humans

Humans. Polite Laughter, Please.

It occurred to me this morning how oddly vulnerable we humans must look to all the other animals. For all intents and purposes we are like turtles with clothes instead of shells. We are not equipped with fur, or scales, or leathery hide to protect us.

More to the point, we humans don’t seem to have the sense we were born with.

Unlike dogs, we wander off from our pack and then reappear with no discernible food in our mouths to share with other pack members. We mostly eat things other humans have decided not to eat. And we throw away food which is perfectly edible and often pleasantly smelly.

Unlike cats, we never lick our backs clean. Our reflexes are too slow to make us good mousers. And we seem to have no sense of fun. Even those humans who eat other animals don’t usually play with their prey first. Plus, as a species we seem to have an unusual fondness for dogs, which is a weakness from a cat’s perspective, to say the least.

Birds don’t even pay attention to us. What’s the point? Humans are too foolish to bother with. We drop perfectly good seeds on the ground and walk away without eating them. Unlike seagulls, we can’t dive into a bay and come up with fish in our mouths. When we are lost, we can’t flap our arms and soar into the sky to check out an alternate route in the vast quilt of land below.

We are slow, uncoordinated and bad at noticing the world around us. Despite our ability to communicate with each other, we don’t always work reliably as a pack. A mouse has a better sense of self preservation. We ignore weather to our peril and are often caught outside our dens when it is raining or snowing.

Still, we have some useful attributes.

Humans do have senses of humor, like dogs. We give cats something to laugh at. We give donkeys, birds and porpoises someone to pity. And like bees, we can tell stories.

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.

marigolds

Marigolds and the Dangers of Popularity

Secret Yearnings of Marigolds

I planted a raised bed garden this Spring and made sure to include lots of marigolds. You would be surprised just how many articles there are online extolling the virtues of marigolds. Well, maybe you wouldn’t. But I was.

Turns out marigolds, in addition to being sturdy and adorable and a kickass name for a romance heroine, are excellent garden friends for almost any veggies you might plant. Tomatoes flourish near them. So do basil, broccoli, eggplant and a whole bunch of other tasty companion plants.

Marigolds never have problems finding a Saturday night date.

Not only to they make other plants happy, marigolds have a reputation for repelling garden pests, like aphids and certain types of beetles. This argument is common and fervent online, although according to some articles, scientists disagree. Apparently there is no actual proof the pests dislike marigolds. And after all, why would they? Everyone else seems to like them.

Still, I think it must be hard to tell exactly how aphids and beetles feel, given the language barrier. Imagine a therapist leaning back in her armchair, pad of paper and pen in hand. She squints earnestly at her patient, an aphid who seems slightly lost on the vast meadow of velvet which is the couch. “When you see a marigold, how does it make you feel?”

It might be more useful for that same therapist to sit down with the marigolds in my garden. I should think few events are more traumatizing to a marigold than having its stem bitten in half by a starling. This has actually happened repeatedly. It may be frustrating for me but I keep reminding myself it is far more frustrating for a marigold.

Because no matter how much a marigold appreciates being popular among the vegetables, it has always aspired to be popular with birds too. And now, poor thing, its hope has been dashed.

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.

value

Value. Pricing Your Book for Success

Price is not the same as value.

This is the second installment in a brief series about marketing for novelists. In the last entry I discussed writer’s resistance to marketing. Now it’s time to talk about putting a value on your work.

Choosing a dollar value for each novel, each story, each page, each word you write isn’t easy. All the hours you spent thinking, writing, thinking about writing and writing about what you thought, are what make a book valuable from your perspective as a novelist.

But the value of your book from your point of view is not necessarily the value of your book from a purchaser’s point of view. A reader is taking a risk on your story. She doesn’t know how brilliant you are nor does she know if she will even like the story until she tries it out.

One way to get a sense of perspective is to check other author’s prices. If you price your newest oeuvre higher than a recent release from a well known and beloved romance author, for instance, only your mother will buy it.

Your goal is not to sell ten copies to your mother at an ego gratifying price.

Your goal is to sell one hundred copies at a humbling but more effective price.

The common wisdom online is to price low or to give away for free the fruit of your labor. This makes sense from a marketing standpoint if you are looking to impact on great numbers of people. It makes more sense if you are looking to impact on the algorithms which are the basis for ratings.

Better “sales” rates can mean better placement on the vast online book shelf stacks which are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. The books which have the most traffic in a library are often the ones on eye level which makes them more likely to be chosen.

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.

marketing

Marketing for Romance Writers – Don’t Be Afraid

One of the aspects of writing romance novels I have been dreading is the marketing.

I think a lot of writers dread it. The writers I know are people who cringe at the thought of public speaking never mind the incessant interaction with strangers the term marketing implies. We tend to be more comfortable hanging out with the strangers in our heads.

Nonetheless, I have come to the conclusion after exhaustive procrastination that the real issue with authors and marketing is not shyness.

Instead, we are intimidated by the idea of being amateurs in a field where many people have academic training and a lifetime’s experience. It seems like the height of hubris to think we can succeed where professionals struggle to be noticed.

But wait a minute.

Isn’t that what we did when we decided to write a book?

Didn’t it seem then that authors were unapproachable geniuses? Unlike us, they had a deep instinctual understanding of plot arc, character development and enticing metaphors. Yeah, well. We know better now.

Most of us authors tried other careers before deciding we had to write. Many of us continue to pursue day jobs and write in the chinks of spare time we have. If we had the arrogance and unmitigated gall to do that, why shouldn’t we try our hands at marketing too?

Applying SEO, targeting an audience, advertising and planning marketing campaigns are things we can all do if we are willing to learn how. And if learning how means we can bring pleasure to countless readers, who are we to stand in our own way?

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.

performance

Performance Dreams and Real Nightmares

Interpreting performance dreams. Okay, it’s not that complicated.

Performance dreams all share certain characteristics – the absolute knowledge that failure is inevitable, the horror of knowing it is your fault and having little to no control over the outcome. You know the nightmare if you have ever performed anything.

Maybe even if you haven’t.

You start up out of sleep in a panic and realize it is the familiar old dream, fitted perfectly to your fears. The trappings might be different but the bones are the same.

But when I woke up this morning I realized this particular performance dream was about writing. And that was intriguing.

Because I don’t have an employer who will be angry if I get it wrong. Well, I might give myself a stern talking to, but that usually ends with chocolate. I know perfectly well I am growing into a writer and I am willing to be patient with the process. There is no specific deadline and no one cares what I wear when I am tapping out vagaries on the keyboard. If I get it wrong, I can fix it. In this arena at least, I have control over most of the elements one panics about in performance dreams.

So this dream wasn’t about me.

It was about Jock and Charlotte and whether they are ready to be in the story I am writing about them.

I’m one quarter into writing novel number four and I’m worried for them. It’s not so much my own performance which is at stake, it is the performance of these characters. I hope I’ve honed them well, but only learning how they fare in their fictional lives will tell me for sure.

Until then, it is a matter of leaping into the unknown and seeing what happens. I guess that’s what we all do every day, but most of the time we don’t think about it. Writing make you more conscious of the leap.

At least Jock and Charlotte aren’t appearing half an hour late to headline for a medieval lute concert in Carnegie Hall wearing bathing suits and roller skates.

They should be grateful. I can’t say the same.

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.

avocado hand

Avocado Hand – Count Your Fingers

Cooking like an amateur and proud of it.

I know you didn’t ask, but…I find Avocado Hand annoying. Or maybe I’m just crabby. I guess if I had actually suffered from Avocado Hand, I would be more crabby. If you haven’t already heard about this “on the rise” and therefore extremely hip emergency room issue, apparently more people than ever before in recorded history are slashing their hands in an attempt to cut open and prepare avocados.

Martha Stewart, on a morning show recently, demonstrated the new FDA approved method of cutting avocados by holding the fruit in a dish towel and using a razor sharp knife both of which I consider the perfect way to create an avocado preparation injury no one has ever heard of yet. She explained it is dull knives which create Avocado Hand.

I would argue it is hubris.

I love watching professional chefs on television as much as the next person, but I have no illusions. These folks have professional training handling incredibly sharp tools at ridiculous speeds. I don’t.

I have neither the training, nor the dagger-like implements, nor the dexterity, and I know perfectly well I am not planning to spend twenty years perfecting those skills and accruing those knives. Because that is what it would take for me to be in that league.

But I think television breeds a kind of unrealistic perception in viewers that visual proximity is the same as knowledge. Watching a great chef’s hand motions and copying them, is simply not the same as practicing those motions thousands of times a day. Just as wiggling one’s fingers and owning a piano is not the same as becoming a great pianist.

It’s true most of us have fingers, but that’s not enough. And if we insist on pretending we have the same knife skills as professional chefs, we will be lucky to retain those fingers at all.

 

Which is particularly important if you are planning on typing the next great romance novel, instead of dictating it. So hurry up with the writing because I want to read 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.

manchester bombing

Manchester Bombing – Crime Against Children, Again,

Words fail in the wake of the Manchester Bombing.

How can we respond to the Manchester Bombing? How do we cope with the images of parents and children killed and injured, pointlessly. And it is pointless, make no mistake about that.

This atrocity will devastate the lives of the families who have lost a loved one, their friends, their relatives. For them, nothing will ever be the same again.

But on a larger scale, the most effective response is to make the terrorist’s death meaningless. The residents of Manchester will keep going to public events. Arianna Grande will continue to bless those who love her with the beauty and joy of her gift. Nothing, with the exception of greater vigilance, will change.

Because that is the weapon we have. Normalcy.

I get that. I do. And yet this is not a random attack. It was specifically aimed at children.

There is nothing which angers me in quite so deep a way as the pain evil people intentionally cause children. There is no defense, no argument, no words which can excuse it.

Nor are there appropriate words in any human language which I personally can summon to respond to it.

Still it is not simply silence which is called for when children lie dead. Not the calm silence of acceptance, not the peaceful silence of belief, but a deeper, darker silence. A silence of pulsing life, of red grief, of a roar too loud for sound, too thick for words. The essence of no but without the softness of N, without the rounded welcome of O. A mighty silence which seeps under doors, slams down city streets and shrieks across prairies. A silence which crushes mountains beneath its weight and creeps in great clouds to cover valleys.

A teeth baring, howl of silence.

 

 

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.

ritual

Ritual for Home Writing Sessions

Creating a Home Writing Ritual

The space in which we write is significant and giving it sufficient gravitas sometimes requires a ritual. We all find ways to cue ourselves to get to work. Sharpen six pencils. Put loose papers in files. Go stand in front of the refrigerator and search hopefully for a brownie.

Some of those cues are the actual furniture on which we choose to write.

On top of my desk, looking down at my laptop, crouches a wooden sculpture of a cat. Whoever carved him caught the exact moment when a cat is considering jumping but has not bunched his muscles to do so.

I am lucky in my desk, although I occasionally yearn for a larger work surface. It is a high boy sort of thing with pigeon holes and a door which folds open for a work surface. I rarely close the door these days although I think I should reconsider that. Unlocking and opening the desk every time I wrote would lend a sense of occasion to writing time.

It may be that lack of ritual which makes it easier to write in the local library, at least when I am starting out a book.

Going to the library is a ritual.

It includes packing up my laptop, a bottle of water and any books which are due back. Fifteen minutes of driving and parking. Walking up the steps, circling the tables to find an empty one, setting up the laptop and settling into the chair. By the time I finish that process, I feel ready to focus.

This is a bit the way a cat prepares himself to sleep. He locates a perfect sunny spot, circles, pats the surface, kneads it, and kneads it again until he is ready to curl into a ball. Sleep is work for a cat.

So I’m thinking of creating a home ritual for beginning a writing session, a practical physical activity which would be somewhat useful, but mostly repetitive and basically pleasant. If you have already have one, please share.

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.

vegetable gardening

Vegetable Gardening For Non-Rabbits

I planted a garden yesterday.

Well, it wasn’t actually as simple as that. I spent weeks dithering over how big it should be and what I should plant. The most complicated part of vegetable gardening for me was figuring out which plants like to be near which other plants. Also which ones detest other plants. It was a bit like planning seating for a wedding reception when the families involved are the Montagues, the Capulets, the Jets and the Sharks.

Tomatoes like carrots, but they stunt them. Eggplant likes being near thyme, but thyme doesn’t like being near basil. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage don’t get along with some nightshade plants, like tomatoes and green peppers. But they thrive when inter-planted with lettuce. Eggplants, unlike their nightshade family cousins, seem to get along with everybody. It took index cards, spiral bound notebooks, scissors, tape and the ever amazing glue stick to finalize the seating plan.

Then I did the actual planting – Woohoo! So far it’s been two days and I have remembered to water the plants. I talk to them, and tell them supportive nurturing things. Maybe vegetable gardening is my thing. If that was all plants required for a successful harvest, I wouldn’t worry.

But I know the real danger is lurking in the dark.

Don’t let the cute ears and twitchy fluffy tails mislead you. Those sweet little rabbits you see on the lawn at night when you are taking your before bedtime stroll are like Pirates of the Caribbean but armed with teeth instead of daggers.

I’m hoping to buy them off with the strawberry plants. So if you see a rabbit with strawberry mash dripping from its long adorable whiskers, you’ll know where it has been.

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.

bowling

Bowling For Unexpected Business Opportunities

Bowling isn’t something I normally write about, but it’s been a long day.

My mother always said if you poke yourself with a needle you are too tired to sew. I can add that if you make egregious errors in your query emails you are too tired to send them. Obviously, if you click send by accident you might as well go to bed right now. The same reasoning applies to blog entries, but no one can say I’m easily discouraged.

Besides, I can’t resist writing this one.

Today, I drove by a local bowling alley mid-morning.  A man sauntered out carrying a life preserver and climbed into his van.

That’s right. A life preserver.

Maybe he won the preserver in a midnight bowling contest and came back by light of day to collect his prize. Or maybe he won an entire boat with mast, sail and outboard motor. But he couldn’t fit everything into his van on the first trip, so he returned for the life preserver.

I have to admit, I didn’t think of these possibilities when I saw him. I’m not that inventive. Instead, I thought the obvious. The bowling alley must flood with alarming regularity. So all customers who join the bowling league buy a regulation life preserver to hedge their bets. Preferably with the name on the bowling league on it although I did not see any writing on this particular preserver.

My husband pointed out bowling underwater would be difficult. It’s true the ball can’t float, so that is an advantage. But giving it enough momentum to hit the pins would require more force than a single person could manage.

Obviously, an underwater canon is the only solution. It is clearly a necessity for flooded bowling alleys and I am surprised no one has invented on yet.

Labeled life preservers and underwater canons are  an unexplored market niche. What do you think?

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.