6 IR/MC love stories to read to get your heart racing for Valentine’s Day

shutterstock_152210192I’m not one of those women who usually get so worked up over Valentine’s Day. Hard to believe, right? Especially since I write romantic fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial aspect of a day dedicated to love. It could also do with having had a high school boyfriend who’d break up with me just before Valentine’s Day and Christmas so he wouldn’t have to spend money on presents. Good thing I wised up and left him behind. But I do love reading (and writing) love stories, so I thought I’d give you some suggestions for IR/MC novels to get you in the mood for love. Are you ready?

tumblr_lz3e3izUBG1qalhmdo1_400

5: Again for the First Time by Raven St. Pierre

Again for the First Time Cover

What would you do if a stranger approached you and, instead of asking  you for directions, he asked you to marry him? That’s exactly what happens to Lissette when the very handsome Luke proposes to her on a very emotional afternoon when she’s just found out that her ex is now engaged and moving on with someone new.

What neither Lissette nor Luke expect is that she says yes. Suddenly she and Luke are embarking on a journey that has them married within two weeks of meeting.  Jumping into the unknown with nothing but blind faith and a burgeoning attraction for one another, their unconventional relationship leaves their friends and families wondering if they know what they’re doing. And the two must learn to get to know (and trust) one another–even when the odds are stacked against them.

It’s a quirky love story that–even with its improbable scenario–has you falling in love with Lissy and Luke and hoping their newfound love will stand the test of time. Raven St. Pierre does a great job of carrying the reader along the bumpy road of Lissy and Luke’s marriage. A great love story–sexy without being overly graphic, with two well-drawn characters whose flaws make you love them.

4: The Sweetest Taboo by Harper Miller

HarperMillercoverNow I am usually not very interested in BDSM novels, but Harper Miller has done something very interesting here by creating two characters who go into the relationship on equal footing–despite Rick being the dom and Micah being the sub. From the moment they meet in a New York City fetish club, it’s obvious that fate will pull strings and make sure these two will cross paths again.

Like I said, I don’t usually find BDSM novels very appealing, but Miller succeeds in creating two very intriguing characters in Rick and Micah. Also, she takes us into the heart of what has brought them into this world of submission and domination without making the reader lose sight of the fact that this is a love story–a very erotic love story, but a love story from beginning to end.

The Kiss

3: Yours by Tia Kelly

Yours CoverIf you’re more in the mood for a quick read that’s smart, sexy and unputdownable, then this is the novella for you. A chance encounter between two people in need of a second chance at love, Yours chronicles how a one-night stand leads to something more for good girl Theresa Clarke and the very sexy, brooding Spaniard, Javier Fernandez.

After spending a very passionate night together, neither expects to see the other again, but–as is always the case with a good love story–fate decides to bring them together again. There’s off-the-chart chemistry between Theresa and Javier–and even when she tries to deny it, Theresa knows she cannot ignore the feelings she has for him. The same is true for Javier–the desire he feels for Theresa pushes him to pursue her, even when she initially says they cannot see one another or when she assumes all he wants from her is a glorified booty call. Sexy and smartly written, this is one must-read novella.

2: Addicted Allison by Noelle Black

Addicted AllisonI thought I was the only black woman writing sexy stories featuring black women and Nordic men, but Noelle Black has joined me. 😉 Her novella, Addicted Allison, is set in world of luxury hotels and the heroine, Allison, blows off steam after long work days as the creative director for a hospitality design firm by meeting men online for one reason alone–sex.

Enter Mattias, a Swede with a big personality and a love of curvy black women. Mattias is enthralled with Allison and all too soon he makes it clear he doesn’t want to share her with anyone else. Her sexy encounter with him has her questioning what she really wants…and could have her going down a very different path than she initially intended.

This is a cleverly written erotic romance that’s more than a just sexy story. It also goes into the expat experience from a black woman’s perspective and gives us an open-ended but satisfying ending that leaves room to explore more of Allison’s adventures.

1: Maybe BabyMaybe Tonight by me

webgoodreads

Maybe Tonight Cover for WPYes, yes, I know, this smacks of blatant self-promotion but Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight fit the bill. I’m not going to review my own books, but I will tell you that you get to read both Laney and Mad’s sides of their love story–which definitely had an unusual start seeing as they met when she looking into finding a sperm donor to be the potential father of her future children. If you haven’t read Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to get to know their stories and maybe even get hooked on their different sort of love story.

Happy reading!

The only thing that helps at times like this is buying books

It’s been a crazy two weeks. There is a lot going on at work, which means I am exhausted physically and mentally when I come home. And this is affecting my writing time. I wake up too tired to write. I come home too tired to write. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to read other people’s work instead but I find myself falling asleep on the sofa–not because the books are boring, but because I am tired. Ah well, at least I have Matera and my vacation in the US to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Anyway, I indulged in a little retail therapy and this is what I bought:

ImageMo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman

I had to get this. Questlove and I come from the same town, my beloved Philadelphia. We both come from West Philly. We’re both creative–he’s a musical genius, I’m a writer. Really, it’s a wonder our paths haven’t crossed yet. 😉 But seriously, I am always drawn to books and movies set in my hometown. And since I am a Roots fan and I have always liked Questlove, I knew I needed to get a copy of his memoir. And then a few months ago, Nick Hornby was talking about Questlove’s memoir and I was even more intrigued. It wasn’t available yet and when I tried to preorder it here in Stockholm, I was met with blank stares from  bookstore staff. Of course, after I finally ordered it from Amazon UK, then every online bookstore in Sweden suddenly decided they could stock it as well. I don’t care. I have it now and the cover looks great. I’ve already sneaked a peek at a few pages and this is definitely my kind of book.

I haven’t started reading Mo’ Meta Blues yet but it is the next book on my To Read List. Maybe I will save it as something to read while I am in Philly and then give to my oldest niece as a source of inspiration. I want her to see that there is more to the world than the confines of our old neighborhood.

ImageThe other book I ended up buying is not new but I didn’t want to read it when everyone else was reading it because I really, really hate when other people see you’re reading the same book and then they feel compelled to inadvertently spoil it for you. So which book is it? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I love a good mystery/thriller and I wanted to be able to read this without everyone else a) trying to convince me it was godhead, b) wanting to discuss it and reveal spoilers, c) wanting to talk about which Hollywood A-listers should play Nick and Amy. Luckily the Gone Girl hype in Stockholm has died down. I think everyone has found a new novel to gush about. I started reading it on Thursday and it’s as good as everyone assured me it was. I’ve decided I need to Gillian Flynn’s other novels (Dark Places and Sharp Objects) as well, so they are also on the To Read List for this autumn/winter. And what could be better to read in Stockholm–that city where the winter cloud cover is so thick you nearly forget there is a thing called the sun–than really tight mystery novels that play tricks with your mind? 🙂

So I think I am set for a few weeks. I am editing Maybe Baby again after making changes suggested by a beta reader. I’m also beta reading a friend’s novel. And I have to wait and see what the future has in store for me. If all else fails, at least I have my writing, Nanowrimo and my gorgeous husband. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Giveaway update and–hey, a 1-star review!

Apparently not many of my readers have iPhone 5s, so there were no winners for the Choose Me iPhone 5 cases. Well, now I know for the next giveaway. 🙂

On to other minutiae–checked my reviews on Amazon as one does and, after receiving a few 5-star reviews and a 3-star review, I received a 1-star review. At first, I was a little stunned. But then I reminded myself that one can never be guaranteed fans. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you write for whatever reason.

I wonder how many 1-star reviews I’ll get when Maybe Baby finally comes out. Laney isn’t always the easiest of characters to love. You’ll either love her or hate her. Well, more when it’s nearer to launch date. 🙂

Back soon with book reviews and a novel update!

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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. 🙂

My Spring 2013 reading list

Image

No blossoms yet in Stockholm, but soon!

Spring has finally arrived in Stockholm, Sweden–the air is getting warmer, the ice on Brunnsviken has finally melted, I could actually go out without a thick scarf and hat on. You know what that means–now I get to tell you what books I plan on reading (or am already reading).

So what’s on the list this time? One oldie and lots of new books. 🙂

  • The Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton. Now, I read this book a few years ago and loved it. I was feeling nostalgic and decided to read it again.
  • The Husband Diet by Nancy Barone. Nancy is one of my fellow Matera brainstormers and this is one of the books we brainstormed together. Can’t wait to finally read it. I’ve preordered it. 🙂
  • Damocles by S.G. Redling. Sheila is another Matera brainstormer and Damocles is another book we all brainstormed. I loved the plot when she told us about it. I think this is going to be another hit like her previous novel, Flowertown. Different genre, complete different story but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
  • The Lost Daughter by Mary Williams. Williams is an African-American woman who was adopted by actress Jane Fonda. The Lost Daughter is her memoir about growing up in Oakland in the 1970s and what brought her to the camp Fonda and then-husband Tom Hayden ran. It’s also a story about self-discovery and knowing when you can go home again.
  • Leftovers by Stella Newman. I loved Newman’s Pear Shaped--even when her main character was driving me crazy with being submissive to an emotionally-unavailable man. According to the back cover blurb, Leftovers is about friendship, love and enjoying what’s left on the table. I’ve already got it on my Kindle…soon I’ll dive in. 🙂
  • Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy. Every now and then, I need a dose of paranormal, and it looks like this time it will be the werewolves of Hemlock Grove who give me my dose. 🙂
  • Lessons in French by Hillary Reyl. Set in Paris in 1989, this is a story about a woman rediscovering Paris and her past. It’s also about what happens when life begins to spiral out of control. I can’t wait to dig into this one! 😀
  • Banker’s Death: Temptation in Florence #3 by Beate Boeker. Beate’s a fellow Matera brainstormer and, as I posted earlier, I love her sense of humor and her quirky cast of characters.
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler. Having read so much by and inspired by  F.Scott, it’s great to finally find a novel about Zelda. This one is sure to be enthralling!
  • Woman on the Run by Lisa Marie Rice. Rice is the pseudonym for one my fellow Matera Brainstormers. She writes great romantic and erotic suspense and this is one of her books which I haven’t read yet. I think I will take this one with me to Copenhagen in a few weeks! 🙂

That’s it for now. I am anxious to get working on Maybe Baby again. I’m revising Chapter 7. Five more chapters to tighten and then I will feel ready to release it. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)! 🙂

The slow process of revising

Image

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!” 🙂

March Madness of a writerly kind

Photo: Textlad @Flickr

Photo: Textlad @Flickr

My writers friends and I have an annual tradition. Much like November is my Nanowrimo month, March is time for March Madness. No, it’s not when we all bow at the altar of Mads, the Danish hunk in my WiP, Maybe Baby (the first draft of which you may remember was my Nanowrimo project). March Madness is when we vow to write at least 500 words a day every day for the entire month. It’s like Nanowrimo-lite but just for us.

Why do we do it, you wonder? Well, January is that month when everyone swears they will write everyday and they make resolutions (and you know I stopped making those a while ago). February you try to keep the momentum going. This year I was lucky. February has been a very productive month. March is when you usually forget you even made any promises to yourself. And March Madness came to being.

I can’t take credit for March Madness. I think it was Catherine from Stockholm Writers Group who first came up with the idea. Some years, I’ve managed to hang in there. Other years I start and then forget about it. But this year I feel like I can commit.

What about the rest of you? Have you got a March tradition to keep you writing?

Thinking about my dad

Image

My dad, George Nocho Golden.

I thought I was going to be in the mood to write two book reviews last week but I ended up focusing on my own writing. I’ve been in a bit of a weird mood lately, and I know it’s because we are closing in on the first anniversary of my father’s death.

Because of this, I won’t be posting anything this weekend. My hubby and I are taking a weekend trip so I can have a change of scenery. We’re going to Copenhagen on Friday so that I can catch up with some old friends and do a little research to strengthen Maybe Baby, which you may remember is partially set there.

So soon it’s a year since my dad left our lives. I miss him and find myself thinking about him quite often. We had a very complicated relationship. My mother used to say the reason my dad and I had problems seeing eye to eye was that we were too similar. We both had strong opinions and didn’t back down very easily. We both were moody. We both were extroverted introverts. We had a huge falling out when I was in college, which led to him refusing to pay for my tuition. My mom and I had to struggle to make sure it was paid every semester and I will never forget the sacrifices she made so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree. It took a long time for the father-daughter relationship to recover after that. But by the time my dad died, we’d found a way back to one another, even if it was bittersweet since he couldn’t remember who I was towards the end.

Whenever I read the short stories and novels I’ve written, I find there’s always at least one character based on my dad. So far, Maybe Baby doesn’t have a George Golden-based character. There’s no grumpy former Marine hiding between the lines. Which is strange. There’s no Babara Golden-like character either. I think I need to rectify that. She should be there in some way. Maybe I need to make some space for him too.

Post-Nanowrimo Update: Last three chapters online

That's me! :)

That’s me! 🙂

Now that Nanowrimo is over, I can do useless things like watch TV and do laundry (actually, I managed to do both of these things while I was doing my Nanowriting). It also means I can start my Christmas Movie Bonanza–the annual event when Tord and I overload on our favorite Christmas movies like Elf, the Holiday, Surviving Christmas, the Preacher’s Wife and Love, Actually. And we drink glögg (Swedish for mulled wine).

Now, for those of you who’ve been following Laney, Mads & Niklas’s story, you can now read the last three chapters of Maybe Baby. Please remember it’s still really, really rough. And there are still plot holes–already thinking of ways to correct them. Hope you enjoy the rest of the story. It’ll  be online until the end of the month. After that, I’ll start a new page to keep you updated on the revision status of Maybe Baby and when I hope to make it available.

Also, this month, I’m trying to raise money to donate to Stockholms Stadsmision, an organization here in Stockholm that helps women and children in need, the homeless, and substance abusers who are trying to recover. If you buy a copy of  The Melanie Chronicles (ebook or print version) or Linger: a short story (Kindle-only), all the profits for the month of December will be donated to the mission.

Happy First Advent! 🙂