Writing Hours in December 2014

Composite image of 2014 and 2015The new year is a few days old already, and I just realized that I haven’t posted the numbers for December yet.

At the end of the month, it’s been one year since I became a full-time writer–and what an incredible year!

I spend the last month of 2014 mostly working to finish my nonfiction book, Goal Setting for Writers. I got some great feedback from my beta readers, and the manuscript is now with the editor.

I also did a lot of research for my newest romance novel, Damage Control, which I started on January 1. I’m already 8,000 words into the story, so I’d say doing the research beforehand paid off.

Let’s take a look at the numbers for December and the entire year 2014:

Fiction Writing
Nonfiction Writing
Marketing & Administration
2014 - TOTAL973 hours540 hours279 hours371 hours388 hours2,551 hours
January75 hours60 hours1 hour--30 hours171 hours
February48 hours70 hours35 hours--17 hours170 hours
March50 hours41 hours47 hours--12 hours150 hours
April109 hours31 hours48 hours--40 hours228 hours
May102 hours48 hours28 hours37 hours39 hours 254 hours
June75 hours7 hours--8 hours15 hours105 hours
July61 hours15 hours4 hours7 hours15 hours102 hours
August121 hours54 hours15 hours40 hours62 hours292 hours
September88 hours40 hours17 hours111 hours28 hours274 hours
October100 hours65 hours23 hours55 hours35 hours278 hours
November99 hours64 hours25 hours25 hours45 hours258 hours
December45 hours45 hours36 hours88 hours50 hours264 hours

That’s more than double the 1,108 hours of writing and editing I did in 2013, so I’m happy to see that I didn’t slack off during my first year as a full-time writer.

Check back at the beginning of February for the January numbers and also for a free short story that I’m writing for an exciting Valentine’s Day event, Love Spanks, which is put together by the amazing Anastasia Vitsky. There’ll be great prizes, so you might want to participate.

Have a nice Sunday, everyone!


My one-year anniversary as a full-time writer

Today, it’s my one-year anniversary of going full time as a writer! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. It’s been an amazing year, and I’m glad to say that I never regretted my decision even for a second.

So, after 365 days of being a bona fide full-time writer, I think I’m qualified to answer the questions that I asked other full-time writers on my blog last year.

How long have you been writing full-time?

One year exactly! December 21, 2013, was my last day of working as a psychologist, and I started writing full time the day after.

What was the process of moving into full-time writing for you?

I published my first book, Backwards to Oregon, with L-Book at the end of 2007. I published a total of five books with L-Book, but then started over and republished second editions of my “old” books when I switched publishers and joined Ylva Publishing in 2012. At that time, I never thought for a minute that I’d ever be able to write full time. It’s been a lifelong dream, but one I never thought would come true. But then my sales started to take off, so I handed in my letter of resignation in May 2013 and started counting the days…

tripDo you write every day? Do you give yourself weekends or days off or vacation time away from writing?

I work on my stories every day. Sometimes, that means writing; other days, it means researching, plotting, or revising my manuscripts. I rarely take weekends off. I know I should, but I haven’t gotten around to it. That’s one of the disadvantages of being a full-time writer—your place of work is your home, so it becomes harder to separate work from free time. But my job is the best in the world, so I’m not complaining.

I did take some time off to go on a 5-week trip, visiting L.A., Cambria, San Francisco, and Portland in July, and I only got a little writing in every now and then.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I’m usually at the computer by eight and start working on my stories right away. That’s one thing that I learned early on this year—if I start by checking e-mails, I’ll be sucked into the big trap that’s called the Internet. I write or rewrite in the mornings and leave the marketing, social media, and e-mails for the afternoons.

I also work as an editor for Ylva Publishing, so I reserve a couple of hours in the afternoons and early evenings for editing manuscripts, supervising other editors, and communicating with our authors.

I usually try to wrap up work around eight—TRY being the operative word. If there’s any proofreading to do on one of my manuscripts, I mostly do that in the evening.

Do you have a daily word-count goal or a set number of hours you spend writing?

I do have a word-count goal when I’m working on a first draft. I’m aiming for 2,000 words a day or at least 12,000 words a week. Since I’m a slow writer, I don’t always make it, but writing is a marathon, not a sprint, so in the end, persistence wins.

If I’m not working on first drafts, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. are my office hours.

officeWhere do you write?

Most of the time, I write in my office. I moved to a new apartment in March and for the first time in my life have a separate office with enough space for a nice, big desk and bookcases.

How did family and friends react to you giving up your day job to become a full-time writer?

You’d think they would discourage me from giving up my job to become a starving artist, but my friends and my sister were incredibly encouraging and supportive. I doubt I would have taken that big, scary step when I did if not for their encouragement.

How much time do you spend promoting your books, including blogging, social media, etc.?

Since I keep track of my working hours, I can tell you that I spent 338 hours in the first eleven months of 2014 on marketing—so about one hour a day. Usually, most of that is spent answering reader e-mails, blogging, or posting on Facebook. I enjoy all of that, actually. To me, it’s more keeping in touch with my readers than doing promotion.

What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?

Getting up every morning and knowing that I will be able to spend the day doing what I’m meant to be doing.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a full-time writer?

At times, I have so many different projects going that it’s hard to juggle all the deadlines as well as my responsibilities as an editor. Right now, for example, one of my novels is in the production stage, two novels, one nonfiction book, and one short story are being edited; I’m plotting my next novel and doing research for another one.

It might sound funny, but despite being a full-time writer, I still don’t have enough time to write all the stories I want to write. But that’s a good thing, since it means I won’t run out of ideas anytime soon.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a full-time writer?

If I could travel through time and tell my past self two things, it would be:

1. Do your writing first thing in the morning (I used to think I’m a night-owl writer, but found out that it was just out of necessity).

2. Don’t be scared to take that leap—actually, take it sooner!

What advice would you give a fellow author who wants to write full time?

Build a quality backlist first—no one I know can live off just one book. Take the time to learn everything you can about the writing craft and the writing business. Build a writing habit that will make sure that you can publish new works regularly. Maybe do a trial run to see if writing full time is really what you want to do with your life. Since writing is a solitary job, make sure to build a network of friends and fellow writers that will support you with advice and encouragement.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel?

Under a Falling Star is a story that starts shortly before Christmas, when Austen—who has just started a new job as a secretary—takes over decorating the company Christmas tree. Dee, the company’s COO and a bit of a control freak, doesn’t like the way the lights are positioned, so she tries to rearrange them, and the star-shaped tree topper comes crashing down on her. Not knowing who Dee is, Austen takes her to the ER and promptly falls in love with her. A relationship between them is pretty much impossible, especially since Austen is not amused when she finds out that Dee is practically her boss…

What books can we look forward to from you in the future?

Good Enough to Eat, the vampire romance I co-wrote with Alison Grey, will be out at the beginning of February. I will also publish a nonfiction book—Goal Setting for Writers—under my real name in March, and a new contemporary romance set in Hollywood—Damage Control—will come out next summer.

Happy holidays to everyone and thanks for accompanying me through my first year as a full-time writer!


Giveaway of lesbian fiction series!

It’s not Christmas yet, but Ylva Publishing keeps handing out great gifts. Today, they’re giving away entire lesbian fiction series as e-book bundles.


Among them are:

  • My Oregon Series (Backwards to Oregon, Beyond the Trail, Hidden Truths, Lessons in Love and Life)
  • My Shape-Shifter Series (Second Nature, True Nature, Manhattan Moon, Natural Family Disasters, Nature of the Pack, Pigeon Post)
  • RJ Nolan’s L.A. Metro Series
  • Paulette Callen’s Charity Series
  • Erzabet Bishop’s Sigil Fire Series
  • Lois Cloarec Hart’s Calgary Chronicles


If you want to win one of these e-book bundles, head over to Ylva Publishing’s blog and leave a comment.

Happy holidays to everyone who’s celebrating Christmas!


Win a lesbian fiction novel in Ylva Publishing’s giveaway!

Advent_2Ylva Publishing is having another holiday giveaway, giving away free e-book copies of their lesbian romance novels and anthologies.

Today, they are giving away…

  • Still Life by L.T. Smith
  • The Return by Ana Matics
  • Sigil Fire by Erzabet Bishop
  • Unwrap These Presents, a holiday anthology that includes my short story “Christmas Road Trip”
  • All You Can Eat, a foodie-romance anthology that includes my short story “Whining and Dining”
  • One long-sleeved shirt with the cover of The Return
  • One T-shirt with the cover of Sigil Fire
  • One mug featuring the cover of Unwrap These Presents

To enter the drawing, just head over to the Ylva Publishing blog and leave a comment.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!


Writing hours in November 2014

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileHard to believe that it’s already December and Christmas is just three weeks away. Maybe it would help if we had any snow to make it feel more like the holiday season, but so far, not a single snowflake in sight over here, just dreary, damp weather.

Well, it’s good weather for staying in and writing, though.

November has been another productive month. I slayed the word count dragon during NaNoWriMo, finishing the vampire novel Good Enough to Eat that I’m co-authoring with Alison Grey. Yes, you heard that right. Our little novella did indeed turn into a novel of 65,000 words. Not that anyone was really surprised, since I seem to make a habit of turning novellas (or short stories) into novels :-)

We have already started translating it into German. Speaking of German, the German version of Under a Falling Star (titled Vorsicht, Sternschnuppe) has been published in November, and it’s selling really well.

I worked hard on the first book of my writers’ guide series, Goal Setting for Writers, and I’m about to send it to my beta readers. I posted a request for test readers on Facebook, and within a few hours, I had a dozen volunteers. So now I’m looking forward to a lot of feedback, especially since this is the first nonfiction book I’m writing.

On the editing side, I worked on the German translation of RJ Nolan’s L.A. Metro this month and also on Caren Werlinger’s wonderful Turning for Home.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Fiction Writing
Nonfiction Writing
Marketing & Administration
2014 - TOTAL928 hours495 hours243 hours283 hours338 hours2,287 hours
January75 hours60 hours1 hour--30 hours171 hours
February48 hours70 hours35 hours--17 hours170 hours
March50 hours41 hours47 hours--12 hours150 hours
April109 hours31 hours48 hours--40 hours228 hours
May102 hours48 hours28 hours37 hours39 hours 254 hours
June75 hours7 hours--8 hours15 hours105 hours
July61 hours15 hours4 hours7 hours15 hours102 hours
August121 hours54 hours15 hours40 hours62 hours292 hours
September88 hours40 hours17 hours111 hours28 hours274 hours
October100 hours65 hours23 hours55 hours35 hours278 hours
November99 hours64 hours25 hours25 hours45 hours258 hours

Check back on Sunday for the new Ylva giveaway and later this month for the publication of “The Midnight Couch,” my new short story about a radio psychologist.

Have a good rest of the week!


Win a lesbian romance novel in the Ylva Publishing giveaway!

Every Sunday from now until Christmas, Ylva Publishing is giving away free e-books.

Today, you can win a copy of my newest lesbian romance, Under a Falling Star (which is a good fit for the pre-Christmas season!), Heart’s Surrender by Emma Weimann, Bitter Fruit by Lois Cloarec Hart, and Barring Complications by Blythe Rippon.


You can also win a cap with the cover of Ana Matics’s The Return, one cap with the cover of KL Hughes’s Popcorn Love, a T-shirt with the cover of Lois Cloarec Hart’s Bitter Fruit, and one T-shirt with the cover of Popcorn Love.

Participating is really easy. All you have to do is head over to the Ylva blog and leave a comment.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to subscribe to Ylva Publishing’s blog to make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming giveaways. They will also be doing a giveaway of signed paperbacks on Christmas, so it’s worth checking back!

Have a great Sunday,


Giveaway of my lesbian romance novel “Under a Falling Star”

Today’s an eventful day for me.

Not only is my romantic suspense novel Conflict of Interest making a comeback as the #1 bestseller in the Amazon category “Gay & Lesbian Mystery,” but I also received my author copies of Under a Falling Star today. I have to say, I’m still in love with the great cover, including the back cover.

UAFS Paperback cover

The paperback is now available for readers too.

Last but not least, I’m guest-blogging over at Women & Words today, talking about Under a Falling Star, my adventures in the US, and about coming full circle as a writer.

We’re also doing a giveaway of an e-book copy of Under a Falling Star, so head over to Women & Words to read the blog and enter the giveaway.

Best of luck!


A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Writer

The one-year anniversary of my transition to full-time writing is quickly approaching, and it makes me think about how much my life has changed. So I thought I would blog about a typical day in the life of a full-time writer—if there even is such a thing. Each day is different, which is part of the fun, but I try to keep a certain structure.

So here’s what I did yesterday.

I never set an alarm clock, but my inner clock wakes me at the same time every day, usually around 7:15 a.m. I get up, change into my work uniform (which nowadays consists of a pair of comfy sweatpants and a T-shirt or sweater), and then start my daily commute (the five steps from the kitchen to my office).

at the deskBy eight, I’m at my desk with a cup of Earl Grey or a Chai Latte and a big glass of water. I set my timer to thirty minutes as a reminder to get up regularly since sitting all day can really be hell on a body.

With the timer running, I get started on my editing job. I’m currently editing the German version of L.A. Metro, a lesbian romance novel by RJ Nolan.

Then I continue with my own projects. My beta readers sent back the next few chapters, so I revise the German version of Conflict of Interest, which will be published next spring.

I also got back my editor’s comments on The Midnight Couch, a short story about a broadcast technician who has a big crush on the radio psychologist she works with. I make the revisions and then send it off to my publisher. One project down, seven more to go.

Good Enough to Eat1Next, I work on Good Enough to Eat, the vampire novella I’m co-writing with Alison Grey. We’re working on a new scene that has our main character, a vampire who writes paranormal romances for a living, showing her “writing cave” to her love interest. Here’s a snippet of the scene:

Robin opened a door and swept her arm in a gesture that encompassed the entire room. “Like I said, nothing special. Just a room with a desk and a computer.”

Alana nudged her gently, setting off the familiar tingling sensation again. “And here I was expecting golden typewriters and a view of the ocean.” She stopped in the doorway and blinked a few times.

Robin’s L-shaped desk took up two walls, reminding Alana a bit of the control centers of spaceships she’d seen on TV. The large whiteboard above one side of the desk caught her attention. Index cards and sheets of paper were stuck to it. Alana did a double take when she saw what was pinned to the board below the floor plan of a house—a printout of her photo from the law firm’s website hung next to her business card.

“Um, Robin?”

Robin, who was rummaging through a drawer, paused. “Yeah?” She half turned and froze.

“Why do you have my photo on your whiteboard?” Should she feel flattered or scared?

“I…it’s not what you think. It’s… I based a character in one of my short stories on you.”

Alana reached up and scratched her neck, not sure how to feel about that.

“I hope you don’t mind. Maybe I should have asked, but we barely knew each other when I wrote that story.”

Alana finally turned away from the whiteboard. Come on, it’s no big deal. “It’s okay. I just… I thought I left those unrealistic love stories behind, and now I’m a character in one of them.”

“No. I mean… Alissa, my character, isn’t you. The editor had me make her a police officer. She said divorce lawyers don’t make for sexy main characters.”

Alana sent her a challenging grin. “Oh, yeah?”

“Hey, it’s not like I agreed with her.”

 UAFSAfter writing for two or three hours, I take a break to check the Amazon sales rank for Under a Falling Star, my latest novel, which has been published just a few days ago. Not only is it currently #1 in the categories lesbian fiction and lesbian romance, but the overall sales rank is also #782. That calls for a celebration.

So I’m heading out to a Turkish restaurant for my lunch break and get myself a vegetarian Yufka. Yummy!

After lunch, I’m checking my e-mails and also answer reader comments on my blog and my Facebook page. I never even open my e-mails or social media before lunch. The Internet is a great tool for writers, but it’s also the biggest distraction you can imagine, so I’m trying to stay away from it until I get some work done first.

This is what a Scrivener document looks like

This is what a Scrivener document looks like

Once I’m done with my e-mail, I watch a Scrivener webinar that I signed up for. If you haven’t heard of it, Scrivener is an awesome piece of software for writers. I’ve been using it for a while now, but there are still some features that I haven’t explored yet.

After the webinar ends, I go back to my job as an editor and edit three chapters of Turning for Home, Caren Werlinger’s upcoming novel that will be published next year. Thankfully, it’s well written, so there’s not that much for me to do.

When the late-afternoon brain-deadness hits me, I climb on my elliptical trainer and watch an episode of Blacklist while I exercise. I don’t watch much TV anymore, but I watched Orange is the New Black and Orphan Black during my afternoon exercise. Hmm, I just realized… What’s with all the TV shows having the word black in their titles?

My brain feels more awake now, so I settle down, write a guest blog for Women & Words (which will be posted on November 12), and pick out the pictures to go with it. It’s fun going through my photos of the US, reliving my adventures on the West Coast. It makes me start thinking about all the ice cream research I did there, and I realize I’m getting hungry.

saladI have dinner around seven—and some ice cream for dessert. Hey, at least the dinner consisted of something healthy, mostly salad.

After dinner, I get some proofreading done. We want to re-upload a new e-book for Something in the Wine soon, since the e-book file is much too big, so I thought I might as well take another look and see if I find any missed typos. So far, so good.

Around eleven, I watch an episode of Rookie Blue. What can I say? Crime shows and ice cream are my only vices.

At midnight, the magic is over and I fall into bed.

Tomorrow’s another day in the life of a full-time writer.


Writing hours in October 2014

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for October, because that meant my newest lesbian romance, Under a Falling Star, would be published. It’s been out for just a few days now, and it’s already number 1 in the Kindle bestseller list for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance.

So I’d say October was a really good month for me.

I finished the translation of Conflict of Interest. The title of the German version is “Auf schmalem Grat,” which roughly translates to “a fine line.”

My co-author Alison Grey and I are also making good progress on our vampire novella, Good Enough to Eat, which is now at 34,000 words. If this one turns into a novel, I will blame it on Alison :-)

I’m also excited about a new short story that I just finished, titled “The Midnight Couch.” It’s about a broadcast technician who has a crush on the radio psychologist working for the same radio station.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Nonfiction Writing
Marketing & Administration
2014 - TOTAL829 hours431 hours218 hours258 hours293 hours2,029 hours
January75 hours60 hours1 hour--30 hours171 hours
February48 hours70 hours35 hours--17 hours170 hours
March50 hours41 hours47 hours--12 hours150 hours
April109 hours31 hours48 hours--40 hours228 hours
May102 hours48 hours28 hours37 hours39 hours 254 hours
June75 hours7 hours--8 hours15 hours105 hours
July61 hours15 hours4 hours7 hours15 hours102 hours
August121 hours54 hours15 hours40 hours62 hours292 hours
September88 hours40 hours17 hours111 hours28 hours274 hours
October100 hours65 hours23 hours55 hours35 hours278 hours

So what’s up for November? I have joined NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month that challenges writers from all over the world to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. Check back next month to see whether I managed to achieve that goal.

Have a nice Sunday, everyone!


Interview with Ann Aptaker, author of Criminal Gold

Ann AptakerToday’s interviewee is Ann Aptaker, who just had her debut novel, Criminal Gold, published with Bold Strokes Books. Criminal Gold is a crime/mystery adventure novel set in 1949.

Let’s start with some warm-up questions:

Chocolate or cookies?

Well, I love chocolate passionately, but I’ll have to go with cookies, since chocolate doesn’t love me, which is a serious romantic disappointment, yes? I cheat sometimes, have a little chocolate, but if I have one bite too much, I pay for it the next day. Drat!

E-books or paperbacks?

I don’t own a reader or tablet yet, still out of my financial league I’m afraid, but I’ve recently downloaded the Kindle app on my laptop, so I’m just now getting ready to try e-books. If I had a reader or tablet, I could be seriously addicted; the efficiency is undeniable. But I have to fess up and admit that I’m one of those who’d miss the feel and smell of real books. Plus, I do a lot of my reading-for-pleasure as bedtime reading, and after a day of working at the computer, the last thing in the in the world I want to do is to look at yet another screen. The bedside lamplight illuminating the words on the paper is much more soothing at bedtime.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

No way I’ll choose one over the other! Love ’em both! Take us out, Mr. Sulu…Engage…and may The Force be with us. Wink

Beach or mountains?

Seashore, definitely seashore. And all the seafood I can stuff into my mouth. Second to living here in my much loved hometown of New York, a little shanty by the sea would be heaven.

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

A little about myself: well, I’m a native New Yorker who’s also lived briefly in Florida and San Francisco. And though each has its wonderful qualities (great weather in both, good food, wonderful seashores, and, in SF, much LGBTQ cultural and political power), they just can’t compare to my extraordinary hometown. So I came running home to New York, where life is a financial struggle but the cultural and creative riches are boundless.

So, what does that say about me? I guess it says that I’m a city-slicker to the core; that the presence of so much writing and other top-notch cultural talent in this city helps keep me sharp; that living in walking distance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art matters to me so that I can swoon over their Greek art collections and early 20th Century stuff (can’t get enough of John Singer Sargent:  is “Madame X” delicious or what?); that I love great theater on or off Broadway and go whenever budget allows, which isn’t often enough; I love movies, so I’m addicted to Netflix (and also addicted to Orange is the New Black); also addicted to Downton Abbey (can’t wait ‘til it starts again here in the States in January!); and last (and probably least) I’m currently single. I guess that’s about it.

When I’m not writing, I -

-work on getting my lectures ready for the classes I teach at New York Institute of Technology (Art History, Exhibition Design);

-write art related materials for various clients (galleries, artists, etc.);

-write other freelance stuff (was hired to edit/re-write a treatment for a proposed TV show).

So I guess I’m always writing! Even when I take my deliciously long walks through the city, I’m writing in my head, especially the book I’m currently working on, the second in the Criminal Gold series.

CRIMINAL GOLD-coverPlease tell us about your journey in becoming a published writer. What challenges did you face when you published your first book? How did you come to publish with Bold Strokes Books?

Getting my early short stories published wasn’t particularly difficult. In fact, the first story I ever submitted for publication, a hard boiled tale called “The Sweetness at the Crummy End of Town,” was accepted right way by Michael Bracken, who was the editor of the “Fedora” crime anthology series (which has since met a much lamented demise…sigh…such are the financial vicissitudes of the publishing game.   Michael was/is a true gentleman of literary crime). It wasn’t a lesfic story, but the two main characters in next story he accepted for the Fedora series, “Her Game,” were lesbians, very much out. The early success of these stories spoiled me for all the rejection that came later, when I submitted my novel. It seems I didn’t have a golden aura around my head after all! It took forever, two agents (the first, retired; the second, come and gone, though it wasn’t a bitter breakup), glowing rejections from publishers (but no sale is no sale, even when it comes with ultimately useless praise) and an abiding faith in my work (call it arrogance, call it chutzpah) to stay with it. Needless to say, I’m glad I did. Criminal Gold found a home at Bold Strokes Books, where it (and its author) are treated with respect, and benefits from the wisdom of the highly professional staff, especially my extraordinary editor, Ruth Sternglantz. Ruth definitely “gets” what I’m trying to do with this book and its protagonist, the criminal Cantor Gold.

How did you come up with the idea for Criminal Gold?

Y’know, I’m not really sure “how” I came up with this book. The character of Cantor Gold has been running around in my head for a long time. I’d written a previous story about her while I was living in San Francisco and taking a Mystery Writing course taught by Shelley Singer, author of Blackjack, featuring the fabulous Rica Marin (now there’s a dyke to be reckoned with!) In addition to being a marvelous writer, Shelley is a wonderful teacher, and she unlocked everything for me on the very first day of class! From that day on, Cantor became alive on the page, and her story evolved. Eventually, I made the move back to New York, where Criminal Gold came to fruition. It really had to be written here. The city is part of Cantor.

How much and what kind of research did you do for Criminal Gold?

Since the story takes place in 1949, I had to do a considerable amount of research. Much of my time was spent in the microfilm room of the New York Public Library (reading 1949 newspapers—New York had 7 daily papers then!), the New York City Archives, whose collection of New York City photographs is unsurpassed, and the New York Historical Society Library for general information. I also read (and still do) lots of books on general New York history, crime history, and even entertainment history, all of them elements of Cantor’s world. But I also spoke to a lot of people. The World War Two generation is still around (but leaving us day by day, sadly), and they remember the post-war years in New York rather well. So I got a lot of information, especially the more colorful sort, from personal reminiscences. Listening to them speak, and remembering how my own family spoke, their accents, expressions, slang, etc., gave me a sense of how New York sounded then.

What would you say is the most important theme in Criminal Gold, and what personal meaning does that theme have for you? 

As with any good yarn, there’s more than one theme woven through it, but for me (and Cantor), the most important theme of the book and her life is the idea of Freedom. In 1949, and really only until very recently, it was quite dangerous to live openly as a gay or lesbian person, especially if you were a butch dyke or a femme male. Cantor insists on living openly, thus taking her Freedom, which is a very different idea than simply winning her “Rights.” Rights are things given; Freedom is something lived. To me, Freedom and Rights, though they have much on common, are not the same thing.

How long did it take you to write Criminal Gold?

While I was employed full time, I worked on the book on-and-off for about two years. But when I left my full time curatorial job to work only part time (teaching) and freelance gigs, I wrote more consistently and with deeper focus, and finished it in about a year.

How do you find enough time to write, even though you have a day job? Any tips for how to be productive as a writer who can’t write full time?

As an Adjunct faculty member, I’m only in the classroom two days a week, though there’s prep-time for each class. Still, other than classroom days, my working schedule is mine to set, and as long as I meet my obligations to school and my freelance clients, I am then free to devote whole chunks of time to writing.

Now, having said all that, there’s the issue of financial stability, which I definitely do not have. There are some very scary days/weeks/months in my life. But my full-time career as a curator meant long days, often seven days a week when preparing an exhibition, and generally left me too exhausted to write when I got home, which was often late and after a long commute. So I had to make a decision: do I want to write, or do I want to curate? A management and policy change at the museum where I worked provided the trigger: I didn’t go along with the new policy and management, and I decided it was time to get out and follow my own dream, not facilitate someone else’s. I’ve never regretted it. Though my life is financially tough, it is creatively alive, which I value more than anything.

So I’m not sure what tips I can give about being a productive writer; everyone’s situation and needs are different. But writing takes commitment, so I guess to be a productive writer, you have to commit to it, each in their own way.

What’s your favorite scene in Criminal Gold?

Wow, a favorite scene. Well, I don’t think I can pick a single favorite, but I suppose three could qualify. Since the book just launched, I don’t want to give the game away before people have a chance to read it, but I’ll say that in one of the scenes, Cantor becomes aware of the true feelings of someone important in her life. It’s a very subtly revealed moment, but it has deep emotional implications for Cantor, turns everything she thought was true inside out. Another scene, a bit earlier, is a meeting between Cantor and the city’s major Crime Lord on the terrace of his penthouse. It’s a seesaw act between the two of them.  And the third is the very last one of the book, which I won’t give away at all! The reason that last scene is among my favorites, is because it actually wrote itself. I had another ending in mind, but as the words came, I felt like I had no control over it, the story had completely taken over. The book had to end the way it did. The story essentially told me to get the hell out of its way.

Which scene in Criminal Gold was hardest for you to write?

That first, subtle one, was the hardest. The relationship between Cantor and this other character is highly complex, and becomes even more complex as a result of that subtle moment when Cantor learns the truth, when her whole history turns upside down.

If there would have been Starbucks in 1949, what sort of coffee would Cantor Gold, the main character in Criminal Gold, order? Black coffee? Soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte? Double chocolate chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? Something else?

Strong black coffee, no milk, no sugar, no nonsense.

What projects are you working on right now?

Most of my creative time is spent writing the next book in the series, which I’m proud to say Bold Strokes has accepted for publication (yay!) But I’m also partnering with the wonderful composer Jody Gray on what we hope will be a Broadway musical in the not tooooooooo distant future. He’s writing the music, I’m writing the script, an adaption of an Oscar Wilde short story.

Yeah, I’m a writer. Finally.

Thank you for that great interview, Ann, and best of luck with Criminal Gold and your future writing endeavors!

Readers, if you have questions or feedback for Ann, please leave a comment. You can also reach Ann via Twitter or Facebook. For now, Criminal Gold is available at Bold Strokes, but starting on November 18, it will also be available at several other online bookstores.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!


Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis