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Outside the iconic antique sign of Norstedts Publishing House, founded 1823, in historic Gamla Stan/The Old Town. “Tryckerigatan” translates to “Printing Street”– such a fitting name!

I’m still basking in the warm wishes I received after announcing my book deal on Instagram a few weeks ago! I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement–especially since my journey from aspiring to published author has been far from linear. I started with Penguin USA in 2005, published independently in 2018, and recently signed a contract with Sweden’s oldest publishing house, Norstedts Förlag, to release a Swedish-language version of my third novel in 2021. On the one hand, I’m chuckling at the circuitous route my writing has taken, but I’m also not entirely surprised since it reflects the twists and turns I’ve navigated to establish a writing career.

There is still a lot of work ahead and I’m full of questions. For example, how will the story read in Swedish? How will it be received by a Swedish audience? The tale of Linn and Zoë Holmgren, a mother and daughter who live on a small island in the Swedish archipelago, came to me last year as I vacationed at our own summer place. What would happen if the Holmgrens’ lives intersected with a sophisticated family from New York City? Drawing on my own observations from both cultures, I tried to create a fictional world and explore the themes of mother/daughter relationships, family secrets, race, class and the universal emotion of feeling like an outsider.

One thing is for sure: I would have never caught Norstedts’ attention had I not chosen to self-publish Lagging Indicators. Through a series of coincidences, the novel got in the hands of an engaging editor and thus began a dialogue about my writing and whether I could set a story in Sweden. I accepted the creative challenge, although I was not convinced I could craft an intriguing plot within a Swedish framework. It was almost too close to home and I was wary of mining that terrain. I discovered I could, in fact, remove my inner self from the narrative and assume the roles of my characters. It wasn’t about me, but rather their thoughts, experiences, conflicts and motivations. This has been a valuable exercise for my writing, enabling me to be more brave and authentic.

I’ve explained in a previous post how much insight I gained from releasing Lagging Indicators independently. So, why did I make the decision to shift back to traditional publishing?

For one thing, writing can be a very lonely endeavor and I appreciated the back-and-forth I had with my future editor at Norstedts. Her passion for books, good storytelling and diverse narratives restored my faith in the publishing industry. Norstedts has the potential to open a whole new world for me in Sweden and since this is my home base, I jumped at the opportunity. Previous attempts to attract interest for my writing stateside had left me discouraged, but my point of view finally clicked with a Swedish publisher. You just never know where your voice will resonate!

I’m so excited to work with a team on revisions, proofreading, layout, cover and jacket design, printing, distribution, creating an e-book and something totally new for me, an audio edition (although I won’t be narrating it with my American-accented Swedish 😉). I also look forward to meeting other authors, readers and industry people. Writing/authorship is an ongoing learning process and this new chapter is an unexpected, enriching development!

However, becoming an indie author was the turning point for me. I recall how nervous yet determined I was to get Lagging Indicators out into the world and the byproducts–both large and small–have exceeded my wildest dreams. I hope others will take this as an example to believe in your work and never give up.

I want to share as much as I can with you about the evolution of Sommaren på Nornö/Summer on Nornö, so please stay tuned!

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On October 5, 2005, I gave birth to my third baby: MY DEBUT NOVEL! It was truly a dream come true. I had worked on Uptown & Down since 1998 and spent over two years querying agents until a very nice woman based in Pennsylvania wrote back to say she wanted to represent me. It took her another eighteen months to sell the manuscript but it finally found a home at the New American Library (NAL) imprint at Penguin. I also had the good fortune of a terrific editor who possessed an intuitive sense for my characters and the themes of my novel. You can read more about my inspiration and publishing journey here. Achieving the goal I had set my sights on for so long was particularly poignant as it came a year and a half after my mother’s untimely death from cancer. I dedicated Uptown & Down to her.

The release party was held at a wonderful independent bookstore/cafe, Just Books, close to where we were living at the time in Old Greenwich, CT. I had only been in town for a little over a year, but some local press had spread the word and new friends in the community joined long-time friends and family for the event. I was floored by the turnout and good vibes! To this day, it remains one of the happiest nights of my life.

It would take almost a decade before I completed my second manuscript and as I’ve described in a previous post, it was not picked up by a traditional publisher, so I chose to self-publish in 2018. I’ve now completed my third novel and feel the seedlings of a new, fourth story growing in my mind. I finally feel like that magical night at Just Books wasn’t a fluke.

I had so much fun unearthing pictures from the book launch. I tried not to focus on how much younger I looked (or on the length and luster of my hair haha), but what struck me most was my unbridled joy–something I didn’t think possible after my mother’s death. Sadly, Just Books no longer exists, but I remain ever so grateful to everyone who came to support me.

Please indulge me as I take a trip down memory lane…

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Lewis Miller Designs Flower Flashes have been a welcome injection of beauty and joy around New York City. I caught one on 58th Street!


I had not been to New York since January 27th, 2020. That day, I boarded a flight back to Sweden with a box of face masks I had hunted down after watching increasingly unnerving news reports about a mysterious flu-like illness spreading in Wuhan, China. In the ensuing months, this virus would be classified as a global pandemic and New York would become one of the hardest-hit places. I’ve refrained from traveling since March 1st, but my daughter’s second year of college necessitated an essential trip to the United States. Although classes would be held online and there would be no on-campus housing, the six-hour time difference convinced us it would be better for her to be in the right time zone and try to have a safe, responsible student experience.

Needless to say, I was nervous about going back to New York. I had read the local papers online, followed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conferences religiously, and reeled from the images of sickness, death, and economic damage. My trepidation was ironic considering I lived in Sweden, a country whose own coronavirus strategy has raised controversy for being less stringent than the rest of the world’s. For example, there was no national lockdown. Sweden does not have a mask mandate, and schools from nursery to 9th Grade have been open throughout. The Public Health Agency counted on citizens to follow recommendations and voluntarily social distance, wash hands, and stay home if you were feeling sick or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. Vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions were told to remain secluded as much as possible.

Although Sweden does have one of the highest rates of death per capita, things seem to be turning a corner at the moment. The same can be said for New York, a city with a population of 8.4 million (to Sweden’s 10 million) people circulating in a densely packed environment. New York City suffered over 23,000 coronavirus deaths, but the strict lockdown, cautiously phased reopening, and mask mandate have gotten the infection rate down to less than 1%. By this metric, New York City seems safe for travel and occupancy, but a flurry of articles this past summer proclaimed New York was “dead.”

Many New Yorkers, who had the option and means, decided to weather the pandemic’s most harrowing months outside of Manhattan. Others were moving to the suburbs or out-of-state for good. The lure and appeal of NYC had diminished for many; casualties of the population density, exorbitant prices, and potential long-term absence of cultural attractions. If companies were encouraging their employees to work from home, then they could work anywhere, trading in the hustle and bustle for a more peaceful and spacious quality of life.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld famously wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times deriding those who had given up on NYC and I didn’t want to give up on it either. I was one of those suburban kids who dreamed of the Big Apple and after spending nearly ten years in Manhattan (from college to my first professional job), I felt like a true New Yorker. No other place in the world feels more like home, but I was wary of stepping into an apocalypse riddled with crime, empty streets, and boarded-up storefronts.

So, what did I find?

First of all, my observations and experiences are IN NO WAY conclusive and perhaps not even representative. I visited specific neighborhoods Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown, and my time in each was relatively short. However, I can say, unequivocally, that the New York spirit and power of resilience are alive and kicking. Many reports reference the flight from the city, but I wonder if these journalists have taken the time to really see the people who have remained instead of focusing on the ones who have left? The storekeepers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, waiters, dry cleaners, handymen, nurses, doctors, hotel staff, delivery personnel and other front line individuals who do not have the possibility to ride out this pandemic elsewhere. People who are fighting to keep their businesses alive and others who are struggling to earn a living–no matter how reduced. These individuals wore masks in stifling heat and personified kindness and service. I remember the Uber driver who told me customers stole his hand sanitizer or emptied it out into their own bottles during rides! So disrespectful! What kind of person does that?! But he carried on, securing his precious sanitizer with industrial tape.

Hotels are finding new and safe ways to welcome back guests in a corona-secure environment and I didn’t mind the “room service only” rule to reduce the risk of infection. When I did go to restaurants, I marveled at the creative, socially-distanced outdoor layouts since indoor dining was not allowed. Whole sidewalks and parking spaces had been taken over and the end result, festooned with plants, string lights, and canopies, was very charming. Curbside dining Downtown was particularly lively!

People, masked and distanced, walked, jogged, and rode their bikes in Central Park. Not to mention the roller skaters twirling to dance music or people just chillin’ out on the Great Lawn. These New Yorkers made me smile and gave me strength and hope. They had lived through one of the strictest lockdowns with death and despair at their doorsteps, yet had ventured out again, adapting prudently to their new reality and not giving up. Life in New York is curtailed, restricted, and uncertain, but people are trying to move forward.

That’s not to suggest real and significant problems don’t exist. Far from it! But their existence has been entrenched and atrociously disregarded for years, only to be laid bare and dispersed by this pandemic, shocking those historically unaffected by racism, discrimination, income inequality, inadequate healthcare, homelessness, drug addiction, food insecurity, education inequality, domestic abuse, or unlawfulness.

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This pandemic is a wake-up call to fix the structural problems plaguing society. Desperation hovers precariously above the perseverance and in our eagerness to return to some kind of normal, I fear we will miss this crucial opportunity to demand more of our leaders and make comprehensive reform. When the next global health crisis hits, we must be better equipped to manage not only the immediate, urgent needs, but also the aftermath. As always, please stay safe and healthy!