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Mockingbird

Mockingbird – Midnight Jazz Cat

The Secret Night Life of Morris

Last night I was awake late trying to consider my heroine’s options when I a mockingbird distracted me.

I assume Morris the Mockingbird does mundane stuff all day long, like kicking rotted food out of the nest. He stocks the larder with bugs, insects, and small things which can’t run away fast enough. He keeps a beady eye out for predators.

But in the middle of the night, Morris mutters an excuse to his long suffering wife, Rochelle, sneaks off to the bush outside my house, and becomes JazzMo.

He was amazing. The one man (well, bird) jam session lasted about an hour and as far as I could tell he sang a lot of old favorites without repeating even one.

All of which gives me hope.

Because there is a school of thought which says living beings are never truly altruistic. But JazzMo is an argument against that. I’m not saying JazzMo sang his heart out to give me pleasure. He was singing because it gave him pleasure.

The creation of unnecessary beauty is not much of a survival strategy when you think about it. But it is a great way to love the time you have.

Still, I wonder what Morris the Mockingbird says to Rochelle when he staggers home after one of these marathon sessions, exhausted yet exhilarated and reeking of hemlock sap. Maybe she secretly worries the shine has worn off their relationship. After all her feathers are dull from racing to feed nestlings all day long. She probably accuses him of hanging out with those no good opossums and while she scolds him she wonders if he’s started up again with that Mindy, the sultry hoot owl he used to go with before the babies started coming.

She doesn’t have to worry – I can vouch for him. Morris has been too busy pouring his heart out to the night sky to get up to the kind of trouble she’s concerned about. And if she reads this blog, she’ll figure that out.

So, if you see her, let her know. Better yet, tell her to sign up for the newsletter. That’ll keep her up to date.

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.

 

Tricky Grammar

Never Trust Grammar. Even if it is Delicious.

Plurality. Not that kind.

You just can’t trust grammar. Maybe, to be fair, you can’t trust grammar and etymology.

Our American English is like shish kebab – each word on the stake is part of the same delicious meal, but each one is also a totally distinct vegetable. Or in this particular case, a totally distinct flower.

I just looked up the plural of crocus to see if it is crocuses (easier to say) or croci (funnier to look at). Turns out either one is acceptable. In fact, it’s even okay to use the singular form, i.e., “While thinking about my blog post I accidentally stepped on a cluster of crocus”. Or crocuses. Or croci.

Not helpful. Because for those of us who suffer from indecision, multiple options like this can bring on total gridlock.

The problem is certain words like octopus, syllabus and cactus which originate in ancient Greece are pluralized as though they were of Roman origin. Think about alumnus/alumni and you get the idea.

Which begs the question, are these words purposely disguising themselves as ancient Romans and if so, what is their end game?

Are they operating undercover in our cities and towns, covering up their ancient Greek accents with more modern ancient Roman declensions? Can we trust words which have replaced their Grecian garb with togas?

Are they friends or foes? Do they mean to trip us up with their tricky pluralizing and are they laughing at us when we do trip up? Are they planning to go further undercover and re-emerge as, say, ancient Chinese words?

These are the kinds of things we all worry about. Okay, maybe you don’t. But apparently I do.

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.

Library Books, Indulgence

Library Books. As Good as Chocolate.

Self Indulgence. Again.

I drove to the library to keep my husband company while he picked up a book for himself and I am mortified to say I walked out with twelve library books.

Ok. So I know I said I wasn’t going to review any more library books until I had my next novel well underway. Lies. All lies.

This is why you can’t trust people who promise you things over the internet.

When I got home, I started reading before I took my coat off. Talk about lack of restraint. On the other hand, it had been more than a week. And I was feeling malnourished.

The first book I devoured was Night School by Lee Child. I love the consistent quality of his characters. Because of that consistency, Jack Reacher is completely believable in the way that Superman is believable. The world those two men exist in is tailor made for exactly the sort of people they are, so it works out. Superman wouldn’t fit in at the neighborhood softball game (Think about it – No one would volunteer to play on the opposite team), and Jack Reacher seems allergic to the routine of daily life, but luckily for these two guys, they seem to thrive in their strife filled fictional circumstances .

Personally, I think anyone who moves to Metropolis, or Gotham for that matter, is out of his mind. Can you imagine the property insurance costs for citizens of those cities?

Now I have once again decorated my space with partially read library books, Jennifer Crusie is lounging on my bureau, Katie MacAlister is reclining on my night table, Faye Kellerman is lolling on the couch and J.D. Spikes’ The Possession is lurking on my Kindle. I feel so much better.

Besides this blog entry, what are you reading?

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.

Excuses

Excuses, Excuses. You Know What I’m Talking About.

Rationale, Justification, Song and Dance – All Fancy Talk for Excuses.

What’s the best excuse you have ever come up with? I don’t mean the standard – my dog ate my homework, my car broke down, I have a headache, I thought I could fly if I flapped my arms hard enough type of pretext. Although those are all time tested excuses and stand up to hard questioning.

I’m talking about an excellent and thoroughly over the top excuse, the kind which offers a lofty other worldly reason or a self serving diatribe as a rationale for improper behavior.An excuse so good, you could wear it on a T-Shirt. One you can be truly proud of in a guilty way.

Here is a list of useful and classy excuses to prime your pump:

I eat ice cream by the gallon to reduce bovine unemployment.

I paid my bill late because inflation means my money is worth more today than it was when the bill was due, so you are getting more than you had any reason to expect. You’re welcome.

I arrived late to work because I overslept. I overslept because I stayed up late watching a horror movie. I stayed up late watching a horror movie because someone has to support B Level movie producers and directors. The Academy won’t.

I didn’t invite you to my party because I hate parties and I’m sure you do too. I didn’t want to be selfish.

You, oh dauntless readers, are practically perfect in every way, but I expect you have fertile imaginations or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. If you had ever done anything wrong, what would your excuse be?

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.

snowflakes

Snowflakes As Romantic Heroes

Love in a Time of Snowflakes

No two snowflakes are alike.

I think that old adage is supposed to evoke the majesty and infinite complexity of nature. Instead, I keep imagining some little guy sitting on a stool at a lab counter peering into a microscope and saying, “Nope. Not the same. Again.”

I think the emphasis on the importance of individuality is interesting though. As a society, as human beings, we all want to believe we are distinct even as we wish to not stand out that much. Most of us don’t want to our differences to separate us. We want them to make us special, intriguing, attractive.

We want differences we consider attractive, like the sapphire eyes of a mermaid, a lithe graceful body, a porcelain complexion. Most of us don’t yearn to be blessed with myopia, a port wine stain, or a body shaped like a spark plug.

This is where romance novels shine.

In a romance novel, snowflakes are not just different.

They are flawed in ways which prevent them from connecting with each other.

A snowflake heroine will be certain no one could love a girl with an asymmetrical shape. She’s pretty sure that’s why when she fell onto a city street as a child no one looked for her. A snowflake hero may have lost one of his six arms in his service in the snowflake blizzard army. He will feel it is unfair to burden a girl with a man who can only carry five bags of groceries at a time.

But overcoming these feelings of being unbearably different is what romance novels are all about. It may be true no two snowflakes are alike, but despite their unique attributes no one will confuse a snowflake with a can of tuna fish. In the end they are not that different. Any other snowflake can relate.

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.

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.

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.

character

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 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.