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.


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 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.

indie publishing

Indie Publishing and the Cursing which Accompanies It

I wonder sometimes, where you are. That’s right. You.

Right now, I mean, as you read this blog entry. It is mid afternoon on a sunny winter day where I am and my office, the one remaining room in my apartment which needs painting is looking unusually cheerful. Primarily because I have reached a milestone in indie publishing.

Are you at a desk in your workplace, surreptitiously giving yourself a break? I hope so. Actually, I hope you are snickering to yourself and trying to hide it so none of your coworkers will notice.

Or maybe you are reading this on your phone as you wait for your children to be released from school. Are you sitting in your car, the sun creating a false sense of warmth as it beams in your windshield?

Or are you, like me, sitting in your home office and wondering how many ball point pens will fit in your tea mug? Twenty three. I tried more but then you can’t pull one out easily which defeats the whole purpose, I find.

I’m not always indolent but this afternoon I feel I deserve a bit of leeway when it comes to mug stuffing. I hadn’t realized when I began the process of morphing into a novelist how much time I would need to devote to learning the mechanics of indie publishing.

But today, I finally completed uploading both Not As Advertised and Hot Pursuit to – wait for it – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through Draft2Digital a whole bunch of other sites.

This major step in indie publishing required a great deal more cursing than I expected.

However, the potential cursing was infinitely reduced by the resources in David Gaughran’s book Let’s Get Digital. He recommends Guido Henkel’s awesome online guide to formatting for e-publication.  It turns out, mucking around with HTML is liberating. When things go wrong with the process, you have absolutely no doubt it is your own fault, which oddly is a relief. At least you know who to yell at.

Formatting for paperback is another matter entirely. I’m still proofing like crazy, but I can see the end of the tunnel there too. One would think paperback was less significant these days – lots of people get their reading matter electronically. But I can’t describe the lightning bolt of joy which ran through me when I first opened the box from Createspace with proofs of my books.

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.