Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Every year, I (and loads of other writers) go a bit bonkers in the pursuit of completing a 50K+ word novel in a month. Yes, I mean NaNoWriMo.

 

 

My 2011 NaNo novel became my first novel, Snowbound, which I published last autumn. I had a blast writing it and a lot of people enjoyed reading it, even though some people thought Mia didn’t deserve an HEA. Well, I am already working on a little story about Mia & Jake so that might be a Christmas present to their fans. :)

My 2012 NaNo novel became my second novel, Maybe Baby, which I published in March, ended up for a while in the Kindle Top 100 list for its genre and won an award. It also caused many women to fall in love with Mads, the Danish sperm donor/furniture maker. I don’t blame them. I have a bit of a crush on my own creation too. ;)

Last year was not a good NaNo year for me. I managed to write a 25K manuscript, come to the realization that I hated what I was writing and couldn’t muster the energy or resolve to finish.

But this year is different…I feel ready to write my heart away, and we’ll be returning to Copenhagen for more of Laney & Mads’s story. So this weekend, I’ll be prepping an outline so I won’t find myself sitting in front of my MacBook Air and wondering what the heck I am doing. I’ll also interview my characters and update  my dreamcast–which I always do when I write–so that I can envision each chapter like scenes in a movie. Here’s the dreamcast that helped me write Maybe Baby.

Dreamcast Maybe Baby Collage

 

I’ve already decided that my new novel will feature the same cast of characters as Maybe Baby, with a few extras, so most of my dreamcast work is done. I just need to find 3-4 new characters and also imagine some of the locations. Maybe I need to take another trip to Copenhagen too. ;)

I don’t want to reveal too much of the story…but I’ll tell you it takes place a couple of years after Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight and, unlike my WIP Maybe Tomorrow, the focus will be on Laney and Mads.

Come November, I’ll keep you updated here with progress reports. I’ll even post excerpts so you can see what’s going on–but keep in mind it will be a very rough draft and probably full of typos. :)

Blog Hop: Getting to Know Eddy Halliwell

Hiya, peeps! XIO AXELROD invited me to join this really cool blog hop in which I introduce you to one of the main characters from a newly released/WIP/soon-to-be-released novel. I should have posted this yesterday, but my brain is a sieve. :) Well, I’ve already introduced you to Laney, Mads and Niklas from Maybe Baby. Now it’s time to get to know Eddy, who you might remember as Laney’s cousin who actually gave Laney the idea of going to a sperm bank in Copenhagen. Naughty girl. ;)

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I should tell you right now that no one calls me Edwina. Not if they want me to be nice to them. I hate being called that name. It’s an old woman’s name–and I am only thirty-five. I’m not ancient. I don’t smell like mothballs. I don’t put my teeth in a glass of water before I go to bed. Call me Eddy instead.

My mother named me after her favorite aunt. Apparently, there’s always been an Edwina in our family, and all of us have a reputation for being free-spirited, stubborn and going our own way. Which I kind of find hard to believe, because my great-aunt Edwina was super-religious. She didn’t seem very free-spirited to me. She was always telling me to tell the truth and let God love me or that I was the most sinful girl she’d ever met. I don’t know about that… I have my moments. Don’t we all?

Up until a few months ago I was living in Stockholm and having the time of my life. OK, I’m exaggerating. I wasn’t having the time of my life but I had a pretty good life there. I co-owned a successful boutique  with Andreas, my gorgeous (and slightly younger than me) boyfriend. We had the most amazing apartment in Kungsholmen and I really felt like we’d finally begun settling down. Well, then he came home one day and told me he didn’t love me anymore, that he wasn’t sure he’d ever loved me and he met someone else. Not exactly what you want to hear when you thought you were having a good run. I guess I should have expected it. He wasn’t very good at the whole “be faithful” thing. Neither of us were. Not really. I don’t think we trusted one another with our hearts. I don’t think I have trusted anyone with my heart, not since Colin. And he’s ancient history. We’re not going there. Not today. Let’s just say Colin and I had a habit of making each other feel wonderful and then making each other extremely miserable.

So Andreas and I…we broke up. I couldn’t sleep. I got this wacky idea that I wanted to move back home even though I didn’t really know where home was anymore. I’d lived in Sweden so long that I sometimes felt more Swedish than American. Sometimes I even dreamed in Swedish, but for some reason I decided I wanted to move back to my hometown of New York and reinvent myself. Or…no, not really reinvent myself, rediscover the girl I used to be.

And then my cousin Laney asked me to house-sit for her while she was on her honeymoon. I figured it was all part of my bridesmaid duties. All of my stuff was either in storage in Stockholm or on its way to a storage unit in New York. I didn’t have anywhere to live, so a month in Copenhagen sounded like a damned good thing. And then I met Henrik, the best man…and the groom’s cousin.

Fucking hell…he wasn’t supposed to be so charming or good-looking… and now we’re spending so much time together. And there’s this chemistry between us… I feel it whenever I’m around him.

I’m not supposed to want him.

I’m moving home. I am not staying in Europe.

I am tired of love in translation….right?

Eddy2

 

 

 

You’ll be able to find out more about Eddy & Henrik (and Laney & Mads) in Maybe Tomorrow, which I hope to release later this year. No release date yet. 

And don’t forget to head over to these blogs to check out the next authors and characters in the blog hop:

MARA WHITE is the author of one of my favorite novels of 2013, Heights of Desire, and she loves all things romantic. She’s also a Bikram yoga enthusiast. Her latest novel, FEAR OF HEIGHTS, was launched last week. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

TIA KELLY is the author of Taste for Love and The Affair, both of which I loved and I think you will too!  She’s a sports fan, a foodie and a consummate people watcher. Like me, she calls her hometown Philly! Her latest novel, READY For LOVE, is available now.

STACY-DEANNE is the author of Captivated, Worth the Risk and the just-released Empty. They are great reads! Add them to your TBR list! Stacy writers interracial romance and interracial romantic suspense. And like me, she loves Butter Pecan ice cream–but she has more willpower than me and resists its siren call. Her new novel, OUTSIDE WOMAN, will be published in October.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 15.03.00Have you ever wanted to ask an author about how or why they write? Or talk about their novels with them? Well now you can do just that with Goodread’s Ask the Author function. Initially, it was only available to some of their top authors, but now they’ve made it available to all Goodreads authors.

I’ve decided to check it out, so from now until the end of August, you can ask me any questions you like about writing, my novels or my characters. Want to get the inside story on Jake and Mia? Ask away! More interested in Laney, Niklas, and Mads? Yup, you can ask about them too! Or are you hooked on the teasers from my WIP, Maybe Tomorrow, and want to know more about Eddy and Henrik? Yes, you can ask about them too.

Head over to my Goodreads author profile, post your questions there and I will answer them as best I can!

And then there is other news for you: According to Kindle Direct Publishing, the updated and complete file for Maybe Tonight is now available for purchase. For those of you who have the old version of the file, you can either wait until KDP confirms that the changes were critical (which I’ve already informed them they were–it’s the last 12 chapters of the novella!) or you can call their customer care executives who will make sure you get the updated file now and help you do a manual sync. Here are the numbers to call:

  • US & Canada: 1-866-216-1072
  • International: 1-206-266-2992

For people who have the older version of the file, make sure you give them the ASIN when you call. They will probably ask you when you purchased Maybe Tonight, which you should be able to find when you go into the “Manage Your Kindle” section on Amazon.

For Kobo users: as far as I know, the file should update automatically, but I will check with them as well.

 

Thieves, Finalist and Endings

Maybe Tonight Cover for WPWell, the last thing I expected this week was to find out that someone has uploaded my books to pirating sites. Some of these sites present themselves as stores–but none of them are distributing partners with Amazon, Kobo or Bookbaby. Other sites offer my books for free.

If you really want a free copy of my book, I’d rather you contacted me and simply asked for one as an ARC. Or if you think the books are too expensive, just wait until I do another half-price or 99 cent promo. But don’t go to an illegal download site. That’s just stealing from me and any other author.

On the plus side, I found out that my novel Maybe Baby is a finalist in the Chick Lit category for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. On September 1, we’ll have the next update about the contest, so I will keep you posted.

Finally, I wrote the last chapter of my serial novella, Maybe Tonight. I’ll be updating the electronic book file over the next few days and then will upload the updated files to Kobo and Kindle by the end of the week. I don’t know how long it will take for Amazon alert readers of the update. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.

I’ve got the football bug…

I don’t know about you but my World Cup fever is finally beginning to wane…well, just a wee bit. I am not the world’s greatest football (read: “soccer” for my fellow Americans) fan. I never watch the Swedish Football League matches. I think they are incredibly boring. When I am in Italy, I never watch those matches either. Why? Same reason–boring. But give me the European championships or World Cup and I’ll pick my favourite teams and scream and cheer with the best of them.

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This year, my favourite team, Italy, didn’t fare well. Still, my love for Gli Azzurri reigns. I know, I should have been cheering for Team USA–and I did! I was so happy that we did as well as we did this year, but I was convinced the Italians would make it to the final and bring the trophy home to Rome again–just like they did the very first time I was ever in Rome. I still have fond memories of that trip and it’s mostly because of how great the Romans where as they celebrated the return of their team.

Now that Italy and the US are out, I am not sure who to cheer for. The Swedish team didn’t even qualify for World Cup, so I can’t cheer for them. I like the Dutch team but Robben is making it hard for me to cheer for them because he is crying wolf too much with all his exaggerated “falls”. C’mon, Robben, then Dutch team has always been renowned for playing honourable football, so get with the program! I could cheer for Germany, but the games are always boring. You know they are going to win… And the Brazilian team… I used to love the Brazilian football team. Now, they’re just not doing it for me.

Tord just told me he misses the Biter (Uruguay striker Luis Suarez) but we can always  giggle about how he inspired a nipple clamp. Maybe I should add this to one of my novels. It could be amusing. We can all laugh about it now, but you do have to wonder what’s going on in Suarez’s mind when he thinks biting someone is no big deal. At least he finally apologised to Giorgio Chiellini, though it took him long enough.

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Chiellini is much nicer than me. But then again, I am a grumpy Capricorn, so I hold grudges. I am trying to learn not to do so. But it isn’t easy.

Well, I will watch the final. As I write this post, I am watching the Netherlands-Costa Rica match. It’s in overtime and the score is *still* 0-0.  How will I survive when World Cup is over? I hadn’t even planned on watching it. I guess I will have more time to work on my next novel. ;)

 

The Writing Process Blog Tour

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 06.27.54I’ve been tagged!
Before I delve into my post, I’d like to thank multi-genre author Rae Lori for inviting me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour.
I usually don’t think very much about my writing process, so this will be an interesting exercise for me. So let’s get started, otherwise I might end up writing a blog post about my favorite Danish actor or where I think you can get the best cup of coffee in Stockholm. I might even go into a long diatribe about why the cheese steak is so important to Philadelphians.

 

1. What am I working on? 

I’m working on quite a few projects at the same time. I’ve got a serial novella called Maybe Tonight, which tells the story of Mads (the love interest from my latest novel, Maybe Baby) and what happens to him just before he meets Laney and how his life changes when they embark upon their relationship. I’m also working on a follow-up full-length novel to Maybe Baby that is called Maybe Tomorrow. This time the focus will be on Eddy (Laney’s cousin) and Henrik (Mads’s cousin) and what happens when they meet. Mads, Laney and a few other characters from Maybe Baby will be there as well. And then there are two novellas I am working on set in the fictional town of Hunters Grove, the setting for my debut novel, Snowbound. I’ve got a few other WIPs that need a bit of tweaking. I can’t work on one project at a time. :)

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, lately I’ve been writing about the expat experience. And my expat experience is based here in Scandinavia, so that seems to be bleeding into my writing a lot. And this, I think, is unique because you don’t get a lot of romantic fiction written in English that is told from a black woman’s point of view and set in Sweden. Even though the opening scene in Maybe Baby is set in New York, the rest of the story takes place in Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark. It deals with the cultural differences, the feeling of rootlessness one develops as an expat, searching for love in a foreign language, the “Lost in Translation” moments, the assumptions we arrive with and learn to leave behind.

3. Why do I write what I do? 

I think I’ve always written about interracial couples. Back when I was in high school, all of the books about couples never seemed to reflect what was my reality. I didn’t have a segregated group of friends. I didn’t go to a segregated school. I went to a magnet school in Philadelphia that attracted kids of every ethnicity and walk of life and I liked being in multiracial/multicultural environment. But a lot of the novels I read only featured an all-white or all-black cast with the occasional walk-in part by a minority, and this bothered me. I wanted to read books that were similar to what was my everyday experience, and I had a hard time finding them. And then I began to wonder why so few writers were featuring interracial couples in their fiction. I started to write more about them once I was part of an interracial relationship. Some books featured them but either turned their reason for being together into a fetish or an issue. So I continued writing about interracial couples because I wanted to write the books I wanted to read. And I continue to write about them because I like writing about love in all its messy, complicated, blissful, wonderful, infuriating, extraordinary forms.

4. How does my writing process work? 

It depends on when I start writing. If it’s November and it’s NaNoWriMo time, I start from chapter one and just write and don’t stop until I have at least 50,000 words of a first draft. I usually spend October preparing for NaNoWriMo. That’s when I decide who my characters will be, write bios for them and interview them so I know them backwards and forwards, and then I write down an outline for the story. That’s how I wrote Snowbound and Maybe Baby. I don’t always follow the outline. It’s just a guideline. If I start a writing project at any other point in the year, I usually spend more time doing things like making an inspiration board on Pinterest (though I did this with Snowbound and Maybe Baby as well), making Spotify writing playlists, procrastinating on Facebook or Tumblr and then I sit down and write. I try to write at least 500 words a day. Sometimes I end up with 2000, sometimes zilch. But the important thing is that I block time in my schedule to write. And I usually get a lot of writing done when I am on vacation.
That’s it for me. Keep following the Writing Process Blog Tour next week when three other writers share their secrets with us. Our next three writers are:

Nia Forrester
Here’s Nia’s bio from her blog: “I live in Washington D.C. where I am a public policy attorney, spending much of my time mining my experiences for material to write about. My intended audience is anyone who likes what I write, but one of my missions is to speak directly to the experiences of women of color who don’t fit the mold and don’t see themselves represented in gritty urban novels about drugs, guns and the ghetto, but who occasionally want to read something a little more accessible than the lyrical but complex prose of some of our best poets and writers.”

Claire Duffy
Here’s Claire’s bio from her blog: “Hello! I’m Claire. Writer & all round professional daydreamer currently living in Sweden for no particular reason. Yes that is a rainbow coming out of my head. I write for film and TV – my feature film Guilty is currently in development with Formosa Films – and indie publish fiction series online to my heart’s content! THE MONDAY COLUMN (why yes, I did use the word column because it makes me feel fancy, thank you for asking), where I blog about writing, ex pat life, and other random bits and pieces, posts about when you might expect. SEX, DRUGS & SWING, a blog about the scandals of 1920s Hollywood, posts on Wednesdays. LOVE REFUGEE is a fiction serial which runs on Your Living City, Stockholm (I post the links here!) It tells the story of Ellie, a British ex pat in Stockholm, who is determined to stay single but discovers she has a weakness for Swedish men… (It’s not at all autobiographical. Honest.) You can find completed series Life is Swede, about a woman who moves to Stockholm only to discover that her boyfriend may be a killer, and Identity Part 1, the story of a troubled psychologist who goes undercover to catch a serial killer, on Amazon.”

Tia Kelly
Here’s Tia’s bio from her blog: “Tia Kelly may be witty and feisty on the outside, but she is a diehard romantic at heart. She likes to bring ‘life moments… one character at a time’ in the contemporary action and is the author of nine books. In addition to her love for writing, reading, playing chef in her own kitchen and traveling, Tia loves to kick back with a glass of wine and a good game on her television screen. And if it’s baseball season, you will probably hear Tia shouting the loudest (or checking out the cuties in the dugout)!”

Hanging out with the Danes

This weekend I am in Copenhagen, meeting friends and getting inspiration for my current WIP, Maybe Tomorrow. And, as always, this city never disappoints. One of the things that I love about coming to Copenhagen is that–even when the weather is not stellar–there is always something interesting to do.

This weekend, everyone in Copenhagen is Eurovision crazy. Don’t know what Eurovision is? It’s an annual song contest that is most famous for introducing ABBA to the world. They won with the song “Waterloo”–which I think everyone and their mom knows. When I moved to Europe, I had no clue what Eurovision was. I still don’t really get the insane hype around it, but I guess the closest thing we have to it in the US is Idol, X-Factor or America’s Got Talent.  And those are three programs I don’t watch and never found interesting so I guess that’s why Eurovision is lost on me.

Anyway, to get back on topic, all of Strøget has been taken over as the Eurovision Fan Mile. There are free concerts going on and outdoor screens if you want to follow the final tonight (I think I will skip it, but it’s amusing watching all the people dressed up). For those of us who don’t care about Eurovision, the local pubs and bars are always a good place for people-watching, which I will do later after I’ve had dinner.

Already, I’ve come up with some good ideas for where to set scenes, soaked up some atmosphere. Last night, after dinner, I had a drink in the courtyard of the very hotel that inspired Maybe Baby. While I was sitting there, a young Danish woman and her boyfriend joined me. They saw I was jotting down notes and asked if I was a journalist. I told them I was working on a novel. The woman laughed and said, “You could write a novel about Danish men! They are wacky!”

I told her about Maybe Baby and she looked it up immediately on her iPhone and then she said, “Now I bought it in paperback!” Then she showed me her purchase confirmation. Nice! :)

I asked her boyfriend if he thought Danish men , like Swedish men were slow to approach women. Before he could even answer, his girlfriend said, “Danish men take forever to approach Danish women–but if they see a foreign girl they like, they don’t waste time. They just go for it.”

I then asked her boyfriend if this was true, and he said, “It’s because Danish women are scary intense.” He grinned and then told a charming story about how he met his girlfriend at a party a few months ago and how she made sure it was clear to everyone, through body language that he was going to be hers. Then he blushed and said, “I’ve never been pursued like that before. It was kind of sexy but kind of scary too. But see? Now we’re together, so good she knew what she wanted.”

Maybe I will have to put some of this in my new book.