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*.