Thursday, November 29, 2007

Talking Insufficient Mating Material with Baron Ron Herron

Half an hour ago, I was on KZSB AM 1290 for five minutes.

What a blast! I do have to say that I enjoyed every second of it. I did, despite my nerves. They say that when you are "on the spot" you never say what you mean to say, or you always think of something better that you could have said after the event.

So true!

I consider myself a bit of a seasoned talk show host myself, but only on Podcast radio ( and there is a vast difference between being the
host and in control, and being the guest.

I'd planned to tell the gracious host, Baron Ron Herron, what Survivorman Les Stroud told me about using rabbit guts as wilderness condoms.

With hindsight, maybe that would not have been such a good idea. Maybe it was just as well I didn't get to it. People in California would have been having their breakfasts.

(For those who don't know, Survivorman, Les Stroud, was my survival consultant for INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, and he gave me the cover quote.)

I gather that Baron's show airs in Pebble Beach, among other places, and also in Queensland, so I'd hoped to talk about the Pebble Beach concours d'elegance where my husband has been one of the honorary judges for eleven out of the last twelve years. The Monterey aquarium is one of my favorite haunts when we visit.

I'd have liked to mention some of my bookseller friends in Queensland... Rosemary's Romance Books, the Intrigue Bookstore, Margaret Bell, and more. Ah, well!

Anyway, I did have a good time. (I wish I could have cracked a joke, though!)


HOW do you write a sequel to a spoof?

This was the first challenge I faced when FORCED MATE was a success, readers –and my editor—wanted to know when the next book would be ready.

In FORCED MATE, I lovingly took every stock Romance situation and had fun with it.

Hoping for swift sexual success with his human abductee, the alien hunk bases his seduction strategy on Romance novels and the early, less sensitive James Bond movies.

To his astonishment and annoyance, the heroine doesn’t follow the script.

INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL couldn’t be a spoof, but it had to have plenty of humor, lots of sexual tension, a heroine who doesn’t follow the script, a gorgeous, powerful, competent but flawed hero, political chicanery, intrigue, and a dastardly assassination attempt.

I started thinking along the lines of THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON meets THE TAMING OF THE SHREW with a touch of FACE OFF, and some MISS MARPLE in outer space.

Or –and I say this with Les Stroud’s permission—SURVIVORMAN WITH SEX.

INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL begins with a shotgun Royal wedding. The hero’s nemesis decides that the hero must be married to a political “liability wife” … the most scandalous, most airheaded, fashionista princess available.

Only, the Princess takes one look at the chap being frogmarched up the aisle to mate with her, and she knocks him to the ground and storms out.

So, the all-powerful Nemesis maroons the hero and heroine on a desert island like a pair of exotic animals in a zoo breeding program, and waits for nature to take its course.

From the moment Djetth and Princess Marsh crash land in the sea off their island home, (getting wet) they have to fend for themselves, make a bed and a shelter, find water, build a fire, dig a latrine, hunt for and gather and prepare food, deal with that monthly challenge… clean their teeth and other parts.

There’s a huge political secret that a very powerful member of the royal family is trying to cover up. He’ll stop at nothing to kill the princess and her rejected lover… but who is he? Is it the hero or the heroine who is his target? And what is this dire secret?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Animals that inspire

I'm under deadline at the moment, so cannot take long. If you watch this video of MATING NET, at the end you will be offered --by YouTube-- an array of animal videos that have absolutely nothing to do with me or my work.

I did write a scene inspired by the horse and the golf bag... but then I decided it was not in the best possible taste!

If you are on YouTube, check out my sites RowenaBCherry also rowenabeau also rowenacherry.

I've started to collect some videos for my Cherry Picking radio program on Passionate Internet Voices Talk Radio.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Romantic Life

I try to be open-minded, and to look for romantic inspiration everywhere. But some things are simply not conducive to writing "heated science fiction romance."

Take men in trees.

Now, in Insufficient Mating Material, I do place my hunky hero up a tree when the heroine, thinking herself alone, says something that prompts the hero to ask the "How about it?" question.

I've got six or seven "important" ash trees in my back yard. They are not equally important. The one that grows through the deck is much more important that the others, though their canopies all dropshadow my roofline.

We've got the alien Emerald Ash Borer in Michigan, and it is a continual and expensive struggle to treat the trees. I am doing a good job of making the wood taste unpleasant, but not all my neighbors are.

Last Thursday, reluctantly, I tore myself away from the romantic and riveting pleasure of writing about the first heroic lip lock between my hero and heroine in order to keep an eye on three tree surgeons who were giving my trees a first class pruning.

I can't say that it was a romantically profitable morning. One chap could have modeled for Pieter Brueghel. Another for Jabba the Hutt. Oh dear, that is cruel. I suppose he would not have made such an unfortunate impression if he hadn't been wearing only low-slung trousers and a short T-shirt which he used as a face towel when the ambient heat became too much, and sent his pores into overproduction.

It took from 8am to 12.15 pm including chipping, road sweeping, and so forth.

After that, the man who cleans my deck came.

I did not have to worry about him falling out of a tree and the insurance ramifications of that (you thought I watched those guys out of lust?) but men with power sprayers just cannot help squirting things they are not supposed to squirt.

This guy's method of preparing the soil for planting pachysandra was to squirt it. He squirted a hornets' nest, too!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Worldbuilding in the grocery aisles

Hybrids aren't just cars that run on more than one fuel source.

There are hybrid animals, and hybrid plants which occur either naturally or with the assistance of mankind, also hybrids in Greek and Roman mythology. Some hybrids are sterile, and some are not. Some hybrids are called after a combination of the father's name and the mother's (father's name first).

The mythological creatures do not appear to follow this convention... and in fact, now I understand the convention, my mind boggles over the Manticore (man-lion-scorpion).

The etymology is delightful. According to wikipedia, hybrid comes from the ancient Greek for "son of outrageous conduct."

I could have called my Tigron world's black sabre-toothed tigers ... pangers, or tigthers, but I think that would have complicated matters.

This week, I'm more interested in plant hybrids. For world-building in a hurry --not that I recommend taking a short cut, but sometimes one has to-- a few hours in the grocery aisles can be quite inspiring.

There are some astonishing hybrids available, as well as exotic fruits and vegetables that might or might not have been hybridized. I look at the Ugly Fruit, and I wonder whether it evolved to be visually appealing to anything (assuming that its fruit is "designed" to be dispersed with the assistance of creatures that eat the fleshy parts and eject the pits).

There's something spiny and orange that looks like a cross between a sea urchin and a sea slug, and I'm fascinated by those waxy green globes that come inside a pale green papery looking flower. If you were to change their colors, rename them, and describe them carefully as if you'd never seen them before, you'd hardly need to dream up your own fruits and vegetables for your alien romance's world. And, then there are the roots. You have to be careful what you do with your root vegetables, in my opinion.

How did we ever start to eat root veg? Did we observe a primate and copy them? Did our earliest ancestors' curious gaze fall upon something intriguingly orange, or pleasantly white, pushing up through loose soil? I suppose we do have an instinct (as children) to pull things out of the ground and bite them as an experiment. I'm told that I ate a worm once when I was a toddler! Would your aliens have similar instincts?

Your human heroine has to eat in outer space, so not all her food can be unrecognizable (or she'd have to have major allergy testing) or her gut would not be adapted to handle it. We're accustomed to stories about our domestic pets eating human delicacies which are not natural for them... which their guts are not adapted to handle. I've been thinking about what natural carnivores can and cannot eat, because I want my tigers to play a larger role in my next story.

In fact, having spent several hours reading the ingredients on dry pet food for research purposes, I do have to wonder under what circumstances a dog in the wild would eat corn on the cob. Or rice!

There are some schools of alternative healing thought that claim some of our painful ailments (such as arthritis) are a consequence of us eating fruits or vegetables that we are not adapted for, or to which some of us are allergic. My mother cured very painful arthritic swelling in her hands by giving up all produce in the tomato families. Other people have a problem with potatoes. (Some have a problem but don't know it.)

In Insufficient Mating Material, the hero and heroine are marooned on an island on an alien world, and they have to test food and deal with the possibility that the heroine might not have a tolerance for some of the fruits and vegetables growing there.

Why do I think roots are a problem? Carrots are easy, and you can eat them raw if you want to. Parsnips look like big carrots only white... but you really do have to cook them. Watch out for onions and shallots, because they look like tulip bulbs. There are different roots that look alike. Take ginger root and Jerusalem artichoke. They are both about the shape and size of a small, pudgy hand, with gnarly, stub-tipped fingers, root filaments like fleshy hairs, and are beige-gray.

On our world, some plants do not want to be eaten, especially by the roots (!) so they evolve to be poisonous. What happens in your alien world?

For those interested in research, or obsessed with plausible alien anatomy --and possibly inspired by the fact that a carrot fresh from the ground does not necessarily look "carrot shaped"-- M.I.T. (an eminently respectable place of scholarship) sells --or used to sell-- a to-scale, and anatomically correct poster called "Penises of the Animal Kingdom".

I thought the plural was Penes, but I suppose a few people wouldn't get the point.

And having Googled that, because none of the three of my dictionaries within easy reach gives any guidance on what a proper person should call multiple schlongs, I'm off to pursue other lines of romantic alien research.

Best wishes,

Insufficient Mating Material
"racy, wildly entertaining futuristic romance" ~Writers Write

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A troubled heroine

Insufficient Mating Material has just been launched in the UK as of May 25th 2007. I'm told that it can be found in Tesco, WHSmith, Waterstone's, and Blackwell

"Be good..." they say. "And if you can't be good, be careful!"

It must be almost impossible to be careful when all the worlds are watching all the time, and not always sympathetically.

Princesses and celebrities have everywoman's problems, but their problems are magnified a hundredfold by the telephoto lens of public scrutiny. Everyone wants to know who they are seeing, what they are drinking, what they did in bed and with whom, whether or not they are pregnant...

A single alien princess might precipitate a constitutional crisis if an unflattering camera caught her just as a breeze was bellying out her bathing costume... especially if it was common knowledge that she'd slept with a foreign terrorist for kicks.

Princess Martia-Djulia has all the problems of a youngest child (the third child) but more so. It seems pointless to compete with her brilliant older brother and sister. Until senility overtakes them, they will always be older, wiser, better-read, more experienced, more athletic, more powerful.

In a world of feudal primogeniture, the older she gets, the lower her status. She is only interesting if she is scandalous.

Insufficient Mating Material's heroine was introduced in FORCED MATE, where she got a great deal more than she bargained for when she flirted with a handsome --and most unsuitable-- commoner.

She also went through her brother's private "stuff" and got caught, did the gustatory equivalent of spiking the drinks at her brother's wedding banquet, made a compromising video of herself in bed with a tattooed stranger, and fell hopelessly in love with a hunk who was honor-bound to marry someone else.

She makes her dramatic appearance in Insufficient Mating Material as the Royal bride at an Imperial shotgun wedding. As she surveys the throngs who have come to see her married to the mate of her dreams (who has miraculously been relieved of the fiancee he intended to marry and brought back to her) her happiness seems complete...


Never in all Great Djinn history has any Imperial Princess had such a Mating Ceremony on such short notice, and to a mate freely chosen by the Princess!

Princess Martia-Djulia savored her unique happiness. The second best part was that she was going to get away with it. By taking an alien and a commoner like Commander Jason to mate, she poked a defiant finger in the eye of Imperial tradition.

“You’re glowing,” her tall, grimly magnificent brother commented as he joined her on the raised throne-stage and offered her the support of his bent arm for the slow, gyring descent of the stage into the Throne Room below the Imperial suite.

“I’ve a lot to glow about,” Martia-Djulia retorted. She could have made a barbed remark about how Tarrant-Arragon had tricked his own cold, pale bride into saying the irrevocable Imperial Mating Vows, but she didn’t.

After all, Tarrant-Arragon had hunted down Commander Jason, and brought him back to her.

Her thoughts returned to her Jason who shared her taste for subversion and mischief-making. He was the Mate who would change her sad, lonely life; her boring, bottled-up life. He was her rescuer, her lover, her private hero, the warrior who made her feel young and beautiful, and who awed the Fewmet out of her insolent, uncontrollable sons.

He was the only male in all the forty-two gestates of her life who had ever given her an orgasm.

Martia-Djulia took a deep, happy breath as the last notes of the Fanfare Royal drifted up from the balconies of the Throne Room, and the Crown Prince’s throne stage —its stark, craggy contours pleasingly draped for the occasion in her favorite colors of dusk-sky mauve and midnight-purple— descended silently, like one of her brother’s deliberately placed chess pieces, only fortress-sized.

“I can hardly believe it,” she whispered to herself as she nodded graciously to the crowd below. “I’m about to be Mated to the only male who has the physical strength to pick me up and sweep me off my feet, and the desire to do so.”

Tarrant-Arragon lifted an eyebrow at her.

“Oh, when I think of Jason’s passion--” she said, "When I think of how violently he knocked the ceremonial headmask off an interfering Saurian Ambassador, and of the wicked, sexual insults he threw….”

“You liked that, didn’t you?” Tarrant-Arragon teased. “But, I hope you don’t expect your new Mate to pick you up, attack Saurian Ambassadors, and hurl sexual insults in front of our distinguished guests.”

Martia-Djulia took in the carefully orchestrated tableau where she stood on the stepped stage, waiting for Jason to make an entrance through one of the Throne Room’s soaring central portals.

What would he be thinking? Would he remember how they met at a Virgins’ Ball in this very Throne Room? Would he mentally undress her with his strange, dark-nebula eyes and notice that she looked better than he remembered?

Surely, even a fashion hawk like Jason would approve of her sense of style. For her second Mating, she could hardly usurp the pallor of a Royal Virgin bride. She had chosen the subtle, shifting colors of a fast-frozen sea, glittering with the palest, most precious gemstones aligned in all the right places for the most flattering effect.

“They all came back!” Martia-Djulia breathed, gazing out at the heads of state, ambassadors, military leaders, and subject royalty who had been hastily recalled, some before they had returned home after her brother’s nuptials.

“Of course,” Tarrant-Arragon murmured. “On occasions like this, no matter how lofty the ceiling, it is never high enough, is it?”

The pentagonal Throne Room shimmered with the warmth rising from the thronged guests. Massed body heat made the vast room a battleground of assorted perfumes and less intentional odors that only Djinn nostrils might identify.

Suddenly, Martia-Djulia was conscious of emerging mature notes from her own signature perfume.

“Tarrant-Arragon,” she whispered anxiously. “Did I overdo the Queen of the Night?”

“You seem to have put it absolutely everywhere,” he drawled, and grinned, confirming that his Djinn-sharp olfactory senses were as embarrassingly acute as those of a sea-predator.

“I’ll let Jason lick it off,” Martia-Djulia quipped brazening out her secret embarrassment.

“If he’s got any Djinn in him, he might find that joy a little overpowering,” Tarrant-Arragon said.

Martia-Djulia felt a vague, fleeting apprehension. Was it a certain enigmatic tone in her brother’s voice? Something wasn’t right. Tarrant-Arragon had once threatened to kill Commander Jason if her lover turned out to be of rogue Djinn lineage.

Why was Jason late?

Her anxious gaze searched the double avenues of ground-lighted, living trees which flanked the four grand entrances.

“Ah. The so delightful Henquist and Thor-quentin.” Tarrant-Arragon jerked his head to indicate the upper level balcony where her two tall sons leaned negligently on the elaborately carved stone balustrade. “They look pleased.”

Martia-Djulia smiled hopefully at her usually sullen, sulky sons, until she realized that Tarrant-Arragon was being ironic.


“Nervous?” Tarrant-Arragon asked mockingly.

Before she could retort, a loud fanfare made further conversation impossible. The pentagonal room vibrated with the thunder of massed war-drums. Colored plumes of scented smoke surged up and tumbled from the Imperial throne-space, reminiscent of an ultraviolet tinted, pyroclastic cloud. The Emperor’s throne-stage thrust up through the smoke like a coldly gleaming, ice-volcano rising out of a swirling fog.

Her father, The Emperor Djerrold Vulcan V, appeared to stroll on the pinkish-purple vapor trails, high above his guests. Martia-Djulia tried to imprint on her memory every detail of this splendid, dramatic illusion.

“Dear friends, welcome back,” the Emperor began with his customary, affable menace. “You are now here to witness the exchange of vows between my younger daughter and her new mate. Since The Princess Martia-Djulia is a widow, and a mother, and since this is her second marriage, there will —obviously— be no display of proofs of virginity.”
He pointed his Fire-Stone-Ringed forefinger around the room, his guests shrank in their seats, and he smiled tigrishly.

“There will come a point when my dear daughter will ask anyone who objects to her choice of mate to speak out. Anyone who dares to do so will be incinerated.”
Star-blue lightning sizzled and flashed from the Emperor’s finger. Regrettably, her father had flatly refused to even try to color-coordinate his laser ring’s fire for this one occasion.

“Out of consideration for your fellow guests’ nostrils,” Djerrold Vulcan V continued pleasantly, “I advise against any interference. Proceed!”

High above, another fanfare blared from long, deep-noted instruments. The massive central doors at the far end of the Imperial throne room opened.

“I kept my promise,” Tarrant-Arragon said quietly, “…to bring back Jason, if he agreed to come, or to find you a mate like your Commander Jason.”

She wasn’t paying attention, though it was an odd thing to say. Unseen, a massed male voice choir roared out the Mating Anthem... usually heard only once in a generation at the Mating of an Emperor or the Emperor's male heir.

This, too, was her due. She’d been promised that her Mating would be as splendid as the one she had organized for her big brother. And so it was. Only prettier.

“Here he comes!” Martia-Djulia whispered, trembling.

A tall, broad-shouldered silhouette limped from the darkness beyond the doorway.
His beloved, scarred face was a shadowed, distant blur… but something wasn’t right. Had Tarrant-Arragon tortured and starved Commander Jason into agreeing to Mate with her?

“What is wrong with him?” she hissed accusingly. Time stretched out. A sense of creeping horror chilled her vitals. “You promised not to force him.”

Her thoughts raced back to three Imperatrix cycles ago.

She vividly remembered what they’d agreed, just before Tarrant-Arragon left to exact terrible revenge on the unknown villains who’d tried to assassinate him on his honeymoon.

I want him to be happy, she’d protested when Tarrant-Arragon caught her trying to erase compromising footage of Jason on top of her. Jason’s happiness hadn’t been on her mind when she triggered the surveillance systems.

Do you think he’d be happy with me if I force him to be my mate? she’d asked her brother, who had no scruples when it came to mate appropriation.

No, Tarrant-Arragon had bluntly told her, dashing any lingering hope that she could blackmail Jason into returning to her bed permanently.

At the Virgins’ Ball, Commander Jason had made it clear that he’d rather be searching the rim worlds for his errant mate-to-be, but he was on duty. Since he had to be at the Ball, he’d been in the mood for a revenge dock in any bay that would accommodate him.

Martia-Djulia had only wanted illicit excitement — until Jason gave her so much, she wanted him to do it for the rest of her life.

“Did you force him? Did you torture him?” Martia-Djulia demanded urgently.

“Not really,” her appalling brother replied.

Something was wrong. Martia-Djulia's heart thumped. She clasped nervous hands to her glittering breast, and glared in an effort to get a better look at her promised Mate. At this distance, across the Throne Room, it was hard to tell…. Closer he came. Closer.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Martia-Djulia.
Read her story in Insufficient Mating Material

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Insufficient Mating Material in the UK

Insufficient Mating Material has "found himself" in the UK

Of course, it would have been much better if Forced Mate had been released this widely, because Forced Mate is the first book in the series (which we prefer to call The god-Princes Of Tigron... some people amuse themselves by calling them The Mating Books, which gives entirely the wrong impression).

Moreover, Forced Mate was set in Cambridge, and also on the Cerne Giant, and in Cerne Abbas. Ten years ago, the pub toilet description was uncannily accurate down to the plughole and the crackly quality of the toilet paper, unless one knew that the author --who is a Brit-- had "been" there.

Insufficient Mating Material's hero is a former public school boy, and he tells the heroine a right whopper about how English gentlemen decorate their genitals, but there's no action in the UK in this book. The author did, however, sit in the North Sea not far from Jersey in the Channel Islands, with her legs entwined about her dh's legs, to get a feel for how the cover scene ought to be written.
Insufficient Mating Material in WH Smith

Insufficient in Tesco

In Krisostomus

Insufficient in Euros

Insufficient in Blackwell

In Waterstone's

Insufficient in Waterstone's

A slack damn splendid read!

Hi Rowena,

Slack damn, that was a splendid read! (not to mention your inscription! :-)) This was my first of your stories, you know. The tension was fabulous, though I was nervous for a long time that there would be a rut-rage-based rape scene. There very well could've been, but I'm glad there wasn't (thanks to Djinni's sucker punch). That would have been beyond my personal comfort zone.

I love how you gradually worked Tarrant-Arragon into a more likeable person by the end (even if he's still not entirely trustworthy!) by way of Djinni's and Grievous' interactions with him. By the way, I'm curious about names. Is Tarrant-Arragon meant to conjure the mental parallel, Tyrant-Arrogant? It struck me that way, and I had to wonder. I think it's delightful Djinni calls him Tigger.

As much as I like the others, I think my favorite character might just be Grievous. He's so deliciously tongue-in-cheek-y! "How very shark-like of you, Sir." Too funny.

I suppose I'll need to read Insufficient Mating Material to find out if Djinni's father's and Tarrant-Arragon's mother's Saurian identities get revealed at last. Perhaps I'll find out there what happens to poor Bronty. She's in a bit of a pickle right now.

Anyway, thanks for a very enjoyable read, the first of many, I'm sure.


David Gray

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Flaming dishwashers!

I feel a rant coming on. Not being able to run my newish dishwasher seems like the last straw... It's new enough that the four prime directives for getting the most out of my GE Profile are still as perfect-looking and as clear as the day it was installed. Rule four tells me to use Jet Dry in the rinse dispenser.

Now it seems, if I had disregarded instructions, and not used a rinse agent, I might have had spotty, cloudy glassware, but I would not have an appliance that might keep me up at night.

What a week it has been! Moreover, my horoscope promised me three lucky days (Monday, Tuesday, and today, Thursday).

Monday: Before dawn, I made sure that the last of the outgoing mail had gone, so I didn't have to pay an extra 3c per standard envelope. Owing to a last minute commitment for a phone conference with my editor, I postponed the irrigation man from first thing in the morning to noon. I did not adjust the plan to have the air-conditioning serviced between ten and noon (a precautionary tune-up). I also did other "summer" things, such as change the glass panel in my storm door for an insect screen. As soon as I had done that, an almighty thunderstorm rolled in, and stormed through the netting onto my kitchen floor.

I could have shut the door, but the a/c man was making ominous noises in the basement, the day was hot, and I needed a cooling draught. I was also trying to tidy up the living room, and reorganize my cubby hole under the stairs to accommodate all my promotional materials and romance reading matter. The irrigation man came and went, leaving the lid to the lake pump in the reeds instead of where it should be. Late in the day, an unpredictable man came to check that my roof drains were flowing freely (which they weren't) and when I heard him using a machine on my roof, I felt obliged to go up there, too, to make sure he wasn't blowing gunk at high pressure down the drains. (If he was, I didn't catch him at it.)

As usual, the once-a-week vegetable man drove up just as I left to collect my child from school. I left his order and his check, and he left my produce and my change in a box by my front door.

Meanwhile, on the internet, I learned that my book Insufficient Mating Material had won a coveted award (I coveted it!). I received some last minute additions and corrections for the newsletter and of course I wanted to announce my newest news. I meant to join an online chat in the evening, but fell asleep early.

On Tuesday... I noticed that one of my irrigation heads was making low-lying mist instead of a proud rotating jet. I called to mention the omission. I had a follow-up chat with my editor, the roofing man came by to look at a skylight that leaks continually in driving rain. I'd hoped to go by the Secretary of State office to renew my driving license in person, which I did --but not until the end of the day. It took about an hour, but I think they have a machine that actually takes flattering photographs!

The occasionally handy gardening man (who'd looked at my roof drains) came back to chop branches off the tree that was dropping clumping pollen onto my roof, and also to do some weeding, and squirt hornet killer into suspicious holes. The irrigation man came back, replaced the lid, and fixed the head. Also, the tree man came to make my ashes taste nasty to emerald ash borers (we're in a bad way with this in Michigan).

I got the newsletter out, and accommodated the sprinkle of unsubscribe messages that came back to me.

Wednesday. Dustbin day. That meant that the trash had to be set out before seven am, though the waste management engineers may not come until late afternoon. They come in shifts: one lot for the recycling, another for the really offensive stuff.

My child said that she could not eat her toast and honey or her tomato ketchup and toast for breakfast (as requested by her and doubtfully produced by me) because she had toothache. I should have had four hours to do some research for a noon meeting, but had to take her to the dentist in that window... after I'd changed a non-refundable airline booking so my husband could leave town before the afternoon storms blew up and shut down the airport.

It turns out, the storms weren't anywhere near as bad as the forecasters thought they'd be. The tooth problem turned out to be early growth of adult molars, but knowing there was no decay set my child's mind at rest, and she felt better. That left me half an hour to dig files out of my basement and scoop the dust off the dining room table.

Had the dreaded meeting. Got through a lot, but not everything before it was time for the school pick-up run. Rushed home, with child, to execute a very necessary trade before the market closed, then went out again to buy very necessary tomato ketchup and yoghurt (only Kroger was out of the favorite La Creme). Then, we checked the internet to see what kind of weather my husband had flown through, and what length of delays he'd endured. Called him at his hotel to verify.

Today, I got up early to wash my hair. My husband called from out of state just as my child and I were about to leave for school (this is the day I teach chess in the morning). He told me that there is a recall on my dishwasher. Alas, it is true! Luckily, I hadn't locked and loaded the GE Profile this morning. I worried about my faulty appliance all the time I should have been teaching good moves for Knights and pawns.

Now, I guess I have to wash dishes by hand until I decide whether to have a free repairman in to rewire the thing, or to take a rebate and buy a newer model (which will cost more than the rebate, of course).

Best wishes,


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Research handouts on my website

I'm at the Romantic Times convention in Houston, and away from my desktop. However, I would like anyone interested to know that most of my handouts are posted on my website

Normal service will resume as soon as possible!

Best wishes,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Taxes, toothache, and colonoscopies

Fictional alien heroes don't have to worry about taxes, toothache, and scheduling colonoscopies.

I wonder if they should?

Nah! We don't read Romance for everyday unpleasantnesses. We want escapism. But on the other hand....

Toothache would be an interesting twist in a vampire romance... I've suggested this to vamp-writing friends in the past. For myself, I don't write about vampires. If I did, no doubt I'd be looking for horrible humor.

Imagine if a vampire went to a normal dentist! My dentist happens to be an attractive female. One could do quite a good riff on Red Riding Hood, with the big bad wolf (vampire) in the chair. The problem for the vampire is that it's really hard to lunge from a reclining position. I suppose dentists' chairs are a struggle to rise from for a good reason!

Usually, I suppose, one thinks of mad King Ludwig of Bavaria who did not go to the dentist, who had rotten teeth, and who may have been driven mad by his own dental pain. A vampire who needed a root filling in his canines would probably seek out softer food.

Taxes ought to be an issue in an Empire, oughtn't they. In my Gods of Tigron trilogy, so far I haven't dealt with monetary tribute. Virgins are sent to the Royal Side of the planet (which is really a moon) for the amusement of the Imperial family, which is a bit like the Graeco-Roman mythological habit of staking out virgins to appease ravenging dragons and sea monsters.

Colonoscopies.... Torture springs to mind, not to mention ritual humiliation.

On that happy thought, I'm diving back into preparing my handouts for the Romantic Times workshops, (I'm speaking on Swordsmen, Research, and newsletters) and also into arranging drive-by signings at Barnes and Noble stores as I pass through Fort Wayne, Avon Commons (Indianapolis), and points south on my way to Houston for the convention next week (April 22nd through 30th).

Best wishes,

  • Rowena Cherry
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Better still, have sex.... and other bits of good advice

    Today, after I'd already printed off 70 full color flyers touting the virtues of Insufficient Mating Material (at a probable cost of $35 and the better part of a day that could have been better spent), I realized that I wasn't taking my own advice.

    Around noon, I suggested to someone I don't know --hark at me!-- that, if she was going to put out an 8.5 x 11 poster to draw attention to her bookmark holder in promo alley at the Romantic Times convention, a page full of font 12 reviewers' quotes was not the way to go.

    Have an eye-catching bit of cover art. Better still, have "Sex" in an excerpt snip, I advised. Have it as big and as bold as you can.

    About an hour later --because I'm slow like that-- I looked at what I was printing off for my own purposes, and discovered the metaphorical plank in my own eye.

    If I were bigger, and bolder, I'd ask the advice of Brianna or my editor, or someone like that about my own promo materials.

    I'd taken a "flyer" with my cover art, the front matter excerpt, a blurb, and some reviewer quotes, and I'd added the best of the signature file quotes that some of you so kindly helped me to whittle down to the most interesting.

    Four of them.

    To whit:

    If you neglected to warn Djetth that you were going to shoot him down...

    Do you often have meaningless sex....

    "Sweetheart.... I know what you want me to say. Here's the problem: I'd probably be lying."

    And the "I like marshes..."

    I inserted them according to where I thought I had space. How dumb is that!!!!

    So, having slept on it, I split up the "Do you often have meaningless sex" and put that line in bold letters across the top of the page above the cover art (which shows a guy on top of a girl in a From Here To Eternity pose).

    I put the "Not recently" underneath.

    That's my new front page of my folded flyer.
    Maybe, as a conversation starter, I'll ask people which they like better.

    I'm not wasting my $35!!!!

    What good promo advice have you all given or received.

    Do share! I'm giving a talk on this sort of thing at RT, and with your permission, I might quote you.


    Thank you for joining in.

    Best wishes,
    Rowena Cherry

    My alien wedding dress

    Last week I collected my remodeled alien djinn wedding dress. It's the same dress as last year, with $450 worth of renovations!

    Good grief! How could it possibly be worth that. I could get married for less!!! I could probably stage an alien royal wedding for that amount.

    Actually, I probably couldn't, because I probably couldn't find a cover model that cheap to play the part of the seven-foot tall alien hunk, and if I could... I wouldn't have the budget to dress him.

    So what on Earth did I have done?

    A better ruff. It looks like I've got a huge, mutant butterfly on the back of my neck.

    I've got a bunch of Martha Stewart Christmas decoration flowers (bought at 70% off, right after Christmas) sewn onto it.

    My waistline got dropped (lower, not altogether!) and my bust got trimmed (no thanks to the Victoria's Secret rubber bra, which is a not-altogether docile underpinning of the costume).

    I've new tulle because the hoop was a liability, and flounces and furbelows and patriotic bunting, and new over sleeves.

    And, I'm portraying my most recent Imperial bride, the Princess Martia-Djulia (Marsha-Julia) who is totally frivolous. The only thing I probably won't do to complete the illusion is dye my hair platinum blonde!

    Best wishes,
    Rowena Cherry

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Google and you shall find. Archimedes, beware!

    Recently I've been mystified to receive emails from readers (other authors' readers, I think) containing phrases like,

    "You write erotica..." or "As an author of erotica..."

    To the best of my understanding of that genre I do not write erotica. Here's why.
    My heroines do not make love to more than one hero per book, nor does the hero make love with anyone other than the heroine once they have met. Every book ends happily, which means that the hero and heroine decide to get married and live monogamously.

    So, my correspondents' assumptions presented a challenge.

    Today (because my horoscope is negatively aspected for more serious endeavours) I decided to Google (or google) "Rowena Cherry" and "erotica".

    Eureka! But not in a good way.

    My Search produced several obliging quotations, most containing ellipses (those three or four dots that are a heads-up that words have been omitted.) However, the casual searcher could definitely receive the wrong impression.

    Since I was familiar with the review most quoted, I did a second search:

    "Rowena Cherry" and "not erotica"

    Eureka, again! The very same reviewers' quotes came up, but instead of the ellipses was the word NOT.

    It would seem that Google obliges the searcher by giving them what they are looking for! No more. No less. How dangerous!

    Nevertheless, Google is still my favorite stock pick, and my favorite Search Engine. I shall just have to remember to be scrupulous about clicking the links on even the most obvious-seeming quotes that appear to prove whatever I am seeking to prove, before I leap out of the proverbial bathtub, crying Eureka, and thinking that I've found proof of whatever I was searching for.

    Best wishes,


    Sunday, March 18, 2007

    Rowena's Ramblings

    I'm back. Did you notice that I had been away?

    If it is March, and rainy season in Northern Florida, the chances are that I shall be down there for a paddle in the Atlantic, for research purposes, of course, and for the Amelia Island concours d'elegance.

    This time, I had a couple of ulterior motives... apart from research. I needed some photos of the sort of luxury location one might find on a scene depicting the sheltered, spa-like "Island School for Princesses".

    I was so pleased with Ed Traxler's video for Insufficient Mating Material that I'm having a slide show made for Mating Net.

    Unfortunately, the hotel on Amelia Island has remodeled the pool area. Gone are the rolling lawns, and the cool views through arches and columns. Instead, there are lots and lots of sun-loungers and cement paths between palm trees. It's not quite plausible for an underpopulated, supremely exclusive school for alien goddesses!

    Other areas were cluttered up with gorgeous antique cars. Again, this is not what you'd expect to see in outer space, so as a photo op for a book trailer, the trip was a bust.

    Since we were driving (that's why I've been away for nearly two weeks) I arranged to make strategic stops at major bookstores along my route (the I-75) to do "drive-by signings" of however many copies of INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL were in the stores I selected.

    To my surprise, not every bookseller whom I contacted had heard of drive-by signings. Either that, or they were supreme diplomats and did a great job of making me feel original!

    We set off from Detroit, not as early as I'd have liked, but on the other hand, the morning rush-hour traffic had cleared. By around 3pm we were in Lexington, Kentucky, which I'd chosen because I thought that --if we had a tiresome drive owing to weather or roadworks-- we might want to stop at the Super 8 near there.

    There is only one Barnes and Noble in Lexington, so that is where I signed, while my husband and child stretched their legs and enjoyed the store's fine displays of magazines and games.

    I'm a "hurry up and wait" type, so I was very surprised that my family enjoyed the car-park time while I did my authorial thing in bookstores. I assumed that my family would be hot or bored, or that they would resent the interruption in kids' videos or adult audio books.

    (The best audio book of the trip was "I Don't Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson).

    The next day, around eleven a.m., I was in Knoxville, having got off to a record slow start which had not a little to do with a blocked toilet (not blocked by us) which meant that I had to repeatedly flush what you might expect, by bailing water (from the bath) using the room's fortunately-large-and-plastic trash bin.

    There's only one Barnes and Noble in Knoxville, too, and I had a great time chatting with the CRM.

    Around three pm, we almost overshot our turn-off. Actually, we did. As one of my favorite secondary heroines is called Tarragonia-Marietta, of course I had to sign in Marietta!

    I had appointments at two stores, but we'd seen the Atlanta Northbound traffic back-ups, so decided to drop by a third store to while away the time, and keep us off the motorway for a while longer, but still going in the right direction.

    Finding the Cobb Parkway store took a lot longer than we expected, partly because I hadn't "MapQuested it", however, we received a pleasant welcome, and three extra copies of Insufficient Mating Material were signed as dusk descended.

    On the third day, we got into Jacksonville in the early afternoon and found the first store, on Atlantic, with relative ease although I'd misidentified an East-West street, and thought we were going North-South!

    I didn't have an appointment for the Dalton store, because they are closed on Sundays, which is when I was doing my telephoning. However, that was in a mall, and not too hard to locate. We gave up trying to find the Mid-Town store, owing to my misreading of the map, and the fact that we wanted to paddle in the sea before sunset, now we were so close.

    Armed with a better map, and expert directions, we found the store the next day, and I think the St. John's Town Center was the most impressive store, in the loveliest open air shopping mall that I've ever visited.



    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    Hamburg Pavilion
    1932 Pavilion Way
    Lexington, KY 40509


    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    Suburban Plaza
    8029 Kingston Pike
    Knoxville, TN 37919


    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    Town Center Prado
    50 Barrett Pkwy Suite 1100
    Marietta, GA 30066

    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    The Avenue West Cobb
    3625 Dallas Hwy SW
    Marietta, GA 30064

    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    2952 Cobb Pkwy
    Atlanta, GA 30339


    B.Dalton Booksellers
    Regency Square mall
    9501 Arlington Expressway #250
    Jacksonville, FL 32225

    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    9282 Atlantic Blvd
    Jacksonville, FL 3225

    Barnes & Noble Booksellers
    St Johns Town Center
    10280 Midtown Parkway
    Jacksonville, FL 32225

    (Also, Barnes & Noble Booksellers

    The Streets of Westchester
    9455 Civic Centre Blvd
    West Chester, OH 45069

    see the Insufficient Mating Material video:

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL takes up where FORCED MATE ended, with Djetthro-Jason (Jethro-Jason) severely beaten, about to undergo surgery to change his face and identity before his shotgun wedding to the frivolous Princess Martia-Djulia (Marsha-Julia).

    No one gives a thought to what Martia-Djulia might do when she realizes that it’s not her unsuitable lover, Commander Jason, but a stranger being frog-marched up the aisle to become her Mate.

    Her surprising reaction sets off a firestorm of rumor… and rattles a murderer who thought he’d gotten away with an ancient crime.


    A Tricky Experiment

    “Maybe, sweetheart, we should have sex to prove to you that you can and will enjoy it.”
    “I enjoyed it once. I am very happy with my memories. I don’t need you or your experiment to prove anything,” she said stiffly.
    “Once?” He raised an eyebrow. His lips twitched. Too late, Martia-Djulia realized that she had just contradicted one of her earlier statements.
    “The Aim of the Experiment is to discover whether or not we are sexually compatible,” Djetth said loftily. She suspected that he was amusing himself by parodying a formal checklist. “Method: to have mind-blowing recreational sex using positions and techniques that mitigate or avoid unfortunate consequences. Expected result--”
    “What unfortunate consequences?”
    “Insects in your hair?” he teased. “Sand in your baby box. A baby. Infection. Injury. Legal consummation of a Mating we might not want.”
    His gaze flickered. Martia-Djulia had the impression that his list was deliberately ordered.
    “Injury to whom?” she asked, ignoring the glossed over “baby.”
    “I’ve wondered why you haven’t blasted me backward onto my butt since our Mating Day. I’ve certainly deserved it.”
    “Yes you have!” she agreed heatedly.

    ISBN 0-505-52711-1

    Bit of Self-promo

    ***** Five Stars!
    Excellent adventure and highly recommended!
    ~ Detra Fitch, HUNTRESS REVIEWS

    This book has one of the best ending sequences. … Ms. Cherry has created a seriously evil villain. … Trust me, INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is a book you don’t want to miss. Be sure to check out the back-story in Rowena Cherry’s FORCED MATE.
    ~bookmaedin, for

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is an outstanding sequel to FORCED MATE! Cherry skillfully combines mystery, romance, and humor with a fast-paced science fiction adventure. I couldn’t put it down! ~ Jean, Fallen Angel Reviews

    Rowena Cherry is one of the best sub-genre writers due to her skill at placing the heroic characters in impossible scenarios
    ~ Harriet Klausner, Affaire de Coeur

    For those of you who read and enjoyed FORCED MATE, the long awaited story about Commander Jason is finally here and what a story it is! It was well worth the wait! I highly recommend running to get this book the minute it hits your local book store!
    ~Kathy Boswell, The Best Reviews

    … a powerful romance laced with devastating family secrets, treachery and a sizzling passion hot enough to singe your fingers as you turn the pages. Ms. Cherry pens a compelling plot with vivid imagery and fascinating characters that will leave you breathless….Ms Cherry has become an auto buy author for me.
    ~Billie Jo, Romance Junkies

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    It's all about the Horny Berries

    "What's it about?" the potential Reader asks at a booksigning.

    I panic. I know I'm not good at this. More often than not, I say too much, and bore people. On the four hour drive down to Cincinnati for this signing, I've rehearsed over and over, with the loving help of my biggest critic. My thoughts spin like a tickertape parade.

    Do I say, "Horny Berries"?

    Do I say, "Remember that Harrison Ford movie where he was a hard drinking pilot who crash landed with --I think it was Ann Heche, playing a Vogue editor-- on an uninhabited island, and they had to survive. Only it's different, because in my book, the hero and heroine are politically embarrassing alien royalty, and someone is trying to kill them--"

    "Someone tried to kill Harrison Ford," my critic snarled.

    "Those were pirates. It's not the same as assassins sent to find them. Anyway, I didn't see that film until after I'd written Insufficient Mating Material."

    "Who cares?" My critic shrugs. "What's different?"

    "My book has this 'Face Off' element. The hero has had his face changed. He's the same guy that the heroine fancies herself in love with, but he can't tell her, and she doesn't know. Since she thinks she's in love with someone else, it's the worst thing in the world for her... to be marooned with a horny stranger."

    My critic grunts.

    "Oh, I'm soooo lame!" I wail.

    Critic laughs.

    "And, they don't have a plane-load of supplies to live off. After they are shot down, their plane sinks..."

    "You shouldn't call it a plane if it's science fiction," critic objects.

    "Their two-seater spaceship sinks in eight feet..."

    "Shouldn't you use alien words for measuring?" he interrupts again.

    "How polite is that, when I only have a couple of seconds to get my message across? The couple has to survive with what they are wearing and what they can find, like my book's survival consultant Survivorman..."

    "Good! You should talk more about Survivorman."

    "I don't want to give the impression that the book is about him. It's futuristic romantic fiction. It's not even quite "Alien Survivorman with Sex." It's true that Les and I both use entertainment to communicate some vital --and accurate-- wilderness survival advice, and Les read my book, and gave me some extra tips, and set me straight on a detail or two that I got wrong... And he gave me the cover quote. Anyway, when I show people my poster, it's the horny berries that they ask about."

    Critic snorts. "Are there horny berries in the book?"
    (He hasn't read it.)

    "No, but..."

    "Can you say HORNY in a bookstore?"

    "There are horny toads. They're respectable. Horny doesn't just mean 'in the mood to be sexually active' but it does suggest to the reader that this is a book with sexually graphic language. Berries are an important food source, but if they are alien berries, you have to find out if they are edible or poisonous. You start by smearing a little juice on your wrist... anyway, my hero does all that, to the heroine, and at first she thinks he's building up to kinky sex.

    "Of course, when she realizes that he's using her as a food-testing guinea pig, she is furious. And very depressed. And, she is a fashionista, a bit like Paris Hilton only crossed with the most scandalous female member of any European royal family you can think of. She doesn't like having to wear a plain white, man's T-shirt. So the hero uses berries' juice to tie-die her T-shirt... while she's wearing it."

    Meanwhile, while I try to remember my best pitch, my potential Reader is reading the blurb on the back cover. The keywords there are "shot down", "failing to mate", "guitar glue", "psychic sleuths", "disguises", "a killer", a "damning tattoo" on the hero's "tool of seduction", and there is Survivorman's quote.

    There's no mention of Horny Berries. I came up with horny berries when making the Insufficient Mating Material book promotion video. One has about eight frames (excluding frames for titles and credits) to tell a story, and between three and five words per frame. I should probably throw out something new.

    But, it's too late. While I've been tongue-tied, my potential reader has moved on. Next time, I'll do the 'Carpe Scrotum' thing.

    "It's about horny-berries," I'll say in my best BBC English voice.

    Best wishes,
    Rowena Cherry

    (Speaking!!! and signing Sunday February 11th, 2pm to 4pm at the Barnes and Noble on Telegraph and Maple, in Bloomfield Hills)

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    The Superbowl of Romance (a metaphor)

    "Rowena, compare your books to THE ALIEN SUPERBOWL OF ROMANCE..." was the challenge that my good friend Lillian "Creator" Cauldwell tossed at me, virtually live on a recent Passionate Internet radio show.

    I'm not very good at thinking on my feet, and promptly dropped the novel from which I'd planned to read an excerpt, and which was a totally ineligible receiver for this hardball question. I fumbled, recovered, and ran with it,

    "First," I said manfully, "there was FORCED MATE .... a chess term.

    "You might say, there were the two champion teams.
    At one end of the star field..." (I thought "star field" was rather good, inspired by Soldier Field, of course. I couldn't think of a Dolphin Stadium pun).

    "In Black, was Tarrant-Arragon of the Tiger Princes," I ran on, Coltishly, "definitely the Top Dog team.

    "In White, was Commander Jason of the White Knights. I called them Saurian Knights, like dinosaurs, in the book, and they were the underdogs."

    Lumbering, like a Bear? I paused before continuing the metaphor to the goal line.

    "Ummmm, both Tarrant-Arragon and Jason competed for POSSESSION of... in this case, not a pigskin, nor a pawn, but a lovely, intelligent sensitive young woman from Earth."

    By this point --it was the pigskin reference that did it-- I've got my second wind, and the end zone is in sight.

    "Whoever got his hands on her and his arms around her, won the game, and made her his Queen."

    Yah! Doing a mental victory dance offside, I regret that my football-loving husband wasn't around to hear that.

    "Now, there IS INSUFFICIENT MATING bookstores everywhere, just in time for alternative entertainment on Superbowl weekend."

    OK. I was pushing it. Since I was going through the interview to promot Insufficient Mating Material (and the Hidden Image Contest) I was going for the extra point.

    "In Insufficient Mating Material, Commander Jason is back, badly beaten up, furious and frustrated that he didn't get the girl, still an underdog, but with a new face, new uniform, and a new name.

    He's out for revenge, and it's a whole new ball game. "

    Best wishes,

    Rowena Cherry
    author of alien romances where heroes steal heroines' hearts when they touch down on Earth

    Behind the scenes secrets...

    Of making the Insufficient Mating Material book video.

    Happy Superbowl Sunday, by the way. Have you seen my 50 second advertisement? Not on TV, naturally, but on MySpace and You-Tube and anywhere else that will put it up (including my home-run website... which isn't run by me!)

    For the record, Edward Traxler --Myra Nour's brother-- did my video. However, I put in a lot more time and did a lot more work than I expected, so I really hope that it is as effective as a marketing tool as everyone who has them, seems to think.

    I don't know. Seeing a cover cut up and moved around on a screen has never sent me to a bookstore with the speed and purpose of a heat-seeking missile.

    When we started, I thought I knew what I wanted. For about $75 (not my end cost!) I wanted a Me-Too product, just to hedge my bets in case Susan Kearney, Linnea Sinclair, Mel Schroeder, Myra Nour, Ruth Kerce, Mandy Roth and Michelle Pillow (I watch Mandy and Michelle, because they must be the most savvy self-promoters I've ever seen, and I mean that in the nicest possible way) are right.

    Music: I wanted the Pilgrim's Chorus from Wagner's Tannhauser. I'd once seen a feeble --but choral-- version on a Royalty Free site. Failing that, yeah, Billy Idol's White Wedding or Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath would do nicely, but that idea was quickly squashed. One cannot buy Royalty Free 30 second clips of Rock Star's music. Alas!

    And, to get anything except the orchestral Overture from Tannhauser, the sites I visited required Membership and a commitment to buy more than 30 seconds of good stuff.

    Ed gave me links to six sites that sell legal-to-use music, and told me to find what I wanted. Imagine... well, I am picky and I have expensive tastes. If I couldn't have someone famous, I wanted a lot of people, so I hunted for a good, bombastic choir. I'd hoped for massed, warrior-like men in extasy, but settled for kick-butt females going Aaaaaaaahhhhh.

    I'd seen Lightboxes in an earlier reconnoitre, but hadn't figured out how to use the site. I learned. I thought I wanted beach and sea and an aurora borealis to play up the cover art, which I assumed we'd be cutting up.

    Unfortunately, my From-Here-To-Eternity cover models are in an isoceles triangle configuration, so there was no way to make them roll over (and over again) in the surf.

    Using the index and search functions, I wasted a lot of time looking at seascapes, hoping to find ejaculating clams.... or something that could suggest that.

    Also, I went through a lot of little campfires (most had unsuitable men in
    baseball caps silhouetted against the flames). My romantic aliens do not wear baseball caps or Chicago Bears helmets. Eventually, I decided that it was witty, funny, and appropriate to show a really big fire. If you've read Insufficient Mating Material, you'll understand why.

    Then Ed sent me to a NASA site, and I spent a day or two looking at
    starfields and comets and planets.

    Next, he sent me to the airforce to check out jetfighters, and then to....look at fonts and colors.

    And meanwhile I was trawling MySpace trying to find a cheap, naked man.

    I found one enjoying a shower (which would have been really good, given one of the archetypically dirty tricks Tarrant-Arragon plays on his sister) but .... it wasn't to be.

    Thank Evan I remembered what a good sport Evan Scott is! He said I could use one of his photographs. Oh, but the trouble we had removing Evan's hair, and putting a piratical headsquare on his head. The early efforts looked like a hard, orange hat. No one wears a construction site helmet and nothing else in the sea.

    There was another shot we considered... Evan was waist deep in the sea, proudly holding up a manly bathing-costume. We turned the swim suit into a big fish, as if he'd just tickled a sea-going trout and caught it.

    However, the fish was a distraction, and would take too many words to explain, even if there IS a school of thought that says you can use fish skin as a condom. SURVIVORMAN (who was my survival techniques consultant for the book) opines that you can't, but that rabbit guts are an option.

    Back to Evan's inconvenient hair. You can imagine me googling Pirates of the Caribbean for good-looking headwear. Unfortunately, most of that looked good because of the explosion of dreadlocks and beaded beard underneath the scarf.

    And, Djetth should have had a goatee, but Ed draws goatees like a subway grafitti artist putting facial hair on the Mona Lisa (it must be his only weakness), so I googled Men In Goatees. (That was an interesting search!) I also found Max Von Sydow's Ming from Flash Gordon, and Andre Agussi and Brad Pit and chin curtains. Chin Curtains!!

    In the end, I decided that Djetth did not need a goatee for the purposes of this trailer.

    Then, finally, the video is done, and Ed puts up a really good resolution, and I discover that the hero in the sea has what looks like monster love bites around his visible nipple.

    No one seems to mind, though.

    Best wishes,

    Rowena Cherry
    "Insufficient Mating Material is a strong, intelligently written book..."
    ~Marcy Arbitman, JERR

    PS. Don't forget to check out the covers of INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. Find the Hidden Image, enter the contest (at and you might win a bookstore shopping spree.

    Saturday, February 03, 2007

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL : in stores, warehouse is out

    Here's what I've been working on, amongst other things. My first book video! If you are kind enough to watch it, you will find custom produced scenes from Insufficient Mating Material. It's quite a task trying to reduce a 323 page novel into eight lines of text.... and fewer than forty words.

    LOL. I used more in the "labels" below this post, forgive me for trying out all the new bells and whistles.


    Best wishes,
    Rowena Cherry

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    Insufficient Mating Material--and a priapic iguana

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL comes to bookstores everywhere on Tuesday (January 30th), and I do want to promote it, and my HIDDEN IMAGE contest, so I ought to take advantage.

    However... the iguana-with-an-erection story is topical, and it's good to be topical, even if one is an author of futuristic romances.

    I just cannot leave a good double penis story alone. (I was sorely tempted to omit a noun from that last sentence for the sake of sensationalism.)

    Did you see the Reuters article about the iguana named Mozart who has sported an erection for almost a week? Concerned vets have decided to put a stop to the unruly erection by amputating.

    <male iguanas have two penises.

    Mozart, sitting on the shoulders of his keeper as camera crews
    focused on his red, swollen erection, seemed unperturbed...>>

    Is red and swollen a problem?
    I confess my ignorance. I have no idea what color a healthy, happy iguana's penis ought to be.

    I really hope the vets aren't being hasty.

    Who is this erection bothering most? Reportedly, the male iguana doesn't seem concerned.

    As for what use I can make of news like this... well, here's how one speculative romance writer speculates.

    I ask myself:
    What do I know about double penises?

    I know that Barbara Karmazin wrote a wonderful book, The Huntress, and the hero had one.

    I've seen partially-insertable sex toys with an appendage apparently designed for simultaneous external stimulation.

    I know that one fabulous theory about dragons is that they squirted fire by having two nozzles at the front of their mouths --like doubling up a snake's snorkel-- that sprayed different liquids. The liquids became combustible when combined.

    I know that there are super glues, drain cleaners, and other household products --I think there is a beauty product, too-- that comes in a double barrelled container, so the substances only combine when squirted onto or into whatever they are designed to be squirted onto or into.

    Now I start speculating:

    I wonder why an iguana has two penises.
    One to use and one to rest?
    A spare?
    One for fun and one to get the job done?
    Do they work like the cannons in Star Wars? Like pistons? One recoils while the other fires?

    What if the iguana has super-glue semen? (In that there's different stuff in each barrel, and it's only effective if both barrels are discharged.)

    And finally, after I've amused myself sufficiently, I ask myself:

    Will my editor buy a LoveSpell Romance hero with this level of complicated, high-tech equipment.

    As Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry used to say, "A man has to know his limitations."

    So does a writer.

    Best wishes,

    Rowena Cherry

    PS. In conjunction with the launch of INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, I am running a HIDDEN IMAGE contest from January 31st until February 28th 2007.

    One entrant will win a $500 bookstore buying-spree. Details, entry form, rules can be found at

    Sunday, January 21, 2007

    Thusness (and the importance of a jolly good ending)

    I don't see "Thusness" being talked about very much. One of my English professors at Homerton College, Cambridge, taught me the expression and the concept, and I've never forgotten it.

    At the time, I believe we were studying Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Epic poetry. Medieval Fantasy SpecRom opera with never-ending quests for the Holy Grail, swords, sorcery, treachery, maidens being surprised in their bathtubs by horny rotters. Inspiring stuff, really! That's what I remember. But it could have been Browning, or Coleridge.

    Maybe someone will want to tell me that the Arthurian legends aren't SpecRom. I might answer that it all depends who is retelling them, and how.

    The bottom line with "Thusness" --as I internalized it-- is that all the interwoven story threads are tied up so neatly by the end of the story that the reader is left with a feeling of great satisfaction and justice. Not only is everything explained (that needs to be explained), but there is harmony, balance, and maybe that forehead-slap of enlightenment.

    "Thusness" makes a story memorable and thought-provoking (in a pleasurable way) after the last word has been read, and the book has been put away... or returned to the library. The ending is "right" and has a quality of inevitability. Of course, in a romance, it is generally accepted that, inevitably, the hero and the heroine will live happily ever after together.

    That's not quite what I mean by "inevitability."

    Perhaps "thusness" is like the old definition of obscenity. "...I know it when I see it."

    If that is the case, how does a writer achieve "Thusness"? Some of us are plotters, outliners, linear writers. Others are pantsers, channellers. Some do both. Some put a book together like a jigsaw (I do). Some plan it like dinner... you know, it has a beginning (starter), a middle (main course), and an ending (the pudding).

    "Pudding" might not be entirely felicitous. Some end with a Bombe Surprise, or cheesecake, others with a swiggable yoghurt or quick coffee. It's all good, but probably it's most satisfying if it is a balanced meal.

    I try for thusness. If I have three prologues (of course, they cannot be called that), I need three epilogues. This might mean that a lot has to be cut from the middle to meet the publisher's page limit (about 400 double spaced pages at 250 wpp).

    Once the ending is written --and not all authors know the details of how their heroes' stories will end when they begin-- well, then you have the linear warp, but not the weft (weaving imagery). Then, knowing how your story ends, you go back to the beginning and weave in the almost-invisible details at regular intervals.

    Perhaps your editor wants the villain to be badder. (Given that badder is good English). For "Thusness" as I see it, it isn't enough to put super bad thoughts into his point of view one scene before he gets his come-uppance, though that would be the quickest and easy edit... and on a deadline, quick and easy is very tempting! In my opinion, the first time the reader sees this villain he has to be doing something bad, although it could be stealth wickedness. We may not recognize his evil for what it is, after all, he hasn't been caught.

    And so it goes. A hint is woven in, and it has to be repeated, not necessarily every seventy pages, but that's a reasonable rough guide. The Imperial March was a pretty cool tune. They say the devil gets all the best tunes. It took a while before we realized that it meant that the bad guy was up to no good. Same with the Jaws horn riff. (If horns can riff).

    Because Jolly Good Endings and striving for "Thusness" is important to me, I was thrilled with a recent review by "Bookmaedin" posted at

    "This book also has one of the best ending sequences. Everyone in the story pulls together against a common enemy. Ms. Cherry has created a seriously evil villain. What goes around comes around, and it definitely came back on this villainous specimen.

    Trust me, INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is a book you don’t want to miss. Be sure to check out the back-story in Rowena Cherry’s previous book, Forced Mate.

    ~Review by bookmaedin for iBookDB Review: Insufficient Mating Material"

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL will be in bookstores on January 30th.

    Sunday, January 14, 2007


    There are few people less qualified than I to talk about Chemistry, either as a science or as an interpersonal skill.
    I am not a people person, and my chemistry teacher never liked me.

    But I liked her. She had a snarky wit that I really enjoyed, even when it was directed at my chemical incompetence. Looking back, I wonder whether my experience of Chemistry predisposed me to find the Potions Master, Severus Snape, so interesting and attractive... in his dark, snarky way.

    I wonder whether snarky chemistry teachers are a universal experience. Maybe long term exposure to all those fumes --there were some truly nasty smells-- sharpens the wit, the tongue, and the temper.

    Best wishes,

    Rowena Cherry

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Review of Insufficient Mating Material

    Insufficient Mating Material
    Rowena Cherry

    Prince Djetthro-Jason is offered a choice: hide his true identity and Mate with Princess Martia-Djulia or die. He agrees to Mate with Martia-Djulia because he knows his true love Djinni-vera is lost to him. Unfortunately Prince Djetthro-Jason, also known as Djetth, can never tell Martia-Djulia that he is the man she knew as Commander Jason. Martia-Djulia must believe that Jason is dead.

    On the day of their Mating ceremony Martia-Djulia is distraught to learn that Jason is dead and her brother has put an imposter in his place. When Martia-Djulia publicly rejects Prince Djetthro-Jason her brother comes up with a plan to put the two together.

    While flying over an island on An’Koor, Djetth and Martia-Djulia are shot down and stranded. With only each other for company they will have to learn to trust and depend on one another. But how is Djetth supposed to Mate with a woman who won’t take her clothes off even when her life depends on it?

    When someone send assassins to the island, their situation becomes all the more serious. Can they make it out alive? And will they be able to figure out who wants them dead?

    INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL by Rowena Cherry is a fantastic futuristic romance full of mystery and page-turning suspense. Throughout the story I kept wondering: Would Djetth be able to seduce Martia-Djulia? Would Martia-Djulia figure out that Djetth and Jason were one and the same? Who wanted them dead? And most importantly, would Martia-Djulia find the love she so richly deserved?

    Djetth is such an excellent example of an alpha male, and Martia-Djulia is a resourceful woman who’s not as flighty as she lets on. Together they compliment one another so well you can’t help but love them.

    This book also has one of the best ending sequences. Everyone in the story pulls together against a common enemy. Ms. Cherry has created a seriously evil villain. What goes around comes around, and it definitely came back on this villainous specimen.

    Trust me, INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is a book you don’t want to miss. Be sure to check out the back-story in Rowena Cherry’s previous book, Forced Mate.

    Review by bookmaedin
    Heather began reading as a small child with the story "Little Bear." She found Romance when she was 13 and hasn't looked back since. She's a Romance Expert for her local chain bookstore and reviewer for Romance Junkies. Check out her reviews here:

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    Adequate Insufficiency

    One of my grandmothers used to have a kind way of calling a halt to my childish dramatic, poetic, or vocal performances.

    "I think that you have delighted us sufficiently..."
    she would say.

    Another grandmother used similar phraseology to announce that we had eaten enough of her expensive Sunday roast.

    "We have had an adequate sufficiency..."

    None of my grandmothers (I remember three) would have got beyond the first page of my next alien romance, Insufficient Mating Material. The hero is naked and worried about his inappropriate erection. He's on the operating table, about to have identity-changing surgery, and he's got a glow-in-the-dark tattoo that he does not want the surgeons to notice.

    (Cats sometimes purr when they are in pain, so I don't see why aliens shouldn't react to distress in ways that defy human experience.)

    Having warned off influential grandmothers... I should also warn others. Insufficient Mating Material is not about shortcomings in the wedding tackle department. It's a chess term. Go ahead and google it!

    Originally there was a chess scene in the book, but it had to be cut because the book was too long. In theory, I like the hero to learn something mind-changing about the heroine during an intellectual pastime (or the heroine about the hero).

    In this case, the hero reveals something important to the heroine while he's tie-dying her clothing. She's very fashion conscious, and wearing a plain white T-shirt isn't stylish.

    The reason my subject line is an oxymoron is because "Adequate Insufficiency" fits my mood: I've got enough, but it's not good enough. So much to do, so little time... and I am thoroughly disorganized.

    Take my panic last night. I put out a bi-monthly newsletter, maybe you know. If not, check out

    The November/December issue may still be up, in which case the turkey joke (if you can find it) is a bit old. I should have put it up on the first of the month, but my webmaster might have been caught in a weather condition over the holidays.

    Around that time, I discovered that although I had two interviews with covermodels "in the proverbial bag", my delicate and tasteful ISP had stripped the hunks... or else they are now pursuing careers in which public semi-nudity is frowned upon. A high resolution close up of knitting isn't quite the titillation my readers have come to expect of my newsletters.

    A third cover model was able to let me have wonderful photos, but we're playing phone tag to get his interview answers written.

    My New Year's Eve resolutions were to take my coffee black, drink only champagne (at times when alcohol might be appropriate), and to finish the first draft of my next book before Insufficient Mating Material hits bookstores on January 30th 2007. So far, less than seven days into the month, two resolutions are broken already and too many helping hands keep shoving things that I thought I could postpone until February onto my professional, metaphorical front burner.

    Off to burn something else, now!
    Have a good week.

    Rowena Cherry