Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Source of Love

Today's post comes to you late courtesy of the fact that I' ve been held hostage in a seminar room all day. The entire conference centre is deep in the mountains and surrounded by nothing and I mean nothing. It makes escape very, very difficult. But enough about freezing cold conference rooms, have a read of this:
The very source of love has been found. And is it that smouldering look exchanged across a crowded room? Those limpid eyes into which you feel you could gaze for ever? No. It's NGF, say unromantic spoilsport scientists who have made the discovery - that's short for nerve growth factor.

And now, the really deflating news: its potent, life-enhancing, brain-scrambling effect doesn't last. It subsides within the year of first falling in love - presumably within the same period it takes lovers to notice that the object of their affections can't get the lid on the toothpaste.
The above comes from the New Zealand Herald and was spotted by my bud Yvonne Lindsay (Desire's newest author): Wanna read the whole article? Click here. So, what do you think? (Personally I think the scientists' instruments must've been malfunctioning).

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Kimono, a Hawaiian, a Snake and an Author

Imagine this:

An author, oh let's call her Nalini Singh, is sitting quietly at a dinner/party when a beautifully dressed woman in full Japanese kimono reaches into her traditional purse and pulls out a translation of Awaken to Pleasure.

Then another friend whips out a second copy from her own purse. Cue impromptu book-signing followed by 'photos with famous *cough* author'. At which point one of the two Hawaiians in the room finds a stuffed rainbow-pink snake and wraps it around said author in place of a feather boa. And the photo session really takes off.

Written down, it all sounds slightly surreal but I swear it happened. I even have pictures (snake-boa and all) but if you want to see them, you're going to have to....hmmm, can't quite think what would tempt me to post these shots.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What's Your Japanese Name?

In honor of my current homeland, here's a fun quiz for you.

Your Japanese Name Is...

Rumiko Shimizudani

Friday, November 25, 2005

Word of the Day

If any of you haven't checked out Wikipedia yet, go have a look-see. You can find the most random pieces of information there. Example - today I did a search for something unrelated on Google, ended up at Wikipedia and after jumping a few links, found myself reading this definition of "conurbation", which until that moment, I didn't even know was a word. (Did you?)

conurbation is an urban area comprising a number of cities or town which, through population growth and expansion, have physically merged to form one continuous built up area. It is thus a polycentric form of agglomeration.

Now I can use conurbation with ease in dinner-party conversation!

For those that don't know, Wikipedia is a free digital encyclopedia which can be updated and changed by anybody with access to the web. Some entries have been shut permanently but most are open for editing. There is debate that it's simply the sharing of mass ignorance, not information, but it's also undoubtedly true that some of the entries were written by experts in their field(s). Of course, the opposite is also true, so go dig around the site and make up your own mind.

What I like about it is that you can find things there that you'd never find in a normal encyclopedia, like this article on Point of View in Literature or more off-beat, this article on Benevolent Aliens...or this one on Exopolitics (bet you want to know what that is, don't you?).

Sometimes, being 3 feet tall rocks!

It's a snow slide! Unfortunately, only the severely underage *g* were allowed on it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


One of the great things about being a writer is hearing from satisfied readers. I still remember the delight I felt when I received my very first email from a reader - I'd just moved to Japan and was in Tokyo, surrounded by way too many people and going slightly nuts, when I opened up my inbox and there it was.

Last week, I received a handwritten letter from Scotland. I had the same reaction to that letter as I did to that first email. Pure delight. The feeling never disappears or gets old. :)

What's your slice of happiness? What's put a smile on your face today, this week, this month?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Highly Intelligent Post

Public holiday. Brain on leave. Be back tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wine & Flowers

I recently did an interview where I was asked how I do research. Now I prefer to make things up wherever possible (likely a very good reason why Slave to Sensation is a paranormal set in the future rather than a historical!), but I do try and get things right that are factual.

For example, when I wrote Awaken the Senses I had to learn about the different types of wine, when the vines flowered and went to bud, and even about the soil the vines were planted in! I also had to learn a lot of botany, and in particular, about how the heroine's greenhouse might be designed and the flowers maintained. In a short category novel, much of that information doesn't actually make it into the book but what's important is that I, as the author, know. That way, I can add small touches throughout the book to enhance its flavor.

Sometimes, it's actually harder to take stuff out than it is to put it in, because it's so interesting. I begin to think that my readers will be as fascinated as me when presented with information about the chemical composition of soil or the various types of yeast used in fermentation. Thankfully, usually I catch myself before handing in a treatise that looks more like reference book than a novel, but the temptation, the temptation...

Even in a paranormal, certain things are facts. Unless the book is set on a completely different world, the basic rules of the Earth still exist - gravity, the composition of air, the fact that the sea is salty. If I use anything my reader will know about, I must get it right...unless I have somehow changed the rules and made it clear through the story that this has been done.

What I've found wonderful over the years I've been writing is that people are almost always willing to share their knowledge to help a writer get things right. I spoke (via email) to a number of people for Awaken the Senses - including a botanist, a winery owner and a pilot. And one of these people I hadn't ever met before I emailed her to ask if she'd mind giving me some information about a certain point. So here's my advice - if you're a writer, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Murder vs Love

It seems to be my day for links, but Tess Gerritsen is a very smart woman. Go read what she says about how much easier it is to write murder scenes than love scenes.

Love Letters

They were letters exchanged between a young man and woman who knew each other for a bare four days, but whose affection and love for each other grew with every letter.

Love Letters Speak Volumes From Beyond A War Grave, Japan Times

If that's not true love...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thought For The Day

One should not watch "Outbreak" while one is feeling sick because then one will begin to imagine that one has contracted the fictional Motaba virus and scared villagers will soon be burning down one's hut.

Dreams and Dreamers

My friend Jean has just made the decision to follow her dream and go full-time as a writer. That's a huge decision for any writer, so let's all go wish her luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Heroines of Every Variation

I find myself with some time on my hands this afternoon. Rather than playing endless games of sporecubes (why can't I win?!), I thought I'd do a thoughtful and useful blog post. Seriously.

We've talked about romance heroes often on this blog but not about heroines. Gee, I wonder why the fixation with heroes? But let's remedy that today and talk about the women we write and the ones we read. If there are certain types of male characters that are prevalent, then there are also definitely certain types of female ones, good and bad.

At the top of most readers' hitlist is the TSTL heroine (Too Stupid To Live). This is the woman who knows that there is a monster in the basement and yet will be compelled go to down to that basement so she can then be taken hostage (allowing the hero to be all heroic and rescue her). Often times, this kind of heroine will have people rooting for the monster. (She's very tasty! Eat her and save us from her!)

At the other end of the spectrum is the Kickass heroine, the one who takes no crap from anyone and is so tough, she can bend steel in half. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but these women are super-tough. As a reader, though I enjoy their ability to take on the hero, some of them I find too tough. A little touch of feminity would be nice to go with all that badassness.

Somewhere in the middle is the innocent-miss heroine. She often turns up in historicals. A pampered and often young character, she is very naive about the world but has a heart of gold. Strangely, these heroines usually morph very quickly into smart, witty women. I admit, I like these heroines, even though some suspension of disbelief is required.

Then there's the perfect woman. She is literally perfect. Beams of sunshine surround her head and every so often, angels break out in arias around her. These heroines drive me round the bend. The only way I can deal with them is to begin imagining some sort of convulted multiple personality for them. No one is perfect! I will say that very occasionally, they can be used effectively. For example, in stories where a woman thinks she has the perfect life and then it all comes crashing down. The rest of the book shows us the real character, warts and all.

I picked those four types out of the air, drawing from my experience as both a reader and a writer (my heroines are all, of course, absolutely wonderful *g*), but they don't encompass the entire range. Do you have any of your own personal favorite types? Any un-favorite types? ;)

Funny Friday

Q: How many letters in the alphabet?

A: Only 24, because E.T. went home.

I think I may qualify as the worst joker *g* in the universe. (I had to find this one on the internet at Aha Jokes).

What about you? Know any good jokes?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lamposts Can be Interesting

I took this picture on a visit to Sakurajima, an active volcano on the island of Kyushu, Japan. When I say active, I mean it has smoke coming out the top of it pretty much every day. Yup, smoke visible from miles away. And yet people still live around it!

This is a very interesting lampost because it not only has a volcano, it has a certain vegetable famous in the area. Anybody care to guess what that vegetable is? (No googling!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I've had several experiences where I've read a manuscript several times, more than one other person has also read it a few times, and yet when I begin going through the galleys, I find the most bizarre typos which have completely bypassed everyone.

Once, I was so convinced that a mistake had to be a typesetting error that I went to the trouble of looking at my original ms...and found the typo there. Which meant it had been read at least ten times since then and not one of them had picked it up (including me).

There was one time I found that the heroine's knees had "crumbled". What if that had made it into the book, I thought? What would readers think? So that's my question - what do you think when you come across errors in a book? Do you immediately denounce the book, or do you give it a few more chances? Or does the story matter more to you than the typos?

(p.s. I hope there aren't any typos in this post!)

Ten Things to Do Before Saying "I do"

When authors who blog spend too much time reading stuff, they feel compelled to share their finds with readers. So have a look at this article. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Princess Weds

Today's a special day in Japan because Princess Nori of the Imperial family is to be wed. Last night on t.v. they showed her taking her formal farewell from her parents, because after her wedding to a commoner, she will officially no longer be a princess. Wearing a tiara and a gown, she looked very princess-like.

I admit I find myself fascinated by the whole thing, just like I was when the Danish prince wed an Australian (how cool was that?!). I think it's the whole fantasy aspect of it - royalty seems frozen in amber in a sense, living out of place and time. Their lives are often ruled by rituals and behaviors that are no longer part of the lives of normal citizens, and often there is a slow regality to their existence that's at odds with the way the rest of us live.

Maybe that's why royals continue to exist even in times when democracy has pretty much taken over all major states once ruled by them. They remind us of magic, of times long gone when we imagine that things were less frantic, less practical. And we don't want to cut off that last thread to an illusionary magical past.

Or maybe, it's because we hang on to the childish dream that so long as there are princes in the world, we too could one day become princesses.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Covers & Voodoo

Let's talk covers. Why? Because they're endlessly fascinating. Some are so beautiful as to be artworks in themselves, while others...well, you know the author is out there somewhere sticking pins into a voodoo doll to avenge themselves.

As a reader, I know that a cover makes no difference in my buying habits if the author is already on my autobuy list. I might wince at an unfortunate cover but I'll buy it nonetheless. And okay, if you splash a half-naked hunk on the front of a book, I'll probably be enticed to pick it up.

I'll also go for evocative covers, like my own stunningly gorgeous *g* cover for Craving Beauty, that give me a sense of time and place about the book. Deserts? Yup. Wild jungle? Oooh yeah. Moonscape? I'm there.

What don't usually catch my interest are the historical covers with "things" on them. I'm talking about the elegant, sometimes embossed covers with a hairbrush, a mirror, flowers or a ribbon or three. I don't know why, but my eyes just pass right over these covers. Maybe because I'm too much of peon to appreciate them, or maybe because they're too subtle for my blunt sensibilities. This doesn't mean I don't read these books - one of my favorite authors has "things" covers. It just means it's going to take something else to attract me to that author and their work.

So the question is, how much do covers affect your buying choices? A lot? Not at all? (And as an aside, how many of you have voodoo dolls?)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lazy Weekend Post

Hope everyone's having a great weekend! :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sneak Peak: Interview with Caleb Callaghan from Secrets In The Marriage Bed

Nalini: Hi Caleb, thanks for doing this. I think I’ve scared off my friends from doing interviews with me. It’s really really nice of you to take time out from your schedule to fit me in.

Caleb: (Looks up from brief he’s drafting) Yes?

Nalini: Okay, right I get the hint. You want me to get a move on.

Caleb: (Returns to his work).

Nalini: Um, hey, so my question was, how are things with Victoria?

Caleb: (Puts down pen very calmly) My wife and I are both fine.

Nalini: I thought you two were, you know, separated?

Caleb: We’re working through some problems but Vicki is still my wife. And she will always be my wife.

Nalini: Aren’t you living in a hotel?

Caleb: That’s a temporary situation.

Nalini: I must’ve been mistaken – I thought you’d been there for nearly two months. Didn’t Victoria say that she was going to divorce…(shuts up at look on Caleb’s face).

Caleb: I’m leaving to meet my wife for lunch. This interview is over.

Nalini: Well good luck with the whole separation thing.

Caleb: (Plants hands on desk and leans over) There. Is. No. Separation. We’re husband and wife.

Nalini: Yes, okay, of course. Husband and wife. Just that you like to live in a hotel. I can get that – don’t have to do the dishes or make the bed. Definitely a good choice. Definitely. Okay, I’ll just show myself out then. Right. Bye.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Imaginary Friends

I often talk to my characters in my head. I consider that absolutely normal. Doesn't everybody have conversations with imaginary people?This is a question I'd really like answered. So tell me, have you ever talked to someone who doesn't exist?

Aging Backward Gracefully

I've figured out one of the main reasons why I prefer to do my writing in big chunks. It's because I forget things if I spread it out over a long period. Like the the fact that I had a person leave ten pages ago and go far, far away. Then amazingly, they were back with no explanation as to how they'd returned (this would be because I forgot that they'd left in the first place).

I spent several minutes fixing that error, only to discover that my heroine had aged backward over the course of two chapters.

My brain hurts.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Scents & Senses

I've been wearing a new scent lately. I got given a cute little mini-bottle in a prize pack at the last RWNZ Conference and I decided to try it out. It's very nice, but at odd moments throughout the day, it creeps up and surprises me, and I turn to look around to see who smells so delicious. *grin*

But my deliciousness aside, the sense of smell is a very interesting thing.
So many of our memories are tied up with the way things smell, rather than the way they look. In one magazine article I read, men were quizzed about how they felt when their beloved changed her signature scent - most of them found themselves upset by it on such a deep level, they couldn't quite figure out what was setting them off. Something just didn't feel right.

Personally, I've had several experiences where my swiss-cheese memory has been kickstarted by a familiar smell. Having been born on an island, the smell of the sea is something that immediately brings back images of childhood.

What about you? Are there some smells that are just magic, that send your brain and body into a higher gear and have you remembering things that you'd thought you'd long forgotten? And for the perfume buffs among you, what's your favorite scent?

Website Updates Delayed

First a public service announcement - the November updates to my website have been delayed due to technical difficulties, but the competition winner has been drawn and notified. Don't despair if you missed out - you can come back in December and enter the super duper Xmas contest!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Gail Dayton & her men

So Gail, what did you have to promise the cover artist to get that awesome cover?

LOL! Nothing! Well, I did appease the cover gods with a little moonlight ritual that involved... no, let's not go into details.;) I did ask for the same guy who did The Compass Rose, and got him. Isn't he fabulous?

How many heroes does your heroine have again?

Um... (wait, have to count) well, she has four by the end of The Compass Rose. There will be more (but you'll have to wait and see how many, nyah, nyah) by the end of The Barbed Rose. (evil, wicked grin) Oh, and she doesn't have them all to herself. There's another woman in the ilian, and will be more of those too.

Let me get this straight, your heroine has four gorgeous hunks almost all to herself and still counting? Can I have one?

Sure! I share. ;)

I knew there was a reason I liked you! Heading off the subject of your men (don't worry, we'll get back to it), where did you get the idea of a military heroine?

Okay. The story grew out of thinking through world history. I didn't want to do an extrapolation of Celtic or European mythology, didn't really want to have to do a bunch of research, and I was just sort of mentally flipping through my history files (I have a degree in history, so I have a pretty good basic knowledge of timelines and such) and thought about the conquest of the Americas. The Europeans won because their technology was better than the tech of the Aztecs and Incas. So I thought--what if it was tech vs. magic (since I was trying to write a book for Luna which is fantasy which thusly requires magic in the story)?

Which became the germ that sparked the story. An attempted conquest with a technology based society invading a magic-based society. And if that's going to be the beginning of the story, then it seemed to me to be easier to throw my heroine into the middle of the action if she's there to begin with, because it's her duty. Because she's one of those defending against the invaders. And if one of the heros is going to be from the other side, it would make for greater conflict if they're Both soldiers... So that's where it all began. Long answer, I know.

You mean you actually did research? (Note to self: research is good.)

Well, sort of. I didn't WANT to do research, so it was more--research I'd already done (I'm one of those weird people who reads history books for fun), that I remembered from before. I did have to dig one of the books out--the tactics in the opening battle scene are from research I did a couple of years ago on Napoleonic era warfare (which were established up to 100 years previously)--and look up a couple of specific words that referred to the approach to the city walls, etc. But mostly, I just made stuff up, and used research I'd already done.

One final question (I told you we'd return to your men) - which hero is your favorite and why? Feel free to provide a physical description.

Torchay is my favorite. He wasn't supposed to be. He wasn't actually supposed to be as important a character as he turned out to be. I figured he'd just be part of a minor subplot. Instead, the minute the man walked onto the page--and he turns up on page one (or maybe the top of page 2)--he informed me that he wasn't going to take a back seat to anybody, and I had just better deal with it. How can you not love a guy like that? He had feelings he wasn't going to let me ignore.

Physical description: Tall. A little over 6 feet, if Adarans measured in feet and inches. Red hair, deep, bright, true red, and it's curly. Or maybe just seriously wavy. He wears it in a queue most of the time. Military regs, you know. Blue eyes, rather hooked nose, full mouth. Red-head's skin, pale but not many freckles. And he has his military rank tattooed on both upper arms for when the army goes into sleeveless summer uniforms. :) Honestly, he's the sort of man you may not see as handsome right off. He requires another look or two, but he's still quite the hunk.

There you have it, folks. Gail Dayton does several handsome hunks of male. And she does them well. *g*

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I was abducted by aliens!

Of course the header is a horrible lie but I am a fiction writer. (As an aside, I wonder how many hits this blog will get from people wondering about alien abductions).

It's Saturday here and I'm wishing I had been abducted by aliens, because then I wouldn't feel compelled to clean the house. There are manuscripts stacked up all over my living room, my pen collection has spawned and taken over the entire table, and every time I try to put a cup of tea on the coaster, I have to move aside a stapler, several markers and a Hello Kitty notepad.

I think I have a stationery addiction. I also think the dust bunnies have begun a colony under the table and are now considering conquest.

However, not even housework can puncture my current bubble of happiness. (See yesterday's post). I hope all of you have a great weekend and I promise to write a serious, scholarly writing-related post next week...(See first line of this post).

Friday, November 04, 2005

Diana Palmer

I just got some amazing news about Secrets In The Marriage Bed. The down under edition is going to be in a special Mother's Day set, with a bonus novella by Diana Palmer! Ohmygosh. She's one of my favorite authors, so to have my book connected to a story by her in any way whatsoever, is a total dream. I haven't stopped grinning since I heard the news.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Heaven and Hell

Alas the weather nixed our plans to visit The Hells. Instead I've got the whole day to spend in what is for me, a small slice of heaven - an entire day in which to write. Bliss.

(Except for the fact that the latest Darkhunter book in my to-be-read pile has mysteriously gained the ability to speak. It's been murmuring "Read me. Read me" since daybreak. Very strange.)

So tell me about you. What makes a day great for you? Is it curling up with a good book knowing no one will interrupt, playing computer games till you keel over of fatigue or watching endless reruns of "The Love Boat"? Something else? Come on, spill.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today, Tomorrow & Nuts

Tomorrow, it's another public holiday here. And a friend of mine has asked me to go to a place called "The Hells". She assures me it's a sightseeing location. If I survive the trip, I'll tell you all about it upon my return. If there is no blog post after this one, you'll know what happened...

Today, if life cooperates, I'm going to attempt to shrink a photo and put it up on the profile bit of this blog. Feel free to comment on it but only if you call me a goddess!

And here's another quiz for you. This one struck my funnybone. (I always knew I was a little nuts but now I have confirmation!).


Nutty and gooey - you always satisfy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Diwali!

Today is Diwali, the Festival of Lights, so here are a few lights to brighten up everyone's day!