Writing hours in June 2015

sun-151763_640It’s the beginning of July, which means three things:

1. I’m leaving for my vacation / writers’ & readers’ conference in New Orleans next week. Yay!

2. There’s a heat wave in Germany. Right now, we’re having 102 degrees (39 degrees Celsius). Probably a good preparation for New Orleans, right?

3. It’s time to update my blog with my monthly working hours. So here they are.

In June, I worked mainly on the translation of Next of Kin. The English version has been published last week, and I’m pretty happy with the feedback mails I’ve been getting. Thanks to everyone who sent me an e-mail or wrote a review! I truly appreciate it.

I’m also 45,000 words into Just Physical, my new contemporary romance (which will be novel # 3 in the Hollywood series). I really like these characters!

Okay, let’s take a look at the numbers:

 Fiction Writing EditingResearchNonfiction WritingMarketing & AdministrationTOTAL
2015 - TOTAL765 hours527 hours82 hours89 hours195 hours1,658 hours
January175 hours88 hours---5 hours29 hours297 hours
February155 hours53 hours4 hours9 hours36 hours257 hours
March116 hours120 hours32 hours1 hours25 hours294 hours
April79 hours86 hours6 hours18 hours48 hours237 hours
May97 hours100 hours19 hours54 hours32 hours302 hours
June143 hours80 hours21 hours2 hours25 hours271 hours

With all the traveling, sightseeing, and attending the conference this month, I won’t have that much time to write, but I’m still hoping to end up with a total of 70,000-75,000 words of Just Physical by the end of July.

By the way, if you want to see some photos of my adventures in New Orleans, check out my Facebook page. I’ll share photos there.

Have a great July!


Romantic suspense novel “Next of Kin” is now available

cover_Next-of-Kin_500x800It’s incredible how fast books can be out of date—and sometimes, that’s a really good thing!

When I first wrote Next of Kin, the second book in my Portland Police Bureau series, lesbian couples in Oregon could register for a domestic partnership, but same-sex marriage hadn’t been legally recognized yet.

So when I set out to revise the novel at th71r8XAZZSRLe beginning of this year, I made sure to update that part of the book. It seems only fitting that Next of Kin was republished on the very same day that the US Supreme Court made marriage for lesbian and gay couples legal nationwide.

Congratulations, America! I’m incredibly happy for all of my friends in the US.

If you’d like to read the new version of Next of Kin, which also has an added scene and a revised ending, you can find it here:







Happy reading!


The winners of my vampire short story are…

Coitus-interruptus-dentalisSince I’m in a generous mood today, I decided to give away two e-book copies of my paranormal short story “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis” instead of just one.

I just drew the two winners, and they are:


Cindy (skipper13)

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the story, even though one of you said she doesn’t normally read paranormal stories.

Everyone else, please check back when it’s time for the next giveaway, probably in July, when my romantic suspense novel “Next of Kin” will be out!

Have a nice Sunday,


Giveaway: Win my vampire short story “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis”

Coitus-interruptus-dentalisI never thought I’d write a vampire novel, but when I co-authored Good Enough to Eat with fellow Ylva author Alison Grey, I realized how much fun it was.

Fun is not usually something I associate with a visit to the dentist, but it provided a great setting for my newest short story, “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis.”

In this short story, vampire-like creature Robin bites her girlfriend during a passionate encounter … and ends up with a chipped fang.

If you haven’t yet read the story, here’s your chance to win an e-book copy.

All you have to do is to leave a comment on this blog. I’ll draw the winner at noon (EST) on Sunday.

Good luck, everyone!


Writing hours in May 2015

cover_Next-of-Kin_500x800Hard to believe that almost half the year is gone already, isn’t it?

We’re definitely heading toward summer here in Germany, and I’ve been working hard to wrap up some of my projects before my vacation in July.

I finished the final revisions of Next of Kin, the second book in the Portland Police Bureau series, and the short story that goes with it, “Change of Pace.” I also started to translate the novel into German.

On the nonfiction front, I’m still working on Time Management for Writers and putting the strategies to good use to become more productive myself.

I also did some more research for book 3 in the Hollywood series. The novel now has a (working) title: Just Physical. What do you think? Personally, I like the title. I’ll get started on writing scene 1 later today, and I’m pretty excited to give Jill from Damage Control her own novel!

A few days ago, I also had a new short story published. “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis” is a fun story about what happens when a vampire-like creature can’t keep her fangs to herself during a more intimate moment with her girlfriend…

Okay, let’s take a look at the numbers for May:

 Fiction Writing EditingResearchNonfiction WritingMarketing & AdministrationTOTAL
2015 - TOTAL622 hours447 hours61 hours87 hours170 hours1,387 hours
January175 hours88 hours---5 hours29 hours297 hours
February155 hours53 hours4 hours9 hours36 hours257 hours
March116 hours120 hours32 hours1 hours25 hours294 hours
April79 hours86 hours6 hours18 hours48 hours237 hours
May97 hours100 hours19 hours54 hours32 hours302 hours

You might want to check back on Friday when I’ll do another giveaway or, better yet, subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!


And the winners are…

Wow. I had over 60 e-mails from people who wanted a chance to win my romance novel “Damage Control” and the cute stuffed lynx! Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to send me an e-mail, and also thanks to everyone who commented.

The correct answer to the question (how did Lauren name the stuffed lynx that Grace gave her in “Damage Control”) was: Betty.

lynxI just drew the winners.

Yes, winners, plural. I decided that I would send the lynx and the paperback to winner number two and then draw a second winner who’ll get an e-book copy of “Damage Control.”

So, the two lucky women are:

Cheryl (squrl1298) for the paperback and the lynx

Amy Barr for the e-book

Everyone else, please check back regularly for more giveaways–or sign up to my newsletter/blog so you won’t miss a giveaway. I’m giving away at least one copy of all of my newly published books–for example “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis,” the new short story that will be available next week!


Giveaway: Win my lesbian romance “Damage Control” and a cute lynx

Tlynxhe Ylva wolf has a new sibling… Well, more a temporary guest in her den.

This cute little stuffed lynx is identical to the one that Grace Durand, the main character of my new romance novel Damage Control, gives to Lauren after winning it at the arcade.

Since wolves and lynx probably don’t mix well, I’m giving the lynx away along with a signed paperback copy of Damage Control.

To make things a little more interesting, here’s what you have to do to win the lynx and the paperback:

Send me an e-mail with the name that Lauren gives the little lynx in Damage Control. Not quite incidentally, it’s also Grace’s real first name. In case you haven’t read my latest novel or just can’t remember the name, take a look at this excerpt from Damage Control before e-mailing me.

Important: Feel free to leave a comment as well, but please DON’T mention the name there.

Best of luck!


Interview with fellow author Ari Bach

ValhallaFSmallI always enjoy talking to other writers, so when I recently “met” Ari Bach on Twitter, I invited him over to my blog so you could get to know him along with me.

Ari is the author of the Valhalla series, YA novels that are set in a dystopian, futuristic Scotland. I haven’t read Valhalla or its sequel, Ragnarok, yet, but all the stellar reviews they got make me wish I had a bit more time for reading.

Let’s start with some warm-up questions:

Chocolate or cookies?


E-books or paperbacks?


Star Wars or Star Trek?

I grew up with Star Trek as the center of my entire life, attended the conventions, and watched every new episode over and over. I’m currently marathoning the entire universe, from TOS and the animated series to the last (10th) movie, and recently won the local Geeks Who Drink Star Trek Trivia Quiz. So uh, Star Trek probably.

Beach or mountains?

Mountains, my family has some land in the Rockies and it’s heaven.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m generally building model kits or browsing funny cat pictures online. Or watching Star Trek, as seen above. Other than that I’m very happily married, and we live in a tiny dark cave of a house that we’ve filled with tons and tons of books and movies and cats, and we absolutely love it.

Please tell us about your RagnarokFSmalljourney in becoming a published writer. What challenges did you face when you published your first book? How did you come to publish with Harmony Ink Press? Is it your own imprint or a publishing house?

I wrote the first novel around 2008-2010 and self-published it on Lulu, and then on other eBook platforms in 2012. I sold about 50 copies total. I kept submitting it to any new agents and publishers I could find, though, and in 2013 Harmony Ink contracted it for a 2014 release. I think I found them mentioned on Tumblr originally. Harmony Ink is an LGBTQ+ publisher for YA books, and they’ve been exceptional. Their production style is much more favorable to the author and their creative decisions than most publishers, actually than any other publisher out there. If I were offered a contract with Putnam for my next book, I’d turn it down to work with Harmony Ink again. Before Valhalla was published, its few readers kept asking when I’d do a sequel. My reply was always that I’d do one if the book got published. So I had to get off my butt and finish the sequels pretty quick after that.

How did you come up with the idea for Valhalla?

It was originally intended to be a movie; I wanted to make an all-out fun action sci-fi film since 1997 when I saw The Fifth Element. Once it got ignored in Hollywood, I decided to turn it into a novel series, and it grew in the adaptation into something even cooler.

How did you come up with the title for your novels?

The original movie was called Gossamer, for no real reason. Once the central ravine in the story was named Valhalla, it became the most appropriate title, not least of all because of all the Norse mythology references and inspirations. Ragnarok goes further with the Norse myth and actually has plot events inspired by the Eddas. Those events more or less match the actual myth of Ragnarok, so the title fit. Book 3 is currently titled Gudsriki, which is Icelandic for “The Kingdom of God,” which has a couple meanings for the story.

What would you say are the main themes in Valhalla and Ragnarok? What personal meaning do those themes have for you?

The most tangible theme of Valhalla is that the outcasts and rejects of common society are actually the people who keep it running, who keep it from destroying itself. Personally speaking as one of those rejects, I think it might be true.

How long did it take you to write each book?

From the beginning idea, it took seventeen years before publication of the first book. All that time was spent developing the idea and story; it was always part of my creative life. Translating the story into a novel trilogy took around five years, seven counting the last novel yet to be edited. But given the actual production and time even before the project had its first name, it’s not inaccurate to round it up to a twenty-year project.

What’s your favorite scene in book 1?

Near the very end of the book, the heroine and villain meet face to face and the former comes to realize something about how she works, something she couldn’t admit before but is finally proud of.

Which scene in the series was hardest for you to write?

The first one. The opening scene took around 40 drafts to get it just right. Most other scenes only took a couple drafts but getting the first scene up and running stretched from inception to completion, going through a dozen different forms.

If Starbucks existed in 2230, what sort of coffee would Violet MacRae, the main character of Valhalla,  order? Black coffee? Soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte? Double chocolate chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? Something else?

Coffee is a controlled substance in the future, so Starbucks is around, but you have to pass the adulthood tests to drink there. Violet would just be starting out on her coffee adventures. I imagine in time she’d like something along the lines of an iced vanilla spiced latte. To be honest, though, I’ve never had coffee myself. I have no idea what that really is.

What projects are you working on right now? I heard there’s going to be a book 3 in the Valhalla series. Is that true?

Book 3 begins editing today actually and will hopefully come out in October. With the big trilogy completed there’s a massive hole in my creative world. I can’t work on the thing I’ve been working on for most of my life anymore, at least not outside of the final editing process. Re-adapting the stories back into film format is on the to-do list, and I’m thinking about adapting other old scripts into novels. There’s no shortage of them; I have a work in every genre ready to go.

Ari, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for introducing us to the Valhalla series!

Readers, if you want to find out more about Ari Bach, visit him at The Walrus Squad.

Has anyone read one of Ari’s books? How about other dystopian fiction? Any recommendations?

Please leave a comment!

Writing Hours in April 2015

IMG_0069It’s hard to believe that it’s May already! Only two more months until I’m flying to New Orleans for the GCLS conference and some vacation time.

Speaking of vacation time… I spent a few days in Hamburg this month, which is at the other end of Germany from where I live.

April was a great month for me, not just because of that trip but also because my contemporary romance Damage Control was published at the beginning of the month.


I’ve been hard at work on revising Next of Kin, which is now reading so much more smoothly! I also did the finishing touches on “Dress-tease” and “Coitus Interruptus Dentalis,” two short stories that will be published in May and June respectively.

Other than that, I’ve been working on the next part in my writers’ guide series, Time Management for Writers, and doing some research for part 3 of the Hollywood Series.

On the editing front, I’ve had the honor of editing Fletcher DeLancey’s upcoming science fiction novel Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge. It’s been a while (okay, more than a while) since I enjoyed a book so much.

Okay, let’s take a look at the numbers for April:

 Fiction Writing EditingResearchNonfiction WritingMarketing & AdministrationTOTAL
2015 - TOTAL525 hours347 hours42 hours33 hours138 hours848 hours
January175 hours88 hours---5 hours29 hours297 hours
February155 hours53 hours4 hours9 hours36 hours257 hours
March116 hours120 hours32 hours1 hours25 hours294 hours
April79 hours86 hours6 hours18 hours48 hours294 hours

Please check back later this month for the publication of the short story “Dress-tease” or, better yet, subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!


How long does it take to write a novel?

Damage-ControlWhen I tell people I’m a writer, most of them ask me one of two questions: “Where do you get your ideas?” Or “How long does it take to write a book?”

Since I had a new novel out this month, I thought I’d answer both of these questions.

I came up with the idea for my contemporary romance Damage Control in February 2014, while I was working on Departure from the Script, book 1 in the Hollywood Series. Michelle, the butch main character of Departure from the Script, expresses her admiration for Grace Durand, an actress who, according to Michelle, is “sizzling hot.” On the surface, it sounds as if Grace has it all: she’s rich, famous, and beautiful.

But fame in Hollywood is fleeting. I started wondering: what’s the worst thing that could happen to a world-famous actress like Grace? Her success is based on her ability to believably portray the girl-next-door characters in romantic comedies. What if something happened to threaten that? What if she got caught in a seemingly compromising situation with another woman? She would, of course, immediately hire a public-relations expert to convince the world that she’s straight. Which she is…until she falls in love with her new publicist.

That’s the core idea that I came up with in February 2014. I set out to do research, mostly on publicists in Hollywood and how they work. Since I had already written another book set in Hollywood, I didn’t have to do much additional research into movie making and the everyday lives of actresses. From February to December 2014, while I was working on other projects, I put in a total of 163 research hours.

During that time, the characters started to take on shape in my mind, so I sat down to put together biographies and character sketches for each of them. How did they grow up? What weaknesses do they have to overcome? And, of course, the most important question: What kind of ice cream would they prefer?

Once I had a good idea of who my main characters were, I outlined the novel, using the index cards in Scrivener, a software for writers. The great thing about it is that it allows for an organic development of the plot since you can always add, delete, and change scenes and rearrange their order. I prefer to know the major events and turning points of a story before I write it, but I also want to leave enough room for spontaneous ideas.


Plotting took me about ten hours during the last week of December.

I started writing the first draft of the novel on January 1, 2015. Until the beginning of March, I had written 141,000 words, which took me a total 376 hours. I wrote every day, aiming for a daily word count goal of at least 2,000 words.

When I typed the last sentence, what I had wasn’t really the first draft, though. I work with a great team of beta readers. Three of them read each chapter as soon as I wrote it, and then I immediately revised it according to their feedback. Then three more beta readers went over the complete novel, and I revised it again. So what I ended up with was more like a seventh draft, which went to the editor and then to the proofreader, who both went to work immediately.

Because of their quick (yet thorough) work, we were even able to publish Damage Control early, in April instead of June.

All in all, it took fourteen months from the moment I came up with the idea for Damage Control to its publication. I spent more than two of these months writing—and keep in mind that I write full-time. It would have taken me twice the time if I still worked in my old job.

Not counting promotion, I spent a total of 549 hours working on this novel.

I actually consider that pretty fast. I’m sure the next books, especially my historical romance, will take much longer to write. Each book is different, and that’s very much okay with me. It’s part of what makes being a writer so exciting.

So, to sum it up, the answers to the above-mentioned questions are: it depends.

Have a great rest of the week,


To read an excerpt of Damage Control or to buy the book, please visit Ylva Publishing’s website, where you’ll find all the links.

Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis