Check out Xio Axelrod–another writer from Philly–and Starstruck

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Xio Axelrod, the author of Starstruck

I found out a week or two ago that one of my friends from Philly (we’ve known each other since elementary school) has written a serialized novel. She’s been posting chapter-by-chapter on her blog. The story is called Starstruck and I started reading it mid-last week. I love a good love story, so it’s right up my alley.

Xio’s amazing–she has a beautiful voice, she’s super-talented and she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Go and check it out and show Xio some writerly love! 🙂 You can find Starstruck here.

Happy reading (and writing)!

Cover reveal: A Little Night Music

The lovely cover for A Little Night Music, designed by Andrew Brown from Design for Writers.

The lovely cover for A Little Night Music, designed by Andrew Brown from Design for Writers.

I was going to wait awhile before revealing the cover for A Little Night Music–I’m still tweaking the manuscript–but I love it so much I just had to share it.

I started A Little Night Music three years ago and then set it aside.  There were a lot of reasons I stopped working on it but then I decided to ignore them. I loved the story. I wanted it to see the light of day and people who’d read parts of it urged me to keep working on it. They cared about Naomi and Liam and wanted to find out the rest of their story.

So I resurrected the story, worked on it here and there. It’s nearly done and my plan is to launch it either late July or early August. I’ll keep you posted on the actual launch date. 🙂

Many thanks to Andrew Brown from Design for Writers for helping me with the cover design!

Happy reading (and writing)!

David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible is now available!

ImageFellow writer and indie writing guru David Gaughran has a new book out with tips on writing, selling more books and getting noticed. The book is called Let’s Get Visible and it’s a companion volume to his previous book, Let’s Get Digital. I think both of these books are must-reads for indie writers.

David’s no-nonsense approach is spot-on. I think he’s got another winner here. 🙂

He shares with readers tips on positioning your books for discoverability, cost-effective ways to promote your work and how to minimize the amount of promotion you do and for more writing time–and still sell books. So if you are as curious as I am about how to build your platform without having to spend all hours of the day on Twitter or Facebook (especially when you know you should be writing), then check out Let’s Get Visible. For more information, head over to David’s blog.

Getting closer to publishing Choose Me

Choose Me's lovely cover

Choose Me’s lovely cover

A few months ago, I shared with you a cover for a project called Choose Me. I originally thought I would have published it by April 15. That was my deadline, but then life got in the way. Well, now I am getting closer to feeling like it will be ready soon. I’ve got the first part of it under control. I’m just making some minor tweaks to it. Part One of Choose Me is a novella set in Edinburgh. Part Two will be four short stories set in Philadelphia, Richmond, Rome and London. The stories still need a tiny bit of tweaking but tweaking short stories isn’t nearly as daunting a task as tweaking a novel.

The common thread for the novella and the stories is people making choices. Choices about staying, choices about who they love and what they want. My new deadline is June 1. I think I’ll have it ready by then.

Choose Me will be available as an ebook and a POD paperback. I’ll keep you posted about the official launch date. It might be around Midsummer (June 21) since I will be in Italy the first two weeks of June.

That’s it for now! It’s bedtime for me.

Happy reading (and writing)!

P.S.

Thanks to James at goonwrite.com for making such a beautiful cover for me!

Coming soon…a website for Kim the author

Not sure who created this--but thank you! :)

Not sure who created this–but thank you! 🙂

It’s May Day–a much-needed dayoff from work when I am supposed to be protesting and marching according to Swedish tradition, but really all I’ve done is take care of things I don’t normally have time to do. At least I’ve done four useful things : go to a meeting with the election team for my tenants association, take care of a load of laundry, take a walk and file my Swedish income tax. At the weekend, I’ll file my US income tax form. (One of the good things about living overseas is that we have a tax filing extension until June.)

I’m getting closer to that point where I think one of my novels will be set free to the great, wide world. And it makes me think I need to have a separate website for my books and then this blog for writing reviews. I’ll still write about writing and what I’m reading here. But anything related to the books I publish will be on the website instead. Going to fix a domain and then link the website to the blog. I’ll probably fix it so you can order the books via the website as well.

Anyway, that’s today’s post. Happy May Day! 🙂

And happy reading (and writing)!

Stories lost and found…

A road in Vermont...

A road in Vermont…

A few days ago, I decided to return to a story I started back in 2007 but never finished. There are a number of reasons why I never finished it. Weird comments during workshop review with my former writers group, especially silly ones like “we don’t want to read about Swedes”–not conducive to writing; hitting the 45K mark and getting stuck, worrying that no one would want to read the story. You name it, I worrired about it. So instead of soldiering on, I put the manuscript aside and forgot about it. Then my old computer died. And I lost my original flash drive. And I thought I’d lost that manuscript forever.

Well, the gods of Fate were kind to me. Maybe they were smiling upon me when they saw I’d cleaned off my desk. Well, I found half of the novel on the PC I bought to replace the computer that died. And I found the entire manuscript on my new flash drive–it was in a folder that had been given the name of another book I started writing but then gave up on because I deemed it boring.

So now I found the old story set in Vermont about Cassie and Michael and I’ve decided to finish it and I will give. I’ve given myself a 30 May deadline to finish the first draft. It’s also the same deadline I have for myself to finish revising Maybe Baby. Well, I like a challenge.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

On Pinterest, writing Maybe Baby and inspiration…

I think I’ve become addicted to Pinterest. I’ve been using it to make inspiration boards for my writing and it really helps me–especially when I am trying to imagine setting and what my characters look like. Before Pinterest, I had scrapbooks full of pictures, piles of magazines that littered my desk…it was wonderful chaos that could sometimes be distracting and become a bit of a nightmare. I am trying to bring a sense of order to my life and Pinterest, in its own little way, is helping. Well, at least it’s helping keep my desk While I’ve been working on Maybe Baby, my inspiration board just seems to get bigger and bigger. I’ve got 88 pictures pinned depicting the people who inspired my characters and the places in Copenhagen and Stockholm that feature in the novel. When I first started writing Maybe Baby back in November, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of a Dane as the love interest for my expat American heroine. I was in the middle of a dreary Swedish winter and Nanowrimo was the only thing keeping me from focusing too much on the gray winter skies. I wanted my Swedish main character, Niklas, to be like the Swedish seasons–beautiful and warm in summer, but in turns distant and emotionally unavailable.

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Rudi Køhnke

When I first began writing Maybe Baby, I initially had a Danish actor, Rudi Køhnke, in mind as  Mads. He had the same intensity that I thought Mads should have. But the more I thought about it, the less he felt…right. I’m not sure why he didn’t feel right but he never really became Mads in my head. Maybe he was a little too boyish-looking? Maybe he was too young? Mads is in his mid to late thirties and Rudi Køhnke looks a little too long. I started searching again for the right Mads and it took a couple of days until I realized I needed someone who looked more experienced and had a laid-back vibe. I didn’t want him to be too perfect. I wanted him to be flawed in a good way.

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Eventually, I realized the person I’d been thinking about as I wrote about Mads was actually another Danish actor, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Images of him pepper My Maybe Baby board. Once I switched to thinking about him as Mads, the scenes he was in were easier to write. I guess it helps that I was seeing him everywhere–on Swedish TV, in Game of Thrones, in old episodes of New Amsterdam. I showed my Maybe Baby board to some friends who’d been reading the unedited chapters of Maybe Baby as I posted my Nanowrimo progress here on the blog. They all agreed–he was Mads. So when I finally publish this and, if some lovely day, someone wants the film rights…it’s on one condition–Nikolaj plays Mads. I can’t really picture any American or British actor playing him.

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Kerry Washington

American actress Kerry Washington became the inspiration for Laney. I liked her vibe. I’d seen her in a few films and liked how she could exude vulnerability and sexiness at the same time. Just before I began working on Maybe Baby, I watched Lakeview Terrace. Kerry plays Lisa Mattson, one of the main characters in the film, and she is gutsy, sometimes frustrating and not afraid to show her fear, confusion and anger. She was the perfect Laney and every picture I found of her confirmed it for me. So maybe I need another clause for the day I sell the film rights…Kerry should play Laney to Nikolaj’s Mads. Writing the first draft of Maybe Baby took a month. Revising it has so far taken me four months. I keep finding small things that could be better. I had three months of author mentorship with author Misa Ramirez via Savvy Authors, and she helped me see when I wasn’t going deep enough with my POV, when my pacing was off with too much telling instead of showing and when the backstory was taking over. (Thanks, Misa!) 🙂 I’ve got a plan, and I am trying to stick to it. I’m a bit behind schedule but I think I can catch up. 🙂 In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and, when my brain stalls, I’ll search for pictures that inspire me and pin them on my Pinterest board. And I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 🙂

The slow process of revising

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Not a stack of my manuscripts, but it pretty well could be…

I always thought I could be one of those writers who could breeze through revisions. I read so many stories about how Hemingway could revise quickly, that all good writers can do so. But so far I am struggling with the whole revise 20 pages in 2-3 days jazz that so many other writers seem to be able to do at the drop of a hat. Maybe they are better at sticking to deadlines. Maybe they are exaggerating. Maybe I am too easily distracted.

I think the biggest problem is that I try to revise when I come home from work, when I’ve already spent an entire day writing and revising copy, and my brain refuses to cooperate. I’ve tried revising in the morning and I can usually manage 1-2 pages per day if I stay focused. Did I also mention that the old MFA student in me will spend way too much time wondering if the sentence I wrote is perfect? Yes, every now and then the twenty-something version of me pops up and asks me if that is really the best sentence I could write. And she’s a pain in the ass. She shakes her head at everything. I have to banish her to the back of my mind, otherwise she makes me doubt everything.

But I have a plan and I need to stick to it. I want to finally publish Snowbound this year. I want to publish it by mid-September. I also want to publish Maybe Baby this year and a novella  that is a prequel to Maybe Baby. And then there’s A Little Night Music, a novel I shelved a few years ago and then began working on again. It too needs to see the light of day.

My Matera Brainstormers came up with the idea of checking in with one another on the 15th of every month. We need to report progress, which is good. I like when someone else is keeping track of me. I need a coach who prods and encourages me. It’s good I have my writing buddy Kim K. We meet once a week, talk shop and write.

But I have the feeling that 2013 is the year when I will manage to get at least 2 novels out. And I hope all of you who read my blog will poke me every now and then and say, “Yo, Kim. Finish the revisions now!” 🙂

In search of the perfect book covers – Part One

Even when I was more of a reader than a writer, I judged book covers. A horrible cover–no matter how good the book may have been–was enough to prevent me from purchasing a book. So when I decided to begin self-publishing, I knew I had to make sure that my covers were nice enough that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading my own books. Shallow, I know, but I doubt I’m the only one who’s felt that way.

The first book I published, the collection of short stories entitled The Melanie Chronicles, was what I saw as my experiment in self-publishing. I wanted to see how to Imagego about with formatting, designing a cover and marketing a book. Some parts of it were more difficult than others, but I already had a cover image and I had a little help from my colleagues. I found the cover image on Shutterstock. I knew I wanted an illustration or vector image instead of a photograph. Even though I am not such a big fan of the color pink, I liked that the shade used in the picture was a deeper shade, not baby pink or pastel pink. In the end, I liked the image so much, I also used it on my business cards and as the header for my blog.

For Linger: a short story I designed everything myself. It took a while to find the right cover image. Many of the images I found were too cheesy-looking. I didn’t like the emotion they conveyed. Others felt overly sexual when I wanted a picture of a woman grieving. You don’t know how difficult it can be to find a good image of a grieving black woman. I found plenty of pictures of women spilling out of bras or naked and clinging to men. I found a few that almost conveyed the emotions  I wanted, but they weren’t quite right. In the end, I found the right cover image. But making a cover is not easy, especially when you aren’t proficient in Photoshop or InDesign. I couldn’t really find the right font and I ended up having a font I don’t really like with an image I loved. It was an experiment. I guess you could say it was a semi-successful experiment since I did everything for it myself.

ImageFor my next book covers, I’ve found pre-made book cover designers who also help with custom-made covers. One such designer is James at Humble Nations. He has a great selection of pre-made covers. You can buy one or buy them in bulk and save them for later. The cover images are great and James is helpful, friendly and funny. Since I have quite a few books that are close to being ready for publication, I decided to try his services. The cover for Choose Me, which is a collection of short stories I’m working on, gives you a great idea of James’ work. I love it. I think it captures the feel of the stories, which are stories about love and relationships with a touch of sensuality. I knew I wanted something that felt sexy without feeling cheap and tawdry. I saw this image and I thought it was perfect. I just think it has the right feel. I’m not sure yet when Choose Me will be published. I still need to tweak a few of the stories. I’ll keep you posted on the actual release date. Once it’s ready, it will be available as an ebook and a POD paperback.

I’m also trying to finish the edit of A Little Night Music. I’ve been discussing it with another designer, Andrew, at Design for Writers. As soon as I have some samples, I’ll share them with you.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to share some new blogs/sites with you:

Coming next week: a book review and (maybe) an interview with Nick Alexander.

Happy reading!

Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers

 

David Gaughran at Let’s Get Digital has a great blog post on Simon & Schuster and how they’re starting a self-publishing arm. No, don’t rejoice just yet. Take a look at David’s post and find out why…Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers.