Friday, June 30, 2006
Back cover copy
Welcome to an art scene where realism has gone one step further, where each painting is literally alive, where the model for each masterpiece is the canvas itself. And for the beautiful men and women queuing up for the privilege—to be painted and posed, bought and rented by collectors—there is one artist they are all drawn to: the mysterious Dutch master, Bruno van Tysch.
Then a young female model, Annek Hollech, is abducted and killed, viciously murdered in a most gruesome fashion. The detectives assigned to the case, April Wood and Lothar Bosch, may have little interest in modern art, bu they are going to have to acquire an appreciated extremely quickly. Because van Tysch is about to launch a major exhibition in Amsterdam—the imitation of thirteen of Rembrandt’s masterpices—and the rumours are that the killer is about to strike again….
Hooked by the cover copy, I read the first few pages in the bookstore and decided to buy it. But while the backcover sells it as a murder mystery, the mystery is really a backdrop to the central theme of modern art going to the extreme.
People have become canvasses in this alternate reality. They’re ‘painted’, both literally and metaphorically (by being psychologically manipulated to display certain expressions) and trained to stand motionless for hours. Because ‘works of art’ do not move, unless they’re ‘interactive’, ‘art-shocks’ or ‘utensils’. That’s right, you can buy a Chair, an Soap Dish or a Table made up of living beings.
And if all that sounds a little mind-bending, it is. It’s not light reading—the pace is sometimes slow and there are sections where people talk endlessly about art and what it means, but those are minor flaws compared to the overall genius of the idea. This is definitely a book you’ll remember long after you’ve put it down.
Ever since reading it, I keep imagining a living, breathing work of art in my living room. Or a human Table or a Lamp. Brrr…It gives me the creeps and yet it’s not so outlandish that I can’t imagine a future where it might exist. Which is why this book is so mesmerizing. Pick it up if you’re in the mood to be eerily fascinated.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
USA Today bestselling author Ronda Thompson's CONFESSIONS OF A WEREWOLF SUPERMODEL, the adventures of a werewolf supermodel, who becomes involved with solving a murder, searches for her birth parents in order to find answers about her condition, and battles fur and fang outbreaks during modeling shoots, to Monique Patterson at St. Martin's..Don't you want to read it already? (And nope, I don't know Ronda Thompson and am in fact, not her publicity officer *g*).
Speaking of books - have you read anything good lately? Tell me, tell me! I'm hoping to have a week to catch up on reading before I leave Japan and I want recommendations so I can place an order this week.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I recently read a heated discussion about gender bias in another genre (thrillers). That post was concerned with a specific award, but it made me think about the issue in a more general way, and as it applied to the genre I write in.
There are several men publishing in romance, but a large number of them do so under female or androgynous pseudonyms. More men have now started writing under their own names, but just from my own knowledge, I think that this trend is still quite new.
As a reader, do you think you’d pick up a romance if you knew it had been written by a male? Personally, I think I’d give the first book a go if only out of curiosity – the rest would depend on the strength of the writing. But the author's name is something that I would notice when I usually only recall that if I really love the book, which fact sort of speaks for itself.
What're your thoughts on this?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Monday, June 26, 2006
The game was in a giant dome, which can be opened up. Unfortunately, because the rainy season has just hit our region with full, battering force, it was closed for Saturday night’s game, but that didn’t limit the fun.
The first thing I noticed was how green the field was – so bright it was almost glowing. And the height of the walls around the field gave me a new appreciation for home runs which clear them. The other thing was how organized and non-chaotic everything was despite the crowd – they even had KFC vendors going up and down the stands selling chicken! (I fell for the Haagen Dasz ice-cream).
Onto the photos!
Here are the cheerleaders who came on after the 3rd or 4th inning and led the crowd in the home team’s song. Yes, they have giant foam hands!
At the end of the 6th inning, everyone starting blowing up these whistling balloons and holding onto them. At first, there were a few….
And finally, just before the 7th inning, the cheerleaders returned (sans foam hands) and at their sign, everyone released the balloons!
Our team lost but it was still an enjoyable game to watch. What's your take on sports? Like, dislike, indifferent?
Saturday, June 24, 2006
I’m going to my very first live baseball game tonight! I’m so excited I can barely wait. Two American friends are coming along to educate me, but I’ve watched so much baseball on tv since coming to Japan that I think I’m pretty much on top of it. Then there’s the fact that I’ve developed an Ichiro crush, which involves keeping track of the Mariners, but I think I’ve already mentioned that once or thrice.
The funny thing is, I never watched baseball in NZ, because basically, there is no baseball to watch. Rugby, cricket and netball rule the roost there and I wasn’t particular impressed with what baseball I had seen. However in the first few weeks after arriving in Japan, I couldn’t understand anything on tv, but I could follow the baseball games perfectly well. So I ended up watching the entire season, becoming a rabid fan of my prefectural team in the process (which won the championship that year).
I’ll probably revert back to cricket back home, but for now, I’m a baseball fan through and through!
Friday, June 23, 2006
I'm considering adding a behind-the-scenes bit to my new website and have a question for y’all. What kind of things would you like to see in that section? Okay I have two questions – do you like these ‘dvd extras’? I'm talking about things like deleted scenes, notes about interesting pieces of research or some extra info on characters etc.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
As it happens, a phone call to Longoria's publicist, Liza Anderson, cleared up the issue. "She's not writing a book of any sort," said Anderson's assistant when reached this afternoon. "Reports are completely untrue."From Galleycat. Which makes me wonder why/how the rumor started.
fiercely, coolly, narrow late
fish fumbling, singing
Courtesy of the Haiku Generator. Obviously this masterpiece is computer-generated and may therefore lack any sense of coherence - though the idea of catacombs jingling captures my imagination. Who's doing the jingling and what were they doing in the catacombs in the first place? And what about those fumbling fish? Deep meanings indeed.
Jokes aside, the haiku as an artform is both extremely difficult and extremely beautiful. As a novelist who writes thousands of words per book, it astounds me how people can put so much meaning into three small lines of text. Could you haiku?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Last night, I was sitting up quite late with my notebook, handwriting parts of the story I’m currently working on, a cup of green tea by my side. The only sounds were the soft whirr of my fan and the croaking of summer frogs outside. No cars, no alarms, no radios. It felt like the whole world was asleep. As far as writing situations go, it was pretty much perfect.
But if I waited for these situations in which to write, I’d get a heck of a lot less done. Like earlier yesterday, I was standing at a busstop, cars zipping by, and I was scribbling things in a notebook.
However, I know there are writers who swear by certain rituals to get them in the writing groove. For some, it’s aromatic candles, for others it’s a certain kind of music or even a certain place. These writers are just as productive as me, which fascinates me given the difficulty of creating that ‘perfect’ writing time/space.
So, that’s what I’d like to discuss today – writing rituals, their importance, and how you build them into your routines. Do you have a ritual, and is it something that you feel is necessary to kick-start your writing everyday? Or is it something you only pull out when you need that extra push?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
I’m glad to say that the book didn’t disappoint. I loved it.
While Blue Smoke does have a romance, I wouldn’t qualify this book as a strict romance novel. In main, this book is about Catarina “Reena” Hale. We grow up with her - from childhood to her college days, through to her adult life. Bo Goodnight, the hero, doesn’t even make an appearance till at least a third of the way through the book.
But that’s not to say that the love story isn’t spectacular – Bo sees Reena one night at a college party and the music stops for him. He goes after her, but she’s already disappeared. She becomes his Dream Girl, their paths coming close to crossing several times over the years but not intersecting until…but if I told you, I’d spoil the surprise. I really thought the romance was great. Bo is just such a wonderful hero, it’s hard not to fall in love with him.
So there is a definite romance. But this book is also a mystery/thriller. Fire dogs Reena’s life from her childhood, burning away those she holds dear. Behind it all is a madman who hates her. While I didn’t think that this thread was too dark, from reading the reviews on Amazon, it appears that some people were shocked by it. So be warned—if you’re expecting warm and gentle, this isn’t the book for you. There is both darkness and violence in it. Maybe I wasn’t shocked because I read the JD Robb books—those can get pretty rough. And if you read a lot of thrillers, I'm sure you'll be safe.
One of the things I haven’t mentioned so far is Reena’s family—they are so Italian, so vibrant and so real that they constantly steal the show. NR takes you inside the family, turning them from mere names to several very individual personalities. By the end of the book, you really feel like these are people you’d love to know.
So all in all, a big thumbs up for Blue Smoke from me.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
This seems like a perfect link for a Friday (it came my way courtesy of a friend in Japan oddly enough). If you have six minutes to spare, then turn up the sound and watch this video. Confess – how many of you have done the chicken or walked like an Egyptian?
I have! I have, I confess! And I’ve even done some other questionable dance moves which I think I’ll keep to myself *g*. On a tangent, has anyone seen the movie Hitch? There’s a brilliant dance sequence in that movie. It had me laughing hysterically. If you do rent it, try to get the dvd—there are extra scenes of the dancing in there and they’re worth the price of the rental.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I know writers who get up ridiculously early to write, mostly for the simple reason that that’s the only time they can find to do so. I also know writers who stay up into the early hours for the same reason. I used to do the latter when I worked in law.
But, once writers get to a point where they’re able to truly choose when and how they write, it’s interesting all the different variations you get.
- The 9-5 group. Writing is a job and should be treated as such, which means you get your butt in the chair at a set time each day, work until you’ve reached a target and then get out and live the rest of your life. People in this group often dress for their job and some go so far as to hire an office, so that they literally are going out to work.
- The Pajama group: First thoughts - Oh my gawd! I get to work in my pajamas. How cool is that? People in this group usually have a relaxed attitude toward writing. It’ll get done when the muse strikes. And if that means burning the midnight oil close to deadline time, then that’s what they’ll do.
- The Compulsive Group: People who are just so damn delighted to have the chance to write anytime they want that they can’t stop, writing feverishly at all hours of the day and night. Forget about life, friends and sunlight. They’re going to write until their fingers are worn to the bone.
Even though I still work full-time, I think I fall halfway between the pajama group and the obsessives. I don’t like the stress of skating too close to a deadline, so I tend to be more focused than a true pajamite (new word!), but that focus sometimes pushes over into obsession. On the other hand, I can’t treat writing like a strict 9-5 job because one of the factors I love about it is that it isn’t like a normal job and I can write at 3a.m. if I so choose.
So, if you had a choice and could write whenever you wanted, would you be a 9 to 5er, a pajamite or an obsessive? Think I need to add any other categories?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Okay, I finally collated the results of the dark-haired vs fair-haired debate, and this is what it broke down as. Ten people voted, so the pool was small, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Since most of the responses focused on the hero, I’m going to talk about that.
Just under half the respondents had no preference. What I found intriguing is that of the people who did have a preference, 100% voted for dark-haired heroes.
Why do we like these heroes so much?
Why do we like these heroes so much?
I also had a look through the books I’m reading or have read recently and a huge percentage of them had dark-haired heroes. I read across the board but less on the lighter end of the spectrum, so maybe that’s it—perhaps it's easier to write/imagine an emotionally dark hero if he’s also physically that way? I don’t actually think so – I’ve seen some ice-cold blond heroes done very well and I’ve just finished writing a very alpha fair-haired hero.
Maybe it all has to do with fairy-tales and the “tall, dark and handsome” prince we all grew up hearing about Or maybe it’s the other way around—bad boys are easier to visualize if they’re dark. Hmm, I don’t think this question has a real answer, but it’s fun to talk about nonetheless.
Here’s a challenge for you: try to think of one fair-haired hero that really stuck in your mind. The ones that come up immediately for me are Gabriel Cynster from Stephanie Laurens A Secret Love, and a Viking hero from one of Johanna Lindsay’s historicals (which I could tell you the name of if I was able to go to my keeper shelf in NZ). I’m sure there are more in my keeper books but those are the two I can think of on the spur of the moment.
Okay, hit me with your thoughts. (And don’t forget to post any suggestions for articles in the post below this one).
Proper post up in about an hour, but first a question. I’m going to write an article for a newsletter and was wondering what kind of things that you all, as readers and/or writers, like to read. I might end up using some of those ideas to write articles for my website, so feel free to post whatever you’d like to see from me. Or if you prefer, you can email me at nalini @ nalinisingh.com (without the spaces).
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
CALIFORNIA DEMON: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner
(Berkley Trade, June 2006)
What's a mother to do, when there are only so many hours in the day, and the fate of the world is in her hands?
Kate Connor was a retired demon hunter. Now, after fourteen years busting her tail as a suburban housewife, raising two kids, and supporting her husband's political ambitions, she's rejoined the workforce-and except for a few minions of evil, no one has a clue. She tries hard to keep her home and work lives separate-a good idea when your job involves random slaughter.
Between fending off demon attacks, trying to figure out why the mysterious new teacher at the high school seems so strangely familiar, and keeping a watchful eye on her daughter's growing infatuation with a surfer dude, Kate is the busiest-and most dangerous-soccer mom on the block…
FROM THE DESK OF KATE CONNOR…
• Pay bills
• Gas up the minivan
• Pick Allie up from cheerleader practice
• Clean out nest of evil, blood-thirsty preternatural creatures with a few wooden stakes, some holy water, and a can of Diet Coke
• Self-defense class
• Volunteer at nursing home
• Battle determined demon while making meal
• Put Timmy to bed
• Clean up dishes
• Dispose of demon carcass
• Iron Stuart’s shirt
• Write tomorrow’s to-do list
ABOUT JULIE KENNER
National bestselling author Julie Kenner's first book hit the stores in February of 2000, and she's been on the go ever since. Her books have hit lists as varied as USA Today, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Locus Magazine. Julie is also a former RITA finalist, the winner of Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Contemporary Paranormal of 2001, and the winner of the Reviewers International Organization's award for best romantic suspense of 2004. She writes a range of stories from sexy and quirky romances to chick lit suspense to paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, was selected as a Booksense Summer Paperback Pick for 2005, was a Target Breakout Book, was a Barnes & Noble Number One SFF/Fantasy bestseller for seven weeks, and is in development as a feature film with Warner Brothers and 1492 Pictures.
Julie spent four years mainlining venti nonfat lattes in order to write, practice law full time, and take care of her kiddo. Then she wised up, quit the practice of law, and settled down to write full time. She now lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter, and a bunch of cats.
"more witty, funny and poignant adventures from the marvelous Kenner." Combining PTA dangers with demons certainly keeps the characters on their toes and readers chuckling. 4 stars – Romantic Times
While there is a plethora of outstanding romance/dark fantasy sagas currently being released … Julie Kenner's Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom novels are noteworthy in large part because of the author's wit and incredibly intuitive sense of humor. Lines like "Infiltrating a nest of vampires at dusk might be a tad on the treacherous side, but it's nothing compared to telling a fourteen-year-old that she's not allowed to wear eye shadow" will have readers laughing out loud from the first page to the last. If you've changed a leaky diaper, picked up a spilled sippy cup, or purchased a McDonald's Happy Meal within the last 24 hours, this fast-paced, delightfully irreverent amalgam of romance and dark fantasy is for you. – Barnes & Noble
Monday, June 12, 2006
There’s just something so sexy about a hero (Cooper Boone) who’s completely controlled on the surface but is a turbulent storm of emotion underneath. JAK writes these kinds of heroes so beautifully. Some of her Amanda Quick novels are my absolute favorite historicals for that very reason. Not only that, but the humor and lightness she brings into the relationships between her heroes and heroines are just magic.
Re Ghost Hunter, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series. The books all stand alone and JAK provides a helpful foreword that very efficiently explains the world. Basically, its set on a colony of Earth that was cut off from the mother planet centuries ago. Harmony is a planet that was formerly occupied by an alien race, which left behind catacombs and cities. But the really cool thing about the planet is that over time, the colonists have changed and begun to display para-psi abilities. The ghost hunters are the most dangerous of these talents...and therefore the hottest. *g*
The only thing I’d wish for is that JAK would write more of the Castle books! You can go visit JAK’s website here, and she also participates in the group blog Running With Quills.
I recommend this book with no reservations.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
...You see, for several months now, a certain website has been hijacking my blog's RSS feed and presenting my daily entries as articles written for their site...They use my post titles and my writing and even my photographs without ever attaching my name to any of the "borrowed" material.Read all of Brenda Coulter's entry here.
Since they copy all of my posts, I decided they could jolly well advertise my book for me...
(By the way - you wouldn't believe how many hits I got on this site for 'erotica' searches after yesterday's post!!)
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Well, SNOT. Here I waited 20 years for New York to start publishing what I want to read, and most of the houses (with the exception of the splendid and wonderful Berkley) are doing the exact same damn thing as the men's erotica that turned me off when I was 20. Except maybe more artsy. As one writer friend explained, "These books are supposed to be voyages of sexual self-discovery for the heroine."
Hell, THAT doesn't sound like any fun!
Read the rest of this very interesting blog post at Knight Errant.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Here's my bit: I got a fan letter (as in actual paper and pen) from Africa!! How cool is that?!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I think I'd take chocolate with me to a desert island. It'd be one of my absolute necessities. You?
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Everyone needs skills for the job they're trying to do, whatever that might be. In the past, I had to be able to read statutes, decipher judgments and write briefs as a lawyer. In the present, I have to be able to figure out how to turn on the stove, know the difference between salt and sugar, and various other things if I want to cook anything edible.
All that is meant to lead to the point that writers need certain skills, too. Our skills might not be as easily defined as others, which is why the fuzzy boundary between rules and skills often becomes completely illegible - I find it easier to find the line of separation when I think of these skills as building blocks.
For example, grammar is a building block. You have to know the rules of grammar (which does have rules) if you're going to break them. Writers, especially fiction writers, break grammar rules all the time. Most of it is done instinctively in pursuit of telling a good story, but I think you should still make the effort to learn those rules. It's not sexy or easy, but it's a skill you should have. How are you going to argue against someone if they accuse you of writing in passive sentences if you don't know what passive sentences are?
Another different type of writerly skill is the ability to motivate yourself and get it done. Writing is not a group affair. You may have critique partners or beta readers, but it's your butt in that chair day after day, night after night.
The third example takes us closer to the writing itself - knowing what point of view is. It's your business how you write, whether you like to stay with one character or head-hop, but knowing the possibilities, knowing what you can do should you feel so compelled, is a skill, part of the building blocks of writing.
It's when people say that you should do X with POV that they're taking what is a base skill and trying to turn it into a rule. The same goes for climaxes, backstory dumps and world-building among other things. A writer should know what these things are. What they then decide to do with those building blocks is up to them.
Agree? Disagree? Any deep and profound thoughts of your own?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
SHADOW OF THE MOON by Rebecca York
Lance Marshall has a nose for great news stories-not surprising, since he's aided by his werewolf abilities. Now he's prowling outside an ultra-exclusive
ABOUT REBECCA YORK
Ever since she can remember, Ruth Glick has loved making up stories full of adventure, romance and suspense. As a child she corralled her friends into adventure games or acted out romantic suspense stories with a cast of dolls. But she never assumed she could be an author, because she couldn't spell. Her life changed, however, with the invention of the word processor and spelling checker--and the help of her husband, Norman Glick, who spots spelling errors from fifty paces away. Writing as Rebecca York, she has authored or co-authored over 45 romantic suspense novels, many for Harlequin Intrigue's very popular
Fans get to meet yet another
This time it's freelance reporter Lance Marshall and he's scented out a story on an very exclusive D.C. establishment that he's heard rumors about, the Eighteen Club.. . .
As if werewolves, psychic abilities and lifemates aren't enough,
Monday, June 05, 2006
In other news, I've been asked to join Out of the Blogosphere, so you'll be seeing some posts in the coming weeks about forthcoming paranormal books from lots of cool authors.
And last but not least, here's a smile for you. This came through on one of my email lists and I thought it was just perfect for the readers of this blog. Enjoy!
A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in northern Minnesota. The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read.
One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and continues to read her book.
Along comes a game warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says,"Good morning Ma'am. What are you doing?"
"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking "isn't that obvious?")
"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.
"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing, I'm reading."
"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."
"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.
"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.
"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."
MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads.
Friday, June 02, 2006
So I'm going to go under this weekend and come up only for food and air. What's everyone else up to?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Yes, you should write in understandable, preferably grammatically correct English (or whatever language you write in). But hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice grammar, especially in dialogue, so even that's debatable.
But you know what, we're not mathematicians. A + B does not always equal C. Sometimes it equals X and sometimes A & B aren't even together, or if they are, they're also with D & Y.
Writing a story isn't about following a formula no matter what people might say. If it was, everyone who ever wanted to write a story would sit down, plug in the correct bits and pieces and wallah, they'd have a story. Heck there are even story generators out there on the Internet. While they're fun to play with, how many books do you think have been written this way?
In the end, writers - working writers, aspiriting writers, even hobby writers - are all artists. I don't mean we have to put on a beret and start living artistic lifes, though you can if that's what rocks your boat. It's not about props. It's about what we do. Writing is a creative endeavour and creativity needs freedom to blossom.
In art, rules are flexible things, open to interpretation. So interpret them your way, with your voice. Tell your story.