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

calendar

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 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.

bees

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

brainstorming

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

 

invisibility

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