the life of a writer

Beta-reader feedback and darker days

Hello darlings,

This week I’ve begun working through the feedback I got as a result from the beta-readings of Kilonova Blues. I’ve gotten a lot of love for the story but also some solid things to work through in terms of overused words, show-not-tell, what motivates the characters etc. Since we all want to initially focus on the positive to keep our spirits high, I’ll share some completely biased feedback with you 😉

  • A strong start – captivating and makes me want to read on!
  • Love the way that you release information; the text messages, the conversation with the receptionist and the mirror – no info dumping which is great.
  • You have an amazing way with words.
  • Did I emotionally connect with them: Alexandra – definitely. I liked her “voice” quite a bit. You do a really good job of getting Alex’s thoughts across.
  • Overall the plot makes sense. I’m very intrigued by how it ended.
  • The story is fantastic – I love the twists.

This right here is more than enough to motivate me to improve all weaker parts of the story which were brought to my attention. This is how we learn. We do something, we ask for others’ opinions, we improve and the circle goes on and on. When this story hits the bookstores, my absolute goal is that it will either touch your soul, your memory of something or your hope for the future. For what is the world without love and the challenges we fight to overcome when we believe in something, but a cold and dark place without meaning. We can’t have that now, can we? That is why we write. We write for all sorts of reasons, but that sure is a strong one.

A tip along the way as fall is making its way into our lives: make sure to bring a lot of fresh flowers into your home and to light a lot of candles. Candles and flowers. All the time. It will help, I promise.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Summer plans and what you sacrifice for your dreams

This week I’d like to talk about the cost of working for your dreams. I also want to highlight that this will be the last blogpost before I take eight weeks off the blog. To know why, continue reading.

To have gigantic goals and the drive to work for them is one thing, but what about when the going gets tough; when your savings are running short; when you struggle with how to split your time fairly between all that matters to you; when you don’t meet the expectations of others and their support weakens–what then?

Let me begin with telling you a short story. Let’s see if you can figure out who it’s about.

Once upon a time there was a young man. This man had a big dream of becoming an actor, but it just never seemed to happen for him. After struggling for some time, he moved to the city of angels and dreams–Los Angeles. Even though he was brave and did all he found necessary to succeed, there was still no luck. He was running out of money, twisting and turning every penny, finally forced to sell his best friend–his dog. It was either that, or his closest companion would have to starve. After finding inspiration in a boxing fight, he went home and wrote a movie script of ninety pages in three days. As he was leaving yet another failed audition, he told the producers about his own idea. He gained interest for the script, but since he wasn’t particularly successful himself, they wanted to give the lead role to someone else. He was offered $360,000 for the script on the condition that he wouldn’t do the main character. At this time, he had sold his dog to pay the bills and was left with $106 in his bank account. He believed in his script so much that he decided to take a leap of faith. He refused to accept the offer unless he got to play the main character himself. Eventually, he got a million dollars to make the movie, an extremely low budget for a movie even though this was some years ago. He made the movie. He played the main character. The movie was “Rocky” and it won three Oscar’s, grossing over $200 million. The man was Sylvester Stallone. The rest is history. (Forbes 2017)

My point is; no success comes easy. No success comes without putting in the work. Hard work. No success comes without dedication. No success comes from not doing what others won’t, but from DOING what others won’t. When you reach the end of the road, you have to find a way to go around the obstacle in front of you. You have to keep walking alone, on a road, path or track which you might be the first to walk. Maybe you’ll just have to walk a short distance alone, then you’ll meet someone else who’s walking alone too, and you can help carry and support each other. Eventually, you will get where you want to go. Don’t give up.

I haven’t yet been forced to sell my dog (I don’t have one), and not much else either for that matter. But I’ve had to struggle. I’ve had to make sacrifices. And I suspect more is to come before I reach my destination.

I’m a political scientist with a M.Sc. in Global Studies. I saved my money all last year to be able to take six months off and finish the manuscript of my first romance novel. Politics and romance, what a match, right? Six months have passed, and I’ve still got some money left, but I have to start thinking ahead. As I still want to use my brain for writing, I don’t want to work a job which exhausts my mind so I won’t have any energy left for my passion. Hence, I took a more practical job for a couple of months. During summer, I will work as Warehouse Co-worker at IKEA, driving orderpicker trucks.

Where is the sacrifice in this?

  • Money. I use all my savings to enable my writing, working to reach my goal of publishing Kilonova Blues.
  • Living. Since I use all savings for another purpose, I have to put aside what many others prioritize, such as travels, concerts, buying my own apartment, having a car, having pets etc.
  • Pride. I’ve got five years of studies from the university but take jobs below my competence level so I can keep my mind fresh for planning, writing and editing to reach my dream of becoming a published romance writer. Many people are impressed by the bravery to follow my heart’s desire, but many also see it as a naive waste of time which will never result in anything worthwhile, that I should be working within my field of study. It’s easy to get caught up in that way of thinking, that there’s something else one really should be doing, that one is shaped/formed/educated/whatever to do something else and therefore one cannot do what is best in that moment. No one is above anyone and as long as you don’t hurt nobody, there’s no wrong path as you work toward your goal.

I will continue to push forward. The third draft of Kilonova Blues is done, and today I’m sending it to my much appreciated beta-readers, who will get to keep it during the coming eight weeks while I’m working. By mid-August, I’ll return to the manuscript to work through their feedback, and by that time I’ll also return to writing blogposts. The next step is then to begin reaching out to agents and work to find a great partnership to approach publishers.

I wish you all a wonderful summer and you can keep up with me through Instagram for the coming weeks.

Remember–what’s worth having doesn’t come easy.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Affirmations and aspirations

Affirmations shall not be underrated in one’s life. Below I share the ones I do my best to live by since years back. I saved the list from somewhere a long time ago, and now I cannot find or remember who wrote it originally. If you know, please enlighten me so I can give credit.

Find inspiration in this or write your own list to provide guidance in your life.

  1. There are people in this world that would die for me.
  2. There are people in this world I would die for.
  3. The truth will set me free. I will never lie.
  4. People are not mind readers. I must never hesitate to tell someone how I feel.
  5. Mistakes happen. I must learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.
  6. Life is short and people are not perfect. I will forgive myself. I will forgive others.
  7. My smile brings happiness to the world around me.
  8. There is nobody else exactly like me, with my exact abilities, talents, and ideas.
  9. I can help myself by helping those around me first.
  10. The people I care about deserve to know it. I will show them how much they mean to me on a regular basis.
  11. I will accept compliments and criticism openly and make educated decisions based on a weighted sum of the two.
  12. Information is infinite. There are ideas, products and cultures I do not yet understand. I will always keep an open mind to new formulas.
  13. I am in competition with one person, and one person only… myself. I am competing to be the best I can be.
  14. True wisdom is the byproduct of life experience. I will seek as many real world experiences as possible.
  15. Education involves self-imposed discipline. I can only learn if I want to learn. I want to learn.
  16. I will treat everyone with the same level of respect I would give to my grandfather and the same level of patience I would have with my baby brother.
  17. I am what I eat. My body is a machine that must be fueled properly if I intend to make it last.
  18. I will think before I act, but I will always act.
  19. I will try new things for the sake of broadening my horizons.
  20. I will never be reckless with another person’s feelings.
  21. I will never let someone persist on being reckless with my feelings.
  22. The three most important things in my life are my health, my family and friends, and my education. Everything else is secondary.
  23. I will celebrate my successes. I deserve it.
  24. Money will only make my life easier if it is mine free and clear.
  25. If I wake up several mornings in a row and hate what I am about to do with my day, I will make a change. Life is too short.
  26. I will never be jealous. Jealously only deteriorates possibility.
  27. My attitude can change my reality.
  28. If I want to remember it, I will write it down in a trusted location.
  29. I will never spend more than I have.
  30. I will thank the people who have helped me, and I will return the favor as soon as I am able.
  31. I will never complain about a problem. I will supply a solution instead.
  32. I will listen more than I speak.
  33. If I don’t know, I will ask questions.
  34. Everything is nothing without happiness. I must do what makes me happy.
  35. I will never succumb to greed. Enough is enough.
  36. Time is precious. I will manage my time effectively.
  37. Right now is the only guaranteed moment in my life. I will make the best of it.
  38. I will stand firm by my values without senselessly promoting them.
  39. I will never over-promise. I will over-deliver on everything I commit to.
  40. I will always assess the situation and provide value where needed.
  41. I cannot make someone love me. I can only be someone who can be loved.
  42. I will always strive to be the best I can be, but I will never try to be someone I’m not.
  43. I will always articulate my words so people understand me.
  44. I will slow down and become conscious of life’s simple pleasures.
  45. Everything I do is by choice. There is always another option.
  46. Less is more. I will get rid of the stuff I do not use.
  47. If I never try, I will never know.
  48. I will face my fears. I will not cower.
  49. My habits define my life.
  50. I will always take ownership of my actions, or my actions will own me.
  51. I will never make decisions in a state of emotional haste.
  52. If I don’t finish what I start, my success rate will always be zero.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Self-Defense and Krav Maga

Last weekend I attended a two-day workshop in self-defense. Thirty-five women from all across the country, with various backgrounds, gathered outside Stockholm for forty-eight hours of authentic assault simulations. I can say that it is by far one of the most intense things I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.

In Sweden, women between the ages 16-24 are overrepresented in the statistics regarding victims of sexual assaults (reported assaults of 2017). Half of the reported assaults occurred in public spaces, and in sixty percent of the total number of reports, the perpetrator was previously unknown to the woman. Ninety-eight percent of the perpetrators were men.

If these numbers weren’t enough to convince me that I have to learn how to defend myself, then the stories of some of the women I met this weekend definitely were.

This workshop was not like many others, where you mark your strikes and avoid impact. No, we struck to hit. During the warm-up Saturday morning we slapped each other’s faces without defending ourselves, just to get into the right spirit and build motivation.

Sounds too tough? Well, I’d lie if I didn’t say it’s not for the faint-hearted. But let me tell you something; we’re not made of porcelain. We can take it. And in the case you’re faced with a perpetrator, he won’t be gentle. The sooner you pull up the blinders and realize that, the better prepared you will be if the situation would present itself.

I urge all women to check the opportunities to learn self-defense in their local communities. The worst (read BEST) thing that could happen is that you’ll never have to use it, but then you’ve still gotten yourself a hell of a workout. The methods I learned were based on Krav Maga, which I can strongly recommend. I trained with The Swedish School of Self-Defense (Självförsvarsskolan), which in my opinion is the best alternative in Sweden, focused on keeping the exercises as close to real-life situations as possible. They’re based in Stockholm but do workshops all over the country.

This post’s been written from the perspective of being a woman, but my writer-self whispers from deep within that I’ve also gained a whole new file of fighting-experiences to use in my writing.

Take care of yourself and don’t worry you’re being paranoid, you’re just taking reasonable precautions.

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

Self-defense group

Self-defense in action

Self-defense t-shirt

Self-defense strikes

Self-defense bonfire

(Credit: The rights of all images belong to Självförsvarsskolan)

Weekdays and Writing Routine

What does a writer have to do to get work done?

Well, I’d say the answer to that question highly varies depending on who you ask. Most people would simply say WRITE.

And I agree.

But you know how your bicycle runs so much easier after you’ve pumped new air into the tires? Low air pressure can cause flats and damage both the tires and rims, not to mention how it slows you down and forces you to pedal so much harder.

After being close to hit the wall on two occasions within four years, I’ve been forced to find a routine which includes small breaks, the right nutrition and time to refuel my soul. Of course, this is so much easier now as I’m writing full time and can plan my days as I see fit, but with small adjustments, I’m sure it could work just about anywhere.

There are five cornerstones to my writing routine which helps keep my brain, body and soul on track:

  1. Good food
  2. Writing
  3. Scheduled breaks
  4. Physical exercise
  5. Rest

Let’s start with the food.

  • I start every day with a glass of lukewarm lemon/ginger water. Why? I want to stay healthy and keep the colds off. Ginger suppresses inflammation and lemon boosts the immune system. Why lukewarm? It’s kinder to the stomach. Our body enzymes work best at a temperature of 37–42⁰C, and when we drink cold water, the process of warming up the cold liquid uses unnecessary energy.
    .
  • A light breakfast’s accompanied with a maximum of two cups of coffee (that’s IT for the day – we don’t want too much of that caffeine) and some vitamins. Which vitamins you take should be based on what your body lacks. What nutrition do you get through your food? What do YOU eat? Always look at the food first and see if there’s a way to change that before taking extra vitamins.
    .
    – I’m taking Omega-3. Why? I hardly eat any fish, I don’t like it, and I need that fat. The membrane surrounding the braincells use it to make connections between braincells as smooth as possible. With bad connection, it’s harder for us to remember stuff. A deficit of Omega-3 forces the brain to use other fats, lowering the brain’s overall performance. And you wouldn’t want that now, would you writer?- I’m also taking Zink. Why? Zink is an antagonist to cortisol (known as the stress hormone). Cortisol is naturally high in the mornings, which by the way is why you don’t want to exercise this time of day and trigger the exudation even more. High levels of cortisol during a long period of time is one big, physical factor for people crashing into that famous wall.- D-vitamin. YES! Do you know how little the sun is shining in Sweden? And that even when it shines, we’re so far away from it that it’s almost impossible for our skin to produce D-vitamin? We do get enough sun during the summer months, but even though the body stores D-vitamin, our stocks are usually empty right before Christmas.
    But why do we need it? It’s easier to say why we don’t need it – there is no reason why we don’t need it. It does everything from strengthening the skeleton and teeth to helping us avoid depression. Aim for at least 50 μg per day, even if most public recommendations are considerably lower.

    B-vitamins. Why? A deficit of B-vitamins can cause memory disturbances and depression. Especially important for your mood is B6.

    Magnesium. Why? It’s a mineral that fights inflammation in your body, and studies have found there’s a correlation between inflammation and depression. It also helps the muscles relax and assists a good sleep, which is why I take it right before bed in the evening.

  • I eat six times a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. HEALTHY SNACKS (smoothies, carrots, crispbread). Lunch and dinner are often different lentil soups or variations of woks on quorn or oumph.

Let me hand you the recipe of my favorite smoothie, packed with energy and good nutrition. Easy as a pancake and quick to make.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 dl pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1 dl frozen berries (such as blueberries or raspberries)

ingredients

close up berries

close up avocado

mixer

smoothie

Moving on to writing. When I write, I write. Simple as that. I’m completely focused on the task ahead of me.

Next, scheduled breaks. I begin working at 9 in the morning. My first 15 minute break comes at 10:30 (then I make the lovely smoothie above!). Lunch at 13:00 (roughly 30 minutes). Next 15 minute break at 15:30. At 18:00 I wrap it up for the day. Errrrrdamnday from Monday-Friday.

Physical exercise! Yes! I jog four times a week, 3-6 km depending on the mood. I need this. Everybody needs this. Maybe not jogging, but anything which gets the blood pumping FOR ANOTHER REASON THAN THOSE STEAMY SCENES YOU’RE WRITING. Just saying.

The final part of my writing routine is REST. I don’t write on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are days off for me. Well, to tell the truth my mind is spinning with ideas and things I need to do anyway, but I stay away from the computer. I try to focus on other stuff, experiencing life in all its simplicity and wonders, to gather inspiration and plant seeds for next week’s work. I’m also strict on sleeping eight hours per night. Any less leaves my head like a mushroom for the entire next day.

Oh my God this girl has such a boring life, can she even write romance? If this thought’s popped up in your mind, I invite you to take a closer look at Kilonova Blues eventually, and see for yourself… 😉

That’s all for now,
hej så länge!

error: This content is protected.
Scroll to Top