Where the Happily Ever Afters Are Always In Color

 How We Can Make Diverse Romance Lit and Authors More Successful

The call for diversity across media is nothing new. Inclusion of people of color, people with disabilities, fiction incorporating characters who practice a variety religions and the inclusions of members of the LGBTQIA community (and wherever any and all of these things may intersect) and even people with a clear difference of body type has been the topic of conversation for generations. On social media, there has been a renewed push for more diversity in gaming, film (I’m looking at you Disney/Marvel) and all genres of fiction.

DIVERSE-college-WOMEN

“Hey there. Whatcha reading?”

The Romance fiction community is right there too, discussing ways mainstream romance publishing can make an active move to do more. Well Romance Peeps, why not make a real push in the coming days at the 2015 Romance Writers of America Conference (#RWA15) July 22-25, in wonderful New York City.Here are a few ways we can really make all these hashtags matter.

AUTHORS AND READERS:

BUY a book by an author of color/LGBTQ author at the at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. Hit your faves, but take a minute to talk to someone new. Then…

TWEET/FACEBOOK/TUMBLR/PINTEREST the book you just bought. So many people are one click buyers on facebook and twitter. Those one-clicks go a long way. Trust me.

shut-up-and-take-my-money

Now I know I have stacks of unread books. It’s something us book nerds are known for. We hoard the dang things, but at the very, very least, if you know you wont get to it, that book can be gifted to a friend, family member or your local library, but before you give those unread books a new life…

TWEET/FACEBOOK/TUMBLR/PINTEREST the book you plan to pass along. Share the love!

On a budget? Make a list of authors who are new to you and when you get home, purchase their books as your budget allows. And in the meantime…

TWEET/FACEBOOK/TUMBLR/PINTEREST the book you plan to buy. Share the love! A lot of people underestimate how far talking about a book or an author can go. You might be exposing someone to the book love of their life.

Now, I have to whisper to the Agents/Editors/Pub Reps in the audience. Talk to us, mingle with us. I know the nature of these things involve meeting new clients/speak with existing clients, but at the end of the day we are all a community. You might not want to rep some of these authors now, but you might if you get to know us. Maybe the person chicken comes before the book egg? You know what I mean.

Creating a space for diverse books and authors is going to take a new approach and I think if we all give it the ole college try while we’re in the same room we’ll be taking a step in the right direction.

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Just this morning I picked up IRONIC by, new to me author, Harper Miller

Not attending #RWA15? Why not start now! Here are a list of places where you can find diverse romance and other fiction. Click some links, read some blurbs, or just close your eyes and pick something new. All of our favorites were once new to too. Think of all the new favorites you could find by just giving some new books/authors a chance. And even if you just end up doing some browsing, TWEET/FACEBOOK/TUMBLR/PINTEREST the books you’re thinking about buying. Share the love! Together, we can do it. Happy Reading!
Romance Novels In Color – Reviewing Diverse Romance Fiction

Saris and Stories – Coverage Romance and Women’s Fiction by Indian Women

Around the World in 80 Books – Reviewing Diverse fiction

WOCInRomance – Covering Romance Novels written by Women of Color

Sistahs On the Shelf – Covering Lesbian/Bisexual Romance by Black Women

Rainbow Book Reviews – Reviewing LGBTQIA Literature

Have more blogs/review sites to add to this list? Please leave a comment below.

 

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SoulToKeepCoverHey guys, Just popping in with a few updates. YAY! FIRST!!! I will be at #RWA15 in NYC. I’ll be live-tweeting my whereabouts (in the bar pretty much the whole time) so please come by and say hello if you’re in the area. I’ll be giving away copies of FIT! I’ll also be speaking at two different events.

Tuesday, July 21/ 7:00pm – Erotic Writing and the Role of Woman

Thursday, July / 9:45am – Diversity in Romance: Why it Matters

Here is the full schedule events for the week.

As of last night, Soul To Keep is off to my editors over at Bold Strokes Books. Expect the real thing Spring 2016. I thought I would take some time off, read, watch even more TV, think about exercising, but no.CJLky4BUYAEWWFw

I was talking with my cover artist, TL, and she was saying some stuff and I was listening to that stuff, and we both kept saying stuff and the conversation ended with both of us thinking that I should definitely run with this stuff. So here we are.

I give you Michael and Kayla, my lovers for 3 more novellas I’ll be self-publishing. The first will be called So Sweet: A Sugar Baby Novella. I plan to put that out some time in September. The other two should be out sometime after that. Don’t ask me to make firm plans beyond September. I CAN’T DO IT. I do know for sure there will be at least three Sugar Baby Novellas.

That’s all I got for now. I hope everyone is having a lovely July. :D

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 MAY WAS SO DANG BUSY!

06.04.2015

HOLY CRAP A LOT HAPPENED IN MAY!!! Allow me to share. :D After SATED hit the ground running, I had about three minutes to get my mind together before I headed off to the 2015 Romantic Times Convention or #RT15 as the kids were calling it on the twitter, but let’s back it up.

Before that happened, I had…well it wasn’t an epiphany, more like a sort of psychotic break and started WOCInRomance.

11200620_351261735085160_9079973803465364104_nI say psychotic break because the idea was born from anger, or a sweet bit of that rage. Romance fiction is so wonderful and even with great initiatives like #WeNeedDiverseBooks (which seems to focus more on Young Adult fiction) and #WeNeedDiverseRomance (which focuses more on colors of characters in romance fiction) I was still seeing a huge hole in the push to right some of the pretty obvious racism and homophobia in the publishing industry. While the race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity of the characters matter greatly to me, these factors in the authors matter to me more. Why? Because we’re the ones who have to live these lives. And we are also the ones with bills to pay. In short, I want women of color writing romance fiction to take home deals and checks comparable to our white counterparts. The end.

Hitting the social media platforms twitter, tumblr and Facebook, WOCInRomance was created to promote Romance fiction written by women of color. In 24 short hours I was able to connect with literally hundreds of authors who are actively writing a wide range of Romance Fiction. I’ve found so many awesome titles I know I’ll be reading well into the grave. If you have any titles to share, please hit me up.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

I made my way to Dallas for #RT15, cause ya see, FIT (#1 in the Fit Trilogy) won the RT Books Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award for Erotic Romance Novella. Isn’t she pretty!

tumblr_noidzmDbD91spami8o3_1280The whole night was a blur mostly because I was trying not to throw up. When I got my wits back, I had a great time hanging out with other romance authors and readers. And not so side note: out of the 50+ of winners, only 4 WOC won awards. Again, publishing across the board has some work to do.

While at #RT15 I got to participate in this super fun list from the folks at Buzzfeed. AND THEN! I was interviewed by JEZEBEL’s Kelly Faircloth about Diversity in romance. Can I just say that seeing your named on JEZBEL (in a positive light) is pretty freaking awesome. I also met up with high school buddy Jane Erwin. Isn’t she pretty! Honestly Jane, kept me sane in the whirlwind of romance madness. EVERYONE NEEDS A JANE!

tumblr_noidzmDbD91spami8o7_1280Things have quieted down a little and by a little I mean not at all. The minute I got home I got my cover for SOUL TO KEEP. I suppose I should keep writing it.

SoulToKeepCoverSo that’s where we’re at now. #RWA15 is right around the corner and this lady has a book to finish. More soon!

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 SATED IS HERE!!!!

04.29.2015

SATEDcoverIt took some time, though I’d say just the right amount of time. SATED is finally here and The Fit Trilogy is complete. I had a hell of a time drafting Keira and Daniel’s story, but for the first time I actually had a really good time working on the revisions. I have a great editor and she helped me gather Daniel’s thoughts and craft his side of the story into a journey that I am very happy with. Keira was a breeze from the start. :D  I have ideas for following up stories for each couple, but I’d like to knock out some other stories before we come back around to these cutie-poos.

FITCOUPLES

So what’s next for me? Well I’m working on the next vampire sorority installment. You can expect that Spring/Summer 2016. After that I’m hoping to write a few more erotic romantic comedies like FIT and The Fling.  In the meantime, The WHOLE Fit Trilogy is now available for 99cents a pop!

FIT TRILOGY

 

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 #BlackWomenInRomance

03.08.2015

BlackWomenInRomance

Being Black every day makes Black History Month a little strange. I mean, we’re making history 365, baby. But I wanted to do something to commemorate the month in Romance Lit. There’s been a lot of talk about Diversity in Young Adult lit and Diversity in Romance, but so far, outside of the conversations between authors of color ourselves, most of the marketing pushes have been for white romance authors that who include characters of color in their stories. This is a step in the right direction, but there also needs to be move in the publishing industry toward giving authors of color equal publicity and equal shelf space.

In the month of February I used the power of my blackness to highlight black women who are writing romance with the hashtag #BlackWomenInRomance. Here’s the list so far. I will definitely be adding to it in the months and years to come.

Alyssa Cole

Nana Malone

Sugar Jamison

Victoria H. Smith

Lena Matthews

Yvette Hines

Yolanda Wallace

Minx Malone

Literary Stud

Feminista Jones

Holley Trent

Angie Sandro

Piper Huguley

Tanai Walker

Fiona Zedde

Melissa Blue

Ambrielle Kirk

Gina Prince-Bythewood* (screenwriter/director)

Shelly Ellis

Beverly Jenkins

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12 Days Bug

Hello and welcome to my contribution to the 12 Days of Christmakwanzaka blog hop. 12 Days of Holiday themed romantic goodness. Thank you to Alyssa Cole and Julia Kelly for putting this all together and including lil old me. Click their names to check out the other contributions to the HOP!

I decided to add a little more to Grant and Violet’s story. Even if you haven’t read FIT, you can check this little Christmas diddy out to see where Grant and Violet are now before you go back to see where they started. Happy Holidays!!

BLESSED

(or FIT part 3.5)

“Luuuuucy! I’m home!”

Violet looked up from her tablet as her boyfriend/Dominant bounded through the door, his arms loaded with bags. She didn’t exactly look at him, she glared. She was not in the mood for Grant’s cheery bullshit. Christmas was two days away, but the Christmas spirit had been sucked right out of her.

She’d broken her ankle in the stupidest way, dancing on the stairs at her latest wrap party. Producing Chef Masters had been an absolute nightmare. So many divas, so many problems, little and huge, but it was the holidays. They’d wrapped under budget and her boss had suggested they throw a huge party for all the crew and production staff that had worked for them throughout the year. It was Violet’s time to cut loose.

In line with her plan to drop some weight, she’d cut back significantly on her junk food and alcohol intake. She’d lost a few pounds and turned herself into a lightweight who could barely handle more than two drinks. Another thing she hadn’t planned on? Landing herself a new man in the form of her personal trainer.

Things had changed a lot between them in the last eight months, professionally and personally. Grant still trained her, free of charge of course, but their relationship had grown intense. He introduced her to his kinks and the world of BDSM, shown her a true submissive side of herself that had been laying dormant, waiting for the right man to tap into her needs and wants. She loved Grant with all her heart as her boyfriend and Dominant and that’s why she was so bummed when he couldn’t make it to her wrap party. He had to fly home to help his parents with something that turned out to be minor. But Violet still sulked and drank herself stupid. So stupid she danced herself right off a flight of stairs and broke her ankle. A girl her size had no business walking in heels that high and definitely no business dancing in them like a drunken burlesque girl.

She’d planned to spend Christmas in Los Angeles with Grant instead of back home in Connecticut with her family. What she didn’t plan for was spending her whole hiatus in Grant’s condo with her leg in cast.

Poor Grant was trying his best though. He went out and bought a huge tree. Decorated seventy percent of it by himself when Violet got tired of standing with her crutches. Every morning when she woke up she found a couple more presents under said tree, meaning he’d wrapped them while she’d been asleep and just the idea of that made her want to cry, it was so cute.

He’d even gotten festive collars for his dog, Max and his cat, Bill. Whenever the TV wasn’t on, Christmas music was playing through his surround system. He actually had pretty thorough and varied collection, but Violet couldn’t find herself in the Christmas mood. She had something to tell Grant. Something she’d discovered while she was being tended to in the ER. Only her best friend Faye knew, but she had to tell him soon.

Grant dumped the bags on the counter and the floor then stood in all his Scandinavian god glory and smiled at her. “Don’t you all get up at once.”

Violet ignored the way that smile made her pussy clench and glanced at Max on the couch beside her. The massive Rottweiler gave Grant a cursory look then went back to sleep. Bill was probably asleep on the bed.

“I think everyone’s in chill mode.”

“I’m seeing that, Miss Ryan.”

She watched as he crossed the room. He was too gorgeous. Tall and blond with a thick gold and red beard, and muscles and muscles for days. Oh and the tattoos. Violet ignored the skip her heart beat tried to pull and set down her tablet. She wasn’t too cranky to tilt up her head when he leaned down to kiss her.

“How are you feeling?” he asked when their lips parted. Another shiver to ignore as he stroked her hair.

“Okay. Just a little achy. I feel like my ass is spreading out mostly.”

“You’re not gonna get any complaints from me in that department.” Violet had lost around thirty pounds since they met. She had a lot more to go, but Grant always made it clear that her loved her body in whatever state it was in. Even if she had a bum leg.

He kissed her again before going back to the kitchen. “I got my mom’s Christmas cookie recipe so I’m baking today, sister. And I got few other surprises for you too.”

“Oh yeah? You fix that time machine so I can go back and unbreak this ankle?”

“Not even close, but I think you’ll like it. You want your one of your surprises now?”

Violet shrugged. “Sure.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.” He grabbed one of the bigger bags off the floor and walked toward the bedroom, singing along with the Stevie Wonder song that was playing through speakers. That made Violet smile. He had a voice like an angel.

She tried to get back into her e-book, but now that Grant was home she was too restless to focus. She stood and hobbled to the kitchen and started putting away the groceries. She was almost finished when the sound of Grant stomping back into the room forced her to look up.

“HO HO HO! How do I look?”

Her boyfriend was standing there in a full Santa costume complete with a fake beard and a huge bulk of padding around his middle. Violet almost choked. “Um, you look festive. And oddly sexy. Am I supposed to be attracted to Santa?”

“I don’t see why not. He’s a big, strapping man. Cares about kids, knows how to direct an army of elves. A lot of women find that type of power attractive.”

Violet held on to the counter as she looked him up and down. He’d included Santa’s signature white gloves. “So is this for me or…?”

“It’s for you. You said you missed your window to get your picture taken at the mall with Santa.”

“Yeah, I’m not battling a sea of kids and stressed out parents in this cast.”

“So take pictures with your own private Santa.” Grant came toward her, slipping a large hand under the hem of her shirt. It was a challenge to keep her eyes open. “And I thought we could do a little role playing. You can tell Santa how nice and how naughty you’ve been, and Santa can dole out presents or punishments accordingly.”

Violet was definitely wet now. They hadn’t had sex since he’s gotten back from Florida. She was still shaken up from her tumble and he was just worried about her getting better. Sex hadn’t come up, until now.

“What do you say?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me your safe words.”

Violet did close her eyes then as a shiver rippled over her body. She had no clue how Grant did it, slipped so easily from being this sweet, silly doof of a guy to being one of the sexiest, commanding men she’d ever met, but every time all it took was a simple change in his voice, a look, a touch or a few simple words and she was right there with him, ready to go and more than willing to submit.

She looked back up into his deep blue eyes. “Yellow if I need you to pull back and Red if I need you to stop.”

“Good girl. Now, why don’t you step into Santa’s workshop.”

Violet shrieked as Grant scooped her up and carried her over to his oversized rocking chair beside the couch. At first Violet thought it was a weird thing for a single man to have in his living room, but the piece of furniture had worked its way into a lot of their games. It might get a lot of use in other ways, down the road.

When they were situated Grant pulled out his phone and started snapping pictures of the two of them. Some were intentionally sweet. He pulled down the beard for a few so you could actually see his face and then they took a couple silly shots. Violet stuck her finger up his nose in one and her tongue in his mouth for another. Her favorites ended up being of the one of them sharing a simple kiss and the one where Grant is licking her face.

“So tell me, Violet. What do you want for Christmas?”

Violet let out a light sigh even though her mind was racing. I want to stop being a scared ass and just tell you. I want you to be happy. I want you to tell me you want this because I think I do. I want you tell me it’s going to be okay, that I’m not ruining my career. That this will work.

“I think I just want you, Santa.”

“You think?”

“I know.”

“You should show me.”

“Switch seats with me, please.”

“Not a problem.” Grant stood and gently deposited Violet into the rocking chair. She went right for the large belt. Grant caught on and tossed the pillow he had against his stomach then started unbuttoning the jacket, revealing his tight abs under his tank top.

Violet pulled his huge cock out of his boxers and went right to sucking it. She loved the taste of him, the feel of him in her mouth and between her fingers. He rocked his hips in time with the bobbing of her head, stroking her hair and murmuring nasty, sweet nothings until his came down her throat.

“Was that good enough for Santa?” she asked between final licks over the head of his cock.

“Oh yeah.” Grant squeezed his eyes shut, something he always did after he came, but wasn’t done playing with her yet. Proof was the intense look on his face when he started pulling off the white gloves. He dropped to his knees and slowly started working Violet’s pajama pants and underwear down her thighs. He was careful pulling both over her cast and more careful as he spread her legs apart. He slid his fingers into her waiting cunt making Violet whimper. He used his other hand to grip the back of her head.

“I want you to come for me.”

“Yes. Oh god, I will.”

Grant did that thing he did, read her perfectly, did exactly the right thing. Sometimes she needed it soft and sweet and a little slow, but not today. She wanted it rough. He stood up straighter, pressing their foreheads together as he delivered the finger fucking of a lifetime. Violet couldn’t stop thinking about how good it felt, how badly she was wanted to come. How much she loved him. She just blurted it out.

“Oh god! Fuck. Grant, I’m pregnant!”

Grant froze, then yanked his fingers back. Violet let out a laugh that sounded a little manic. “You weren’t hurting me.”

“Are–are you sure? I–I” He smoothed his hands over her thighs, checking to make sure he hadn’t broken anything on her suddenly delicate body.

“Yes, I’m sure and yes, I am pregnant.”

“How? I mean–” Grant sat back on his knees and shook his head. “When?”

“I’m about seven weeks.”

“That night of the Halloween party.”

Violet smiled, nodding. “Yeah.” She’d been on the pill and they used condoms frequently, but not always. And it only took one time, that one percent of ineffectiveness. They’d gone to a costume party at the bondage club Grant belonged to and fucked until sun up in one of the private rooms. Condom free.

“Is this okay?” Violet had already made up her mind. They had passing conversations about kids and family, but they hadn’t discussed marriage or kids of their own. Still, Grant looked surprised at her question.

“Yes! Of course it’s okay.”

And now Violet was crying, happy tears though. Grant kissed her, wiping her face. “I would have asked you to marry me months ago if I thought you would say yes.”

He had a point. Violet had a feeling that Grant had made up his mind about her, that he wanted to be with her forever. She wanted that too, but she wanted to spend more time just being with him. They could take things slowly, move in together first. After a year or two, talk about getting engaged and she wanted to give her career more time before she thought about kids, but none of that had happened and now there was another human being on the way.

“How do you feel about it?” he asked.

Her hand went to her stomach. She’d been doing that a lot lately. “Good. Scared shitless, but good. There’s a lot I’m unpacking about being adopted and having my own kid, but I want her or him. And you.”

“Can I be a little selfish and say this is the best Christmas present you could have ever given me?”

“You’re never selfish.” And that was the truth.

“Or maybe all my selfishness just involves loving you.” Grant kissed her one more time, a kissed that morphed into more, a declaration or a pact and then proof that Violet desperately still wanted to come. She took his hand and guided back it between her legs.

“I’ll be gentle,” he whispered against her lips.

“You don’t have to.” Violet gripped his wrist and rocked a little closer. “I need you.”

Grant looked her in the eye and she knew he meant it when he said “I need you too.”

fit-1

 

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TreasureBannerThis is it, we’ve come to the end. I know. Don’t cry. I want to thank you all for such an amazing week. Today I’m heading over Women and Words to wrap things up with the Treasure Playlist. Come on by, listen to some jams. And remember, never stop looking for your Treasure. ;)

ps. If you’ve entered to win a copy of TREASURE please, please, please, check your spam folders. :D

 

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TreasureBannerWell that was fast! This week went by so quickly. It’s already day 6, but I have more copies of TREASURE to give away. Still want to snag a copy of your own? Just hit those comments and ask me a question. Want to know more about Trisha and Alexis? Want to know what I’m working on next? What to know if I’m ever gonna finish that blasted Vampire Sorority Series? Ask away. I’ll answer all and give away a copy of TREASURE to one lucky commenter. Happy Saturday!

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TreasureBanner

This week has been a blast, for me at least. ;)  It’s been so much fun chatting with ya’ll about TREASURE.

Today I want you to meet Trisha Hamilton aka Treasure. I also think I’ve mentioned this before, but I love strippers. But no really I have a special place in my heart for sex workers, strippers in particular. Trisha was such a fun character to write because I don’t think sex workers get a fair break. Yes, their work involves channeling sensuality, but they have to pay bills and taxes just like… most of us. When I first pictured Trisha Nikki Minaj came to mind. And then Lauren London and now I just can’t decide.

"The Other Woman" - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

LaurenLondon

Like Maya Moore, both of these ladies are capable of being the cutest and downright sex as hell at the same time.

Let’s giveaway another copy of the book, shall we. Hit those comments. Let me know what you think of my picks for Trisha and Alexis and a copy of TREASURE could be on its way to you! :)

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TreasureBanner

‘Kay ya’ll it’s time to meet Alexis. :D As some of you might know, I sort of gave birth to TREASURE on tumblr. I had the idea rolling around in my mind and worked out how I wanted to write it in a series of rambling posts with gifs that garnered a nice little bit of support. So I went for it.

I can’t write a story, as I’ve mentioned a million times, without a clear picture of the character in my head. I’ll tell you right now that this is often a problem for me when I write a wide array of culturally diverse characters, not to mention characters of varying body types. Alexis was sooooo hard, because she’s still trying to work out her gender representation and her overall style. Here’s who I came up with. Sidenote: it’s also really hard to get these character facespirations to stick when sometimes years go by between first draft and publication ’cause, yeah, these people tend to age. See Gemma Arterton who I picked for Ginger in Better Off Red. Ginger is forever 19 and Gemma, not so much. Stupid time. Anyway here’s my Alexis.

maya-moore1Maya Moore 2Some of you may know Maya Moore from her days at UConn or in her current role in the WNBA. Maya is a smooth 25 right now, not 18 like my main character, but as soon as I saw her picture I thought THAT’S ALEXIS! It’s her cheeks I think. She manages to be gorgeous and adorable. And she’s 6’0. My kind of woman!

Have you read Treasure yet? Do you have your own head canon for Alexis? Or got any other lady facespiration for your favorite female characters you want to share? Leave it the comments and win a copy of TREASURE!

 

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