Snowflakes As Romantic Heroes

Love in a Time of Snowflakes

No two snowflakes are alike.

I think that old adage is supposed to evoke the majesty and infinite complexity of nature. Instead, I keep imagining some little guy sitting on a stool at a lab counter peering into a microscope and saying, “Nope. Not the same. Again.”

I think the emphasis on the importance of individuality is interesting though. As a society, as human beings, we all want to believe we are distinct even as we wish to not stand out that much. Most of us don’t want to our differences to separate us. We want them to make us special, intriguing, attractive.

We want differences we consider attractive, like the sapphire eyes of a mermaid, a lithe graceful body, a porcelain complexion. Most of us don’t yearn to be blessed with myopia, a port wine stain, or a body shaped like a spark plug.

This is where romance novels shine.

In a romance novel, snowflakes are not just different.

They are flawed in ways which prevent them from connecting with each other.

A snowflake heroine will be certain no one could love a girl with an asymmetrical shape. She’s pretty sure that’s why when she fell onto a city street as a child no one looked for her. A snowflake hero may have lost one of his six arms in his service in the snowflake blizzard army. He will feel it is unfair to burden a girl with a man who can only carry five bags of groceries at a time.

But overcoming these feelings of being unbearably different is what romance novels are all about. It may be true no two snowflakes are alike, but despite their unique attributes no one will confuse a snowflake with a can of tuna fish. In the end they are not that different. Any other snowflake can relate.

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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Worms and Their Adventuresome Lifestyle

Today I happened across some worms stranded on the blacktop after a storm and wondered why. Surely things haven’t gotten so bad in Worm-Ville that citizens are flinging themselves onto the street in protest. So I did what any socially responsible person would do, in addition to returning the worms to the grass. I looked up worm habits online.

It turns out there is a bit of a dispute. Not a rabid one. It seems worm experts are more laid back than, say, the folks who write letters to the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review. (More on that another day.) But still, there are some wild new thinkers among the group and what better place to learn their perspective than the internet, an impeccable source which contains only truth and goodwill.

For years scientists thought worms fled their waterlogged holes because they didn’t want to drown. But it turns out worms aren’t particularly bothered by water in their homes. Saves on washing the floor, for one thing.

So now there are other theories. Some scientists believe worms associate the vibrations caused by raindrops with the noise made by certain predators like moles.

This would imply worms are pessimists.

After all there is no particular reason to think every knock on the door is a worm-icidal maniac.  But the other two theories are more upbeat. I like cheery people as a general rule so I was excited to learn worms may be optimistic and open-minded about the future.

One scientist posits that worms use rain as a way to travel longer distances than usual. He didn’t say how far and personally I think this matters. There is a difference between traveling to the next flower bed and traveling to Indonesia. But to be fair, I hadn’t considered the possibility worms wish to travel at all. If they do, where? And how does a worm hear about attractive worm destinations? Is there a worm tourist agency? Are the ads for foreign climes filled with puns?  (“A temperate climate – Worm and sunny all year round.”)

Or maybe the average worm’s travel goals are more modest.

“Jerry,” booms the game show host, “Tell Mary what she has won!”

“A trip to gorgeous other side of Main Street where unexplored tunnels and delightful cavernous sewers await your pleasure. You and a guest will travel in style in the rainstorm of your choice, slithering speedily across downtown to the other side of the road with only minimal risk of being stomped on, run over, or dried out. Congratulations!”

The idea of mating in the middle of the street is even more optimistic. I am a contemporary romance writer and even my characters have never considered that as a realistic option. On the other hand, risking life and limb to find that perfect mate is standard fare, at least in romantic suspense. With all the danger, excitement, romance and travel to foreign climes, Worm Love could be the next big selling sub-genre of the world of romance novels.

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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

jet lag

Fair is Fair. Except When It Comes To Jet Lag

Jet lag is one of the things in life it is hard to feel grateful for.

Well, I guess that is a large category which includes things like chicken pox and earthquakes. But I’m trying to find something redeeming about having lost track of about five days in the wake of taking the red eye cross country on Wednesday. Jet lag will do that to you.

It wasn’t just that I was sleepy, it was as though my brain had stayed behind on the West coast and had taken a later flight.

Luckily it arrived at my door today, dragging a duffle bag behind it, looking suitably embarrassed. It shuffled its feet and refused to meet my accusing glare, but it didn’t back down either.

After I ushered my brain into the kitchen, I asked it where it had been since last week. Turns out it had been having a lovely time, doing the sorts of things I imagine doing but never seem to get to – learning to ride a horse, shouting “Hellooo” into the Grand Canyon, and perfecting a prickle free cactus.

Meanwhile, I was home doing things like mis-dating checks, accidentally bleaching non-bleach items, and forgetting to put toothpaste on my toothbrush. Looking at my relaxed brain, as it leaned back in the kitchen chair sipping tea and munching on cookies, I couldn’t help but be a bit envious. It looked tan and fit while I felt sort of pasty and over-worked.

Maybe next time I take a vacation, I will leave my brain at home.

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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Apology Accepted Or Maybe Not.

Knowing how to formulate a proper apology is important for a romance writer.

Our heroes and heroines are often struggling with hurt, either past or present. In some cases the character just has to come to terms with the pain and move on. But sometimes an apology from the person who did the damage is a good way to allow the main character to progress so the story can come to a satisfying conclusion.

The problem is most human beings I know have a hard time apologizing and will do just about anything to avoid it, including pretending nothing has happened.

“What flame thrower?”

Many folks put responsibility for unsolicited forgiveness on the victim.

“You can’t tell me you’ve never considered arson.”

Others blame the victim entirely.

“You’re the person who insisted on living in a flammable house.”

Many people also like to underestimate the impact of their behavior.

“At least your food is prepared for you here in the hospital.”

So in the interest of humanity and not incidentally of romance novels, I have created a Cloze apology template which, for those of you who are not up on education lingo is familiarly known as a fill-in-the –blank sheet. This is not to be confused with Madlibs.  Madlibs is much more fun and sometimes a better learning tool.

Apology Template:

_________(1)_____________, I am deeply sorry I ______(2)_______. I know I _______(3)________ when I did that. (optional addition) I wish I hadn’t also __________(4)__________. That was _____(5)___________. I will try to make it up to you by ________(6)__________ and by doing better in the future.

As an instructional aide, I have included some multiple choices for each blank space.

  1. A. Sweetheart, B. Family Member, C. Officer, D. Neighbor
  1. A. Froze your chocolates, B. Made fun of your purple pants, C. Ran a red light, D. Played the drums all night long on Wednesday
  1. A. Made a mistake, B. Embarrassed you, C. Broke the law, D. Kept you awake
  1. A. Laughed when your front tooth chipped, B. Made up a purple pants cheer and taught it to the entire crowd at the home football game, C. Mooned you as I drove by, D. Invited all my friends in the marching band for a drunken all night practice session in the back yard.
  1. A. Insensitive, B. Mean, C. Inappropriate, D. Inconsiderate
  1. A. Driving you to the dentist, B. Buying a pair of purple pants and wearing them in public for a month, C. Following traffic rules, D. Not complaining next time your motorcycle gang parks on my lawn

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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Calendar Driven Can Drive You Crazy

Wooh. She’s a Calendar Girl and She Lives in a Calendar World.

I’m guessing you are saying to yourself, what is with this blogger? Doesn’t she own a calendar? I came visiting on Monday and she hadn’t even put the blogger welcome mat out.

You’re right. I forgot it was Monday, which is sort of an accomplishment if you think about it. A great many people would prefer to forget about Mondays but few achieve it.

Years ago, when my life was run on regular business week time, I kept a paper calendar to keep track of the dates and times of my obligations. Then I graduated to a Blackberry.

When the Blackberry crashed, twice, each time losing all my data including hundreds of painstakingly accumulated contact information, I began keeping track of my time on Google Calendar. That worked well until I realized how hard it was to access my appointments when I was on the road without a smart phone, which I didn’t have and couldn’t afford. So I went back to paper.

But now I have found the ultimate answer to an overloaded calendar.

Stop making appointments.

Ucch, I can hear you thinking, she is being ridiculous. Everyone must make appointments. Well, yes. With dentists, for instance.

But now I write for a living, I have a whole different set of deadlines which are self imposed. They don’t require a calendar because they are always due. That could be considered more stressful than an intensely packed schedule.

After all, when you check off obligations at the end of the day it is a lot more confidence building to be able to say, “I attended the staff meeting, checked in with my boss, wrote a report and filed it away in triplicate,” than “I met with myself and had no coffee or donuts. I gave myself a stern talking to and threatened to withhold my Christmas bonus if my performance didn’t improve. Then I wrote a romance novel arc and revised it three times before burying my head under the couch pillow in abject surrender.”

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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


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 Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.