Happy Birthday, Janie.

Today is my oldest sister Janie’s birthday.

She would have been 61. Instead she will forever stay 47 in our hearts and memories.

It’s difficult to believe that she’s been gone for nearly 14 years, but there it is. We didn’t live near one another, but we talked at least once or twice  a week. We saw each other a few times a year. I didn’t get to see her that birthday to give her all of her birthday and yule presents. She cancelled at the last moment because she wasn’t feeling well. So it was really rough when she died a few months later. So many regrets. So much guilt.

Janie may be gone, but like so many other loved ones who have passed, she lives on in my heart. And in my novels.

I honored Jane in my first contemporary romance, Ten Bucks and a Wish, which tells the story of a second chance romance between Deanna Drake and Michael McCord (aka Cord). Cord’s mom was named Jane. I hinted at childhood memories Jane and I made.

I also honored my own mom in Ten Bucks and a Wish, sharing my memory of what it was like to hug her, offering the wisdoms she was so good at passing along. And while I did not name any of the characters ‘JoAnne’ after her, I worked through my grief with her passing through the grieving Deanna Drake experienced with the loss of her own mother.

Today I celebrated Jane’s birthday with a cuppa tea and a toast in her name. I lit a candle and placed her picture by it, here in my office, where I do all my writing and where I work from home during the pandemic. I don’t cry anymore with her memory. But I still miss her terribly.

In my second romance, Love in the Forest, which is due out in June 2021 again with Soul Mate Publishing, death is a subtopic once more. This time, Brooke Meadows has the ability to receive messages from ‘Beyond the Veil,” and uses these messages to help loved ones cope with their losses, heal, and move on in life.

While I am not a medium, or as constant as professionals who get paid to talk with the dead, I do believe I have connections with the other side. They come to me in dreams, or in signs throughout my days.

Maybe this is why it’s become easier to deal with the loss of loved ones. Because I know that they are not dead, just away. And that one day we’ll be reunited. For now, I am happy with their messages.

In Love in the Forest, Brooke helps a widower, Quirkyflirt.com CEO Josh Quinn, cope with the loss of his wife and their two children. He works through his anger, his sorrow, his guilt, and eventually he learns that life is for living. And loving.

As I grow older, I realize that life is precious. Every moment we are alive must be experienced to its fullest. So whether I am working, napping, writing, playing solitaire, or just sitting in silence with David -just being- I always try to make sure this is exactly how I want to be living that moment. And if it’s not, well then, I figure out what I want to be doing, and I do it.

I don’t see any alternative to living life any other way. Because one day I may wake up on the other side of the Veil and realize I’m done. No more chances this time around, I will have to wait for the next.

So if you are grieving, if you are facing the death of a loved one, or a terminal illness, I’m sorry you are going through this.

But you have to remember:  embrace every moment. Cherish every moment you shared with the loved one you are grieving. Live your life making sure that when you go you will have no regrets.

On top of that, believe. Believe those who have passed are nearby, that they are celebrating your successes and weeping with your sorrows. Above all, they are loving you, with a love that knows no mortal boundaries.

So in honor of Jane, my mom, my cousin Alfred, my Aunt Leila, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather, and all the friends, cousins, and aunts and uncles who have gone before me … I give thanks for the love and life we shared.

And in honor of all those who surround me now, living and well, I cherish you all.

And to friends I’ve yet to meet — stay healthy, love deeply, and remember, Life is for Living.

Goodbye to 2020, and Hello to 2021!

Happy New Year!
I say that with all my heart and soul, because, folks, it’s going to be a great year! We have so much to look forward to and to accomplish, and only 358 days left to get it all done.

Before we focus on the To-Do List, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on The Done List for 2020.

2020 will be remembered for the World Wide Pandemic we’ve been struggling with, as well as the Civil Unrest that shook our country. But with these dark times I’d like to believe that we have evolved as humans, and that as we move forward we do so with hearts filled with compassion and the desire to heal.

On a personal level, 2020 brought family issues, physical health issues, and mental health issues, but we got through them. Having family and friends to support us through the tough times makes it all worth while.

But happy times were interspersed throughout the year. Last January, David and I drove to Connecticut to pick up our first ever Five Wide Little Guy camper. We spent the spring and summer renovating it, and DMV opened up in time for us to get it registered so we could actually go camping with it!

For all of you tent campers out there who are starting to get achy backs and hips from sleeping on the ground, this little tear drop camper is a great solution. We still get the outdoors experience of cooking and living in Nature, but we sleep in a moisture proof, warm enclosure, on a mattress with pillows and blankets even! It’s the perfect compromise for trying to keep tenting but needing to nurture the body.

Forevermore, 2020

Inside! nice and comfy sleeping area 😀

We spent a good part of the summer camping in our backyard, while we waited for the registration to arrive from DMV. This gave us great memories with our kids and my sister and nephews and some close friends- our Covid Circle- so to speak. We masked up, kept socially distanced, and did not let the pandemic stop us from enjoying life.

My furgrand, Miso.

When we were able to take Forevermore on the road, we headed up to the Adirondack Mountains, and spent a couple days at Eighth Lake.

Eighth Lake, Adirondack Mountains

We got to visit a friend in his new home, also in the mountains.

As I write this recap, I realize there were so many good times throughout 2020 that I can’t fit them all in one column.

It would be very easy to focus on the negative. To fret about the world and where we will be in a year. But, I wasted a lot of time this past year worrying and fretting, and I have to say I want to be done with that.

So here is to 2021 and all that it brings us, both dark and light blessings.

I hope you all are safe, healthy, and surrounded by loved ones.

All the best,


Getting Un-Lost

Blogs are supposed to be light and easy reading. Too long (a horrible fault of mine) or too serious and bam! we move on to the next. However, this is an acknowledgement of a half a year’s struggle with writer’s block, and I hope at least one person can pull something from my story.

Writer’s Block is something we writers dread. But most will admit that they’ve suffered through it from time to time. It’s not just losing the ability to write words that work. It’s like losing a loved one, your hands, part of your brain. Part of your soul.

But when you break through it, it’s like learning to live (and breathe, even) all over again.

Last October, life was as lovely as the Mohawk Valley in autumn. My professional path was as colorful as the mountains I live in, and as comfortable as post-summer temperatures. Things were happening at a cool 70 F, there was little rain in the forecast, and we still had a few weeks before frost hit.

But winter came early for me, with news of a private nature that threw me off the path I’d been blazing. I got lost in a forest of muddy, mucky memories. And rather than stay on the path and find my way home, I hid in a cave as the early snows piled high around me.

The ink in my pen ran dry, or for a more contemporary analogy – the keys on my keyboard got stuck. Either way, my overwhelmed brain shut down. I couldn’t write a simple sentence, let alone a love scene.

Then, just as the snows began to melt enough for me to venture out into the woods to try to find that trail I’d wandered away from . . . the pandemic hit.

And over the edge I went, down the side of a mountain I did not have the proper hiking equipment to navigate.

But the elements were kinder. The days were warmer, the sun grew stronger, and hope twittered around me like chipmunks finding a misplaced cache of nuts.

With the change in season, I reached into my backpack and pulled out everything I needed; things I’d had all along, but in my frozen state of fear I had forgotten.

Close friends, family, my chosen family, CNYRW, my critique partners, my Grey’s Groupies all threw me lifelines, flashlights, new hiking boots. Everything that would prove helpful in finding that path, which was really only a few feet in front of me all along.

So, to everyone who was there for me, who watched on in patience, with love and compassion, who cheered me up and cheered me on, who believed in me. Who gave me hope . . .

Thank you.

Frank J. Basloe Library in Herkimer

We came full circle by ending the tour at Herkimer Library. Old friends and family and a few new friends found their way to the signing, and in the end, it was a nice way to wind down a crazy but very memorable book tour.
Thanks to everyone who made the effort to visit me at all the stops, and stay tuned, round two is on the way!

Didn’t notice the name was spelled wrong til after I got home!
No worries! it was still a great day!

Ilion Public Library

Ilion Library didn’t hesitate a moment when I asked about doing a book signing for Ten Bucks and a Wish. I had a replenished stock of books thanks to Soul Mate Publishing, and I was ready to go.

I got to meet up with a lot of new friends, old friends, and family. Thanks to everyone for coming out!

Little Falls Public Library Book Signing

Once we returned home from the Long Island leg of the tour, we made our way over to Little Falls Public Library.

We had a nice showing, and I even got to spend time with some of my CNYRW fellow authors and friends, and Herkimer Diamonds Critique Group partners.

Long Island Tour -Selden Civic Association

The second week of the Ten Bucks and a Wish Book Tour took us down to my old stomping ground – Selden, Long Island, NY.
I spent most of my childhood in Selden, attending Bicycle Path School, Selden Jr. High, Newfield High School, and Suffolk Community College. I worked at Fish and Chips, then Genovese Drug Store, shopped at Penelope Jones, went to poetry readings at The Hobbit Hole, and snuck into the Yacht Club in my senior year. In my more pious moments, I attended St. Margaret of Scotland Church, where I made my sacraments.
We arrived on Thursday, with the Civic Meeting set for Thursday evening. We stayed at my cousin, Sue’s house, went to the meeting, which was held at the Selden Fire Department. Many thanks to Selden Civic President Bruce Morrison, for helping to arrange this event!

We also had an event set up at Cella Bagels in Selden, many thanks to Jimmy Rose and his brother for helping me set that up. Unfortunately… WE SOLD OUT OF BOOKS at the Selden Civic Association, so we had to cancel the event.

There were many reasons why I wanted to do a book signing at the Selden Civic Association meeting. Not only was it my home town, but it is where Ten Bucks and a Wish is set. Sort of.

Selden was once called Westfield, but in the 1800s when residents wanted to legally declare it Westfield and name their post office such, they learned there already was a Westfield in Upstate New York. So a prominent business man and politician decided to name the hamlet after himself. And so Westfield became known as Selden.

In Deanna Drake’s world, Selden is Olde Westfield, and two very real properties that were still untouched by development back in my day, are the center of the controversy that brings Deanna home to battle an old boyfriend, Michael McCord. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

Besides, this blog is about my tour!

So here are the photos of the Selden Civic Meeting, held at the Selden Fire Department, and the party we had at a local bar (in honor of Graffitti’s – the haunt Deanna and Cord loved so much)

So here are the photos … Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did.

On the road again! Heading down to the Bridgeport- Port Jeff Ferry for the ride across the Long Island Sound. This is so much more pleasant than fighting potholes and traffic via the “Frogs Neck Bridge.” Just ask Dave about that.
Waiting on the ferry.
Cool shot of Bridgepo.rt, CT
Janina Grey Set Up at the Selden Fire Dept. in Selden, NY
My Hero.
J9 and Nicolai
Ten Bucks and a Wish Deanna can drink Cord under the table AND whip his butt at pool.
Dave and NIck
Besties For Ever – Jilly and Susanna
Janeeney and Crew
Jill and Dave
THIS is a SOD TRUCK. While practically unheard of upstate, where grass grows thick and lush, on Long Island there are Sod Farms. They grow grass, they cut it into blankets it, truck to a yard that doesn’t grow grass, lay it like flooring. Water. oila! a million dollar lawn.
First House I lived in after moving from the Bronx to Selden. (Elementary School)
Second House we lived in, in Selden- during Jr. high school.
3rd House we lived in, in Selden, during High School.
Bicycle Path Elementary School. I still remember my first and last days attending.
Mrs. Sanford – 3rd grade; Miss Johnson -4th grade;
Mr. Stevens- 5th Grade; Mr. Andersen- 6th Grade.
My Alma Mater.
St. Margaret of Scotland. Bittersweet. “God has other plans for you, my child.”
Sound Beach home, where we our two kids were born and raised until Ant was in 4th grade and Allie was 4 years old. Then we moved upstate where we are living happily ever after.
The property that was once listed as historic is now up for sale. this is where the home that inspired Ten Bucks and a Wish once stood on the corner
of Dare Road and Middle Country Road in Selden.
Janina Grey in front of Deanna Drakes homestead.
My hot hunky hubby hanging out with Nick by the pool after three weeks of crazy book touring and travelling to Long Island – twice.
The first time was two weeks earlier to see Foghat. That’s another blog.
I wear him out.
Jill’s world is filled with happily ever afters, lots of beautiful gardens, and love. Lots of love.
I love flowers. These are Jill’s.
Final night before we head back upstate to the rest of the tour. Good tunes, good friends,
life is awesome.
Heading north, back to Herkimer, on the ferry while crossing Long Island Sound.
I never get tired of this view.

Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, Utica

The Ten Bucks and a Wish Book Tour Opening Weekend continued at Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, in Utica, hosted by the very kind and supportive Mark Mojave.

The event was SRO literally! with people filling all the tables and comfy chairs. Friends and family gathered to celebrate and it really was everything I hoped it would be. Drinks, hors d’oeuvres, cake, good music, and great company made everything perfect!

Looking forward to working with Mr. Mojave in the future with other book release parties! Thank you, Mark and Susan, for your support and graciousness!

Janina Grey (Me!) about to set up at Gerber’s!
Me and the Fan Fam! (L-R) Brett, Allie Rose, Anthony, me, and the love of my life, David.
My sis, Jeana, helped me prepare and plan for everything. Here we are shocked and awed as Mark turned on the radio and Landslide played. Landslide is the tune we relate to our sister Janie, who passed in 2007. Whenever something is going on that song plays as if she is saying, “I’m here, too.” Thanks, Janie, for showing up. And thanks, Jeana for being the counter balance of a landslide – ROCK SOLID whenever I need you.
Me and Keycey celebrating Ten Bucks! Thanks, Keycey for being there for me!
Ant and Serge chilling out at Gerbers.
Allie and Brett waiting for the festivities to begin.
Me and my sis, Joy, celebrating the release of my first book! Thanks, for joining us, Joy!
Stealing some lovin’ from my first born.
#1 fan base – what a great surprise! Thank you, ladies, you rock!
Long time friends, Debbie and Janet
And what’s a celebration without CAKE! (From Hannaford’s in Herkimer!)
A lot of old friends came out to support me. Thanks, Deb! You are awesome.
Me and the original members of Grey’s Groupies!
Anthony and his grandpa and grandma! Thanks for being there for me!
Hope you had a good time!
Longtime Family Friend Frank and my hubby, David. Thanks for making the trek, Frank!
Anthony and our longtime friend Terry.
Thanks for coming and for supporting me and my first book release ever!
Serge and my best bro, Dennis. Thanks for the lovin’ guys!
Me and my sistah from another mistah, Holly!
Wouldn’t have been a perfect day if you hadn’t been there to celebrate with us!
The end to a perfect day. Thank you, Mark, for everything!

2019 in Review

It’s difficult to believe that Ten Bucks and a Wish was released nearly a year ago. With its release came a whirlwind of a year, filled with book signings and traveling (for the book, but also for personal fun-time with my sweetheart) all over New York State.

I will post a few pictures of the book tour, which began and ended in Herkimer, NY. In between, we celebrated Ten Bucks’ success with stops in Little Falls, Ilion, Utica, and then trekked down to Olde Westfield, where Deanna and Cord’s saga unfolds.

A lot of new friends and old friends joined in the celebration, making this lifetime dream become a reality. To all of you: Thank you! It meant the world to me!

But the fun is not over yet! We have at least three more locations looking to host a booksigning and reading, and I will keep you all posted on that!

If you want up-to-date news, sign up for my newsletter Life is for Living, where you will get the scoop on all my goings on. If you want to be a more intricate part of what I’m doing, why don’t you become one of Grey’s Groupies? Sign up here, and look for the Facebook group page for Grey’s Groupies coming soon!

Also, look for Janina Grey on Instagram!

First Stop: The Java Shop,
143 N. Main Street, Herkimer, NY!