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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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! 🙂

Maybe Trio

There’s a reason I no longer play sports and concentrate on writing: I have *zero* coordination. Today, while walking, I managed to sprain my ankle. I stepped on what looked like a pretty solid piece of pavement with a bit of gravel on it–turned out to be a pile of gravel–and my foot went in one direction, my body in the other. Yes, it hurts. A lot. And the outer side of my left ankle is swollen and tender as is part of the top of my foot.

I’d take a picture, but I don’t think you want to see my battle-weary foot. I’ve propped up my foot and making sure I do a good job of feeling sorry for myself. 😉

Earlier today I worked on formatting Maybe Forever so that I can get the e-ARCs ready to send out. I still have a bit to do, but I think I should be done in 2-3 days. I hope everyone who loved Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight will enjoy the continuation of Laney and Mads’s story.

I’m still working on Maybe Tomorrow. Not sure why it’s taking me so long, but that’s the deal at the moment. I’ve set a deadline for myself since I plan on publishing it in July. And I am working on a story board/plot outline for a new idea featuring a companion robot who falls in love. I’ve also got another story idea I am working on that’s a little more down to earth. 😉

Not much else to tell you today, but I hope the rest of you are having a great Sunday.

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Welcome to Scandinavia, where winters are long, men are tall and summer can be absolutely brilliant…or rainy.

In July it will be twenty years since I left the United States behind and embarked on an adventure in the name of love in Scandinavia. I only knew a handful of people here–the man I was in love with and his family. At the time, it never occurred to me that this was not something I should do–apply for a residency permit, buy a one-way ticket, sell all my personal belongings, board a plane, take off into the great unknown. There were plenty of nay-sayers. Whenever I told people I was moving for love, they’d tell me I was crazy. More often than not, someone would comment on how I was “giving up my life” to be with a white man–as if the color of his skin had somehow clouded my judgment or made me incapable of rational thought. I tried to ignore their negativity, but every now and then their words would annoy the hell out of me. And they annoyed me because they behaved as though my relationship with the man who would later become my husband was not “real” because he was not black or because he was not American. As if these two factors were the only way a black American woman could be happy.

While all of this was spiralling around me, I was trying to write a novel. I was nearing the end of working on my master’s degree in Creative Writing and putting the finishing touches on my master’s thesis–a collection of short stories I’d worked on for three years, tweaking until each story was a gem (in my eyes anyway). Now the novel, well, it was this unformed thing. I had faceless characters with vague back stories. I had a setting that was probably more detailed than the plot itself. And the plot…well, there wasn’t really one. In short, I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was writing about.

It took several years and a lot of false starts to finally realise that my problem was trying to write about relationships without taking any inspiration from my own life experience. I knew what it was like to be a black woman in an interracial relationship, but I wasn’t really writing about it. And what was crazy was that I was looking for books that featured interracial relationships. They were few and far between at that time. When I found them, I devoured them. I studied them, I thought about what I liked and didn’t like about those novels. The main sticking point was that, in most of the novels, the men were pursuing women who were so hung up on race that they couldn’t accept the love they felt for the man in question because his skin color was wrong. And that wasn’t the interracial experience I knew.

The more books I read, the more i wanted to read a story in which the heroine wasn’t resisting the man who loved her simply because he had a melanin deficiency. Now, mind you, I am being a tad bit snarky here. I know that a lot of it was dealing with the legacy of racism that has left an indelible mark on American society. But I was convinced that readers would love to read a novel about an interracial couple that was not only about their racial differences. I didn’t want racism to be a major part of the plot because I wanted the love story or how the couple fell in love and other everyday problems to be in the focus. So I decided to follow the advice of Benjamin Disraeli and I set about writing the book I want to read.

My first attempt was the novel I wrote to learn how to write a novel. It was called Second Skin, and it was set in my hometown of Philadelphia. I loved writing Melanie and John’s love story, but it was a painful process and the story, no matter how many times I’ve tried to revise or rewrite it, never becomes the story I intended. I’ve never published it, but I am considering simply releasing it and letting my readers decide themselves.

The next novel I tried to write never made it to the finish line. It was a near-repeat of all the mistakes I made while trying to write my MFA novel. No outline, no real plan. It was a meandering mess. Only six chapters of that novel remain. And while there are some great scenes in it, the story itself just doesn’t move me and will probably never be resurrected.

dfw-kg-sb-cover-2-smallFast-forward to when I finally wrote Snowbound. By then, I’d figured out that I like writing very flawed characters. I liked writing about people who sometimes do stupid things, who smoke, who sometimes drink too much, who sometimes fuck the wrong people and have to deal with the consequences of their actions. I wanted Mia to be a character who is not always reliable. I wanted her to be a woman who has fucked up and who is trying to figure out what she really wants and how she can prevent herself from making those same mistakes again. She walks away from the wrong relationship with the wrong guy and ends up meeting the sort of man she never expected–a conflict zone photographer who happens to be a white South African.

A few people questioned my choosing to write about a white South African man. I didn’t initially plan for Jake to be South African. I wanted to write about a man whose experiences with race would be different from Mia’s. I thought it would be interesting to contrast their experiences. A man who’s grown up with the legacy of apartheid. A woman who’s grown up with America’s own divisive legacy. But I didn’t want this to be the main focus. The focus was on finding love. And finding it when they least wanted or expected it. And I wanted to set this story in snowy Vermont. Snowbound wasn’t perfect, but it was close to the sort of story I wanted to read and write.

webgoodreadsBy the time I wrote Maybe Baby, I’d decided that it was time to write about Scandinavia. I’d avoided doing so more from criticism from my writers group. We were all Americans who’d come to Sweden for Swedish partners. And, at the time, no one in the group wanted to read a story about a woman who was in love with a Swede. So I stored it away and, when I was no longer in the group, I decided to write about a love triangle with two very different Scandinavian men being the lovers Laney would have to choose between. I wanted to write about about a woman who was rootless, who was searching for the idea of home. Laney came about, in some ways, because of my own experiences as a black American woman living in Scandinavia. Though my relationship with my Swedish husband was very different from Laney’s with her Swedish partner, Niklas, I knew about the quirks that come along with being with a Swedish man–the avoidance of conflict, the stony silence, how the darkness could affect their moods, the sudden personality change the moment they leave Sweden. I knew I could write about the cultural differences, I also knew I could write about how, for Laney, this would make her feel like she was drifting. I remembered feeling that way when I first moved here. I took all of this and put it into the my writing. And I think that the end result of Maybe Baby is exactly the sort of book I wanted to read but could never find in bookstores. Laney is not an easy character to love. She is indecisive, she is sometimes selfish, but deep down she is vulnerable and lost. And she meets Mads and, though what connects them at first is sex, there is this undercurrent between them–they have both found home with each other. And that’s what love is. And interestingly enough I managed to write a novel about an interracial relationship in which race isn’t a major factor, it’s more the journey to love that is important.

So I guess with all of this, I am trying to say that I write about about interracial relationships to show that they are no different from other relationships. Everyone is searching for love. And the person you fall in love with is the person who makes you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before. Or whenever you are with them, you feel as though there is no other place you’d rather be. And where they come from or the color of their skin becomes irrelevant.

magic size (1)Fellow author Caroline Bell Foster and I are on simultaneous blog tours this week! 😀

I’ll be sharing insight into Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight, and Caroline will be giving us the scoop on Call Me Lucky! Get to know us, our books and our characters a little better, and find out what we’ll be up to next. 🙂 We always love to hear from our readers, so check out our tour schedules and pop by!

Here’s my schedule  and here’s Caroline’s. Many thanks to the team at Diverse Book Tours for helping us arrange our mini-tours!

Other news? I should be getting Maybe Forever back from the editor tomorrow, so soon I’ll now how much of a rewrite is necessary. 🙂 Once that’s done, I’ll finally be able to share a release date with you. 🙂

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Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 20.50.11It’s Maybe Baby‘s first birthday, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s hard to believe that a year ago I pressed publish on Amazon and people began discovering Laney & Mads’s story.

To celebrate, there’s a giveaway or two on my FB author page. So head over–you could win one of three autographed Maybe Baby notecards or an autographed paperback of Maybe Baby.

It’s my little way of thanking everyone who fell in love with Laney’s story of self-discovery, her story of falling in love and understanding what she really needed.

Soon the continuation of Laney & Mads story will be out–will keep you posted with the release date, but it’s with an editor now, so I hope that I’ll have good news for you in a few weeks.

So, once again, thank you for all your love and support! Your enthusiasm for Laney, Mads and their love story has been amazing. This has been a wonderful year–and I couldn’t have done it without you! 😀

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 20.50.11It’s Maybe Baby‘s first birthday, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s hard to believe that a year ago I pressed publish on Amazon and people began discovering Laney & Mads’s story.

To celebrate, there’s a giveaway or two on my FB author page. So head over–you could win one of three autographed Maybe Baby notecards or an autographed paperback of Maybe Baby.

It’s my little way of thanking everyone who fell in love with Laney’s story of self-discovery, her story of falling in love and understanding what she really needed.

Soon the continuation of Laney & Mads story will be out–will keep you posted with the release date, but it’s with an editor now, so I hope that I’ll have good news for you in a few weeks.

So, once again, thank you for all your love and support! Your enthusiasm for Laney, Mads and their love story has been amazing. This has been a wonderful year–and I couldn’t have done it without you! 😀

Linger_ a short story, new cover-3Valentine’s Day is not my favourite holiday, but I do like the idea of spreading love. So to get in the spirit of things, I’m giving you a little Valentine’s Day present–my Kindle-only short story “Linger” is free all weekend! So from now until Sunday evening you can either get your own copy or gift it to a friend who hasn’t tried my writing yet.

Think of it as a starter–I’ve already decided that I am going to expand “Linger” into a novella or a novel. If you haven’t read it, it’s set in Stockholm and it’s about a woman and her husband’s ghost. It’s not a Stephen King-esque ghost story (though I do have an unfinished ghost story that is and I really should finish writing it–it would make my writing buddy, Kim Kane, very happy if I did). 🙂 Keep an eye out for it…but you know I will keep you posted on its progress. It might be ready by late summer.

And then, to continue spreading the love, I’m sharing teaser images of love messages from Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight all weekend. Keep an eye out for them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and tsu.

Hope you all have a great Valentine’s Day weekend–happy reading (and whatever else you get up to)… 😉

30 Days30 StoriesEarlier today, while sitting in a meeting at work, I started thinking about my 30 Days, 30 Stories challenge and how it would be great to have all the stories in one place where people can read them. I’ve been sharing them on my Facebook author page and on Goodreads, now I’m sharing it on Wattpad as a compiled book–and, yes, it’s free.

Are the stories perfectly edited? Nope, and they probably never will be until I decide to use them in some future project. But if you want to read them on your phone or your tablet as a proper e-book, you can read them for free by using this link, http://embed.wattpad.com/story/32495751.

Or, if you’re already a member on Wattpad, add it to your library. I’ll be updating until the end of the month. One of the stories, “Drive”, is the first chapter of a novella I’m working on about Jesper, Niklas’s teenage son from Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight. You’ll see it later this spring. I’ve got to finish a couple of other projects first. 🙂

webgoodreadsThe Christmas spirit must be getting to me–it is Third Advent, lights are twinkling in every window and Christmas isn’t too far off…I have this sudden urge to give away three signed paperbacks of Maybe Baby and I’m doing it through Goodreads.

Interested?

All you have to do is click here and enter the giveaway.

No trivia questions to answer, no scavenger hunt, just use the link and enter to win. Winners will be picked on 3 January. And why that date? Because it’s my birthday and, as far as I am concerned, it’s an international holiday. This giveaway is open to *everyone*! So no matter where you are in the world, you can enter and if you win you’ll receive your signed copy directly from me. 🙂

The giveaway starts today and ends on 3 January–so head over to Goodreads and give it a shot. You never know–you just might be one of the lucky winners!