Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Today, I'm going to blog about squirrels.


Because I have nothing to blog about and I decided that squirrels are as good a topic as anything else. I've challenged myself to write at least a hundred words on the topic. The thing is, I've never actually seen a real, live squirrel. I once saw something that kind of looked like a tiny version of a squirrel up on a mountain near Lake Tah
oe. It was sooooooo cute, but my cousin told me that it was an evil flying rodent-like creature that was a pest, thus shattering my illusions. Actually not. I still think it was cute.
Getting back to squirrels - we don't have them in NZ. What we have a possums, which occupy the same size-niche in the ecosystem. And yes, they are a pest because they're not native to NZ. But cute furry pests.

In Japan, on the other hand, we have the tanuki - a kind of raccoon dog.
They live in all sorts of weird places. The other night on t.v. they showed a family of them that was living under the overhang of a subway train line!

So there you go, a blog about squirrels. Bet you don't see that everyday. And just because this was so much fun to write, I'm tagging you to put up a blog on a completely random topic. Make sure to leave a link in the comments so we can all go have a look-see.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blonde Bombshells & Fiery Redheads

I want to do a mini-poll today. We've all heard the stories that certain types of heroes (and less often, heroines) appeal more to readers, so let's put it to (a very unscientific) test.

Which do you prefer?

a) Fair haired heroes
b) Dark haired heroes
c) No preference

And what about heroines' tresses?

a) Blonde
b) Brown
c) Black
d) Red
e) No preference

Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday Photo

Isn't this amazing? These Buddha statues are on the hill leading up to a temple, literally hundreds of them small and big. If you look closely, you can see that some of them are wearing knitted caps. It's a functioning temple, so you can walk among these statues and up close, the detail in them is just mind-boggling when you consider how many there are.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Character Development

Today, I'm working on some fairly simple revisions for Bound By Marriage, so I've been thinking about character development, and how much difference in impact it can make if you layer a character; ie. instead of having a one-note villain, you give him a little bit of goodness that makes you stop and think, confusing everyone and driving the story forward as you consider how the author is going to deal wtih this character, who may actually have garnered a little of your sympathy.

The same concept works in reverse with heroes and heroines. Make them imperfect or a little bad and you've increased the interest level exponentially.

Of course, doing any of that well is difficult. I'm still learning like every other writer, but here's my tip - just ask why. Why is your character doing what they're doing and do the traits/history you've given them justify it?


News & Conferences

Gabe and Jess's story now has an official title: Bound By Marriage, and a moved up release date. It will be coming out in February 2007 from Silhouette Desire.

I'm also going to send out an excerpt of Slave to Sensation to newsletter subscribers next week, probably Monday or Tuesday, so if you'd like to be one of the cool in-the-know people *g*, you should join.

Other news - I'll be attending the RWNZ Conference in August. If you're there, come up and say hi. I think conferences are a great way to recharge your batteries, meet up with friends, and learn new stuff. But I must say I have a preference for the smaller RWNZ conference as compared to the gianormous RWA one.

I went to RWA New York and my head almost exploded. So many people, so many writers, so much happening! It's all very exciting and yet at the same time, exhausting. Don't get me wrong - I liked it, and I'd like to go to RWA again (because obviously I'm a masochist), but I don't know what effect it would have had on me had I gone as an unpublished author and seen all those bazillion others out to reach the same goal.

I guess in the end it comes down to balancing what you can get out of it, with what it might take from you. Here's a few things I'd put in the plus and minus columns. Feel free to add your own positives and negatives.


1. Networking.
2. Meeting and making friends who 'get' you. (I can't tell you how wonderful that feels)
3. Getting to hear some great speakers.


1. It costs money, sometimes lots of it.
2. It costs time, which might be better spent writing.
3. If you're not ready for the atmosphere, it could leave you stunned and wondering where to go.

The balance tipped in the positive for me this year, and I definitely would have booked RWA had it not conflicted with my move back to NZ. Speaking of which, does anybody have any good tips about packing? When did I accumulate all this 'stuff'?!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I picked up this book on Monday, after having had it on my list for a while. I loved it so much that I wanted to share it all with you.

First of all, it's not the sort of book I'd normally buy - it's won all sorts of literary awards and to be honest, I often get put off by that (reverse snobbery, I know). What sold me on this from the start was the story, the ideas behind it (which goes to show that a good story can win over the unlikeliest readers).

It's really difficult to describe this book without giving away the central twist but I'll try. Kathy, the narrator, is in her early thirties and coming to the end of her term as a "carer". During this time, she starts to think about her early life as a student at Hailsham, an exclusive school, but one where the students are "told, but not told" what their ultimate purpose in life is. And it's that purpose that makes this such a troubling book.

The following paragraph from a Salon article on the book, captures much of what the story is about and you might even guess what Kathy and her friends' purpose is in life.
...Still, as they grow older, they begin to confront the fact that they are not like "normal people": They are human beings who have no parents and who will have no children, and none of them will make it long past the beginning of middle age. (In the bureaucratic dialect Ishiguro has created, successful donors do not die, they "complete" -- and what lies beyond that is the subject of a troubling rumor.)
The thing about this book is that though the story it tells is very sad, horrendous in fact, the book itself isn't overtly sad (which isn't to say the sadness isn't there). What saves this story is its narrator - she goes about her business with practical calm, never raging about what's in store for her, never being self-pitying. The prose is very easily readable, very accessible.

I'm not saying this book is perfect. There were some questions in my mind after I read it, things that were left hanging or I felt hadn't been adequately addressed, but even with all that, it was a book that caught me from the first page and didn't let go until I had finished. And if there were questions left, then perhaps that was the author's intent? Because this is definitely a book that makes you think as it tells you a very good story.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Deep In Thought

What do you think this little guy is thinking? I always see him as very zen, very calm, contemplating life as water rushes by.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


So, I went to the bookstore yesterday. I thought it might be of interest to let you guys know the authors who are stocked in the English-language section of a major bookstore chain in Japan. The fiction section isn't huge - one row of books about four shelves deep.

I didn't take notes, but from memory, these are some of the authors I saw (aside from Dan Brown):


Linda Fairstein
John Sandford (If you haven't read his Prey series, check it out. It's absolutely awesome.)
Jonathan Kellerman (His Alex Delaware series is great.)
James Patterson
Robert B. Parker

Romantic Suspense

Linda Howard
Allison Brennan
JD Robb (Roarke...what more do I need to say?)
Sharon Sala

Historical Romance

Stephanie Laurens
Amanda Quick (I'm a huge fan of her early historicals and paranormals.)


Nora Roberts (interestingly, more of her reissued category titles than her single title work)
Sophie Kinsella
(There were more but I'm having brain freeze on this.)


Kay Hooper (scary but in a very cool way)
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Laurell K. Hamilton
Christine Feehan

I'm guessing you've seen the theme - all big-name authors. The only one who could be categorized as a new voice, is Allison Brennan. I love a lot of the authors on that list, have read pretty much all of them at one stage or other, but given the speed at which I read when I get going, if I only shopped in the bookstore, I'd run out of reading material very fast. Which is why I get a lot of books online. It allows me to buy books that maybe aren't huge, but which sound interesting, or try out new authors.

Obviously the lack of choice in a brick and mortar bookstore is to be expected in a non-English speaking location, but what I'm wondering is - how good are the same types of stores where you live? Can you find what you want most of the time?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Books, books, books!

I'm heading out of town for a meeting today and I can hardly wait. They have bookstores in the city where I'm going!! My heart is already thudding in nervous excitement at the thought of fondli...I mean, handling, all those lovely books.

See you all tomorrow (if I'm not comatose or otherwise delirious from the pleasure of being in a bookstore)!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I watched The Fantastic Four on video last night and thought it was good, but I couldn't figure out what kept it from being great. Then I realized it was because of the fact that the villain was the most interesting character - he was so deliciously bad, plus he had a complex personality and motivations, while the Fantastic Four were all very good...too good.

I reckon that larger than life characters work best if they have a hint of darkness - like Wolverine in X-Men, or Roarke in the JD Robb books.

Staying on that topic, the one villain who I've always felt steals the show, is Iago from Othello by William Shakespeare.
"Hell and night will bring this monstrous birth to the world's light."
Brrr, he's so evil it gives me the shivers. But there's no arguing that he's also a powerful, memorable character.

Villains and dark heroes - who are some of your favorites?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Exhausted and Loving It

I've just turned in Visions of Heat (my second book for Berkley) so yay! I loved, loved, loved working on that book. Next week, I'm getting revisions for my next Desire (which looks like it might be moved up from April to February next year).

In between, I plan to have a rest. I'm actually not much good at this - I'm currently working on a project that I am dying to get off the ground because I'm so excited about it. However, I am going to try because my shoulders are stiff and I'm pretty sure I'm talking to my characters in my sleep. There is a fine line between dedication and obsession...I think I crossed it a few years back when I began writing on the bus during the commute to my previous job. *g*

So, what's everyone else up to?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Web Surfing

Tess Gerritsen has a new blog address, with comments and all. Me, I just lurk most of the time (in a lot of places), but I'm sure the comments on that blog are going to be hopping.

MJ Rose has an entry up about Authorgeddon, "refers to the hypothetical date when the number of books published in a given year will exceed the number of people who have read a book that same year."

Agent Jennifer Jackson has a post up about her pet peeves re submissions.

Reviews of The Da Vinci Code movie are coming in. Here's one, here's another, and if you want more, go here. None are particularly positive but I'm still going to go see it for myself and make up my own mind. Anybody else planning to go check it out?

A writer goes off on the topic of NY Times survey to choose the single greatest book of the past 25 years. The winner was Beloved by Toni Morrison, which I have read and considered a very good book. But I have to agree with the Time writer that:
...the greatness of literature lies in its diversity, not in its unanimity; herein also lies the greatness of people who read it. And Lists have a way of strengthening the hegemony of big, syllabus-ready tomes and making it harder for readers to find their way to minor, more idiosyncratic, less well-connected but maybe more lovable books.
What do you say?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Things That Were Probably Invented On A Rainy Day

Quick Note: If you'd like to get an exclusive sneak peek at the excerpt for Slave to Sensation, join my mailing list. I'm hoping to send out the excerpt relatively soon (likely sometime next week). It's a very quiet newsletter - I only send it out when there's new release info etc.

Now, onto my incisive and thought-provoking post for today (inspired by the stormy day outside):

Things That Were Probably Invented On A Rainy Day

1. Umbrellas
2. Raincoats
3. Gumboots
4. Hot Chocolate
5. Soup
6. Tarpaulin
7. Blankets
8. Cuddling all day under #7
9. The Art of Storytelling
10. And...?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blogging Sense

"They're saying the same things that people would routinely say around the water cooler, only now they're saying them in a forum that can be read by millions of people."
From: Have a blog, lose your job?

I've noticed that trend myself, but more, I've noticed that people say things on blogs that they would never say to a person's face. It's as if the distance provided the internet disarms people's common-sense meters.

However, if we really think about it, that distance is a complete illusion. Anyone can read what a blogger writes, including bosses, the people a blogger may be snarking about in cyberspace but befriending in real life, your granny, your teachers....the list goes on. Which makes me wonder why people do it. I can understand an anonymous blogger getting caught out, but I don't understand people who blog under their own name, say stuff they'd never say in the real world, and then are surprised when they're discovered!

Tell me your thoughts on this. Do you think bloggers should be able to say anything they like under the principles of free speech, or is a little discretion not only necessary, but advisable?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Since I live in Japan, I figure I should occasionally do a post on Japanese culture. Today's topic is the tradition of the onsen. This is basically a natural hot spring, which you bathe in naked. Sounds just like a spa, right? Except that you enjoy the nakedness with your friends, work-mates, random strangers. Who said the Japanese were reserved?!

Every time there's a big office/school event, the teachers go off to an onsen. Our annual office trip is always to an onsen. Last year we went to the most beautiful one in the mountains, all wood cabins and outdoor springs.

It's a source of great amusement to my office that I have lived in Japan for over two and a half years and have yet to go into an onsen. Thankfully, most onsen trips include other activies. The whole being naked-with-my-workmates thing just does not work for me, but some of my foreign friends love them.

What do you think? Am I prude? Would you take part in naked bonding?

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Warning: This post is the result of the rare disease known as editing fever, which may or may not have scrambled my brains. Onto the post...

I really like the word "indubitably". It just sounds so...indubitable. I have, however, been foiled in my attempts to use it in a manuscript so far. But I'm determined to get it in one of these days. And that's indubitable.

Favorite words anyone?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Friday!

A man and his dog, what's not to like? *g*

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I have the same name as a journalist/tv personality born in India (or she has the same name as me *g*).

I actually didn't know this until I started getting emails meant for her. The last one came a couple of weeks ago. I always reply and let the sender know they've got the wrong Nalini Singh, but one thing puzzles me - if they have my email address, they must've either got it off this blog or my website, both of which make it pretty clear that I'm a romance novelist. Even if they got it elsewhere, most of those places would, I assume, be connected to the romance writing world. So why do they still email me? Perhaps they think the journalist is leading a secret life?

I also share my name with an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the US and a teen karate champ from New Zealand.

So in the Goolgeverse, I'm a well known tv personality and romance novelist who works as a doctor in her spare time and does karate to unwind.No wonder I'm so exhausted!

Who are you in the Googleverse?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Work Spaces

My current writing space is composed of a very low coffee-table. This is actually a kotatsu - a special table that you put a blanket over and plug into an outlet to turn into a mini human oven, in which you sit all toasty during winter and watch tv. However, I've gotten rid of the blanket, pulled out the electricity connection and turned it into an ordinary coffee table, which I use to hold papers, cups of tea, remotes, files, dictionaries and my laptop.

It sounds odd but the whole arrangement's not too bad. Because my sofa is also very low, the table is at precisely the right height for typing. Which is good given that I spend a lot of time doing exactly that. And, all my necessary stuff is on the table so I don't have to reach far to find a thesaurus, or a file holding my notes on a project. The confined working space also has the side-effect of making me stay fairly tidy - the second the creep begins, I start not having enough space for my laptop or books and have to clean up.

Of course, all this doesn't mean I don't dream of a huge wooden desk where I can sprawl to my heart's content!

What's your writing/work space look like?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Interesting Stuff

If you haven't heard, the two miners trapped underground in Australia, have now been freed. Can you imagine the courage and internal strength it took for those two to make it through?
I read this interesting article in Vanity Fair magazine (one of my airport purchases), about MySpace. I don't have a page on MySpace. Those of you that do - what do you love about it?
You can see the World's Most Beautiful People 2006 at People magazine. Wonder what it does to someone to be voted that - do they walk around thinking they have to maintain a certain standard of looks because they've officially been voted 'beautiful'?

And staying with lists, check out Time magazine's list of the 100 People Who Shape Our World. Do you agree with their list? Any others you'd like to add?

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Past & the Future, Old Worlds & New

Ever since I started traveling a lot on my own a few years back, I've pretty much always had a window seat, or in only one case, an aisle. I guess it's relatively easy for airline staff to accomodate the seating request for one person - they just slot you in somewhere. But on Saturday, on the first leg of my flight, I didn't get a choice of seats (everyone seemed to have gotten to the airport before me). Which left me sitting in the middle of a row of seats for twelve hours. It wasn't as bad as I imagined though I'm hoping not to repeat it!

The interesting thing was that each of my seatmates spoke a different language (along with English). The man on the left was reading what looked like a Thai newspaper, while the couple on my right were speaking an East European language I couldn't identify. And then there was me.

Sometimes, I think it would be great to live in the past, in the wild times before civilization invaded every corner of the Earth. Imagine being a fly on the wall in the Renaissance, or a cowboy in the Wild West, or even a princess in the time of legend, of Camelot and magic. Or how about living as an Indian Rani (Queen) in the time of the Raj, or walking the explorers' path in Africa?

But then I realize that if I did, I'd miss out on all the exciting things technology allows us to do - like travel to all parts of the world, meet (and sit next to!) people from places you only know from tv or magazines, and be able to do all that in the space of mere hours instead of the journey taking weeks. Can you imagine what it must've been like for settlers in the past? When they left home, it was pretty much for good. Letters took weeks to arrive and hearing a family member's or friend's voice on the phone wasn't even a dream.

However inspite of all that, part of me wants to live in another time. Maybe the past isn't the best option for someone used to the conveniences of the present, but what about the future? Right now, I feel as if we're living in an age where exploration is in miniature - for example, advances in DNA and in genetic profiling, all take place on the microscopic level.

It's a great time to be a scientist, but I've always wanted to explore in a large way, to see new worlds and places. Perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to stories set in the future, when space travel is as easy as air travel now, and everyone can jump on a ship to explore the galaxy. And what if aliens really did exist, and weren't the horrible, human-eating kind from the Alien movies, but transcendent civlizations which could show and teach us more than we could ever have thought possible?

Then again, you could say that I go to new worlds each time I create a story. Maybe I am an explorer after all. :)

What about you - are you solidly of this Earth or do you dream of other places and times, the past and the future?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Auction Heads Up / Virtual Postcards

Quick note: If you'd like to buy some great books or win appointments with editors and agents, or critiques (and more) from writers, check out Brenda Novak's Auction for Juvenile Diabetes. Lots of great stuff up for grabs, including signed copies of books from yours truly. And it's all for a good cause!

I'm heading off on a plane again for my flight back to Japan, so the next post will be Monday. While I'm up in the air, why don't you send me a virtual postcard (in the comments) from the exotic/local location you'd like to fly off to.

Have an awesome weekend and see you next week!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Experience & Civilization

I have a question. Actually, according to certain people, I should have that sentence permanently tattooed on my forehead because I always have questions. Good trait for a writer, I say.

This question arose from my watching Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee, a British mini-series based on Meera Syal's novel of the same name (which I haven't read). It was a really good show I thought, very intense, very emotionally real. Basically it's about the friendship between three women and how life gets in the way of that.

After watching that show, I got to pondering the ramifications of writers and experience. Is it necessary to have lived a lot of life to write with the emotional confidence I saw in that drama? Personally I don't think so. Some people have instinctively high emotional intelligence, while others don't. But that wasn't actually my real question - what I truly started thinking about was whether writers have to live in society to write good books, to interact and converse with others.

We've all heard of reclusive writers who shun human contact and produce shining works of art. Part of me thinks that that is a good thing - they can hone their words to razor sharpness without the constant background noise of civilization. However another part of me asks - how can a writer possibly write about people, about their hearts and souls, without being out in the world and observing the heartaches and happiness that move us as human beings?

I don't know if I'll ever have the answer to that question. Maybe when I'm an old recluse, I'll revisit the topic, but for now - what do you all think?

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I've almost finished the copy edits on SLAVE TO SENSATION, yay! Now I'm going to take a break and go watch an episode of LOST. I can hardly wait.

What's happening in your corner of the world? Let's have a virtual coffee/tea break and chat about what we're all up to!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

7 Things I'll Miss

Some things I'll miss when I return to Japan (aside from hanging out with my friends and family).

1. Watching tv in a language I fully understand.
2. Watching tv commercials where I don't want to clobber the cutesy-talking-over-thirty-woman-who-shrieks-a-lot. (Sorry, sore point. She comes on during the news I watch in Japan Every, Single, Day. It's gotten to the point where I mute her and make faces at the tv. Yes, very mature. *g*)
3. Eating (homemade) food off proper plates (as opposed to takeout boxes).
4. The Indian sweet shop (not good for my hips but great for my soul).
5. English-language magazines that don't cost an arm, a leg and an internal organ.
6. Having a car (okay, the bicycle keeps me from turning into a round little ball but riding in snow, sleet and searing heat is not fun).
7. My collection of keeper books, which I just like to have around me so I can read them anytime I please. Hmm, am I too attached?

What little things would you miss if you had to pack up and move to the other side of the world?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Here it is!! I have a cover quote for SLAVE TO SENSATION.
"I LOVE this book! It's a must-read for all of my fans. Nalini Singh is a major new talent."

Christine Feehan
Cue fangirl squealing! Christine Feehan is one of my absolute favorite authors so to get a quote from her has pretty much left me in a daze of major happiness. I think I have to go dunk my head in a bucket of cold water again. *g*