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