Tuesday, October 5th, is the big day – FLESH FICTION: a compendium of flash fiction curated by Mara White and Suanne Laquer – will finally be available! If you’ve preordered it, it’ll drop into your ereaders and tablets automatically.

My story, “Under My Skin”, is one of the stories you’ll find in FLESH FICTION. I hope you’ll enjoy getting a taste of Max and Belle’s story as much as I have enjoyed creating these characters and writing about them.

Still haven’t preordered your copy? There’s still time.

Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

You probably noticed that my site looks a little different. That’s because I decided to switch web hosts. I’d been using BlueHost for several years but the cost to maintain my site there was getting astronomical. I just didn’t feel it was worth the amount they charged. So I moved back to WordPress…which hasn’t been without its issues. I am still trying to sort things out. Not very happy with my current theme. I also feel like a dinosaur trying to sort everything out since WordPress has changed so much.

We’ll see how long I stay here.

In the meantime, this is my online home. There are some pages missing, I know. I am working on fixing them.

Bear with me. Hopefully, this will look a little more like normal soon.

.Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

What I want most of all for Christmas is a kinder, calmer, and all-together better 2021 for all of us. I hope the year that we’re stepping into will at least be less turbulent than the one we’re soon leaving behind. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

So here we are — just a few days away from Christmas. Soon 2020 will come to an end and we’ll be striding into the new year. I am still bewildered by the fact that I’ve been working from home since March, that I was onboarded to my new job at IKEA remotely, and haven’t stepped foot in the office (other than to pick up my ID card) since I was still freelancing. My husband and I moved to a new city…and, yeah, COVID.

My wishes for the new year

So what do I want for 2021? I’ve got a lot of them. Some are big, some are mundane. I’ve become accustomed to not being able to do everything that I want but that doesn’t mean that I’m not longing for the day when we can move more freely, without borders being closed due to a virus. I’m not one of these people who is going around complaining about not being able to travel. I would, in fact, rather that we all followed the guidelines from our local health authorities so that we can curb COVID. And when they say we can finally get vaccinated here in Sweden, I will do so. I would rather be safe than sorry.

But what I want most as I head into the new year is this:

  • to finally publish a new book
  • to be able to travel again
  • to not worry every time someone coughs or sneezes without being conscientious enough to cover their mouth
  • to hug my friends and family again
  • to hit a bestseller’s list again
  • to sit in a movie theater again

I know, these aren’t lofty goals but that’s all I want right now. I just want all of us to have a life that feels more ordinary again.

Still focusing on My Season of Giving

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash.

My Season of Giving is still ongoing. I’ve donated money over the last few weeks to Philabundance, Mayhew, Covenant House, and World Central Kitchen. For me, this time of year is about trying to help people as much as possible. I hope that my small efforts can help make a difference in the lives of as many people (and animals) as possible. I’ve still got a few more organizations to support. If you can, please join me. I think we could all use a helping hand this year. It’s been such a chaotic and stressful time for everyone, so whatever we can do to help…well, I think it really does make a difference.

We all need a little help

I’ve got a few days off from work for the holidays and I will spend this time, reading, writing, and putting together my new LEGO Creator set. This is when I also watch a lot of Christmas movies and try to give myself time to relax. If you’ve been working a lot or struggling this year, please take the time to take care of yourself. We all need a little self-care, especially considering what we’ve all been dealing with. If you’ve been dealing with exhaustion, insomnia, or any other signs of stress, please… try to find time every day that you can devote to taking care of yourself. If you feel like you’ve been struggling this year, check out this article from HuffPost. It has tips on how to talk about what you’ve been going through and express the anxiety or frustration you’ve been dealing with. If you’re feeling depressed, this article, also from HuffPost, could help.

All I want for Christmas…

There isn’t much that I want for Christmas this year. I simply want all of us to have a kinder, calmer, and all-together better 2021. Let’s all do what we can to make this a reality. Merry Christmas, everyone. Sending you lots of love and hugs from here in Sweden.

See you all in 2021.

Hello, December

It’s finally December. Soon, this crazy year we call 2020 will be over and, hopefully, the new year will be calmer. December also marks the end of NaNoWriMo for the year. This year, I reached my 50k goal on time — I worked on the first draft of a new novel called Who Knew..?, which I am still working on. I think it needs another 30k before the story is done. But December also means that my Season of Giving is in full force.

Doing it differently

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

This year, instead of asking you to buy my books to help raise money for charity, I’m asking you to donate directly to charity if you can. I know that this year has put many of us in strained economic situations. But, if you can, please consider donating time, money, clothing, books, etc to organisations that are trying to help people in need, whether it’s families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, women and children in vulnerable situations, helping students in disadvantaged areas, local literacy centres.

I usually talk about raising money for charity during this season because it is the time of year when we traditionally give. However, I think that, if we can, we should try to help throughout the year.

Some organizations we can support

If you’d like some suggestions for organizations which you could help, here are a few that I already support. Some of them are organizations that I have supported for many years. Others I’ve come into contact through the fantastic members of the Sussex Squad (fans and supporters of Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and their adorable son Archie) through our interactions on Twitter.

  • Philabundance – an organization based in my hometown of Philadelphia and a member go Feeding America that strives to end hunger
  • Camfed – a pan-African organization that helps young women with education and job training
  • Stockholms Stadsmission – an organization based in Stockholm (where I lived until July) that helps the homeless and people in vulnerable situations with food, shelter, and training.
  • Black Lives Matter – a US-based organization dedicated to ending racial inequality and ending systemic racism, violence and oppression directed and Black men and women
  • Operation Smile – a global medical-based mission whose volunteers perform corrective surgery for people with cleft syndrome
  • Color of Change – a US-based organization that helps with powerful campaigns to end injustice and inequality against people of color
  • Covenant House – an international organization that helps young people who are homeless, aged out of foster care, at risk, or in vulnerable situations with care, shelter/housing, and training
  • Homeboy Industries – an LA-based organization that helps former gang members and formerly incarcerated men and women change the paths of their lives
  • Mighty Writers – a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that helps young people with improving their reading and writing skills through workshops, mentoring and support
  • NAACP Legal defense fund – a US-based organization dedicated to fighting racial injustice through litigation, advocacy and education
  • Smart Works – a UK organization that helps unemployed women with coaching and styling to help them return successfully to working
  • The Hubb Community Kitchen – following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, which devastated so many lives, a group of women who survived needed a place to cook for their families. This led to feeding the community affected by the fire. Buying their cookbook helps to continue to support their efforts to provide food for people in need.
  • Lighthouse Relief – an organization based in Greece that has helped refugees and asylum seekers arriving on the island of Lesvos with emergency relief and long-term psychological support
  • Undocublack Network – a US-based network of currently and formerly undocumented Blacks who, through advocacy, organising, alliances and education, try to develop tools, affect change to foster a sense of community, and make lives better for people trying to make a better life in the US

These are just a few organisations that could use our help. If you already have organizations that you support, share them with us. Share their name and link in the comments or drop me a line and I can add them to our list.

Let’s keep spreading the word so that we can continue to affect positive change and help make the world a better place.

It’s that time again: time to prep for NaNoWriMo again. And, boy, do I need it. I know you’re probably tired of hearing it but the last two years have not been very easy for me. Sorry to have to remind you of it. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t published very much since 2017. Too many loved ones lost, too much grief to deal with, too much stress from my previous job on top of it.

But I recently started a new chapter of my life.

I started a new job. I moved to a new city in southern Sweden. I started to feel the writing mojo return. It took a while, yes. But I had to deal with the stress and the grief before I could really start writing about love again.

Where I live now: Älmhult – home of IKEA.

So what am I writing? It’s got the working title Who Knew…? and it’s about two people who are recovering from one of the worst moments in their lives and they find each other; but after everything they’ve been through, secrets could tear them apart.

A mock-up of the cover of Who Knew…? – my NaNoWriMo 2020 project

I’m still trying to decide where the story is set…but I am leaning towards Lund, a university town here in southern Sweden (in Skåne, to be precise, and around an hour from where I live now).

So if you want to follow my progress, you can always pop in here and I’ll share some excerpts. You can also check out the playlist that’s keeping me motivated as I plan (at the moment) and while I write (from 1 November).

And on another note: I would love to thank all of you who supported my summer fundraiser for Black Lives Matter and partners. We ended up raising around $1000, which I’ve divided between Black Lives Matter, NAACP Legal Defence Fund, Color of Change, and UnDocuBlack Network.

In November it starts again. My younger brother, who passed away in 2019 on 2 January, would have turned 46 on 5 November this year. I’ll be raising money in his honour from 1 November until 31 December to support an organisation in my hometown of Philadelphia and one in my adopted homeland of Sweden: Philabundance and Skåne Stadsmission (now that I live in southern Sweden).

So that’s the news. What’s going on with you?

Romancelandia has been aflame with discussions about the lack of support and representation when it comes to authors of color in romance publishing and in RWA’s RITA finalists. As an author who has been affected by this issue in terms of bigoted comments from and attitudes from people via email and face to face, it seems only fitting to share Adira August’s post addressing the subject. This is the perennial elephant in the room — it’s always there, but some people wilfully ignore it.

The Time Is NowA few years ago, I wrote a novel called The Time Is Now. I tried to revise it. I felt lost. A few people beta read it gave me feedback. I still couldn’t get the story right. But I really loved this story and I didn’t want it to be something that would simply collect dust.

I decided to publish it as a serial novel on wattpad. So what’s it about?

Kyra and Chris went to high school together. He was the good-looking, popular guy that everyone wanted. She was the shy bookworm who never really felt like she fit in. One day he springs her from detention and an unexpected relationship springs from it. For a little over a year, they were each other’s satellite. Then–just as suddenly–he vanished from her life.

No proper goodbye, no real closure and only sporadic contact marks the next fifteen years of their lives. Now a high school reunion brings them together again. Can they rekindle the flame…or is it too late for second chances? 

It’s still in a relatively rough state, but maybe one of these days I will finally take the plunge and do a thorough rewrite/edit. Until then, it will be available for free on wattpad. The first ten chapters are already online and more will be going online in the coming days. Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

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Photo credit: Kim Golden.

This weekend, I am in Skåne in southern Sweden. It’s a beautiful place–especially here in Yngsjöstrand, near Åhus (famous as the birthplace for Absolute Vodka–and yes, the Absolut distillery is still here). Autumn has already arrived here in Sweden–the leaves are turning colors and the air is chilly, the days are shorter… and it’s making me long to get cozy.

So what’s a girl to do? Make a wish list of what she needs to get through the chilly autumn. I think five things could keep me going until Christmas. Yes, I mentioned the “C” word even though we still have a few months until it’s upon us. But these things would keep me happy until that time when we need to think about presents and all the yada yada around it.

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A cozy armchair

I keep testing different armchairs, hoping that I will find the perfect one. The Twist armchair from Mio might do the trick. It looks comfortable enough for a lazy afternoon of reading. And it’s affordable enough that I won’t have to put myself on a ramen noodle diet if I buy it.  A bookworm/writer like me needs a cozy place to sit, to ponder, to come up with ideas, to lose myself in words.

Why not get lost in this armchair? Now…I am not sure about the color. I think I’d want it in a snazzier color like crimson or maybe teal, but I could live with anthracite as long as I had a nice throw pillow in a funky shade or pattern.

So I think I will test it out at Mio during my lunch break.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo

Every year I love planning for NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month for those who’ve never heard or tried it. During the month of November, thousands of us around the world (yes, I know that makes it international) come together to write a 50K+ novel in 30 days. I wrote my first novel, Snowbound, as a NaNoWriMo project. Maybe Baby and Maybe Forever were also NaNoWriMo projects.

NaNoWriMo is tough but it helps me get through the dark Swedish winter. It keeps me focused and–when I am focused–I don’t get depressed because of the gloomy days. When I am writing stories I love, I don’t feel like Swedish winter is eating away at my soul.

This year, I am not sure which project I will work on. Either my android novel (check out my flash fiction and you’ll see what I mean) or a standalone novel in the Maybe… series, this one featuring another of Mads’s cousins–Ragnar, whose been unlucky in love with a Swedish-Chilean woman and who goes to Italy to figure out what he wants.

Whichever I choose to write, I know I will be happy. NaNoWriMo is a labor of love and it fulfils me.

 

 

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A weekend in Copenhagen

Whenever I need a quick break from Stockholm, a weekend in Copenhagen does the trick. Not only is it close enough that going there doesn’t feel like a chore (it’s only an hour’s flight away), I always get inspired when I am there.

A summer visit inspired Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight. Another weekend there inspired Maybe Forever. The Danes like to joke that they do it better and maybe they do. They seem to enjoy life more than many Swedes and they don’t take things as seriously. As much as I love living in Stockholm, Sweden, there is something about how laid-back Copenhagen is that makes it the perfect weekend getaway. And even if I sometimes spend most of my weekend strolling with no destination in mind, I always end up seeing or overhearing something that clicks and gives the spark for a new story.

 

 

 

A new MacBook AirScreen Shot 2015-09-06 at 17.22.26

Every now and then, my five-year-old MacBook Air does something to let me know it wants to be retired. So far, I ignore it. I keep telling myself it can chug along a little while longer. Sooner or later, I will have to get a new one. I am loath to buy a new one. I’ve written four (finished) novels and a few unfinished ones on this one, and I love it. I think I could go a little while longer without buying a new one, but the siren song of a new MacBook Air is hard to resist. For now, I will pretend I don’t hear it, but if my next novel hits the bestseller’s list, then I will feel like I’ve earned a new computer and then I’ll treat myself to one.

 

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A writer’s retreat

I’ve been thinking of treating myself to a writer’s retreat at Retreats for You in Devon UK. It looks so cozy (and I love cozy). I think it would be a great place for an autumn retreat. I know I won’t be able to do it this year, but a girl can dream.

In the meantime, I will save my pennies and then treat myself to a retreat there either next spring or next autumn. Maybe I could start NaNoWriMo there next year. It looks like a great place to sit and write.

What’s on your autumn wish list? Drop a line and let’s compare notes.

 

I owe all of you an apology.

I was so certain that Maybe Tomorrow, the next book in the Maybe… series, would be ready for publication by July and informed everyone of a publication date. Well, that date has come and gone, and there is still no book. Why? Because I have a full-time job and I am a union representative, and sometimes this eats into my writing time when I am at home. Also, I’ve sometimes been too tired to write when I come home from work. Or the motivation to write just hasn’t been there.

Also, I hit some plot holes that have taken longer than expected to fix. One took weeks to figure out how to fix. I’ve finally got a handle on that one, but I am still fixing it. I think I am nearly done.

Right now, I am aiming at an October release. I want it to be done before I start NaNoWriMo in November.

I hope you can continue to be patient. In the meantime, here are some snippets to whet your appetites. #SundaySample-2 #SundaySample

Saturday Snippet-2 Saturday Snippet-3 Saturday Snippet