20 December 2012

Homemade Grapefruit Marmalade

So, guess what I spent the weekend doing? That's right the jars on orange goo are the clue. I made marmalade. A friend at work had a whole lot of grapefruit that she didn't know what to do with... but I did :)

There's something about homemade marmalade. I think it's that I like grapefruit rather than orange, and most of the stuff you buy is at least partially orange. It's such a marvelous combination of bitter & sweet. It's a somewhat time consuming activity, but it's also so very simple. The chopping of the fruit and the boiling all takes time. However, ingredients not complicated: fruit, sugar, water... yes that's it. Mix, boil, bottle... eat. 


This is my last post until the new year, so have a merry Christmas & a happy New year.

04 December 2012

Creating cover art

This is a fascinating pictographic story of the creation of cover art from the artist's point of view. She also talks a little about each step.

Here are a couple of highlights, but I recommend looking at each step if you're interested in how some artists go about creating the image they want for the cover.

 Selecting costumes
 Posing models
 Getting the right shot
 Choosing the right shot

I'm sure not all artists work the same way, but this is still an interesting window into something most of us only ever see once it's complete.

27 November 2012

How war changes people

Something a bit more serious this week. When photographer Claire Felicie's son planned to join the marine's she spent a lot of time thinking about what impact that might have on him. As a result of that she came up with a plan to photograph the faces of 20 Dutch Marines before, during, and after their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Only 12 months passed between the first and the last photo, but the lives of these men saw a lot of action. Ms Felicie wanted to see if the marks war left on these men could be seen on their faces.

It's clear there are environmental factors (sun, wind...), but are there other changes as well?

More photos & commentary here.

As a writer this raised some interesting thoughts about character building, and on how events in the characters lives (both on & off the page) might be written on their faces.

20 November 2012

Make your life easier

I came across this list and I just had to share, after all who doesn't want to make their lives easier? The compiler of this list calls them life-hacks, which I also rather liked :)

There are 99 on the list but here are a few of them:

And I think I really better stop there :)
I just wish there was a quick & easy way to get a book to write itself - sadly no smiley face tennis balls are going to do the job for me.

14 November 2012

Cool inventions

2 very cool inventions this week and the shades of sci-fi that surround them: an inner ear implant that uses biology to recharge, & self-fixing concrete.

Technology that uses people as power - shades of The Matrix anyone?   :)
No we haven't quite got that far yet, but we have got to a place that should make huge breakthroughs in medical science.
"A team of surgeons, neuroscientists, and electrical engineers has developed a cochlea chip that extracts electrical signals from the inner ear to power itself.
The chip is the latest in a series of inventions aimed at creating entirely self-sufficient, self-powering implants that will remove the need for external power and enable permanent surgical implantation in some cases. This year alone, Stanford University announced the creation of its radio wave-powered heart implant and infrared light-powered retinal implants."
 Ever seen someone who looks a bit embarrassed about their hearing aid - that could soon be a thing of the past. Get these things small enough and soon no one will know you're wearing one.
On a different sci-fi tack, where does this leave us for things like super-soldiers with super hearing?

From ears to concrete. There is now experimental concrete that self-heals it's own cracks.
"The concrete contains limestone-producing bacteria, which are activated by corrosive rainwater working its way into the structure... Micro-cracks are an expected part of the hardening process and do not directly cause strength loss. Fractures with a width of about 0.2mm are allowed under norms used by the concrete industry. But over time, water - along with aggressive chemicals in it - gets into these cracks and corrodes the concrete...
"So the spores remain dormant until rainwater works its way into the cracks and activates them. The harmless bacteria - belonging to the Bacillus genus - then feed on the nutrients to produce limestone.
The bacterial food incorporated into the healing agent is calcium lactate - a component of milk. The microbes used in the granules are able to tolerate the highly alkaline environment of the concrete.
"In the lab we have been able to show healing of cracks with a width of 0.5mm - two to three times higher than the norms state," Dr Jonkers explained."
What about the sci-fi overtones you ask? Well, as I read this article images from sci-fi movies with cities in decay came to mind. If the concrete self-healed those cities would look quite different.
How eerie if the city is far more perfectly preserved – although I imagine the plants would still get involved.

06 November 2012

fly away - printed plane

Ever spent hours & hours building a model plane? Painstakingly cuting & glueing? ever thoguht of just printing one out and going for it? Two student engineers have done just that.
And, okay, I'd better confess that I'm not the model plane kinda gal, but printing one out - that sounds pretty cool... and not quite a simple as I've made out.

Two University of Virginia engineering students got to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3-D printing technology. "In other words, a plastic plane, to be designed, fabricated, built and test-flown between May and August. A real-world engineering challenge, and part of a Department of the Army project to study the feasibility of using such planes."

So not just printing out, but designing as well. Of course once they've designed it, (and it's working), there's nothing to stop anyone else, say the military, from prinitng them out and just going for it.

The unmanned aerial vehicle, "dressed" in U.Va.'s colors. The plane was built entirely from parts from a 3-D printer.

This whole 3D printing idea is rather sci-fi when you think back ot hte good old dot matrix. All those years ago, while pulling those horrible little hole strips off the side of sheets of papaer, I never would have guessed that one day printes would be playing in 3D.

"Three-dimensional printing is, as the name implies, the production or “printing” of actual objects, such as parts for a small airplane, by using a machine that traces out layers of melted plastic in specific shapes until it builds up a piece exactly according to the size and dimensions specified in a computer-aided drawing produced by an engineer."

All so simple, and if you break it - just print a new one :)

29 October 2012

Long weekends

Bad Louise, Bad. running late on blog post again.
Excuse? Nope don't have one, so I'll just launch right in :)

We’ve just had a long weekend. I love weekends, even though they remind me how much I like holidays then make me go back to work.

Things I love about long weekends:
A chance to curl up with a good book, catch up with friends & family, 2 late nights without work the next day ramifications.
The simple pleasures really :)
You know what I hate about long weekends:
Getting a cold on the Friday, feeling horrible all weekend, and then getting better just in time to go back to work.

Guess how I spent my long weekend?
You got it. Stuck inside with a box of tissues and a sad face.

Weekend just gone was much more the thing – but it was far too short!

Me Before the long weekend...

Me After the long weekend...

16 October 2012

The Science of Kissing

Hi All
Sorry no post last week, time escaped on me, and before I knew it I had lost a week.
So this week – kissing.

Who knew there was a whole field of scientific research devoted to this core enjoyable element of life - and core element of romance novels ;)
Well, the scientists who study it obviously knew, but for the rest of us it’s the study of philematology.

Want to know more – of course you do. Who doesn’t want more on kissing.
It turns out that kissing isn’t as simple as a fun way to show affection (or luurve), it’s all a bit more complex than that.
Many philemantologists – those who study kissing – agree that it developed as a way for mothers to pass pre-chewed food to their infants (think of birds who still do this, albeit without lips). However, that doesn’t explain a romantic meeting of lips between adults. As with so many things it turn out men & women may have different motivations. Snippets of an article below go some way to explaining.

“...According to Gordon Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany, "females are much more prone to use kissing as a mate assessment device... and even within an ongoing relationship, they use kissing as a way to update and monitor its status”... Men, by contrast, use kissing as a means to an end—that is, sex. They were far more willing to have sex without kissing, his study found, and while a bad first kiss can be a deal-breaker for both genders, men are more willing to go ahead and have sex with someone whose kiss is unpleasant.

And how is all this assessment and evaluation being conducted? "At the moment of a kiss, there is a very complicated exchange of all kinds of different information," says Gallup. Some of it is in chemical form. Contained in male saliva, for example, are small amounts of testosterone, which is known to boost libido in both genders. It's possible, Gallup says, that repeated and prolonged exposure—that is, many make-out sessions over days and weeks and months—may increase the female's sex drive. (That might explain why men prefer sloppier kisses than women, too—they're trying to get her in the mood.)...”

Then of course there’s pheromones and all sorts of other chemical signals. Kissing means getting close enough to smell and taste, and smell also covers chemicals which may be present in saliva that are volatilized and sensed by the nasal cavity. All together this means is the building blocks for helping us determine whether someone is a good genetic match.

Finally the article added “...Kissing may also reinforce pair bonding, helping to maintain relationships. Research by Wendy Hill, a neuroscientist as well as provost and dean of the faculty at Lafayette College, has shown that kissing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol...”

All that & fun too  :x
Full article here :x


25 September 2012

Bendy-camouflage robot

Very cool bit of tech, bendy-camouflage robot. It's been a little since a tech post - and this I couldn't resist.

Now you see it ..... Disappearing ... gone.

Well, virtually, the video jumped before I got the final picture. It also glows in the dark if the researchers want it to. It was inspired by the camouflage skills of sea creatures such as octopuses, cuttlefish and squid.

Professor George Whitesides, an author of the paper, said: "Conventional robotics is a pretty highly developed area, and if you look at various robots you find that most are basically built on the body plan of a mammal. Our question is: Why do you have to do that? Why not think about organisms that are soft, that might have quite different structures and ways of moving and strategies for camouflage. And the obvious place to look is underwater."

Very cool, Professor, very cool.I image the uses for something like this, with it's squidgy body and can squeeze places and change color, are innumerable, even my fertile writer's brain can't keep up :)

18 September 2012

Are paper books sacrosanct?

I was reading Dear Author the other day and they had an item with the title above. Apparently there was a Youtube item where Lauren Conrad showed how to hollow out a book to make a small storage space. The video was removed after the outcry over defacing books.

Use the ruler to get rid of that pesky bump, then simply glue the pages to the back cover.I have a confession to make - I'm one of those terrible defacers. Several years ago I thought they would make a fun gift.

A place to hide billet-doux from boyfriends, or perhaps a back-up weapon should any of the recipients decide to become a spy.

My first attempt was a complete failure. I got hold of a tatty book that looked ready for the trash - a good practice book I thought. It was on a topic in which I had no interest. Yes, you've guessed it, I ended up getting distracted and reading the darn thing and now it lives on my shelves.

My second attempt was more successful. I felt far less guilt destroying a Readers Digest Condensed book. My gifts were made, I even lined the hollow with velvet (prettier that way).

So are print books sacrosanct? Well, I guess it's quite clear that to me they're not. However, I certainly felt guilt destroying them. Not only that, but I'll have to add a caveat and say, it very much depends on the book. If a caviler attitude to book was taken, where wold all the wonderful old books we have now be?

As for future generations, with the rising prevalence of the eBook, I've no idea how they will view hte paper book at all....

11 September 2012

Author-on-author insult action

Authors should have a gift for words, but sometimes they turn that gift on other authors.
Here's a snippet from a list of the 30 harshest author-on-author insults in history:

30. Gustave Flaubert on George Sand
“A great cow full of ink.”

28. Friedrich Nietzsche on Dante Alighieri
“A hyena that wrote poetry on tombs.”

27. Harold Bloom on J.K. Rowling (2000)
“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

26. Vladimir Nabokov on Fyodor Dostoevsky
“Dostoevky’s lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity — all this is difficult to admire.”

23. H. G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw
“An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”

22. Joseph Conrad on D.H. Lawrence
“Filth. Nothing but obscenities.”

18. Ralph Waldo Emerson on Jane Austen
“Miss Austen’s novels . . . seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer . . . is marriageableness.”

16. Charles Baudelaire on Voltaire (1864)
“I grow bored in France — and the main reason is that everybody here resembles Voltaire…the king of nincompoops, the prince of the superficial, the anti-artist, the spokesman of janitresses, the Father Gigone of the editors of Siecle.”

14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

8. Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger
“I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”

5. Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust (1948)
“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)
“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

3. Virginia Woolf on James Joyce
“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

2. William Faulkner on Mark Twain (1922)
“A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.”

1. D.H. Lawrence on James Joyce (1928)
“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

Extras from the comments:
Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman:
“Every word she writes is a lie, including the ands and the thes.”

Mark Twain on Jane Austen:
Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.

William Hazlitt on Coleridge: “everlasting inconsequentiality marks all he does.

04 September 2012

Why read fiction?

Why read fiction? ... well, forget escapism or relaxation, clearly the best reason is the health benefits. Yes,  that's right the health benefits :) We all knew it was good for you, of course, but now science is joining the party. I'm to share some snippets from an article that I rather enjoyed...

"... new support for the value of fiction is arriving from an unexpected quarter: neuroscience.
Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.
      Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells. ... 
     The way the brain handles metaphors has also received extensive study; some scientists have contended that figures of speech like “a rough day” are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more. ... however, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not.
      Researchers have discovered that words describing motion also stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas. In a study led by the cognitive scientist VĂ©ronique Boulenger, of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like “John grasped the object” and “Pablo kicked the ball.” The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements. ...
    ... The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.
The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. ...
   ... Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, performed an analysis of 86 fMRI studies, published last year in the Annual Review of Psychology, and concluded that there was substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals — in particular, interactions in which we’re trying to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. Scientists call this capacity of the brain to construct a map of other people’s intentions “theory of mind.” Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers. ...
   ... These findings will affirm the experience of readers who have felt illuminated and instructed by a novel, who have found themselves comparing a plucky young woman to Elizabeth Bennet or a tiresome pedant to Edward Casaubon. Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined."

Read the whole article here.

28 August 2012

Dystopian fiction

I was talking to someone about distopian fiction at conference last weekend. We were pondering it's rising popularity, especially in YA (young adult) fiction, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the topic.
If you're not sure what dystopian fiction is...

Dystopias are commonly found in science fiction novels and stories. A dystopia is the idea of a society, generally of a speculative future, characterized by negative, anti-utopian elements, varying from environmental to political and social issues. Dystopian societies are often used to raise the subject of issues or concerns regarding society, environment, politics, religion, psychology or spirituality that may become present in the future. Famous depictions of Dystopian societies include Nineteen Eighty-Four, a totalitarian invasive super state; Brave New World, where the human population is placed under a caste of psychological allocation and Fahrenheit 451 where the state burns books out of fear of what they may incite. Where you find distopias you have distopian fiction.

I remember reading a fair amount of distopian fiction as a teenager, and looking back I think one of the reasons it's so fun to read at that age is the freedom it gives. As a teenager you're stretching your wings, trying to move out from your parents authority, but in real life you're still very constrained by the adults around you.

In distopian fiction the (frequently) teenage heroes can easily be given a type of independence they don't have in real life, even if there are other challenges they have to overcome. Parents/ teachers etc... can be killed in plagues, nuclear explosions. For example, in the recently populat Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the main protagonists are made independent by being entered into the games. Here they have to rely on themselves (not adults). In a series I remember reading as a teen (that I can no longer recall the name of) the hero & heroine survive a nuclear blast by hiding out in the basement of a movie theater.

Not only to the books give a kind of independence but the show the heroes to be capable and have them overcome the odds to survive. Those are all things teenagers are trying to do. In the above examples, survive the games, or travel and survive through a nuclear blasted world.

I think books of this type also pull people (not just teens) in when times are tough, again because of the overcoming the odds, surviving in the face of adversity tropes. not only that but also as a feeling that, no matter how bad things are, thank goodness they're not as bad as this.

Anyway that's my 2cents worth. To finish, here's a link to my librarything account and my books classified as dystopian, and an infographic from goodreads showing the recent upsurge of books being classified as dystopian.

21 August 2012

RWNZ Conference 2012


This coming weekend is the annual Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, something I look forward to every year. A great chance to mix, mingle and gossip with fellow writers, not tot mention a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the craft and business of writing.

This year, once again, we have some great speakers. If any of you are going I look forward ot seeing you there :)

Randy Ingermanson
Randy Ingermanson is the author of six novels and the bestselling book WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES. He is known around the world as “the Snowflake Guy” in honor of his wildly popular Snowflake method of designing a novel. Randy has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California at Berkeley and stills works half-time as a scientist for a biotechnology company in San Diego. He publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with over 30,000 subscribers and sits on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. Randy lives in southern Washington State with his wife and daughters and three surly cats. Visit his web site at http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Eloisa James

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’s historical regencies have been published to great acclaim. People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her next book is The Ugly Duchess, which will be published in September, 2012. In addition, Paris in Love, a memoir of Eloisa’s family’s year in France, was recently published by Harper Collins Australia.
Currently Eloisa teaches both Shakespeare and creative writing at Fordham University in New York City. She’s also the mother of two children and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.
Nephele Tempest
Nephele Tempest joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles office. She comes from a diverse publishing and finance background, having worked in the editorial department at Simon and Schuster, as a financial advisor, in the marketing and communications departments of several major New York investment firms, and as a freelance writer—all skills that come into play helping her clients develop their careers. She continues to actively build her client list, and is seeking works in the following genres: up-market commercial fiction; women’s fiction; urban fantasy; single-title romance including paranormal, suspense, historical, and contemporary; historical fiction; and young adult and middle grade fiction.
Joanne Grant
Joanne Grant is Senior Editor of Harlequin Presents and joined Harlequin in 2003 – as an avid reader and a romantic at heart where else would she work?! Reading romance novels in the bath is her guilty pleasure and she never tires of watching Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, or Patrick Swayze utter that line in Dirty Dancing.
She lives in the leafy suburbs with very own hero (her husband’s a detective), an ever growing collection of shoes, and a lovably large (but not fat!) ginger and white cat.

Yvonne Lindsay
USA Today Bestselling author Yvonne Lindsay took 13 years and multiple rejections before she sold her first story to Harlequin Desire in April of 2005. Her first book rose to #1 on the Borders/Waldenbooks Series Bestseller list and in 2007 was also nominated for the prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award. Her books are distributed in more than 27 countries and in almost as many languages. Now, with 23 contracted titles with Harlequin behind her, Yvonne regularly presents workshops at chapter meetings and conferences in both New Zealand and Australia and is thrilled to be living the life she always dreamed of bringing her stories to her readers.

Sophia James
Sophia James writes historical romance for the Harlequin Historical imprint in London and has published ten books, all of which have been translated into various languages around the world. A double winner of the R*BY 2010 & 2011 (in the long romance section) she was also a finalist in the 2010 ARRA Awards, the 2008 R*BY Award and won the inaugural Clendon NZ in 1998. Sophia has been a mentor at both of the RWA 5 Day Intensive workshops at the Griffith University in Brisbane (2010 & 2011) and has run a similar mentorship programme in NZ in 2012. She has a degree in History & English from the University of Auckland and a background in teaching. Visit Sophia at sophiajames.net

Bronwen Evans
Bronwen Evans loves story-telling – gobbling up movies, books and theatre. Her head is always filled with characters and stories, particularly lovers in angst. In 2007, encouraged by a close friend battling a debilitating illness, Bronwen finally started down the path to publication by joining RWA, The Beau Monde. RWAustralia and RWNZ. Bronwen’s first manuscript, INVITATION TO RUIN, was completed late 2009 and was sold by her agent, Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency, to Kensington Publishing early 2010, in a two book deal. Her debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, received a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews and was well received in Publishers Weekly – “Evans’s debut Regency is filled with sizzling romance… Strong characterizations, smooth plotting, and plenty of explicit sex will appeal to fans of modern Regencies” (March).

Yvonne Walus

Yvonne Walus is the author of over 20 books, both in print and electronic. As Eve Summers, she’s got 14 romances published by Red Rose Publishing, their rating varying from Sweet, through Sensual, all the way to Sizzling.

Gracie O’Neil
Gracie O’Neil writes romance, suspense, and YA. She is also part of a solid-and sometimes scary-critique group without whom she simply couldn’t survive. She credits them for whatever thick skin she has now has, and whatever success she might have in the future.

Steff Green
Steff has been blogging online for the past five years, and currently run four blogs with a combined readership of over 50 000 worldwide. She also ghost blogs for several clients, and through her business – Grymm & Epic Copywriting – she helps creative entrepreneurs (writers, artists, musicians) create and hone their personality brands online.
She has successfully self-published two ebooks – the Gothic Wedding Planner and the Grymm and Epic Guide to Blogging – which she sells exclusively through her websites. Steff knows how to use a blog successfully – how to find an audience and keep it growing, and how to turn readers into book buyers – and she would love to share some of the things she’s learned with other RWNZ members.

Sue MacKay

With a background working in medical laboratories, and a love of the romance genre, it is no surprise that Sue MacKay writes Medical Romance stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She sold her first book in February 2010, after many years of submitting and working through revisions letters. She’s since sold a further five books and is currently working her way through a four book contract. Sue lives with her husband in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, where she can indulge her passions for the outdoors, the sea and cycling.

14 August 2012

Editing Symbols

A great blog post over on Janet Reid's blog about editing symbols. As anyone who has got anything back from an editor knows, those little editing symbols crop up like weeds over ones work - but for a newbie there's always the question of what the darn things mean. Ms. Reid shows the basic definitions....

Then she goes on to hypothesize about a few extra possible symbols that are missing from the basic lexicon... 

 And then a few more...
 Then the standard symbols but with alternative meanings...

07 August 2012

Fun DIY bookshelves

Looking to give your room that little something different, that little something fun? How about these DIY bookshelves.... (Follow link for even more ideas :)

 Source: moredesignplease.com
 Source: buzzfeed
  Source: rockettstgeorge.co.uk

Source: etsy.com

30 July 2012

Best contemporary covers.

Okay these are the last of the covers from the cover cafe contest. This post will cover three categories: contemporary, series, & two image, so I've only picked the top 2 from each. Why have I bunched them up rather than a post on each? I'm going to have to shrug and say whim.

 1st place contemporary:
Nice composition and color, and lets be honest you can't go past his bod.

As Kati put it, it’s “abtastically delicious!”

Other voters were attracted by the sports theme. Sue T. was one of them. “I absolutely love this cover! This is one of my all-time favorites; that pose just seems to typify all of the hard work and sweat that goes into making someone into a professional athlete.”

Cover Cafe’s Jeanette summed up the appeal of this cover: “Do I have to explain? No, I don’t think so.”

 2nd place contemporary:
 This didn't scream romance to me, but it is a lovely simple cover that draws one in, makes me want to know what's behind the image.

Many voters noted the simplicity of this cover, including Cover Cafe’s Christiane. “Simple and very heart warming. Both the author’s name and title are just the right size, they do not overwhelm the flower.”

Other voters mentioned the striking color combinations and graphic design, including Beth F.: “Beautiful colors! Unusual choice of the dogwood, no perfect people, the weathered blue wood. I want to know why! I want to read this!”
Anne H.: “Love the petals against the soft blue, very evocative.”

 1st place series:
I'm not a huge fan of cowboys so this wouldn't be my fav, but it is a nice atmospheric cover.

Sandy seemed to speak for many of the voters however when she wrote: "Cowboys have a special place in my heart, so had to give this one the nod. Honest, loyal, sexy, and hard-bodied. Who can ask for more?"

Other voters also appreciated the artistry of the cover. Lynne pointed out the “Unusual angle,[and] evocative colours…” while K.L. noted it’s “Fresh and Bold – also love the use of color.” 

 2nd place series:
I loved the connection between the characters and the fun they were having together. You can believe in their romance.

Several voters commented on the unusual pose and atmosphere: Elyse: "I like how he's trying to protect her from the rain with his hand. Ineffective yes, but sweet! They're just so joyful--not letting the nasty weather get them down."

Nana: "It's such an original pose. I like how the personalities of the characters come through - him protecting her from the rain, her so happy she flings her arm out in it. It's like Gene Kelly in cover form."

 1st place 2 image:
 I like the outside image better of the two, but hte second certainly fits with title :)

Cassie stated: "Decadent and glorious - both in colour and in the art direction. I want my bathroom to look like that." Linda added: "Forget taking a shower..would love to crawl in a tub like this with a man that looks like this!!!" And Pat exclaimed: "The bathtub, sigh! First they have a reason to be getting undressed, you can see the tub in the background. Then they are IN it! Hot."

2nd place 2 image:
 I think it's the red that catches my eyes here, and the inner image is certainly atmospheric.

Cover Cafe’s Mary Lynn stated: "There's a lot of mystery in this cover combination, from the sweep of her hair to the mists in the land she's walking through. And the connectivity between the cover and stepback is excellent: the use of red, the filigree in the corners of the images, and the movement in the hair (albeit in opposite directions!)."

Lynne C. voiced: "Love the colours! It's rich and it promises mystery. And it's left to us how the heroine appears, apart from her hair. The other covers are too cliche, apart from the Frost one, which I also liked."