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?

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.

81-mqYHZbfL._SL1500_After spending many hours in transit from Philadelphia to Stockholm (via London) I arrived home to a very happy husband and news that the Maybe… series made it through the second round of voting for the Reader’s Choice awards  for Best Cover and Best Series in the Swirl Awards. Maybe Baby is also a finalist for Best Contemporary while Maybe Tonight is in the finals for Best Short Novel.

So what are the Swirl Awards? Every year, the Swirl Awards recognise diversity in romantic fiction. They make no distinction between traditional published and indie writers, and they help promote books that often go overlooked simply because they do not fit mainstream molds.

Maybe Tonight Cover for WPWe writers of interracial and multicultural romantic fiction do not have the easiest time getting our names out there. Having the team behind the Swirl Awards in our corner is a huge honour and benefit for us.

If you love the Maybe… series and want to show your support, you can vote once a day for Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight for Best Cover and the Maybe… series for Best IR/MC Series until September 30.

Thanks in advance and keeping my fingers crossed that I can stay in the running! 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 06.22.19
All that’s missing is Thor and his hammer. 😉

Sometimes I am a fast adaptor or fast follower. I find out about trend, it interests me and I either accept it or I follow it. This was the case with Pinterest and Facebook. As soon as I tried them, I was hooked. Other times, I am ornery and I just don’t give a fuck and I ignore it. This was how I felt about (and still feel) about the billionaire/stepbrother/dinosaur as hero book craze. I don’t really get all the fuss. But that’s just me.

A few months ago, people began asking me to support their ThunderClap campaigns. I had no clue what it was. Initially, I ignored all the requests. I was usually at work when I received them and I didn’t have time to find out what it was all about. By the time I went home, I’d forgotten about it. But then a fellow writer (Lisa Marie Rice) asked me what I knew about ThunderClap, and I figured I’d better look into it since other authors were now seeing it as something viable.

For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, ThunderClap is a social media crowdspeaking platform–you start a campaign (for a cause, your gig, your book, etc) and you ask people to help you spread the word. In return, you help them spread the word about their campaigns via your social media networks. You set a deadline and you aim to reach a certain number of supporters by the deadline. With a little luck and perseverance, you will get your supporters, word will spread and thousands of people will find out about you and your campaign–and you hopefully will get some new followers and make a few sales while you’re at it.

So now I am trying ThunderClap for the first time. Yesterday, I set up a campaign for Maybe Forever and so far I’ve got 44 out of 100 supporters. I’ve got nine more days to reach my goal. Once I finish writing this post, I will return the favor to the people who’ve supported my campaign. If I’m lucky, by May 15 (the official release date for Maybe Forever) I will have reached thousands of potential readers and hopefully some of them will be intrigued and will have pre-ordered Maybe Forever.

Who knows? If I am really lucky, ThunderClap could help Maybe Forever become my breakout novel. A girl can dream, right? In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my near-future/SciFi-esque love story (working title: Under the Milky Way).

How many of you have tried ThunderClap? Drop me a line and let me know how it went for you.