25 November 2009

Romance covers

I was having a chuckle at some romance covers the other day and thought it might be fun to post a few. I know we've all laughed at some of the old-fashioned bodice ripper covers, but modern covers can be just as embarrassing to be seen with in public. We all know authors have almost zero input into their covers so I hope by putting up some recent covers I don't jinx myself - I will add that I like my first cover.

These covers come from a competition that's run every year and I've added comments from the voters :)

2000: - ...This is the most attractive man in an extremely buff SEAL team of extremely attractive men?
- ...choices of colors used on the cover... ack. Big Ugly
-...while the line is Tall, Dark and Dangerous, the cover shows Short, Chubby and Goofy.
[NB - from LD: like most of Brockmann's books this good is a good read, definitely not one to judge by it's cover]

2002: - is the heroine was really doing what we think she's doing?
-surely someone in the art department noticed that the hero was getting a hand job. What really makes the matter worse is the hero's bored expression.

2002: - for most voters one word said it all: zombie. Many, many voters compared him to a cast member from Night of the Living Dead, and no one seemed too surprised that he was "solitary."
-how can he be a sexy hero if he's a zombie after your braaaains?

2004: LD - Okay we don't need voters for this one I can cover it. what the heck are they doing and how?
other comments:
-Nancy: "Ummm..what are they doing? I mean really, is it what it looks like? He's either doing her a favor, or she's just killed him and is trying to drag him into the backseat so she can hide the body."
-Michelle: It's simply a grab bag of images pasted onto the page. Here a torso, here a leg, there a hand ... Very uncomfortable and the car door looks uncomfortably like a shot gun in the male back.
-Shelly: "I'm completely confused about what it's showing. They're in a car right? Are those the heroine's legs going through the roof? Or is he with a guy? Because that hand on his waist looks masculine to me. I guess it could be a MxMxF threesome in a backseat. And a paranormal one at that, if the lightning shooting out of his butt is any indication. Plus the scene out the window makes it look like they're floating through space - I hope the windows have good seals. Sheesh. So the cover tells me this is about a ménage a trois in a spaceship designed by aliens with Earth auto fetishes, in which the lightning propelled buttocks of one man thrust him with such vigor into the woman she kicks a hole in the ceiling, causing an air leak into space that they must figure out how to stop before they die. Let's hope that other guy is MacGyver. Did I get it right?"

2005: - Wasn’t this guy the cyborg in the 2nd Terminator movie? Too weird. And his legs look like toothpicks.
- He looks like one of those cheap rubber "action" figures that aren't flexible enough to move the arms and legs.
- “Eww! Half man, half ... ALIEN? Plus, he looks constipated. And could the colors be any weirder??

2006: - ...Where, I ask you, is her other leg?
- I think when they're done, they'll need skin patches and a chiropractor! Looks like a painful interlude to me..
- why would you be rock climbing with no shoes? In a evening dress! And I'm sure it was no easy trip on him either with no shirt. I guess it doesn't matter since the tsunami is going to kill them both.

2008: - the flames and lightning bolts shooting out of his pants are disconcerting & the way the model is staring at his crotch in surprise is not reassuring.
- ...I saw on the Weather Channel that crotch lightning is the most dangerous type of lightning there is.
- ..Nothing says romance like a guy being electrocuted. Look, it’s even blown his fly open! Perhaps the stunned look on his face means he’s realized his crotch is on fire.

2009: LD - I'm thinking of making this my nomination :)
A flaming car coming out of the guy's crotch, isn't that going to hurt?

Want to add some other cringe worthy examples? Feel free to post them in the comments. Or you can be involved, 2009 nominations in progress (best & worst).

Music: Miles Davis
Currently reading: 'A Time of Omens' by Katharine Kerr.
The 15th and last book in her Deverry series is now out (and my Christmas present - yay me) so I'm re-reading the entire series. These early books are going pretty fast because I've read them so often. This is one of my all time favorite fantasy series. It's long but it's worth it - and now she's finished you know exactly how many books there are (and that she's not going to do a Robert Jordan and die before it's finished).

19 November 2009

Market Forces

Oops - I just realized I hadn't done my blog post for the week, and the week is almost over.

I thought I would share a little video with you this week. I was watching old episodes of "A bit of Fry & Laurie" last night - as you do. It's been quite a few years since we last pulled out the DVD but this particular sketch delighted me all over again. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

There's a couple of little snap shots then it starts about 21 seconds in - quality isn't wonderful but humor is.

PS: those of you who enjoy "House" might enjoy this glance into the past of Hugh Laurie.

Music: Chris Isaak
Currently reading: "The High Lord" by Trudi Canavan
This is the third book in the wonderful 'Black Magician Trilogy' trilogy. I finished reading 'The Magician's Apprentice' a prequel to the trilogy (set several centuries earlier) and had to drag out the trilogy for a re-read afterwards. I highly recommend this if you're interested in fantasy but aren't looking for High-fantasy (elves, dwarves etc...), these books are more about people, politics and relationships.

11 November 2009

Pretty pictures: how small can you go?

Last week was a really word heavy post, so I thought this week I would make it visually fantastic. Check some some shots from 35 years of the world's best microscope photography:

2009: Florescent actin protein filaments

2009: part of flowering plant

2006: mouse colon

2004: quantum dot nanocrystals deposited on a silicone substrate

2003: filamentous actin and microtubules

1996: doxorubin in methanol & dimethylbenzenesulfonic acid

1987: crystals of influenza virus neuraminidase isolated from terns

1985: formalin-fixed whole mount of a spiral nematode

1981: collapsed bubbles from an annealed experimental electronic sealing glass

1978: gold, vaporised in a tungsten boat, in a vacuum evaporator

Some very cool pictures. What I find fun is my brain trying to put some meaning and order into the image before I know what it is (and sometimes even afterwards). It's like entering another, weird and wonderful world.

Music: Tiki Taane
Currently reading: 'Blaze of Memory' by Nalini Singh

09 November 2009


I'm blogging over at the Black Roses of the Wild Rose Press Blog.
Talking about plotting and the difference between plotters and pantsers, feel free to come over and join me :)

04 November 2009

Christain Romances

I was browsing the Harlequin website (as you do) and came across the guidelines for writing a Christian romance. Once I had stopped laughing, all I could think was – I’m so totally glad I’ve no interest in writing for Steeple Hill.

I can’t imagine writing a romance and avoiding all of the following (what’s left?).
Direct from the website:

Terms that cannot be used in a Steeple Hill novel:
Breast (except for breast cancer if necessary)
Buttocks or butt (alternatively, you can say derriere or backside)
Damn (try "blast" instead)
Devil (except in the religious sense, but the circumstances would be rare)
Dang or Dagnabbit
Father (when used to describe a religious official)
For heaven's sake (can use "for goodness' sake" instead)
For the love of Mike
For Pete's sake
Geez/jeez (but "sheesh" is acceptable)
Heat (when used to describe kisses)
Hell (except in the religious sense, but this would be rare)
Holy cow
Need/hunger (when used to describe non-food-focused state of being)
Sexual attraction
Tempting (as applied to the opposite sex)
St. [name of saint]
Swear, as in "I swear..." - Christian characters are not supposed to swear.
Undergarments - of any kind

The following are allowed only in the context mentioned:
Angel - only when used in a Biblical context
Miracle - only when used in a Biblical context
Oh my God/Oh, God - ONLY allowed when it's clearly part of a prayer
Heavenly - only when used in a Biblical context
Although you can say “He cursed” or mention cursing, do not overuse. Furthermore, only non-Christian characters can curse.

Situations to be avoided:
Kissing below the neck
Visible signs or discussions of arousal or sexual attraction or being out of control
Double entendre
Nudity - people changing clothes "on screen" or any character clad only in a towel
Hero and heroine sleeping in the same house without a third party, even if they're not sleeping together or in the same room
Also, Christian characters should not smoke, drink, gamble, play cards or dance (except in historical novels they may dance but please limit to square dances and balls, no “sexy” dancing like waltzing cheek to cheek), and terms associated with these activities should only be used in connection with bad guys or disapproving of them or such.
Bodily functions, like going to the bathroom, should be mentioned as little as possible and some euphemism may be necessary but we don't want to sound quaint or absurd.

Good lord, you’re right that’s the last thing we’d want “to sound quaint or absurd”.

I will say though, they have made a few good calls. Unless the story includes a two year old the following should never been see in a romance (or any really book, unless for the pure stupid humour value): Dagnabbit, Doody, poop, & pee (does this leave room for pee-pee?).

Okay, I can understand that the goal to living as a good Christian is to avoid the bad things like swearing and drinking to excess, but on what planet do no Christians ever do these things; smoke, drink, gamble, play cards or dance (dance – what century are we in – the waltz was no longer scandalous in the 1800s. The Prince Regent himself blessed the waltz in 1816, and by the end of Victoria's reign, waltzing had become the dance of choice at many a private ball and public assembly). And how can you be redeemed if you’ve never slipped even once?
It feels like they are sucking all the fun out of life (I notice sucking is still allowed ;) ). If I’m going to read something with such a huge disconnect from reality I’m going to stick to paranormals & fantasy.

The other thing that got to me: Why can't a religious official be referred to as Father? And you can’t even mention priests? I understand we don't want anyone to say "Crap!" (I notice they left out the F-bomb), but what do characters do when a priest walks by? Do Catholics, Anglicans, or Episcopalians not exist in Steeple Hill? I’m sorry but I’m starting to get the heebie-jeebies about the level of fundamentalism involved here.

Harlequin do add that because Steeple Hill sells to both CBA and ABA bookstores, they must adhere to CBA conventions - that's the Christian booksellers association.

All that said, my curiosity is aroused (oh wait, can’t use that word)… I’m intrigued, I might have to read one just to see how they do it. My admiration goes out to the writers who actually manage to write a good romance sticking to these guidelines.

Music: Airborne
Currently reading: ‘Ultimate Weapon’ by Shannon McKenna