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:

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:


Continue reading “My new self-care routine”

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.


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