All the Trimmings

All the Trimmings

I’ve been thinking recently about the importance of side dishes. One Thanksgiving Day, we just had all the trimmings. It wasn’t until after the pie that our guest noticed the absence of turkey.

Indie-publishing can feel like this – a plethora of side dishes, from formatting to advertising. There are so many activities involved, it can be easy to forget that writing is the main event.

A good book, one that someone wants to read and once started can’t put down is not a small thing. But I have learned, it is also not the only thing.  If no one knows about your main dish, no one can enjoy it.

That’s what all the trimmings are for.

Gravy, for instance, is the distillation of a broth’s flavor. A blurb is like this. So is your author bio. And like gravy, these bits of text can be used to flavor many other side dishes.

Your book page on an online bookstore may start out looking like mashed potatoes – white and blank. So, make sure to add your blurb and author bio here.

Also, remember add a generous handful of keyword phrases to these texts. Just as extra seasonings like pepper and sage spice up your stuffing, keyword phrases make your text more appealing to search engines.

A fruit relish, like the iconic cranberry sauce adds contrast to your meal. I find writing a regular newsletter is an excellent palate cleanser. The opportunity to focus on a different flavor enhances my writing experience.

And then, the vegetables! I love crisp, crunchy salads bursting with vibrant color. This is a textural contrast, just as giving away or selling a book in person contrasts with doing so online. It’s not that bell pepper strips are better than sweet potato casserole. They are just completely different.

And included in “all the trimmings” is dessert. Whether it’s a crisp apple, a slice of pie, or chocolate mousse, dessert reminds me of reviews. I love knowing that something I wrote touched a reader, caught their attention and sweetened their day. That’s just the best!

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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 at with your thoughts on any of her books. Or reach out on Facebook: Rose loves to hear from her readers!

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.

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.


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


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


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


Writing Means Looking Back Occasionally

Yes! Another one thousand words. Some days writing is like pulling teeth. Okay, many days writing is like pulling teeth. But once in a while, two thousand or more words just come pouring out of my fingers onto the keyboard. And that is amazing, and wonderful, and so, so exciting.

Always, as I write and rewrite and carve away all the parts of the manuscript which don’t look like an elephant, I wonder if it’s going to be any good. And those days when the writing flows are the times when I know, in my bones, I am doing the right thing.

But that did not happen today. On days like today, I remind myself to put on blinders and march forward.

Because you can’t get to a breathtaking mountain view without lots of trudging.

And you can’t get to good writing without lots of just plain writing.

I’m not sure how much that knowledge helps, however, when the mud is thick, my boots get stuck, the backpack is heavy and it starts to rain. On those days, of which there are more than any of us would like, it’s a matter of looking back.

Because it is easy to remember bad stuff. Who doesn’t quail at the mounds of revision required to whip the thing into shape. Who quivers with anticipation at the hard editing to follow? Not to mention the distinct possibility that hundreds of agents will look a the manuscript, shrug their shoulders and say, “Meh.”

It is hard to remember the glory of the mountain one is climbing when the peak is far above and hidden by trees.

So, writer, once in a while, stop trudging and turn around. Look down the trail and give yourself some credit. No matter how much further you intend to climb, no one can take away what you have already accomplished.

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.


Color Your Calendar Day By Day

What color is today?

Some Fridays just don’t feel like Friday. Why is that? There is a thing called Grapheme-color Synesthesia which makes people associate colors with numbers, letters and even days of the week. One is white, two is red. Q might be purple with stripes and T might be a slick metallic silver.

So if you were to associate a color with Friday, what would it be? I think it is blue-green. Friday smells of fresh baked bread. It sounds like a stream in summer. It tastes like a grape.

But today didn’t taste like a grape. It tasted more like a Thursday. And that can’t be right because Thursday is the blue-purple of the sky just when the last ember of sunset disappears. It smells of rain and sounds like a fog horn. Thursday tastes like water.

Wednesday is orange, although not necessarily the fresh color of an orange peel. Maybe more like the orange-y brown of a pair of corduroys I once loved. Don’t ask. And the smell, a spice I think. Not a sweet one though. Maybe rosemary.

Tuesday is unquestionably light blue. The color of a clear sky in summer. And it smells like the lunches your mother packed for you when you were in elementary school, that indefinable scent of food which has been waiting in a paper bag, slightly smooshed by your books.

Monday is a sharp yellow color, not pleasant but certainly energizing.

It sounds like the smack of wind against the side of my house in midwinter. And it tastes like a coming snowstorm – cold, dry and acrid.

Sunday is lush, green and gold. The taste of leisure – home made scones or fresh cut watermelon.

Saturday smells of the promise of rain. It tastes like fresh apricots, the fuzzy promise of sweet answered with a burst of sharpness. And the color? That odd mixture of orange and pink which comes at sunset after a storm.

What did your day taste like?

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.