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Mama Mia - I love Sweden!

Once a year, my family has an opportunity to travel to countries far and wide to participate in the IBM ICPC international programming contest. It's the Oscars and the Nobel Prize of collegiate programming. This year, speaking of the Nobel Prize, the contest was hosted in Stockholm, Sweden.

We took everyone this year, even the kids, although 18 hours of travel with bored preschoolers and a teenager was a risk. The gamble was worth it...

Stockholm is a gorgeous city, it's people are friendly, and they scoured up the best spring weather we could ask for. It was nippy, not cold, and sunny. We walked all over, pleased to find that there were several 7-Elevens and a McDonald's nearby (either that or one of our children probably would have starved). Personally, I enjoyed trying all the new food, although I didn't like some of it (herring, shudder). The bread was to die for although their idea of pizza didn't match up to my expectations.

The one thing I didn't like was the cost. Sweden has a very high tax on everything, but it funds their medical and educational needs (as well as other items). I had to stop calculating the cost of our food and souvenirs, as it got downright scary to think that the cheeseburger my four-year old had to eat at the Golden Arches (either that or starve) cost approximately $13.60!!! Gasp.

Throughout the trip, the music of ABBA was ever present, we were even treated to a concert by Waterloo, one of the top Swedish ABBA bands. Songs from my teen years (giving away my age there) played in my head like a soundtrack and has inspired quite a few story ideas. It's a good thing, too, for right before we left, I finished up edits for a naughty little tale that will be released in June, so I'm just about ready to jump into writing something new. Especially with all those tall, blond, beautiful men to use for inspiration!

Also, when I got back, I received a fantastic review for The Lady is a Vamp. "This story is fun and lighthearted in areas and dark and deep in others. There is something to entertain all lovers of paranormal tales." Steph B., The Romance Studio.

Of course, I'm still recovering from jet lag and have a pile of laundry to rival Mt. Everest, which will put a small damper on my creative juices, but the weekend is right around the corner and, even better, after spending all that time with my family in a small hotel room, I'm going to be heading up to Silicon Valley for the All Writers, All Weekend conference on May 1st. Oh, and I'm not sharing a room! LOL.

Ericka Scott

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