Friday, June 26, 2015

My bObi is a teenager...

I got a new vacuum this week. I think it's a teenager. 

The box from Groupon came the other day. 

It said my bObi is a newborn.

But I think it's a teenager.

In the reviews, many people noted their bObis had trouble finding the charging station when they were done. Not mine. I have a teenager. Any time it gets anywhere near it's "bed," it tries to take a nap! 

And it likes to tease Sophy. It tried to climb her paws a few times, grabbed at her tail and even tried to take her toy. Sophy told bObi to STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

BObi is always hungry and gets into things it shouldn't.

My bObi is a teenager--and I love it anyway!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Romance Novels and Feminism

I was reminded today how I feel about romance novels and feminism by hearing about a graduate student asking writers questions about this. So I dug out a presentation I gave circa 2000 on the subject. Here is a portion of it:
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Some people think romance and feminism couldn’t possibly go together. My reaction is that romance novels are some of the most feminist writing around and I’d like to tell you why I think that.

First of all, let me say that I really am a feminist. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and I remember watching shows like Bewitched. I always wanted to ask Samantha why on earth she was letting some guy tell her what she could do with her gifts and talents!

I grew up being told that women could not do mathematics. I didn’t listen—which is why my undergraduate degree is in honors math and my graduate degree is in operations research. I don’t listen well.

So when it came time to write—the year my husband and I were living in Paris, France--it seemed natural to look at what kind of books were on the market and what I wanted to write about. I knew how many women read romance. Heck, I was reading romance. But I wasn’t always happy with the images in those books. So I decided to try to write one where the characters were the same age and—surprise, surprise!—the heroine was a mathematician. To my utter astonishment, Avalon books wanted to publish my work. So I wrote a few more. During this time my son was born with down syndrome and I said I’d get a 9 to 5 job when he was a little older. That was 23 years ago and I’m still writing romance!

Why do I love writing romance? And why do I think romance novels are feminist? Because the best romances celebrate women learning to be true to themselves. They celebrate women overcoming obstacles and creating the lives they want to have. And they portray men and women coming together in ways that empower both of them—so that neither is diminished and each is greater than he or she would be alone. And to me that’s feminism—to celebrate the possibilities—for both women AND men!

Romance novels were the first to show women in careers such as lawyers, doctors, heads of companies. Women in romance novels no longer wait for a knight in shining armor to rescue them. They are just as likely to not only rescue themselves but help the guy out as well. In the best of situations the men and women help each other. And isn’t that what we would like in our own lives? Not to live in armed camps but to work together to create more than we could each accomplish alone?

Romance novels are about possibilities. About ways to rise above the obstacles we find in our lives. To overcome the tragedies and traumas and find a way to triumph. And I think that’s one of the most empowering messages anyone can hear.

Now I’ll grant you, I write Regencies. You won’t find female lawyers in my books. But you will find women living in a time of change—because the Regency era mirrors our own in that respect—trying to balance what they feel they owe their families and society with the need to be true to who they are. And isn’t that the challenge we all face in our own lives? My characters are, I hope, true to their time but that doesn’t mean they are pushovers.

In The Wily Wastrel, Juliet’s mother wanted a dainty Juliet. Juliet isn’t dainty—or classically feminine. She rather fix a carriage wheel than sew a seam. She gets matched up with a guy who has to pretend he wins his money gambling because it’s disreputable to earn money if you were a gentleman back then. So both have to deal with expectations and how to be true to themselves anyway.

In The Sentimental Soldier, Prudence doesn’t hesitate to masquerade as a Moroccan Prince or a male gypsy, and as a nun for good measure.

In Miss Tibbles Interferes, Mrs. Merriweather is a former governess. She has to deal not only with the expectations for women, but for former governesses as well—even though being married to a colonel now makes her a lady. And nothing ever stops her from doing anything she thinks needs to be done!

Probably my most feminist heroine is Penelope in An Outrageous Proposal. She was never going to get married because she was never going to let any guy tell her what to do—no way, no how, not ever! Well, the hero manages to change her mind, but not without changing a few of his own ideas along the way.

The point is that in romance novels—mine or most other writers these days, you will find strong women, taking charge of their lives, overcoming all sorts of obstacles to create the lives they want to have. And they find ways to do it without throwing away the ties to that people who matter to them. And that’s important. Because the most profound fear any of us has is that of being abandoned. Babies who are not loved literally die—it’s called failure to thrive. The message in these books is that you can be true to yourself and along the way maybe still find someone who shares your vision. And that may be enough to give all of us the courage to try. And what could be more feminist than that?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Summer 2015 Book in a Week Class Starts June 14th

If you’re going to RWA national conference in 2015—You can could have a complete first draft or at least be far enough in so you’re ready to answer questions about your story when you pitch to agents and/or editors!

Or just have fun and write! Discover YOUR ideal brainstorming and writing process.

I’ve tried to time this summer class so it starts as school is ending most places AND so that it’s only the final week that overlaps with the RWA national conference. (That last week is essentially a wrap up and you can always read the lessons after you get back from the conference.)

Class: Book in a Week
Dates: June 14, 2015 to July 24, 2015 
Cost: $95 ($50 if you’ve taken it before) One time 10% discount if you’ve bought April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week Workbook (Available for order online. Note that you will probably find the paperback version more useful than the ebook but it’s available in both formats.)
Deadline to sign up: June 12, 2015 (though I will sometimes allow people to sign up right up to the start of class if there is room)
Class Format: All lessons and responses are handled via class email so you can do them at YOUR convenience.

Class size is limited.

Payment for the class may be made by check or by PayPal. To sign up send an email to with the title of the class you wish to take in the header and in the body of the email please put: your name and whether you prefer to pay by check or PayPal. Also, please let me know if you have taken the class before and whether you have bought a copy of the workbook and are asking for the one time only discount on the class fee.

Note: If you do not get a response back from me, please try emailing me at Unfortunately email does sometimes simply disappear into cyberspace.

Class Description: This class will take you through every step of the writing process—from beginning to brainstorm all the way through sending material out to be published. And it will help you discover who YOU are as a writer. You can participate as much or as little as you like in email discussions.

Weeks 1-3: This is when you do the prep work with lessons that are designed to get you thinking in new ways about your project. Among other things, I'll cover characters and book structure, imagery and use of names, POV and how to make sentence and paragraph structure work for you. If you choose, you can post answers and get help brainstorming ideas for your book but NO ONE is required to do so!

Weeks 4 and 5: Intensive Writing Weeks (July 4, 2015 through July 19, 2015 and yes, it's okay if you start after the July 4th instead—that’s one reason we have 2 writing weeks.)This is your chance to write better and faster than you ever have before, to discover what YOUR natural first draft will look like and ways to fit writing into your life that you may never have thought of before.

Week 6: Here's your chance to look at the experience of weeks 4 and 5 and use it to create a writing method that works for YOU and is tailored to your most natural writing style. We'll also look at how to revise your work in the fastest, most effective way possible and I'll be sharing some of my thoughts on query letters, synopses, etc.

Does BIAW work? Well, a number of people who have taken this class are now published or under contract and/or been finalists in or won contests with material they worked on during my classes.  One author had her book optioned for a movie!

Bio: April Kihlstrom is an award winning author of 32 published romance novels. She offers coaching to fellow writers as well as classes and workshops on writing and has spoken at many conferences including: the Romance Writers of America national conference (romance) and the East of Eden conference (non-romance).

Testimonials from students who have taken the Book in a Week class:

“April's course always makes me take a good hard look at my characters, their motivations and what it will take to tell their story. Even better is the feedback she gives to responses.  She really makes me think!”--Anne McAllister

“I had been stuck for 18 months on my book, writing next to nothing after the loss of a family member. I was desperate to get it going but couldn't seem to muster the enthusiasm. Your class was just the ticket.”--Robin Heart Shepperd

 “Through the series of questions that April asks she makes each author delve deeply into their character and story line. April's questions make you think about how your character's history, social standing, occupation, family position, and more impacts how they handle the various situations we authors toss them into. At the end of April's class you have a deep understanding of your characters that writing the story will be a breeze. “--Ruth A Casie

“I so enjoyed every minute of April's class. First, she hands out the BEST lessons, they make you think and show you just how much insight April brings to her class, on writing, on writers, and on LIFE! Then she carefully answers all the questions online or privately and we all learned from everyone else too!  This class is really a fantastic jump starter for any book, idea, premise you might be struggling with.  I was unable to write but two days of the writing weeks and still got in over 10,000 words because the class allowed me to get to some truths in my work.  Hat's off to April for providing the inspiration and know how, and finally for her innate quality as a human study. If you are a writer - this is the class YOU need!”--Cheryl Rae

“I first tried "Book in a Week" when I wanted to start a new novel but was having trouble gathering ideas.  The process really jump-started my brain and my creativity and pretty soon the ideas were flowing!  Although I didn't finish the book that week, I wrote more than I thought possible and went on to finish the book more quickly than I ever had in the past.  That book was not only published, but nominated for a National Readers' Choice Award! Since then I have taken the class several times and it has always gotten me started with plenty of plot and character ideas; and has helped me to get my novels well underway!”--Roni Denholtz


And now for the information about my workbook.  Note that you will probably find the paperback more useful than the ebook but both options are available.

         Most of us write linearly but brainstorm in a nonlinear way. If one thinks of writing a book as being similar to putting together a puzzle, this workbook is intended to help writers create key puzzle pieces. This workbook is intended to help writers brainstorm and plan out their books in a way that is organic.
         April Kihlstrom was one of the first writers to embrace the concept of Book in a Week. She has been teaching the material in workshops and online classes for years. All of the material in this book comes from her experience both as a multi-published author and in teaching these workshops and classes.

Available for kindlenookkobogoogle playiBooks and in paperback on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (The paperback is probably more useful because there is space to write in answers to the questions I ask and/or draw or paste in pictures.)