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



Book Fasts Impact the Entire Globe

A book fast can make you hungry. Eat a cookie.

I finally know who I am writing for the next romance which in itself is pretty exciting. The hard part initially, at least for me, is figuring out who my main characters are and why it’s imperative I write their stories. And now I’m jittery with anticipation. And I am commencing a book fast.

But the aspect of this writing process which affects you, is the book fast which commences the moment I finish the remaining novel sitting on my library shelf.

“Book fast.” Your brow furrows. “Is there a benefit to reading faster?”

Maybe. Although the pages might catch fire.

No. This is more of a “no book for you until you finish your peas” situation.

So once I finish Sophie Hannah’s The Carrier, part of her Zailer and Waterhouse series which I mysteriously missed in my voracious gobbling of her work, that’s it. No more reading until I am well along into Jock Durrell’s love story.

“So what?” you say. “How does this impact on me?”

Here’s how. A significant shortage of shelf space will ensue in my local library since I will not be storing the usual number of books at my house. A librarian attempting to jam too many books on a shelf will shove too hard and a patron in the next aisle will suffer a sore foot from the books which tumble onto it. He will stomp around the corner and complain to the head librarian.

The head librarian will head out to a café for lunch with her husband but will snap at him when he doesn’t deserve it. Her husband, on his way back to work, will honk angrily at a slow procession of cars in front of him. At the head of the procession, a visiting dignitary who hails from a small pugnacious country, will take offense. He will threaten to bring suit against anyone who writes a novel using his country as a setting.

You see how it goes. Never mind a butterfly sneezing. It’s my not reading which has impact.

More to the point, it means the Wednesday Book of the Week feature will go on hiatus for a while. Instead, every Wednesday I’ll either review old favorites of mine, which might be new favorites for you, or just blather on in my usual inconsiderate way about topics of my choosing.

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.



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


Bees and Their Plan for World Domination

Bees are already smarter than some of us.

So apparently bees are capable of teaching each other to use tools. Not hammers yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

In addition, once a bee learns how to use a tool, it can strategize for most efficient usage. I don’t know whether to feel delighted or threatened by the news that bees are more capable than some humans.

There are humans who are not capable of learning and other humans not capable of teaching and probably an overlap of humans who are not capable of either and all of these can be out thought by a six legged, four winged, five eyed creature whose brain is a small part of her 0.00025 pound body.

No, I didn’t just know that. I had to look it up. What do you think I am, a bee?

On the one hand this news has high embarrassment potential. Well, not for bees, obviously.

We humans have lots of tools bees might want to learn how to use. Tools they might use better than we do. I’m not worried about them using drones. They already have those. But what about tools we consider distinctly human? Electric toothbrushes, for instance.

Bees might enjoy brushing off the pollen residue which clings to their tiny legs at the end of a long day diving into flowers. If they decide electric toothbrushes are the way to go, I might find myself standing in my bathroom with my hands up in surrender as four thousand bees waft mine away.

“Don’t forget the-” I would stop mid-sentence as another four thousand bees carry off the charger. See what I mean about embarrassment? How would I explain my lack of dental hygiene to the dentist?

I can imagine those same bees in their tiny house trying out the brush and muttering to each other “Hmm. Alternating current.”

On the other hand, maybe bees’ capacity for tool usage will lead to good things for us, like more honey. Bees might build factories and flood the market with increased honey production. Honey is delicious and even has some mild antibiotic properties.

But it increases the risk of cavities which is a problem since they stole my toothbrush.

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.


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


Brainstorming Alone is a Challenge

Don’t talk so loud. I can’t hear myself brainstorming.

One character study done. And I’m brainstorming over a messy plot board with some possible ideas. It’s a start.

What is so interesting to me about doing character studies is how well you get to know not only a character but also his back story – infinitely helpful when it comes to understanding the ramifications of a situation you drop him into.

So I know my hero now and I like him. I know what he likes and what he doesn’t like which is going to make his first meeting with the girl of his dreams pretty amusing. Because she is, on the surface at least, totally inappropriate for him.

And the plot board? At first I had a simple rectangle with strips of duct tape to make four acts and I used index cards (oooh, index cards) for each scene. Then I got fancy, thanks to a presentation at the Rhode Island Romance Writers’ meeting. Now I have a couple display boards and a lot of different colored and shaped sticky notes.

My guess is all that fancy stuff will lead me back to duct tape board and the index cards because, let’s face it, nothing beats index cards. But in the interim, all the colors, shapes, and mess gives me a sense of brainstorming even though I always associate brainstorming with being a member of a group of reluctant and resentful seventh graders who have to come up with a plan for a model Lincoln Memorial made out of sugar cubes.

The whole concept implies a group – I’m not sure brainstorming is possible alone.

And the word sounds so dramatic, full of portent and maybe a little dangerous – like watching the volunteer at the science museum demonstration with her hand on the Van de Graaff generator when her hair begins to stand on end.

Somehow it never feels that exciting when I’m trying to come up with ideas on my own. Maybe I should hire some reluctant seventh graders just to set the mood. I must have sugar cubes somewhere.

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.



Invisibility Syndrome – It’s a Thing

Let’s conquer Invisibility together!

Unlike my usual light Friday fare, I am appealing to my readers to join me in the fight against IS. March is Invisibility Syndrome Awareness month but I thought we should get an early start by thinking about the ups and downs of invisibility. Convenient if you are a thief or a spy. But incredibly irritating if you want to see what is stuck between your teeth and try to find out by looking in a mirror.

Most stories about invisibility focus on the control factor – a ring, a cloak, a potion one can use at will. How delightful, one would think, to be able to pop in and out of sight. But for people who suffer from Invisibility Syndrome, stories like these are cruel jokes.

According to NHS, Invisibility Syndrome afflicts fully five percent of the population. For some, medication helps. But the side effects of that medication can be brutal. Strobe like flickering images and rendering one’s speech in tiny bubbles are two common complaints. Many patients forgo treatment and resign themselves to being translucent on a good day and transparent on a bad one.

How great would it be to be invisible?

Not very, says Dorothy Waldenfluher, who has suffered from this hereditary disease for forty of her fifty four years.

Waldenfluher first noticed her fingertips fading when she was celebrating a friend’s thirteenth birthday party.

“It looked like the present was carrying itself,” she recalled. “Everyone thought it was really cool.”

But soon, her ailment manifested itself in less amusing ways.

“I waited at a bus stop for three days once,” she said. “And supermarket lines? Don’t even ask. You know how sometimes people leave their cart in line because they forgot the milk? And everyone is irritated and pushes the cart out of the way? That’s my cart and I’m actually holding onto it.”


Waldenfluher has started a GoFundMe page to fund IS research. She has already exceeded her goal of $42,879.59.

“I may not benefit directly from the research,” she says, flickering slightly with emotion, “but I’m doing what I can to make sure the next generation is completely visible.”

I’ve purchased an invisible T-Shirt through the GoFundMe page. Please join me in the campaign. Buy your T-Shirt today and wear it when we march on Washington in April.

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.

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


Procrastination: Putting Me On Notice

Okay. It’s deadline time. No more procrastination. Right.

One of the hard things about writing in a vacuum is not having a deadline anyone will enforce. Procrastination is way too easy when you are your own boss. If I were working in a corporation, for instance, there would be consequences for missing a deadline – a blot on my work record, for instance, or a stern talking to with the implicit threat of losing my job.

But I am working for the Monumental General Corporation of Me. So those meetings in the boss’s office go something like this.

Boss: “Ms. Grey, I see you have not met our production quota this month.”

Me, squirming guiltily: “I meant to, but the siren call of avoiding cleaning the tub by playing online solitaire was too much to resist.”

So here’s the deal.

I am announcing to the world that by the end of February, I will have my character studies done and my plot structure outlined. Writing will start on March 1.

First step will be making excessively decorated signs to put up near my desk detailing the order of my tasks. Then I should check all my pens to make sure they are working. I’ve already re-organized my desk, in a previous attempt to avoid the inevitable. But the supply cabinet in my office – now that is badly in need of a clean out.

Of course, I can’t ignore the basic duties of running a household. That would be just selfish. So I need to factor in cleaning out the refrigerator, washing windows, scrubbing the bathroom tile and digging out sticky dust balls from between the radiator fins.

That should leave a few hours on the evening of February 29th to do the actual writing prep. Wait. This is a leap year, right?

Well, shoot.

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


Zombies – It’s Not Easy Being Undead

The Problem with Zombies. Besides the obvious.

First, the plural thing. If a crowd of undead are zombies, what do you call one of them? Shouldn’t it be a zomby? And if not, why not? Is it just that Zomby sounds like the nickname for an undead Zumba fanatic? Because for all we know, zombies might enjoy zumba given the chance. It isn’t the zombies’ fault Zumba instructors run away every time an undead person walks into the classroom.

Second, poor fashion sense. Every zombie I’ve ever seen wears pants which need hemming and are a size too big, a ratty top and aged waterlogged hiking boots. This makes no sense, since zombies were buried in shrouds, presumably. So let’s assume when zombies re-animate, they shamble over to a discount clothing-by-the-pound store, raid it and walk through a few torrential downpours and a mudslide.

Why? Do they think they’ll have better luck catching people if they are dressed like Frankenstein? It’s hard to run in hiking boots which explains their awkward gait. You would think they would choose running shoes. For that matter, why wear clothes at all?

Right. So they can be in movies. Everyone wants to be a star. And once you’ve gone X-rated, it’s hard to find work in family films.

Third, poor vocabulary. There are only so many things one can convey with “Aaaaah”.

Do zombies recall nothing from their High School English classes?

Can you imagine dinner table conversation if you marry one?

“How was your day, dear?”



Then there is the Zombie diet, kind of paleo without any fiber.

We humans have an unreasonable belief in our own deliciousness. What makes us think we are tastier than a banana? Even if zombies have a desire for meat, wouldn’t they prefer to swarm steak houses? Sure the beef is cooked, but it can’t run away. And there’s ketchup.

They’re hungry, not stupid.

Frankly, I think the challenge for zombies is they haven’t discovered the food network and they don’t remember ketchup. These are solvable problems, people. Keep up.

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