Fall Favorites: 2018 Edition

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Changing leaves, the brisk air, apple-picking, cozy sweaters… Autumn has officially begun and it always feels like a demarcation point, not unlike the first day of school.  I want to buy a fresh set of pens, notebooks and get back to work!  Aside from Lagging Indicators-related projects and an outline for my next novel, there are so many new releases and happenings that I’m excited about.  Fall offerings tend to be more sober and cerebral, encouraging introspection and providing deep sources of inspiration.  Creating an inviting home and work environment is also essential to finding energy as the days become shorter and darkness envelops us.  Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to this season!

Since I’ll be spending more time inside, sitting at my desk and working on my computer, burning scented candles will make the space feel less claustrophobic and bring the outdoors in.  Woodsy aromas like these–with a dash of pumpkin–make me feel like I’ve taken a walk in the forest.

 

 

Source:  Byredo; Aerin; DiptyqueNest Fragrances

Some trendwatchers have declared that pumpkin spice has reached its peak, but not for me!  I love nothing more than treating myself to anything infused with it. The Swedish pepparkaka is technically a gingerbread cake, but it has a zesty, peppery taste that reminds me of pumpkin spice (and I only bake it in the fall and winter) so I’ve included it in the mix.

 

 

Source: Williams Sonoma; Starbucks; Kungsörnen

Although I live in Sweden, I consider it my civic duty to vote from abroad.  I’m looking forward to filling out my absentee ballot and voting in the US Midterm Elections on November 6th.  Don’t forget to register to vote.  You can register from outside the United States too.

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Source: Cleo Wade for Gucci

Now, on the culture!  The arts, entertainment and literary events premiering this Fall are exceptional.  In an ideal world, I would go/read/see everything, but these are my highlights.

BOOKS

If I could only read one book this autumn, it would be Michelle Obama’s Becoming.  She was such an inspiration and role model as First Lady and continues to sprinkle fairy dust on us with her words of wisdom.  I have a feeling that since she and former President Obama are no longer in government, she can be more forthcoming.  I can’t wait to read more about her journey from the South Side of Chicago to the White House! image (15)Source

The Fall reading list is filled with so many other thought-provoking books from favorite as well as debut authors.

 

 

Source: Amazon

MOVIES

Settling into a movie theatre with a box of popcorn is one of my favorite Fall activities.  These are a few upcoming movies that have caught my eye:  Creed II, headlined by Michael B. Jordan—also reunites Sylvester Stallone with Dolph Lundgren—will be a fun watch with my kids; Widows, starring Viola Davis, to see with my husband; Bohemian Rhapsody because I grew up listening to Queen and Freddie Mercury’s life story fascinates me; and The Hate U Give based on Angie Thomas’s best-selling novel will be important viewing for the whole family.

 

 

ART

Five years ago, the Hilma af Klint exhibit broke attendance records at Moderna Museet in Stockholm.  This groundbreaking Swedish female artist began creating bold abstract paintings in 1906—years before her male contemporaries—but she didn’t get the recognition she deserved. I hope her show at the Guggenheim Museum will be just as popular and introduce her work to a whole new audience.

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MUSIC

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the soundtrack when it came out in 1998.  I’m thrilled she’s doing a 20th Anniversary Tour and that she’s coming to Stockholm on December 10th.  I’ll be checking this one out with my daughter!

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In between all this stimulation :), I’ll squeeze in relaxing weekends by the fire with my family in the Swedish archipelago.  What are you looking most forward to this Fall?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

Two Months Since Release: What I’ve learned so far…

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July 2nd loomed large in my mind for months as I counted the days until Lagging Indicators would be released.  When that fateful date arrived, I was nervous but at peace:  I had done my best.  After years of research, writing, and rejections from traditional publishers, my decision to self-publish was the closure I’d been seeking.  I’d been posting teasers on Instagram and this blog for several weeks, generating some curiosity among my friends.  Many had pre-ordered the book and showed me a level of support and encouragement that still warms my heart.  Once the print and e-book became available on book-buying sites, the waiting game began.

Of course, I was eager to see what readers would think, but hadn’t expected all the valuable intelligence and insight I would gain in the process!  I’d shifted gears from a dreamy creative journey to a wild ride through the contemporary book world, picking up a crash course on promotions, marketing, social media, and influential literary websites along the way.  A whole new universe had opened up; one that I had shied away from because of my own struggles as a writer.  Rather than be daunted, it only reaffirmed that I want to do this. Here’s what I’ve learned in these last two months:

  • The reading public is alive and well.  With hectic schedules, we have so little discretionary time and how we choose to spend it is precious.  I was worried that in this Age of Netflix and the surrealness of current events (facts being stranger than fiction), people would be less likely to pick up a book for entertainment.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  The literary community is thriving.  One only has to look at social media to find book lovers who gleefully post their current reads, reviews, and #TBR lists (a hashtag acronym for “to-be-read” that I just learned).  In spite of all the screens and images to distract, people are still craving the written word.  This has been the most gratifying realization.
  • A community of family, friends, and well-wishers goes a long way.  Even small words of pep made a huge difference in settling my publishing nerves.  As a result, I’ve learned to pay it forward by not only supporting other writers but also artists, designers, entrepreneurs, Ph.D. candidates… I try to lift up anyone working hard and pursuing a dream!
  • Writing may be my passion but self-promotion is my job.  I have to get Lagging Indicators and myself out there.  While I’m a writer first and foremost, I’m also an entrepreneur building a brand, especially as a self-published, indie author.  No one will know about my book unless I make it visible.
  • Engaging with social media is important.  I’m a big fan of Instagram (you can follow me at https://www.instagram.com/jennifer.anglade.dahlberg), but it can be tricky.  You don’t want to appear braggy, pushy or inauthentic, so it’s important to find that balance between marketing and authenticity.  Be yourself!  On Instagram, I can feature all the different things that I enjoy and from which I draw inspiration.  Followers are potential readers too.  Interact with them and ask questions in some posts to create a dialogue. I follow other established writers to see how they present themselves and even New York Times best-selling authors pursue a strategy of connecting with their audience via Instagram.  If Tayari JonesElizabeth Gilbert, and Emily Giffin, can do it, then so can I!
  • Don’t be afraid to hustle.  This can be intimidating if you’re not naturally wired that way.  I’m more of a soft-sell type, but it’s a very competitive landscape and I have to work hard to find a niche.  What makes Lagging Indicators unique?  Why should a reader buy it or a bookseller stock it in their store?  I have my selling points and, luckily, my pitch only gets better with time as the feedback comes in.  While it’s important to understand my demographic, I also don’t want to limit myself.  I’m continuously brainstorming for new, interesting activities and events that I can tie-in with the book.  Giveaways are a great tool to create buzz.  Reposting pictures of real people reading my book has also been alot of fun.  I love getting pictures of the #bookinthewild (another new Instagram expression/hashtag for me).  Ask friends to leave reviews on book-buying sites.  Book clubs and panels are also excellent ways to increase one’s author profile.  For example, my own Book Group event in May has led to inclusion at the Stockholm Writers Festival next spring.  I’ve also sent books to media personalities, influencers and thought leaders whom I admire.  I don’t know if they’ll even open their copy of Lagging Indicators, but I had nothing to lose by reaching out to them!
  • Keep abreast of the industry.  I’ve been educating myself on the contemporary female fiction/women’s fiction genre as well as comparable authors.  It’s crucial to remain up-to-date about other writers, trends, best-seller lists, deals, events, marketing strategies, etc.  It’s a lot to manage at times, but an hour or two each day can yield useful actionable information.  Plus, I love doing this, so I never consider it tedious work!
  • Talk about your work with pride.  Don’t be shy!  This can seem awkward in certain situations but usually leads to really interesting discussions.
  • Carry the book with you at all times. You never know if someone will ask to see it or want to buy a copy from you.  I love taking pictures of the book in different cities, countries, and settings.  Having it with me like an extra limb has become a welcome habit.
  • My skin is thicker than I thought.  I assumed I would fall to pieces over a lukewarm review, but I took it in stride.  It was more like “Hmmmm…” rather than “Ugh!” I see (constructive) criticism as learning opportunities and try not to take it personally.  I won’t become discouraged and will keep writing for my own development.  And no matter how hard I try, I can’t please everyone…
  • I’ve already started to think about my next book.  Given the thirteen years between Uptown and Down and Lagging Indicators, this is big news for me indeed!  But the past year of putting a laser-like focus on my writing, immersing myself in the self-publishing process, and following the book world has given me so much joy and purpose.  Yes, it’s a slog sometimes, but this is where I want to be.  I want to keep this momentum going so that I don’t fall into a slump.
  • Finally, I’ve drawn so much energy and motivation from the feedback I’ve received.  I’m floored by some of the in-depth analysis that pointed things out I hadn’t fully contemplated, opening my eyes to additional themes and issues.  Many readers could relate to Mia’s struggles and were rooting for her.  Others told me that she stayed in their minds long after they’d finished the book.  Some have even suggested Lagging Indicators should be a miniseries and that I should write a sequel.  Stay tuned…