I Can’t Get Her “Sound Perfume” Out of My Mind! What?

“Sound perfume” has the vibe of something out of a science fiction romance, doesn’t it? Something to remind the hero of his sexy, much beloved heroine?

Out of our five senses, smell is often considered the one most associated with memory, with one whiff capable of bringing vivid remembrances of things past, good and bad. Our nose and olfactory  sensors are part of the brain’s limbic system, an area closely related to long term memory, emotion and pleasure. Additionally studies have shown that the olfactory tubercle, a structure within the base of the forebrain (not a potato), is influenced by sound.

A team from Japan and Singapore  has invented a system of smells and sounds to “create a unique and lasting first impression.” So far, so good.

Briefly, the concept is as follows: You choose a smell and sound to represent yourself. This information is stored in your smartphone. When you start talking to someone, your data is sent to their glasses, which will dispense your scent and play your tune. Or as you walk around in daily life, infrared sensors in the glasses will detect your proximity to someone else with the Sound Perfume app and your dueling soundtracks and scents will fill the air. “A personal jukebox with a spritz of perfume to enhance the mood,” says one reviewer.  Sounds kind of like my grandson’s toy dinosaurs that “talk” to each other when close by.

A very small field test on 52 people yielded data that Sound Perfume did help with forming positive first impressions.

OK, but before you go rushing out to add this app to your personal set of allurements (is that a word? I like it!)….one tiny caveat. The current system is ugly, requiring everyone to wearextremely dorky white glasses!

But leaving out the current delivery system – assuming some futuristic coolness is applied  -on purely pheromonal and aural levels, it’s a nifty concept.

What would your Sound Perfume preferences be?  Mine would be Michael Kors “Very Hollywood” perfume (at least this week) and “Hungry Eyes” from the movie Dirty Dancing.



Six Sentence Sunday

Today’s excerpt is from Dancer of the Nile, a new WIP in my connected series. It’s close to being ready for submission but not…quite…there. Yet!

Nima, the dancer, has been kidnapped by the enemy Hyksos during a raid on a border town. She finds she’s not the only captive they’re taking back to their fortress. This is from the opening scene of the novel, as the column has stopped for a brief rest:

                  Nima lifted the cup to her dry lips and then stopped, gazing over the edge of the unglazed mug to where the other prisoner knelt in the sand, head down, shoulders slumped, arms bound. They don’t offer him water?

                  Inwardly quaking, she took a few tentative steps in the direction of her fellow Egyptian, growing bolder and hurrying the last few paces.

                “Here, drink quickly,” she whispered, preparing to hold the mug for him.

He raised his head and she recoiled from the intensity in the soldier’s unusual hazel eyes. However defeated he may appear, this man isn’t giving up.

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Wednesday Whimsy – Quotes & Photos

In keeping with my Ancient Egyptian theme for the week, to celebrate the release of Priestess of the Nile:

Mysterious Flood,—that through the silent sands
Hast wandered, century on century,
Watering the length of great Egyptian lands,
Which were not, but for thee.
Bayard Taylor—To the Nile.

Son of the old moon-mountains African!
Stream of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
We call thee fruitful, and that very while
A desert, fills our seeing’s inward span.
Keats—Sonnet. To the Nile.

And then this one, whimsical, don’t know that anyone would be brave enough to recite it to Sobek:

How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail

And pour the waters of the Nile

On every golden scale!

Lewis Carroll

Release Day – Priestess of the Nile is *OUT*!

I’m so excited, I’m beyond words (which is bad for a writer! LOL)

And you can buy it at Carina  Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Audible book was Released today as well

I’m busily working on more Tales of the Nile, in various stages of editing, submission, etc.

Thanks to everyone for all their support during this first (but not last) journey to e publication!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading the story of Sobek and Merys as much as I enjoyed writing it…

Six Sentence Sunday – Priestess of the Nile

My final excerpt from Priestess of the Nile, out from Carina Jan 23rd TOMORROW!!!

Next week I’ll move on to  another WIP…

Sobek the Crocodile God is doing his duty, maintaining the Nile, far from the village where Merys lives, but he can’t shake an ominous premonition...

Something is wrong.

The feeling persisted until at last he had finished,
and the Nile flowed serenely on its appointed course
again. Bek shifted from his crocodile form and stood
on the bank as a human, trying to understand where
this foreboding came from, what it could possibly
signify. He eyed the skies above, sent his thoughts
questing along the channels linking the world of the
Great Ones.


Only one thing in my life might affect me in this
fashion—a threat to Merys.

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Do Legos have to Be Pink & Curvy for Girls to Play With Them?

Did you play with Legos as a kid? Do your kids play with them? Probably billions of those colorful little plastic bricks have been sold worldwide. (And I’ve personally stepped on at least 100 barefoot in the middle of the night – ouch.)

Recent articles on the company reveal that while the tightly engineered, “click-fit, clutch power, plastic bricks” are unchanged since their invention in the late 1940’s, Lego has been giving a lot of thought to how the toys are played with, at least by little girls.

The company’s name comes from two Danish word “leg godt” meaning “play well.” Per the website, their Mission is to “Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow’, with a Vision of “Inventing the future of play.”  Certainly a good start, for boys and girls…

Building with Lego bricks has been shown to assist children in developing spatial, mathematical and fine motor skills, allowing the use of imagination for hours of quiet, independent play. A good set of skills for boys and girls…

Now my daughters played with Legos a lot. They loved the castles, the Robin Hood forest, the city, the outer space sets…they had no problem being girls playing with Legos.  Despite “being for girls and boys” as listed in Lego’s top ten corporate characteristics, the company focused on the market for boys, doing very well, topping $1 billion in annual sales worldwide. They’ve made periodic attempts to create “girl” Lego kits but didn’t put much thought into it, in my opinion and experience. And predictably the “pink” sets didn’t do well at all. My own daughters pretty much ignored the sketchy “Paradisa” kits in the 1990s, preferring the richly detailed sets I mentioned above.

Is boxy “ Minifigure Man” a hit or a miss for little girls? Lego researchers learned to their shock that the iconic man was a flop with girls. The all purpose plastic man with his swiveling legs, yellow jug head, and painted on face just didn’t cut it in the world of girl play.

In the research reports, the Lego team said boys tend to play with the minifig in the third person. Girls saw the minifig more as an avatar, projecting themselves onto her. Lego is now going to introduce 29 mini-doll figures, who will be 5mm taller than the standard minifig, with more curves. There will be five main characters, with names and backstories (Remind anyone of the American Girl doll series? Just a tad…).

According to the Lego anthropologists, girls need harmony (a pleasing, everything-in-its-right-place sense of order), friendlier colors, and a high level of detail. Boys tend to be “linear” – building the kits exactly like the picture on the box, maybe even racing against the clock to see who could build faster, while girls prefer to take breaks along the way, to start storytelling and playing before the kit is finished.

The Lego team does have some concerns about the fact that to break down stereotypes about girls playing with legos, they are reinforcing other stereotypes – girls need pretty and pink in their toys. Additionally, kids pick up on the cues in television commercials and elsewhere as to who plays with what. “Legos are for boys,” said many little girls the company surveyed, even as they happily played with the new Lego Friends line.

My own daughter, now grown, says, “I’d like to know what little girls they were talking to. All that stuff about harmony, order, blah blah. My fav games involved dinosaurs and time travel and shark chases and rogue centaurs. I even made my Barbies jump off buildings.”

Major department stores in the U.S. plan to display the Lego Friends in the girls’ toys sections, not with the massive classic Lego kit displays.

So will this new iteration of ”Legos for girls” – pastels and curves –  work better than previous efforts?  Is it really even needed? What do you think?

*Quotes and statistics drawn from “Lego’s Billion Dollar Girl,” by Brad Wieners, Bloomberg Business Week,  12/19-25/11, or from the LEGO corporate web page.

Six Sentence Sunday

Continuing with excerpts from Priestess of the Nile, out from Carina Jan 23rd

The goddess Isis suspects Sobek is hiding something, as he visits Merys more and more often. Isis comes to confront him as he goes about his appointed tasks, keeping the Nile clear and free flowing:

One minute the light was shining on
sand and scrub brush and the next minute the queen
stood there, tall, silent, swathed in her customary black

“What a surprise to find you working.” Scorn
burned in her voice. “You have been absent from your
duties to my river quite often of late.”

What can I say to that? It’s true.

Go to http://sixsunday.com/ to find all the other great excerpts!

Meet The Author – Jack Murphy of Reflexive Fire – An Interview on Writing Craft! Giveaway!

To start the  New Year off with something a little different, today I have military action writer Jack Murphy, Reflexive Fire and the Promis series, here on the blog to “rub shoulders with another genre”  as he puts it. The two of us thought it might be fun to pose some writer’s craft questions to Jack and see how his process writing military fiction differs from the romance writers’ approach. Or is similar as the case may be!

Jack will give one autographed copy of his book to a randomly selected Commenter and I’ll kick in a $25.00 Amazon gift card to that same person. Just leave us a comment below to be entered. I’ll select the winner by random number generator at 6PM Tuesday January 10th.

Welcome to Jack!

A little background about Jack, before we dive into the writing questions:

He’s an eight year Army Special Operations veteran who served as a Sniper and Team Leader in 3rd Ranger Battalion and as a Senior Weapons Sergeant on a Military Free Fall team in 5th Special Forces Group.

After growing up in New York, Jack Murphy enlisted in the US Army at 19 years old. Completing Infantry Basic Training, Airborne School, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program, he was assigned to 3rd Ranger Battalion. As a Ranger he served as an Anti-Tank gunner, Sniper, and Team Leader and he also graduated from Ranger School and Sniper School.

Having left the military in 2010, he is now working towards a degree in Political Science at Columbia University

Tell us about your journey to that first published book, when did you start writing, how long did it take you to write RF:

I had written fiction irregularly since I was in High School, mostly short stories and novellas in the action-adventure genre. I never took it very seriously until I got out of the Army in 2010 and started reading about e-readers and the self publishing revolution. I guess I’m another child of Konrath, I read his blog and the words jumped right into my mind: THIS IS THE TIME!

It probably took seven or eight months to write Reflexive Fire and of course that was the easy part. Then came the editing, hiring a proof reader, hiring a cover artist, navigating the technical aspects of KDP and Create Space, and everything else.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I had to look that term up! I chart out the plot with bullet points, add in notes as to ideas or statements I want to include and then start writing. So I do some plotting but most of it is by the seat of my pants. I think outlining an entire novel is dreadfully boring.

What kind of research did you do?

Much more than I had anticipated as it turned out. I had to do tons of research on everything from narco-terrorist groups to illegal finance techniques. Even though I have a background in weapons and tactics I still needed to hit the books some more and make sure I had my facts together so I was reading up on Anti-Aircraft weapons, explosives, and a lot more. I also had to get in depth on researching the countries that my characters travel to in the novel, even though I had spent time in some of them. It’s an exhaustive process, but one that I enjoy.

You have several very complex, intense battle scenes in Reflexive Fire, with multiple POV going on. How do you keep track of the action while you’re writing the scenes? Does it just flow out of your own experience, do you lay it out on story boards…..?

Usually there are not any story boards or anything like that. Direct Action operations have a set of procedures, standardized tactics, that you use as a start point. Than you modify them to the specific situation you encounter. Of course since I’m aiming for realism, I show what goes wrong as well, there is no such thing as a perfect, text-book patrol. It is difficult to convincingly show platoon and company level operations as a written narrative without being confusing, I think this is why you hardly ever see it in movies or books. Usually writers find it easier to write about a lone operative or a small team for instance. I thought it was important to show how various elements such as riflemen, machine gunners, mortars, snipers, and recon soldiers all work together and compliment each other on the battlefield. I think the reader can really take something away from that if I’m successful at this endeavor!

Same question for that amazing cruise ship and the battle on board – did you diagram the layout before you wrote?

In this instance I did have a diagram drawn out since this was a massive battle in a unconventional setting, a super-cruise liner. There are only a couple super-liners in existence and I studied their layout carefully and researched how they are built and maintained. The cruise ship that serves as the setting for the climax of Reflexive Fire does not actually exist but is based on a real ship which I used as a template. From there I just cranked up the volume a bit and extrapolated what the next generation of super-liners may look like.

Do you have beta readers or critique partners? Work with an Editor?

I worked with a proof reader but never an editor. A number of beta readers read the novel before release and I incorporated some of their corrections and suggestions into the finished product. I’m luckily to have readers who are very technically minded, not just military veterans but people who work as helicopter mechanics, engineers, and even a scientist who works at the tip of the spear in his field.

What was the hardest part about writing RF? Do you write a set # of words a day, or time?

I tried to write at least one page per day, more when inspiration struck of course. If I can say this without seeming to pat myself on the back here, I think RF was very ambitious for a first novel and that made it fairly difficult to put together. The book could have very easily been 1000 or more pages. It’s about a Private Military Company and as such in involves the big three of military operations, intelligence, logistics, and operations. For the sake of not pushing the patience of my readers and developing a fast paced thriller, I focused on the operations side although intel and logistics is detailed to some extent. Knowing what to write and what to leave on the cutting room floor (or save for the sequel) was probably the hardest part of writing this novel.

I clearly see the seeds of the series in some of the “loose ends” in the plot. Do you have the series outlined? How many books do you think it will be? How do you track the themes you want to explore in each book to make sure you lay the right trails for the finale in the early books?

It will be a series and I can foresee at least another five novels. I have the ideas of the themes of future books laid out as far as what issues I’d like to address. As an independent writer I don’t have to worry about some corporate committee telling what to write so I’m going to explore some topics you don’t normally see in military thrillers. I don’t have the series outlined in anyway, it will evolve with time, and I will have to decide how to end it if and when the times comes.

Do you interact with other military action writers? Do you guys have groups? Conventions?

I’m in touch with a number of other writers in this genre, guys like Hank Brown, D.R. Tharp, Jack Silkstone, and a few others here and there. It’s a great community of writers but right now we are really just trying to revive this genre after it has been left stagnating since the 1980’s. As a veteran, I know that a lot of soldiers are coming home and many of them will be readers, some of them will turn into writers as well, so I think the next generation of military fiction is quickly approaching. Conventions? We can only hope!

I’m assuming the characters are composites of people you’ve known? Was the hero Deckard based on anyone in particular?

Deckard isn’t based on anyone specific but rather he is based on a combination of personalities and ideas. There is a little of me in him and a little of others I have worked with. As he is, I don’t really think someone like Deckard could exist in today’s military (maybe that is why he is a mercenary in the book) due to the level of corporate cover-your-ass measures that exist in today’s Army. Even Special Forces soldiers suffer under the burden of risk mitigation and online safety surveys. Deckard flies in the face of this mentality in many ways.

How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?

My wife hates it but puts up with me anyway! It’s never easy especially since I’m also a full time college student.

Who do you feel is your target audience?

Men between 25 and 50 years old is the demographic for these types of books. That said, I also want to point out that these books are written for everyone. I didn’t write Reflexive Fire as an elitist novel that is only for military veterans. At the same time, I also don’t write down to my readers. I don’t waste your time explaining the difference between the Marines and 82nd Airborne. I know that readers are much more sophisticated than publishers would give them credit for.

Who are your favorite authors?

I mostly read non-fiction these days but as far as fiction writers, I’m fond of Don Pendleton, Robert Howard, Mark Greaney, and many others.

If you could be a fictional character, who would that be?

Deckard has a pretty good gig even though he takes a beating. The problem is that he is a little more manic than I am.

Do you have a motto you live by?

When in doubt, shoot from the hip and go with what you know. That’s from an old Platoon Sergeant I once worked with.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started the book?

How important it is to “prep the objective”. I was smart enough to start a blog but I should have cast my net wider, and into social media a lot sooner.

Was it a challenge to tell enough but not too much detail about ops and techniques, in terms of compromising reality?

Very much so. The tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP’s) in the book are accurate as far as publicly available information is concerned. The room clearing techniques are straight out of The Ranger Handbook but are not the latest and greatest tactics used by Rangers and Delta Force. I’m not going to write anything that could compromise ongoing or future operations.

Since you read the book, you also know that the villains have a plan to launch a coup in America. I was going to write a detailed plan on how they intended to kill the President and than decided that something like that should just be left to the reader’s imagination!

Are we going to learn more about Deckard in the coming books? His backstory?

Absolutely. I’m also writing the PROMIS series which is about Deckard’s father, Sean Deckard. In the course of the series we’ve already learned who Deckard the younger’s mother is, the circumstances under which he was born, ect. The the coming novels much more will gradually be revealed about this character.

What are the two things Deckard would take to a desert island?

A .45 and a bottle of whiskey.

Who do you see playing Deckard if RF gets picked up as a movie or series?

The only actor I could even remotely see as Deckard would be Clive Owen. He plays a tough, intelligent, bad ass very well but also has that kind of outlandish quality about him, the sense of the absurd, that Deckard also shares.

And Jack, I’m a romance writer, I HAVE to ask this – will Deckard ever have a lady in his life?

Maybe. There is a leading lady in the sequel to RF but I don’t think they are destined to be together. We’ll see what the future brings!

VS sez :Really enioyed having Jack here today as my guest and if you have a husband/brother/son/friend/significant other who enjoys good hard hitting military action novels based in the reality of current events, or you are looking for one yourself, I recommend checking out Reflexive Fire . Warning –  Jack doesn’t pull any punches on the gritty, violent world of the clandestine operator.

Reflexive Fire  is available here.