Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Third Postcard

It's our last night in Kyoto and I'm afraid to say that my geisha-spotting ended in vain. However, I did see the most magnificient temple with a thousand buddha statues and managed to get myself lost in the gardens of the Imperial Palace. Pictures to come.

In other news, it appears that Awaken The Senses has been nominated for an RT Reviewers Choice Award! Color me stunned. Thanks to my good friend Bron for the heads up (who by the way, has also been nominated for her Ruthless Groom). Yippee!!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Second Postcard...

This one comes to you from the city of geisha and a thousand temples. Kyoto is as different from Tokyo as two cities could be. (No sightings of men with cool handbags yet!)

Today, we had a super ride on the Nozomi SUPER express bullet train. Tomorrow, the exploring begins! I really, really, really want to get a picture with one of the maiko (apprentice geisha) so wish me luck.

I'll let you know how it goes. Hope everyone had a great Xmas and here's to an awesome new year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

First Postcard from the Hip Edge

So here I am in the big, bad city that is Tokyo. I must say that my mind has been boggled more than once since getting here. Here are a few of the things I've learnt so far.

# Going against the flow of traffic at rush hour in a major subway station is not even a question. Ever.

# Every second person has some sort of label accessory. (I admit to a certain cluelessness about such things but one of my travelling companions knows all and is constantly playing 'spot the Chanel / Gucci / Prada / Coach...' game).

# Most of the men on the street are hipper than I am. (This actually is painful to admit but how can I not after seeing a man with a cool handbag, a designer wallet and pants so painfully hip, they were about to fall off?)

# Two-inch mini-skirts with sky-high boots are all-weather gear.

# Tokyo knows how to do Xmas! The decorative lights here at night are so fantastic, you have to see to believe. I'm hoping my shots come out well so I can share it with you all - the city at night is a true wonderland. (And yes, sometimes you do feel as if you've dropped down a rabbit hole).

Hope you're all having a great time wherever you are. More postcards to come!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Going AWOL

I'm off to the bright lights of Tokyo so posts are going to be disrupted for the next couple of weeks. I'm intending to try and update two or three times from the teeming metropolis that is Japan's biggest city, but if that doesn't happen, I'll definitely be online again in the first week of January so come on back!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Busman's Holiday

Yesterday, I didn't write a single word the whole day. I also didn't crack open the spine of a book. I did look at a magazine but it was just a desultory scan. This is odd for me. I pretty much write every day and on those rare days when I don't write, I try and catch up on my reading.

Before you all start imagining me as some recluse hunched over a computer, I do of course do other things during the day. It's just that writing/reading always have some part to play in the day for me. So when I have days like yesterday, I'm stunned. I can't imagine my life without a constant relationship with words.

Often writers take busman's holidays - the laptop / pad & paper, goes with them everywhere, even to the beach or the exotic deserts of China. (That last one I did - with my faithful Alphasmart in my pack). Sometimes people advise that taking a break, a real break, with no writing whatsoever, is a good thing to recharge your batteries. I have no disagreement with that. But for me, such a break equals two or three days.

What I can't imagine, is going on holiday for a week or two and not writing throughout that period. That wouldn't equal a restful vacation for me because writing is part of who I am. And it's a part I don't want to be without.

What do you think of such full writing breaks if you're a writer? And if you're a reader, have you ever considered not being without a book ie. taking a complete break from reading? Could you?

Fly-By Post

Happy Monday if it's already Monday in your part of the world! If not, enjoy your Sunday. (Back later with a proper thought-provoking post *g* which I'm even now composing).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Men really are from Mars!

Hope everyone's having a wonderful weekend. :) That's really all I have to say but I did see this interesting article about how men and women think differently.
...we may increasingly find out that there are differences in the 'hardwiring' of male and female brains...

But we already knew that right?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Blurb: Secrets In The Marriage Bed

This came in too late for the last set of website updates:


They were reconciling. That was all Caleb Callaghan could focus on when his estranged wife, Vicki, shared the news of her pregnancy. He was determined that this time, the marriage would succeed, no matter what it took.

But was Vicki’s price too high? She wanted more than his love and support…she demanded honesty between them, starting with his secrets. But there was something in Caleb’s past he could not—would not—share. For the truth would only destroy them.

p.s. Check out the Website for details of the X-Mas Competition.

Xmas Wishes

If the sky was the limit, what would you ask Santa for this year? Go wild! Tell me your most fantastic wish, whether it be a jewel-encrusted tiara, a trip to Tahiti or a book contract. What present would send you into orgasmic bliss?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Things I've Done/Experienced In 2005

1. Signed with my wonderful agent, Nephele.

2. Sold Slave to Sensation and a second paranormal book to Berkley, at auction!

3. Learnt to handmake udon noodles. (Incidentally I didn't learn why anyone would want to do this).

4. Began reading weblogs, then writing my own.

5. Visited fake Easter Island Moai in Japan (I'm not kidding - see Exhibit A.)

6. Gave my very first workshop at a conference.

7. Ate my first ever serving of macaroni and cheese.

8. Realized that no matter how long I live in Japan, I'll never ever 'get' most things on Japanese television.

9. Read Arthur Golden's Memoirs of A Geisha.

10. Became a wait, I'm still working on this one.

Now, it's your turn. Tell me some new things you've done/experienced this past year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Glamorous Life Of A Writer

I am currently involved in transferring over 300 edited pages onto the computer. It would of course make far more sense to simply do the edits on the computer in the first place instead of doing them on a printout and then giving myself a broken back by typing in all the changes, but for some reason, this just works better for me in terms of speed and shaping the book.

It also allows me to indulge in my fetish for colored pens.

During the course of this manuscript, I wore out a pink pen, a rose pen (distinctly different from the pink) and began on a purple. This might give you some idea of the amount of changes I’m now transferring. The good news is, I can go to the store and justify the purchase of more pens! So what color should I get – sky’s the limit. Magenta? Gold? Chartreuse?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Interview With Kendra Clark

Today's interview victi-I mean, subject, is the lovely Kendra Clark, whose first book comes out next year. Let's see what she revealed under my exacting interview technique.

Congrats on your debut book coming out. What's the title?

Thanks, Nalini. I'm so excited about Spirit Warrior. It's a unique story concept I hope will intrigue the reader. It will be available from Triskelion Publishing in January. I also have an anthology, Winter Wishes that will be available at WCP Torrid the same month! So I have 2 releases next month! To day I'm excited, sick, nervous, and happy all at once is an understatement.

I hear your hero's, like, in hell. Does that mean he's dead? How does that work?

You're right on both accounts. You should see the look on people's faces when I tell them that. Spirit Warrior is a paranormal and yes, Cenya is dead and he's been in hell. But it's not your common variety hell *snort* it's Mictlan, which is the Aztec Underworld. I don't want to give too much away but let's just say I've created a new breed of hero. You can check out the "beginnings" of the Spirit Warrior webpage for more info.

"Cenyaolt", okay, gotta say I don't hear that everday. Where did you come up with the name?

I did a TON of research into the Aztec civilization when I was plotting Spirit Warrior and Cenyaolt "Cenya" is an actual Aztec name (one of the few I can pronounce, heh). I wanted to have this character have a unique, strong name and one authentic to the culture. He is Aztec royalty after all and an ancient warrior. ;)

Any chance he's single at the end of the book? I'm asking for a 'friend'. *g*

Hee hee. Well, you could fight Gabriella for him, but she's a pretty tough gal and has some special powers herself.

Break for random question: Spike or Angel?

You speak my kind of language! SPIKE!!!! I love the quirkiness of his character and how he feels so deeply. Spike knows the true meaning of tortured hero. Everyone in the show has tortured the poor bloke. And really, those dimples and cheekbones are to die for! He's the ultimate bad boy and truthfully, I could sop him up with a biscuit (sorry, it's the Tennessee coming out in me).

So you're a Southern gal. Do you have mint juleps on the verandah every day? And what exactly are mint juleps? Are they like mint-flavored jelly babies?

Although I'd love to claim I'm like Scarlett O'Hara, alas, I am not. I do rock on the front porch of my house from time to time.

Mint Julep - a glass filled with ice, with sugar at the bottom (several spoonfuls) with a crushed mint leaf dropped in and whiskey poured over it. I've never tasted one but they sound delicious.

Your book is an e-book. What does that mean?

It means you don't have to leave your house to get my book. It's available with the click of your mouse. If you can boot a computer, you can read an e-book. They're available in html formats, PDF, and Microsoft lit. Isn't that exciting?

Does PDF stand for "pretty da-yamn fine"? In that case, yeah I'm excited.

Of course it does!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Random Musings

Mondays should be a holiday. Or they should officially start the week at 1pm on a Monday. That would be good. And it shouldn't snow while innocent people are riding their bicycles to work. Hmm, but the white stuff does allow the wearing of stylish earmuffs. Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Movie Star Walked Into A Bar...

I just saw the news that Matt Damon has gotten married. What interested me was that his bride appears to be just an ordinary working woman (a former bartender). Who says fairytales don't come true?

Friday, December 09, 2005

15 Book Things

I've been tagged by Kendra and have to list 15 things that pertain to me and reading/writing. Here goes:

1. I am in love with every one of my heroes.

2. I think Mr. Darcy should be wrapped in a bow and left on my doorstep as a Christmas present.

3. I buy books even when I don't have time to read.

4. In high school, my favorite English teacher caught me reading a Silhouette romance and was incredibly disappointed. (I still don't get why).

5. I have watched the BBC adaptation of
Pride & Prejudice too many times to count.

6. I've never read a single Harry Potter book. (Last person in the universe? I keep meaning to get to it!).

7. I dream of a house with space for a dedicated library and study.

8. My favorite series' couple are Eve and Roarke from the JD Robb books.

9. Sometimes, I write the end of a novel before the start.

10. I didn't sleep the night
Slave to Sensation went to auction.

11. I've written books just for myself, knowing they'd likely never be sold.

12. My first book came out the month I moved to Japan.

13. I think
Othello has some of the most beautiful lines in the English language.

14. When I was a teenager, I wanted a secret hollow book like the Babysitter's Club girls had, only I couldn't make myself cut into any of my books, not even the ones I knew I'd never read again.

15. I ran into Nora Roberts in a bathroom at the RWA NY Conference and was so stunned, I couldn't even say hello.

Instead of tagging someone else, I'm opening this up for general comment. Tell me some book things about yourself!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Secrets In The Marriage Bed

I am in serious love/lust with this cover. This is Caleb, people. Intense, protective, alpha to the core (and yeah, the man likes to be boss). And those piercing eyes - doesn't it feel like he's looking straight at you? But go on, give me your honest opinion. *g*

Cover Coming Soon...

Blogger is refusing to let me post up my new cover but I'll keep trying so watch this space!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sexiest Man Alive?

Most of you probably know that Matthew McConaughey was picked as People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 2005, but out of the list of fifteen, I personally would've picked Matt Damon. There was just something about him in Bourne Identity - that mind, those muscles! Who'd your pick be out of People's list?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Blind Dates

What do you watch out for on a blind date?

The difference between blind dates in this millennium and in the last, is that a couple of years ago your date was usually screened by mutual friends.

These days, the only recommendation you are likely to have is from what the Lone Ranger had to say in the internet chatroom. Or a random computerised selection by a dating agency.
Continue reading Welcome To Blind Date Hell..

Anyone got a good blind date story? Wanna share? It'll be between me, you and the anonymity of the internet. Promise.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cabin Romances

The snow this morning made me think of a well-loved romance novel convention - the "cabin" romance. The term refers to stories where the hero and heroine are isolated with each other and far from any civilization.

The place may in fact be a cabin but can include things like a ship or a luxurious tent in the desert (the heroine having been kidnapped by a sheik of course).

I like these stories but they're notoriously difficult to write because the hero and heroine have only each other to play off. However in a well-written book, that becomes a plus, because cutting the characters off from the world creates an intense emotional intimacy, giving them no room to hide.

However that very reason is why some readers don't like cabin romances. To them, the enforced togetherness seems claustrophobic, too much hero-heroine interaction and not enough outside factors. Which side of the fence do you fall on? Any favorite cabin romances?


Forecast for snow tomorrow! Part of me is excited (the part that grew up in a hot climate) but the other part of me is thinking about being turned into a popsicle. If there's no post tomorrow, you'll know what happened...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Shall We Dance?

I finally managed to watch "Shall We Dance?" last night. I thought it was a sweet, romantic movie with a sort of old-world feel to it that you don't get in so many movies these days. Almost made me want to learn to dance (except that I have two left feet and really don't hate anyone enough to want to subject them to broken foot bones).

Other romantic movies I like include "Jerry Maquire" and "Ever After". What about you? What movies make you sigh, smile and believe in happy ever after? Any recommendations?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Finding Time

I've decided to do a grown-up post today, which may surprise those of you who've begun to think I do nothing but hang around in snow huts. Today's grown-up topic is "Time" and how to make the most of it. I'm no expert but I do have a few tips I thought I'd share with you.

While this is pitched toward those of you who write and need time to do it, I think most of the ideas would work for any hobby/passion that you need to find extra time for.

1. Ditch the t.v.

I can hear the screams of horror right now but you'd be amazed at how much time is sucked up by that small black box. I discovered this by accident when I moved to Japan. Because at first I couldn't understand much on t.v., I just didn't watch it. And time magically appeared out of nowhere.

If you can't ditch the t.v. totally, then be strict with yourself about what you will watch. Have a list of 'must-see' shows and don't allow yourself to deviate from it too much. And if you can, tape the shows (that way, you can skip the ads and save some more time!).

2. Don't wait for the perfect moment in which to write. Use time as it comes, whether it be in hour-long blocks, or ten stolen minutes.
True story: I wrote parts of Desert Warrior (my first published book) on the bus during the rush-hour commute from work. The writing on the page was wonky but it was writing on a page. Transferring those written pages onto the computer can be done anytime, even when it's noisy or you're watching t.v. The important thing is, they're written.

3. Prioritize. For example, if you can survive on macaroni and cheese a couple of nights, do it. If you can live with vacumning once every two weeks instead of once every week, then go for it.
Before you all pounce on me for making generalizations, I will say that your choices will depend on your own life. No one is going to get mad at me if I make cheese on toast three nights in a row. If you have others relying on you, that situation changes. Your priorities are your own. But you must learn to prioritize in some way, shape or form. Maybe you want to ensure everyone in the house has good nutrition. Okay, fine. But perhaps the trade-off is that they don't have a squeaky clean house. Choices no one but you can make, but choices that are there to be made.

4. Be willing to be give up some things.
It is physically impossible for me to work full-time, write full-time and have a full-time social calendar. I'd either be dead or comatose by now. So I'm not as social as I might be otherwise. I still see my friends but I don't accept every invitation. I'm lucky in that I have a circle of friends who understand why I make the choices I do (though they do insist on calling me the "Hermit") which makes this so much easier. If you have friends who don't understand your passion, then try to educate them. And if that doesn't I said, the choices are yours.

5. Know yourself.
Don't set deadlines which are impossible to meet simply because the time isn't there. Doing this just makes you feel bad each time you don't make it. Be honest about the time that you do have.

And then use that time to the best advantage. Sometimes we writers need time to just let the muse go where it will, but to work consistently, you need to discipline yourself. For example, this week I'm editing a manuscript. Until that's done, I shouldn't be starting something else because it'll throw me behind schedule.

Maybe the above points aren't words of wisdom but hopefully, they can be of some help.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Icy Cool

So who's up for a 'shot' (hilarious I know!) of Baileys? As you can see, the walls of this fully functioning Baileys bar/cafe were made up of blocks of ice. And yet it was warm inside! What do the eskimos know that I don't?

The Adventurer Returns

I'm back after two days of seminaring with a witty, funny and utterly brilliant post. Okay, that's a horrible lie but you can't blame a girl for trying.Watch this space for a proper post later today. (And until then, you can leave messages saying how much you missed me) *g*.

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!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Publishing and Paolo the Pool Boy

I had a friend email me the other day and ask for the lowdown on how this whole book publishing thing works. Since I wrote it all out for her, I thought I might as well post it up here for any others who may be interested. Here goes.

Step 1: You have a genius idea. It's going to be the next Da Vinci Code.

Step 2: You write a two-page outline and send it to uber-agent.

Step 3: Uber-agent loves it! Thinks it is the next Da Vinci Code. Immediately contacts publishers.

Step 4: All publishers love it! Think it is the next Da Vinci Code. (Dan Brown's publisher is scared of your greatness).

Step 5: Bidding war ensues over your idea. Finally, you settle for a million dollar offer from Uber-Publisher.

Step 6: You write book. It flows out of you like fine wine - brilliant, utterly brilliant!

Step 7: You get an AMAZING cover. Oprah interviews you. Dan Brown sobs that he wishes he'd written your book. He becomes so desolate that he needs theraphy. You lend him a shoulder to cry on.

Step 8: You become filthy rich and marry a buff pool boy named Paolo (or if you are male, a sexy cabaret girl named Tiffany). You are only twenty-five.

Step 9: You are made a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and tour the world with Bono and Angelina Jolie.

Step 10: You wake up from the coma you fell into after receiving your 277th rejection, which said your brilliant idea was 'Da Vinci Code as written by a lobotomized rabbit on heroin', and realize that the past ten years have been a figment of your comatose brain.

Step 11: You ask doctor to put you back in coma as you were about to discover the cure for cancer and win the Nobel Prize.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I love and admire you!"

What a declaration! For those of you who aren't obsessed with this particular love story, the quote is from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I've been watching the BBC's adaptation (for the xillionth time) and I was struck once again by the way so much is said in the scenes between Lizzie and Mr Darcy without a word being spoken.

A glance, a smile, a subtle change in expression and the viewer knows exactly what's going on. The whole relationship is so restrained and yet so incredibly passionate under those genteel manners. It fascinates me to wonder what might really be going on inside their heads.

As you might've guessed, the only point of this post is to wax lyrical about Pride and Prejudice. Any other fans fell free to jump in with your favorite lines or scenes (or just longing sighs for Mr Darcy!).

Friday, October 28, 2005

I Am Not An Eskimo

It's getting cold where I live. I don't deal well with cold. At all. My blood freezes and I do a very good impression of a geriatric penguin every time I have to leave my super-heated apartment. It's just as well that I live in the southern part of Japan because it's already snowing up north.

I did suck up all my courage and venture up there for the snow festival last winter and it was definitely worth it (see pic) but to live there? My worst nightmare. The entire city was completely white. Not a single spot of color to be seen. Very long as I had a plane ticket outa there in a few days.

This weekend, I think I'm going to pull out all my winter gear in preparation for the time when earmuffs, gloves, mufflers and boots are the only thing standing between me and life as a frozen still-life. I'll take stifling heat over below zero temps any day of the week. Who's with me?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Inside Nalini's Head

Personality 1: You know there's an unfinished bar of chocolate in the fridge.
Personality 2: No, not listening. (Claps hands over ears and starts humming).

Personality 1: If you don't eat it it'll go to waste.
Personality 2: NOT listening!

Personality 1: Oh well, I suppose you better throw it in the garbage to avoid temptation.
Personality 2: Good idea. (Goes to fridge, grabs chocolate.) I. Can't. Put. It. In. The. Garbage.

Personality 1: Might as well eat it then.
Personality 2: (Stares at chocolate which has miraculously unwrapped itself). Just two small pieces.

Personality 1: But that'll leave only two other bits and you can't put that amount back in the fridge.
Personality 2: Why?

Personality 1: Who puts two pieces of chocolate back, an anorexic Barbie doll on a diet? And honey, you ain't no Barbie doll.
Personality 2: Yeah, you're right. I have to eat it to protest against the impossible media image of women. I'm doing it for a greater cause.

Thirty Minutes Later

Personality 1
: You know, there's...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bob, Betty, Bianca and Bill

I'm currently working on a story with a lot of characters. It's a romance so there are two main characters but there are also several secondary characters.

For every book I write, I maintain a list of character names and any special points about them (ie. this character is scared of spiders) because this helps me not make a complete fool of myself by turning a male character into a female halfway through the book or something else equally odd. I'm currently pondering a reader version of this for my book, basically with just the relationships listed ie. Bob is married to Betty. Bianca is their daughter and Bill is their son.

My question to you is, what do you think of books that come with a Cast of Characters page in the front? Is it helpful to you as a reader?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Nurses Team

I hate to admit it but I think the nurses team pipped us at the post as far as costumes go. However, no one came near to our fierceness. Yarrrrrr!

Pirate Cat

The back of a certain pirate's shirt.


People who actually know what they're doing (well, most of them anyway!).

Pirate Duck

Because every self-respecting pirate needs a duck.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Back Alive

I'm back, sunburnt and sleep-deprived but otherwise alive. There were a few close calls with the dragonboat and the river's retaining walls but our pirate-might prevailed. And we didn't come last! Yippee! Pictures up tomorrow. So what did everyone else get up to this weekend?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pirates and Men

I'm heading off for distant pastures this weekend. Along with a crew of nine other lunatics, I'm going to participate in a regional dragonboating competition. Why are we lunatics? Because of the ten crew, only one, one, has ever dragonboated before. And given that paddling in unison in a very big boat requires a lot more practise and skill, we've got no illusions that we're going to win.

Instead, our only goal is to beat the other hopeless team of lunatics from another prefecture and possibly win the prize for the most outlandish costume. So join me in wishing lots of luck to the Pirates of the Yagawa: Curse of the Green Tea (that being our name, mateys).

While I'm off trying not to drown, why don't you all have a go at this quiz I stole from Dee's blog.

You Have Your PhD in Men

You understand men almost better than anyone.
You accept that guys are very different, and you read signals well.
Work what you know about men, and your relationships will be blissful.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I'm currently working on the galleys of my March book - galleys are the final page proofs an author sees, our last chance to catch any errors and inconsistencies. It's amazing what slips in and by this stage, I've read the book probably over a hundred times and so have several other people. But I actually like doing galleys. When I received them for my very first book, I was over the moon. Why? Because they have a cover page with the words "Author's Copy" on them in big letters. Several books later, those words still send a happy shiver up my spine.

What about you? What's something you never get tired of doing or seeing?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mean Characters

When most authors begin a book, they like the characters they create. I'm no different - I love all of the major characters I've written onto the page...or do I? For Awaken the Senses I had to write Spencer Ashton, a mean, mean man who is a borderline sociopath and an unashamed narcissist. I didn't like Spencer as a person, but boy was he fun to write.

That's a writer's point of view but what about as a reader? Should an author always make sure that a book contains a protagonist that the reader can identify with, someone they'll like? I used to think so but I'm not so sure any longer. For example, I really don't like Scarlett O'Hara, and I know others who don't. And yet, Gone With The Wind is a book most readers can't put down.

I also recently read a very good thriller but the main detective was hardly a character I warmed to at the start - in fact, it took a good chunk of the book for me to like this guy. When I thought about it, there wasn't a single character in that book whom I liked from the get-go. But that didn't stop me from continuing the thriller, because the underlying story was excellent and it needed these characters to make it work.

So it looks like not all books need a likeable protagonist. However, I think the rules are different for romance novels. Because romances are all about two characters fighting through obstacles to find each other, we as readers, need to like them enough to cheer them on. If we don't engage with the character, we're not going to care whether they find true love or not. (In my opinion, Gone With The Wind isn't a romance but part of the wider 'love story' genre). Villains and secondary characters can be unlikeable in a romance, but the two main protagonists must be redeemable.

That leads me to another point - one unlikeable main romantic lead is actually worse than two. Why? With two of them, you can just say they deserve each other. But, for example, if the hero is a great guy and the heroine is a completely unlikeable character, then the romance becomes impossible to believe in. I've often found myself hating a book because I kept asking - what could possibly attract him to her? (Or vice versa of course).

Anyone else, readers and writers, care to weigh in on this topic?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just for Fun

I figure every blog should have a ridiculous survey once in a while, so here's one for this blog: What's the oddest/strangest/weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

In my case, the prize would probably have to go to the possibly cooked, possibly raw sea snail in a shell that I made a blood-pact with another friend to eat at a dinner party last year. All I can say is never again. Ever.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Late Nights

I stayed up past 1am last night reading a book, desperate to finish. I haven't done that for a long time, though once, late nights huddled over a good book were a regular part of life. I think the latest I ever stayed up reading was till 4am. Three hours later, I got up for school. Insane? Perhaps a little bit, but who wants to be responsible all the time, right? And isn't it wonderful that such great books exist?

What about you? What's your latest book-night? Any of you ever pull an all-nighter?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cute, too cute

This website is too adorable. Hours of time wasting fun!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Living a life of champagne and caviar

It's the weekend and while most of you are sleeping in on Sunday morning, I'll be weeding. Yes, weeding. Why? Because communal weeding of the apartment complex is both a mandatory exercise and my chance to bond with the folk who live around me. At least that's what they tell me.

The first time someone explained the whole get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-on a Sunday-to-pull-grass-concept to me, I laughed hysterically because I thought it was a joke. I laugh no more. So think of me while you're snuggled up in your beds tomorrow and have an extra minute or hour of shuteye on my behalf.

Weird Things Writers Do: Volume 1

So I just happened to be looking around Amazon Japan and I just happened to type in my name into the search box (as you do) and what do you know, Secrets in the Marriage Bed (March 06) is already listed! So of course I then just accidentally happened to go over to and found to my surprise that Secrets isn't listed there yet. Why?! Why?

Moral of story: Writers are neurotic. Even the ones who tell you they aren't.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Today's entry comes courtesy of the word "Procrastination". For the past couple of weeks, I've been procrastinating over something non-writing related. Yesterday, I finally went ahead and got it done. And now I feel so free. So why was I procrastinating in the first place? It served no purpose but to be this annoying little buzzing insect in the back of my mind until I cleared the decks.

And yet I know I'll fall victim to it again, so why don't we all share procrastination tactics today? For my own part, I've been known to clean the apartment from top to bottom and then sideways, when I'm really wanting to put something off. Suddenly, the vacuum and duster become my best friends and that really is a sad, sad thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's a bright, bright sunshiny day...

It's a stunningly beautiful day today and I just rode my bike into work, the wind in my hair and all that good stuff. This kind of day makes me glad to be alive and living where I am. I swear I'm sitting here with one of those peaceful-content smiles on my face that usually only appear on the faces of old stone statues. So how about you? How's your day going?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life in Japan: Desperation

I'm writing today's post on a Japanese computer in Japan. This means that everything on the blogger page is automatically in Japanese, which makes for interesting times. I speak tolerable Japanese but my reading is atrocious (mostly because I, um, kind of stopped studying soon as I was able to understand the t.v.).

Is there a point to this post? Actually, yes. I've always thought of myself as a broad-minded person but soon after arriving in Japan a couple of years back, I discovered something about myself - I was a card-carrying member of the book-snob-club. I knew what I liked and that was it. Surrounded by bookstores and libraries, I could indulge my needs as I pleased. It wasn't only a matter of genres but also of authors - with a huge auto-read list, squeezing in a new author wasn't something I particularly worried about (except for my writing buds who sold).

Then I came to Japan. And I moved to the middle of the countryside, far, far, far from the metropolis of Tokyo. There are bookstores in my town. Not a single English book in them. That was when I began my journey of discovery. It took me a while to figure out how to navigate the online delivery sites (cause they're all in Japanese), so for a couple of months, it looked like I'd be in a book-free zone. Nooooo!!!! In desperation, I started going through the box of books left behind by a friend who'd moved back home before I moved to Japan. She had very different tastes from me but beggars can't be choosers. So I started reading. Literary fiction. Fiction from the American South. Booker Prize stuff. Sagas.

Some of it I hated. But to my surprise, some of it I loved.

Two years on, my reading tastes have broadened considerably. I still have my favorite authors and genres, but I no longer turn up my nose at things that don't fall within my past range of experience. Will this last once I return back home or will I be sucked back into the world of the familiar? I don't know. What I do know is that the familiar has now become far wider than it once was.

So my question for you is, how willing are you to try not only new authors in a genre you love, but new genres itself? Have you made any recent discoveries about your reading tastes that you were unaware of before? (fyi I realized last week that no matter how desperate I become, espionage novels just do not do it for me.)

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I finished the first draft of a futuristic yesterday. And it came in long rather than short, which is always great news. Before I start on edits, I think we should kick back and party. So pull up a chair at Nalini's cyber-bar and order the beverage of your choice. It's on me!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Flawed Heroes

Over on Romancing the Blog, they're talking about anti-heroes. It got me thinking - I love flawed heroes and so do most readers. Why??

I mean, wouldn't it make more sense for the heroic knight in shining armor to be this perfect beacon of light who makes the heroine's life beautiful and completely without stress? Surely no one wants more stress? And yet the heroes we love are men who will undoubtedly raise our heroine's temperature, make her crazy on occasion and have the potential for as much dark as light.

Every single one of the heroes I love falls into this category. Here's a sampling.

from the In Death books by J D Robb - um, he was a criminal mastermind (need I say more?).

Mr. Darcy
from Pride and Prejudice - the man is so stubborn and proud, he drives Lizzie half insane.

from Remembrance by Jude Deveraux - not only is he selfish and vain, he thinks the heroine belongs to him. That's it. He's not even going to try to woo her because as far as he's concerned, she's already his. And yet he's one of my absolute keeper heroes.

from Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon - even his friends think this hero is certifiable (as in should be locked up and the key thrown away).

All of the heroes listed above have deep and sometimes dangerous, flaws. And yet that is the very thing that makes them so powerful for me - their imperfections turn them from characters on the page to something far more real, far more human. I can't imagine a perfect knight, but I can imagine a flawed man who has the courage to rise above his flaws when the circumstances demand.

What about you? Do you love flawed heroes? Why? Who's your favorite?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Epilogues and Endings

Those of you who checked out yesterday's link know that the prize in my website competition is a Down Under edition of Craving Beauty, which comes with a special bonus feature at the end - a letter from the heroine. The letter acts as an epilogue, which the original book didn't have.

Several people who have so far entered the competition have commented on their love for epilogues, a love I fully understand. I adore writing epilogues, especially when there is something ‘unresolved’ in the book that needs to be tied up. If the heroine is about to have a baby, I need to see her and the baby healthy and well after the birth. Or if there’s been a major operation, I want to see the character a ways down the track, doing fine.

If I read a book and it doesn’t have an epilogue, I sometimes create one in my own head. For me, the characters become real people, whose lives continue on even after the pages of the book are closed. The epilogue is a glimpse into that life, a look through the window and I can’t resist peeking in. If you ask me about any of the characters I’ve ever written about, I could probably tell you the names of their children, what career they’re currently pursuing and whether they’ve had a fight lately. Yes, I know it makes me sound slightly nuts but I’m okay with that.

However, I know some people don’t read epilogues. They feel that it’s an extra that dilutes the powerful ending of a book and takes away from the tension. They don’t want to think about these dramatic, passionate characters living an ‘ordinary’ life. For them, the book ends when the climax is reached and the last chapter finishes. Nothing more is necessary.

What side of the line do you fall on? Do you want that glimpse into the future, that peek behind the curtain, or are you happy to leave the characters happy, their future undefined by anything but your imagination?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


The day job has taken over my life for the past couple of days and today looks like another full day so apologies for the fly-by-post. Be back tomorrow! Until then, check out the competition I'm running on my home page.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I want to be Angelina

I've just sent off two Desire proposals and am feeling very virtuous. Part of me says, take a break, you deserve it. However, that part is being drowned out by the part whispering I've only got 10k more to go on a futuristic and the first draft is done! Guess which part is winning?

I did manage to catch Tomb Raider on t.v. last night. And after much thought, I've decided that in my next incarnation, I'd like to have Ms Lara Croft's body. Who would you pick?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Strawberry, Vanilla & Chocolate

A friend just gave me a whole box of giant Neapolitan Mousse Balls from Alaska. See the picture to the left, which I got off this website. Either she really likes me or she's plotting my death by sugar overdose. But what a way to go!

Sorry, not sharing. Hard-working writers need to keep up their energy levels. (And they'd melt in the post anyway so really, I'm doing you a favor by eating them all by myself) ;)

Characters in control

This weekend I'm planning on polishing a proposal so that it's ready to send off on Monday, as well as continuing to work on a manuscript that's screaming to be finished. I'm absolutely dying to know how these characters are going to get out of the situation into which they've gotten themselves. Because sometimes, even the writer has no clue what's going on.

What's everyone else up to?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Random Thought

I think writers should have the option of growing an extra pair of arms and hands at will. That way, while one set is doing the dishes or hanging out the washing, the second set can be typing away. Of course, the other way to tackle this problem is to forget that there is such a thing as housework. Choices, choices...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Banned Books Week

Thanks to the very on-to-it, MicheleK, I now know that it's the American Library Association's Banned Book Week. I don't rant much but I think this topic deserves it. Books are important, not only because they provide joy and fire up the imagination, but because they contain knowledge. Any attempt to ban a book is an attempt to nurture ignorance. And no one has the right to do that. No one.

Weird Fact Wednesday: Laws

Fact 4: Today's fact come courtesy of the folk at According to them, in Michigan, married couples must live together or be imprisoned, and in Utah, there must be daylight visible between dancing couples. So romantic.

I'm dying to know if either of these is actually true, so if someone knows, please share.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Culture Shot & Spam

I went to a lantern matsuri (festival) over the weekend. The point of telling you this was to post up a couple of pics of the huge lanterns that were pulled or carried through the parade. Unfortunately Blogger has decided not to let me post pictures today so I'll try again later.

In other news, I got spam today from people named Frankel and Herzberg (both of whom don't want me to 'expose my intimate life!'), Hoch (selling the best pharmaceuticals), the aptly named Doctor (also selling pharmaceuticals) and the very upper-class sounding Faber (who only wants to sell me software). However so far, I think Geffen is leading by a long shot in the improbable sounding name stakes (apologies to any Geffens out there). Anybody care to put up another candidate?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It was Cherry Flavored

I’m about to disappear into the depths of another long weekend. Yes, that’s right, I had a long weekend last weekend, then had a three day working week and Friday is once again a holiday. I love this country!
Since I’m going to be cut off from the internet for the next three days (ouch) and because I’m feeling extremely energetic as a result of all this public-holiday madness, I’ve come up with an idea for a fun participatory blog based on an old writing exercise.
Here’s the deal—I’m going to give you a single line of text. What you have to do is create a 50 word paragraph around it. The line can be at the end, the beginning, the middle, but it must be there. (And yes it counts toward the wordcount).
This isn’t a game just for the writers, anyone can play. Write me a newspaper article, fiction, a commercial, anything – just use 50 words or under. If we get more than ten posts, we can then have a vote as to the most splendiferous.
Here’s the line: It was cherry flavored.
I can already see the dangerous possibilities...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Weird Fact Wednesday: Reality Shows Run Amok

Fact 3: Alas we've missed it, but until Sep 17th, there was a Croatian reality show running on the internet which featured sheep. Not metaphorical sheep. Real sheep. Apparently you could watch them 'interact' and then vote out the ones you didn't like. According to this article, the losers might have ended up eaten. While I can't read the language of the official website, from the pictures it looks like Josip won. Handsome fellow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Let's talk Addictions

I'm addicted to chocolate. This is no secret. I'm also addicted to good books and apparently, email. And I am, of course, totally and completely addicted to writing. Withdrawal symptoms? Check. Obsessive behavior? Check. A natural high. Check.

What are your 'sweet' addictions, the ones you have no desire whatsoever to kick even if you could?
P.S. If you posted on Bron's guest blog, be sure to check out the last comment. Don't say I never do anything for you :)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Long Weekend

It's a long weekend in my neck of the woods and so far I've caught up on my video watching, eaten far too many Oreo cookies, done some writing, read a book, convinced a telemarketer that I can't speak a word of Japanese (sshhhh) and come to the conclusion that peanut-butter is a food group. What are you all up to? (And what do you do when telemarketers call?)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rescue Me by Bronwyn Jameson

When Nalini asked me if I’d like to guest-blog I immediately said yes because: (a) Nalini is such a sweetheart, how could I say no? (b) It was a next-week kind of thing, which gave me time to think about a topic, right? Right. Suddenly it’s this week and, well, here I am. Tapping the microphone nervously because I’ve never made a guest appearance before.


I have a book out this month called The Rich Stranger. A couple of days ago I googled for on-line reviews and found one which referenced that particular fantasy: a rich, gorgeous stranger swoops in to rescue the heroine who’s about to go down for the count (financially.) This stopped me in my tracks. I did not write the book with that fantasy in mind. At all.

Here’s the thing: I always thought of Rafe Carlisle (the rich stranger of the title) as the one who needed rescuing. From his grounded plane as the book opens but especially from his lifestyle. My heroine, Cat, is a gutsy, independent woman. She’s lonely, she’s hit rock bottom, and she needs help, but not the white-knight-on-a-charger kind. Being a male with alpha inclinations, Rafe (of course) does want to rescue our reluctant heroine…and therein lies some of the book’s conflict. Who, exactly, is rescuing whom?

Which brings me to my point, which is more of a question, really. Is the heroine-in-need-of-rescue (by a rich stranger, by a strong alpha, by a gallant protector) a valid fantasy in today’s world? Or does today’s heroine, for today’s reader, need to be strong enough to rescue herself? What do you think?