25 December 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Christmas is a strange time of year. It's full of the stress of Christmas shopping - finding the right thing for each person, making sure the bank balance will stretch to that one extra thing, dealing with pack carparks and other shoppers. It's also a time to take a break and relax with friends and family, catch up on everything that's happened over the year, and make plans for the bright shining new year approaching. All in all I think the pleasure of Christmas outweigh the stresses :) I hope they do for you too. I hope you have a great Christmas and a new year filled with joy and wonderful opportunities.

No guarantee I'll post next week, I fully expect not to have finished digesting after the over indulgence of the holiday and doubt I'll be able to get my laptop onto my lap. So in lieu of a post two pics. One because it ticked my fancy - who does like a moose in funny boots, and one to remind us that even the darkest of people can enjoy Christmas if given the chance.

Darth  Vader Statue

21 December 2010

King James Bible & English language

Coming up to Christmas I thought a post about the bible might be apt. The King James Bible turns 400 next year, and regardless of how we feel about the book, it has shaped our language.

As well as selling an estimated 1bn copies since 1611, the KJB went straight into our literary bloodstream like a lifesaving drug. Whenever we put words into someone's mouth, or see the writing on the wall, or go from strength to strength, or eat, drink and be merry, or fight the good fight, or bemoan the signs of the times, or find a fly in the ointment, or use words such as "long-suffering", "scapegoat" and "peacemaker" we are unconsciously quoting the KJB. More astounding, compared to Shakespeare's prodigal 31,000-word vocabulary, the KJB works its magic with a lexicon of just 12,000 words.

More than this enthralling matrix of linguistic influence, there's the miracle of the translation itself, a triumph of creative collaboration (54 scholars in six committees), outright plagiarism and good old English pragmatism. The Authorized Version's mission statement was a masterpiece of lowered expectations. Its aim, it declared, was not "to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, that hath been our endeavour".

In its own time, a further aim was not only to help unite the crowns of England and Scotland but to heal religious division and give the word of God to the common people once and for all in the vernacular, without bloodshed or uproar. With some notable contemporary dissent ("It is ill done," wrote one divine. "The edition crosseth me. I require it to be burnt") this was achieved.

In fact, the KJB became, in Adam Nicolson's resonant phrase, "a kind of national shrine, built only of words".

Interesting articles: The Guardian, Bible research,

14 December 2010

Compendium of Villians

A little while ago you may recall I posted Ilona's compendium of leading men & leading women. Now she brings us... the villains.

...Be forewarned, these knaves are most base of character.

Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Hyde is often a man of aristocratic breeding, considered by his neighbors to be a gentleman of good character, but his facade hides a streak of vicious cruelty. He seeks to possess the heroine, in all senses of the word: he wants her body, her lands, if she has any, and whatever wealth she can offer and he has no regard for her wishes. He desires complete control of her being by any means necessary. There is no level to which he will not stoop, for he had decided that the ownership of the heroine isn’t merely a want, but his right.

A lady facing Mr. Hyde must take care, for he is prone to violence and lady’s gender will not be a barrier to his physical assault. Reasoning with this type is a pointless endeavor, for Mr. Hyde will not stop until he is taken down by brute force.

A Spoiled Rake

A Spoiled Rake has everything: excellent breeding, money, looks, and acceptance of the fairer sex. He has never been rejected, and when the heroine brushes him off, he reacts like any spoiled child would do: he throws a tantrum. The Spoiled Rake is a dangerous opponent; he is cruel, vindictive, and isn’t above the most vicious of subterfuge. He rarely resorts to physical assault, preferring instead to assassinate the heroine’s social standing, isolating her from friends and possible protectors, until she has no choice but to accept his advances.

Unlike Mr. Hyde, who feel entitle to complete ownership and who would never release the heroine, the Spoiled Rake may or may not intend to keep her for himself. His fantasies stop with an intimate tryst, after which he may choose to ruin the heroine, subjecting her to public humiliation so the entire world would know that he had won.

The Evil Stepmother

The Evil Stepmother isn’t always female, although most of the time she is. A relative of the heroine, she is in position of authority and influence over her. The Evil Stepmother is consumed by jealousy and hatred; she despises the heroine and takes every chance to cut her down and destroy her chance at happiness, while professing to have the heroine’s best interests at heart.

The Evil Stepmother is often subtle and manipulative, preferring to pull the strings behind the scenes. She will falsify documents, befriend and corrupt heroine’s friends, use poison, and when all else fails, hire thugs to accomplish her goal. When exposed, the Evil Stepmother often fails to to come to terms with the failure of her schemes and will invariable resort to direct violence, even to the detriment of her own safety. She would literally rather die than let the heroine find happiness.

The Faceless Creditors

The Faceless Creditors are not exactly villains in the typical sense. They simply lack any compassion and view their fellow human beings as means to achieve professional gain. They’re motivated by self-interest and are steadfast in achieving their goals. If they’re owed a debt, they must collect it, no matter how inhumane their actions are. The hero or heroine simply happen to be their next victim. It is rarely personal, it’s strictly business.

While the Faceless Creditors have no emotional investment in destroying the heroine’s quest for happiness, their pressure may drive her to desperate actions.

The Evil Boss

A subtype of the Faceless Creditor, the Evil Boss views people in his employ as pawns to achieve his own personal goals. He may be a military commander, a powerful relative, or a feudal lord. Whatever his status, he is in the position to use the hero or the heroine to his advantage, which he proceeds to do without any regard for their emotional well-being and personal safety.

The Evil Ex-Girlfriend

The Evil Ex-Girlfriend hates the heroine with the passion of a thousand suns. Oddly, this passion isn’t personal. The Evil Ex-Girlfriend doesn’t take time to assess the heroine’s personal qualities and form an opinion regarding her character. In different circumstances, she might be perfectly civil to the heroine and even strike up a friendship. However, the Evil Ex-Girlfriend is consumed by the need to return the hero to her loving embrace, and she will remove any obstacles to her quest with extreme prejudice. Unable to cope with rejection, she views the hero as easily mislead and views any woman entertaining romantic notions toward the hero as an evil manipulator and the barrier to her own happiness. If only she could remove the heroine, the hero would surely come to his senses and beg for her forgiveness.

The Evil Ex-Girlfriend is capable of anything. She is unpredictable, dangerous, and committed to her cause.

The Woman Scorned

A subtype of the Evil Ex-Girlfriend, the Woman Scorned (or the Man Scorned, respectively) is a tragic figure, spurned by her lover. Of all the villains, she is usually the one with a genuine grievance.

Perhaps the fault indeed lay with the hero or the heroine, but in any case, the injury caused to the Woman Scorned causes her to lash out with disproportionate violence.

The Woman Scorned seeks vengeance, believing that retribution is her just right. She is truly committed to her cause and destroying the person who’d inflicted the grievous injury on her becomes her mission in life.

The White Knight

A subtype of the Evil Ex-Girlfriend, the White Knight is romantically infatuated with the heroine. He is aware of her fondness for his rival and he views that rival as a man of despicable character, clearly wrong for the heroine. For the White Knight breaking up this dangerous liaison becomes not just the matter of the getting the heroine for himself, but the quest for saving her from a fate worse than death. The White Knights thinks that he knows what’s best for the heroine better than she does and feels a strong urge to safeguard her from the evils of the world.

While noble, the White Knight’s intentions often lead him down the slippery slope of progressively villainous actions, fueled by his frustration with heroine’s inability to recognize what he views as the proper course of action.

06 December 2010

Vampire novella release date

Woo hoo, release date for my novella REDEMPTION'S KISS ... January 19th 2011.
This story is stand alone but set in the same world as HUMAN WITH A TWIST.
Lauren's been alone for a long time, too long. After all, there are few who understand her condition and need for blood - then she meets Rhys. He seems like a perfect match on all counts, until her bite sends him running.

Rhys thinks he’s met the woman of his dreams, that is until she sinks her teeth into his neck and his dream turns into a nightmare. Now Rhys has a choice to make. Is being with Lauren the biggest mistake of his life? Or is she his salvation?

29 November 2010

Things you can't do while reading....

There are some things that just can't be done while reading: driving, showering, & eating ribs.
mmm ribs :)

My apologies from not doing a post last week but I was taking a little holiday. Some wine was drunk and some ribs were eaten. Now, I confess I'm not a huge pork fan, but the sauce on those ribs was sooo good.

What did I read while I was away (obviously not while I was driving, showering or eating ribs)?

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
I'm a fan of Mr Fforde's books. I love the Thursday series, funny, fresh etc... This book is equally good, but not as lighthearted in tone. It's also hard to categorize, you might find it in fantasy, or in general fiction, or in comedy (although if there its placement will most likely be driven by Fforde's previous books). Don't let me mislead you, this book is funny, but there is more beneath the surface.

Blurb: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the House of Red and can see his own color - but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh
Those who follow this blog will have heard me mention Ms Singh's books before. She's a fantastic author. Her characters are vivid and her world building strong (something I don't always find with romance). If you enjoy romances, especailly paranormal, I can't recommend the Psy/Changeling series enough. While each book is stand alone, there is an ongoing story arc and if you can I'd recommend starting at the beginning with Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings, Book 1).

I've added the blurb, but honestly, it doesn't do the book justice.

Blurb: In his position as tracker for the SnowDancer pack, it’s up to Drew Kincaid to rein in rogue changelings who have lost control of their animal halves—even if it means killing those who have gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite…and who threatens to enslave his wolf.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Misborn is the first in the trilogy and I've got the next to books on my Christmas list already. This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for about 6 months. Now I've finally got round to it I can't believe I took so long. I really enjoyed this book. A lot of your standard fantasy tropes, but Sanderson doesn't always do what you expect with them. Well worth picking up for fantasy fans.

Blurb: Once, a hero arose to save the world. He failed.
For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by an immortal emporor. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet, somehow, hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind, and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master the powers of the Mistborn.

As you can see from my quick reviews, all in all, good reading was had during my break :)

15 November 2010

Awesomely Untranslatable Words

Ever wanted a word that quickly sums things up, instead you end up blathering on while trying to explain.

Some romance authors spend a whole book trying to convey “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”. Instead they could simply write Mamihlapinatapei - the end. And move onto something else.

Okay as a romance writer, I'm glad we don't have that word in english :) But there are other examples of times english fails us - This list is wonderful:

Here are a few examples of instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.

1. Toska
Russian – Vladimr Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

2. Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”

3. Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh”

4. Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.”

5. Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

6. Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement”

7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

8. Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

9. Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

10. Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

11. Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

12. Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.”

13. Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

14. Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

15. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

16. Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire.

17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.

18. Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

19. Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word.

20. Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.

Know any other examples of words that can't quite be captured in english?

09 November 2010

One dimensional female characters...

I'm on a flowchart roll :)

Ever wondered if female characters are getting a bit predictable? This one's a bit small so might need to go to the source.

Posting over at Black Roses Blog, come visit :)

02 November 2010

27 October 2010

9 stages of dating a novel

We had a list last week, and I'm in the mood for another. This one if from Nathan Bransford's blog and is by T.H Mafi. It really struck a cord with me :) I'm currently being rather infidelitous, or is that just outright bigamous?


there you are, just staring at your computer or eating your carnival corndog or spacing out in the middle of a conversation when it hits you. A SHINY NEW IDEA. it’s beautiful and original and nothing like the rest of them and for a perfect moment you can already see your future together. you know you have to have it before someone else does and your next move is going to be critical. luckily, enough people commented on your blog today that you’re feeling confident. extra-attractive. you decide to make it yours.


everything is surreal. you can’t stop thinking about it no matter how hard you try and let’s be honest – you don’t really want to. you’re convinced that this time everything is going to be different. this is The One. the one that’s going to make agents cry over you, editors throw money at you, bestseller lists around the world make room for you at the top. maybe you have a title already? maybe you’ve even written a really excellent first paragraph? you don’t care. none of that matters. the only thing that really matters is Oprah is going off the air. she has no idea how much you were looking forward to that interview.


things are still pretty good. you’ve told Facebook and Twitter and the only five friends you know in the real world that you’re writing a new book and people seem moderately interested which is already better than last time. you haven’t really started writing yet, but you will. in fact, you’ve already got the first chapter written! and the more you read it, the more you’re convinced you’ve never written anything quite as incredible. you can’t wait to dive into the story! SERIOUSLY. you can just feeeeeel how amazing this is going to be. maybe you should buy a new outfit to celebrate.


well! you've written a few chapters! but GOSH you are just so BUSY these days and the kids are so CRAZY and work is just HECTIC and you've discovered all these really awesome websites recently and it's now become a "thing" of yours to refresh your email and update your Twitter and "Like" at least five things on Facebook before you open up that Word Document. but it's not like you're avoiding it or anything! it's just -- you're having a bit of a rough patch! but you'll work through it! you'll figure out this plot twist! well, first you'll figure out a plot but then! then things will work out! you just need to find a way to communicate your needs! relationships are ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE!




you didn't even see it coming! I MEAN GOSH THINGS WERE GOING SO WELL! but there it was. sitting on the outskirts of your imagination the whole time, teasing you with promises of what could be. ANOTHER SHINY IDEA! it was wearing a flippy skirt and red lipstick and it sounded so intelligent you couldn't help but fall for its false proclamations. but you were too dazzled to realize that this new SNI was only a distraction. it was fleeting. unfulfilling. a concept with no tangible form. a cheap thrill with no literary value. you feel cheated. you feel dirty. YOU'RE SO ASHAMED.


you messed up. you never meant to leave but things were getting tough and maybe you have a problem with commitment and really, it was a mindless fling that meant nothing! you realize now what a mistake it was and how wrong you were to leave. it wasn’t like anything even happened! it was just a moment of weakness and NO YOU'RE NOT THINKING OF THE OTHER ONE RIGHT NOW you already said you're sorry SO SORRY YOU SWEAR IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN YOU ARE NOW FULLY COMMITTED TO SEEING THIS PROJECT THROUGH NO MATTER WHAT.


blood. sweat. tears. so many expletives. a million points of compromise, hopefully lots of kissing. really excellent dialogue. stupid digressions you'll edit out later. adventures you weren't expecting, secrets you didn't know you had, new things you never thought you'd learn. BUT YOU DID IT. you stuck it out. you wrote a freaking book.


i hear you're expecting a sequel?

18 October 2010

7 deadly sins

I came across a great blog post by Stephanie Draven the other day: The Seven Deadly Sins of Paranormal Romances.

So, in case you were wondering what should be avoided:

SLOTH: Info Dumps. Nothing turns me off faster than a book that starts off with a long narrative explaining all the world building. Info dumps are lazy. They’re bad form. The details of your world should come to light slowly, layer upon layer, immersing the reader in the experience. For hints on how to do this, paranormal romance writers should study the best written fantasy.

LUST: Fetishism of the Supernatural. I’ve got nothing against kinky characters. What I mean by this is the tendency for paranormal romance writers to fetishize the supernatural elements in the same way that science fiction writers sometimes fetishize the buttons and gadgets of their worlds. That your character is a werewolf isn’t all that interesting in and of itself. Not being a furry, I’m not turned on by long descriptions of fangs and silver-grey coats. And while the fact that your hero can identify anything with his superior sense of smell lends flavor to his persona and reality to your world, it’s not actually characterization. Obsessing on the blood sucking, the mysterious brotherhood, and the magical abilities may appeal to other readers who share this fetish–but its not storytelling. There has to be more to hold the book together than a collection of neato cool superpowers. Paranormal has its place, but don’t use it as a crutch.

GLUTTONY: Big Chunks of Boring Dialog Meant to Convey Realism. Writing teachers everywhere tell budding young authors to listen to real dialog and use it as a model for what their characters should say. This only gets you so far. In real life, people wander off on tangents. They pause and hem and haw. In short, they bore the pants off one another. Why would you want to do that to your reader? Paranormal romance characters live extraordinary lives. We don’t have to hear them talk about their car trouble or what kind of ice cream they’re going to eat unless this has some bearing on the plot, or conveys something about their character, or is a delightful little detail sparingly tossed into the mix. Real life conversations can go on for hours. Conversations in fiction need to be tight and lean! Never overindulge.

GREED: Too Many Speculative Elements. The best paranormal romance takes the world as we know it, or the past as we imagine it, and twists one or two crucial elements, following the repercussions from those changes like ripples on a pond. The worst paranormal romance turns itself into a carnival for every strange and unexplained myth, magic, and phenomenon in the cosmos. Elves and vampires, mining together on Epsilon 4 with space aliens who are ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West in a kingdom called Oz…readers need to be able to focus. In a world where everything is possible, what is truly at stake? (For an example of how too much of a good thing can ruin a series, see the television series LOST which started out with an intriguing premise, but eventually piled so many new paranormal elements onto the stack that the whole thing collapsed under its own weight, bleeding viewers and disappointing long-time fans.)

WRATH: Violence Overload. Most paranormal romance follows the trend of urban fantasy to put existential concerns at the forefront. If the fate of the whole world, country, city, species, brotherhood, or pack isn’t at stake, our two lovers have no reason to care. It’s gotta be bloody, too. A struggle for survival. I’d like to see a good secret baby vampire romance or a simple mistaken identity story between witches, or a marriage of convenience between werewolves. At the very least, I’d like to see interpersonal conflicts that focus on a developing relationship at the center of the book, rather than the danger and violence.

PRIDE: A Glossy of Terms. Look, if you want to put a glossary of terms at the back of the book for curious readers to look up terms as they arise, go for it. But putting it at the front of your story signals to me that you think you’re just too special to weave your special language into the book. That artful exposition is something that those paeans must use, but you, you are too good for it. You will make your readers actually look it up instead of being able to figure it out in context.

ENVY: Mary Sue Characters. We all want to be six foot blond bombshells who can kick butt in high heels, smite evildoers, and capture the heart of the sexiest angel ever to fall from heaven. But such heroines can’t be all wish fulfilment, quick-witted, never afraid, never at a loss for a words, and always right. I know that its held as a given in paranormal romance circles that your hero can be a bastard but your heroine can’t be a bad girl, but a reader can’t love her if she’s perfect. What’s more, she can’t identify with her if she’s perfect. Give her some dents in her armor and let the hero call her on her bullshit once in a while.

This is a good list - thanks Stephanie - I especially like LUST. The whole no character type left behind. Some worlds get so busy and implausible you just have to give up.

12 October 2010

Ig Nobels

You've heard about the Nobel prizes, but what about the Ig Nobels?
Here are some of the recent awards from the ceremony at Harvard University:

The Ig Nobel peace prize was awarded to research from Keele University in the U.K. that confirmed that swearing can lessen pain.
"Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate, and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing," the abstract says. "However, swearing did not increase pain tolerance in males with a tendency to catastrophise."

An award that is sure to raise eyebrows is the biology prize that went to researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K., who found that fellatio in fruit bats prolongs intercourse. There's even a YouTube video that is more eerie than erotic.

In research that could boost the sales of socks in New England, a study out of the University of Otago in New Zealand found that wearing socks over shoes results in far fewer slips and falls on icy footpaths. It won the physics prize.

Other researchers are concerned with protecting whale populations by looking for novel ways to check for microorganisms in the ocean-dwelling mammals. The engineering prize went to researchers at the Zoological Society of London and the Instituto Politecnico Nacional in Baja, Mexico, for devising a method to collect whale snot using a remote-control helicopter.

Meanwhile, the chemistry prize went to researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Hawaii, as well as the British Petroleum company for "disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix."

And finally, a project at the University of Catania in Italy was awarded the management prize for demonstrating mathematically that organizations can improve efficiency by promoting people randomly.

I was going to make a comment, but really, most of these speak for themselves :)
You can read about some of the other here.

05 October 2010

Cover Model

So you've picked up a new book and you're staring at the cover. Something catches your attention, you take a closer look. You've seen the guy on the cover before. You think for a moment then remember you've seen him on another cover, although you're sure hie eyes were a different color on that one. Suddenly he's not just a picture, and you wonder at the man behind the cover.

Cover cafe has an interview with Jason Baca. It also talks to a couple of the cover designers who used his images about the process of coming up with the covers and why they chose him.

There's a bit of a bio, what he does to stay "cover ready", info about photo shoots. There are also a few more photos. So if you've ever wondered about the men who appear on romance covers - here's your chance to find out this one. I was going to pick out bits and share them with you, but the article isn't that long and probably more interesting to read the whole thing.

28 September 2010

Is it a robot?

Is it a robot? Is it a snake? ... both?

This amazing robot moves like a snake, it even climbs trees.
This robot is built of modular pieces, and can wriggle, roll, & side-wind, just like the real thing. And you have to see the video of this thing climb a tree to really get an feeling for how life-like this thing is. Despite the emphasis placed on humanoid robots, animal-like bots have clear advantages and are relatively simpler to build. Snake bots could be hunting for survivors in fallen buildings after natural disasters. With modular design these bots could be as long as they needed. Read the full article to find out more.

21 September 2010

Spelling mistakes taken to a whole new level

I shared a few spelling errors last week. This weeks photos take those errors to a whole new level - a much more permanent level:

As long as he's not judging poor spelling:
Assuming he means the schooling system - which explains his current predicament:
One has to hope this is a persons unusual name rather than the day after today:

This really sums up the whole situation: a tragedy...

14 September 2010

Classic typos

Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson traveled across the U.S. for two and a half months to find and correct typos in public signage. Here are some classics:

Your vs, You're

This is always a tricky one: restaurant The misplaced apostrophe:
The unnecessary apostrophe:
Personally I'd rather nibble on a dessert:

One of the reasons I so enjoy this sort of thing is that spelling really isn't one of my strong points :)

06 September 2010

young me / now me

Ever had a moment from your childhood you'd love to revisit - these people have.
I found this first shot particularly good for it's sheer mundane-ness.
Click to check out more.

Love the trousers :)

31 August 2010

24 August 2010

New book award

Conference was great fun. Wonderful speakers, and a chance to catch up with other authors, to share in their success and commiserate over struggles. One of my conference friends pitched a book to Alex Logan which sounded like it might be just what she's looking for - I'm looking forward to finding out how that goes. My fingers are crossed for her.

While I'm still tired from all the fun :) conference also revs the writing engine and I'm looking forward to getting back into it. Books to finish, new ones to start etc...

On a different note, the Guardian is suggesting launching a new book award:

"Many of us are familiar with the Diagram prize for the oddest non-fiction book title. But what about fiction? Surely it's time there was a gong for novels with titles that are not only strange and unusual, but downright funny in the most sniggersome, puerile manner? What, in other words, is worthy of what I propose can be nothing less than a Wankh award?

The Wankh awards shall be named in honour of that classic of science-fiction, Jack Vance's Servants of the Wankh. The 1969 novel, the second in Vance's Tschai quartet, has had to battle a barrage of titters over the past half-century, thanks to its title. In Vance's world, the Wankh are one of four warring races who inhabit a distant planet. In the Britain of saucy postcards, Carry On movies and Benny Hill, they are a cause for such hilarity that later editions were edited to change the titular alien race to "Wannek".

Much of the schoolyard humour that can be derived from novel titles comes via distance or time – the innocent language of gentler ages acquires more nudge-nudge, wink-wink overtones when the popular slang of intervening years casts a new light on common words, while the points of language that divide the US and Britain – as in the case of the Jack Vance novel – can make for many a belly laugh."

So aside from 'Servants of the Wankh' what other possible nominations are there:
- Talbot Baines Reed's 'The Cock-house at Fellsgarth'
- Beatrix M De Burgh's 'Drummer Dick's Discharge'
- Troy Hitch and Neal D Aulick's 'Night of the Willies'
- Geoffrey Prout's 'Scouts in Bondage'
- 3th book in the Fir Tree series 'The Day Amanda Came'
- K L Brady's The Bum Magnet'

What about you anything you'd like to add to the nominations?

16 August 2010

RWNZ Conference

It's the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference this weekend - yay :)
I get to hang out with some great writers and learn more about my craft - what could be better?

They've got a great line up of guest speakers this year:
- Christopher Vogler, top Hollywood story consultant and author of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.
Stephanie Laurens, who has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years and is a New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and USA-Today bestseller.
- Dianne Moggy, Vice President, Overseas Editorial Strategy & Development at Harlequin.
- Alex Logan, an editor at Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books).
- Laura Bradford who has had 15 years’ experience as a literary agent, editor, writer and bookseller.
- Nalini Singh whose books regularly hit the New York Times Bestseller list, Nalini is an amazing Kiwi success story.
- Natalie Anderson who is the USA Today-bestselling author of 13 “fast-paced, frisky, feel-good stories” for Mills & Boon Sexy Sensation.
- Vanessa Johnson’s first novel, Lush, was released in January 2010. It immediately hit the NZ bestseller lists, and soon rose to number one.
- Nick McLeay who has many years experience as a police officer, most recently in drug enforcement and in inter-agency relations (an area where writers can often find interesting plot angles).
- & last, but not least, Nic Harrison a swords expert, Nic's swords expertise will appeal to historical and paranormal fiction writers in particular. He will share his comprehensive knowledge of sword technology and sword-fighting styles.

As you can see I'm going to have a busy weekend :)

10 August 2010

03 August 2010

Cover evolution

A few weeks ago I looked at several covers & how they vary by country. One of those covers was 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'.

A recent article looks a the development of the startling yellow US cover. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group wasn't sure how the international covers would work in the US market so cover designer Peter Mendelsund got the job of reworking it. For three months he prepared nearly 50 distinct designs. Below are a selection of its iterations.

- An early option used the title "The Man Who Hated Women," which is closer to the original Swedish title. Mr. Mendelsund liked the image of an anonymous woman, with its "contrast between the softness of her face and the way it has been shredded." But the title went out—for fear, Knopf says, that it would be "problematic" in a U.S. market—and the jacket did, too.

This option utilizes blind deboss, where the typeface is indented (no ink). The only colour here is the blood-red splotches. It was rejected as too monochromatic & difficult to read.

- A contrast to the previous lack of colour. It was deemed to traditional for the genre. It also felt more like Bangkok than Stockholm.

-This jacket returns to Swedish sensibility & the sparse & abandoned cloth woods indicate a mystery. However it was deemed to far from the US market.

- A return to the theme of snow, again it was turned down due to lack of colour.

- Back to colour, but this one gave everyone a headache.

- Very like the final cover. A pattern in the background like a tattoo, the colours are more flesh-like. Hues the designer still prefers to this day, he feels they have more depth.

- The final choice :)

Not everyone loved the jacket. Knopf said there was "some pushback" from retailers, as well as members of the publishing house's sales team, who were looking for a more conventional depiction in lines with other thrillers—something darker, bloodier, "more Scandinavian."

However, the goal was achieved. This cover stands out and stops the books being pigeonholed.

Hope you enjoyed that little journey through the cover design process. Catch you next week :)