Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rowena Cherry's Mating Material

I am absolutely delighted to have futuristic author, Rowena Cherry, visit today.
Welcome to the blog, Rowena. Have a cup of tea?

Why, thank you, Susan.

Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.

I don't like writing sex scenes. Surprised?

Absolutely! You certainly write them well.

How many books have you written, Rowena?
That depends how you count.

I wrote Forced Mate as a science fiction romance for release as an e-book and as a Print On Demand with NBI, and simultaneously worked with Alicia Condon, then of Dorchester, on a futuristic romance version solely for the mass market paperback market.

When NBI went belly-up, my rights were returned, and I self-published Forced Mate as an ebook.

My next mass market paperback was Insufficient Mating Material (mass market paperback only), followed by Knight's Fork (mass market paperback).

Yes, I'm in love with that knight

In the meantime, I also wrote a novella which I license to New Concepts Publishing. It's a prequel, and is titled Mating Net, and is only available as an e-book.

I also have a first draft of Grand Fork... half-written, not published, not for sale.

What books or authors have influenced you?

Georgette Heyer, George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie.

What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

"During the writing process..." That rules out letters from readers, compliments from editors, generous reviews from strangers, the arrival of checks/cheques.

I think, then, my answer must be something to do with what happens when a talented editor such as Alicia Condon or Karen Babcock asks a question about content, and I solve the communication problem with three alternate revisions, and they want to use all three.

Tell us about your latest release.
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

I'm editing Insufficient Mating Material for release as an e-book.

Forced Mate, Insufficient Mating Material, and Knight's Fork are available in print while supplies last, and I occasionally sell some of my stash on EBay. Mating Net is available from New Concepts Publishing.

Knight's Fork is the last paperback book I released before I realized that the royalty model of traditional publishing is unsustainable.

This is an unofficial blurb that I may use for the e-book.

One virtuous Knight, an interstellar quest, a sexy royal stowaway and, a saboteur along for the ride.

‘Rhett knows why he is going to Earth. He has a lost Princess to find, a secret that might petrify his
enemies to unearth, and a scandalous Queen to avoid.

What is unclear is why his arch enemy, Tarrant-Arragon, is so eager to lend him an Imperial space destroyer, a young Prince in need of a mentor, and the dour fellowship of his man, Grievous.

 Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?

Yes. But which? I suppose that most authors struggle for longest with their first book (mine was Forced Mate) if they learn the craft the hard way. However, Forced Mate basically took every stock situation from a standard Historical abduction romance, and spoofed them. Once I found the proper starting point, there was a logical progression of scenes. Nevertheless, many scenes involving secondary characters and parallel storylines could have been inserted at several different junctures.... and they were, before the book was "right".

Insufficient Mating  Material was an alien desert island romance, so, again, there was a structure for the first part of the book, and also for the third and final part. The middle was a bit of a challenge. I think the term of what to avoid is "expository lump".

Knight's Fork was probably the most challenging to write. I hadn't planned the books as a series, and found myself writing an interstellar soap opera. As a result, I'd painted myself into a few corners, and since I was writing about a family (a dysfunctional alien royal family) I had to continue to include senior members of the royal family. Also, their appearances had to be meaningful, and had to advance the plots.

The biggest difficulty with Knight's Fork was the heroine. She was married to someone other than the hero, and I did not want to glorify adultery (one reason I put her in a chastity belt and lost the key) and it didn't suit me to kill off her husband. That would have been too easy! The second biggest difficulty was in **not** making the husband the villain. That, too, would have been too predictable.

How do you develop characters?

Painfully slowly. No one could possibly be interested in my methods. I might compare my methods to making sloe gin.

Anyone who wishes to learn how to develop characters would do much better to visit and benefit from the lessons taught by Jacqueline Lichtenberg or look up Linnea Sinclair's courses.

You're much too modest, Rowena. Your characters are exquisite.

Why, thank you. You want to know how to make sloe gin?


Go out onto the windswept cliffs where the thorny, hardy, wild damson bushes are in fruit (Autumn) and free to pick. Remove worms and cobwebs and other assorted wildlife. Prick the dusky purple sloes individually with needles or pins. Fill a narrow-necked old bottle (that can be corked) with the pricked fruit, just like a colorful science class demonstration of volume.

When the bottle is full of pricked berries, fill it with sugar.

When the bottle is full of berries and sugar, fill it with cheap gin. Cork it. Leave it for several months, turning the corked bottle at intervals. Enjoy responsibly.

Appreciate the metaphor. (Grinning.)

Yes, I certainly do appreciate it. LOL.

How do you choose your setting?

All the books so far are spin-offs of the first one, so the core settings remain places I've lived: Britain (parts of Britain that I know... therefore London, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Dorset,Wiltshire, Guernsey), imaginary spaceships, imaginary alien palaces and brothels.

One of the more interesting choices I had to make about setting was for Insufficient Mating Material. Initially, it was a toss-up whether I would locate the deserted, sub-tropical island where the hero and heroine were to be forcibly marooned on Earth or on the imaginary alien planet An'Koor.

Looking back, the choice was a no-brainer. The island had to be on An'Koor. One simply cannot have humongous alien spaceships blockading Earth and expect Earthlings not to notice.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

I cannot imagine loving a man who is incompetent... not romantically. So, all my heroes are supremely competent. Effective. Very good indeed at whatever it is they do. Also, they all have a sense of humor.

Their flaws vary. They may be incorrigible liars, have awesome tempers, swear or drink too much, be obsessive or compulsive, or unable to delegate.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?

If you don't mind, I'd like to talk a little bit about copyright infringement, because fighting infringement on behalf of those who cannot or dare not has been my passion for the past two years. (I even won an E.P.I.C. award for my efforts.)

Go right ahead, Rowena. We all need to be reminded.

It appears that a lot of internet users have trouble understanding this:

"The FBI Warning: Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."

Sometimes, those who reproduce and distribute (or "share") e-books online cut out the front matter, and start the e-books at Chapter One. I believe that some settings on older e-readers defaulted to Page One. So, possibly, a lot of e-book buyers never see the warning. Kinder, gentler publishers use words like "All Rights Reserved", which might be a tad vague.

Other times, the heavy duty, FBI warning or a similar one, is right there on the "free e-book hosting" sites that allow visitors to "preview" the document.

Possibly, the problem lies in the word, "unauthorized". Too many readers assume that, if they purchased an ebook, they are entitled ( or "authorized" ) to do whatever they like with it. This is not true.

Nor is it true that if a site like offers (you) the ability to copy every book in someone else's collection to your own account that therefore it is legal for you to click that option. It's not. Just because someone uploaded a modern bestseller to a file hosting site does not mean that that bestseller is "in the public domain" or that the copyright warnings --whether there or stripped-- do not apply to anyone copying or downloading the work.

If you take a paperback to a copy-shop, you will be required to fill out paperwork before the copy shop will photocopy the entire book for you. Try it. If you take a library book to the library photocopier, you will see warnings posted about copyright infringement.

With a paperback, if you used a coin-powered machine to print a copy of every page, you'd probably spend more on the machine than it would cost you to purchase a legal copy. Also, if you lend or sell or give a paperback to a friend, she has it. You don't have it any more.

With e-books, it is possible to create thousands of copies with no effort, no expense, and no thought. One can even make a profit. However, making copies and sharing them is the prerogative of the copyright owner. The author. If a reader makes copies and shares them without personal, written permission from the author, it is copyright infringement.

A better solution, which Smashwords is now encouraging authors and publishers to use is wording in the front matter that makes it clear that an e-book is not purchased, but licensed.

Excerpted from

"A user is a licensee, rather than an owner, when the copyright owner

1) Specifies the user is being granted a license
2) Significantly restricts the user's ability to transfer the software, and
3) Imposes notable use restrictions

For anyone who wishes to learn more about the horrors and triumphs of fighting digital piracy, there is a group open to readers and authors.

Susan, I hope these remarks will be more helpful to your aspiring-author-readers than any insights into how I stay on track as I write about faraway worlds and through the eyes of alien hunks.

Excellent information, indeed. Thanks for sharing.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Thank you for asking. There is an interview of me on TheAuthorsShow (check for "Rowena Cherry" and "Knight's Fork" in the yellowish menu bar in the middle of the page) at Various authors' interviews are featured on a rotating basis.

I'm supposed to be promoting "Knight's Fork" but end up talking more about my alleged psychic abilities, cows, and why "futuristic" is not the right genre for what I write.

I have two websites. They are: and

You might well ask why I have two. One is run professionally by a webmaster, whom I have to pay if I want any kind of update. The other is through Authors' Guild, was set up free, I can edit it any time I wish, and it costs me $6.00 a month.

And, finally, again for the authors in your audience, I run a group on
for "Authors Of Romance Helping Authors Of Romance"

Thank you very much for inviting me over!

I have thoroughly enjoyed having you over, Rowena.

Now, readers of the blog, play attention to the offering that follows:

Rowena is giving away a $25 gift token. "No warranties, no purchase necessary, winner selection random from comments, starting 12.01 am Eastern, December 1st, ending midnight Eastern December 5th, (all the usual rules) full written rules obtainable from....."


Carly Carson said...

I'm glad I read this, Rowena. Your books sound interesting and I think I will have to buy one. lol. Georgette Heyer is one of my favorite authors. I always look for authors who enjoy her work, even though I don't expect the same type of story.

You are an indefatigable fighter on the copyright front. Thank you for your efforts.

RowenaBCherry said...

Hi, Susan,

Since I popped up here to see whether anyone had asked anything, I thought I'd leave a comment.

In the interim since we conducted this interview, quite a furore has erupted all over the internet concerning SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act).

Google funded a study about piracy which showed, among many fascinating findings that most people are honest; most people disapprove of "piracy"; most people think there's nothing wrong with infringing copyright in private to share a book, movie or music with family members.... but most people would disapprove of SOPA if opponents of SOPA used powerful pejorative words such as "censorship" or "monitor" or "government" or "blacklist" to describe the consequences of stopping online piracy.

If you want to know what SOPA says, read the Bill itself.

RowenaBCherry said...

Hi, Carly!

We must have been writing at the same time. Thank you for your very kind words.

If you like e-books, you could find Forced Mate as an e-book on the site for $2.99 (no DRM but it might not work on Kindle.)

Otherwise, your cheapest course is to buy it used. Maybe see if a local used bookstore has it. I won't get any royalties on any paperback, unless you buy a new one from me. LOL.

As for Georgette Heyer, have you read her collection of short stories "Pistols For Two"?

Jacquie Rogers said...

Hi, Rowena! I love all your books, would love to have them on my Kindle so I could re-read them, and would especially love to have your new book. :)

My books are pirated on several sites. Frankly, I've been too caught up in my family life to deal with it, but it certainly is hurtful to my pocketbook--and right when I could use the money, too. My own sister pirates movies and music on a regular basis, and repeated discussions don't seem to do any good. If it's on the internet, it's free. That's what she and her husband think.

What is your opinion, Rowena, of the state of the music industry, and what can the book industry learn from it?

RowenaBCherry said...

Hello, Jacquie,

If I may rant a little, it burns me up that most of the discussions about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and IP Protect focus on "Hollywood" and RIAA... in order words, on symbols of decadence, wealth, and conspicuous excess.

Few people talk about e-books, but --frankly-- piracy is more serious for e-books than for music or even movies.

The more a person hears a tune, the more one likes it, and therefore the more likely one is to purchase a quality track at some point.

The same is not true for a book, especially with the declining attention spans and levels of literacy one sees on the internet.

Skim for plot (or sex). Done. Next. Sometimes, I look at the All-You-Can-Read contests on Goodreads and I am reminded of competitive eating.

That thought won't endear me to readers, and I don't expect any author to agree with me... but that's not the crowd for whom I write.

We live in a "Copy Culture" (I'm not sure if I can post a link here, but I will try)

People feel "entitled" to free entertainment included with the cost of the hardware. I blame Amazon in part, and also the other various equipment makers who offer the functionality and set up the expectation.

In the Netherlands, there is a 25% tax on blank discs, out of which (so everyone apparently believes) the content creators are paid.


Certainly, foreign content creators aren't sent commissions on sales of hardware in the Netherlands to compensate them for piracy!

I've seen pirates assert that their mere purchase of a Kindle somehow (magically) benefits authors.

I don't think the book industry can learn anything from the music industry, because the music industry doesn't have a handle on the problem, and the problem isn't apples for apples.

Musicians can give concerts. Did you see in Publishers' Lunch....? Bookstores are quietly discouraging authors from giving readings. People don't want to listen to authors read.

Authors are expected to develop fresh, original content for an appearance at a bookstore, such as powerpoint presentations.

That does not equate to singing ones greatest hits.

Deborah Macgillivray said...

There is no more valiant warrior than Rowena Cherry in teaching and rallying writers to better protect themselves against book piracy. I cannot say enough about her talent or her caring what affects us all.

Lori Soard said...

I've known Rowena for many years. Her passion on copyright issues is something that all artists can get behind and support. She also just happens to be a wonderful writer.

Victoria Bromley said...

Rowena is not only a wonderful writer, but her tireless work to protect the rights of writers is fabulous. She is a strong advocate and I applaud her efforts.

Candy Thompson said...

Great interview! I would highly recommend any of Rowena's books! She is a very talented writer.
Rowena is also to be commended for all her tireless work to protest authors from piracy and copyright issues.

Candy Thompson said...

Continuation of my comment....My typing leaves a bit of room for improvement. LOL!
My comment should have read...'to PROTECT' authors. No one works harder on this matter than Rowena and she deserves a LOT of credit! :)

RowenaBCherry said...


Thank you very much for your very kind words. I boldly stick my neck... (misquoting Star Trek)

Lovely to see you here, and that Redemption cover art of yours is glorious!

RowenaBCherry said...

Oh, Candy,
Your typo made me shout out loud with laughter. Thank you!

RowenaBCherry said...

Lori Soard,

I appreciate your comment. Thank you for your very kind words. I greatly admire all you do to promote and help authors to navigate the perilous waters of self-promo, and your Divas Night Before Christmas initiative is soooo creative.

Sadly, I don't have any special --printable --Christmas Eve memories.

RowenaBCherry said...

Thank you, Victoria. You on the other hand are tireless in your marathon walking in aid of charities.

I salute you.

Mercedes Christesen said...

Wow I found out things I did not know..

RowenaBCherry said...

Thank you. IMHO, sharing interesting, uncommon knowledge is second only to giving people a reason to chuckle.

Carly Carson said...

I was so discouraged to hear my 16 yo come home from school last week in an outrage (fostered by the school) about SOPA. "They're going to destroy the internet!" (This after I have agreed to pay for my kids' music downloads after explaining what theft means). They would never steal a candy bar from the grocery store. But this generation is being brought up to believe anything on the net is free. That Jexbo site is slow but I'm trying. Yes to Heyer. Everything including the army books I didn't love!

RowenaBCherry said...

Oh, the army books! I agree with you. "An Infamous Army" was like a sequel to Regency Buck but with way too much marching and camping, and "The Spanish Bride".

The nautical Elizabethan book, "Beauvallet" (???) was also heavy going in my opinion.

What can be done about teachers indoctrinating children with politicized misinformation? I'd like to blog about that. What is the name of the school and of the teacher?

RowenaBCherry said...


I just checked with Jill Exler owner of Jexbo, and there seems to be a problem with the site, at least using Firefox.

She is investigating.

RowenaBCherry said...

Here's a tip for my author friends and for Susan's author friends.

If you are a member of Amazon's Author Central, you can secure your own personalized url for your author page.

Even if you don't have any immediate plans to promote on Amazon, it is worth doing, because someone else may also write under a very similar name to yours.

here's how....
1. Log in to Author Central
2. Click on "Profile" tab
3. Look for "Author Page URL" (should be on the right at the top)
4. Click "Add Link"
Amazon has a suggestion which you can approve, but if you'd rather type in something else, you can. However, once you choose an url, you cannot change it.
5. Click "Save". Within a few minutes, your url will be live.

RowenaBCherry said...

Carly, check your email. I wrote to you. :-)

RowenaBCherry said...

Thank you very much to Susan for hosting my interview, and to everyone who kindly stopped by.

I post the winner of the random drawing tonight at midnight. Meanwhile, the interview I mentioned is live today at

Susan Whitfield said...

My pleasure, Rowena. Thanks for coming over and bringing so many visitors with you. Continued success with your writing endeavors!

RowenaBCherry said...

And the winner is... Jacquie R!

(Sorry, I fell asleep at midnight eastern but it must be/or at least feel like midnight somewhere in the world!)

Jacquie, please send me your address offlist, privately.