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,