30 August 2011


We've all got things we love. Stories that inspire us.

But when it comes to being inspiring, I can only hope that one day I get a fraction as inspiring as this next image. This guy not only loves the story, he loves the gadgets. On top of that he has skills a lot of us simply don't have to make stories come to life in our lives. Except, what's even more inspiring - he learnt a lot of those skills simply to bring his dream to life.

When it comes to famous cars this one's special because, well, it's not real... except now it is. This is a replica of the Batmobile from the latest Batman movies. Bob Dullam built this cool car from scratch over the five years.

And when it comes to cool tech this next invention is awesome.

Researchers have developed a universal robotic hand - they call it a gripper - but that's just fancy science language for hand  :)  Except that by thinking of another term they progressed further. Language can take us beyond the bounds of our minds, or this reality, it can also trap us. When we use the word hand, we think of a specific thing. That limits us. It limits us to fingers etc... By not using the word hand these researches weren't limited to fingers, and they came up with a new concept.

The gripper is actually a balloon which conforms to and grips almost any small object strongly enough to pick it up. To grip an object, the gripper creates a vacuum in the balloon, later it's then  to let go of the object just by releasing the vacuum.

Very cool. The power of ideas and of language.

23 August 2011

To read or to wear that is the question

Still coming down after a great conference so I'm going short and sweet this week

Dress made of books...

And a very cool little device for reading one handed....

16 August 2011

RWNZ Conference 2011

So this weekend is Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. I'm really looking forward to it - a chance to hang out with fellow writers and learn more about my craft.

We have a great line up of speakers this year:

- Tess Gerritsen – New York Times-bestselling author
Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D. While on maternity leave from her work as a physician she began to write fiction. For there it was a page strewn trip to the bestseller list.

- Bob Mayer – New York Times-bestselling author, writing coach and digital publishing expert
Bob Mayer has been published in many genres, including thriller, science fiction, suspense, romance and non-fiction. His Warrior Writer workshop, which helps writers set objectives for their writing and manage their careers, has been attended in electronic or face-to-face format by thousands of writers. He is adjunct faculty at the University of Washington, teaching communication. Bob Mayer is also a leading commentator on the digital publishing debate via his Write It Forward blog.

- Maria V. Snyder – New York Times-bestselling author of fantasy and dystopian fiction
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Maria V. Snyder studied meteorology at Penn State University. After writing many science fiction short stories, Maria started Poison Study, her novel about a food taster. Published in October 2005 in both adult and young adult versions, Poison Study won 3 awards, was nominated for four others, and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Most recently, Maria’s young adult dystopian thriller titled Inside Out was released in 2010. Maria has a Master of Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

- Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary Agency
A veteran of publishing, Jessica Faust began her career as an acquisitions editor at Berkley Publishing, Macmillan, and Wiley. Jessica has been a regular columnist with Romantic Times magazine, taught at New York University’s Continuing Education Program, been recognized as Agent of the Year by the NYC Romance Writers of America chapter, and is asked regularly to speak at writers’ conferences throughout the world. As owner and literary agent at BookEnds, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition.

- Sue Grimshaw, Editor-at-large, Ballantine Bantam Dell
Former romance book buyer for national USA bookstore chains Borders and Waldenbooks Sue Grimshaw was appointed Category Specialist and Editor At Large for New York publisher Ballantine Bantam Dell, a division of Random House, in April 2011. Sue is working primarily with the digital arm of the business, acquiring books for its new imprint. Sue is also a primary contributor to Random House’s soon-to-be released website, Romance@Random – currently on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RomanceAtRandom.

- Lucy Gilmour – Editor, Harlequin Mills & Boon
Lucy Gilmour works in Harlequin Mills & Boon’s London office. She joined Harlequin six years ago after finishing her classics degree.

- Molly O’Keefe – RITA-winning author
Molly O’Keefe is a RITA-Award winning author with 18 Harlequin novels in publication. She’s won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Best Flipside in 2005 and Best Superromance in 2008. She won the RITA for Best Novella in 2010. Her first Bantam contemporary single-title romance, Can’t Buy Me, will be released in 2011. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

- Sue MacKay, medical romance author
Sue MacKay sold her first book to Mills & Boon Medical in February 2010 after submitting for more than ten years. She has since sold three more medicals and is currently working her way through a three book contract. In writing romantic fiction Sue has her dream job – a job she spent many years working to get! She lives in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of New Zealand’s South Island with her husband and a retired pig dog called Boss.

09 August 2011

Cover contest - the worst

Okay we've done Cover Cafe's best ... now for the worst :)
What no author wants and yet they have a kind of macabre fascination for me.

1st place in worst cover category
- Manda C. agreed: "It was hard to pick just one. But this one is the most egregious. Not because of the subject matter, but because it's so busy that I can't even figure out what's going on here."
- Ellen M: "The poor cover model looks like a tied-up corpse found in a dumpster, covered by a pile of junk CSI is going to have to wade through in order to determine his killer. He seems to have some kind of electrical tape holding his shoulder together, and what do Christmas lights have to do with flogging, anyway? Oh yeah, it's a Holiday Sale...ri-i-ght. Plus, his left hand looks abnormally large, kind of like Hellboy's big fist.

[After I read this comment I tried to find his left hand... I couldn't. Where to start with this one the colours,  how busy it is, I have no idea what it's trying to tell me.]

3rd place
 Okay, I should clarify here that this competition is for Romance covers. Yes, you can see the problem with this cover. My first thought was romance... really?
- Karen H. agreed: "This is worse than unromantic--it's creepy. And that's saying a lot given some of the other covers. But it's doesn't look at all like a romance and at least all the others have something that makes them look like a romance (maybe it's just partially unclothed bodies but that's more to the point than this horror novel cover)."

4th place
 - Sarah: "THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE. I'm choosing between Bad Photoshop, Bad Stock Imagery, Bad Cover Design or Just Plain Skeevy. And this wins every one of those categories."
- Tina: "While Flogger's Holiday Sale is a mess, this cover is just a horrible mish-mash of Photoshop editing gone wrong! 
- Stacey I-K: "OMG! Three studs with bare chests. Not to mention a very phallic train. And what plaid monstrosity is the girl wearing? My, oh, my, this is bad."
- Elisabeth: "I never thought I'd say this but there is such a thing as too many defined six packs – eww." Or Sula: "Laura Ingalls Wilder marries the Village People?"

7th place
Um... what's with the guy? drugged, bored, to stupid for words, serial killer...
- Lesley: "Hard choice, but this wins by a nose. He looks more like a serial killer than a romantic hero no wonder she can't look at him and is levitating away."
- Caren H.: "First of all, there is no connection between the guy and girl. Second, he looks mentally impaired and/or insane.

Okay, next week I'll think of something to give us a break from covers :)

02 August 2011

Cover Contest - the best cont...

Last week we looked at Cover Cafe's best covers in Alternate Reality, Contemporary, & Historical. This week Series, & two image covers...

1st place Series cover
 Deborah L. appreciated all aspects of the cover: “I like the spooky feeling of the illustration, and the fade effect on the text adds to that. As a plus, the text is easy to read, and the series banner isn't obtrusive…”
1st place 2 image cover
 The look on the heroine's face tipped the balance. So often the faces on covers are simply generic and bland. This girl's eyes are particularly telling, seeming full of uncertainty. The light through the window is beautifully done and falls upon the heroine softly. The title does not impinge upon the figure and the lettering has a colour echo in her sleeves, as well as the style echoing her pose.”

2 place 2 image cover
 Jen B.: “I love the muted background being pushed back by the bright red dress. But, it's the model’s body shape that is so interesting. At first, I thought she was talking to someone or maybe mid gesture getting ready to point at something. Then I saw to full cover and it's kind of spooky that it's all graveyard. I would definitely stop in the bookstore and pick this one up.”