends to be your friends there.
27. Write a bulletin about your friend or her book.
28. Add a comment on their profile page’s comments section. Your comment is their opportunity to say something about their book without the appearance of soliciting.
29. Review their book on your MySpace blog.

30. If her publisher has a forum, join it and ask her questions. For instance, Dorchester publishing (home of Leisure and LoveSpell authors) has

Again, your comment will be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and it will give your friend a reason to post something interesting and quotable about her book without seeming to be self-promoting.

31. If you see a good review—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it is a helpful review.

Votes help both the reviewer and the author (especially the reviewer’s rankings ).

32. If you see a bad review, click Not Helpful.
33. If you see a personal attack disguised as a “review” click Report This, and tell the author. If enough people click to report ugly remarks, bad reviews come down in 50-60% of the time

If you see your favorite author’s books in a supermarket or bookstore:

34. Facing her books (if there is room, turn one so the cover shows)
35. Tell store personnel how much you like that book, or that the author is local.

36. If you don’t see her books, especially when they ought to be there, ask about them.

37. If you have a blog, publicize your friend’s upcoming signings/author talks/workshops on your blog. Mention her website URL.
38 Link to your author friend’s website or blog on yours
39. Offer a quote if asked--or volunteer if you’re not asked.
40. Do a review for her, asked or not. It doesn’t matter if some people think that you are friends. More often than not, you became friends because you like and respect each other’s talent, or sense of humor, or something you bring to your writing. People do respect recommendations

41. If you belong to readers’ group sites, or book chat sites, or special interest sites, post what you are reading. Plugs never hurt. These are also picked up on RSS feeds and the search engines.
42. Link to other writers. It drives everyone up in the search engine.

43. Ask your library to order your friend's book.

44. Join your favorite author’s yahoo group, let her know where you’ve seen her book in stores, or where you’ve seen discussions of her book, or reviews of her book.

45. Drop in on her online chat to say how you enjoyed her book. Supportive friends at chats are cool because chats can be chaotic, and typing answers takes time.

46. Put her book as a 'must read' on your own Web site, or in your own newsletter.

47. Send e-mails to your entire address list recommending the book.

48. Be her 'friend' on You Tube.

49. Offer to take a bunch of her bookmarks to conventions, or conferences, and make sure they are put in goodie bags, or on promo tables. Or simply visit her table at a convention, and sign up for her newsletter, or pick up her bookmark and tell someone else how good the book is.

50 Offer to slip her bookmarks into your own correspondence when you pay bills, taxes, etc.

51. Instead of quoting Goethe in your sig file, try quoting a line from your friend’s blurb in the week of her launch.

With thanks to the following for their help and suggestions

Kathleen Bacus,

Diana Groe,

Joyce Henderson,

Diane Wylie, author of "Secrets and Sacrifices"

Jacquie Rogers,,

Deborah Anne MacGillivray, author of The Legend of Falgannon Isle, Dorchester Love Spell, Kensington's Zebra Historicals

Charlotte Maclay, author of Make No Promises,

Rowena Cherry, author of Insufficient Mating Material, available 1/30/2007.

Rowena Cherry.

Friday, December 15, 2006

They Ski in Dubai?

Where the Hell is Matt? (one of those viral videos) is such a cool video...

Am I having too much fun on YouTube?


Part of the reason I love to write and read futuristic romance is the same reason people can ski in Dubai. I love to imagine/dream about what could be possible.

Before I saw this video on YouTube, I hadn't heard about the indoor ski hill in Dubai. It's is fun to see what a little imagination (and a whole lot of money) is creating here on Earth off the pages of my favorite books.

~ Annalee Blysse

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Aids Awareness - Light to Unite Campaign

I thought this was cool!

Bristol-Myers Squibb is donating a dollar to AIDS every time someone
goes to their website and moves the match to the candle and lights it.

It only takes a second and is for an excellent cause. Be sure to pass
this message on.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Scavenger Hunt WINNER LIST

WINNER LIST! Congrats to all the winners and thank you all for playing!

Winners will be notified by email by the authors. Please give them a few days because of the holiday madness!

Michelle M Pillow

Looking too closely

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 firewood.

I hope this doesn't ruin anyone's enjoyment! It's a marvellous movie.

best wishes,


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Empire of Dreams

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.

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 this viewer.

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?

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tacoma vs. Loch Ness Monster

The weekend is here again for me. Sunday starts my weekend and I got up late. I ate breakfast in front of the television and saw the new Toyota Tacoma vs. Loch Ness Monster commercial for the first time.

It made me smile. I’m enjoying their Tacoma-survives-the-extraordinary ad campaign. The concepts include those ideas that entertain me.

Remember their older meteor strike commercial? (Here is the video on youtube if you want a refresher.)

My mid-2007 release in an anthology with Triskelion Publishing involves a “meteor strike”. One day several years ago I saw a meteor fall into the Sierras and I got to writing that story, in which the meteor is a spaceship crashing. Of course, I had to have that space ship made out of meteor strike-proof-metal because it needed to function after the crash. I promise I wrote that before Toyota’s commercial.

My someday-to-be-finished follow-up to Starlit Destiny has a sea monster that looks an awful lot like the average rendition of Nessie in my mind. It actually has a controlled crash onto this monster-filled planet too, because that ship had to survive as well. That crash involved fancy flying though. And, the sea monster chews on the Jurate. I kid you not. I also promise that I wrote that before Toyota's commercial.

Can you tell that I’d have a whole lot of fun working for Toyota’s advertising department/company?

Then again, as far as selling me a truck, these commercials aren't working. I drive a Ford (and not because of Toby Keith). This morning I got this image in my head of Tahoe Tessie – resident beastie in Lake Tahoe trying to eat my truck. I decided a truck would taste something awful no matter the make.

Of course, they might not hire me if they knew the biggest laugh I got all year was last month during the World Series when I first saw that Nextel commercial with the actor from The Office. The one where he says that their mobiles are meteor-proof and the yes-man lawyer in the background shakes his head.

Then again, maybe they wouldn't hire me because, here is how I'd promo my books to any Toyota engineers worried about truth in advertising...

My books won't really give you any ideas on how to meteor-proof a vehicle, but buy them anyway.

~ Annalee Blysse

Survival is the mark of an expert duellist

That's tenuous. I don't have anything "survival" related to report, but dangerous manly ways of passing the time and proving one's virility are always interesting.

Aren't they?

As part of my ongoing research I joined a fencing class, but found it very hard on my thighs and knees. One cannot be fast if one is stiff, so a lot of warming up has to be done. Apparently, there were other preparations one made before fighting a duel, too.

Fasting, for instance. As there was always a danger that cold steel might penetrate the gut, duellists who knew what they were doing reduced the risk of infection by having empty stomachs, empty bladders... and so forth.

I've never seen that mentioned in a Regency Romance.

Best wishes,


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Online Scavenger Hunt ~ Chance to win over 60 prizes!

I've put together an online scavenger hunt hosted by Romance Junkies. Click the link below for a chance to win over 60 prizes from just as many wonderful authors!

Calling all scavengers/scavenger hunters

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Aliens with swords

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 feudal, world, so the Sword Master and I had a wide ranging chat lasting nearly two hours, which covered the real-life Sword Master's opinions of the fight scenes in the Bond movie Die Another Day, and The Phantom Menace. (He feels that the light sabres are cool, but is 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 space ships. Swords come in various lengths, and the big ones --like rapiers-- could be rather antisocial.

I so love this analytical thinking!
You can bet that if an opportunity presents itself, a lot of Sword Master Todd's opinions will filter through into 'Rhett's point of view.

"Have you ever cut someone?" I asked, never hoping for an affirmative answer. Fencing is 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 into someone else's flesh.

The answer presents some literary challenges, but I can handle that, secure in the knowledge that if any Sword Masters read my next book, they will not hurl it at a wall--or 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. Would you 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 have four 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.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Worldbuilding--How a horse's rear size dictates how we blast into space

In FORCED MATE, the way my aliens tell time (officially) is a throw back to their low tech ancient days.
"The old names stuck," the alien Xirxex explains to an incredulous human.

It's not so implausible. A correspondent sent me this incredible sequence of events, which turns out not to be true,
Did you ever wonder why the US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads. The English built them like that because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which
used that wheel spacing. And, they used that particular odd wheel spacing because, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So the gauge of American rails was determined by the width of the ruts in English roads? Who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an
Imperial Roman war chariot. Why was a war chariot that width? Because the Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses!

The story doesn't stop there!

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as
two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's bottom.

NASA, tell me it isn't so!

Best wishes,

Monday, September 18, 2006

FIND and REPLACE... a rabbit's testicles

In case you are boggling, I am author Rowena Cherry, and I write science fiction romance, survival romance, and I have just finished edits on my next novel INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.

Last Thursday (eleven days ago) was my deadline for finishing revisions on INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.
I made it.

Over the weekend, I discovered that although we had deleted a passage about skinning a large alien creature resembling a rabbit, but bigger, we had not removed a later reference to the skinning.

To be specific, the deleted skinning conversation between the hero and heroine went into detail about handling genitalia and other sources of potential contamination of the meat.

Once that was gone, the heroine's subsequent thoughts about touching a rabbit's testicles did not make sense.

On the following Monday, I spoke with my editor and she assured me that she had taken care of the rabbit's nuts. I shall have to wait four weeks for the galleys to see if she took them out acceptably. If not, I can request a change at that point.

I'd also like you to know that INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is already up for pre-orders 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).


“Now, look here, and learn.” He brandished a wicked looking knife. “You don’t have to concern yourself with how to skin and gut large animals. With smallish ones like this, it’s easier to skin when its cooled.”

He used his knife as a pointer.

“The first thing to do, which I’ve done, is cut its throat. Next, place your animal belly up. That way, you can see what you’ve got.”

A very healthy, ridiculously well-developed male animal.

“Starting ‘north’ of the penis —if there is one—“

In this case, there is a very prominent one.

“If there is, remember that there’s usually a bone in it. Make an incision just big enough to slip two fingers in.”


“You use your fingers to press the internal organs down, away from the skin. You do not want to nick the bladder or entrails. That really spoils the meat, so you’d have to wash it, and we don’t have water to spare.

“Cut up the body as far as about the breastbone.” He stroked the body with the point of his knife. “Then go down to the far end, cut neatly around the anus, and also cut a good circle,” he tickled the area in question with his knife, “around the genitals, taking care not to cut the urinary tract.”

“Why?” she breathed, disgusted.

“Unless you want to eat its testicles, it’s simpler to pull the whole lot off with the entrails. Think about it. When we come back from wood-gathering, you can have a go. You’re not going to be sick, are you?”

Martia-Djulia shook her head. At some point during his revolting demonstration, her hand had crept up to her mouth.
Djetth stood. He had removed his flight suit, his chest and shoulders glistened, though it was too cool and too early for him to be sweaty, she would have thought.

“I’ll go on ahead, and check on the beach well. Catch up when you’ve used the facilities. I don’t suppose you fancy a morning dip, do you?”

You must be mad! She stared at him pityingly.

“You’re quite right.” He grinned. “It’s not as warm first thing in the morning when the tide’s out. The water will be pleasant once the tide comes up over hot sand. I’ll teach you to swim at high tide. Of course, one finds the best shellfish at low tide.”


Grinning, Djetth loped down to the water’s edge to wash the blood off his hands. One way or another, sooner or later, if Martia-Djulia were pregnant, she’d have to let him know.

Meanwhile, he intended to keep her too busy to think. Maybe she’d forget about wanting to shave him. Already, she knew that Prince Djetthro-Jason was a degree of cousin. If she found out how much like Tarrant-Arragon he naturally looked, well, Djetth could imagine that she'd dream up plenty of new reasons to object to his sexual pursuit of her.


SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud advised me that this skinning method isn't quite right for rabbits. These are alien rabbits, and bigger... they also begin their literary life as more like porcupines. Now, it is a moot point how to skin prey animals for meat and fur. It's out.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tide conveniently removes alien corpses

Now that the Sex and surf scene in INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is written, I can reveal what went on behind the scenes.

In an earlier post I blogged about my complete and utter shock and dismay when I saw this cover art, lovely as it is.

What was my problem?

For a start, there was only one point in the book when the heroine's hair was that length, and it was a hundred pages from the end. Moreover, she was always very fashion conscious. Getting sand between her toes was an issue.

Secondly, at that one juncture, the beach ought to have been littered with unsightly and inconvenient corpses. I couldn't use magic to clean them up because I'm writing science fiction romance (also survival romance).

Thirdly, there is the question of how far to take realism. If the sea is cold, I can't see anyone not being preoccupied with the coldness, no matter what else is up!

Someone will tell me that I ought to make the sea warmer, but warming the sea changes the world... the climate, the vegetation, the animals and insects. If I made the sea comfortable for copulating in, it would probably be full of bacteria and algae. It might stink. If I were to counter that by adding a lot of salt, I'd end up with the Dead Sea, and then the hero and heroine would be terribly thirsty... or mad.

Not least, there was the fact that the proverbial world still had to be saved in the following hundred double spaced pages. This roll in the ripples could not be the happy ending of the romance. While sex in the surf had to advance the story (and avoid being gratuitous), it could not be completely satisfying for both of them.

Well, given cold water and sand, the probability that the tide would either be coming in or going out, and the likelihood that there would be crabs in the shallows, making seaside sex less than completely satisfactory was not a problem.

Luckily for me, I had two months to mull over various ways around the difficulties because I didn't wait for my editor to tell me whether or not she wanted the cover scene written.

How many times did I write this scene? At least five.
Was it worth it? I think so.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, September 10, 2006


You have to survive villains, but it's stretching a point to say that they are related to survival romances... unless the theme is historical/political survival, in which case I have to think of Catherine Parr and Henry VIII.

My survival romances are futuristic.

My most powerful villain is the god-Emperor Djohn-Kronos, who dominates MATING NET (at least for me). I gradually fell in love with him, and one day I will have to write him a happy ending, although he can never get married. That's the problem with publishing a wide ranging Family Tree. He is a Henry VIII type, only not fat, not gouty, not afflicted with any medieval diseases.

I've just spent ten terribly long days and nights doing the edits for INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, and much of the trouble was caused by the villain.

He wasn't quite nasty enough, and one of his reasons for being the way he is, was too interesting for my editor (unless I added more details). Since I don't like to explain all bad behavior on insanity or an uncomplicated delight in evil-doing, I had to add lines.

All well and good, you might think, but IMHO 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 storm clouds
gathering throughout the course of the book.

That takes time for me, especially since there are knock-on consequences. Pages and ink cost money, and there is a certain size that a mass market paperback needs to be ... or you can't fit 48 in a box? Or they topple off the bookshelves if placed face out? I don't know. I don't argue. However, if my villain needs an ugly habit (like scratching himself in public?) and doing it once might be excused by the reader, so he has to do it often, then less necessary lines devoted to birds, flowers, eviscerating fish have to be cut.

I'd already cut at least 150 pages from the manuscript, so removing more was no easy matter.

The copy editor has it now. IMM should be released in February 2007.

Best wishes,

Sunday, August 27, 2006

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, every time.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sex in strange places

“Rowena, do you like writing sex scenes?” I was asked recently.

It’s the sort of question that makes me want to straddle a fence.

Well, I do. And I don’t... and I'd rather talk about love scenes.

Whether you see it or not, Sex usually happens in a romance, even in a survival romance, although it is a little more of a challenge if the physical surroundings are not traditionally romantic.

On the other hand, one can write a first rate romance without a graphic description of what might happen once the tent flap is closed behind two relatively normal people.

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 obvious.

He’s more likely to be … less philosophical … not to mention sore, if he can’t get find something he can use as a condom that won't gross out the heroine, or if the alien plant juice he uses as a lubricant contains a dye that won’t come off... or what if it turns out to be an adhesive?

Ouch! No, that is too extreme.

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?

Comic relief?

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. They still have to survive, or escape.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

New author on "Survivor Planet"

I remember when I first heard about the show "Survivor" many years ago and I thought it really was a show about marooned people living by their wits. The first episode hooked me even though it wasn't what I expected. Mind you, I still enjoy the show as a social experiment working as entertainment, but it isn't about "making do".

I needed to write another Gaian book. An editor who was passing on my first Gaian book suggested that if the story took place during the war that might be more interesting. I thought about the movie, Enemy Mine, where two space pilots are stranded on a hostile planet and have to "make do" to survive.

Suppose they weren't alien and human, but two humans of the opposite sex from opposite sides, and they couldn't just live together. Sounded like fun. So I wrote it and it was fun. A lot of fun. Even the magazine Romantic Times gave it a 4.5 star Top Pick! Which made me very happy.

Janet Miller

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Browser problems prevented me from inserting this

Survival tip--when it's good to be in hot water

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 peacock feather, I suppose that I do expect them to be used to good effect in the novel.

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? Do readers understand that cover art is done after the book is submitted, and that what is depicted is a marketing decision?

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 public beach.

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 warm.

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.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Survival and sex in the wild

My authorial "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.

OK. "Survival-of-the-species romance" isn't the same thing as "Survival Romance". If it were, most alien romance authors could be said to write survival romances. It seems to be a plot staple of alien abduction romances that the hero --for whatever reason-- has no choice but to abduct healthy human females of reproductive age in order to save his world/civilization/species.

The downside is scientific credibility. Unless The Great Originator could do better than us, and did (but with the same basic ingredients), extra-terrestrials ought not to be able to breed productively with us.

There are plausible ways around the problem.

Survival of the species is interesting, on Earth, in the wild, too. (I seem to be unfashionable in that I like to capitalize the proper name by which we call our planet, to differentiate it from the soil beneath our feet.)

Do you know the ins and outs of a crab's sex life? I do. For most of the year, a female crab's body armor gives new meaning to the word "impregnable". But there is the moult. A mature male crab who is eager to mate, has to wait. And wait he does, very patiently, very protectively, close by the female as she enters her vulnerable time when her outgrown shell comes off.

He crouches over her, and protects her from natural predators who would like to eat a soft shelled crab -- I don't know much about the delicacy called soft shell crabs. Are we eating pregnant females?-- and his reward is that he is in a position to father her offspring.

She pumps water into the space between her body and what will be her new shell, so that her shell hardens a little on the large side, giving her room to grow.

These musings are a bit off topic, and not much to do with how one's novel's hero and heroine survive if they are stranded on a deserted island, set adrift in a small boat, shot down onto an alien planet, left for dead in an icy/arid/forested wilderness.

However, I am looking forward to my imminent summer holiday on an island overseas. While not harming the wildlife I observe, I do enjoy studying tidepools or shorepools, and considering the ecosystems in them as a microcosm of possible alien life.

Have a wonderful summer.

Rowena Cherry

Monday, June 26, 2006

The swings and roundabouts of a lion's sex life

It's been a weekend of Must-See TV for me.

My favorite scene, perhaps of all the Harry Potter movies so far,
is the demonstration duel in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
where Gilderoy is so busy posing that he gets zapped by Severus Snape.

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.

If you can't zap someone obnoxious, or watch them being zapped,
it's fun to imagine telling them they are about to be zapped.

"Your High-and-Mightiness, you are in deep shit!" one of my characters
says with great glee --and lives-- in my next survival romance,
Insufficient Mating Material. In real life, most of us wouldn't dare
say that sort of thing to a boss, or to a world leader....
hence the cathartic charm of reading, or watching TV and movies.

Another program that stands out in my mind is Nigel Marvin's
documentary about the swings and roundabouts of a lion's sex life.

Actually that is my very loose, personal interpretation of what I liked
best about his high minded and scientific program.

The up-side of being a lion with a big, dark mane is that the lionesses like you
(and you have fewer parasites).

The down-side is that you have a lower sperm count.

I haven't figured out how I can work that quirk of nature into one of my
alien djinn romances, but --trust me-- I probably will.

I wish you all an interesting week.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Survival Romance

I love a challenge. I won't say that I invariably take a dare,
but if someone tells me something can't be done...
I like to prove them wrong.

The impossible equation in Isaac Asimov's THE GODS THEMSELVES
was one of the premises that made that book so very
memorable for me.

Anyway, one beautiful spring Saturday in 2004,
I was sitting at a booksigning beside Kathleen Nance.
The booksigning was at a Library, and almost no members of
the public came. So Kathleen and I started talking about writing
and our then-current projects.

I was having trouble deciding whether my alien couple ought to
be marooned on Earth (for the fun of having an alien heroine
experience Earth) or on a planet in outer space that had been
mentioned in FORCED MATE.

Kathleen cautioned me how very hard it was to write about a
couple who were stranded on a desert/deserted/even jungle island.
This was before LOST (which I never did get around to seeing.)

That was a challenge. If it weren't a cliche--not to mention a gender switch--
I'd say it was a red flag to a bull.

Once I started research on Tracking, Wilderness survival, extreme camping
etc, I found plenty of physical and emotional challenges to keep my
hero and heroine busy, interesting, and at each others' throats.

(Not quite literally. My aliens aren't alien vampires.)

Best wishes,


Rowena Cherry
author of alien djinn romances
chess themed romances

Now... a survival themed romance