Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hi Everyone. I wanted to let you all know that contrary to Friday's post, I won't be blogging again till next Monday (March 6). See you then.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tokyo, Here I Come!

The edits on Gabe & Jess's Story are done! Well, at least this round of them. I want to have another look at the manuscript after letting it sit for a while. In the meantime, I'm going to be working on Visions of Heat, the follow-up to Slave to Sensation.

However all that's going to have to wait until I get back from Tokyo. Yup, that's right - I'm off to the big city tonight so I can attend a Harlequin Japan party for readers tomorrow. Exciting stuff! Hopefully there shall be pictures and if not, I'll give you a full narrative when I get back online either Sunday or Monday.
But wait, let me take a sip of my nifty cocoa/hot chocolate in a can before I carry on. Mmm. ;) That's one of the things I'm definitely going to miss when I leave Japan - vending machines that serve up hot drinks in the winter and cold drinks in the summer. And the choices!! Tea (green, black, lemon, milk), coffee (black, sweet, acid-strong...), soft drinks, juices, flavored milks and not to forget, cocoa!

Getting back on track, here are some blog links: Diana Peterfreund has put up an interesting post on rejections, and over on RTB, Shirley Jump is talking about the line between constructive crticism and meanness, topics which dovetail quite nicely together.

On a completely different note, A.C. Crispin has a very good post up about websites that ask you to post up your work for free and what effect that can have on your later ability to sell the work etc.

And Emma Sinclair (who happens to share a birthday with me) has just finished "The Futuristic That Might Kill" Her, so I think we should all go congratulate her. :)

What's everyone else up to today & what are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pick-Up Lines

Every year Harlequin puts out a Romance Report, with survey results on various romance related things from all over the world. This year's theme was "The Encounter" and one of the sections was devoted to pick-up lines from around the world. Here are some of them:
  • Well, here I am. What were you other two wishes? (Australia)
  • All those curves and me with no brakes. (Mexico)
  • Are you a parking ticket, because you have FINE written all over you! (USA)
  • Do you have a band-aid? Because I scraped my knees when I fell for you. (Canada)
  • I'm not actually this tall. I'm sitting on my wallet. (Japan)
  • I lost my number, can I borrow yours? (U.K.)
Anybody else got any others to share? Currently, I think the one from Japan is ranking as my favorite. What's yours? (And seriously, do these EVER work?!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Titles and Conundrums

I'm nearing the end of edits on Gabe & Jess's Story and I still don't have a title.

Usually, I have some idea of what will work for a book and I did have a title when I proposed this story. But my original title isn't going to work with how the story's gone (which is why I began referring to it by the characters' names). I figured that would free up the imagination to come up with new and exciting titles. Nothing yet but I can always hope.

Do titles influence your buying choice if you're looking at work by an unknown author? Would you be more likely to pick up a book with a 'hooky' title that told you exactly what you were getting, like for example, The Sicilian's Mistress (I just made that up on the spot), than a book with a more general title? What are some titles that have stuck in your mind?

And last but not least, for those of you who are writers - how do you come up with titles?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

When I...

When I become rich enough to do whatever I please, I shall hire a Personal Assistant. I've already got two volunteers for the position. It's just a small matter of being able to pay them. But back to my need for a PA/Secretary.

I'm having a week where I just want to write but there are so many other administrative things I have to clear off my desk that it's making me crazy. I either need a genie to come and poof it all away so I can concentrate on my manuscript or hire a PA. I figure I'm going to have more luck with the latter than the former.

And while I'm at it, I'd hire a housekeeper, too. Oh, such glamorous dreams! But unfortunately for me, while I was running neck and neck with Dan Brown in terms of sales at the start, he's somehow leaped ahead. *g* Which leaves me with no PA, no housekeeper, a large pile of admin and a very small amount of edible goods in the house. But one day...

What would you do if you were rich enough?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Vampires Bite Back

One lonely heart meets her true love when she throws a knife into his chest. Another finds hers while she's trying to raise the dead. Still another happens upon Mr. Right while performing emergency surgery on one of his fangs. If you think meeting guys is tough, you should try meeting vampires.

Yet, increasingly, that's what women want to do--especially women who read romance novels. More than 170 sagas of paranormal amour hit the shelves in 2004, twice as many as two years before, and publishers say readers' appetite for the genre is not nearly sated. Author Christine Feehan sells around half a million copies of each book she publishes and finds more readers with every title...

This is from a tongue-in-cheek article titled Well, Hello, Suckers in Time Magazine. It's well worth reading if you're either a reader or a writer of paranormal romance.

If you do read (or write) paranormals, what's the attraction in it for you? A lot of the time, I think it has to do with crossing boundaries and breaking rules, doing things you couldn't get away with in a 'normal' universe. All sorts of actions and events become acceptable because you've taken a step outside the known world (blood-drinking anyone?).

I could write a lot more on the topic and I'm absolutely itching to, but I'm about to head out of town (back online tomorrow), so why don't you all give me your take on the question?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Assorted Thoughts

Why offer roses or chocolate when you can serve up the perfect face for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?

As the traditional lovers' day approached in China, plastic surgery clinics in trend-setting Shanghai reported a huge rise in business.
Okay, I just find the thought of this gift kind of creepy but anyone want to play devil's advocate and convince me it's romantic?

For everyone who gave me movie recommendations, thanks a heap. Unfortunately, none of the recommendations were playing so we ended up seeing Flightplan. I found it very good. Kept me in my seat and in the story the entire time so I'd give it a big thumbs up. (Especially since a certain Mr. Sean Bean played a major part).

And I meant to put this up earlier, but my agent, Nephele Tempest, recently did a post on a new line from Dorchester. It might be interesting for those of you writing paranormals and other alternative sub-genres.

Hope everyone's having a great weekend :)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just Call Me Betty

So far today, I've spent roughly two hours on trains, the same on buses and let's not forget the bicycle ride. And that was only by lunchtime. I think I need some energizer-bunny pills, but I'll have to settle for the soft chocolate chip cookie burning a hole in my bag and saying 'eat me, eat me' in really hypnotic voice.

In other news, the edits which fried my brain yesterday took an upward turn last night. Here's hoping things continue on in the same happy fashion. :) For the writers among you - what's your take on editing? Do you prefer it over writing the first draft, or vice versa? Also how do you edit - on paper or on the computer?

And just because it's Friday and really, who wants to be sensible on a Friday, why don't you go on and find out what your Outrageous Name is and post it in the comments?

Your Outrageous Name is:

Betty Humpter

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Movies & Books

I'm not going to be online again till tomorrow afternoon, so I'm leaving you with a couple of questions (because my brain is fried with some very tough edits I'm doing right now).

First question just for fun: What's the last book, whether it be ficton, non-fiction or even a children's story, that you read?

Mine was Alone by Lisa Gardner

Second question (okay, this is also for fun): Do you have any good movie recommendations? I'm probably off to see a movie tomorrow but I'm not very up with the latest releases so hit me with it.

Contest Winners

Without further ado, here are the winners of the Secrets In The Marriage Bed contest! (Picked via a random number generator).

Meljean Brook
Katie G.
Kendra Clark

Could all of you please drop me an email at nalini @ nalinisingh.com (without the spaces), with your mailing addresses so I can put your books in the mail. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Courtesy of one of my (many) cousins:


To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.


A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

Talking about jokes, while I enjoy being with people who have a great sense of humor, I've never been able to get into romance novels that are overtly humorous.

It just seems to me that the funniness takes the emotional punch right out of the story. Touches of biting wit and a few laugh-out-loud moments are fine, more than fine - often, they break up a very dark story and even out the pace - but anything else loses me as a reader.

On the other hand, I've read lots of funny books that don't fall into the romance genre, so it's not the humor itself that I don't like, but the use of it in a particular genre. For me, romances are all about the most intense emotions human beings have inside of them. When a book makes us laugh throughout, a lot of that intensity is diluted.

Am I in the minority? Have I just not found the right book? What do you all think about humor in your love stories?

(p.s. Don't forget, today's the last day to enter the contest.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day (and Happy Advanced Valentine's Day for those of you in another timezone!). I know I said the contest would end Valentine's Day but the whole timezone thing is messing things up, so I'll accept all entries that come in until the end of Wednesday, my time. :)

As a lot of you know, I currently live in Japan. What you might not know is that Valentine's Day here is a little different than in other parts of the world. On Valentine's Day in Japan, women give chocolates and/or presents to men but the men don't have to reciprocate.

That's saved for White Day, on March 14, when men are supposed to be the givers and women the receivers.
White Day was apparently created by confectionary manufacturers to give men the chance to discharge their sense of obligation over receiving all these gifts (and of course, for them to make more money!).

Also, giving gifts on Valentine's Day is not reserved for boyfriends or husbands (who get 'serious' chocolate), but girls also often give them to teachers and even co-workers (obligation chocolates)!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Website Opinions

My website is going to to be revamped later this year in preparation for the release of Slave to Sensation. Before Gabrielle starts redoing the site, I'd like to ask for some feedback from you all as to what you like to see on an author's website when you visit. (Feedback idea copied shamelessly from the awesome Alison Kent).

To break it up:
  • (1) What specific pages do you like to see on a site? ie. Author Bio / Excerpts / Upcoming releases etc?
  • (2) What pages do you like to see updated often? On my current website, I have a welcome message on the front page that I change every month so people know the site's been updated, but I'm thinking of doing away with that. Bad idea?
  • (3) What do you think of drop-down menus (where you scroll over, for example, Books, and a menu drops down all the options to do with books eg. excerpts / books in a series etc)? Does it make it easier to negotiate a site or harder?
Answer any or all that take your fancy and thanks in advance! :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More on covers

This seemed appropriate given that we were discussing covers just a couple of posts back. It's the Korean version of Craving Beauty. Hmm, I don't quite see what the picture has to do with the whole desert/bayou aspect of the story but I still think it's rather pretty. Opinions?

I once had a conversation with some editors about why they use different covers for different countries, and it was quite enlightening. For example, if you scan down this page, you can see the Japanese cover for Awaken to Pleasure on the sidebar. It's quite different from the original and is, incidentally, the original cover for Juliet Burns' High Stakes Passion. Apparently, the reason for the cover switch was because the North American cover was too openly sensual and readers would feel shy about picking it up in a bookstore. So there you go.

Moving on, given that several review sites are currently holding Book of 2005 polls, I've decided to hold one here, too. What book did you fall absolutely in love with in the last twelve months? Or better yet, what author did you discover and maniacally track down the backlist of? No restrictions as to genre or format so go wild! Personally, I found my way to Harlen Coben's stand-alone thrillers. Very, very dark and yet extremely satisfying in terms of the way he wraps up all the myriad dangling plot threads in a believable way.

Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Book Giveaway (Closes Valentine's Day!)

Look, I have my author copies of Secrets In The Marriage Bed!! Yay. And since I figure it's time I ran another contest for blog readers, I'm doing a giveaway. Just leave a comment anywhere on the blog before next Tuesday (Valentine's Day!) and you're in to win one of five copies. Pretty good odds!

If you have trouble with posting a comment, shoot me an email instead at nalini @ nalinisingh.com (without the spaces) and I'll add you to the list.

Oh and if you've already bought a copy of Secrets, I'll swap it for one of my backlist so long as I have a spare copy of the book you want.


As regular blog readers will know, I have a futuristic paranormal romance coming out with Berkley in November this year, called Slave to Sensation. It's quite a departure from my short contemporary novels for Silhouette Desire, so I'm wondering if my Desire readers will give it a shot.

What are your views on this - would you follow an author you loved if they branched out into a new sub-genre? Does an author's voice matter to you more than the specifics of the type of the book they're writing, or does the type of book (historical / contemporary etc) hold more sway?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cover Seduction

I'm having an odd problem with the book I'm currently reading. The book is okay, but though I've enjoyed this author's other work, I can't quite get into this one. That's not the problem. It's the cover. It's gorgeous. Stunning even. Every time I close the book, I see that cover and think I need to keep reading - with that cover, it's got to be awesome.

The even worse thing is, the book is part of a series and they all have these wonderful amazing covers. Part of me wants to buy the next book just to have a copy of that cover! Thankfully, I'm not that far gone, but the temptation is there.

It's the first time I've really felt the impact a cover can have on a book purchase - usually, I concentrate just on the story. And I didn't actually buy this book as a result of the cover either but because it was recommended to me by a bookseller I trust. However, I can definitely see how someone who was wavering over buying could be swayed by the cover. Have you ever been? How much do covers influence your book buying?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Four Things

I've been tagged by Kendra to do this 4 Things quiz. Here goes:

Four jobs I’ve had

Packer in a Candy Factory (oh those chocolate caramels...)

Admin type person for a bank

Lawyer (you should see my collection of suits)


Four movies I watch over and over

(I think I answered this for the 7 Things tag but who says I can't repeat and contradict myself?)

The Princess Bride
Mr & Mrs Smith
Khushi (Bollywood movie)

Four places I’ve lived

New Zealand


#4 - To be decided (Any suggestions?)

Four TV shows I love (or have loved)

Star Trek (Go Trekkies!)

Four places I’ve vacationed


Four favorite dishes

Chocolate anything
Lamb Curry
Japanese fried chicken

Four sites I visit daily (I'm blog-obsessed but here are some other sites I visit daily)

eHarlequin Community
Stuff (Newspaper)
Statcounter (I am also one of the stat-obsessed)

Four places I’d rather be right now

At home with a good book.
Otherwise content!

Four bloggers I’m tagging (If you've already done this, you're excused!)




Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Links Links!!

Today, I'm doing a link roundup of interesting stuff, so check these out.

If you want all the behind the scenes goss from a writing conference, go to Diana Peterfreund's STAR conference guessing game. I'm dying to know the answers to some of these.

To drown in good news of sales down under, have a look at
Bronwyn Jameson's latest entry about all the new NZ/Aussie authors about to debut with Harlequin.

My friend and new Desire author
Yvonne Lindsay has just launched her website and it's definitely worth a visit.

fans, you might want to look at this interview with Donald Faison. I swear that show is the funniest thing on t.v.

Oh yeah, my own
website has been updated and I'm running a Valentine's Day competition so swing on by.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Valentine's Day Gifts

If someone gave you a book you really, really wanted but couldn't afford to buy, as a Valentine's Day present, would you consider that romantic? What would be your ultimate Valentine's gift?

Friday, February 03, 2006


I'm a pretty forgiving sort of a reader. As a writer, I know mistakes happen - typos get past even after three or even four people have read the ms, and the occasional bigger mistake creeps in. So I don't give up on a book if, for example, the heroine takes off her sweater and then five pages later, takes off her sweater again. That's not a biggie for me - it doesn't affect the story so I'll let it go.

But right now, I'm reading a book which has made two very big mistakes. One, I told myself to get past - it could've just been a really unfortunate typo. But the second is making it difficult for me to keep giving this book a chance. Here's a synopsis: There's a disaster and the hero and heroine are left without anything. So the hero goes out and hires a hotel room & buys them new clothes. At first, I thought, where did he get the money? Then I figured that since he fell asleep in his clothes, his wallet was in his pocket. No problem. Except a few pages later, the two of them make a big deal about how they don't have any money or credit cards etc because everything was lost in the disaster!!

I actually put down the book at that point and considered never picking it up again. The only reason I'm going to do so is because there's a minor character who I'm quite fond of and would like to know the fate of. I think the reason this mistake affected me so much is because it pulled me completely out of the flow of the story and had me thinking consciously about what was going on. And once that happened, it became very difficult for me to lose myself in the book again. My brain keeps trying to pick it apart.

Would that mistake have put you off? What would?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Open for questions

Instead of posting on a given topic today, I thought I'd open up the floor to questions. Anything you want to ask me about my books, publishing etc, here's your chance.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Words of Wisdom About Writing Contests

I did an interview recently where I was asked about contests, ergo this post. I figured since I'm so old and wise *g*, I'd share some of the things I learned about writing contests during the time when I was entering them left, right and centre. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Know what you want from a contest before you enter it. Are you doing it to get feedback? Are you aiming to get your work in front of an acquiring editor? Or are you just wanting to force yourself to get some work out there in the world?

2. After you know why you've decided to enter, then get choosy. If, for example, you're entering to get feedback, then it's no use entering those contests that simply give you a number score with no breakdown of those scores. Find contests that give detailed score sheets, especially those where the judges have room to write comments.

Or if you're just doing it to motivate yourself, maybe you can look for contests that cost little or are free to enter. There are often small contests like this online. As always, buyer beware - check out the contests beforehand, especially if you're sending money. For example, is it affiliated with a respected romance writing group or review site?

The other thing you need to be careful of is the entry form - is it, for example, asking you to give up rights to the work even if you don't win? That recently happened with one contest though I can't find the link right now. But the point is, be careful. And don't enter if anything seems 'off'.

3. Get a thick skin. Any time your book goes out into the world, some people are going to love it and some are going to hate it. If you don't believe me, go look up some Amazon reviews for any bestselling author - nobody gets all positive reviews.

Learn to let the really cruel comments run off your back, because unfortunately, some people do cross the line from constructive criticism to being mean. Train yourself to pick these out immediately and forget about them. Yes, it's hard, and yes it hurts but you have to get over it if you're going to move on.

Focus instead on the ones which have come in with specific (constructive) criticisms about the book, especially if those same criticisms have been repeated by more than one judge. Consider those criticisms with an open mind, and decide whether or not you need to make changes to the manuscript.

And don't forget the nice comments. Read them over and over if you have to, to cushion yourself against the critical ones. Don't be blinded by them, but no one's saying you can't wallow in them until you're ready to tackle the harsher ones. Here's a tip - organize the score sheets so you always have the nice comments on top. That way, every time you go through them, you go in feeling good.

4. Be true to your work. While judges' comments are useful and often help you improve the manuscript, in the end you are the one who has to make the decision as to whether something works or not. Listen, but don't follow suggestions slavishly.

5. Don't get sucked into contest circuit fever. Make sure you're still submitting the old-fashioned way, whether to agents or to editors. Contests are a very useful tool, not only for getting published but for developing your writing, but do you want to be relying only on that one?

6. And most importantly - don't ever let a contest result/comment make you stop writing. Everyone knows a writer who was so broken-hearted by a comment or bad result that she threw in the towel. Don't. Sulk, cry, break things if you have to, but then go back and write.

Contest war stories, recommendations, further words of wisdom and warnings welcome. Post away!