Monday, September 18, 2006

FIND and REPLACE... a rabbit's testicles

In case you are boggling, I am author Rowena Cherry, and I write science fiction romance, survival romance, and I have just finished edits on my next novel INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.

Last Thursday (eleven days ago)
was my deadline for finishing revisions on INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.
I made it.

Over the weekend, I discovered that although we had deleted a passage about
skinning a large alien creature resembling a rabbit, but bigger, we had not removed a later
reference to the skinning.

To be specific, the deleted skinning conversation between the hero and heroine
went into detail about handling genitalia and other sources of potential contamination of
the meat.

Once that was gone, the heroine's subsequent thoughts about touching a rabbit's
testicles did not make sense.

On the following Monday, I spoke with my editor and she assured me that she had
taken care of the rabbit's nuts. I shall have to wait four weeks for the galleys to
see if she took them out acceptably. If not, I can request a change at that point.

I'd also like you to know that INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is already up for
pre-orders at Amazon. Another cool new feature is that readers or potential readers can
add TAGs to say how much they are looking forward to the next book (or whatever).


“Now, look here, and learn.” He brandished a wicked looking knife. “You don’t have to concern yourself with how to skin and gut large animals. With smallish ones like this, it’s easier to skin when its cooled.”

He used his knife as a pointer.

“The first thing to do, which I’ve done, is cut its throat. Next, place your animal belly up. That way, you can see what you’ve got.”

A very healthy, ridiculously well-developed male animal.

“Starting ‘north’ of the penis —if there is one—“

In this case, there is a very prominent one.

“If there is, remember that there’s usually a bone in it. Make an incision just big enough to slip two fingers in.”


“You use your fingers to press the internal organs down, away from the skin. You do not want to nick the bladder or entrails. That really spoils the meat, so you’d have to wash it, and we don’t have water to spare.

“Cut up the body as far as about the breastbone.” He stroked the body with the point of his knife. “Then go down to the far end, cut neatly around the anus, and also cut a good circle,” he tickled the area in question with his knife, “around the genitals, taking care not to cut the urinary tract.”

“Why?” she breathed, disgusted.

“Unless you want to eat its testicles, it’s simpler to pull the whole lot off with the entrails. Think about it. When we come back from wood-gathering, you can have a go. You’re not going to be sick, are you?”

Martia-Djulia shook her head. At some point during his revolting demonstration, her hand had crept up to her mouth.
Djetth stood. He had removed his flight suit, his chest and shoulders glistened, though it was too cool and too early for him to be sweaty, she would have thought.

“I’ll go on ahead, and check on the beach well. Catch up when you’ve used the facilities. I don’t suppose you fancy a morning dip, do you?”

You must be mad! She stared at him pityingly.

“You’re quite right.” He grinned. “It’s not as warm first thing in the morning when the tide’s out. The water will be pleasant once the tide comes up over hot sand. I’ll teach you to swim at high tide. Of course, one finds the best shellfish at low tide.”


Grinning, Djetth loped down to the water’s edge to wash the blood off his hands. One way or another, sooner or later, if Martia-Djulia were pregnant, she’d have to let him know.

Meanwhile, he intended to keep her too busy to think. Maybe she’d forget about wanting to shave him. Already, she knew that Prince Djetthro-Jason was a degree of cousin. If she found out how much like Tarrant-Arragon he naturally looked, well, Djetth could imagine that she'd dream up plenty of new reasons to object to his sexual pursuit of her.


SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud advised me that this skinning method isn't quite right for rabbits. These are alien rabbits, and bigger... they also begin their literary life as more like porcupines. Now, it is a moot point how to skin prey animals for meat and fur. It's out.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Long Words

I recently got a book from the Writer's Digest Book Club called THE GILDED TONGUE: OVERLY ELEGANT WORDS FOR EVERYDAY THINGS, by Rod L. Evans. It's a glossary of elaborate, obscure words, all of them real (not made up by the author), as far as I can tell. A great treat for lovers of language. The reverse dictionary in the back -- meanings first, followed by words -- should be quite useful, in case, for instance, you're seeking a fancy word for "taking time off work" (feriation), "swimming" (natation), or "sun-worshiper" (heliolator). Some of the entries are polysyllable equivalents of simpler words. Others offer precise terms for concepts that have no widely known single-word equivalent. Most people probably know murdering one's wife is uxoricide, but did you know sexual intercourse in a parked car has a name (amomaxia)? Or that sexual intercourse without orgasm is acritition (a word that would sound very impressive in Viagra ads)? The potential for arcane insults is practically infinite, e.g., limicolous (living in mud). Personally, I think the author cheats to fill out Y and Z by including such not-so-rare specimens as yenta and zaftig. Haven't these Yiddish words become familiar to most Americans, especially in urban areas? But in general it's just a fun book to browse.

As a writer, do you use lots of arcane vocabulary? As a reader, do you like to encounter "big words" or unfamiliar ones in fiction? I enjoy seeing an author discover the mot juste rather than "dumbing down" his or her prose with a crude approximation. A skillful writer can make the meaning clear from context or subtly work in a definition. For instance, I like the way Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's historical fiction uses the proper names for clothing unique to a particular place and century. In contemporary fiction, of course, the vocabulary should fit the character. If he or she would use a certain word -- because of his/her profession or level of education -- that word shouldn't be avoided just for fear some readers might not get it. I like authors who expect intelligence and literacy of their readers, as well as the willingness to look up an unfamiliar word now and then.