Midweek indulgence

Last week I went down to London for two days of sheer luxurious indulgence. It was perfect.

First on our agenda was afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason. We popped in to Hatchards for a quick browse beforehand so that we could pretend to be proper Heyer heroines. Then we admired the tea and food on sale on the ground floor and I salivated at the chocolate and sweetmeats counters. Upstairs we were careful not to let our bags knock the wildly expensive crockery off the display tables in the kitchen/dining department. And then we took the lift to the fourth floor and the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

As we arrived, someone was playing on the grand piano. A member of staff took our coats and my overnight bag to the cloakroom and then we were shown to our table. They serve 82 varieties of tea at Fortnums and to help guests try some of the more unusual kinds, they offer a tea tasting. Four kinds of tea (rotated on a weekly basis) are brought to the table and a bowl of each is made for you to try. We tried two green teas, a Darjeeling, and (I think) an Assam. The green teas were spectacular and F. ordered both to have with our tea, while I went for my favourite Countess Grey and a glass of pink champagne. The tea menus have a set price and you can have as much food or tea as you like with them, which gave a wonderfully sumptuous feel to the event.

tea

I had the traditional afternoon tea: sandwiches, scones and cakes. Which in no way does justice to the food I ate which was heavenly and so beautifully presented. I had five kinds of sandwiches, presented with the fillings upright and colour co-ordinated from deep pink (salmon), pale pink (roast beef), pale yellow (egg), pale green (chicken and tarragon), deep green (cucumber). There were fruit and plain scones, served with lashings of clotted cream (we ordered extra and had far too much), and fresh lemon curd or jam. Individual cakes were chocolate and rose, lemon and praline, and vanilla and cherry. And there was a homemade jammy dodger. Plus there were large cakes you could have slices from but my appetite failed me at that point.

There are two other menus: a savoury afternoon tea which substitutes various canape-type things for the cakes, and a high tea which substitutes hot savoury dishes for the sandwiches. F. had two dishes from the high tea menu, scones and no cakes. She chose Welsh rarebit and a lobster truffle omelette. I didn’t try the Welsh rarebit though it looked delicious, but I did try the omelette which was one of the best things I have ever eaten ever. SO GOOD.

The staff were brilliant, constantly checking that we had enough of everything – more sandwiches, more scones, more cream, more cakes, more tea…. We did not eat again until the next day.

After tea we had thought it would be nice to go downstairs and buy some of the teas we had enjoyed drinking. F. bought me 150g of the Countess Grey. Then she asked for the green tea she had most enjoyed. Which turned out to be £500/kilo. Um, no. But it did make the afternoon tea seem even better value than before. It is not cheap, but I’d say it’s worth it.

Anyway, we then went to try on hats, smell perfumes and such like before changing into sparkly outfits in the loos for the next stage of our adventure.

To be continued…

38 things resurrected!

Phew! One of the things I lost when the website went down was my list of 38 things to do while I’m 38. But thanks to the magic of the internet, I have tracked down a cached version of the old page, so I can now update my progress.

1. Get first novel published (and hopefully second and third)
2. Become Dr. Ros
3. Go to see the Strictly Live Tour at the O2.(We actually went to Wembley Arena.)
4. Holiday in Sardinia
5. Go to Woolfest
6. Enter craft and baking categories at the county show.

7. Learn to weave properly
8. Finish some of my knitting WIPs
9. Eat something I’ve never eaten before

10. Learn to make fabulous lingerie
11. Spa day with F.
12. Plant 38 new bulbs
13. Become a better spinner
14. Go to see the Strictly Dance To The Music Tour

15. Visit 38 new places
16. Walk along a beach without shoes
17. Make a new quilt
18. Eat pizza in Italy
19. And gelato

20. Do The Artist’s Way
21. Make puff pastry from scratch
22. Start saving for the Best Holiday In The World Ever
23. Swim in the sea
24. Have my hair cut in a different style
25. Wardrobe cull
26. Book cull
27. Buy new clothes
28. Buy new books
29. Learn to take better photos

30. Get a professional manicure
31. Sign up for an OCA module
32. Start teaching again. Not in a school, obviously.
33. Start wearing perfume more regularly
34. Find a dance class to go to
35. Be in the audience for a TV or radio show. Preferably Strictly, but I realise this is unlikely.
36. Have afternoon tea at glamorous London hotel
37. Always have flowers in the house
38. See the Staffordshire Hoard

Not bad at all. Still to do with just over two months to go:
2. Become Dr. Ros
7. Learn to weave properly
10. Learn to make fabulous lingerie
15. Visit 38 new places
20. Do The Artist’s Way
21. Make puff pastry from scratch
22. Start saving for the Best Holiday In The World Ever
30. Get a professional manicure
31. Sign up for an OCA module

I am reasonably hopeful about #2, 10, 21, 30. I have begun #10 with one pair of pretty knickers and I have the pattern and all the kit to start on a bra soon.
There is a possibility of #7, 20, 22, but I think it’s likely that I won’t do them in time.
I am pretty sure that #15 and #31 are not going to happen by April 15th. This is okay.

#2 is obviously the one causing all the angst, sleeplessness, stress and fatigue. I have a very nearly complete first draft which will need serious chopping to get down to size. We shall see. If I have submitted by my birthday I will be very happy indeed.

What’s on my kindle this week

I almost forgot about this, because I have been away for a couple of days and it isn’t yet enough of a routine to be a habit. So I’ve got about 10 days’ worth of reading to catch up on.

Sold to the Enemy by Sarah Morgan
I’ve loved almost every book I’ve read by Morgan and this one is no exception. In fact, it prompted a re-read of a couple of old favourites of hers, The Sultan’s Virgin Bride and Doukakis’s Apprentice. She always writes strong, interesting heroines who challenge their heroes. The heroine in Sold to the Enemy has had to put up with more than most and she totally deserves the happy ending.

In the Heat of the Spotlight by Kate Hewitt
I’ve been waiting for this since I read an early version of the first chapter nearly a year ago, and it didn’t disappoint. Deeply emotional and deeply satisfying. Loved it.

Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The complete Oz chronicles were on Amazon for some ridiculously cheap price. I started with this one because, other than the Wizard of Oz, it’s the only one I remember from childhood. Lovely. A bit scary but always a guaranteed happy ending, so it’s nice, safe reading. There’s a bit in this one that reminds me of The Silver Chair, though I’ve no idea which was written first or if there was any actual influence.

Hired: The Sheikh’s Secretary by Lucy Monroe
Another re-read. I do love a clueless sheikh and an ugly duckling secretary, and these two are perfect.

When Two Paths Meet
and Roses and Champagne by Betty Neels
There are times when only Betty Neels will do and today was one of those days. A sweeter, safer world, these are like traditional Regencies set in 1980’s England (or Holland).

That’s what I’ve been reading. What about you?

Entangled in Love


It’s Valentine’s Day next week and the Entangled authors are celebrating with a ton of giveaways. Click here for a list of participants.

I’m giving away a copy of my Valentine’s Day Flirt: Table For One.


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When food critic Claudia Thomas gets dumped on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself occupying a table for one at London’s hottest new restaurant. If her job wasn’t on the line, she’d skip the whole affair, but her editor’s waiting for a review—and with luck, an interview with sexy chef Ward Nicholls.

Ward, intrigued by the single woman in a restaurant full of couples, sets out to tease her palate. Claudia has never tasted anything so luscious as the special meal Ward prepares for her, but when the seduction moves from the restaurant to his bedroom, Claudia discovers the only thing more tempting than his food is the chef himself.

Their connection is instantaneous, sizzling, and spicy—until Claudia comes clean about her job, reopening a wound Ward had thought long-healed. Could one accidental lie of omission end a delicious relationship before it even has a chance to start?

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me your favourite food. Entries close at midnight on February 15th.
Please note that you DO NOT have to put your email into the body of your comment and I would strongly advise that you don’t!

There will be lots more chances to win at the twitter party. Here’s the info you’ll need.
Date : February 8th, 2013.
Time : 9pm EST.
Hashtag : #EntangledInLove
What : We’ll be asking Valentine’s day related questions and each question has prizes to be won! Answer right for a chance to win some of the many awesome prizes!
Where : Follow the instructions below!
1. Go to http://tweetgrid.com/party
2. Fill in the hash-tag as #EntangledInLove
3. Fill in the hosts
@entangledpub
@totalbookaholic
@babsbookbistro
@anjanavasan
4. Enter your twitter handle, follow the tweets, answer the questions and you may just get lucky!
Don’t forget to mention the #EntangledInLove hashtag in your replies!

Indulge yourself!

The Entangled Indulgence line is one year old and they are having a HUGE party to celebrate – and you are all invited! As with all the best parties, there are prizes, chat and games. There are chances to win ALL the Indulgence titles, meet some of the authors and generally indulge yourself.

Here’s all the info you’ll need:

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Yep, Indulgence turns one on February 12th!

There’s no way we’re keeping it down, we’re going all out with the celebration!

We have a ton of fun stuff planned for everyone, including numerous chances to get your hands on all of our Indulgence books and interact with the authors.

Join theIndulgence Party on Facebook to talk to the authors, answer questions and win some pretty cool prizes! The schedule is as follows (Links & Prizes will be updated soon!):

Time:Noon – 4pm EST.

February 5th
Inara Scott & Ros Clarke

February 7th
Nicole Helm, Nina Croft, & Rachel Lyndhurst
February 11th
Barbara DeLeo & Michele de Winton
February 13th
Amy Andrews, Stephanie Draven, & Annie Seaton
February 19th
Addison Fox, Victoria James, & Nicola Marsh
February 21st
Christine Bell & Bronwen Evans
February 26th
Marisa Cleveland, Robin Covington, & Robyn Thomas
February 28th
Diane Alberts & Jennifer Probst

Want to get your hands on ALL of our Indulgence books? Well, this month you can!
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When : February 4th – February 28th (Weekdays)

Time : 9pm – 10pm EST.

Where : Twitter! If you’re not following us yet, follow now at @indulgencebooks !

Hashtag : #IndulgeYourself

How : Starting February 4th, follow the #IndulgeYourself hashtag on Twitter! We’ll be tweeting clues, you need to figure out which Indulgence book the clues refer to and a random winner gets a copy of the book! :)
These clues will be related to any of the following:

  • Book Cover
  • Blurb
  • Quotes

For reference, you can find a list of all our Indulgence titles here! You can refer to this list when we give out the clues.

Sounds fun, right? We hope you join us!

Wait, there’s more!

On February 12th, we’ll be hosting a Grand Prize Giveaway full of Indulgent Goodies, over on the Entangled blog! Don’t miss it!

Twitter: A Beginner’s Guide

I don’t know if this is useful or not, but it seems to me that there are quite a lot of people (especially authors) who feel like they should be on twitter, or even want to be on twitter, but don’t quite know how to make it work for them. When I first joined twitter, I left after a couple of days because I didn’t get it at all. A year later, I tried again and loved it. It can seem weird and daunting at first, and I would have liked some hints on how to start. So I thought I’d write some.

1. Understand what Twitter does really well

It’s all about the instantaneous connections. You can talk to anyone any time. You can find people talking about the things you’re interested in and talk to them.

2. Understand what it doesn’t do well

Complicated debates – 140 characters is just too short for nuance.
Advertising – people will tune out and turn off.

3. Where to start

Choose an easy username to remember. Your own name/pen name is a good place to start. Upload a userpic. You can’t go wrong with a picture of yourself.

Find people to follow. Start with your existing internet connections. Check email signatures for twitter names – and follow them. Check the websites you like to visit for twitter accounts – and follow them.

Think about what you’re interested in – you can follow breaking news, film critics, craft collectives, whatever. These sort of accounts often won’t interact with you, but will provide great content for you to talk about.

4. Where next

Have the twitter account for the job you’re aiming for. If you’re an aspiring author, follow editors, publishers, and the authors you love. If you’re a debut author, follow book reviewers, readers, local media outlets. If you’re already a bestseller, follow whoever you want!

5. Don’t autofollow

You do not have to follow everyone who follows you.

You DO NOT have to follow everyone who follows you.

6. Do check your @ replies

It’s polite to reply to people who tweet @ you specifically. You do not have to follow them unless you want to.

7. Do use lists to keep your twitter stream manageable

You can separate out personal friends, news feeds, industry contacts, etc. Then decide which lists only need occasional glances, which need a regular skim, which you want to follow everything. Using a twitter client such as TweetDeck or HootSuite can really help to keep this under control.

8. Do unfollow

If you are overwhelmed by your twitter stream, it’s totally okay to unfollow people.
If you followed someone and then realise they only tweet about their cats, it’s totally okay to unfollow them.
If your interests change, it’s totally okay to unfollow twitter accounts.

9. Use hashtags

Hashtags are effectively labels for tweets. If you click on a hashtag, you’ll see a stream of all the tweets using that label. This can be a great way to find people you want to follow. It’s also a great way for other people to find you. See what hashtags are common among your followers and use them.

10. Do not schedule tweets

I once followed an author who had a promo tweet scheduled for the same time every day. Once every 24 hours. You’d think that wouldn’t be too much, right? Except there was a typo in the tweet. Every single day. Which made it absolutely clear that she wasn’t tweeting live. I unfollowed.

Remember twitter is about connections and conversations. Scheduled tweets don’t enable either.

And while we’re at it, Triberr is the work of the devil.

11. Do talk about your books

Especially when they first come out. That’s part of who you are and what people want to know about you.

12. Don’t advertise your books

That’s not a conversation. That’s not squeeing about a glorious review.
People are not stupid. They can tell when they are being advertised at.

Most of all, have fun, make friends, be yourself. If you’re not being sociable on social media, you’re doing it wrong.

Oh, and obviously, follow @ros_clarke. That goes without saying. ;)

ETA: Two slightly more advanced things

1. Be cautious about RTs

Retweeting (RT) allows you to send someone else’s tweet to your followers. Be cautious about this. If they want to follow that other person, they will. You should not be RTing from the same account more than once or twice a week. Obviously there are exceptions at specific times but err on the side of caution. I have unfollowed people who regularly RT someone else I’m not interested in.

2. Know who you are replying to

If you are in a conversation, your tweet can begin with the other person’s @ name. This tweet won’t be seen by all your followers, only the ones who are following both of you. Sometimes, you’ll want that tweet to be seen by everyone. Put a . before the @name to make this happen.

DO NOT use the . when you don’t need it. Your followers will see half a conversation. It’s like listening to someone on the train using their phone. Meaningless and irritating.

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