At the Women’s Fiction Festival 2013 — What happened today

Image, Matera, Women's Fiction Festival, Italy

The Sassi district in Matera, Italy

Well, it’s my second full day at the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy, and it’s been very insightful. We’ve had some great panel discussions, including one on screenwriting tips for novelists, which was led by James Dalessandro, author of 1906 and who also happens to be a poet/screenwriter/director/producer. Jane Corry led a very in-depth and compelling workshop on how to better revise your novel. David Gaughran was also on hand for a very interesting presentation of self-publishing and what one needs to think about when embarking on a self-publishing project.

Lessons I’ve learned today?

  • novels don’t have to have a nice, tidy ending (unless it’s a romance)
  • don’t write your novel thinking it would make a great film–write it thinking this is a great story
  • always read your writing aloud to make sure you have the right pitch and rhythm
  • keep main characters to a minimum–readers get lost when there are too many people “on stage”
  • don’t spend all day on Twitter–start a mailing list and send out updates to your readers this way
  • good metadata increases discoverability
  • invest in a good editor and a good cover designer

As always,  there was good wine and great food to be had. 🙂

It’s 30°C here today and I feel sapped of all energy, so I need a nap. And then I will do a little more writing. 🙂

By the way, if you haven’t heard yet, Ernessa T. Carter has a new book out called The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men and it’s…awesome! You need to read it ASAP!

Mid-afternoon ramblings and wishing Abigail and Karen had new books out…

Found at, not sure who made it but it's definitely true for me. :)

Found at, not sure who made it but it’s definitely true for me. 🙂

The last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. It’s left me feeling a little worn out, a little less writerly (which is not good) and in need of being out in the sun (which is good, but also not good). So while I struggle to finish revising and formatting and all the other various things on my to-do list, I’ve been thinking about two of my favorite writers–Abigail Bosanko and Karen Siplin–and wishing they’d come out with new books.

Now, I know they both have their own lives to think about and they are just as super-busy as I’ve been, but I still wish they would send me an email and say, “Guess what, Kim! Our new books are coming soon–in fact, in just a matter of weeks.” Oh, that would make me so happy. And these days it’s easy to make me happy–especially if it also involves a perfectly chilled glass of dry rosé wine and sitting outdoors.

So, Abigail and Karen, please let me (and your other fans) know–is there something new in the works? Will we be able to read it soon? 😀

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. :) Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. 🙂 Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

On the plus side (for me since I can read Swedish), Simona Ahrnstedt–the Swedish romance author I interviewed a while back–has a new book out called De Skandalösa. Going to pick it up this weekend! And everywhere I look in Stockholm I find adverts for her new book–and they’ve crowned her Sweden’s Queen of Romance. Nice! 🙂

But now…Abigail, Karen and Simona…the three of you really ought to come to Matera at the end of September for the Women’s Fiction Festival so we could all finally meet and talk about writing and what you’re working on and I can bore you with talking about my WIP. 🙂 And we can sip white wine in Piazza del Sedile and figure out life, the universe and all that jazz…and somewhere along the line we’ll write. 🙂

OK, now I have to get back to work. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Matera, here I come!

Beautiful Matera

Tomorrow morning I head to the place that always helps me recharge my creative batteries: Matera, Italy. Yes, it’s that time again–time for the Women’s Fiction Festival. I know I only came home from the US a few weeks ago, but I need my biannual dose of Matera and the Matera Brainstormers. They’ve been lifesavers for me

The last time I was in Matera was in March, following my father’s death. I still felt very raw, and my writing was suffering because of it. Going to Matera and having a week to focus on my writing and reconnect with everyone in the group helped me get back on track. Now, work has knocked me off track again, so this sojourn to Matera is an absolute necessity.

For those of you who are novices to my Matera mentions, Matera is where the Women’s Fiction Festival is held every year. It’s a beautiful town with a historical centre that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year, writers, agents and editors from around the world gather at Le Monacelle Hotel for seminars, panel discussions master classes and pitch sessions. Unlike many writer’s conferences, the Women’s Fiction Festival has a very intimate feel, making it easier to get to know the other participants–and of course it helps that Matera is a true foodie city. Which reminds me, I must remember to pick up a bottle of Padre Pepe (a walnut liqueur typical for Basilicata and Puglia) for Tord.

I’ll admit it: I am a creature of habit.I always stay at the Albergo del Sedile when I am in Matera. I love the location and the view of the Piazza del Sedile. The staff there are very friendly, helpful and always make me feel welcome. I’ve always go to Bar Sedile for my first cup of Italian. In the afternoon and early evening, I usually end up at Caffé Vittorio Veneto for snacks and a glass or two of wine while I watch the Materans take their evening stroll. I always end up at IT Style to buy makeup in great colors that suit my skin tone. And I inevitably end up buying a lot of goodies at the various delicatessens so that I can keep my Matera buzz going for as long as possible.

When I return from Matera, I’ll post my Autumn-Winter 2012 reading list and a review of a cozy mystery series I’ve become addicted to.

Happy reading (and writing)!

Planning for September in Matera

Franco, the ever charming barman at the Bar Sedile in Matera.

Even though it’s only May, it’s time for me to plan for my September trip to Matera when I attend the Women’s Fiction Festival. This year’s focus is on how publishing is changing and the options we writers now have. I am looking forward to attending the lectures and master classes.

I’m also looking forward to going to Bar Sedile and hanging out with Franco, the owner of Bar Sedile in Piazza Sedile. He doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Italian (at least, not enough to have a conversation) yet we get along like a house on fire. 🙂 It will also be nice to enjoy a glass of wine at my favorite wine bar at Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Antonio, one of the barmen there, always takes good care of us WFF ladies when we swing by. It’s a great place for people-watching and schmoozing.

So as I write this post, I’m searching online for airline tickets + sending an email to my favorite hotel in Matera, the Albergo del Sedile in hopes they’ll have a room for me. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Now, here is my plan: by September I would like to publish at least three more ebooks. Possibly, one more volume of short stories and two novels. After the festival, I will then focus of getting myself ready for Nanowrimo 2012. One of the novels I want to publish takes place in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to have that one available by late September so I can use Twitter and Facebook to promote the book.

So stay tuned…I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Back from Matera and the Women’s Fiction Festival

This is just a quickie…I promise a proper post is coming soon but Swiss Air lost my luggage and I am without the power cord for my MacBook Air, which is now down to 41% energy now.

The Women’s Fiction Festival was great this year–I met so many interesting people: writers, translators, editors and agents. It was also the boost I needed to get me back to writing again. I wrote every day for at least an hour a day, which I haven’t really done since the beginning of August no matter how hard I tried. Matera is a magical place and it really does get the creative juices flowing.

Anyway, as soon as my luggage arrives with my power cords (for my computer and my iPhone), I will post pictures and a proper update of the event.

Women’s Fiction Festival 2011

Next Wednesday I will be in Matera for the annual Women’s Fiction Festival and I can’t wait to be there. I desperately need a dose of Italy, creativity and the company of other writers. I feel like I am stuck in a writing slump, most likely caused by still grieving my dearly departed grandfather, too much going on at work and the evil autumn darkness descending upon Sweden. I just thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in northern Sweden, where by December there will be 24 hours of darkness. At least here in Stockholm we still get a reasonable amount of light–as long as the cloud cover isn’t too thick.

I’ve been checking out the program for this year’s festival and I’ve found some interesting sessions to participate in:

  • Christine Witthohn‘s class on pitching to agents ( a must! I am not very good at that yet…)
  • Sophie King‘s creative writing workshop (could be the creative boost I need!)
  • Brainstorming session with Sophie King (another possible boost for creativity, yay!)
  • Digital publishing (very interested in this, need some advice on proceeding with this)
  • Using Social Media to brand yourself (always good to know…)
I will be sitting in on a lot of the discussions + soaking up la dolce vita in Matera. I’ll pay a visit to my favorite barkeep/barista Franco at the Bar Sedile (hopefully, I can sit outside and do a little people-watching).
This time I will be staying at Albergo del Sedile, a cute boutique hotel overlooking the Piazza Sedile. I stayed there the first time I was in Matera and loved it. It’s in a great location, the rooms are super-comfortable and it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from where most of the festival activities will be taking place.
I’ll spoil Tord with some Italian goodies when I return to Stockholm. And hopefully, after five days there I will be in the mood to write and gear up for Nanowrimo 2011. That’s the plan…

Sorry for the radio silence…

First, let me apologize for the radio silence. I have been a bit busy the last few weeks–lots to do at work, trying to finish a few projects before I go away on Thursday morning. Plus, I was experiencing that weird phenomenon called “vårtrötthet” or “Spring Fatigue”. I don’t know if anyone else in the world experiences this but in Scandinavia it seems like it’s the norm.  When spring comes, after so many months of cold and darkness, we feel worn out by the light and the warmth (well, it’s not that warm yet but it’s warmer than it was). I have felt like a zombie. Which I guess is fitting since I’ve been watching a lot of “The Walking Dead” and reading Deborah Harkness’s  A Discovery of Witches and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

I finished reading A Discovery of Witches a few days ago and really enjoyed the world Deborah Harkness has created. Imagine a world where everything is perfectly normal on the surface–it’s just that normal humans have no clue they’re sharing space with witches, daemons and vampires. Enter into this world Diana Bishop, the last of the infamous Bishop witches. Diana has tried to live a life without magic since the death of her parents, but magic refuses to remain dormant within her. One day while doing research at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Deborah finds a bewitched book on alchemy that’s been missing for centuries. Her finding the book triggers intrigues all connected with the importance of this book–which could explain the very origin of otherworldly creatures–and it leads Diana to Mattew, a vampire who isn’t all he appears to be. The story is fast-paced and intricate, with a nice romantic touch for those of us who like that sort of thing. I love how Harkness describes daemons as creative geniuses with a wild, unpredictable passionate nature. One daemon in particular plays a small role in the book but those glimpses the reader gets of him are enough to prick curiosity. I have a feeling he will be there in a bigger role in the sequel, which is due out in 2012. Be prepared: A Discovery of Witches is part of a trilogy.

The Passage is of a much darker nature. Steeped in the paranoia of the near-future, Justin Cronin’s 962-page novel deals with the collapse of society following a government experiment gone wrong. Three characters become interconnected in ways that no one can predict: Amy, a six-year-old girl who’s been abandoned by her mother; Anthony Carter, a prisoner on Death Row who is trying to figure out what really happened on the day that led to his imprisonment; and FBI Agent Wolgast, who is  bound to Anthony and Amy via Project Noah and a strange feeling that something ominous is coming. And he’s right–there is something awful and insidious on its way and Amy is the only one who can stop it. This is the second novel by Cronin that I’ve read, the first being Mary and O’Neil which had a completely different feel but was equally engulfing. The language is lyrical and yet spare. And there are moments when The Passage feels so cinematic you’ll feel like you’re watching an apocalyptic epic.  Intrigued? You should be…and don’t be put off by the length of the book–you’ll be hooked from the first page…

That’s it for now. On Thursday I am off to Matera, Italy for a writer retreat at Locanda di San Martino. Four days of writing and creativity in southern Italy…that’s exactly what I need to get rid of this Spring Malaise. I was in Matera two years ago for the Women’s Fiction Festival and fell in love with the city. I am looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces and being in the company of writers again. Many thanks to Elizabeth Jennings for organizing the “Brainstorming at the Spa” retreat.