Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thoughts on time

Timing-wise, I really lucked out this year, if having 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...

Now, I have to rush, or I won't get a certain charitable donation delivered in 2006 at all.

Happy New Year.

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, December 17, 2006

50 ways to help your author

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.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Excerpt from Insufficient Mating Material

Insufficient Mating Material will not be in brick and mortar bookstores until January 30th 2007, however, there is a little reminder you might like for a free stocking stuffer on


Tigron Empire of the Djinn
ARK IMPERIAL, Operating Theater

Damn them! Prince Djetthro-Jason eyed the masked males and the unpleasant array of implements they were preparing to use on him.

I haven't told them everything, and I'm not about to. No way am I going to invite anyone to take a laser to my privates. Ahhh, Fewmet!

The "battlefield analgesia" was wearing off. During the duel that he'd begun as Commander Jason and ended--defeated--as Prince Djetthro-Jason, he'd felt almost no pain despite the damage Tarrant-Arragon had inflicted.

Now, his massively bruised thigh throbbed heavily, his neck muscles ached, and his hurt even to think about his jaw. Perhaps worse--but less so by the moment--was the damage to his alpha-male machismo as he lay strapped down, stark naked, in his enemy's operating theater, preparing his mind for surgery without anesthetic. Also for "the fate worse than death" which was to come.

If Tarrant-Arragon had observed Great Djinn tradition, the duel they'd fought less than an hour ago ought to have been to the death.

Why hadn't Tarrant-Arragon killed him then and there? To the victor went the Empire, the Ark Imperial, and gods-Right to any female he wanted...and they both wanted the same female.

Damn it! Even if he wanted to stop, I should've fought on after he crippled my leg and shattered my bloody jaw. Why didn't I? What's left for me?

What indeed?

I'll be the Djinn equivalent of a broken thoroughbred stallion put out to stud. It's fairly obvious why Tarrant-Arragon made an excuse not to finish me off.

The Great Djinn were nearly extinct. In twenty years' time, Tarrant-Arragon's and Djinni-vera's children would need true-Djinn mates, all entitled to the silent D-prefix to their royal Djinn names. That's why!

When the "fate worse than death" had been spelled out, it had been sheer bravado to mumble that he wanted to marry Princess Martia-Djulia.

Maybe I do. Maybe I don't.

It hurt how much he still wanted Djinni-vera, who'd been the last Djinn virgin in all the Communicating Worlds, and betrothed to be his, until Tarrant-Arragon abducted her by force and took her virginity.

What consolation would it be to have Tarrant-Arragon's sexy, fashionista bitch of a sister in his power and in his bed instead?

Djetth winced at the savagery of his thoughts about Martia-Djulia. Shards of pain shot along his broken jawline.

"Well, Djetthro-Jason, are you ready to be carved up for your new identity and your new life as my little sister's glorified love slave?"

From somewhere out of Djetth's line of sight, Tarrant-Arragon taunted him, stressing the part of Djetth's real name that he'd used until his cover as "Commander Jason" was blown and he was overpowered and arrested.

Djetth did not turn his head. The pain in his face and head was intolerable enough without moving.

"Ahhh, I do believe that Our Imperial surgeons are ready to do away with that distinctive jagged scar on your cheek," Tarrant-Arragon crooned. "And screw together your jaw."

What else might they do while he was under the laser and the knife? While his face was open, might they carve out a sensory gland or two? Implant a tracking device? Use his broken jaw as an excuse to weld a mask over his head?

Prince Djetthro-Jason would be a latter-day "Man in the Iron Mask" if they realized how closely he resembled Crown Prince Tarrant-Arragon. Which he would, without his scars, his colorful contact lenses and his long, blond-dyed hair.

Djetth glanced at the treacherous, turncoat 'Rhett, who'd been his bloody useless "second" at the duel, and who was still hanging around.

What for? Damn him. 'Rhett was too much the intergalactic statesman for his own--or anyone else's--good.

If the patient lost consciousness, Tarrant-Arragon could decide that the chances for galactic peace would be better if Djetthro-Jason were way or another. Given the secrets 'Rhett knew, 'Rhett might agree.

"No--" Djetth groaned with the unexpected agony of trying to speak. He wanted to refuse anesthetic again. How he wished there was somebody present whom he could trust!

A door swished open.

"Does he have to be in such pain?" The cause of all the trouble spoke from the doorway. She sounded on edge, as if she felt his pain telepathically.

Djinni-vera! No longer his Djinni. By conquest, by the irrevocable exchange of vows, and finally by her own choice, she was Tarrant-Arragon's.

By All the Lechers of Antiquity, how he loved her! At that moment. For coming. Mentally Djetth qualified his thoughts. Djinni-vera might not love him now, but she was honorable to the core. Tarrant-Arragon wouldn't dare do anything dastardly in front of her.

As she glided to his surgical table, Djetth looked at her wildly, helplessly, with mute appeal, hoping that she would read his mind and aid him this one last time.

Djinni-vera's amethyst eyes widened as if she had Heard him and understood. Her gaze averted, she reached out and dropped a gauzy white cloth of some sort over his monstrously inappropriate erection.

To others, her action might have looked like public modesty on her part. Djetth assumed that Djinni had read the part of his mind that was worrying about the striking tattoo that only showed up in the dark or when he was suitably excited.

Thank you, he thought. Please help me. Stay.

She nodded, and took his fettered hand with her undamaged left. "You've been macho about this too long, J-J. Why won't you let them put you to sleep?"

"Careful, my love," Tarrant-Arragon said, moving possessively to her side. "You can never call him J-J again. Nor may you use any of his other damned traitor's aliases. Not J-J, not Commander Jason. Traitors cannot be seen to survive their attempts on my life. Commander Jason is officially dead, and everyone--including Martia-Djulia--must believe it. From this day forward, he's Prince Djetthro-Jason."

"What a mouthful..." Djinni began; then her changing expression told him that she must have read a thought-pun he couldn't resist. "Djetth!"

She frowned sternly.

"I know you Great Djinn males can't help thinking of sex all the time. But it's not helpful, Djetth. As long as you have your saturniid gland, you're dangerous."

Not dangerous to you, kid. You won't ovulate while you're pregnant, and probably not for a while after that, he thought back at her.

Her mouth twisted in a wry smile.

"You'd be safer if you let them remove it."

Some aspects of Royal Djinn maleness one would rather die than surrender, he rejoined, hoping she would not read his darker thoughts.

"Martia-Djulia would be better off if you couldn't have the rut-rage again, too..." As she spoke, Djinni tossed her head as if shaking off a bothersome fly.

Djetth wondered if Djinni had unexpectedly Channeled someone else's reasoning. Djinni couldn't possibly know how savagely Martia-Djulia liked to be served in bed.

"I saw Palace footage of you having the rut-rage with Martia-Djulia." The little mind-reader's voice rose in protest at the thought he hadn't meant her to sense.

You saw? You saw what, exactly? His thought question was a ploy to distract her from thinking about the rut-rage, but no sooner had he asked than he dreaded how detailed her reply might be.

"What you might expect, given that the camera was being a mirrored ceiling, and you were on top," she retorted, keeping his tattoo a secret. "Tarrant-Arragon fast-forwarded you, because you went at it so long."

"Not that long," Tarrant-Arragon murmured maliciously, probably to remind them that he was listening to Djinni's half of the conversation.

"Long enough," Djinni said. "Djetth, you might already be a father."

"Granted, that is remotely possible," Tarrant-Arragon sneered while appearing to examine a wicked-looking lancet. "Let's hope you weren't that thorough, Djetthro-Jason, or your firstborn would have to be--and remain--a bastard. Unfortunately, my slack-wit of a sister can't keep a secret. If Martia-Djulia thinks Commander Jason got her pregnant, the rumor will be all over Court before we get home, and before she hears that her lover is dead."

Djetth felt an inexplicable distress at the idea that he could never claim this theoretically possible child as his own.

"Shall we begin?" Tarrant-Arragon's too perceptive eyes ranged over Djetth's body, lingering for an instant on the cloth covering his penis. Not for the first time in his life, Djetth thanked the Great Originator that Tarrant-Arragon had lost the power to read minds.

"I'm staying with him," Djinni announced, gripping his hand tightly.

Djetth was careful not to wrap his fingers around hers or to respond to Djinni's comforting touch in any discernible way. Touching the Heir Apparent's Mate was yet another act of high treason punishable by death.

"Very well, my love. You may stay as long as you keep your gaze on his face." Tarrant-Arragon's lips curled into a sneer. He had certainly noticed the hand-holding.

"Djetthro-Jason, I'll ask you for the last time: Have you declared every identifying mark on your body that my sister might recognize? Every scar...?"

"Yes!" Djetth snarled back, one eye on Djinni to see whether her face betrayed his lie.

Head turned, distracted by Djinni and the explosion of pain in his face from speaking aloud, Djetth forgot that his neck was exposed where 'Rhett could reach it.

He felt the cold, numbing touch of 'Rhett's fingers on his most vital acupressure point, strove to turn his head, and couldn't.

'Rhett is using Djinncraft to put me to sleep! Damn 'Rhett and his secret agendas!

The growing paralysis had not yet reached Djetth's eyes. As his vision dimmed, his desperate gaze met the cool green, inscrutable eyes of his bastard cousin and half-brother, 'Rhett.

He'd be lucky to wake up with a new face, a new and dangerous identity. If he woke up. "



Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, December 03, 2006

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

The 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.

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 mean 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.

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

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it

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!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

I've never looked at a male movie star, sports personality, or world leader, and thought, "My hero!"

Although I may have thought, "With his looks, what a villain he would make!" I don't want to go there. Most of my characters are a blend of at least three --or more-- sources, and all are products of my imagination.

Heroines are another story. I need a model. Not a runway model, but someone I can rewind and freeze frame. Djinni-vera in FORCED MATE was based on two women, but since it took me ten years to polish that book, I had plenty of leisure to stare (covertly) at real people, great cheek bones, and the way beautiful women smile when they are nervous.

Helispeta of MATING NET was a heroine written in a hurry. I hadn't expected to be given less than six months to write the story of a royal grandmother's first sexual miscalculation. Helispeta's beautiful, tragic, deer-in-the-headlights face was borrowed from the cover of a magazine.

Then, I changed her hair and eye color, the size and shape of her lower lip.... and all her vital statistics.

I had to watch TV for months before I spotted someone with the potential to model for Martia-Djulia of INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. I'm not talking looks as much as animation, idiosyncracies, hand movements... maybe the faces she pulls when she is kissing the hero.

Now, I'm writing Electra-Djerroldina's story. By the way, with the Dj spelling which I use as an easy heads-up to the reader that this character is a royal Djinn, the D is silent. Maybe I'm getting better. Maybe I was lucky this time. It only took me three months to find the perfect role model with a slow motion sneer to kick-start my latest heroine's character.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cold steel and the heat of battle

The things one picks up in the course of research!

Of course, I had thought --briefly-- that Knights in Armour probably did not smell very nice, but I had not considered how long they'd spend inside a metal suit of armour (like all day long) or how hot they'd get on a sunny day.

I wonder whether warrior Kings timed their quarrels to avoid fighting in July and August?

What do Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, Roger Moore in Moonraker, Sean Connery in Highlander, Chris O'Donnell in The Three Musketeers, Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro, and Liv Tyler in LOTR have in common?

I found this fascinating!

According to Richard Cohen in By The Sword, the sword fighting consultant for all those great movie swordfighting scenes was Bob Anderson. A tidbit that interested me most was that it was Bob Anderson himself in the Darth Vader costume during that steamy light saber duel with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.

Apparently, in order to keep the steam-effect from freezing Han Solo, the stage had to be kept very hot indeed, which was especially uncomfortable for a man in a helmet and long black robes plus heavy cloak.

None of this --movie trivia-- is especially helpful to me in my research for a swordfighting hero for my next alien djinn romance, but it gives me a new respect for Hollywood, and a new perspective on the "romantic" versus the "swashbuckling" versus the "pain of it" schools of movie swordfighting.

My next title is Knight's Fork. It's not about a Retiarius! Although it is Rhett's story.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Romances with Toilets

My title reminds me of "Dances with Wolves" but has nothing whatsoever to do with wildlife or history. I write alien romances set in advanced worlds, and occasionally I try to envisage how future societies will manage the call of Nature.

Once upon a time, the King of a large, modern, Western country
came to visit one of a major auto-maker's design facilities. Both the Gents' and Ladies' bathrooms on one floor were closed to the public and reserved for their visiting Majesties' exclusive convenience.

As I recall the tale as it was told to me, their Majesties availed themselves of the opportunity (Royalty always goes when the opportunity presents itself, or is respectfully presented), took the entire entourage in with them (the host had assumed that the entourage would wait outside, and go afterwards), and conversation continued uninterrupted by any acknowledgement whatsoever that the setting was temporarily less formal.

My source has completely forgotten ever telling me this. He says I imagined it. I never forget a good potty story (but I do have strange dreams).

Hollywood movies have scenes set at urinals all the time. The loo seems to be a good place for mobsters to hang out, have conversations, assess each other's manliness, and sometimes kill each other.

I don't recall too many sci-fi movies with scenes in similar settings.

Bathroom scenes are part of my world building. The logistics of necessity are important to my fashionista heroine when she is marooned on a previously uninhabited island in INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. She warms up to the hero considerably when he takes the time to fashion a decent toilet seat for her.

There are bathroom fixtures I've considered that would probably never get past an editor of romances. Just like only villains in Regency romances have bad breath, no one breaks wind in a spaceship, and there is no mechanism to deal with a problem that even aliens ought to have... I would have thought.

It's simply not heroic to back up to an interior, miniature porthole.

If water might be a precious commodity in outer space, much might be done with suction and air pressure (I suppose). Also recycling. One has to think of physics, and chemistry, and gravity, and logistics.

Assuming that all romantic aliens are humanoid... now I pause to think of the alien who kept his genitals in his knee caps... and if one could eliminate waste through ones feet, that could be convenient, depending where one lived, but again, it would not be romantic.

I've never been sure about fictional bathrooms on spaceships that appear out of nowhere at the push of a button. Walls move. Space is created with no discernable impact on the size of the living area. Solid bathroom fixtures appear. How? Is the bathroom like Dr. Who's Tardis? I could accept a shower, but not a jacuzzi, I guess. But, then, I am not a plumber.

Why push a button? What about a Clap-On Crapper? What fun if the alien-romance's human heroine were to clap her hands in delight over some unrelated matter, and the toilet would shoot out of the walls, slosh and retreat, and reappear until she had the wit to stop clapping!

Can any reader point me in the direction of a well designed alien loo?

Best wishes,

RAH interview

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Of interest to hunters... scavenger hunters

Romance Junkies is running a scavenger hunt. Now.

I believe that 60 authors are participating, and that some
of the prizes are pretty good.

Have fun!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pop-up blogger

I couldn't wait until Halloween or the next Friday 13th to reveal that there is something wrong with my wiring.
Those who know me, knew that.

I have a crock pot that turns itself off (in the middle of the night, when it is supposed to be slowly turning a picked-over
chicken carcase into soup) and a tv that turns itself on.

Last night I was awakened shortly after midnight to hear Jim Cramer shouting his very fine Mad Money stock-picking advice at full volume from my kitchen. Upon further investigation, I found that my chicken stock was far from simmering.

Good conjunction that! If I have a poltergeist, it must have a sense of humor, great taste, and refinement.

Best wishes,


Sunday, October 15, 2006

In depth research--The Sword Master

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.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some days are better than others....

It's been a Michelob day.
You know the jingle "Some days are better than others" ?
I love the positive spin it puts on days that are NOT among the better ones.

Yesterday I had oral surgery, and today the face I see in the mirror reminds me of a cartoon rodent... like the prehistoric one with an acorn lodged in one cheek. Laughing hurts, yawning is worse, and I'm drinking delicious, sober liquids out of the non-operated-on side of my mouth until my stitches come out next Monday. I have been forbidden to use straws. Sucking is verboten.

So, having spent the best part of a day (Monday) on an interview for the benefit of aspiring authors (when I ought to have been pounding out the pages for a book in a month!!!) I was delighted to find this email in my account today:

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------------

Lynda's gracious words really turned my day around.

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 10, 2006

Rambling without ranting

Occasionally it happens that even with two months between my newsletters,
I get a last minute hold-up.

Either a cover model's pictures don't forward owing to yahoo or
aol 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 since August 26th.

My editor wanted about thirty minor-seeming revisions to
Insufficient Mating Material,
and I guess she thought I could easily do them in three days.

Not me!

The villain wasn't quite nasty enough.
The heroine wasn't insecure about the hero's 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, for me, a villain can't just crank up the nastiness out of the blue.
Either his nastiness has to be apparent all the way through the book,
or else his nasty habits have to build like storm clouds gathering
throughout the course of the book.

Then, I heard the absolutely marvelous news from Romantic Times
that my proposal for a Research panel workshop has been accepted,
and I had to produce a proposal and a panel in a very short timeframe.
I did, of course.

And my husband (who cannot type) needed help preparing for a meeting.
And, my September-October bi-monthly newsletter was due.

I'm happy to say that, the newsletter is up with a contest, new puzzles,
excerpts from two other authors, an interview with a really versatile cover model.

I hope you enjoy it.

Best wishes,

Sunday, September 03, 2006



There are no such things, right? Only complicated questions that might come at an inconvenient time.

Do I do much research for my books?
That’s a real gem of a question, and I mean that most sincerely. It is a wonderful opportunity to drop powerful names, list the most exciting locations and disasters in my book, and talk about things that inspire me.

This week, when I wasn’t really reading my email because I’ve got thirty changes to make to INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, and I’ve been getting up at three am in order to make headway, I learned that my workshop proposal –for a panel discussion on RESEARCH-- has been accepted by Romantic Times, and I need to put together a proper proposal for my team.

I’m thrilled.

What possessed me to draw up a Family Tree for my world?
My editor asked me that one, in the nicest possible way. I suppose I’m visual, though I would never claim to be organized or tidy. A diagram seems the most easily understood and economical method of keeping track of a complicated family.

What Royal Family doesn’t have one? So of course my alien royal family needed one. The fact that I sorted out who had sex with whom about ten years ago has been a blessing and a challenge. At times it is inconvenient, and at times it sets me thinking in directions I might not have pursued otherwise.

I got my arithmetic wrong, I made errors that I’d change if I were doing it over again. For instance, maybe I wouldn’t give all members of the Royal Family names with Dj – the Royal Prefix, with a silent D. At least, when they have six or seven names, they do not have to use that name!

For those who are interested, the Djinn Family tree is now up on my website, and it is interactive. Go to



Sunday, August 27, 2006

Masked Men With Knives

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.

BTW, INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL begins with the damaged hero on an operating table,
hoping that his enemy's surgeons don't take a professional interest in his tattooed penis.

Best wishes,

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Do I like writing love scenes?

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

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

Well, I do. And I don’t....and do let's call them love scenes.
That said, if I had to come down on one side or the other, I'd say Yes, but...

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 would be quite fascinating.

Correction: could be.

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 obvious.

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?

Comic relief?

Oh, yeah. But in my very personal 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 their grammar.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Got Magic?

If it's got Magic in it, it can't be Science Fiction Romance....

How many of us have read, or been told that if there's magic, it must be Fantasy.

I'd like a straw poll. If you've believe that there's no place for magic in SF --or if you've heard it, and wondered Why not?-- please comment.

It's easy. Click the crayon symbol to the right of the author's signature. You can be Anonymous. You just have to recognize the distorted alphabet soup. Sometimes, you have to do that part again because maybe a Z is really a z, but how could you tell?

Back to Magic... nor not... as a topic.
My position is that I don't appreciate being told what I can and cannot write.

That said, I was grateful for Guidelines when I was starting out. It's good to know the ten greatest "turn-offs" that might cause an editor, an agent, or a contest judge to read no further (metaphorically speaking).

Yet the rebel in me wonders: If it is scientificially OK, even desirable, for aliens from other worlds to have religions and spiritual beliefs, why shouldn't they have magic?

Is there a difference --as far as a third party observer can tell-- between a miracle and magic?

As we get older and wiser, do we "grow out of" magic?

Do we assume that a technogically advanced civilization capable of interstellar travel will be too sophisticated for magic? Will they have explained it all away?

We know the difference between a conjurer's act and something that truly cannot be explained.... don't we? Still we are fascinated when the pea under the shell is not where our senses tell us it should be, or when the magician catches the bullet between his not-even-chipped teeth.

When you think of jobs with legs, the entertainment industry must be one of the most durable... not counting the illegal occupations and the hereditary positions... there's singing and otherwise making music; news-and-story-telling; conjuring, juggling and magic-doing.

There's also cooking, farming and fighting.

There must be a reason why we need magic in our lives, whether it is Swords and Sorcery; dangerous bald genies in bottles (why are they always bald?), wands and winged dragons; portals to parallel worlds; or the possibility of amorous and lonely hunks --pretty much like us, perhaps with two penises, or pointy ears, or fangs, or silver-bullet-semen-- travelling through the icy blackness of space in search of love and understanding.

Why should an industry professional who is judging my alien romances become confused and upset if my non-human, interstellar starjet pilot can levitate through the sheer force of his personality and will?

Suppose he glares intently at the heroine and sweeps her off her feet, literally, without recourse to magnets, nano-power packs, or other scientifically possible explanations?

Disclaimer: I don't mean to say that any industry professional that I know HAS become confused and upset by such seductive delights (on the other hand, my alien djinn heroes haven't --yet-- performed inexplicable magic, either). I'm simply reflecting the warnings I've heard from How-To enthusiasts.

I might also be contemplating a little genre rule-breaking, some time in the future. INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is virtually finished, and I'm seriously thinking about breaking new ground in the next book, which is provisionally titled Knight's Fork (yet another chess reference).

Best wishes,

Disclaimer: This is pretty much the same blog as published on the group blog alien romances

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Photo


Browser trouble prevented me from posting this in the body of the previous posting.

Dangerous research on the seashore

Maybe I'm unusual, but when I read a novel, I expect to come across the scene on the cover. 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 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?

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. Mostly.

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

The alien experience of... house cleaning

Would I want to see an alien being -- such as 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 mortified. Also grateful for the help.

If, for some reason, he needed to use human household appliances, I imagine that a quintessentially logical alien 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, flying eyebrow.

Actually, that might be romantic in a traditional Regency romance sort of way. His plight might not be. Why would an arguably superior being do my housework?

Loveslavery springs to mind.... Or not. If he's cleaning house for me, that doesn't reflect too well on my libido or my sex appeal, does it? He must be doing Research. Or perhaps a quest for some meteor-like small object that could be retrieved from my neglected carpet... I almost have a story, here! I do so love blogging.

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 housecleaning appliances.... I just haven't read all that many.

Dara Joy's splendid early novel, Knight Of A Trillion Stars, does come to mind. What was it her alien hunk attacked with his broadsword, thinking it was a rival? A TV? An answering machine?
That was a very funny scene, and seemed so "right"!

Is chopping up the furniture the closest that any alien hero has come to housework? 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 mischief with a vacuum cleaner.

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, and aborts the shopping expedition once he learns that Marijuana is not a feminine toiletry product.

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. Like Susan Sizemore (who also blogs with the pioneers and best sellers on the alien romance blog at blogspot) , I like military books.

I find them a treasure trove for research, for instance for battlefield uses for urine (to make communications equipment work). 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 tidepooling for the next four weeks. Do you know the ins and outs of a crab's sex life? I do.

For my newsletter:

Highlights~ Interview with Exotic Male Entertainer, Devin Yala; excerpt from Linnea Sinclair's An Accidental Goddess, except from Brenna Lyons' Last Chance

Monday, June 26, 2006

When the high and mighty trip up (or even when the low and obnoxious do)

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

I couldn't resist staying up much too late to watch
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets --again.

My favorite scene, perhaps of all the Harry Potter movies so far,
is the demonstration duel, where Gilderoy
is so busy posing that he gets legally zapped by Severus.

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.

There are dozens of similar scenes in other movies -- fights, where
the dramatically well-armed or well-equipped bad guy makes a lot
of flashy moves, and sooner or later the good guy throws a simple punch,
or kick, and disables his opponent.

"Your High-and-Mightiness, you are in deep shit!" is something I imagine
many of us would love to be in a position to say
to a boss or world leader.

(One of my characters says it with great glee --and lives--
in my next book, Insufficient Mating Material.)

In real life, we wouldn't dare. History has shown that it isn't healthy
to be the bearer of bad news... as was demonstrated on a documentary
on Sunday morning about Great Intelligence Blunders.

At least, I think it was on Sunday.

The other program that stands out in my mind was 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 got
from the 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 will.

I wish you all an interesting week.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Alien Royal Wedding Dress

Sword angles, chiggers in unmentionables

I apologize in advance for my Subject line

Swords, secret underwear, and biting insects seem more in keeping
with my sense of humor than, for instance "Behind the Scenes," or
"What I wrote last week!"

I've just finished self-editing INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL,
with a little help from my friend Karen Babcock
(who is a brilliant freelance editor).

The Publishing House Editor-directed edit comes at the beginning
of August, but there are some typos I'd rather find--and correct--myself.

When my editor first saw the manuscript in July of 2005,
she felt very strongly that there wasn't enough sexual tension in

(Since IMM is a sequel, it has to match or exceed its predecessor.)

So, in the Fall and Winter of 2005, I rewrote the first fifty pages,
then the first hundred pages, then the first two hundred pages ....
by which time there was enough sexiness for the first 200 pages,
and the title had become a bit of an in-joke.

INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is actually a Google-searchable
chess term for an unwinnable situation.

As my deadline approached for submitting the completed, four-hundred page
manuscript, I thought that adding a nickname for the heroine,
and fitting in SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud'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 galleyproofs to be checked in September.

I decided I'd better tie up a few loose ends on my own and make sure no
swordsman was sitting at the same time that he was bowing with a flourish
with his sword protruding at an angle.

Someone did sit down --on the arm of a chair-- before he bowed.
My choice was to delete the act of sitting, or add a stage direction
for him to stand again.

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 solution.)

To be honest, I do not have any incontinent characters in my novel.
Well...if I am going to be pedantic about it, 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 suggested that my heroine consider the most absorbent
material available (cut from an ejector seat, or from clothing) plus Spagnum type

I hear from a female survivalist that red bugs can live in moss -- so one must
be sure to boil the moss. What a useful thing to know!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Short stories

Is this the stuff of blogs? Maybe not....

but when I was trying to sell MATING NET,
I would have loved to see a posting like this forwarded
to the loops I was on.

The prequel to FORCED MATE, my short, dark and mildly dirty story
MATING NET was only around 10,000 words when I
started seriously thinking about selling it as a stand-alone
short story.

Later, I added 3,000 words.

Owing to its length, or lack thereof, it seemed like I was out
of luck unless I wanted to sell to a magazine... which I did not do!

Now, New Concepts Publishing has opened up several new lines
and is actively seeking short, short stories:

Here's editor Andrea DePasture's call for submissions:

New opportunities for authors (Permission to post)

We have many new projects we're working on throughout this year
and the next, and we're very excited about these themes.
These lines/series are open to all authors, so please spread the word
to any writing groups you're on or to your writing friends.

Also, please be sure to include the series title in the Subject header
of your submission.

Kinetic Series—Releasing November 2006

The theme for this series is psychic powers.
Examples include, but are not limited to psychokinesis, pyrokinesis,
hydrokinesis, and other superhuman powers.
Let your imagination run wild!

Stories should be between 10,000 and 35,000 words,
but longer novels will be considered.
Genres can be historical, fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal/contemporary
and can be in any locale or setting. Spicy or erotic sensuality is preferred.

Non-NCP authors must submit full manuscript.
Stories should be turned in for consideration no later than the end of July 2006.
Send to submissions@ (no space)

Harmony™ Line—Ongoing release dates

We are actively acquiring high quality, original interracial
and multiracial romances for this line. T
his line is widely advertised in print media and heavily promoted
wherever opportunities arise.
Romance genres we are most interested in are paranormal, futuristic,
fantasy, and historical—spicy or erotic are preferred.
Straight contemporary romances are rarely accepted for this line.

Novels should be at least 70,000 words but novellas will be considered for anthologies.

Non-NCP authors must submit full manuscript.
More information about this line can be found on our website:
(We've had requests for more Domination/Captive themes for this line,
but are not limited to this theme alone.)
Send to submissions@ (no space)

The Brood—Releasing February 2007

The theme for this series is animal shifter clans,
either of earthly origin or of the fantasy variety.
(Please, no bestiality themes)
Examples include, but are not limited to wolf, lion, bear, dragon, griffin, swan, etc.
Stories should be between 10,000 and 35,000 words,
but longer novels will be considered.

Romance genres can be historical, fantasy, futuristic,
or paranormal/contemporary, in any locale or setting and use any plot device,
as long as shifting is used within the story.
Spicy or erotic sensuality is preferred.

Non-NCP authors must submit full manuscript.
Completed stories should be turned in for consideration no later than
the end of October 2006.
Send to submissions@ (no space)

Enchanted—Releasing May 2007

The theme for this series is magical enchantments and curses.
Examples include but are not limited to retellings of fairytales
like Beauty and the Beast, Rose Red, Sleeping Beauty, etc.
Stories should be between 10,000 and 35,000 words,
but longer novels will be considered.

Romance genres can be historical, fantasy, futuristic, paranormal,
or contemporary, in any locale or setting and use any plot device,
as long as the theme is used within the story.
Spicy or erotic sensuality is preferred.

Non-NCP authors must submit full manuscript.
Completed stories should be turned in for consideration
no later than the end of December 2006.

Send to submissions@ (no space)

Inferno—Releasing August 2007

Theme is summer and heat.
These stories should be VERY SEXY
and should include high sexual tension.

Stories should be between 10,000 and 35,000 words.

Romance genres can be historical, fantasy, futuristic,
paranormal, contemporary, in any locale or setting.
Spicy or erotic sensuality is preferred.

Non-NCP authors must submit full manuscript.
Completed stories should be turned in for consideration
no later than the end of April 2007.
Send to submissions@ (no space)
Sincerely,Andrea DePasture
New Concepts Publishing

Good luck!

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Faery Court

Here are the faeries who sponsored the recent Faery Ball at the
Romantic Times BOOKClub Convention in Daytona Beach.

What a colorful group we were! Are!!!

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Romance and research

Q: Why is research like an iceberg?

A: Because only about 10 percent of it shows.

In my books I try to leave about 90 percent
of my background research to loom below the surface.
With luck, my readers will never notice that it's there,
apart from enjoying my worldbuilding. :-)

After all, for every cool, alien-seeming flower or fruit
I might learn about --I prefer not to completely make them up--
there are lots of equally exotic plants that aren't useful
for the purposes of my story.

to Alicia Condon of DORCHESTER PUBLISHING, my furious
hero is maroioned 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 the Science Channel's SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud,
the best way to avoid hypothermia is to doff the wet duds and share
body heat.

So, my frustrated hero decides that life will be more tolerable
if he can construct a distillery and a guitar --or a flute, with a view
to getting drunk and singing raunchy songs about his plight.

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, except to say that I
intend to blog a little more predictably.... Maybe on Sundays.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I'm on that panel at the RT convention, and have my dibs on the Sexy Heroes... as a topic, in theory, of course. I leave for Daytona very early on Weds morning.

Meanwhile, my latest newsletter is out

I'm sorry this is a short posting.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A fun read -- that's a tad X-rated

A fun read [that’s a tad X-rated].
~KC Heath,

Read the full review at

Normally, I'd save review snips for my newsletter, which can be found at (and there is a link on this blog) but someone else asked me for a convenient way to find links in a hurry, and this seemed the simplest answer since my next newsletter won't be out for a couple of weeks.

I've been blogging at Amazon Connect about questions readers have raised, such as:
"Why is FORCED MATE called a futuristic when it is set in 1994?"

"Why are there so many names beginning with Dj-- and how do you pronounce that, anyway?"

And "If FORCED MATE isn't a bodice ripper, what does the title mean?"
(It is a chess title.)

Best wishes,

Yet Another Book Review of Forced Mate

A fun read [that’s a tad X-rated].
~KC Heath,

Read the full review at

Normally, I'd save review snips for my newsletter, which can be found at (and there is a link on this blog) but someone else asked me for a convenient way to find links in a hurry, and this seemed the simplest answer since my next newsletter won't be out for a couple of weeks.

I've been blogging at Amazon Connect about questions readers have raised, such as:
"Why is FORCED MATE called a futuristic when it is set in 1994?"

"Why are there so many names beginning with Dj-- and how do you pronounce that, anyway?"

And "If FORCED MATE isn't a bodice ripper, what does the title mean?"
(It is a chess title.)

Best wishes,

MATING NET review by Aysel Arwen

Compact, but Very Complex...

... intrigue, tension and a surprising and tender ending.

~Aysel Arwen, author of A Pirate, A Secret And Rose

a steamy, sensual sci-fi read that will entertain!

~Kristi Ahlers, contributing author to No Law Against Love

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rowena Cherry chats on Blase Skip Radio

Rowena Cherry, aka Rowena Beaumont Cherry, answers eleven questions about her titles, about the logistics of going on a booktour with an allergic child, and about what she will be doing at the Romantic Times Bookclub conference in Daytona next month.

Download and listen to Rowena Cherry, author of the critically acclaimed alien djinn romances FORCED MATE and MATING NET.

Rowena's April 17th 2006 radio interview can be found at Blase Skip

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I love to break rules

Perhaps I should qualify that! I like to break "rules" that other people make concerning what and how I should write.

I tend to be a bit of a contrarian if I make a "bet" on the stock market, too.

Otherwise, I am a law abiding citizen.

Talking of breaking the law.... One of the most interesting books I've ever read was Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves, which was in three parts. One of the parts involved breaking a so-called law of either Physics or Chemistry, which Asimov decided to make possible in another, parallel, dimension.

My books would never work if read aloud as books on tape. I know that. I have too many names that sound as if they start with a J.

You noticed? There's Djohn-Kronos, Djetthro-Jason (in fact, there are two Djetthro-Jasons), Django-Ra, Djerrold Vulcan... and many, many more.

I did it on purpose. The fact that a lot of my favorite male names begin with G or J had little to do with it.

Once I'd decided that my ruling race were going to be Djinn, it seemed logical to me that all members of the Djinn Royal Family should have at least one "Royal" name. Thus, the Dj- in a character's name is an intentional heads-up to my readers that this person is one of the Djinn.

Not all characters choose to use their Royal Djinn name, which may imply something about their personality or that of the parent who named them.

Tarrant-Arragon doesn't feel the need to use the "Djustin Djohn" in his royally long list of names. Helispeta Djinnifer never uses her Royal name. Djarrhett abbreviates his name to 'Rhett.

Adding to the complexity, some of my characters hyphenate their given names, and some don't.
Some of them started out on the original Family Tree with hyphens, but which, as the character developed, I realized weren't right for them ... like Djinni-Vera and Helis-Peta. That, however, is another story!

Best wishes,

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Alien villain of MATING NET checks out good women

The god-Emperor Djohn-Kronos hasn't had decent sex in a gestate and is looking for a good time, tonight, April 1st. His High and Mightiness will attend the Coffeetime chat at 9pm Eastern in hopes of meeting a few "good" women.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Poking around

I have some very bad internet habits. For instance, if I want to save something, I may forward it to myself. A year later, of course, I can't find it among all the Rowena to Rowena emails of forgotten, interesting stuff, unless by accident.

Poking around... actually looking for a Business Plan (yes, really!!!) I came across a list of questions that a readers' group leader had asked about FORCED MATE.

I don't have the answers, and I'm probably asking for trouble by stirring this up. Nevertheless, I thought this one was interesting and topical.

Q: What do you think will be your lasting impression of Forced Mate by Rowena Cherry? What will be your most vivid memories of it a year from now?

Do comment if you feel like it. Comments are moderated, so if a helpful gentleman happens to be selling a system to enhance the male anatomy, for instance, those recommendations will not show up, unless they are so cleverly worded to relate to my hero's needs that I cannot resist the wit.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Sunday, March 26, 2006

FORCED MATE --EPPIE Award finalist

The self published, electronic version of FORCED MATE may not have won, but all the finalists in the Eppie Awards this year scored nine out of a possible ten points.

That's not at all bad for a science fiction romance with a chess title.

Best wishes,


Friday, March 24, 2006

Hero search

INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is the story of what happens to Djinn (pronounced jinn) Prince Djetthro-Jason after he loses the duel and has his face smashed by Tarrant-Arragon.

Now, I have to decide who will be my next hero in the alien djinn world which I've featured in MATING NET and FORCED MATE.

I'd love some ideas, if anyone would like to comment.