#MondayBlogs: my first venture into audio books, finding my voice #asmsg #LGBT #audiobooks

#MondayBlogs: my first venture into audio books, finding my voice #asmsg #LGBT #audiobooks

Embarking on creating audio books: here’s what I learned and here’s my voice!

An admission up front: I have never listened to an audio book. Not that I’m old-fashioned per se, but it just hasn’t occurred to me to try it. Why? Well, I read a lot, and I listen to music while I do. However, there are situations where audio books might be a great way to “read”, e.g. when I iron or fold clothes, since I couldn’t hold my device and read, or when driving. But I think it’s my love for music that’s stopped me from testing an audio book until now, and the fact that most books still aren’t available as audio books.

That is changing, though. Fast! This article I read shows just how fast audio book sales are growing, adn almost every day I read about new books being published around me, by authors I know. I’ve also received more than one question (a lot more) about my own plans for audio books. And at GRL this year, I got to listen to yet another narrator of audio books, reading from a book. And I have to say, while I personally ALWAYS love to do readings myself, to hear an actor reading from a book ads a special quality to it, they are pros, after all. I also got to know and talk to three of the dominant names in LGBT book narrating, and I guess, somewhere in the back of my mind, cogs began to turn, pieces falling into place.

Last week, I opened my account on Audible, the Amazon company creating e-books. My agreement with my publisher allows me to do this. However, I work closely with them, because I feel that it will be more successful if I do, plus they have expertise in e.g. sound engineering and marketing that I do not have. I also think that a successful physical or e-book book release will push for the audio book sales and vice versa. I hope it’ll be a win-win. The process on Audible is really easy and straight forward.

Now before you jump right on in, you should probably think about your approach. I see TWO main ways to tackle audio books, which is obviously going to differ from genre to genre. My comments are limited to “my” genre, the LGBT one. In it, M/M romance is the dominant, the Goliath. Those of us who write gay fiction, lesbian or trans books are in a tiny minority. And the M/M genre itself has a lot of audio books already. And we have a few shining stars in terms of narrators: there’s Emmy Award winning Jason Frazier, Joel Leslie Froomkin and Greg Tremblay. They are the three narrators I personally know and have heard. All three amazing people, and all three great talents. To choose one of them to work with would’ve been an easy route. There is trust established and I know they deliver great quality. And, given their established success in the industry, I’m sure they would’ve helped me sell audio books.

Family Ties, my first book, my autobiographical one, and the first one to be released as audio book in March 2017!

I’m sure you sense the “but” coming. I won’t use it. I did choose a different approach though. I feel that I want my books to be narrated by a distinctive voice, someone who represents me, the author. Allow me to exemplify with something from the movie industry. In Hollywood, where most commercially successful films are made, there are a great many actors to choose from. If you come to a small country like Sweden, and where they dub movies for e.g. children, you don’t have quite as many actors to choose from to do voice overs, and all of a sudden, you have the same actor dubbing five or ten different American originals. And the original actor’s voice, whatever they brought to the story, the acting, is lost, and the character changes.

A side tour, for sure, but I remember when I first heard Joan Collins own voice in Dynasty. It blew me away. I had grown so used to her completely different, alto voice in German, as all those shows were dubbed for us back then and still are. All of a sudden I “understood” who the character was… It does make a difference.

In books, we often talk about author voice. We have our own way of saying things, looking at things, and I wonder, I don’t claim to know, if the author voice is drowned out by the “fame” of a voice actor? I really don’t know. I decided not to take that chance and to take a different approach to creating the audiobook versions of my books: finding my voice. Yes, if your incredibly talented, like my good friend Rick Clemons, have that hunky voice we all love to drown in, then you simply narrate your own book. I have worked in radio broadcasting for far too long, and I still remember the very first time in my life I heard the sound of my own voice, and the shock and the revelation of how  differently my voice sounds from the “outside”, compared to what I’d been used to from the “inside”. I HATE my own voice in recorded form, always have, always will. I never listened to my own shows, even though I did regular broadcasts for well over a decade.

So my voice had to be someone who not only has a pleasant voice, but someone who also lacks my accent(s), and who speaks a form of English that is generally acceptable for most people, i.e. is commercially viable. As my books are written in American English, the voice would have to be American. My decision, my choice. And I decided to opt for a more “western” or “generic American” accent, rather than say a mid-western or East Coast accent. Why? Easy, I graduated from high school in Arizona, I have a personal affinity for the western U.S. Those are my personal roots. A strong accent would make it difficult for people to focus on the context of the story and might even be difficult to understand for someone non-native.

Once I had published my project on Audible, auditions began to trickle in within an hour, and I was surprised by the high quality of most of them. After sixteen of them, I began to panic! How am I going to choose the right voice? Already the first one had me captured. The voice was so pleasant, and to hear someone professional read my book! Even though it was only a couple of pages? My knees buckled. This was going to be difficult. Trying to think on my feet I decided to reach out to my publisher and some of my fans to get feedback on my favorite voices. I chose four voices and gathered feedback; and feedback I received. Interestingly, my own impressions and my gut feeling if you will was very closely aligned with my publishers’ views, who also weighed in on technical aspects of the recording (which is crucial for a successful project). My fans? Their response was all over the place. Some liked the John Wayne / James Earl Jones dark voice, while others went for the two different, more tenor-like voices, while some chose the baritone in the middle. Not much help there.

I’m no expert on Audible, and I wasn’t able to find a “button” to turn off receiving audition tapes without turning the entire project off, so even after I had sent out the four finalists, more auditions came in. I’ll be honest with you, I was afraid to listen to them, but I did. Tape seventeen was not at all what I was looking for, phew! Audible allows you to “like” or “dislike” auditions, and I think it automatically sends the actor a message about that. Tape eighteen blew me away, and I literally screamed “THAT’S ME, THAT’S MY VOICE!!!” Unfortunately, I had already sent the other four tapes out… I sent that eighteenth tape to my publisher under the heading of “I just got another one, and he just became my instant favorite…” and they returned this short message:

“We agree!”

That sort of settled it. I contacted the actor in question, and we began to talk about terms and conditions. As part of my audio book strategy, I want his voice to be mine, exclusively, until all my books are published, at least within the small realm of gay fiction. I also wanted an option to use him for all my projects, all my books. We agreed on terms and the offer was officially sent to him, and we’ve since finalized our deal. We will commence recording in January and I hope to have it done by mid-March. I’ve also contacted my friend Natasha Snow to create a cover for the audio book, based on the original cover of Family Ties. Yes, I’ll publish my audio books in pretty much the same sequence as my books came out. I might make an exception for the Jonathan Trilogy, I’m not sure yet. There is a certain ‘allure’ in anticipation of a release, we certainly saw that with Jonathan’s Legacy, which people had to wait six months for, before it was published, almost a year after I’d written it.

Today, I sent four very difficult messages to the other four finalists. This isn’t an easy task, and let me just say that I have sent a letter to EACH and EVERY one who auditioned. I think that is common courtesy. And I particularly asked the runner-up for permission to reach out to him, if anything should happen to my chosen voice. Life, you never know. He sent me this note, which is really rather sad, and indicative of the state of the industry:

“Hello Hans,

i do appreciate the feedback and, well, yes of course it would have been nice to have landed your title – i do like your writing and the story promised to be pithy and an interesting read.

It’s a funny game from this end, out of hundreds of auditions (that take – if done conscientiously – quite some time each), you end up with feedback on maybe 1 in 30 or less, so please know that it is nice to hear that my presentation was in the running and the effort was considered.”

Michael Bakkensen, the voice of author Hans M Hirschi

I can only imagine how tough it is, given the many tapes I received…

I guess you’re all wondering now who that stellar voice of mine is?

Without further a due, allow me to introduce you to Michael Bakkensen, actor, singer/songwriter and voice narrator extraordinaire (he is, after all, my voice now… LOL) and here is his audition tape, a small morsel of what awaits you in 2017. I’m really looking forward to my co-operation with Michael.

He seems to be such a nice and humble person, and he just recently had a guest role in the third season on Madam Secretary, the show hubby and I are watching on Netflix right now. Can’t wait to see him in it. I’m sure he has a very bright future, and that we can help each other to build our respective careers, even in the smallest way.

This has been an adventurous ten days, but the process leading up to it was even longer. While Michael records the book, and Natasha finishes the cover, Beaten Track Publishing and I work on a marketing plan for my first audio book, as well as a plan on how to proceed. The creation of audio books isn’t cheap, and it’ll take quite a few sales to just get to a break-even. But as I said initially, the audio book market is growing rapidly, and for once I think I may have jumped on the train in time, i.e. before “everyone” does it. We’ll see. But I’m convinced that I have found a great voice and someone who will deliver a high quality product, an enjoyable experience to those of you who love to listen to a great story.

Have you created audio books? What are our experiences? Pitfalls? Lessons?
Do you listen to audio books? What irks you? What do you love?

This is my final post for 2016. As this is published, I’m already in Florida, getting ready to board our cruise. I wish you all the Happiest of Holidays and a healthy, prosperous and successful 2017. Lots of challenges ahead, but I have faith in humanity!

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#Review: Yuri on Ice, my life’s first anime, and why I fell so hard for it… #YuriOnIce #LGBT #anime

#Review: Yuri on Ice, my life’s first anime, and why I fell so hard for it… #YuriOnIce #LGBT #anime

Yuri on Ice is a show about dreams, failure, love, humanity and figure skating

The poster for Yuri on Ice with all the main characters.

A week or so ago, I first came across an odd hashtag, #YuriOnIce on Facebook. Some of my friends had been following something and they were really excited. I ignored it for a week, seeing all these strange updates about how amazing it was, until my curiosity finally got the better of me yesterday, and I dove right in. Having binge watched all available ten episodes on Crunchyroll in one afternoon, I found myself unable to put words on what I had just experienced. It was almost incredible. 24 hours later, I was anxiously awaiting the next episode, showcasing the first half of the finals.

I think the only way for me to make sense of Yuri on Ice and put words on my feelings, is to methodologically go through what you can expect of this show. Please be aware that there are some spoilers in this review, so be aware of that. On the surface, Yuri on Ice is about a young man, Katsuki Yuri, a 23 year old Japanese figure skater. He’s good, but not exceptionally so. The series follows him as he goes from competition to competition, redeeming himself after a major defeat the year before. He is being coached by the world’s best – former – figure skater, Victor Nikiforov. I’ve watched the show in original Japanese with English subtitles, which adds another dimension, given the voice acting, but since my Japanese is really dismal, I probably lost more context than the subtitles (not always up to par: Sara becomes “Sala” and Pyongyang is apparently the capital of South Korea, but alas…)

The first episode sets the stage, although it doesn’t explain fully why Victor leaves the ice skating circus, as undefeated world and olympic champion to fly to Japan to coach Yuri. At least not on the surface. However, there are enough “hints” (some more subtle than others) to make you understand that Victor has fallen in love with Yuri.

Yeah, plenty of hints throughout the show of their true relationship. This shot also quite remarkably shows that Victor is the dominant and driving force in the relationship, though never in a negative or abusive way.

Now Japan isn’t Western Europe or the U.S. where two men falling in love, in figure skating no less, wouldn’t cause anyone to raise an eye brow. This is Japan, a country where porn is shot and distributed, but any body part is pixellated so much you really wonder why you’re watching it in the first place. Japan, the only place in the world where I ever felt like an alien from a different planet. It is a society very different than anything else I’ve ever encountered on earth. Naturally, their storytelling differs, too. And anime is an art form which combines cartoons and Japanese storytelling in ways we are not accustomed to.

Fangirling, embarrassment? Only anime can depict emotions so accurately from the character’s point of view.

It’s loud, it’s in your face, at times absurd, but if you stick with it, you’ll eventually understand the subtexts and the depth of emotion at play here. Victor and Yuri are both drawn beautifully, and one of the scenes from the first episode that had me cry (oh yes, I cried at least once in every episode) was when Yuri comes back home, after five years, to visit his family and hide from his ice rink debacle. He meets his old friend at the ice rink and shows her something he’s been working on. He copied Victor’s latest performance, move by move, and we all know that copying is the highest form of flattery. Two things: she records it on her phone, it goes viral within the skating community and Victor sees it and heads out to Japan. The way that scene is drawn, with us seeing Victor one second and Yuri the next really gets under your skin. It is so powerful, and the way the figure skating is drawn is so spectacularly well done, it really is impossible to describe with words. Just watch it!

Gay? Oh yes… There are plenty of scenes like this where Victor’s siren call rings out to Yuri, usually to the latter’s embarrassment. And don’t we all know the boy who thinks he’s the ugly duckling and just cannot fathom that someone loves him (needless to say that Yuri is quite handsome himself, but yeah, if you don’t see it yourself, you’ll never truly be it, right?)

Then there are scenes where strong emotions are handled, e.g. embarrassment, and the bodies of the protagonists become “cartoons within cartoons”. At first I didn’t understand why that was done, but eventually I understood, that we are seeing the distorted image from the character’s point of view. A very strong storytelling technique, and as absurd and weird as it may look, it actually makes you ‘feel’ the emotion all the better. It’s funny, because both Victor and Yuri are really beautiful people, as are most of the characters. I was stunned to see just how well the animators capture certain cultural characteristics, pre-conceptions, we have of people: JJ really does look Canadian, although I can’t point to what that is (square jaw maybe? But that’s hardly enough), Christophe and his coach look sooooo Swiss it’s painful, and naturally, the Russians look very Russian, etc. It’s uncanny, really. I don’t know how they do it, but we are talking about master drawing and artists with eyes for even the finest details. Not that the drawings or the anime as such is very detailed. No, but all the essentials aspects are included, and therefore, non-essentials are left aside.

Victor, a character study, including his embarrassed face (top right), which is so very different from his normal, beautiful (if I may say so), features. I’ll be honest and admit that I have a bit of a crush on him. Yeah, okay, not just a little… *blush* (picture me with his face, crimson red!)

So what about the love story. Well, Victor and Yuri do take their time, and I think it’s only in episode four that Victor asks Yuri if he’d like him to be his boyfriend for the first time. He’s strutting around naked in all his amazing glory in episode one already, totally safe for work btw, thanks to Japanese censorship laws (see above). One episode features their first kiss and in episode ten, Yuri buys them a set of rings which lead to the climax of the show so far, a sort of “engagement” announcement. Needless to say gays cannot get married, neither in Russia nor in Japan, and neither country recognizes marriages from elsewhere. My brother, who got married almost six years ago, was unable to obtain a visa for his husband when he began to work in Tokyo. Instead, Osvaldo had to get a “language” visa to move to Tokyo to be with his husband. Ridiculous in 2015, but that is Japan still. Very conservative.

Which brings me to another point of Yuri on Ice. The subtlety in which this love story is told. Yes, you could say it is a story about personal growth, or a story about figure skating, a story about redemption, and you’d be right. But more than anything else, Yuri on Ice is a love story, and that love is expressed through figure skating. When Victor choreographs two short programs, one for Yuri Plisetsky from Russia, a 15 year old genius ice skater, and one for “his” Yuri, the contrast between the two boys/men is described in a combination of music and moves that will leave you in tears. I promise. It takes a while, for both characters to find their message, and that is drawn and expressed so stunningly.

Yuri on Ice is a great love story, and a story of personal growth, second chances and one of my favorite sports, figure skating. The elegance of the sport, the combination of physical exertion and emotional expression combined into graceful movements has had me in its grip ever since I watched the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, and the Gold performance of the British team Torvill & Dean in Ice Dance to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, to this day one of the most magnificent performances ever, and the only one to EVER get a 6.0 from all judges. Have you seen that? If not, here’s your chance:

Now mind you, back then, a lot of things were very different, this is, after almost 33 years ago. Rules have changed and Ice Dance is very different from figure skating. But they certainly changed ice skating forever. I’d hope for the better.

Now I’m no expert on figure skating, and I can’t see the difference between the various jumps. But from what I can gather from comments from those who know the difference, the drawings in Yuri on Ice are technically accurate and the general rules are also explained in the show, for the novices like myself, and how the competitions work etc.

I don’t know if I will continue to watch anime, but I have been able to lay yet another preconception to rest (never too old to learn), that cartoons are only for kids, and that anime is childish. Because Yuri on Ice proved me wrong, on all counts, and even at the most awkward moments, when girls fangirl over a skater or a skater is furious (particularly “Yurio”, the Russian kid), or even when Yuri’s weight issues are portrayed with his ass cheeks hanging out of his pants, literally, are drawn as caricatures, those are also the moments that capture the emotions felt by the character the best. Because isn’t that how we feel about our extra pounds, as if everybody else sees us as some big fat blob? And don’t we see our own faces completely distorted when we are embarrassed or angry? I know I do, and anime captures that in a way no other form of cartoon does, and in a way certainly no film could ever capture.

I can’t wait to see the next episode of Yuri on Ice, and if you haven’t seen it yet, head on out there, follow the hashtag #YuriOnIce and check it out. This is a cultural phenomenon of sorts, a positive one, and one I for one, won’t miss.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a great fourth Advent weekend! See you on Monday…


Release Day: Common Sense – In Business & Life, 2nd Edition #management #asmsg #book

Release Day: Common Sense – In Business & Life, 2nd Edition #management #asmsg #book

Common Sense is my fifth and final book released in 2016

I’m sure you wonder why the author of gay fiction suddenly releases a management handbook? Trust me, there is some logic to it, and I hope you’ll allow me to explain. See, I wasn’t always the author of such darlings as The Jonathan Trilogy or The Opera House. Instead, for more than twenty-five years, I was crisscrossing the world as a learning and development executive in the manufacturing and IT industry. It wasn’t until three months before the birth of my son, when I left the position as VP of channel development at an Internet start-up that I seriously began writing, knowing that I’d never land another gig in such a short time. My husband and I switched places and I stayed home for the first six months of our son’s life, enabling me not only to publish the first two books I’d written, but also start out on the third: Family Ties, Jonathan’s Hope and The Opera House. The rest is history, albeit recent history.

The new cover for Common Sense. Isn’t it great?

Before that, I had written two books. My first one was a book about e-learning and how to create courses where people actually learn something, and that book came out in 2000, followed by a second edition shortly after. It was a huge success here in Sweden and was even used for university courses, as there simply was nothing else out there. Quite frankly there still isn’t. In 2003 I began writing a book about my experiences from my time as learning and development exec. I’ve always found that in management, there are a few things that are “more” important than others: communication skills, change management and understanding of how people “learn”, function, tick. Unfortunately, we still value subject matter expertise higher than management skills, thus promoting the best engineer to lead the engineering team, the best finance person to be manager etc. Sadly, being a great engineer doesn’t “automatically” make you a great leader or manager.

I also think that to a degree, management is a question of talent, but there are a lot of skills that can be taught and learned. And just as I’ve been teaching thousands of people to be better teachers of their subject matter expertise in companies and organization all over the world in a unique three day seminar, I also believe that we can teach managers the skill set they need to be successful as managers, not just as subject matter experts.

In my case, life got in the way and I ended up working all over the world from 2004-2010, whizzing around the planet from meeting to meeting, and there simply was no time to finish the book. Once I was laid off in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, I finished Common Sense in a matter of weeks, and it was published in October of that year by a Swedish publisher of management literature. It was a big success, and sold a couple thousand copies within a year, which is pretty good given that it was the first English title in an otherwise Swedish environment. In 2013 I got my rights back, as the publisher was sold to Sweden’s largest publishing house in non-fiction. We couldn’t agree on terms and so I sat there, with a book that I felt deserved a second chance, but not just in Scandinavia, but world-wide. Call me vain…

Way back, in 2010, we did this big release tour with the publisher. Here at a cinema somewhere in Sweden. on the screen, the original cover from the first edition.

Meanwhile, my focus was elsewhere, on fiction. I already had three titles out and wanted to see if I could focus and “just” be a writer of gay fiction. Well, I can, but I can’t make a living off of my writing, just as most authors these days can’t. We either have day jobs, have a Maecenas or make a pact with the devil. I chose a middle path, and I’ve always been working with my consulting firm on the side, providing train-the trainer training to companies and management seminars. Ahead of next year I decided to develop a brand new training course focused on the content of the book, a one day seminar (feel free to ping me if that would be of interest to you). And together with my publisher, we updated the content of Common Sense, I added a chapter on talent management, a task increasingly landing on managers’ desks around the world. The entire book was re-edited and proofed, the illustrations were updated for a more modern look and feel and the entire book was typeset anew. It really looks sleek and beautiful now. I’m very proud of it.

Did I mention that Common Sense is also available worldwide? So please, have a look at the new edition of Common Sense – in Business & Life, because just as the title suggests, there is a lot of wisdom and knowledge that is applicable not only in your day job but in your personal relationships as well, be it with your partner or children. The new edition is published by Beaten Track Publishing, my great publisher from the U.K., and is available not only directly from them, but from Amazon, iBooks and other fine online retailers around the world.

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Thank you for attention. Have a wonderful day.


#MondayBlogs: Madam Secretary, and why we need more diverse heroes in entertainment #review

#MondayBlogs: Madam Secretary, and why we need more diverse heroes in entertainment #review

Madam Secretary is a show that almost instantly pulls you in and captures you

My husband and I are a bit of Netflix addicts, and we devour show after show. We’ve seen a lot of good ones, and some, well, not so good ones, too. When we discovered Madam Secretary on our Netflix, we were intrigued, not just because of the recent election and the parallel to Hillary Clinton (not the first female secretary btw), but because we once used to love watching the West Wing, and we do enjoy Netflix own production, House of Cards.

Teá Leoni is Elizabeth McCord, and she does an amazing job playing the Secretary of State of the United States. Image: CBS

Teá Leoni is Elizabeth McCord, and she does an amazing job playing the Secretary of State of the United States. Image: CBS

Madam Secretary is definitely more “West Wing” than “House of Cards”, and while the latter may be a better way to prepare us for what’s to come with a Trump administration, the former is definitely a better reminder of what America should be about. Nuff said about politics. The show takes a stance for a very good America, not that the various ambassadors don’t remind Secretary McCord of all the bad things America has done, and is doing, but she is genuinely trying to be a good person, and to represent the country we all want America to be. She’s tough as nails in certain situations, but then again very fragile in the next. The acting is superb from most people involved and I can only hope this show gets renewed by CBS for a fourth season eventually.

Because here’s the thing: shows with female protagonists don’t fare very well. Commander in chief got cancelled after one season, to just name a comparative show. And if you disregard shows where women are playing more traditional “female” roles, such as “Cougar” etc., name me ten shows or feature films where women are displayed as both strong, powerful and at the same time devoted partners and parents. Thing is I bet you could easily name twenty with guys.

Yet, women form the majority of our society, and we’ve had more female Secretaries of State in reality already. And they’ve all gotten good grades for their work. Just last week I read a post about the reaction from TrumpAmerica about the latest installment in the Star Wars universe, Rogue One, a movie with a female heroine. Just like the seventh installment, just saying, which also featured, god forbid, a very strong supportive character who’s black. And yes, the forces that are awakening are furious. A Star Wars movie with a female heroine? Can’t be! The unfiltered hatred, racism and misogyny in those comments, and tweets is really hard to stomach, and makes me want to see that movie even more.

Yet I ask you, how realistic is it that out of eight Star Wars movies, and the plethora of cast members we’ve seen, we have four female heroines, and two black (supportive characters). And while Leia really was touch, the same couldn’t be said about Amidala, not in the final movie where she was reduced to some child bearing tear bag. And while I personally thought the latest movie (#7) was a horrible Star Trek like alternative universe “let’s star this shit over” rehash (although it’s not meant to be, they just ran out of plot ideas), at least the heroine was realistic, and I liked her and her storm-trooper side kick. I look forward to seeing more of them. And I can’t wait to see Rogue One. If racists hate it? It has to be good. Duh!

The same with Madam Secretary. It’s not just great storytelling. The way diversity is fully included in the cast. I was totally caught by surprise in the one episode in Venezuela when the world-famous baseball player suddenly knocks on the door of the secretary’s personal assistant in the middle of the night for a horizontal mambo. My husband and I nearly woke up our son as we were squealing with delight. We had of course caught on that Blake was colored gay from episode one, but yeah, that was great, and it gave the episode an interesting turning point. No more spoilers.

The show deals with not only political stuff, and while I remember “domestic” things being a part of e.g. the West Wing, here it is a daily thing, and I think the show does an amazing job at interweaving their private lives and how they are affected by what’s happening on the job. The PTSD episode we just watched last night left me feeling WOW, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it portrayed this way, then again, we usually always see these tough guys fall apart, and it usually ends in disaster. But when the secretary falls apart, it’s very nuanced, and the scene with the president’s chief of staff, the story of the car accident, ranks as one of my all time favorites. It takes very little in terms of script, but a lot from the actors, to make such scenes stellar.

If you have a chance to catch Madam Secretary, please watch it. If you live stateside, catch in on CBS and help them get the ratings up so that we may enjoy more amazing diverse storytelling, and not just middle-aged, white, heterosexual males. plenty of those on TV already… To catch up, the first two seasons are already on Netflix for you to enjoy. It’s a wonderful show. Trust me.

Just a word about my week. I have fifteen audition tapes in my inbox. I’ve decided to begin to make audio books available for my back catalogue. I’ll spend this week finding “my” voice. Not an easy task. I’ll talk about my experiences in this week’s final post for the year, before I head out on vacation…

You all have a wonderful fourth advent week. Be gentle with each other, help each other, do a good deed, you know, like the scouts, and be a part of making this world a better place. Thank you.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.


A book, a manuscript, a life: a week of endings comes to its conclusion #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

A book, a manuscript, a life: a week of endings comes to its conclusion #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

Glad that my book’s endings are on a more positive note than life’s own resolution

The new cover for Common Sense. Isn’t it great?

Done. Done. Done. It is of endings I wish to speak today. Seems a fitting theme for the week. It began with a message from my publisher about book #5 for 2016: Common Sense, the second revised edition. I was so proud when I published this book six years ago. It was a bit of a dream for me to write, a book about all the things I hold dear in my “day job” career: communication, learning, ethics. It was also the first time I had written a book in English, rather than Swedish or German. However, my publisher at the time didn’t do a very good job at editing the book (and I was too ignorant to know better), and despite their assurances that “no, no, we checked everything with a native speaker”, my less than adequate English had made it to print, and yeah, well, you can imagine what happened when ‘real’ natives got their hands on it. I was trashed. It was a shame, because I am still very proud of the contents of the book.

In 2013, the publisher was sold, and I couldn’t come to an agreement with the buyer on how to market a new edition. They solely work in Scandinavia, I had an English book and wanted to market it world-wide. I got my rights back and, well, had begun writing fiction, and Common Sense fell by the wayside. This year, I finally had the chance to work on the manuscript again. I added a chapter on talent management, diversity, employer branding and social responsibility, areas I’ve worked in the past years, and we completely updated the entire book. Now it’s finally ready, and I’m very excited. It’ll be release next Thursday, December 15th, and the e-book is already available for pre-order. The paperback will follow shortly.

Nonfiction titles are different from fiction books in that they often include graphics, tables, and other details that make the creation of the paperback more complex. And e-books have limitations in what you can do. My publisher did a stellar job! And I’m really happy with the new edition. New fresh cover, and finally a language I can be proud of. Since my editor is also a social scientist, like myself, I feel really good about the contents, as well as the language. A great process! We had some really interesting discussions about unconscious vs subconscious… You’ll see!

My new novel, the sequel to Jonathan’s Hope, deals with difficult topics, such as love at old age, and relationships when “for worse” is really tested. Yes, love plays a major role, but not the lead. (see, no spoilers)

The second done came yesterday, when I got to put down the pen on my latest novel, The Pillow (I think the name is going to stick). I don’t think I’ve ever worked as long on a first draft. I began writing it in May and only now, seven months later am I done. Between that first image of a man desperately clutching a pillow, in despair over having lost the love of his life, to finishing the book was one of the more interesting journeys of my authorship. And I’m still not done. I will embark on a journey to Lapland to do more research on site, to really get to know the people and the Sami culture. I can’t wait.

Last night, just as I was going to bed, I was reminded of another story which has had a great impact on my life. Two years ago, while in Chicago, I met a fellow author, TJ Klune. TJ is a really nice guy, and a great author. Shortly after meeting TJ, I began to hear stories about him and his relationship with fellow author Eric Arvin. TJ and Eric had gotten engaged when Erik suddenly fell ill. I don’t know details, and I never asked for them, but shortly after he’d fallen ill, TJ and Eric decided to go their separate ways. I have heard several explanations about why they took that decision. I won’t comment on it. Not my place. However, their story lingered with me, and subconsciously, I struggled with the concept of “for better or worse”, and when I finally had the chance, I worked it into a novel. It was supposed to be the main plot of Jonathan’s Promise. Now, my characters have minds of their own, and Jonathan is one of my strongest characters ever, so in the end, the book is at least as much about him and the challenges he faces than what I had “planned” for Cody and Parker. If you ever wonder where that conflict came from, now you do…

Last night, I read that Eric is dying, from the complications of his latest infection. Life is resolving the “real life” conundrum permanently, but I’m glad that the endings I have in my books are on a more positive note, for the most part.. I can’t help but feel strongly for those two men, and I hope they both have found the peace all of us deserve in life, and that Erik’s passing may be painless and dignified. My thoughts are with him and his loved ones.

Have a peaceful third advent weekend.

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