Saturday, May 30, 2009



Want to see your name on the acknowledgment page of Emily Bryan's next book? Here's your chance! Emily is giving her readers a chance to name an important secondary character in her upcoming STROKE OF GENIUS. The winner will receive signed copies of Emily Bryan's entire backlist (including A CHRISTMAS BALL anthology, due out Sept 29th). PLUS you'll be mentioned on the acknowledgment page of STROKE OF GENIUS. The contest begins June 1st and entries close July 1st. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Guest Blog: On Space Pirates, by David Lee Summers

Greetings! My name is David Lee Summers and I want to start off by thanking Rowena Cherry for this opportunity to talk a little bit about space pirates and, in particular, how I created my space pirate characters and the world they inhabit.

To give you some background, I am the author of five novels. The first of my novels is The Pirates of Sufiro, which starts off as the story of a band of space pirates that are marooned on a distant world they name Sufiro. Over the course of the novel, the pirates who were stranded have to battle corporate pirates who try to take over the planet. Thus the book explores the idea of "piracy" from multiple angles. I have recently explored my space pirate characters even more in stories appearing in the anthologies Space Pirates and Space Sirens published by Flying Pen Press. Another of my novels, Vampires of the Scarlet Order, is a supernatural thriller, but it features a cameo by the real life pirate, Grace O'Malley.

The phrase "space pirates" conjures up images of marauding bands cruising the galaxy in space ships. Perhaps the blaster-wielding captain has a robot parrot on his shoulder and some kind of high-tech eye-patch with a heads-up display. Movies and television have invoked this image numerous times and I think such pirates can be a lot of fun, even though they're often extremely campy.

Look a little harder at the idea of space pirates, though, and an interesting picture emerges. To summarize the United Nations definition of piracy, it is a criminal act of violence, detention or depredation committed by the crew or passengers of a ship or aircraft directed against another ship or aircraft – or directed against a ship, aircraft, persons or property outside the jurisdiction of a country. Apply that idea to any vessel that is either in space or operating on a distant world, and you open up tremendous story potential.

My own love of pirates started at an early age. I grew up in Southern California and was lucky enough to visit Disneyland a few times as a kid. One of my favorite rides from the time I was about six years old was The Pirates of the Caribbean. I was also a Star Trek fan from a very young age. Though a bit too young to remember the original series when it first ran, I was exactly the right age to watch Star Trek: The Animated Series when it ran on Saturday mornings. One of those episodes was "The Pirates of Orion" written by Howard Weinstein. I already was a fan of pirates and I just fell in love with the idea of pirates in space.

In the years after that, though, most depictions of space pirates that I came across grew painful. I saw far too many actors with robot parrots on their shoulders hamming it up for the camera. As I mentioned earlier, they could be fun to watch, but they did get old. I probably would never have even tried to write a story about space pirates if I hadn't come across the Bio of a Space Tyrant novels by Piers Anthony. In the first novel, Anthony introduced space pirates that were colorful and fun, but at the same time very dangerous. These were the kinds of space pirates I was looking for.

In 1988, I set out to write my first story of space piracy for a writing workshop in Socorro, New Mexico. I wanted to create pirates that were larger than life, fun, but yet a bit dangerous, much like the good space pirates I had encountered before. That's when Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy who appear in The Pirates of Sufiro, Space Pirates and Space Sirens were born.

As I worked to create my pirates, I spent time in the library reading historical accounts, trying to get some idea for the motivations of historical pirates and how they operated. As I read, I found the stories of Henry Avery, Bartholomew Roberts, William Kidd, Anne Bonny and Mary Read particularly captivating.

Now, I believe it's important that a writer create a world where it's believable that space pirates exist. That said, if we postulate a universe where humans are colonizing other planets in the galaxy it's reasonable to expect that pirates will exist. In my "day" job I operate telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. It's actually hard to imagine a star empire or galactic alliance with so much money that they could patrol every possible planetary system imaginable. Likewise, it's hard to imagine a future where everyone is so well off that someone won't be motivated to try to take what someone else has. Just recently, we had the incident of Somali pirates taking an American ship not far from American warships. Even with only a small boat and a few guns, they created a very difficult situation for this country. The galaxy is a much bigger place.

In my universe, Earth recognizes that it simply cannot patrol much of its territory at all with warships of any sort. It becomes much more practical for humans to issue Letters of Marque to pirate crews and allow them to harass ships from competing systems and colony worlds.

My pirate captain, Ellison Firebrandt, comes from a poor family. His father was a miner in the asteroid belt and it looked like Ellison's fate would either be to follow in his father's footsteps or go into some other hard labor for the rest of his life. As with the pirates of old, life aboard a pirate ship seemed to offer more freedom and opportunity for young Firebrandt than a life wasting away as a miner or a laborer for one of the giant corporations of Earth. Because Firebrandt is the protagonist of the stories in which he appears, I felt it necessary to give him a moral compass. He is loyal to Earth because the government provided his Letter of Marque. He kills and robs, but he does so with the intention of aiding Earth.

In the story "For a Job Well Done", which appears in the anthology Space Pirates, Firebrandt tries to fence stolen items through a gang that secretly pulls the strings on one of Earth's colony worlds. The gang maintains control through the torture of the planet's populace. In the process of discovering this, Firebrandt meets a woman named Suki Mori and a romance is born. Though Firebrandt is, himself, a criminal, his moral compass can't abide the self-serving interests of the gang he encounters and he feels compelled to stop them. Even though the story is science fiction, it was heavily influenced by contemporary headlines.

In the follow-up story entitled "Hijacking the Legacy" that appears in the anthology Space Sirens, Suki Mori discovers the cold hard reality that her new-found "friends" really are bloodthirsty pirates. She tries to escape but throws herself and the pirate crew right into the hands of a military captain that doesn't recognize Firebrandt's Letter of Marque. This puts Suki into a crisis of conscience. She recognizes that the crew of the Legacy is composed of criminals, but she also realizes that they're the ones who saved her from an even worse criminal gang. Can she simply let the pirates be killed?

Historically, not all pirates were clear-cut villains. They often came to piracy through a series of circumstances and choices. Often times there were no good choices for these people. Sometimes it was live as a slave or live as a pirate. Sometimes being a pirate seemed less horrible than being a crewman for a ship of the "legitimate" military. In creating my space pirates, I worked to create a universe that presented my characters with many of those kinds of difficult choices from history. I worked to create characters with enough of a moral compass that those choices were interesting ones to explore. Hopefully the stories are an exciting, fun ride as well!

If you would care to learn more about my novels and the anthologies where my stories appear, please visit and click on the links for "Books and Audio Books" and "Short Stories and Poems."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twenty-Five Ways to Buzz A Book

My grandmother used to say, "If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything..." Switch "nice" for "helpful" and you have my current philosophy.

However, I've recently been invited to become a contributing member of the blog "1st Turning Point", which got me thinking about what I have to offer (or pay forward), and I took a look at my 25 Things promo list which is probably still on my website in the Useful Stuff dropdown menu.

Well. I took a look and was astonished how important Amazon seemed three years ago. Now... I think my old list is out of date. So here's my new 25 point "To Do" list.

All authors for the purpose of this article will be considered female. (No sexism intended).

#1. Help the search engines find her. Why? 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. So: Google her. Ask Jeeves about her. Dogpile her. A9 search her. Use Alexa. Try a Yahoo search. Blog search. Search on Technorati. Even better, set up a Google Alert for her name, also common misspellings of her name, and for her book titles.

#2. Having “Searched” or been "Alerted", Visit… her website; blogs; author pages. If you may comment, do so. Everyone who takes the time to blog or post content is grateful when visitors comment. Human nature leads more people to read a post that has received a lot of comments.

#3 Follow. Favorite. Share. Google's Blogger, Twitter, Facebook "Pages", Squidoo lenses, You Tube videos and more allow you to become a follower or a fan. Do so. Connect wherever you can. It's good for both of you, because follower/fan photos show up.

#4 Click to read (and rate) any reviews she has written, or Lists she has set up. These days, anyone can make an EssentiaList on Barnes and, a Listmania on, a Top Ten list on, also Listopia on If you like her reviews or lists, click Helpful.

#5. If you see a good review of a book you've enjoyed—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it truly is a helpful review. Votes help both the reviewer and the author.

#6. Tag her books wherever you can. Amazon isn't the only place (Amazon isn't even one site… there's,, etc etc) Many book selling sites encourage readers to tag.

What is a tag? It's a search term that a reader might be using to find a type of book she likes, when she is looking for a new author. Some tags might be "Romance", "Fantasy", "Mystery", "Shapeshifter", "Georgian Romance", "Humor" or "Space Opera".

#7. When you are on an admired author's Amazon book page, click on links to:
Put it on your wish list, it’s extra, free advertising for the book. Tell a friend. Scroll down the book page to Tag this product. Or make a search suggestion).

#8. Join in the Customer/Reader discussions on her book page, or on the forums. Ask a question. Start a discussion. Hundreds of eyeballs scan the discussions on Barnes and Noble bookclubs. The search engines pick up on the discussions. The longer a discussion keeps going, the better the PR buzz for your friend. This does not just apply to Amazon and B&N. Discussion anywhere is "buzz".

#9. Review her book… Most people know that a customer can write a review on There's a purchase requirement with Amazon (and I think with Barnes and Noble, too). However, many sites don't require a reader to have bought a book from them in order to post a review:,,, E-Bay, Powells, FlipKart, We-Read (on Facebook), NexTag etc etc.

#10. Smak her. Have you ever noticed the "Add This" or "Share" or "Recommend" widgets on online pages and on You Tube? If you think your author friend's blog, or news about her is interesting, syndicate the news to Digg It, Reddit, Technorati, Stumble Upon, Furl and as many of the other 40 or so sites as you have time and energy for. It's self promo when she does it. It's news when someone else does it.

Smak is News for women, posted by women.

#11. If the author has a reminder on a public calendar (Amazon has one, other sites have the function, too) for a booksigning near you, click on Remind Me Too. Booksignings are nerve-racking. Support is always appreciated, even if you don’t buy a book.

#12. If she lists an "Event", which one can on Facebook, GoodReads, and too many other places to mention, be sure to RSVP with a kind comment about the book.

#13. Make her a top friend on MySpace, Bebo etc, Give her book cover image as a "gift" on Facebook, with her permission, make her cover into a widget or tile it as a background, or keep it on the top page of your Shelfari/GoodReads/MyB&N display of what you are reading.

#14. If you have a MySpace page or, or Twitters, or, or, or (and if you don’t, but really want to help, get one… it’s free) invite your author friends to be your friends there. Write a bulletin about your friend or her book. 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. Review their book on your MySpace blog. Or on You Tube!

#15. 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.

#16. If you have a blog or website, (and you should always secure your own domain name before you become famous yourself) publicize your friend’s upcoming signings/author talks/workshops on your blog. Mention her website URL. Link to your author friend’s website or blog on yours. Put her book as a 'must read' on your own site, or in your own newsletter. Have a list of links to authors you like, and blogs you enjoy.

#17. 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.

#18. 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.

#19. Drop in on her online chats to say how you enjoyed her book. Supportive friends at chats are cool because chats can be chaotic, and typing answers takes time.

#20. Tweet on Twitter about how much you are enjoying the book. Retweet or reply to any comments you see that promote the book, or the author.

#21. 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. Offer to slip her bookmarks into your own correspondence when you pay bills, taxes, etc.

#22. Instead of quoting Goethe in your sig file, try quoting a line from your friend’s blurb in the week of her launch.

#23. Ask for her book in your local library. If they don't have it, maybe they will order a copy. If the library won't do that, ask if they would enter the book in their system if the author were to donate a copy to them. Once a book is in one library's system, it gets into the database for other libraries.

#24. If you see your favorite author’s books in a supermarket or bookstore: face her books (if there is room), turn one so the cover shows. Tell store personnel how much you like that book, or that the author is local. If you don’t see her books, especially when they ought to be there, ask about them.

#25. If you are connected on and your author friend is listed as "Author" or "Freelance Writer" or similar, consider "recommending her" on the strength of her writing. Recommendations on LinkedIn are intended to be for professional purposes.

Bonus Tip:
If you are an author buy colleagues' autographed books from them at booksignings to use in your own giveaways instead of always giving away your own books.

Rowena Cherry

Monday, May 04, 2009

May: Month of Magic, Sex, and Secrets

On the first Tuesday of most months, I host an internet talk show where we "blog aloud" about matters close to the hearts of Romance authors whom I like.

Tomorrow, May 5th, from 10 am Eastern Time until 12 noon, I shall be joined by Joy Nash and Kellyann Zuzulo

Since it's May, which is the month of Magic, Sex, and Secrets, we'll talk about the upside and downside of being a magical being, such as an immortal or a witch or a djinn living among ordinary people... or among exotic royalty. We'll discuss magical parts... of the world. Also getting around.

Hope you'll join us.

Rowena Cherry

Margaritas (Spoof of Pharma adverts)

I don't know where this came from, but I enjoyed it too much not to share.


Do you have feelings of inadequacy? Do you suffer from shyness? Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Margaritas.

Margaritas are the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions.

Margaritas can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Margaritas almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Margaritas.

Margaritas may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Margaritas. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include:

- Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration
- Loss of motor control
- Loss of clothing
- Loss of money
- Loss of virginity
- Table dancing
- Headache
- Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- A desire to sing Karaoke

The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to think you can sing and logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them

Normal, sober programming will resume shortly.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Product Placement and the future of Romance

When I was writing Insufficient Mating Material, I spent a lot of time (relatively speaking) hanging out on the FFandP loop. I've very fond memories of that time, because a lot of my friends were there, and we didn't mind discussing Brazilian wax jobs, threading (which is a middle eastern method, like tweezering with string), also personal hygiene concerns when in stranded type situations.

Insufficient Mating Material is probably the most useful book I've written... but that's another story.

Gosh! If this economy gets much worse, maybe we'll all want to save money by washing in lakes and streams, using leaves for toilet paper, and chewing pine twigs to clean our teeth.


So... now I'm thinking of a wrinkly romance. I'm also thinking about product placement, because with piracy the way it is, I think one day we writers will want corporate sponsors!

Therefore, I'd love to brainstorm about skin care products. What works? Why aren't there any for men? Why don't men care? Men do have the occasional chin implant, they do all sorts of things to make their penises look better (even at the expense of functionality) AND... interestingly... vice versa.

But, a lot of guys tell me that they just grow a beard to hide their age spots.

Do you know anyone (manly) who uses Just For Men hair colorant? Have you ever seen a guy prowling the wrinkle cream aisles and apparently interested in something to diminish the appearance of his crows' feet?

Just asking.

Rowena Cherry