Month: March 2018

Filter words and the Chinese bamboo

WHEN is spring coming?! I’m probably not the only one going crazy waiting for winter to fade away. My writing company for the day are the lovely flowers in the pictures below; winter outside, spring inside. That’ll suffice for now.

Since English isn’t my first language, I occasionally get stuck on things Google can’t help me wrap my head around. This happened the other day, so I turned to one of the writers groups on Facebook (thank heavens they exist) with the following question;

Help!

“His words sound electric”

or

“His words sound electrical”?

Oh, how I love when you get answers you didn’t know you were looking for. Everyone advised me to go with electric, but one particular soul was kind enough to enlighten me that the word “sound” is what’s called a “filter word”, and she recommended me to get rid of it.

Hm, a “filter word”? I had never heard of it. So I turned my attention back to Google to fill the knowledge gap. After bumping in and out of some websites I’d gotten the message clear:

A filter word is a word which distances the reader from the experience. By using a filter word, you make the reader a passive viewer of what the character’s feeling, and weaken the reader’s engagement with the text.

“Shit! This needs out!” That was my first thought. My second thought was; “Which words are filter words?” Let me enlighten you the way I was (even though I reckon many of you fellow writers already know this by heart):

  • can
  • to see
  • to hear
  • to think
  • to touch
  • to wonder
  • to realize
  • to watch
  • to look
  • to seem
  • to feel (or feel like)
  • to decide
  • to sound (or sound like)
  • to notice
  • to be able to
  • to note
  • to experience
  • to remember

With a surrendering, nervous laugh (wish I could insert a GIF right here), I came to the realization that my revision phase just got extended at least another four to six weeks. I’ll have to do a whole round only focusing on replacing filter words, strengthening the text. To my grateful relief, I’ve been doing this unconsciously up till now as well, but there sure are more work to be done.

Do you know of more filter words? Let me know in the comments here or on Instagram.

But hey, we learn as long as we live and at the end of the day, it’ll be all worth it! Keep getting at it, whatever you’re struggling with right now. Think of yourself as a Chinese Bamboo Tree (Google it and read about how it grows) – one day you’ll shoot your sprouts towards the sky and nothing’ll stop you.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

march snow

pink tulips

pink tulips laptop

march candle

spring workplace

Writing and crushes

Is it just me, or do the weeks just fly by? It seems like there are only Mondays and Fridays, and we’re already at the end of March. It feels like it was only a couple of weeks ago I built the website and launched my social media platforms, but that was way back in January. I guess that’s a sign I’m doing something I really love, and I’m both happy and grateful for having connected with so many talented, hardworking people. Thank you for all your input, whatever form they take!

I’m still revising the first draft of Kilonova Blues, and I’ve worked my way through chapter ten this week. Only eight more to go! I didn’t think I’d enjoy this part of the writing process as much as I actually do, but the feeling of rereading an edited chapter and seeing the progress is so fulfilling. Even if I’m not even through the first round yet, I can’t wait to get back and start all over with the ever-growing list of things to look at that I wrote about in my last blogpost. And don’t even get me started with the excitement I feel regarding working with beta readers further down the line, and see the manuscript evolve even more!

I feel like I’m still in the crush-phase with writing, you know that first phase when you date someone, and everything’s just shimmering and breathtaking? We’ve been in this phase for almost a year now, and scientists say it usually lasts up to six months, so I’d say writing and I have a very promising future ahead of us. I know there’ll be bumps and challenges along the road that we’ll need to overcome, but for now, we just go with the flow and let our worlds revolve around that tingly sensation that makes everything sparkle.

Let me give you a taste of a dialogue between Alexandra and Marcus in chapter ten:

“Don’t ask me how or why, but there must be a reason we met. I feel the same strong force pulling us together as you do. Why do we fight it?”

“You know why”, he dismisses in a stern voice.

I close my eyes and shake my head, feeling the previous strong conviction returning to me. “No, Marcus. It’s not right. I’m not afraid of you.”

“I could destroy you”, he insists.

“No, not without my permission. I’m the only one who can destroy me. Depending on who I choose to engage with, everyone has the possibility to destroy me. My life is not your responsibility. I am responsible for my life and the decisions I make.”

I wish you all a wonderful weekend! Don’t forget to rest. Even the happiest relationships benefit by creating some space to miss each other from time to time 

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

writing at cafe

watching headlamps

gazing outside

cafe entrance

walking outside

Perseverance and revision strategy

It’s #writerswednesday and March 14th. Today I’m wrapping up revising chapter seven of my paranormal romance novel Kilonova Blues. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my naïvety knew no boundaries when I sat down to schedule my work this spring. I estimated to spend one day per chapter for the first revision round, but boy, was I mistaken.

I’m still revising at the same slow, steady pace in which I set off with the first chapter, meaning I’m working through two chapters a week. With the first draft of the book coming in at 18 chapters, that means I’ve still got five weeks to go before the second draft’s finished. Instead of three to four weeks, I’ll end up spending roughly nine weeks in total on this part of the process. Deep breaths Aries, deep breaths… It’ll be worth it.
Since my 30th birthday’s coming up this spring as well, it’ll probably come in at ten or eleven weeks, ’cause I got myself a little trip to celebrate the occasion. 😉 I’ll tell you more about that later on.

So, how have I structured the work of revising the text? Well, for this first round, I’ve just decided to focus on rewriting everything that strikes me as too simply phrased. I try to glue the story together, make sure everything make sense, add to the story where the context seems to thin. I’m basically working through the body of the text. The key of my strategy is to focus on one thing at a time, at least this early in the process. Otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

While I work, I take notes on what I need to focus on for the next round (or the round after that, or the one after that…). So far, this is what I’ve found I need to work through:

  • Strike out as many adjectives and adverbs as possible – show, don’t tell
  • Check consistency for dates and time
  • Check accurate use of ´ vs. ‘
  • Check consistency for dialogue and quotes
  • How often do I use the phrase “a wide smile” – eventually replace?
  • How often do I use the phrase “a wry smile” – eventually replace?
  • How often do I use the word “gaze” – eventually replace?
  • Check “toward” vs. “towards”
  • Do I really like “eyes pop wide open”? How can I rephrase this surprised facial expression?
  • Check accurate use of “spark” vs. “sparkle”
  • “Ok” or “Okay” – choose which one
  • Check the phrasing of “with a (certain) tone of voice” vs. “in a (certain) tone of voice”

And I guess the list will continue to expand since I’m only half way through the first draft. As you can see, over the last couple of months, I’ve learned what every writer knows but all non-writers have no idea about – it takes time and a great dose of perseverance to write a GOOD book! Not to mention strong character and a considerable amount of self-confidence.

Visualization’s become my best friend, and when I’m not working, you’ll find me either meditating or Googling “kilonovas” or “blue eyes” for book cover inspiration! Some days, when I really get in the mood, I even Google which actors to cast for the movie…

Tomorrow’s an exciting day; I’ll be sharing the first quote from the book on Instagram. I’m beginning to get really excited to let you guys in on reading some chapters as well, it’ll most likely be posted on the blog sometime in May – keep your eyes open!

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

girl in snow

blue eyes

close up suit

man with drink

jim Carrey quote

I know of a woman…

International Women’s Day. A day for celebrating the female sex or an opportunity to highlight structural issues causing gender inequality? Let me explain why I am rooting for the latter.

I live in Sweden. According to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, Sweden is the fifth best country to live in when it comes to gender equality (http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2017/). On the top positions we find our beloved Nordic neighbors; Iceland, Norway and Finland, accompanied by Rwanda coming in as number four.

This report has come out annually since 2006, and the World Economic Forum has used the same indexes and indicators since, taking the following into account:

  • Economic participation and opportunity
    – Basically, they look into how many men and women are active in the labor market; how much the sexes earn; income equality for similar work; and how many men vs. women can be found in advanced positions.
  • Educational attainment
    – How many men and women can be found in the educational system; male vs. female literacy.
  • Health and survival
    – Here, they look into how many newborn girls “go missing” after birth (since the baby didn’t turn out to be a boy), as well as how many years men vs. women can expect to live in good health.
  • Political empowerment
    – They measure the gap between the number of men vs. women who are found at the highest level of political decision-making.

I would argue these indicators makes a solid foundation for a report like this. Can you imagine that these global data are even possible to collect? Imagine all the work behind putting together a report like this. And they do it annually! I am truly, from the bottom of my heart, both impressed and grateful that reports like this exist. It is so much more than we could have even hoped for only some twenty years ago. It is a very powerful tool to unmask and illuminate the varying conditions across the globe to which women have to adjust. However, I can not enough stress that it is just that. A very powerful tool.

A. Very. Powerful. Tool.

A. Tool.

A.

One.

You see, I have some issues with this. Not the very reports, no. We need them. But with the way they are used as a bat in the discussion of gender equality. Yes, Sweden is top five when it comes to gender equality, resulting from the methodology used in this particular report. But the very existence of this report does not say that there are no other indicators. Not once does the report claim to be all-encompassing when it comes to describing the situation for women in the world. Rather the opposite. Let me display this with a quote from its’ methodology description:

The third distinguishing feature of the Global Gender Gap Index is that it ranks countries according to their proximity to gender equality rather than to women’s empowerment. Our aim is to focus on whether the gap between women and men in the chosen indicators has declined, rather than whether women are winning the so-called “battle of the sexes”.

 World Economic Forum
(http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2017/
measuring-the-global-gender-gap/
)

So, what do I mean when I say that reports like this are “used as a bat in the discussion of gender equality”? Let me tell you. When I as a woman, speak up about gender inequality in Sweden, I get to hear things like; “Why are you complaining? Sweden is one of the top five countries in the world when it comes to gender equality. You’re basically living in one of the best countries on earth for a woman.” Do you see what this does? It uses the results of the report against me. As if I should be happy, content, grateful even. Because “it could be so much worse”. It ends up being a tool to take away my power, my speech, my voice.

woman screaming

What people need to understand is something that the World Economic Forum already knows; that their results does not focus on women’s empowerment. Just because Sweden is in the top five on lists of gender equality, that does not mean that the women living in Sweden are equal to the men living in Sweden. How can I be so sure of this? Well…

…I know of a woman who broke up with her boyfriend who’d been calculatingly cheating on her for years. She ended up being stalked by him.

…I know of another woman who was locked out of her home, naked, left to lie shivering in shame crawled up right outside her own front door.

…I know of another woman who was beaten so badly that the bones in her body cracked, leaving her in the hospital for days, lying to her family that she had been clumsy and fallen down the stairs.

…I know of another woman who was raped by a police student, a man in training to protect society from the very likes of himself.

…I know of another woman who was sexually abused as a child by her uncle.

…I know of another woman who discovered that all the men at her department earned more than 5 000 USD/month. About half of the workforce consisted of women, performing same work as their male co-workers. Every single woman earned below that figure.

…I know of countless other women who daily have the main responsibility for household chores, project managing their own homes and families, without being paid a single dime. If they are lucky, their men will “help”. When being asked.

I know of all of these women. They, in turn, know of just as many. Who in turn, know of just as many. These stories does not show in reports like the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report. They are shown in the Me Too-movement. They are shown in trusted conversations. They are shown in books, music and theatre.

We change the world by trusting each other, listening to each other, supporting each other. If you have not thought in these terms before, please be humble enough to admit to yourself you have been part of the problem, even if you can not clearly see it. Assume you have been part of the problem, and decide today to do something actively to ensure you are being part of the solution instead.
Even if it is just to unfollow Dan Bilzerian.

Do not make this day an opportunity to buy flower to your woman. Do not say “congratulations” or “happy international women’s day”. Why? Because it means nothing in changing the reality women face 365 days a year. Appreciate the females in your life not more today than you are man enough to do any other day. By all means, appreciate her if you want, but do not fool yourself to think you have done your part for the day by doing just that. I want to challenge you to do something different today, something genuine:

Call, write or visit a woman in your life that is close to you, let it be a sister, mother, girlfriend, wife, niece, cousin, friend – and say to her: I acknowledge your struggle. I am in awe of the strength in which you lead your life as a woman. What can I do to assist you or support you? How can I be a tool for our joint cause to empower women and reach gender equality?

Commit yourself to, that from today, do your part.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Women's March Washington

Heritage and vision

I was born in the barren landscape of Småland, located in the southern part of Sweden. The harsh conditions of the region are what made a couple of hundred thousand people leave in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hoping to build a better future for themselves in the promising land of America.

I grew up on the countryside, a few miles away from the birthplace of IKEA. My mother’s dad was a carpenter and my father’s dad a farmer, men of their time with little insights into the emotional or spiritual realms of their lives. What mattered was only how hard you were able to work. Both my grandmothers were soft, gentle souls, yet super women made of steel. They were thrown into a world where all they could do was to adjust, and love just as hard as their husbands worked.

In his youth, about the same time as his peer Ingvar Kamprad began building IKEA, my mother’s father travelled to the U.S. to visit his cousin. He ended up spending some time over there, practicing his craft while building American skyscrapers and fell in love with an American woman. Little could he do when he was called in to fight the Koreans, but to get on the next boat back to Sweden. Lucky for me, because the first weekend after his return, he met my grandmother at a dance and the rest is history.

I took my first job as a swimming teacher when I was 14. During high school, I also tried out customer support and the local post office. After graduation, I got my first real employment assembling wheel chairs, serving merely as financial stability while I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.

The never ending burning world around us bothered me deeply, and the small-minded political views surrounding me at the factory eventually forced me out of there, even though I had no idea what to do next. I booked a ticket for New York to study English. I left with an urge to just switch environment, but when I came back a month later I felt more vibrantly alive than I’d ever been. I ended up booking a three-week bartender course to Gran Canaria, Spain. Three weeks turned into six months and there I met one of my best friends, whose son I’m now the godmother to. The modest 30 euros I earned per night behind the bar has never bothered me as I think of everything else I won during those months.

In Spain, I realized I need to do something to make this world we live in a better place. I returned to Sweden, worked up some money as a credit manager during summer, and began studying political science. How could I change the world if I didn’t understand the forces forming it right now? During my studies, I engaged in refugee consultations at the Red Cross, and after my bachelor’s degree I began working with environmental issues at the local municipality. But I wanted to do more. Have bigger impact. I went back to the university and took my master’s in global studies. Then I worked with local authorities to shorten the road for refugees to the Swedish labour market; I worked at a home for refugee children coming to the country without their families; I worked as manager for a project aiming to create understanding and build relationships between Swedish-born and refugee teenagers. But still, I want to do more. Have bigger impact.

My passion for writing is a whole other chapter. In my writing I can express myself as a woman, analyze relationships, explore factors for personal development and growth, live out conflicts and contradictions. It’s a creative sphere where I can be free and lift the heavy burden of trying to change the world off my shoulders for a while. In my writing I’m free to play, free to find the way back to my inner child who doesn’t care about nothing else than to explore, enjoy and laugh. Right now, I’m indulging myself completely in the bubble of being a full-time romance writer.

My clearest vision and deepest wish for the future is to combine these two sides of my life and personality. To be able to use my playful soul in building a platform as a writer, which in the long run can assist my more serious mind when it comes to changing this world for the better.

I welcome you all to follow me on this journey!

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Evelyn Lux Fall -17

Evelun Lux Fall -17_2

Evelyn Lux Fall -17_3

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