New contest: copy of Sweet Disorder, plus swag pack!

ETA: The winner is LSUReader! New contest coming soon.

Sweet Disorder, the first in my Lively St. Lemeston Regency-set small town series, is out March 18th! So, I’m giving away a copy of the e-book in the format of your choice, plus I will mail the winner a swag pack of promotional materials for the book.


Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings. But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote-and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.

Read the first chapter.

swag pack

The swag pack will include: a signed promotional postcard (personalized to your specifications), 1 rosette (with 2 options to pick from), 4 bookmarks with tassels, and 5 1″ pinback buttons of your choice.

A word of explanation: Sweet Disorder focuses on a hotly contested local political election. Back in the day in England, it was common for local parties to have colors like a sports team. In Lively St. Lemeston, the party affiliated with the Whigs is orange and purple, while the Tories are pink and white. (Sweet Disorder focuses on the Whigs, while we’ll get to meet more Tories in True Pretenses.)

The rosettes are similar to something the characters themselves might have worn, and the buttons are a pastiche of old and contemporary design elements. If you want to wait to read the book before choosing your buttons and rosette, that can be arranged!

I’ve posted some close-ups of the buttons and a list of available slogans.

Just comment on this post to enter, and make sure you enter your correct e-mail address (NOT in the body of the comment, but in the form where it says Name:, Mail:, Website:, make sure the e-mail address you enter for “Mail” is right). It won’t show up to other commenters, but I’ll get it and then I can easily notify you of your win. As always, if you want to be alerted when a new contest goes up, I recommend signing up for my newsletter.

This giveaway is open internationally.


I made 1″ pinback buttons for Sweet Disorder! They are so cute! I am seriously in love with them.

Here are all the options (sorry, my camera phone cannot convey the crisp, bright, beautiful old-timey glory of these buttons, designed by the talented Matt Youngmark of choose-your-own-adventure stuffed-bunny-in-the-zombie-apocalypse fame):


A word of explanation: Sweet Disorder focuses on a hotly contested local political election. Back in the day in England, it was common for local parties to have colors like a sports team. The hero’s brother is running as the Orange-and-Purple candidate (the local political party loosely affiliated with the Whigs), and Mr. Dromgoole and Mr. Jessop are the Pink-and-White candidates (the local party affiliated with the Tories).

While buttons like this didn’t show up in politics until the Victorian era (pre-mass production they would have been prohibitively expensive to make), all the slogans are taken from political issues in the book. The top two rows are Tory slogans (in a choice of old-timey or pink):

Down with Boney
Jessop is our MP
Dromgoole for ever
God save the King
No Gas Lights

And the bottom three rows are the Whig slogans (in a choice of old-timey, orange, or purple):

No War Profiteering
Bring Our Boys Home
Police Act Now
Let Catholics serve their Country
The Duke and Freedom
Yes to Gaslight
Dymond & Reform

This still doesn’t convey how good they look (and it makes my hand look super weird), but it’s a little better (click to enlarge):



Everything's coming up Rose

Well, almost everything. Here are ten things that happened to me this weekend, most of them fantastic:

1. I attended the Emerald City Writers Conference, run by the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America, and got to hang out with a bunch of amazing friends and writers and meet some new ones!

2. Sweet Disorder went up on Kindle for pre-order! It is also up on Kobo. Do you see it anywhere else? I’d love links. Don’t worry if it isn’t up yet in your preferred format, every site handles pre-orders differently. I know it will be up on very soon, and available for pre-order on the Samhain website in various formats about a month before release.

3. I won a raffle basket! I feel so lucky, especially since I won (in my humble opinion) the very best basket, donated by Linda Allen and Montlake. I got a new Kindle and a 2-day stay in a cabin in Whidbey Island!!! It doesn’t get better than that.

4. While going to Barnes and Noble to buy a clip-art book for the new banner for my website, I saw that Lemony Snicket is going to be there! So I signed up for that. Wooo!

5. I plotted my first ever erotic novella, set in Lively St. Lemeston and starring a confectioner and his cashier. We’ll see how that goes! I’m a little nervous, as writing short is not usually my thing.

6. As you may know, Sweet Disorder is set around a local election. Lively St. Lemeston has two major local political parties, who have party colors that can be worn by their supporters during times of conflict. The Whigs are orange and purple, and the Tories are pink and white.

One common way to display one’s party colors was the rosette (the most famous example nowadays is the tricolor cockade, symbol of the French Revolution). I commissioned Heather Sheen of Creative Cockades to make me some rosettes for Lively St. Lemeston, and they arrived on Saturday! They are SO BEAUTIFUL. I haven’t figured out yet how or when to give them away, but I HAVE spent quite a bit of time stroking them lovingly.

7. I discovered what can happen when a hotel napkin is the exact same color as your skirt. 🙁

8. I bought Jeannie Lin’s new book, The Lotus Palace! I am so excited. (I also bought a signed copy of that and a few other books to give away to you, gentle readers! My next contest will start next Monday.)

9. I got a text alert during a conference dinner that 72 hours notice had been given for grocery workers at Safeway, QFC, Albertson’s, and Fred Meyer to strike in several Washington counties. I am a grocery worker (though not at one of those stores) and this is pretty important to me, so I’d like to ask you to support striking workers and not to cross picket lines to shop. You can follow the strike on facebook, and find a map of some alternative pharmacies and union grocery stores to shop at here (however, there are loads of independent small stores that aren’t included–the main thing is just not to shop at stores where workers are on strike). Okay, thanks for listening! PSA over. Strike called off! Agreement reached! Wooooo! Workers still need to vote on their new contract but apparently the bargaining team has unanimously recommended it, so let’s hope it’s good. \o/

10. I started my marketing plan for Sweet Disorder. I can’t believe the book will be out in just six months! (I know that might seem long to you, but when I look at the list of stuff I have to do between now and then, it doesn’t feel that way to me.) Any requests for swag?

It's probably Maleficent's favorite tree

Hi all! Happy Thanksgiving if you live in the States, just a general happy fall if you don’t. Look at this great tree I discovered in my research:

Spindle tree. Photo by Stanmoon. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

It’s called a spindle tree and it has really unique fall colors.

I know the blog’s been a little quiet. That’s because all my time is going to revising my next book, Sweet Disorder. I’ll still be around on tumblr, twitter, and facebook though, even if less than usual. (Links to me on those are in the sidebar at the left.)

I’m so thankful right now for all your support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. You rock! Olivia Waite did a post about how thankful she was for readers that about sums up how I feel.

If you go nutting on Sunday, the Devil will come and hold the branches down for you

Reading The Folklore of Sussex by Jacqueline Simpson as research for the WIP.

Everyone who has visited Steyning probably knows how St. Cuthman pushed his mother in a wheelbarrow from Devon to Sussex, waiting for some sign from Heaven to show him where he should settle and build a church. As he came into Steyning, the barrow broke, and he cut some withies from a hedge to make a rope to mend it. Haymakers working in Penfold Field (which is still sometimes also known as Cuthman’s Field) burst out laughing at his stupidity. ‘Laugh man, weep Heaven,’ answered Cuthman, and at once a heavy cloudburst drenched that field, and that field only. And from that day to this, it always rains on that one meadow in haymaking time; indeed, some call it ‘the Accursed Field,’ and declare that nothing will grow upon it.

Okay, everything about that is interesting, but I’m going to focus on…he pushed his mother in a wheelbarrow from Devon to Sussex. Apparently this is how St. Cuthman is iconically depicted!

I want a Monty Python sketch about it where she kvetches the whole way!

The Invention of the Pie Chart

I’m staying with my uncle outside NYC for a few days after the RWA conference. He used to be a printer so he’s explaining the mysterious workings of flatbed presses to me and letting me use his pretty impressive library (the heroine of my WIP is the widow of a provincial printer/newspaper publisher). Look at this, from Phillip Meggs’s A History of Graphic Design:

“[Playfair] introduced the first ‘divided circle’ diagram, called a pie chart today, in his 1805 English translation of a French book, The Statistical Account of the United States of America. Playfair included a diagram of a circle cut into wedge-shaped slices representing the area of each state and territory. Readers could see at a glance how vast the newly acquired Western territories were in comparison with states such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This engraving included a legend stating, ‘This newly invented method is intended to show the proportions between the divisions in a striking manner.'”

The first pie chart! Awesome.

In other news, my aunt is watching the Murder, She Wrote marathon. I’ve never watched much of the show before, and I’m really enjoying it! The mysteries are really well-constructed, the characters are engaging, and overall the show feels very generous-spirited. I do love a good cozy mystery.

“Does she care for olives?”

When I turned in the manuscript of A Lily Among Thorns, my editor at the time (the fabulous Leah Hultenschmidt) commented on a particular scene, “Your men are so good about bringing women exactly what they want to eat in the ballroom.”

“Huh,” I thought, “I guess there are scenes in both my books of the heroes bringing the heroines just what they want to eat at a party.” In In for a Penny, Nev remembers that Penelope hates being messy when she eats (the young ladies at school made fun of her for her low-class table manners), so he cuts up all the food from the buffet into bite-sized pieces for her before giving her the plate.

(This turned out to be a favorite moment for readers, actually—I’ve had people mention it to me more often than probably every other scene combined.)

And in A Lily Among Thorns, Solomon and Serena gate-crash a society party (for Important Intrigue Reasons). Serena has a very scandalous past, and Solomon’s grandfather was an earl but his mother ran off with a poor curate whose brother is actually a tradesman (gasp!), so their arrival doesn’t exactly go unnoticed:

Serena hastily turned her attention to the ballroom. Everyone in the room was watching them. The low murmur of conversation rose to an excited hum. At least Mrs. Elbourn looked pleasantly scandalized instead of horrified. This would make her party the talk of London. Perhaps that would be enough to keep them from being tossed out on their ears.

Solomon’s shoulders slumped. “Shall we try the buffet table? Maybe there are lobster patties.”

Serena felt warm. Was it because of all the eyes on her, or because Solomon had noticed she loved lobster patties when Antoine [the chef at her hotel] made them last week for supper?

“Whatever,” I said to myself. “It’s probably just a coincidence.”

Only now I’m working on my next book (not sold yet so I have no details, sorry!). [ETA: This book was eventually published as Sweet Disorder.] The heroine (a middle-class widow who does her own grocery shopping, so a gift of food makes sense) doesn’t like sweets and no one can seem to remember that! And in the scene I just wrote, after their first (awesome) kiss, the hero really feels he should apologize for taking such shocking liberties, so he brings her a whole ham.

She hasn’t been able to afford a whole ham since last Christmas! (It’s just such a cute image to me, this guy ducking his head apologetically and holding out…a ham wrapped in paper.)

Okay, so maybe it’s not a coincidence. Maybe it’s a thing.

I guess, to me, coming from a Jewish/Polish family, food is more than just food? Food and cooking are family, and love, and friendship. My biggest fear when I have people over is that I won’t have enough or the right kind of food for them and they’ll be hungry. HUNGRY, AT MY HOUSE! THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE.

Plus…isn’t it nice to have someone pay attention to you? To be so interested in you that they actually remember small details like what you like to eat, or to want to please you so much that they make the effort to find out?

There’s a point in Sense and Sensibility after Willoughby has dumped Marianne when Mrs. Jennings is trying to cheer her up:

Had not Elinor, in the sad countenance of her sister, seen a check to all mirth, she could have been entertained by Mrs. Jennings’s endeavors to cure a disappointment in love, by a variety of sweetmeats and olives, and a good fire.

When I’m heartbroken, that’s exactly what I want!

What little things mean love, to you?

“much Relief by Blisters”; or, Rose loves research

The heroine of my current WIP is the widow of a small-town printer/newspaperman, her brother-in-law having inherited the paper on his death. It’s an important part of her story, so I’m reading Freshest Advices: Early Provincial Newspapers in England by R. M. Wiles. It mostly focuses on the first half of the 18th century which is a little early for me obviously, so I’ll have to do some supplemental reading, but I’m guessing there was a lot of continuity.

“It takes a twentieth-century reader a little time to accustom himself to look at the end of a paper for the latest news [because it was typeset last], but the eighteenth-century reader had no reason to look elsewhere for it.[…I]f anyone perused the six-page Worcester Post-Man, number 267 (Friday, 6 August 1714), only as far as page 4 he would see on that page that the ailing Queen Anne, after suffering ‘a Fit of Convulsions, others say the Appoplexy,’ had been given ‘much Relief by Blisters’; only on page 5 of that same issue would the reader discover that the Queen had died on Sunday, 31 July.”