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typewriter

Typewriter Lovers – I Feel Your Pain

I am mystified by people who go out and buy a secondhand manual typewriter. Or even a firsthand one. Apparently it’s a thing.

For those authors who started with typewriters and can’t compose their romance novels on any other device, I bow to you. You are entitled to choose the weapon you wish in the battle to write.

But most folks who buy typewriters these days are college students. I’m guessing they think it’s charming and retro and somehow more authentic to pound out a novel on a typewriter, but I’m here to tell those folks, it isn’t. Unless you like getting your finger stuck between the I-O-L-K keys and the inevitable mess that follows. In that case don’t let me stand in your way.

But fair warning, breaking your writing session to find antibiotic cream and a bandage takes a lot of the fun out of a stroke of literary inspiration.

Then there is changing the ribbon on the typewriter.

Every typewriter worth its salt has one which requires patience followed by profanity to remove and replace. If you insert the spools just right you can manage to coat the entire machine with a thin layer of inky dust. If you are really lucky, the ribbon folds and creases in the process.

This means you have to cut off the wonky end of ribbon and rewind the remainder onto the empty spool. So fun. This is why our ancestors hid their hands in those sepia photographs we are so fond of. To cover up the ink stains on their fingers.

Worst of all are errors. I am an inaccurate typist.

This is why I posed a challenge to the placement agency I worked for in college. You should have seen the woman’s expression when she looked at my typing scores, a combination of disbelief and pity. Luckily she was ingenious at finding me jobs anyway. She had to be. Not many companies are interested in hiring a substitute who types both slowly and inaccurately.

Under the circumstances you would think I would have developed a steady hand at correcting typographical errors. But no. My corrected text always looked far worse than it would have if I had just dipped the entire sheet of paper in plaster of Paris and then crumpled it before typing the text on it.

This is why I think we should have a national holiday in honor of not having to use a typewriter anymore.

We could call it Only If You Want To Use One (But Who Would) Day. We could have a parade of people holding up bandaged inky fingers, marching to the beat of hundreds of those irritating little bells which served no useful purpose on typewriters I can think of except to make the typist sound incredibly busy.

I would attend.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

imagination

Imagination and a Ray Gun Are All We Need

Does imagination save lives? You bet!

Most of the children I know lead secret lives. I certainly did. My imagination was fueled by good books, lots of time to read them and freedom to roam the library stacks at will. Every time I opened the cover of one of those magic kingdoms, I grew.

That is the power of books, and movies and songs for that matter. They allow you to live another life for a brief time. But they also allow you to see your own life differently.

I saw a little boy make a uniquely little boy move in the shopping mall the other day. He lunged forward with an extended arm, his face a focused glare, his mouth making shooting noises. He was lost in a world of his own private story.

As far as I could tell, the little boy in the mall was surrounded by myriads of invisible foes all of whom were obligingly collapsing when he aimed his finger at them. His mother grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away, probably to do some fascinating shopping.

Joking. I hate shopping.

Ambushing aliens from outer space who are hiding behind the sluggish fountain near the food court is far more fulfilling .

As his mother dragged him off, the little boy looked back at his invisible playmates sympathetically, as though they too were being pulled away by their mothers. He didn’t wave but he could have.

I wonder how many mothers realized the people they had brought home from the mall and were feeding a dinner of macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers that evening were actually warriors without whom the entire planet would be lost.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

flavor

Flavor of Travel – from Bland to Hot to Searing

If you can’t believe the flavor, try again.

I’m not in the restaurant review business, carefully describing flavor, textures and presentation. This is probably a good thing for restaurants as well as for me. I don’t know how restaurant reviewers snap their jeans.

But since I am traveling I have had the opportunity to try several fast food and slow food restaurants.

The common denominator I find is my tendency to take a bite of something, shake my head in surprise, and then try another bite to make sure the flavor was exactly as tasty/spicy/disgusting/delicious as I thought it was.

Yesterday, for instance, I ate at an Indian restaurant. The décor was charming, the waiter attentive and the food did not need a match to light a fire. I took a bite of chicken and my tongue started smoking. Then I said to myself, “Maybe that was a particularly spicy bit. Surely the next piece won’t be as hot.”

Nope. Hotter.

Today, I grabbed a quick meal at a fast food restaurant. The sandwich looked tasty, and a mountain of crisp perfectly formed French fries towered next to it. The sandwich was as good as it looked, but I took a bite of a fry and thought, “This can’t be right. Maybe I grabbed a piece of the cardboard container by accident.”

But did I trust my tongue? No.

It took seven fries before I was ready to believe all the fries in the pile tasted like box.

And it’s not just dining out. Once I decided to try making the equivalent of Poppers at home. Poppers are the breaded stuffed jalapeno peppers one can find in the freezer section of the supermarket. The commercial version is relatively mild. Unlike the homemade Emeril recipe I tried.

They looked beautiful, plump and symmetrical when I pulled the cookie sheet from the oven, much nicer than the commercial variety. But they were astoundingly spicy. And I couldn’t accept that without trying to eat them at least three times.

Nobody likes being ignored or disbelieved, so I imagine my tongue is feeling a bit offended by now. Clearly it needs chocolate. And not the kind with peppers in it.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

vocabulary

Vocabulary Building, One Negus at a Time

A large vocabulary opens doors. Although not always the doors you expected.

I was just muddling through Wuthering Heights again when I tripped over negus. That’s right, despite my fascination with cool vocabulary words, I never took the initiative to look the word up until now. Hard to believe.

I’m reading Wuthering Heights on my Kindle primarily because it is there and I have nothing to read at present. And there I was watching a character suffering from a shock being plied with negus, presumably as a comforting restorative.

What could negus be, I wonder?

Not gruel. Gruel is used for a similar purpose a few chapters later and I know what that is. And I don’t want any, no matter how comforting it might be.

My Kindle is a new device for me and I thought it might have some sort of word bank. So I tapped the word, hoping I might get the definition. Nope. Although the word “never” is now listed in my vocabulary list.

Negus, pronounced NEE-gus, in case you ever have to ask for it at a restaurant, is a combination of port, sugar, lemon and spices, served hot. Personally, I can imagine far more comforting foods than that.

The pronunciation is important since the same word pronounced Neh-GOOS is the Amharic term for King or Ruler. You can’t order one of those at a restaurant. Or, at least if you are lucky enough to receive one, you will have to wait a long time for him. The wait would probably be worth it though.

Maybe, when he arrives, you can share a nice glass of Negus.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

Grackles

Grackles – The Juvenile Delinquents of the Bird World

Two  Great-Tailed Grackles just wandered by the window. I hadn’t ever seen any before, so I looked them up online. Apparently Great-Tailed Grackles usually travel in great flocks of black-blue iridescent blur, wreaking bird level havoc on any area they settle into. They eat whatever they can find, make a lot of noise at inconvenient times and can create a two inch thick ground cover of mess when they are in a crowd.

Much like teenagers.

They love parking lots for supermarkets and fast food restaurants, for obvious reasons. Great place to chat with peers, ogle girls and generally make trouble. The excitement of wondering if a customer will drop her bag must be a big part of the draw. I wonder if they take bets. The winner gets first dibs.

All of which makes me wonder about the two Grackles I see hopping through the grass in a park.

Are they trouble makers? The sorts of Grackles of whom their friends would say, “Pete and Marcie always were a little strange. Kind of stand-offish. But I never thought they would have done that.”

Or maybe they are scouts for a larger flock. They’ll go back to the group and report, “Pretty good grass, trees with lots of branches, one lady, no grocery bags. Meh.”

They could be incompetent dissidents:

She: I believe in the individual. All this society living is bad for the soul.

He: You’re right. Plus, being alone gives us a chance to be ourselves without the restrictions of the flock.

She: Absolutely. If our friends only knew how wonderful it is, they would be green with envy.

He: We should tell them.

She: Great idea! We can invite the flock!

Maybe they’re on a date. Or just lost.

Whatever the case, the news articles online have nothing good to say about Great-Tailed Grackles.

Pretty though.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

writing space

Writing Space is a Flexible Thing

Stephen King talks about the importance of having a dedicated writing space. Specifically he recommends choosing a place which allows the writer to shut the door signaling to others and maybe more importantly to himself that he is ready to focus on writing.

I like the idea. Although most of the people I interact with have opposable thumbs so doorknobs are not much of a barrier. Even my dog learned how to give the door a shove with her forehead, just enough to dislodge the latch. The cat never figured it out but he was clever enough to wait until the dog did it for him.

I’m guessing the second line of defense against interruption in your writing space is a stern glare. I have a good glare, although now my children are adults it has grown rusty from lack of use. But even an excellent glare won’t have much impact on a spouse reporting a sudden geyser erupting from a heretofore placid toilet. These things happen when you work at home.

Life has a way of intruding into writing.

For the first few years after our house grew quiet and emptier, I found it too quiet to write there. So the chatter of a coffee shop was important and useful. Then, one day, when the only available seat in the coffee shop was next to a wild haired snaggle-toothed man who was furiously hissing at the vacant chair across from him, I decided the library might be a better bet.

There is a sense of communal endeavor in the library which makes it easy to want to join in.

 

Today I am not writing at home, nor at the library, nor in a coffee shop. My laptop just fits on a tiny table which hovers inches over my lap. My writing space is 30,799 feet in the air. I am sharing an armrest with my eldest son.

I think Mr. King is not talking about a physical space and door necessarily, but a mental one. Writing space is wherever you make it.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

technology

Technology and the Tools for Romance

Technology is amazing. And often weird.

I just finished reading about a brand new product, a ring which sits at the base of a condom and measures all sorts of things while the condom is in use. The description of the data generated by this new technology is pretty strange. Why would anyone need to know how many thrusts, how fast or slow, size of girth?

Hell, I’m a romance writer with a lurid imagination and I am mystified at who the target market for this product might be. People who adore statistics? Folks who like to gamble? Men who feel under-decorated when naked?

Can you imagine the pillow talk?

She: “How was it for you, dear?”

He: “Not sure. Let me check.”

For that matter, consider the moment the inventor had his epiphany in his cubicle at Technology Incorporated. Yes, absolutely his epiphany. I don’t have to research this. A woman did not come up with this idea. No. Mr. Inventor came home at the end of the workday, his cheeks flushed with excitement.

Not those cheeks.

“Honey.” He called, as he entered the house. “I’ve created the most wonderful product ever.”

“Hmm?” His wife responded, clicking away on her keyboard.

“It’s sort of like a Fitbit, but it’s going to be way more popular.”

“Good.” She waved impatiently. “I’ll be right with you. Just let me finish this blog entry – ”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a way to track how often we try different sexual positions? And have a way to gauge how we measure up to other couples in other parts of the world? This device is going to be the best idea since Harry Micklethorpe in the next cubicle came up with an intelligent toilet. He was strutting around the office for months.”

“Uhuh.” She leaned toward the computer screen in a vain effort to regain her train of thought.

“Plus we can share our statistics online with all our friends. But my boss said women might not like it.”

“Sounds like a winner, dear.” She nodded vaguely, replacing one dangling modifier with another.

“Yes!!!” He pumped his fist. “I knew he was wrong.”

By the time his wife looked up from her keyboard, her husband had called the office and ordered manufacturing to begin. Let this be a lesson to those of us who insist on blogging when we ought to be listening.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

 

learning

Learning the Seductive Language of SEO

Making a living learning. How cool is that idea?

Years ago, in a former life, I read On Studying Singing by Sergius Kagen. At first, I found the book painful. I was new to singing but I knew I wanted to sing for a living and Kagen’s voice was disconcerting and frankly discouraging. It’s a sort of culling the herd book – if you don’t have certain inborn aptitudes (good pitch, good ear, etc.), he says, all the practicing in the world won’t help. You are wasting time and energy aiming for being a professional and should concentrate on learning to be a good amateur.

I did, in the end, earn my living as a singer and over those years I became more comfortable with Kagen’s perspective. He wasn’t being mean. He was telling his truth as he saw it and he also had great respect for amateurs. And, of course, even those inborn aptitudes need to be honed and constantly sharpened.

But what I retained from On Studying Singing was an understanding of the many hidden attributes required to succeed at any full-time occupation. And of the amount of learning one must be willing to undertake.

Writing well is not the same as making a living at it.

To do that requires learning a little bit of HTML and a lot about platform creation. I’m even learning about how to seduce web-crawlers. “Right this way, baby…”

I wonder if web-crawlers arrive any faster if you wear a slinky evening gown and drape yourself over a piano while whispering sweet nothings in a sultry voice.

Next will be marketing both in person and online. Not to mention querying agents about Waiting For You.

I remember every day, the way I felt when I began my first career – driven, frustrated, exasperated, and fascinated in turns. And through it all, a constant thrum of excitement. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

character

Character Depth is an Enviable Trait

If you envy an author’s character development skills, is that a sign of weak character?

I know. I promised something frivolous. And I had every intention of providing it until the main character in All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go.

I stand in awe of a writer who can begin a story with death and make it work. In the first paragraph, we are told the mother of two small boys will die and that this death will be exquisitely painful to the survivors and even, perhaps, to the reader.

What was to prevent me from slapping the book shut and saying, “I’m sad enough today, thank you very much”? Unless I had a penchant for misery. Or just enjoyed a miserable sort of predictability.

But that paragraph was so crystalline in its language, I couldn’t close the book without reading just a little more until I was thoroughly hooked.

Novels don’t usually begin with a death and there is good reason for that. In the arc of a novel, death is the big fear. A writer doesn’t often squander that dark moment on the first page. But Angell takes the risk.

It’s an interesting choice because the death of a character one cares about has a way of taking up a huge amount of psychic reader-energy. In a sense, by getting it out of the way in the beginning, Angell is leaving room for the surviving characters to act in context of their loss.

The strength of this book is in its brilliant character portrayals.

Charlotte, the boys’ nanny, who narrates the history leading up to the crisis and its aftermath is utterly believable and consistent.

Another reason I kept reading was to see how Angell managed to write children.

I can’t count the number of adult novels I have read with child characters who are saccharine, perhaps disobedient but only in the most charming of ways.

So I was anticipating failure, dreading it actually. But I shouldn’t have worried. Angell’s children are real children, believably irritating as a regular thing with those occasional moments of grace we learn to treasure as parents, teachers and caregivers.

I am trying to master writing and books like All the Time in the World, are the ultimate learning device. If you are trying to do the same, read this book. It’s an excellent lesson.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

book review

Book Review: They May Not Mean To, But They Do

Here it is. Your every so often book review.

I picked Cathleen Schine’s book, They May Not Mean To, But They Do, off the library shelf because the cover implied a kind of light impishness. And I know a book review of this sort is a lot more fun when I am laughing as I write it.

However, while the book is occasionally impish, it’s definitely not light. More of a “flickers of lit cabin windows while wandering in the dark woods” type of book. So, not a comedy. I would, however, qualify it as an important read.

They May Not Mean To is the story of a family growing older together. Schine pays close attention to the implications of the matriarch’s widowhood on her adult children. But she focuses even more intently on the widow herself. The balance between how Molly’s aging and widowhood effect her versus how her new status effects her children makes the book compelling. It is fascinating in a horrible “Oh no, the car is stuck on the tracks and the train is coming” sort of way.

The characters are complex and well fleshed out. But I don’t think Schine necessarily intended the reader to walk away thinking, “I wonder what happened to Molly?” The reader might but that may not be the goal.

Instead, the story is more an Everyman-type exploration of family dynamics in the wake of loss.

Shine pays careful attention to Molly’s complicated emotions and desires. Molly simultaneously wants and doesn’t want to spend time with her grown children. She wants and doesn’t want to be alone. And her children are legitimately torn between their desire to help and their resistance to making significant changes in their own lifestyles to do so.

They May Not Mean To is a good argument for the “There Are No Right Answers” theory of life. But I couldn’t help feeling frustrated at the lack of concrete solutions as I closed the book. Maybe that’s the point.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this book review, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.