My new self-care routine

My primary New Year’s Resolution this Rosh Hashanah was to be better about self-care.

To be honest, that’s because as I sat there, making a list of all the things I want to be better at, they all boiled down to:

I want to be less cranky.

And I finally realized that the simplest way to be less cranky isn’t to exert more willpower and self-control. It’s to do things to make myself feel better. When I feel better, I am a more patient coworker and a more generous and present friend. Also, I feel better, so that’s pretty cool, right?

I wasn’t entirely sure how to be better about self-care, though, and I have to give credit for my breakthrough to Mel Jolly at Author Rx. I subscribe to her excellent newsletter, and this summer she said something that really stuck with me:

I hate making the same decisions about what to do in which order day after day, so I try to put myself on autopilot as much as possible.

Then, a few weeks later, she shared a story about a friend whose young son got easily distracted during his morning routine, so she made him a list:

Shower
Brush teeth
Make bed
Get dressed
Put on shoes
Eat Breakfast

Mel did something similar for her morning routine.

The truth is, I already knew what I needed to do to feel better. The problem was actually doing it. I’d come home from the day job all keyed up and stressed out, look at my to-do list, and say to myself, I don’t have time for self-care. So I’d jump straight into work, but I’d be unfocused and stressed out, and end up procrastinating on Twitter while feeling guilty.

OH MY GOD, I realized. What if I set aside a certain amount of time each day (I started with an hour and a half, but it wasn’t enough, so I ended up with two hours), and then made a self-care checklist? If I did everything the same way in the same order every time, and I made a commitment to do it “every day after work unless I had something scheduled with another person”, that would eliminate all the fussing and debating. I would just do it.

And look, I know two hours, three or four times a week, sounds like a lot of time. That’s possibly eight hours, just to make myself feel better.

But you know what? It is so, so worth it. I’m not gonna say I’m always perfect about follow-through, or that I never skip a day, because I totally am not, and I do at least once a week. BUT usually once I do start, I go through the whole two hours, and I feel great afterwards. Not only that, but I’m ready to actually sit down and work at my writing and career!

I use a page protector and dry-erase marker, just like Mel suggested:

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Gambled Away is 99 cents!

GambledAway-200x300Gambled Away, the historical romance anthology I did with Molly O’Keefe, Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, and Jeannie Lin, is on sale for just 99 cents! This is a great deal, especially for a collection Amazon estimates at 600 pages if it were a print book.

I’ve seen people saying that they’ve been reading novellas because they can’t focus for the length of a book right now. If that’s you, check this out. Five amazing stories from five amazing authors. I’m so proud of how this book turned out.

BUY THE BOOK

When it came out, Elisabeth Lane of Cooking Up Romance wrote: “This will probably be a Best Book of 2016 for me. Every story was a tiny jewel of perfection.” Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and wrote, “The complex characters, intricate relationships, and sparkling plots showcase each author’s strengths, making this collection a must-have for any historical romance fan.”

My story is about a shy architect who asks an irrepressible Jewish gambling den hostess to pose as his mistress so he can actually get some work done at his ex-boyfriend’s house party. It’s a very personal, nerdy little story about learning to be a grown-up with money, and setting boundaries in obsessive friendships, and kink, and how sometimes people won’t fucking shut up about kosher stuff when you’re Jewish and eating with them, and insecurity, and falling in love, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

To celebrate the sale, I’m posting a Simon/Maggie playlist I put together for the release (part of it got posted on various book blogs and stuff at the time, but not all).

Maggie is in a relationship (a polyamorous one, so there is no cheating!) and Simon is still dealing with a breakup. So I’m going to start my playlist with songs for those relationships, which are an important part of the story:

1. The Lucksmiths – “Self-Preservation”. The world would be duller without us. This quirky love song about protecting what you have even if other people think it’s weird is for my heroine Maggie and her best friend (with benefit)s and co-gaming den owner, Meyer.
2. Click Five – “The Flipside”. Waiting for the day when I’m complete/without you, doing what I can to let you be. A rather passive-aggressive but genuinely sad song about a breakup is for my hero Simon and his ex-boyfriend Clement.
3. The Pretenders – “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” I’m thinking about the fireworks that go off when you smile. This feels really right for the crush Maggie has on Simon at the beginning of the story: uncomplicated, sexy, eager and exhilarating.
4. Selena Gomez – “Good for You”. Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight/Do my hair up real, real nice/And syncopate my skin to how you’re breathing. This song is so hot, and the combination of confidence, longing, and dressing to impress feels really right for Maggie.
5. U2 – “Mysterious Ways”. You’ve been living underground/Eating from a can/You’ve been running away/From what you don’t understand. I know this song is cheesy as hell but I LOVE IT, and I think it expresses how spending time with Maggie pushes Simon out of the rut he’s been in.

YouTube playlist

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BUY THE BOOK

Holiday mailing 2016

gambled away cover with hanukkah gelt instead of silver dollarsHappy holidays, everyone! Would you like to see your pals from my books celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah? Well you can!

I’ve written four adorable Christmas mini-stories, one about Solomon and Serena from A Lily Among Thorns, one about Nev and Penny from In for a Penny, one about Phoebe and Nick from Sweet Disorder, and one about Sukey and John from Listen to the Moon.

And I’ve got two charming Hanukkah stories, one about Ash and Lydia from True Pretenses and one about Simon and Maggie from “All or Nothing” in the Gambled Away anthology.

I’ll mail you the scene of your choice, autographed by me!


lily among thorns cover with big mistletoe sprigHere is how to sign up for the mailing:

1. Fill out this google form by December 1st with your name, address, and which couple you want to see celebrating.

If you have trouble with the embedded form you can access it directly here. PLEASE e-mail me immediately at lerner.rose@gmail.com if you have any problems with the form.

I will never use your address for anything else, ever. However, if you’d rather not share a physical address, I am happy to send your story via e-mail. Just leave the “Mailing address” question blank.

2. Except for the new Listen to the Moon and “All or Nothing” stories, everything is the same as last year, so if you’ve already read one, you don’t need to request it again.

cover of True Pretenses photoshopped so Lydia is holding a menorah3. This is open internationally.

4. I won’t be posting these mini-stories online anywhere—I want this to be special.

5. I will add a bolded note to the top of this post when all postcards have been mailed. If you don’t receive yours within a reasonable time, please let me know.

That’s it and that’s all! I can’t wait to hear from you.

All images used in adapting my covers are from Wikimedia Commons. The bow in the Lily Christmas cover is from this photo by Milad Mosapoor.

New contest: “The Brightest Day” anthology plus signed postcard and more!

This contest is now closed. Lail won the books!

This month I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology, by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley! Included in the giveaway is a separate signed copy of Alyssa’s novella, “Let It Shine” (a RITA finalist and one of the greatest covers I’ve ever seen!), and a postcard for another upcoming anthology from these authors, Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology, signed by ALL FOUR AUTHORS!

The “Let It Shine” paperback also includes a bonus short story!

brighest day

(Spokesmodel T-Rex not included in giveaway. Image credit: “Sunrise at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky,” by DavidCrumm, via Wikimedia Commons.)

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Risky post: Wilt thou yet confess?

Garrick_as_Hamlet
I did a post at Risky Regencies about Regency ghosts!

Completely silent ghosts became the norm to a much greater extent over the course of the nineteenth century. Generally ghosts who did speak were wrong-righting ghosts. (Although there were exceptions! In 1706 Mr. Shaw, a fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, chatted with the ghost of a dead colleague for two hours before receiving word of his untimely death.) Murder victims were the most common. Conflicts over inheritance were also a big one: “Mother’s ghost appeared to me and she says I get the antique dining set!”

Read the whole thing!

Baby’s First Query Letter

Okay, I said I was going to do this and I’m going to do it! BUT OH GOD THE HUMILIATION. ::covers face with hands::

While I was decluttering I came across…this. This is the very first query letter I ever sent to an agent, back when I was 20 (this query letter has my college email address on it, y’all). Yes, I actually mailed this to an actual agent. Please don’t mock me TOO harshly!

A little mockery is fine, and probably WELL deserved.

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Dear [NAME REDACTED]:

Ever since I read my first Georgette Heyer novel, The Corinthian, back in eighth grade, I felt that many authors of Regency Romances had forgotten what it was like to be seventeen.

“A woman—no, a chit of a girl! An impertinent, atrocious, audacious brat—whom I am very sure I cannot live without.”

“Oh!” said Pen, blushing furiously. “How kind of you to say that to me!”

In my opinion, no young woman of seventeen with anything stronger than milk and water flowing through her veins would thank a man for calling her an audacious brat. And being twenty myself, I’m rather an expert.

And the heroes are worse. It is the outside of enough to act as if being condescending were romantic. Personally, I’ve always felt the potential of the Byronic hero has been greatly overlook by Heyer and her literary descendents.

Look at it this way: on the one hand, you have a sardonic Corinthian with cool grey eyes, a list of inamoratas that would stretch from here to Hyde Park, and an iron self control so perfect that if his own mother died he’d merely go a shade whiter under his tan. Moreover, his gift of repartee makes you feel like a babe in arms every time you open your mouth. On the other, you have an ardent young man with flashing eyes and dark curls tumbling over his forehead who writes sonnets to your eyebrows. To whom would you give your hand, your heart, and control over your property?

And that’s precisely the choice my heroine Helen Ardsley has to make in Chimaeras and Cream Cakes. She’s a clever young bluestocking with a taste for poetry, intrigue, fine pastries and flashy jewelry—all of which find an outlet in her friendship with the Byronic Lord Beauregard, who soon turns out to have a sense of humor after all. And yet, she always thought she wanted a Corinthian, like the dashing Lord Fairfax. After all, they strip to such advantage! Things are complicated when a penniless marquess begins hanging out for Helen, her twin brother forms a tendre for a Cit’s daughter, and an old feud between Beauregard and Fairfax threatens to put a spoke in everyone’s wheel. Will Helen succeed in finding true love?

I’ll give you three guesses. This is a Regency Romance, after all.

I have enclosed the first chapter of Chimaeras and Cream Cakes. If you are interested in reading more of it, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours, &c.,
Rose Lerner

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Yeah. So that happened.

Tickets for the 2017 Barbara Vey Weekend go on sale TOMORROW!

BVW17-Banner

Have I mentioned on here that I’m going to be an attending author at the Barbara Vey Readers Weekend next April????

In case you haven’t heard about it before, the BVW is a unique reader event about which everyone I know who’s gone cannot rave enough. Romance readers take over an entire hotel in Milwaukee (from 4/28 – 4/30 next spring), hang out, talk books, party (with pizza!), and meet authors! The centerpiece of the weekend is a yummy luncheon where readers buy a ticket for a particular author’s table (7 readers for each author). According to the website here is what a Luncheon ticket will get you:

-Tote bag filled with books and goodies
-$5 coupon to be used at the book signing
-Lunch with an author
-Gift from your author
-Door prize ticket
-Opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for charity
-Book signing Event
-Meet & Greet with the Authors

What a deal! :) I am already planning my table decorations and gifts and it is going to be SO FREAKING COOL. I wish I could tell you more because I have chosen a frankly brilliant theme but MY LIPS ARE SEALED. I CAN tell you I am also putting together a sweet Hamilton gift basket for the raffle, however.

There are also several free events that you can drop into if you are in the Milwaukee area!

Tickets for the luncheon and breakfast go on sale tomorrow night at midnight (well, actually, 7/30 at 12:01AM). I’ve heard they go fast (sometimes within 24 hours) so don’t put off buying a ticket if you know you want to go! I would love to see you at my table.

This link goes to the Facebook group where the buy link will be posted tomorrow.

But you just won’t quit till you’ve killed my groove

So…I have an extremely trivial subject to talk about, which is that I was watching an old (2013) interview my favorite wrestler was conducting and he said something sexist about women wrestlers and it really upset me. I know it’s tiny! But that’s why they’re called microaggressions, because they’re MICRO, and the thing is, I felt sad about it all evening yesterday and most of this morning.

So here’s what Kevin Owens said:

INTERVIEWEE [in response to a fan request for his rendition of “Beauty and the Beast”]: [Girl’s name I couldn’t hear] wanted to do a duet on your show!
KEVIN: I don’t want her. I don’t want her. I don’t want girls on my show.
INTERVIEWEE: No? Why?
KEVIN: […]I just don’t think it’s interesting.
INTERVIEWEE: She could have been in her underwear.
KEVIN: That’s not interesting to me at all[…]There’s so much of that on the internet.

Because a woman in her underwear = porn. Which, DUDE. Hilariously hypocritical. You have lots of close friends who wrestle in their underwear. Your best friend wrestles shirtless in leggings. But I guess a guy in his underwear is still a human being, while a girl in her underwear exists solely to jerk off to.

My point is NOT Kevin Owens and whether or not he’s a jerk. 95% of the time he seems like a sweetheart and a mensch, but that’s really not the point. I’m not interested in talking about whether he’s changed his mind or what he meant or why he might have had negative views of women’s wrestling or whether of course an athlete in a male-dominated field BLAH BLAH BLAH. Today, I don’t want to center Kevin Owens in this conversation.

I want to center me.

I want to talk about how fucking sad I felt when he said “I don’t want girls on my show.”

It just hurt my feelings. And I feel so stupid that it did. That this shit hurts every fucking time. It’s not like the existence of misogyny comes as a surprise. It’s not like I didn’t know Kevin Owens was a dude. It’s not even that bad a comment in the grand scheme of things. But it hurts to hear someone I have a lot of affection and respect for say that he barely sees me as human.

I’m sure he didn’t mean to say that. I’m sure he didn’t mean for anyone to take it personally. It’s personal to me, though.

And look, I KNOW I don’t have a personal relationship with Kevin Owens, and yes, the way one-sided fannish relationships function is also a very interesting topic, but that’s not the point either right now to me. Guys I DO know, guys who love me back, guys who I have real-life personal relationships with, say fucked-up shit all the time too. My desire to preserve those relationships—and in some cases my loyalty to them—just prevent me from calling them out on my blog.

Although if I’m being TOTALLY honest, shit like this is part of why the majority of my close relationships with men ARE fictional these days.

But it doesn’t just hurt coming from someone I care about. Microaggressions from strangers hurt too. It hurts when someone I don’t know tweets me like “I saw a movie yesterday with a Jewish person in it and I thought of you because you are also Jewish!” Yeah, it’s more likely to manifest as churning rage and not this bleak betrayed sadness, but.

And to add insult to injury, I feel humiliated, because here I am caring about the opinion of someone who doesn’t even see me as really human.

Somehow I never get to the point where that just rolls off me like water off a duck’s back, even though I know I’d be happier if I did. That there’s no point to getting hurt and angry.

I seriously considered tweeting Kevin Owens this morning to tell him how much he hurt my feelings. I didn’t do it, but I really wanted to. And when I asked myself why…I wasn’t even hoping for an apology. I wasn’t hoping to hear that he’d changed his mind and he was embarrassed by his past self. I just wanted him to know. I wanted him to have to face for however brief a second that I’m human and I have feelings. I wanted to assert my existence and its value.

But why the fuck do I need Kevin Owens to see me in order to feel visible? I want to be able to validate my own existence.

There’s this bit in Courtney Milan’s Suffragette Scandal that, look, probably you’ve read it, but if not, here it is (with some of the best bits chopped out for length so if you haven’t read it, you should really go do that):


“Your cause may be just. But you’re delusional if you think you can accomplish anything…Rage all you want, Miss Marshall, but you’ll have more success emptying the Thames with a thimble.”

…“You’re right,” Free said…“If history is any guide, it will take years—decades, perhaps—before women get the vote…Do you think I don’t know that the only tool I have is my thimble? I’m the one wielding it. I know. There are days I stare out at the Thames and wish I could stop bailing.” Her voice dropped. “My arms are tired, and there’s so much water that I’m afraid it’ll pull me under. But do you know why I keep going?”…She lifted her face to his. “Because I’m not trying to empty the Thames.”

Silence met this.

“Look at the tasks you listed, the ones you think are impossible. You want men to give women the right to vote. You want men to think of women as equals, rather than as lesser animals who go around spewing illogic between our menstrual cycles.”

He still wasn’t saying anything.

“All your tasks are about men,” she told him. “And if you haven’t noticed, this is a newspaper for women…You see a river rushing by without end. You see a sad collection of women with thimbles, all dipping out an inconsequential amount…But we’re not trying to empty the Thames,” she told him. “Look at what we’re doing with the water we remove. It doesn’t go to waste. We’re using it to water our gardens, sprout by sprout. We’re growing bluebells and clovers where once there was a desert. All you see is the river, but I care about the roses.”


I try and focus on the roses.

Even so: fuck you, Kevin Owens. You hurt my feelings.

Riskies post: Regency shop windows

I’m at Risky Regencies today talking about Regency shop windows, shoplifting techniques, etc!

Windows with lots of small panes were popular in Regency storefronts for at least two reasons:

1. Glass was still taxed by weight. A larger pane requires a thicker weight of glass. (This applied to greenhouses as well, by the way. You see them with lots of little panes.)

2. Shoplifting and property crime was endemic, and a small pane of glass was easier and cheaper to replace if someone broke it to steal your goods.

Read the whole post!

GAMBLED AWAY blog tour: Regency hipsters

Today I’m at Angieville talking Regency hipsters and giving away two copies of Gambled Away!

When I looked for recognizable elements of hipsterism in the Regency, I started to spot them here and there. A certain angry “counter-cultural” world-weariness, love of irony, and cynical fascination with excess seems to pop up with regularity in history—from the Restoration rakes, to the French decadent poets who liked to épater la bourgeoisie (shock the middle class) by writing poems about anarchy and sex workers or walking turtles on leashes at the mall (yes this was a thing), to the Bright Young Things of the 1920s and 30s.

Is it a coincidence that those examples all follow on the heels of traumatizing periods of economic depression, social upheaval, or war? Probably not.

Read the whole thing.