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.

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


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 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.


Scary. And It’s Not Even Halloween Anymore.

Scary times in the Writer’s Corral.

I sent a manuscript off to an editor for the first time ever and waited with baited breath to see what she said. It’s one thing to write a contemporary romance. It’s a totally different thing to let a person who reads books for a living assess what you wrote. Aaack! Maybe not terrifying but definitely scary.

What if she hates it? Perhaps it will bore her to tears. The plot might be weak, the characters insipid. God! Why did I ever think I could write, anyway?

Writing is such an “in your head” craft, it is hard to be sure you have conveyed the voices in your head accurately. Not to mention any concerns one might have about the relative worth of those voices. So sending your work off to an editor, a beta reader or even an agent takes a leap of faith. But once you have done the sending, the anxiety really sets in.

Scary visions of irritable unsatisfied readers skitter through your head. Sort of like Piglet imagining a Heffalump.

When I studied singing, I learned to think of my work as a point in time. It was as good as I could make it at that very moment and that would have to suffice until I got better. Thinking of one’s product this way is a discipline. Sometimes it’s the only way you can make yourself try again.

That’s an important way to think about writing too. Each book is better than the last. The book that’s with the editor is my third. It’s better than my first two, probably. Hopefully not as good as my fourth will be.

Can’t wait to find out!

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.