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,