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  • Join me at Stockholm Writers Festival
    Stockholm's Gamla Stan at dusk
    Stockholm – home of Stockholm Writers Festival
    (Photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash)

    Looking for a good reason to visit Stockholm, Sweden in August? I’ve got the best one for you – especially if you’ve got a book inside you that’s just itching to see the light of day – come join me at Stockholm Writers Festival 12-14 August.

    I’ll be on the faculty with some pretty amazing people like award-winning author and keynote speaker Aliette de Bodard, Lola Akinmade Åkerström (bestselling author of In Every Mirror She’s Black) and Olivia Dade (bestselling author of Spoiler Alert), the Book Doctors, Ricardo Fayet, Jessica Renheim and Elinor Cooper from Reedsy, agents John Berlyne, Thérèse Coen and Kerry Glencorse and more.

    Go on…get your writing groove on at SWF

    This year is the festival’s fifth birthday and it’s sure to be even more awesome than usual. The Book Doctors are making their first Nordic visit and will share their wisdom on making your book a success as well as emcee Pitchapalooza – so get your synopses and elevator pitches ready!

    Ready to join us? Order your ticket today and don’t forget to book your hotel room at one of SWF’s partner hotels.

  • What’s going on…
    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.

  • Looking forward to next year and continuing My Season of Giving
    .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.

  • My Season of Giving 2.0

    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.

  • Prepping for NaNoWriMo 2020

    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?

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