The Book Release Story

Now that The Heart Thief has arrived, I’ve been thinking about the term Book Release. One could call it Book Publication Day. Or No More Rewriting Day. But Book Release Day is evocative in the way those other true but less stirring terms are not. Because publishing a book is a kind of letting go.

Writing starts out with a lost idea, tangled in a net by the side of the road. A passing author rescues it. The idea is dehydrated and stressed so it needs to be rehabilitated and made into a story before it can go into the wild. When the big day arrives, the author, handling the story gently, but wearing leather gloves in case it bites, transfers it to a small cage.

It’s a long drive to the release location and the author fastens the cage into the back seat with the seat belt. On the way, the story paces anxiously, turning from one set of bars to the other. It can scent freedom in the breeze that puffs through the car’s open windows. A small, select group of supporters have gathered on the mountain top to see it off.

The weather is clear and from the peak, one can see the village below. The buildings are distant but distinct. The story remains quiet, crouched near the door of its cage – ready but tentative. Perhaps this is a trick, it thinks.

But the author fiddles with the catch and the door swings open. The story pauses for a split second, still unsure and then it flies. It swoops up into the blue sky, glorying in the freedom to stretch and soar. And then it is gone – off to new adventures.

On the way back down the mountain, the author notices something caught in a bramble bush by the bridge. It’s a new idea, scratched and bruised, but with potential. The author puts it in the cage and brings it home. It will probably need some warm milk and a soft blanket. The author can hardly wait to see how this idea turns out.

It might take a few weeks, though. So, while you are waiting, check out The Heart Thief!

Whats the Magic Word

What’s the Magic Word?

Remember when you were little and wanted a cookie? At some point someone probably prompted you, “What’s the magic word?” The expected response was “please” and if the magic word worked, it resulted in a cookie. Mmm. Cookies.

As adults, there are many words we imbue with emotional significance – love, marriage, birth, and chocolate truffles come leaping to mind.  But speech in general has incredible power. How astounding that you can have a thought in your head and transfer it to mine through nothing more than speech. Even something mundane, like “I found your boots,” has a kind of transcendence when you consider the significance of words.

Abracadabra is a good example of this concept. We associate Abracadabra with magic shows, a flip of a silken handkerchief, and a wave of a wand. But the word itself comes from a phrase in Aramaic, Avra K’davra – I will create as I speak.

I think about this with respect to writing, especially when it comes pulling words out of the air. Nothing brings writing to a juddering halt the way a missing word does. A thesaurus usually helps, of course, but sometimes it doesn’t. So, I was delighted to learn about what is now my personal magic word: TK.

Every time I get stuck for the perfect word, I just drop in TK and keep writing, sure in the knowledge that I will be able to return later when I know what I need in that spot. Sinking into an abyss of internet research? TK. Lost in a sea of possible responses to a bit of dialogue? TK. See what I mean?

Professional writers have used TK for this purpose for years because it is an unusual combination of letters and so is easy to notice and to search for. It stands for “to come” as in “further information to come”. But TK is a rarer letter combination in English than TC, which might get lost in words like satchel or matchbook.

Of course, now that we have the capacity to search our documents electronically. So some writers use 000 instead of TK, and others ***. This makes sense because there are a few words which do incorporate TK. So, some writers use TKTK to deal with this problem.

This seems like overkill to me, although I understand the concern. For instance, I might write a story which depicts a hero who cuts down catkins with a pocketknife and then goes home to eat latkes. In that case, I might have to rethink my strategy. But until then, TK is my magic word.

What’s yours?

Join hundreds of smart readers who get Rose Grey’s Newsletter and receive “Baci – A First Kiss Short Story” FREE plus other exclusive bonus content!

Rose is the author of The Valora Series, The Durrell Brothers Trilogy, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised. Her novel, Waiting For You, the first book of the Durrell Brothers Trilogy, was 2nd place winner in the 2018 New England Reader’s Choice Contest. She loves writing stories about people who do everything in their power to avoid falling in love.

Please feel free to email Rose HERE with your thoughts on any of her books. Or reach out on Facebook HERE. Rose loves to hear from her readers!

The Valora Series:



The Durrell Brothers Trilogy in reading order:





Stand Alone Novels:



Writer Resolutions

February is an awkward month. All those writer resolutions I made in January begin to look a bit bedraggled four weeks later.

I started out well.

“Just grab a pen,” chirped my internal Time Manager. “Get those tasks out of your head and onto a pad of paper.”

My Time Manager knows my internal weakness. I love lists. So, I made a long list of the many things I know I ought to do more often as an indie writer. Marketing. Branding. Social Media. Graphic design research for ads and so I can recognize what makes a good book cover. Keyword Management. Research related to the Business of Writing.

But these are all big umbrella type topics. So, I made a second more detailed list of “things I need to get done in order to get other things done.”

Then, just to be completely thorough, I transferred each of these writer resolutions tasks to index cards.

I love index cards even more than I love lists. And there were a lot of those cards. I color coordinated them – yellow for daily items, blue for weekly ones. I noted which day each week I should do them and how much time I should spend on each task. They made a satisfyingly fat stack.

I was feeling pretty smug until I realized I had forgotten cards for five crucial tasks.

But my internal Time Manager was right. Filling out those index cards had cleared enough mental space for me to remember the obvious: Observing. Thinking. Reading. Staring at nothing. And most important, writing.

These activities are the reason I do this author boogie. The rest is commentary. Doesn’t mean I’ll never tackle that fat pile of index cards, but I think I’ll prioritize for my personal Big Five.

Rose Grey is hard at work on her first scifi romance novel. Visit the rest of the blog at The Closer You Get, All Of Me, Waiting For You, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are contemporary romance novels available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

Building Characters – Because We All Love a Character

I recently had an insight into the process of building fictional characters.

I bought a wedge cushion so I could sit more comfortably in my car. To my delight, it came with a multi-page instruction manual.  The instructions came in several different languages. Apparently, many countries are filled with citizens who do not have an organic understanding of seat cushions. Nor do they understand a cushion’s purpose or function. The only thing missing was a video version, for folks who couldn’t decipher the instruction booklet.

I am smiling as I write, but I am also intrigued. It takes a certain kind of person to write a manual which instructs an end user how to sit on a cushion. But even more, it takes a certain kind of person to decide that such a manual is necessary.

I often drink my morning tea from a mug my son gave me. The warning on the front says “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” That makes me smile too, but the warning partially true.

For me, building characters is all about the way the characters interact with the world.

My characters rarely resemble a specific person I know, but that they often remind me of types of behaviors I have seen and of types of thought processes I have heard people express.

And I love, love, love, what these behaviors and ways of thinking can do to help me build depth in my characters, especially my side characters.

So I am grateful for that manual. I suspect I won’t forget how to use a seat cushion anytime soon. But the manual reminds me of the many different characters and character quirks there are in our sea of humanity. A writer of contemporary romance need never run out of ideas so long as instruction manuals for seat cushions are available.

Rose Grey is hard at work on her sixth contemporary romance novel. Visit the rest of the blog at The Closer You Get, All Of Me, Waiting For You, are a contemporary romance trilogy. Hot Pursuit is romantic suspense. Not As Advertised is a standalone contemporary romance. All are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

contemporary romance

Contemporary Romance Novel Meets Dessert

The person who came up with the idea of marrying the juicy slightly tart sweetness of a berry with a crisp chocolate shell was either a genius or someone who loved doing laundry. They are messy to eat and one is likely to drip strawberry juice on one’s shirt with the first bite. So, why make them?

When it comes to formal family dinners, every cook had his or her own specialty to contribute. Mine is usually dessert. There is something liberating about being able to focus on one dish for a shared event. It means you are free to choose something a bit more complicated and more caloric than usual. So, while I would not normally make a full size dessert for home consumption for fear of eating it all, creating a Linzer Torte for sixteen people to enjoy makes sense.

Over the years I have made jelly rolls, tunnel cakes and even meringue mushrooms which looked so much like the real thing folks thought I had forgotten to make dessert. But of all the fancy dishes I’ve had the pleasure of making the one my family asked for again and again was the simplest: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

There’s a lesson there for writers and readers, I think.

What makes food inviting is the same thing that makes a good contemporary romance addictive – contrast. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries are simultaneously crisp and soft, sweet and tart, creamy and a bit sharp. That is the measure of a good story too. What make us want to keep reading is the contrast between two characters, the way they conflict and the way their differences enhance their individualism.

Of course, books have a lot less calories than dessert. So if you read Waiting For You while eating a Chocolate Covered Strawberry, it’s like having two desserts for half the calories! Try this recipe and tell me what you think.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

About 20 large Strawberries
6 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate

First, wash the strawberries and pat them dry. This step is important because the chocolate won’t stick as well to wet fruit.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave by cooking for one minute at half power. Stir it and put it in for another minute or until completely liquid. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, and be careful taking it out of the microwave too since it will be quite hot.

Dip each strawberry into the chocolate, twisting as you lift it out so that it doesn’t drip. Set it on the parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the strawberries.
When you have dipped them all, let them cool at room temperature until the chocolate is solid again.

At this point you have a choice.

You can refrigerate them or you can eat them. I leave it to your discretion. Just remember that chocolate dipped strawberries taste best when you eat them while reading a contemporary romance novel.

Rose Grey is hard at work on her sixth contemporary romance novel. Visit the rest of the blog at The Closer You Get, All Of Me, Waiting For You, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

contemporary romance

Contemporary Romance and Birds

One of the challenges of writing contemporary romance, or any kind of fiction really, is learning to think outside one’s own experience. Joe Character has to have his own priorities, his own plans, his own views of his place in the world. I don’t always agree with my characters’ choices, but if they are going to live in my story, I have to understand them.

In a corner of my vegetable garden, there grows a small thicket of thyme. It’s a brushy spice-scented thing, spilling over its container’s walls. I think it had dreams of taking over the entire garden eventually, so I had to trim it back this spring.

Yesterday a robin landed near the thyme and found a long sprig left over from the trimming. He inspected it carefully from all sides. Then he flew off clutching it in his beak with its long ends trailing behind in the wind.

It could be random, of course. Birds find all sorts of items suitable for nest building. They seem to be much more open minded than human builders. I wouldn’t expect my town’s building code to allow human houses made of cotton balls, dental floss and yarn along with mud, twigs and dead leaves. Especially if that house was built in a tree. But Avian Building Inspectors are more open-minded, and my yard has no shortage of standard nest building materials.

It’s a Rose Grey Lumberyard for birds.

This robin had options. He could have tugged lint from the dryer vent. There are long strands available from the weeds which need trimming near the foundation of the house. He even could have grabbed a beak full of stuff from the compost pile.

But I think the robin chose this thyme sprig for its scent.  My own kitchen often smells like spices and herbs and I love it, but it hadn’t occurred to me that a bird might want the same. How very human-scentric of me.

I like to imagine him flying home, proud of his find. He and his mate might have woven it into the curve of their new nest, so that when they snuggled against it at night the scent would rub off on their wings. And maybe later, when there were nestlings, that thyme would become the smell of home.

I’ve never built a nest, but I appreciate the ingenuity required to piece together a home out of flotsam. I can sympathize with the drive to create a safe haven for nestlings. And when I catch a whiff of thyme from my garden, it reminds me that a home is where we build it, whether in our hearts or in a tree.

Like reading contemporary romance?

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I write sweet contemporary romance novels, including The Durrell Brothers Trilogy, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised. Waiting For You, the first book of the Durrell Brothers Trilogy, was 2nd place winner in the 2018 New England Reader’s Choice Contest. I love telling stories about unexpected love and creating characters who are doing everything in their power to avoid it.

contemporary romantic comedy

Contemporary Romantic Comedy and Tomatoes

Writing contemporary romantic comedy is a lot like gardening. I’ve been planning my vegetable garden, making diagrams and lists, all of which make the process sound much more impressive than it really is. My plans generally involve buying some tomato, eggplant and cucumber plants, sticking them in the ground and trying to remember to water them. Also, I sprinkle a variety of seeds and then cannot remember which ones I sprinkled where. This is an issue because if I don’t know what I planted, I don’t know what kind of seedlings to look for and I end up mistaking the seedlings for weeds and pulling them.

My harvest can be either surprisingly abundant or pitiful. Two years ago, we couldn’t eat the tomatoes fast enough and I had to make a big batch of tomato sauce. But last year, I had few unhappy tomatoes and a generous crop of well fed beetles. Still, every Spring, the period of planning for planting is the epitome of hope for me, no matter how unreasoning.

I think many romance authors feel this way about their writing as well.

No matter how much planning a writer does, the process of writing is often a surprise. Sometimes characters grow in an unexpected direction. Current events can intrude and influence the direction if the plot just as a rainstorm or a heat spell can impact garden plants. Editing a novel, like weeding, is an exercise in figuring out what should stay and what should be removed.

This is why I love writing contemporary romantic comedy.

Sure an HEA (a happily ever after) is a given, but how one arrives at the ending, the twists and turns along the way – that’s the fun part for me. Like a seed, a romance novel is all about hope and this year hope has been an especially precious commodity.

So, as we turn the corner into Spring, I am sending all of you wishes for exciting plans, good surprises and opportunities for new growth. And if you haven’t planted anything recently, give it a try. Worst case, you get a crop of beetles. But what if you get an abundance of tomatoes?

While you are waiting for your seeds to germinate, pick up a contemporary romantic comedy for yourself or for a friend. Waiting For You is waiting for you. If you prefer an ebook, you can find it HERE.

Rose Grey muses on muses..

Musing on Muses and Why You May Not Need One

A lot of writers speak respectfully of their Muse. Me, not so much.

I’m not a believer in the concept of the muse when it comes to writing. If I had waited for a muse like Calliope to appear, I would never have written five novels. Plus, on a visceral level, I don’t trust the idea of a muse meddling in my process.

Years ago, I studied music composition with Professor Joseph Packeles. One day when we were discussing the process of composition, he told me, “If the music comes spewing out of you, that’s not healthy. You want to control the flow.”

For the most part, I have found this policy applies to writing stories as well. Because as an author of fiction, I am not a conduit for the words. I am making them up. And it’s darn hard work.

Often, applying seat of pants to seat of chair makes me whine and cuss. And sometimes even when the words come easily, the result makes me wince. Unclear. Vague. Filled with avoidance. But at least those lousy words are mine. Not Calliope’s. Or Erato’s. Or even Euturpe’s.

On the other hand, sometimes the best way to write is not to write at all.

As a teen, I worked as a gardener for a few months. It taught me patience. But more, it taught me to appreciate the value of the waiting. Because the waiting period is when the real action happens – underground, where you can’t see or hear it.

It’s a miracle that only works if you don’t meddle.

The seed needs time to crack its tough shell, to figure out which way the sun is, to convert the elements of the soil which surrounds it into fuel for growth. And it can’t do these things if it keeps getting dug up and inspected.

Gardens are about the deliciousness of waiting. Waiting for risk of frost to pass. For seeds to root. For rain to fall. And always, always waiting for the blossom to open, the fruit to appear and ripen.

One part of writing, almost before the beginning, is like this – a kind of germination of an idea. But the idea only germinates if you let it stay undisturbed in the dark for a bit. And that means waiting. Not waiting for Calliope to show up, but waiting for the idea to be ready to grow into a story.

That kind of waiting is a miracle too.

Rose Grey has written five romance novels and is hard at work on a new series. If you like free stories, subscribe to Rose’s newsletter Your subscription comes with a free sweet contemporary short, lots of fun info about upcoming books and occasional delicious recipes. The Closer You Get, All Of MeWaiting For You, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

Gothic Literature

Gothic Literature: It’s Baaack!

Friday before a bad weather weekend is the perfect time to go to the library. Boy, am I glad I did! Nothing says gothic literature like a gray ominous sky and Sunday was going to be miserable. I happened on Ruth Ware’s thriller, The Death of Mrs. Westaway and slipped it into my bulging book bag figuring I would save it until the storm came and hunker down. Fortunately or unfortunately, I cracked the book open on Friday night and there was nothing left of it to read by Sunday.

I’m not always a fan of thrillers, so if you feel the same way, please bear with me on this.

What I like about Ware’s writing is twofold. First, she writes beautifully. Generously. This is not as common as one might think. But second, and maybe more important to me, her book is balanced on a moral struggle.

As a romance writer, moral struggle is my favorite. I love watching people struggle because it is the way human beings grow and learn. That’s the ultimate triumph of romance novels: not the wedding, the growth.

But the other aspect of The Death of Mrs. Westaway I loved was its underlying tribute to gothic literature. I don’t know if that’s what Ruth Ware had in mind, but I sure did.

Who doesn’t love the tale of a mysterious benefactor bestowing a fortune on a beleaguered orphan? Then there’s the decrepit old mansion, the gnarled housekeeper, the bluff and hearty but secretive relatives and an ever present smell of mildew to go with the mysterious bunch of magpies which haunt the place.

Now I’m going to have to re-read Dickens.

Rose Grey has written four romance novels and is hard at work on a fifth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, subscribe to Rose’s newsletter Every subscription comes with a free short story, lots of fun info about upcoming books and occasional delicious recipes. All Of MeWaiting For YouHot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

Holy Mackerel! A Book Review!

In the old days, of small villages and smaller market places, if I made clay pots for a living I would know exactly how my neighbors felt about them. Joe the baker would say, “Great container for my onion rolls. Now I need another for the scones.” Or, less pleasant but equally informative, Jane the blacksmith would tell everyone in yelling distance that the pot she bought from me had shattered upon first use. “Shards, I tell you, shards!”

It’s not so much that an author wants to be liked. At the root, an author wants to be sure she was clear in her intent and that the reader understood. Because my books are my clay pots. But in the international world of online commerce, it’s a lot harder to hear Joe the baker and Jane the blacksmith.

Which is why I am so delighted with Lauren Szymanski’s book review of Waiting For You on her blog, Romance4theBeach.

Writing is a kind of trust game. The kind where you jump off a cliff and hope the group of hikers at the bottom looks up and figures out what you are doing in time to catch you.  Right. That’s not a trust game. That’s just insane.

But, in a way, this is what a writer does.

On the most basic of levels, all writing is about communication which, of course, is not basic at all. It’s a transfer of complex thoughts and emotions from the inside of the writer’s skull to the inside of the reader’s skull. It’s the essence of magic without having a wand.

Because I don’t know anyone who can read minds.

Yes, Zara the Magnificent can look at my well worn paint stained sneakers and divine that I am a sloppy painter. Or stare into my eyes and hone in on my eyelid twitch when she mentions my overflowing and purposely ignored mending basket. But that’s a totally different thing than understanding what’s going on between my ears. A lot of times even I don’t understand what’s going on between my ears.

Which is why I appreciate the process of writing and revising and revising again. It helps me understand better what I wish to communicate. But when it comes to being sure I managed it, that’s the scary part. The jumping off the cliff part.

So a book review like Lauren’s is enormously helpful. It reassures me that my clay pots are sturdy. Plus, it gives me an excuse to run around the apartment waving my arms and whooping.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at All Of MeWaiting For YouHot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.