27 Days Left!

My lifetime dream is now just 27 days away.

When I first started attending CNYRW meetings I was repeatedly told (for inspiration):

A lot of people say they want to write a book.
Some people write and actually finish a book.
Some people get brave enough to send it out.
Some books get read and rejected.
And then there are those people who keep going. Who persevere until their book is published.
These were the words that replayed over and over in the back of my mind through the years I was with CNYRW and pursuing my writing career, and then in the years following, when I took a break.

And now my lifetime dream is just 27 days away.

Moral of the story: Don’t give up on your dreams.

How real does it feel?

How real does this all feel…? At the moment – VERY! I’m at work. David’s home for lunch. My business cards came in.

How real does it feel? VERY! Thanks for the photo DAVID! 😀

Favorite Mugs Reflect My Mood

Do you have a favorite mug? My husband, David, always seems so surprised when it comes to that change-of-season time to rearrange my coffee mugs. I don’t understand. I have my seasonal dishes (which also confuses him), so why wouldn’t I have seasonal mugs?

I explained it this morning by telling him I have a mug for every mood. He replied, “No, you have a mug for every minute.”

So, that got me wondering. Who else has favorite coffee or tea mugs?

There are my ‘’I’m a writer and I’m writing at the moment’ mugs. My favorite is the one emblazoned with “Central New York Romance Writers” on one side and “My hero can kick your hero’s butt” on the other. Guess who my hero is? My Sixth-Degree Black Belt husband, David. Even though he doesn’t understand my mug collection (obsession)!

There are my magical mugs, when I’m feeling witchy (that’s my other life!). My current favorite is the one with a witch flying on a broom on one side, and a topaz crescent moon on the other. Then there is the Peanuts gang mug, which my awesome children Anthony and Allie gave me a few Yules ago. That has Schroeder banging away ferociously on his piano- an artist caught up in the passion of creativity. (Like me.)

Those are my top three – out of about a collection of 50 or so- mugs. We have Yuletide mugs, springtime mugs, autumn mugs, and even every day mugs. The only type of mug we don’t really collect are the mugs that boast of places we’ve been.

Who else collects mugs? Share a picture of your mug in the comments. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

Goodreads.com Author Status Confirmed!

My GoodReads Author Status is Official!
Remember those song lyrics, “My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades”? Well. I need shades.
This journey has been so much fun even though it’s been demanding. I’m scared to death people will read my book and ask, “What is this crap?” But that is normal, I’ve been told repeatedly.
The marketing is totally stressing me out. Every day I’m wondering if I’m doing it right.
But then the baby steps kick in and there I go, moving forward, thinking, “I got this!”
My most recent baby step/fumble took place yesterday, when I thought I had achieved author status on goodreads.com. I didn’t even know my book was listed there! So, when I realized I was, I created my profile and voila! I thought I had an author page.
Nope. I had taken that baby step. And then fell on my butt.
It was only when my friend Lesley pointed out that that is not an author page (Very discreetly and compassionately, I might add), that I fixed things and applied for Author Status. Another baby step!
This morning, amidst all my running around, I quickly checked email and there it was! I received notification that I am now officially an Author on Goodreads! Woohoo!!!
My site can be found by going to goodreads.com and searching for either Ten Bucks and a Wish or Janina Grey. Follow me and say hi!
So. Here’s my blog celebrating another baby step forward on my journey. I thought you all would like to celebrate with me.
I will be drinking a big glass of Mead later with my friends to celebrate Spring, birthdays, and achieving life goals.
After all, life is for living, and I’m living it!

Getting used to the term “Published Author.”

Have you ever seen The Big Bang Theory storyline where Howard is “an astronaut” and all he ever talks about is being an astronaut.

I don’t want to become Howard.

But, damn! This is exciting! But it’s also a lot of hard work. I have even more respect for all the published authors who have gone before me, and who successfully marketed and promoted their literary treasures.

This is harder than plotting, world building, and even harder than perfecting The First Kiss.

Where I used to find myself living, breathing, and dreaming Deanna and Cord’s journey (Or Beth and Ian’s journey, or Katie and Jesse’s journey) I know I now have to focus on the reality of MY journey. And that journey is to promote and market my book as much as possible.

There’s a lot that goes into this. There is creating a brand, then creating a presence, then interacting with potential readers, turning readers into fans, engaging in the writing community, coming up with contest ideas, learning social media, and especially deciding the most frugal way but exciting way to thank readers for supporting me. How much is bragging? How much is promoting? How much is seeking support? How much is nagging?

So, I’ve been taking everything one step at a time. But the first task I had to undertake and I’m still struggling with is expressing with confidence the fact that I am a published author. Achieving this is a huge, huge dream for me. And to see it becoming reality is at times breathtaking and overwhelming.

I’m writing this because I’ve JUST created my Amazon Author Page. It still has to be approved by SMP so Amazon can make it go live. But I did it. It took me three days, asking for help, and then finally finding a number to call at Amazon before I figured out how to do this. But I did it.

Having a professional photo taken (By RETRO RUBY’s IN HERKIMER – CHECK HER OUT – SHE IS AMAZING!), setting up a blog that has been inactive for the most part since 2013, sorting out the differences between Facebook PAGES vs PROFILES, and ordering business cards, are all things I can check off my to-do list.

But now I have what seems like the unsurmountable task of building my fan base, entering contests, submitting to review sites, coming up with daily posts to keep everyone updated, and again coming up with contest ideas, and setting up tour dates and a release party left to tackle.

My fellow writers have been amazingly supportive, and I’m so thankful to have them all here to listen to my unending questions and what seems like incessant whining.

There is lots of Googling, trial and error, and going off on tangents when I find something really cool to read about that I didn’t know. Then there is my family, my real life, my day job, my house, my editing responsibilities to my clients, and my other responsibilities that keep diverting me from these tasks.

I will also have to work on my “Professional Published Author Who Exudes Confidence” persona. I’ve Googled for help with that and I come up with nothing.

But I guess, in the end, by this time next month I will be preparing for my release date, and all this will be in place, and I will be soothing the butterflies in my tummy, drinking lots of coffee and wine, and trying not to screech in excitement when people ask me how things are going.

So, for anyone reading this, forgive me if I pull a Howard, or if I screech, or if I stutter when you ask me about being a writer and how my journey is going.

Because underneath all the promotion, the details, the decision-making and date-setting. . .I’m still Janine. Don’t let me forget that. That is YOUR SOLE TASK. And I’m holding you to it.

So. With that said… keep checking my Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/janinagrey . It should be live any day now! 😀

And remember… life is for living. So live it.

Happy Spring!

Today is the first day of Spring, and it is marked by the Vernal Equinox. That means today we experience 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime.

Today also marks the beginning of a season that is so heartily anticipated because it signifies warmth, light, new life, growth, transformation, and new beginnings. Spring is when the flowers begin to push up from the ground, the snows begin to fade, the trees begin to show buds. It’s when birds return, and squirrels and chipmunks skitter about again, chittering and playing and celebrating the warming of the earth.

Spring is also a good time to contemplate balance. With the darkness and the light vying for equal time, today reminds me take into consideration the balance we struggle with each day. And the growth and transformation that takes place during the dark times of our lives.

The day I told my children their dad and I were getting a divorce, we held each other and cried until the afternoon light faded into the black of night. We didn’t even move to switch on a lamp. The three of us sat in the darkness, just enveloped in our grief. Then, like a timid flame of a newly lit candle, Alexandra, in her sweet little six-year-old voice whispered, “Mama, it’s going to be okay. Sometimes we need to be sad so we can make the good times better.” She made the darkest moment of our life brighter with that glimmer of hope.

And that is what Spring is to me. It’s that glimmer of light at the end of the darkness of winter that promises lighter times, brighter times, warmer times. There may be snow flurries, or rain, or ice storms, but every day we move closer to summer, warmer temperatures, barbecues, camping, hiking, kayaking, visiting with family and friends.

We just have to hang on and not lose hope, because warmer days truly are on their way.

This concept can be applied to our lives year-round. Life hangs in a continuous balance, each day bringing positives and negatives. How we cope, how we handle these moments determines the life we live.

Sometimes we need to step back and assess the balance we maintain. Is it off kilter? Have we become comfortable in stagnation? In our grief? Have we reconciled ourselves to the fact that life sucks and this is how it is? Or do we look at what is, and imagine how it can be?

Now is the time to take a look at how we define ourselves. Do we define ourselves by our losses or our gains?

Do we remember the jobs we applied for and did not get, or do we celebrate the jobs we applied for and received?

Do we lament over the loved ones who have passed, or do we celebrate the memories we made when they were alive? Do we remember with regrets the moments of pain, or push them aside and embrace the moments of love?

Do we look back at our lives and stew in bitterness over the lost relationships, the trips never taken, the house we didn’t buy, the car we do not drive?

Or do we look around in gratitude and see our accomplishments, and own our efforts, and plan for the next success we want to see?

Are we that little green shoot pushing up through the slightly frozen earth, that thin blanket of snow, searching for sunlight and warmth, determined to blossom into a beautiful snowdrop or hyacinth?

Or are we going to lay around like a dormant, stagnating pile of autumn leaves, clinging to the deteriorating shape that once defined our glory, refusing to let the past go so that we can nurture who we are yet to become?

That is the balance of life. That is Spring. Now is the time to embrace the endless possibilities that await us, and let go of the past we cannot change.

Now is the time to prepare the soil for the goals and dreams you want to plant and nurture throughout the year.

Now is the time to acknowledge and accept the balance of good and bad, sorrow and joy, life and death, dark and light, in your life.

Now is the time to celebrate life. And as I always say…

Life is for living, so live it.

Happy Spring!

The earth truly is in balance on the first day of spring. Try standing an egg on its end, and see what happens. But it has to be at the exact time of the equinox.
This year it is 5:58 p.m. Eastern time today, March 20, 2019. Have fun!

Contest #2

This is your next chance to win an autographed hard copy of my first published romance:
Ten Bucks and a Wish!

To win, just follow the directions below! Good luck!

My Life as a Writer

I remember the first poem I ever wrote. It was back in the early 70s, when I was in 3rd grade. I wrote it in a little zippered autograph book that I used as my first diary. I still have it in a box, somewhere in the attic now. That poem, though now cringe worthy, was definitely a reflection of my times, and I remember it clearly.
Drugville, drugville
That’s where they take a terrible pill.

Drugvilly, drugvilly,
To take a pilly sounds very silly.
Jay and May went away,
Away to the land of dope.
When they got there and then came back
Their mother gave them soap.

Yes. That is the birth of my literary journey.

The point is, that was when I realized I was a writer. My poetry turned into short stories, and by 6th grade, Mr. Andersen was reading my weekly spelling word essays to the class. I had decided I wanted to write a book, and the weekly essays told a story throughout the year of a group of young people who went on weekly adventures. My classmates looked forward to hearing these stories, and I always received an A on the assignment.

In 7th grade I won a poetry contest with a submission about my Raggedy Ann doll. It was a sad poem about how I could tell her all my dark secrets, and cry with her, and she wouldn’t laugh at me or tell anyone. Kinda heavy for a 12-year-old.

By 8th grade, my best friend and I started a neighborhood magazine, called Kids News. Our neighbor allowed us to print copies out on his Xerox machine (loved the smell of dittos!) and we sold each installment for a quarter. People up and down Inwood Ave. bought it, so I guess that was my first paid writing assignment. I still have a copy today.

In 11th grade, one of my male classmates got a hold of a binder I kept with me at all times that held all the poetry I’d ever written. I had gone to the bathroom, and when I returned he was standing in the middle of the classroom reading my poetry aloud. I will never forget walking in and hearing him recite, “Baby, hey baby, I love you. Come closer, kiss me, too.” It was my first attempt at song writing. For a brief moment in my life I had contemplated going to Nashville to write songs and make it big (I lived in Tennessee at the time).

That afternoon shut that dream down fast. But living in Tennessee brought me my first love – an unforgettable experience everyone has and should never forget. It helped create the writer I am today, and helped bring me the life lessons that help mold the stories I write as I search for the perfect happily ever after to share with people.

I tried to write for the newspaper in high school, but it was always so clicky and I never fit in. But by college, I was a regular staffer for the Compass, and a regular contributor to Lilith, the campus literary magazine. It was also at this time that my Poetry and Advanced Journalism professor (one professor, two courses) told me I’d never make it as a journalist or poet. I was too sweet and too nice. I believed him, so I dropped out of school and rather than pursue an education in journalism and writing, I took a job as a secretary with a car dealership in Smithtown. And I got married.

It was after I was recovering from cancer at the age of 24 years old that I realized I did not want to die a secretary. I went back to school to get my degree in journalism, took a job with the third largest weekly newspaper on the eastern seaboard (Suffolk Life), and officially became an award-winning journalist.

I also started my quest to write the great American Romance Novel. I had been referred to by some as having a “soap opera mentality” for reading romance. But, instead of feeling insulted, I laughed it off and vowed to myself to be published one day.

My poetry also kept me busy. After befriending a band of local journalists, we formed a group we called Deadline Poets. We toured Suffolk County doing poetry readings, and I was dubbed “the Emily Dickinson of Long Island.”

So, flash forward beyond surviving cancer and writing news and feature, I started having babies. In the early morning hours after late night feedings when I could not go back to sleep, I wrote.

Over the years I wrote and completed four novels, and started and nearly finished two more. I stored the printed copies in boot boxes and a bible box, and shared them with friends, calling them “The Boot Box Collection.” Everyone loved them. I got to write. I was happy.

Then two major life-altering events happened.

In July, 2001 I went to Australia and stood on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset and “held” the moon in one hand and the sun in the other. I radiated empowerment and was filled with the belief that Life had something really amazing waiting for me, and when I returned home my journey would begin. That, combined with all the love flowing from Australia through people I met and still keep in touch, with made that journey more than worthwhile and a life experience that changed me forever.

The second life experience happened nearly immediately after I got back to the States in August. Less than a month later, 9/11 shattered our reality. By December of 2001, my tiny little house was packed up to move, and I had informed my husband I was not staying on Long Island. It was too close to the city, getting too crowded, and the kids and I had been completely traumatized and needed healing. It was a huge decision to leave everyone and everything I knew and loved, but I had to do it for my sanity, and the survival of my family.

In July of 2002 (ten months after 9/11), we moved to Mohawk Valley, settling into a 100-year-old farmhouse overlooking the valley and a blueberry farm. Life was perfect. And then “Life” happened again.

I was diagnosed with cancer a second time. I grappled with God to let me live long enough to see my daughter in her first ballet recital, and my son in his first musical stage performance. Well, here I am 17 years later. Allie Rose’s recital went well, and Anthony sang his heart out. And I got to see it all. And more.

Not too soon after recovering from cancer, their dad and I realized we had different paths, different dreams, and all of life’s struggles had become too much for us to bear together.

Today, we are both happily remarried to two amazing people. He found a life with a great wife and two awesome step kids, and he lives close enough to still play a very integral part in our own kids’ lives.

And I am still living in our haunted old farmhouse, now with my amazing husband of six years who fills my life with so much love and passion that for a while I found it hard to write happily-ever-afters because I was living mine.

Raising my two children, Anthony and Allie, combined with the adventure of a life shared with my husband David, kept me so busy for the last thirteen years that I had to put my writing on hold. But it was worth it. My kids are adults now, having attended great colleges and finding their niche in the world. Both have amazing partners, and are embracing their own happily-ever-afters.

In very recent years I’ve lost a few loved ones – my sister Jane, my mom Joanne, and my godson, Michael, but I’m solid with my sisters, niece and nephews, and my parents who moved up from Florida a few years ago. It’s been a blessing watching my niece and nephews grow up and embrace their own journeys. Impromptu sister visits for a quick cuppa here and there round out my weeks and keep me sane sometimes. And it’s been an even greater blessing sharing daily life with my Dad and Mom as they grow old together.

In addition to my blood family, I have found a whole chosen family through the Pagan Path David and I follow. Beyond our coven of Crows who fill our lives with love and laughter every single day, we have been embraced over the years by a whole Pagan Family whose love stretches all over Upstate New York, and throughout the North East United States.

Surrounded by love is the best way I can describe the life I live, on so many levels.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the clan I see every single day where I work. I am a domestic and sexual violence support group coordinator and crisis counselor in my “other” life, and the team that surrounds me is one amazing surge of kick-ass, compassion-filled, devoted women and men I have ever met.

We are Strong. We are Fearless. And we stand together in solidarity, fighting for social justice, the end of racism, the empowerment of women, and peace, justice, dignity, and freedom for all. We freaking rock.

Finally, rounding out my life is the group of men and women who have helped me keep my voice alive in one way or another. The amazing writers of Central New York Romance Writers and RWA. Back in 2004 I turned to this group in an effort to make new friends and find people with similar interests. CNYRW is where I met my beloved Herkimer Diamonds and a whole collection of amazing writers who have given me insight, guidance, encouragement, and tips of the trade. It also connected me to my publisher, Deb, and Soul Mate Publishing. I began as an editor, keeping my toes wet as an editor when I took time off from writing. Without this great group of talent I probably would not be writing this blog today.

So, there is my life, as succinctly as possible. I know this is awfully long for a blog, but I wanted to share my journey with every one of you who are supporting me as I pursue and achieve my life dream. It’s been a helluva ride, and I’m blessed to have you in my life.

All of these experiences will one day be shared in future novels I will be publishing. As you read Ten Bucks and a Wish you will see glimpses of things I’ve shared here, and you will also get an idea of what Life was like on Long Island. References to Long Island, Suffolk County, and Brookhaven Town are woven in and out of the tapestry that I created that I call Olde Westfield and Town of Brookville.

Thank you for reading me, for following me, and for supporting me. Now, on to the next happily-ever-after!

Ten Bucks and a Wish Release Date Announced!

Let the celebration begin! But keep in mind, this is only the beginning.

Soul Mate Publishing has announced an April 24 Release Date for my first Romance Novel – Ten Bucks and a Wish!
To order your copy go to Amazon.com and type in “Ten Bucks and a Wish” or “Janina Grey.”
You will be able to reserve your copy as a pre-sale for delivery on April 24.
Hard copies of books are printed on demand, and that option will be available also.

Thank you to everyone who believed in me. We did it.

I have spent years crafting my stories, and this is the first to be published. It took lots of hard work, a ton of rewrites, and a whole bunch of eyes on it. I labored over every word, every scene, and I could probably still find things I want to change. But there comes a time when we have to let our babies go.

Deanna and Cord have been waiting a long time to tell their story and have their happily-ever-after.

Be a part of their journey and share the love.